back to article Linus Torvalds went six days without electricity, swears smaller 5.12 kernel is co-incidental

Linux overlord Linus Torvalds has revealed that inclement weather in the USA meant he recently endured six electricity-free days in his Portland, Oregon, home during which he was unable to tend to the kernel. As a result he therefore pondered adding an extra week to the merge window for version 5.12 of the Linux kernel. “As …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But does it have the driver for

    my old Commodore daisy wheel impact printer?

    *Cough*

    I'll get my coat, it's the one with dried frog pills in the pockets...

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: But does it have the driver for

      I run my 1976 Xerox Daisywheel and 1963 IBM 1403 on Slackware ...

      1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      2. keith_w Bronze badge

        Re: But does it have the driver for

        Bus and Tag on that 1403? N1?

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: But does it have the driver for

          The 1403 was built in 1963, originally for a 1401 system. 1963 is pre- bus&tag, if only just.

          Slackware -> rubber chicken -> IBM 2821 Model 1 -> 1403 & 2540

          The 1403 started life as a Model 1 and was field-modified (by IBM) into a pseudo-Model 3 in about 1974. If you squint, it kinda acts like an N-1, but without the fancy sound deadening. I keep her on rubber isolated feet, in a lead-foam box with a triple-glazed plexi window instead ... the neighbors are thankful.

    2. gerdesj Silver badge
      Gimp

      Re: But does it have the driver for

      My C64 has a USB interface these days. The Epson RX-80 and Centronics card are consigned to history.

  2. Blackjack Silver badge

    Eh

    Almost a year of lockdown means a lot id gaming for some people.

    1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Eh

      A new take on an off by one error?

      id -> of

      Oh, and have an upvote anyway.

      1. PhilipN Silver badge

        Re: Eh

        Reminder :

        id software was Doom

        which some will recall used up storage available globally approximately 50% faster than Seagate et al could produce it.

        1. Blackjack Silver badge

          Re: Eh

          Id gaming is also technically correct if a tad outdated.

          https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Id,_ego_and_super-ego#Id

          After all Id is the part of us that just wants pleasure and fun.

  3. David 132 Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Wonder which part of Portland he's in...

    Fair play to him.

    I'm South-West of Portland, and lost power for almost 3 days. I was really, really lucky that it wasn't longer, because I'm in a rural location. Managed to get by with an open log fire and my generator. Unfortunately it's only a 4KW one - you know that scene in Apollo 13 where they have to power up everything in exactly the right order, to stay within power budget? Yeah, that hit close to home for me. "So, I can have the microwave and the LED shoplight, or the light and the dish heater, or the fridge and the kettle and USB charger... but no more..."

    Just over the county line, there were many folks who were without power for 2 weeks or more. It was the ice-storm that did it; trees were coated with thick ice, bringing branches and limbs down everywhere. Kinda scary to go to sleep, listening to the CRACK and THUD of falling branches all around my house. I'm sure that the kernel release was not Linus' top priority for the duration.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Wonder which part of Portland he's in...

      "Managed to get by with an open log fire and my generator."

      Lucky you. If HMG gets its way both of those will become illegal in the UK. Sitting and freezing to death in the event of a power cut will be allowed.

      1. Martin an gof Silver badge

        Re: Wonder which part of Portland he's in...

        News for you - open log fires are already illegal in many parts of the country. Smoke control zones came into being after the London Great Smog of 1956 [edit: Wikipedia says the Act was 1956, the smog was 1952]. At the moment log burners (closed units, not open grates) which meet certain criteria are exempt and can still be used with logs but open fires must use "smokeless" fuels or certain exempt fuels. I think the recent scare about log burners being banned is related to a proposed tightening of the regulations which means that many existing log burners will no longer be exempt.

        Not sure about generators. It'd be difficult to ban the sorts of small portable generator that are used on building sites but I could see it being mandated that they meet stricter emissions regulations.

        M.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Wonder which part of Portland he's in...

          It'll get progressively more difficult to find fuel for any internal combustion engine as the last generation of ICE vehicles dies out. The govt really wants to phase out any from of gas-fired heating as well. If you have the ground level footprint for a heat pump you can have that but it won't work in a power cut.

          The usual rules will apply: govts will plough ahead with whatever the ruling pressure groups demand until some disaster requires a change. Even then the pressure groups will insist it wasn't their fault, How many greens can you find who'll admit that opposition to nuclear has resulted in several decades during which far more CO2 has been shoved up power station chimneys than would have otherwise have happened?

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Wonder which part of Portland he's in...

