== fabulous.systems ==
Welcome to the world of fabulous.systems

Virtual archaeology: Recreating the very first PC I ever used

There are some things in life you will remember forever. In case you are just like me, then the very first PC you ever used is most likely one of these things.

I still remember the specifications of the family computer 6-year-old me used in 1999, even though its mainboard died around 15 years ago.

It was a Packard Bell PC, powered by an Intel Pentium II @ 233MHz, 32 MB of RAM, a 20x CD-ROM-Drive (no DVD!), and a Matrox Mystique GPU.

I knew that the system was running Windows 95 with a custom OEM software bundle. For years, I thought that rebuilding the system with the original software was impossible. The recovery CD was long gone and there was no copy to be found on any archival site.

By pure luck, I recently found a copy of the original recovery CD for sale online - I simply had to get it. It turned out that trying to recreate the system on a virtual machine was quite an adventure involving a deep dive into the inner workings of the Packard Bell recovery process.


Using qemu-guest-agent as interface between VMs and Proxmox host systems

Since virtual machines created with KVM/QEMU are not simple containers but quite isolated from the host’s environment, exchanging data and information between the host and the VMs can be a bit tricky. Therefore, QEMU offers a companion service called qemu-guest-agent for Linux guests. qemu-guest-agent acts as an interface between the VMs and the host system.

Some features like passing ACPI information for a clean guest shutdown are pretty well-known. However, did you know that you can even send commands to your VMs directly from your Proxmox host system?


Restoring support for 16-bit applications in modern Windows versions

Windows has some pretty amazing backwards compatibility. In many cases, you can run ancient 32-bit Win32 applications just fine on your current system.

However, there’s one issue: If you ever tried to run a 16-bit application from the Windows 3.x days, any 64-bit Windows version (starting from Windows XP) will refuse to run the application with an error message indicating that you should ask the vendor for a compatible version.

On the other hand, the modern 32-bit versions of Windows run these applications just fine.

Thanks to two amazing open-source projects, you can bring back 16-bit compatibility to the 64-bit Windows era.



“A new project? Again?!”

Yes, I know. My personal projects are as persistent as volatile memory. But hey - not this time!

Welcome to fabulous.systems, where we take a deep-dive into the wonderful world of (sometimes pretty) technology.


Immersive slowness or why I added artificial loading times for Myst to ScummVM

Ever since I discovered the Myst series back in 2005, I’m in love with it. To me, the Myst series feels like an immersive trip to another world - it is truly something different compared to your average point-and-click adventure game. Needless to say that especially the first entries in the series - the original Myst and its successor Riven - are truly remarkable games.

In my opinion, the immersion these games provide is partially created due to technical limitations.

The original Myst was released in 1993 on this incredible new format called ‘CD-ROM’, allowing for a whopping 650 Megabytes of storage.


Using Snap packages in Gentoo

One of the main advantages of snap packages is the possibility to use them not only on one Linux distribution like ’traditional’ packages, but on a wide variety of distributions without having to modify or rebuild them. Many distributions provide the necessary snapd daemon in their repositories.

It is entirely possible to use snap packages with Gentoo too. Even building new snap packages with snapcraft and multipass or LXD will be possible afterwards.


apache2: Redirect multiple domains to the same website

Over the last couple of years, I aquired a nice collection of various domains. Since I only keep them for historical purposes, I decided to redirect all domains to this blog domain. Usually, you can achieve such a redirection by simply pointing all your domains to the same virtual host within your web server configuration in case you are using WordPress. However, this won’t work when using some caching plugins. Some .htaccess magic will help though.


apache2: mod_autoindex and UTF-8

For my ScummVM nightly server, I’m using the apache2 module mod_autoindex. I noticed that – even though I enabled UTF-8 support in the apache configuration – one vHost was still served with ISO-8859 encoding.

1 of 1