Finnix Trademark Application

I recently applied for registration of the Finnix trademark with the USPTO. Registration is a long process, and should be completed in 13 to 18 months. Of course this doesn't mean that I am not allowed to use the name "Finnix" yet; rather, trademark registration is designed to give you more power in asserting ownership of a mark for specific purposes (in this case, use of the name "Finnix" relating to "computer software", dating back to 1999).

If you have an even moderately popular open source project, I would strongly suggest looking into trademark registration. Registration is $275, but worth it, especially considering recent headlines. You can hire a lawyer to do the work for you, but the USPTO does have a relatively simple "self-service" application for registrations. I used their online tools for searching for existing trademarks (nothing comes even close to the name "Finnix"), and spent about an hour filling out paperwork.

Mirrors Requested

Due to SourceForge problems, for 88.0 I secured primary mirroring with OSU Open Source Lab (thanks again!), and will not be using SourceForge for future releases. However, I am looking for secondary mirror sites. Here are the requirements:

  • Decent connectivity (DS3 or higher)
  • 24-hour availability (occasional maintenance downtime is fine, I'm talking about excluding "available 9-5" sites)
  • Enough storage space and aggregate transfer for future growth, see below
  • Ability to rsync from the main archive at least daily

Here is how things are looking for the archive currently:

  • 1.3GiB currently, growing at an average of 1.5GiB per year
  • 200GiB transfer per month, should not exceed 400GiB per month in coming years
  • Releases quarterly on average
  • Mostly compressed content in archives
  • Current archives can be browsed at; "current" is a symlink to the current release directory

If you are interested in providing mirror services, please email Thank you very much.

Hard Drive Crash

Over the weekend, humorbot, the main x86 development machine for Finnix, suffered a hard drive crash. Thankfully, the crash wasn't absolute, and I was able to mount the dev partition read-only and copy/verify the last generated dev ISO snapshot. (All snapshots are GPG-signed, which in times like this helped make sure there was no corruption on that particular file.) This, combined with a full backup made on the 2nd, meant that thankfully no development work was lost.

Finnix: On the Forefront of Ancient Hardware Technology

For Finnix 87.0, I decided to compile the x86 kernel with i486 support. However, that made me think that I had never tested Finnix with anything less than i686 hardware. The two i586 machines I found worked great with Finnix (an AMD K6-300 and a Pentium 166), but I couldn't find an i486 machine. I ordered one from eBay (a Cyrix 486DX2-80 with PCI motherboard and 48MB RAM), but it didn't arrive in time before final ISO images were mastered.

It arrived Friday, but upon booting it, the kernel immediately segfaulted. Turns out, an i486 will not boot at all if the kernel is compiled with SMP support, even if it has "i486" support.

I thought about including a second non-SMP kernel with the distribution, but that adds another 14MB to the ISO size, for a feature that probably nobody will use. Instead, I took advantage of Finnix's new overlay support, and created an overlay that had a new non-SMP kernel's modules in it. Then I re-created the initrd and added a "nosmp" kernel and modified the isolinux.cfg file. I booted the new modified CD and it worked great:

root@0:~# uname -a
Linux finnix 2.6.16-1-x86-nosmp-finnix #1 Sun Apr 2 05:26:53 PDT 2006 i486 GNU/Linux
root@0:~# cat /proc/cpuinfo
processor       : 0
vendor_id       : unknown
cpu family      : 4
model           : 0
model name      : 486
stepping        : unknown
fdiv_bug        : no
hlt_bug         : no
f00f_bug        : no
coma_bug        : no
fpu             : yes
fpu_exception   : no
cpuid level     : -1
wp              : yes
flags           :
bogomips        : 29.44

If you want to do the same, I uploaded the modified files and tarball as finnix-87.0-nosmp.tar.bz2. Download the tarball and read the included README file. It takes about 5 lines of commands to extract the original Finnix ISO, extract the overlay into the tree, and re-create the modified tarball.

By the way, because of this, the next release of Finnix will have a kernel that is bumped back up to i586 minimum.

Knoppix 5.0 CeBIT Available

Yes, I'm announcing "the competition". Knoppix 5.0 was released at CeBit this week. While it is not available on the main site yet, there is a 3.5GB torrent available of the DVD given out at the conference. It is the German version though, so for English audiences, you must type "knoppix lang=us" at the boot prompt. Beware though, isolinux is configured for a German keyboard layout, so to type a "=" sign, you must hit Shift-0 (zero). After that, everything should work as expected.

I downloaded and booted a copy, and it is rather slick. I also looked at the init scripts, to see what has changed and if anything can be ported to Finnix. The biggest change is udev support, which may eventually be rolled into Finnix, but at the moment I don't believe it is worth the extra startup time.

I was also reminded how much Finnix had diverged from Knoppix. As you may know, Finnix 84 and 85.x were "Knoppix remasters"; essentially Knoppix 4.0.2 without X functionality. Finnix 86.0 was a "rewrite", starting with vanilla Debian testing, and adding support to be booted from a CD. However, a large part of that functionality was in the form of porting Knoppix's startup scripts. In the course of the next few releases, more and more functionality was changed. Today, Finnix's initrd is 99% different from Knoppix's, and if you look at Finnix's startup script (/etc/init.d/finnix-autoconfig), you will notice it is quite different from Knoppix's (/etc/init.d/knoppix-autoconfig).

No word yet on a new Finnix release. A lot of development has happened since 86.2, but I'd still like to wait until kernel 2.6.16 is released before I go forward on a release.

Want a free Finnix CD?

Personally, I love the printed Finnix CDs. They look nice and are very durable. This last week, I had been working on the CD cover design for the upcoming 87.0 release. I went to print the CD, and the printer's self-test failed horribly. Most of the nozzles were clogged. It took about 3/4 of an inkjet cartridge set to get it to print correctly. As it turned out, I had not printed in about 3 weeks, and from Googling around, you should be printing at least every week to avoid this. Remember, this is a FEATURE.

Anyways, this gave me an idea for a contest. I will be giving away a free Finnix CD every week. At a random time during the week, I will flip the switch, and an icon will appear at the top-right corner of the wiki and the blog. If you see this link, simply click on it, fill out your address, and submit. For more information, please see this link.

Oh, and by the way, I just enabled it for this week. Have fun!