            "How many greens can you find who'll admit that opposition to nuclear has resulted in several decades during which far more CO2 has been shoved up power station chimneys than would have otherwise have happened?"

            The scenario I'm predicting is that the realisation that "renwables" _can't_ produce the amount of energy required to replace gas/oil heating and cars (just these two will triple existing generation requirements) about the same time that the realisation kicks in that it takes 20 years to build new nuclear plants even if they're safer MSR(*) designs and not the more dangerous water-moderated ones(**) and about a year into rolling blackouts happening even though fossil fuel plants haven't been turned off(***)

            (*) Safer because whatever goes wrong they _can't_ spray radioactives around the countryside and they divorce nuclear power from weaponsmaking

            (**) The time taken for these is the massive steam containment systems needed and other bits needed to keep radioactive+water away from the biosphere. MSR containment is 1/10 the cost and even more robust because the water is far, far away - but building will take just as long because bureaucracy (and current standards are deliberately + exclusively written around water, to exclude MSR systems. That was done by the Americans in the wake of Oak Ridge MSRE shutdown to ensure it would never be built again and potentially make the military vulnerable to SALT limitations)

            (***) Why do you THINK smart meters are being pushed so heavily? They allow more finegreained load shedding and being able to charge a fortune for people who NEED 24*7 power during such periods. BigClive's teardown demonstrated conclusively that they DO have cutoff contactors inboard

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: Wonder which part of Portland he's in...

              Using terms like "renewable" just shows how little science there is behind green thinking. There is no such thing as renewable energy. Don't blame me, blame entropy.

          2. jake Silver badge

            Re: Wonder which part of Portland he's in...

            "It'll get progressively more difficult to find fuel for any internal combustion engine as the last generation of ICE vehicles dies out."

            Nah. Virtually any homeowner who is interested should have no problem making enough alcohol to keep most gasoline (petrol) engines going for years to come. Used cooking oil fuels the diesels.

          3. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

            Re: Wonder which part of Portland he's in...

            during which far more CO2 has been shoved up power station chimneys than would have otherwise have happened?

            Not to mention that coal-fired stations spew far more radioactivity into the air than properly-operated nuclear ones do.

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: Wonder which part of Portland he's in...

              "Not to mention that coal-fired stations intentionally, and by design, spew far more radioactivity into the air than properly-operated nuclear ones do."

              FTFY

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Wonder which part of Portland he's in...

          "I think the recent scare about log burners being banned is related to a proposed tightening of the regulations which means that many existing log burners will no longer be exempt."

          The problem is that even the newer ones only work if people burn the "right wood" - there's far too much wet stuff being burned and that drives pm2.5s sky high (it also increases the odds of a creosote fire in the chimney)

    2. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Wonder which part of Portland he's in...

      Is there no power share controllers for stuff like this? Things with inherently resistive loads can easily be driven by PWM and thyristors to share the available power so you can even boil the kettle if theres only 10w left. Time to break out the raspberry Pico!

    3. Marty McFly Bronze badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Wonder which part of Portland he's in...

      I live in NW Oregon, out in the puckerberries. Yeah, we lost power a few times. Fired up the generator and kept working. I was surprised at the extent of the impact on the urban/suburbs neighborhoods when their systems of support went away for a few days.

      Oh, and if you have seen Portland on the news any time over the past year... Just know that is not Oregon. That is an alternate reality from the rest of the state. Regular folks have pretty much abandoned the city to the graffiti 'artists' and 'urban outdoorsmen'. The moderate climate makes a great spot for an extended protest season. With spring arriving those should be starting again soon.

  4. sreynolds

    Yaeh, its tough living in the developing world.

    Here in the tropics of Asia we only have a few hours of blackouts during the heat of the day. Poor old septics can't even cope when the weather has the sniffles. Maybe we should start passing the collection plate for them.

  5. sansva

    No Backup Gen?

    Whoa no backup gen for da man? No solar-charged smart home battery??

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: No Backup Gen?

      That's my thought, too.

      If you own your own home, a whole-house 13KW+ fully automatic Generac system is one of the best upgrades you can purchase.

      At the very least, an 8.5KW contractor grade Generac system will keep your fridge & deep-freeze cold, run your AC during the heat of the day, allow you to do laundry, and keep your computers and coms gear powered up, plus more than enough lighting & etc. Not all at once, of course, but if you can code in C, figuring out the algorithm to keep you and yours happy isn't all that difficult.

      Here in the states, homeowners are allowed to do the installation themselves. If you can follow directions, you should easily be able to pass your insurance company's inspection when you are done. If you don't think you're competent, don't have the proper tools, or whatever, an electrician will be able to do it for you fairly inexpensively.

      I've added them to a couple of previous houses. Each time I've later sold the house, the realtor told me that they added at least five times what it cost me onto the value of the place. My insurance company has actually dropped my premium by a fair amount each time, too. Call and ask, squeaky wheel and all that.

      1. fajensen Silver badge

        Re: No Backup Gen?

        Back at university, my "electrical power systems" professor came in one morning beaming with joy:

        He had both seen an 11 kV distribution cable blow up in his street, making a hole in the pavement AND the diesel generator he had installed 11 years ago in the basement kicked in and it ran for all of the 15 hours the power was out. His wife was always mocking that filthy thing and NOW, it Showed Her!

        1. keith_w Bronze badge

          Re: No Backup Gen?

          During the 2004 blackout I was working at a drug manufacturer that had diesel powered backup for their refrigeration systems. When designed they were expected to last 12 hours so that's all the fuel they stored. Instead, the outage lasted much longer so they were hand-carting blue pill drums (the drums, not the pills) to the corner where there was a service station that had, somehow, power and filling the drums with diesel fuel and hand-pumping it into the fuel tanks as they could not get a delivery. They also got dirty looks from the people lining up to fill their tanks for 'jumping the queue' although few or none were diesel users.

          My niece's husband's family built a home beside a lake in Northern Ontario and due to the expected inclement weather, added an electrical generator connected to the 1000 gallon propane tank to power their home during outages. As far as I know it got used at least once per winter.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: No Backup Gen?

            Usually you'd have a call up contract for replacement fuel for that situation. Presumably that is why they couldn't get a delivery as the suppliers would be servicing everyone who had a contract first.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: No Backup Gen?

              Go find the blog of the system admin who kept a small ISP alive in downtown New Orleans during Katrina. He's a real xkcd 705 guy.

      2. Martin an gof Silver badge

        Re: No Backup Gen?

        Hard to tell when a left-pondian is being sarcastic, but somehow I think you are not.

        Wow. Just Wow.

        I thought I was going some, having a couple of UPSes wired in that can keep the basic IT kit going for a couple of hours, with torches and candles if we need general lighting. Our power supply is poor by UK standards mainly because our small village is on the end of a long overhead line; we get short (5 minute or under) outages perhaps three or four times in an average year and very occasionally we get a longer cut. Usually though, this sort of thing is fairly localised and the local network company wheels out the generators until the lines can be restored. Our village was on generator (one generator for the whole village) for about 24 hours just after Christmas when a tree took out a near-inaccessible 11kV power line, but this was the first time in perhaps five years.

        The sort of investment involved in installing and maintaining a whole-house genset simply isn't worth it for the vast, vast majority of UK homeowners - you'd either need to install 20kVA or re-wire the house with "protected" and "non-protected" circuits - and you certainly wouldn't be allowed to DIY the installation, unless you were under the close supervision of a suitably-qualified electrician. I doubt it would add anything at all to the resale value of the property, except perhaps in some out-of-the-way part of the country which has a history of problems. In fact in most urban, sub-urban and semi-rural locations the space taken up by a genset and the ongoing maintenance costs are more likely to put buyers off.

        M.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: No Backup Gen?

          Wouldn't you be better off with Solar and a Battery (11kWh) backup rather than a generator?

          Properly installed it adds value to the property.

          I have this very setup now. I've just installed an EV charger that integrates with the solar and on a sunny day, takes just the energy produced by the PV system and puts it into my car.

          I can run the house for 2 days on the battery. In the future, V2H and V2G will allow for even longer grid outages. no smelly and noisy gensets here

          1. Martin an gof Silver badge

            Re: No Backup Gen?

            So, care to expand? What sorts of costs? What regulatory hurdles? You haven't mentioned even which part of the world you are in.

            In the UK, domestic PV systems, with or without battery storage, are generally designed to disconnect and shut down on grid-loss. Systems which are designed to be "UPSes" for household use are more complex (i.e. expensive) to install and certify.

            M.

            1. Boothy Silver badge

              Re: No Backup Gen?

              I've only really looked at Tesla myself so far.

              From what I've seen UK costs for a Tesla Powerwalll system, including the off-grid bit and installation, is around £10k inc VAT (although this would likely go up for a complex installation).

              This is for a 13.5 kWh battery (single Powerwalll 2), plus the off-grid system (Gateway 2). As far as I can see, they always install the gateway box, as it manages everything. (You can have multiple Powerwall batteries running off one Gateway box).

              The Gateway 2 box automatically (and instantly from what I've seen demonstrated) isolates the local power from the grid power, in case of a power cut, whilst continuing to provide local power from the battery, and also allows solar panels to continue working.

              So basically it's a UPS for the house, and does comply with UK regs etc.

              1. Martin an gof Silver badge

                Re: No Backup Gen?

                I've been reading up a little. I found a PV supplier which reckoned that adding battery and off-grid capabilities to a typical domestic PV installation would cost between £4,500 and £8,000 to the cost of the PV. It seems as if the main installation requirement is to isolate from the grid and switch in a local earth connection. It's this latter part that is "interesting", depending on how the house is normally wired and it's possible that some houses will not be easily adapted to allow this.

                The other thing which concerns me - with regard to people suggesting this is an easy retrofit - is the foolproofing of it. I gather that the Powerwall 2's inverter is rated at 5kW continuous, and I know that once you get above 10kW or so, inverters begin to get expensive. As arguably most UK houses will use a 2.5kW or 3kW electric kettle, a 2kW washing machine, many will have a 2kW dishwasher, an 8.5kW or greater electric shower and a cooker which could have a diversified rating as high as 7kW, the system has to account for what happens if there's a power cut when the house load is greater than the inverter capacity - and as people are forced off gas and on to electrically-powered heating arrangements this becomes more important to consider.

                As an example - our mid-sized house has a "diversified maximum demand" on its electrical inspection sheet of something like 120A (28kW) which is quite interesting when you consider that our service cutout (the supply company's fuse) is only 80A :-)

                Either the inverter will refuse to cut-in until load is reduced or you will have to have some kind of contactor arrangement or split distribution boards which only sends inverter power to the low-power circuits. I imagine that car charging units are already smart enough to cut off on grid loss.

                Battery capacity is an interesting question as gas boilers are replaced with electrically-powered alternatives. We've been living with electric heating (for both space and DHW) this winter for reasons I needn't explain, and our daily usage has rarely been below 60kWh - and this in a house which is brand new, highly energy efficient and needs very little space heating. Most of that has gone to heat water for washing, baths etc.

                Not insurmountable hurdles, but potentially expensive, annoying, etc.

                M.

                1. Alan Brown Silver badge

                  Re: No Backup Gen?

                  " I know that once you get above 10kW or so, inverters begin to get expensive"

                  about a million pounds a shot for 800kW :)

                  1. StargateSg7

                    Re: No Backup Gen?

                    Any 2010-era+ GMC Duramax Diesel engine can output 250 KW (335 BHP) and I can find those cheap in many junkyards within older vehicles for less than $5000 USD -- You take them out of the truck (i.e. a Lorry) put them on a welded steel stand and you have a super-great generator once you reset the engine software to run it at 500 RPM for 50 Hz power or 600 RPM for 60 HZ power. The slow RPM does need some tweaking in the engine control module to prevent carbon buildup and kocking but that customizeable engine control software is all over the internet nowadays.

                    I can buy me a proper flywheel/generator assembly for less than $1500 USD to give a proper and STEADY 240 V 30 amps at a rock solid 50 HZ or 120 volts at 20 amps at a nice steady 60 HZ sine wave. Fuel-wise, it can run for multiple days on those 1000 litre external fuel tanks!

                    250 Kilowatts is nothing to laugh at and can power four full size 2000 square foot homes with everything running at once!

                    v

                    1. jake Silver badge

                      Re: No Backup Gen?

                      Your numbers are ... interesting.

                      You can get a whole-house automatic natural gas or propane[0] powered genset in the 18kW range, installed, for about 12 grand. With warranty. And no need to dick around with other people's problems from the junkyard.

                      [0] Can switch from one to the other in a matter of minutes if the natural gas supply gets cut off.

                      1. StargateSg7

                        Re: No Backup Gen?

                        I have eight of the 400 HP versions of these vehicle engines (easy to find and fix in North America where higher horsepower engines are quite prevalent) for OVER THREE MEGAWATTS of power. I mostly power my metal forges/furnaces and my custom-built Multi-Megawatt MASERS and LASERS for my weekend personal scientific inquiries.

                        Diesel is HALF the price per litre in Canada versus the UK, so fuel costs are a non-issue for use in new engines PLUS a couple of my off-grid / prepper buddies and I have been experimenting with creating a sort of BIODIESEL-like fuel out of chemically digested sawdust (plenty of that here in Western Canada to buy cheap!) which creates a heavy methanol-laced fuel which only needs some anti-carbonization and engine control module changes to consume in our self-made generators!

                        Because I can buy sawdust by the 10 tonne truckload where I live, we can make MANY TENS OF THOUSANDS of litres of "biodiesel"-like fuel for one-sixth the per-litre cost of UK diesel! It's a bit of a long-process, but we engineering and computer eggheads have been getting the hang of it pretty well over the past two years.

                        I wouldn't put that bio-fuel into a NEW vehicle BUT to power our homemade generators, it's just fine!

                        And pollution-wise, we get BETTER air-quality numbers than almost any other internal combustion engine fuel source except hydrogen and natural gas. That is due to our heavy tweaking of engine computer systems software!

                        To get the engines, we just buy scrap/used vehicles off Craigslist or Kijiji websites for between $500 CDN to $1500 CDN and taken them out to mod them to our hearts delight! 10 year old vehicles with rear-end damage or noted as "salvage" are best!

                        The rest of the car body metals, we just melt down in our furnaces and forges into ingots for various other personal use such as metal blanks for our CNC machines! (Don't worry! We have LOTS of vapourized/melted metal toxicity mitigation and enviro-cleanup technology in our workshops!)

                        V

                    2. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      Re: No Backup Gen?

                      Doesn't sound great when petrol is over a £1 a liter. Couple of grand to power my house for a few days?

                      No thanks.

                      1. jake Silver badge

                        Re: No Backup Gen?

                        Even with your exorbitant petrol costs[0], it won't cost a couple grand for a few days. 4 US gallons (15 liters, close enough) is more than enough to keep an American sized fridge, large deep-freeze, a window mounted 12,000 BTU air conditioner, and all the lights, TVs, comms gear and computer stuff going for a family of four for a day, during the height of summer here in Northern California. (Some, if minimal, plug-juggling required.)

                        That's running the genset for a couple hours in the morning, a couple hours mid-day, and pretty much all evening.

                        Keeping the contents of the fridge & freezer from going off more than pays for the fuel.

                        Keeping the lager cold on a hot day without lugging ice from the convenience store is worth the price of admission alone.

                        Keeping the kids/wife from whining about the heat: priceless.

                        [0] I'd actually recommend Natural Gas for a permanently mounted home unit, not petrol. And not just for cost, either ... long-term petrol storage is a royal pain in the arse.

                        1. StargateSg7

                          Re: No Backup Gen?

                          I would suggest PROPANE as a generator fuel instead of Natural Gas as you need CRYOGENIC temperatures to liquify natural gas for long term storage. You can buy 2000 litre (500 gallon) propane tanks for cheap and they last a whole winter if you keep your electrical loads low to below 8000 Watts.

                          We use propane in our northern Canada data centre and it is fully off-grid no longer needing power from BC Hydro (i.e.our big electrical utility company) Fo that one, we just got custom-built 600 PSI tanks made for a few million litres which last about 3 years between fillups.

                          Natural Gas is very problematic for local storage but propane liquifies easily (-44C) and energy-wise it can go into many types of piston-based, turbine-based or proton exchange fuel-cell generators to provide power in even the worst supercold Arctic Canada winter storms or boiling Arizona desert summers!

                          If you are mechanically inclined you can make a propane or methanol-based biodiesel generator out of common car/truck(lorry) parts. An older 2010-era GMC Duramax Diesel Engine out of a GMC 3500 truck (i.e. Lorry) is over 250 Kilowatts of power supply. Enough to power FOUR houses at full electrical load for days at a time!

                          v

                  2. Claverhouse Silver badge

                    Re: No Backup Gen?

                    about a million pounds a shot for 800kW :)

                    People on variable-rate plans in Texas, like Griddy, recently found normal suppliers can suddenly charge higher prices as well...

                2. Boothy Silver badge

                  Re: No Backup Gen?

                  I think the limiting factor with Powerwall (and other similar tech), is the batteries themselves, rather than the inverters. I know Powerwall 2 can, as you mention, do 5kW continuous, but that is per Powerwall. So if you needed more than 5kW, you could install additional Powerwalls and so get 10kW, 15kW etc. More cost though!

                  One Gateway 2 can manage up to 10 Powerwalls, so that's a potential 50kW continuous. (Probably £70k+ install cost!!).

                  I think there is some re-education to be done as well. I've had solar for a few years, (no battery) and got into the habit of only using the dishwasher etc during the day, and never at the same time as doing laundry. But obviously this wouldn't always be an option for everyone, and I still use the electric oven in the evening, which means it's dark at the moment (UK).

                  If I do get a battery, the timing can be more flexible then, but I'd still be trying to avoid doing too many high Watt jobs at the same time.

                  Interesting on you only having an 80A supply fuse, I've just double checked, and both my main breaker in the fuse box, and the fuse on the feed into the meter are 100A.

                  1. Martin an gof Silver badge

                    Re: No Backup Gen?

                    100A is typical for new developments in the UK, probably where a new substation has to be provided for a housing estate, but 80A was common before then, and when I was a Part-P I saw quite a lot of 60A installations too. I even met one (just one) which was fused at 40A. When we rebuilt our house and had to move the supply, I enquired about upgrading to 100A and was told it wasn't possible around here.

                    M.

                  2. jake Silver badge

                    Re: No Backup Gen?

                    Don't waste your money on that Tesla crap.

                    If you want batteries for this kind of thing, you want Lithium Iron Phosphate. Period.

                3. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: 60kWh per day?

                  for heating etc.

                  Sounds like you need to look at getting an air-source heat pump.

                  My leccy consumption (non EV charging) for Feb was 9kWh per day.

                  1. Martin an gof Silver badge

                    Re: 60kWh per day?

                    Does your 9kWh include heating, hot water, cooking, washing and such for a family of six who quite like to take baths?* As things stand we are using gas only for cooking.

                    It's worth pointing out here that our purely-electric heating is not intended to be permanent; we have solar tubes ready to go on the roof (there isn't enough appropriate roof for PV and we couldn't afford it anyway) and all the plumbing is in place for some sort of "boiler", but if it comes to a choice between a gas boiler and an ASHP, it's gas every time. Gas is (and has consistently been for as long as I can remember) about a quarter the price of electricity per kWh and at best, ASHPs are still only 300% efficient across the year - that is, for every 1kWh of electricity you put in, you get 3kWh of heat out. In the winter - when you need them most - they could be 200% or less, particularly if you are trying to heat water too - the hotter you need the output, the less efficient the system becomes. I'm told that an ASHP would struggle to heat our tap water to 50C and would probably need to be supplemented either with a gas boiler or with an immersion heater!

                    And from the limited research I've done, a typical ASHP will cost between five and ten times as much as a gas boiler. It does work when compared against purely electric heating, though payback could be as long as ten years.

                    A ground source heat pump can reach 400% or more but even if your site is suitable you also have to consider that the cost of purchase and installation of a GSHP (which needs expensive groundworks) could be ten to fifteen times as much as a typical gas boiler and then you realise that not only is there an extremely long payback time even against electricity (the heat pump might need to be replaced before it's paid for itself) but that the end to end efficiency against a good gas boiler, given the UK's current generating mix which includes an awful lot of gas-fired stations, isn't much better either.

                    Even the Energy Saving Trust says, "Heat pumps may not be the best option for homes using mains gas."

                    It's moot anyway. We're stuck with immersion heaters for now and finances dictate that we will end up installing a gas boiler, hope that it lasts well past any ban (or that there's a switch-over to Hydrogen) and that its replacement will either be heavily subsidised or economies of scale will have made it more reasonably priced.

                    M.

                    *they actually quite like showers too, which would use less hot water, but the shower is out of action at the moment**

                    **oh, ok then, it's not really out of action, I just haven't got around to finishing fitting it yet :-(

                    1. Boothy Silver badge

                      Re: 60kWh per day?

                      I've been looking at heat pumps as well. I've not seen that article you linked to before now, but it seems to match what I've seen elsewhere, where basically in the UK at least, if you currently have gas central heating (like many (most?) homes in the UK), it doesn't really save money to switch to a heat pump. i.e. the monthly heating costs don't really change much due to gas being cheaper than leccy.

                      Main reasons I've seen so far for people with existing houses converting to heat pumps, have been where they've been gutting the house anyway, or they have existing electric based heating (i.e. it's currently expensive), or they have a decent solar system to offset the running costs, or they just want to reduce their carbon footprint, irrespective of the costs.

                      Think I'll be sticking with the gas central heating for now!

                      1. jake Silver badge

                        Re: 60kWh per day?

                        I've been using GSHPs for many years. Yes, they are quite spendy to install. But once in place, they continue giving (and taking away) for decades, with almost zero cost of upkeep. Most installs spread loops of plastic pipe out horizontally, but if space is an issue you can usually go vertical.

                        I have installed a couple of new-fangled water heaters with built-in ASHPs as pre-heaters for on-demand hot water. They work, off-setting the cost of heating water by a fair amount ... but even here in the moderate climate of Sonoma, I doubt they will pay for themselves before they start leaking. In the future, I think all my hot water needs (including home heating) will be GSHP, with gas to bring it up to scalding for the kitchen, the hot tub, and the Wife's shower.

                        Yes, natural gas is the over-all cheapest (TCO) way of adding energy to your home. Propane is a close second, if you buy in bulk. Note that most natural gas appliances can be converted to propane (and back) with simple jetting and swapping supply lines. Where possible, my non-portable gensets run on natural gas, but in the event of disaster where that is cut, I can swap 'em over to the emergency propane stash in a couple minutes. Also note that propane stores indefinitely, unlike gas/petrol or diesel (my propane tanks are buried, so no unsightly blight).

                        One thing to invest in, regardless: Insulation. Everywhere.

                4. jake Silver badge

                  Re: No Backup Gen?

                  Eyeball various folks documenting their off-grid electricity trials & tribulations on YouTube. There are some horror stories out there, a whole lot of "meh", and a handful of success stories, all of which cost a LOT in the short term, but over the long haul will more than pay for themselves. All of these last ones allow for a real house, with all mod cons. Seems that fiddly-farting around with little piddly shit just to prove how frugal you are is contra-indicated. It just nickle and dimes you to death in the long term.

          2. rg287 Silver badge

            Re: No Backup Gen?

            Wouldn't you be better off with Solar and a Battery (11kWh) backup rather than a generator?

            In principle yes, but a lot of solar/battery systems cut off when the grid power goes out to comply with G83(?) which mandates that you not leak power back into the grid if it's supposedly "dead", because that could be a risk to line engineers.

            It's absolutely possible to get systems with a transfer switch which isolate the grid connection and then use the battery to supply the house (whether whole house or protected circuits) in the same way as a conventional backup generator would. However, a lot of them don't and you'd have to shop around to ensure you'd got a premium installation that will provide mains-out service.

            There's also the key point that a solar system is probably running at very limited output during winter or prior to significant weather events (which is when most blackouts tend to occur). It would probably be necessary to having a battery system which has a winter mode and will top up off the mains like a UPS (using mains power to top-up the battery in winter can help prolong life rather than having partial charge cycles). Also, depending where you live, 11kWh may be massively inadequate - if it's not uncommon to get week-long blackouts then you need a proper genny. Of course for the vast majority of us, just being able to run off battery for 12 hours is more than enough to handle transitory events.

          3. jake Silver badge

            Re: No Backup Gen?

            "Wouldn't you be better off with Solar and a Battery (11kWh) backup rather than a generator?"

            No. The sun is rarely shining when I need backup power. (Ask anyone in an off-grid situation how often they have to use their genset to recharge their battery during inclement weather.)

        2. Binraider

          Re: No Backup Gen?

          The obvious problem for your average UK citizen is that we don't have 500 square yard plots of land to install a fantasy generator and battery setup - to say nothing of the rather large installation cost. Diesel isn't cheap and is set to become much more expensive for non-transport use in the very near future. To say nothing of the overhead of maintaining such a system.

          The average floorspace here is, I do believe about 67 square meters. Two small bedrooms, front room, kitchen and bathroom - and you're out of space.

        3. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: No Backup Gen?

          >Hard to tell when a left-pondian is being sarcastic, but somehow I think you are not.

          In europe the power cables are normally buried.

          In the off-shore colonies they prefer to give nature a sporting chance and so the power lines are strung from little wooden poles right upto your house. This is especially true in places that get frequent snow, ice and winter gales. The same places normally have lots of trees alongside the roads that have branches that also get covered in snow and fall down across the lines.

          Ironically the cable-TV cables are often buried so if you have a UPS the internet stays up even if you can't make a cup of tea

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: No Backup Gen?

            " The same places normally have lots of trees alongside the roads that have branches that also get covered in snow and fall down across the lines."

            A lot of such places get _very_ quick to lop off any kind of branch which might come close to threatening power or phone lines

            Having spent years living in places which get ice storms and 10 feet of snow in winter - but still have amazingly reliable mains power to the extent that only a few portable gennies are usually ever used - I was amazed how lassaiz-fair a lot of places are, then act surprised when the inevitable happens (such places tend to eschew sensible regulations as being "socialist", or just eschew sensibility entirely for "profit")

            it _is_ possible to vibrate icicles off HT distribution lines before they become too much of a problem. The answer is called a helicoptor. Or you build the lines with poles closer together and/or heavier cables (It's always easy to tell if you're above or below the winter snowline in New Zealand mountain country, look at the pole spacing and for smashguards/ice deflectors)

        4. jake Silver badge

          Re: No Backup Gen?

          I live out in the sticks in earthquake country, just a couple hundred yards from the Rogers Creek fault, a probable home of California's next "big one". I fully expect to have to do without PG&E power for a couple weeks at some point during my life.

          PG&E has recently taken to powering down the grid during high winds to keep from sparking wildfires. Seems it's cheaper than doing routine maintenance. (Yes, they are getting screamed at. It won't last. Hopefully.) Sometimes the power is out for several days at a time.

          Plus, the power goes out occasionally for all kinds of other causes. That's a price you pay for not fully living in civilization.

          I am also my own water company. Pumps require electricity. We house around 200 head of livestock on this property at any given time. Plus the Wife and I. And a foreman and his family. And four permanent field hands & their girlfriends. And half a dozen families in trailers who haven't managed to get home after various wildfires (yet). All of us drink water. Some of us bathe in it occasionally.

          Make more sense now?

      3. This post has been deleted by a moderator

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: No Backup Gen?

          You have the wrong Jake. This is the Jake that claims to have done everything you mention, but better, because he's older and smarter than you. He has a vineyard, don't you know, and he's been to every part of the globe. He has all of this legacy equipment just lying around his enormous home so he can boost about running it whenever the topic comes up, and it will always come up, because he had everything everyone talks about and he's better than you. Did I mention he's better than you? He's also incredibly humble.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: No Backup Gen?

            He's not better than me, I'm a fireman, I've saved lives but I don't boast about it.

            He's a Linux bore.

      4. Adelio Silver badge

        Re: No Backup Gen?

        Here in the UK aside from people in REMOTE locations , who needs a generator? You must have very poor electrical infastructure and generating capacity in the states.

        Instead of paying all those dividends maybe it is about time those companies started INVESTING instead?

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: No Backup Gen?

          You don't really have any remote locations in the British Isles. Seriously. You don't.The place just isn't big enough. Well, to be fair, there is always Rockall ...

          We have plenty of generating capacity here in the States, but yes, some of the transmission and distribution infrastructure is aging and in need of maintenance/repair/replacement. Sadly, that would cost money, and the Boards of companies like PG&E would probably not get huge bonus checks if they were forced to spend their profits on such obvious things. Rule number 1 is "don't piss off the shareholders". Rule two seems to be "fuck the end users".

  6. Chairman of the Bored Silver badge

    A useful project

    A guy in my local Ham radio club built an extremely useful piece of kit-

    It's a steel hand cart with about 75kg of sealed lead-acid batteries, a decent inverter, 20A or so of 5V USB ports, and Power Pole connectors for radios. Above the batteries there is space to store a few sq meters of solar panels. Naturally you can charge everything off of mains as well.

    It takes up very little floor space standing upright in his garage, but is relatively easy to transport and move around. Large soft tires so one can move it across the ground.

    That cart has helped quite a few people!

  7. Malcolm 1

    Key person risk?

    Seems a bit insane to me that Linus is the only person merging pull requests? I assume that there is, in fact, some established protocol if he ceases to be available for a prolonged period.

    1. overunder Silver badge

      Re: Key person risk?

      Yeh, it seems a little insane to solo curate 12,000 commits... that's gods work.

      Now, the Mayan's had ~30,000 people sacrificed in far less time than a kernel release, which makes you respect the "hustle" of those doing the sacrifices so thus by loose correlation, Linus (he should be given one of those huge Mayan headdresses).

      1. FIA Silver badge

        Re: Key person risk?

        Well, that's a mental image I don't even want to get rid of.

    2. claimed
      Trollface

      Re: Key person risk?

      Buy a Macbook?

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Key person risk?

        "Buy a Macbook?"

        Nah. I prefer my BSD un-neutered.

  8. NullNix

    That's not what LTO does

    > Among the big inclusions in 5.12 are Clang Link-Time Optimizations, which make for better compiler performance

    No, it slows the compiler down (quite a lot actually). It can make for better compiler *optimization*, i.e. better *runtime* performance. (It can also make for larger binaries and worse runtime performance due to increased icache bloat, though this is somewhat rarer than it used to be.)

  9. Claverhouse Silver badge
    Pint

    The Goethe of Computing

    Never having been particularly active, I am wonderstruck at the man's dedication and sheer output.

    Linux can never die; thanks to his lifelong work, which benefits all --- but he should be thinking of retiring sooner than later.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Linus Torvalds went six days without electricity

    Key learning: do not let systemd manage your power grid.

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