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Archive for January, 2009

Microsoft releases IE8 Beta 1 and ASP.NET MVC RC1

January 28th, 2009 No comments

Wow, what a stinking hot day today was, utter chaos on our public transport system (which they are explaining and not making excuses about just incase you got con’nexed into thinking that) so it was nice to spend some time on the beach like the rest of the crowd.

More importantly, news in the virtual werld is that Microsoft have released Internet Explorer 8 RC1 for everyone to test against. Essentially its now feature complete and will behave like RC1 at final RTM. So give that a go, if you were a tester you’ll be glad to know that your pre-RC1 copies will upgrade. You wont be able to install it on Windows 7 though!

If you want to peak Inside Internet Explorer 8 theres a good interview on Channel 9 with Dean Haachamovitch and Jason Upton.

Then, theres the release of ASP.NET MVC Framework RC1. See the release notes and take a look.

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Maintaining your XFS with XFS Filesystem Reorganiser xfs_fsr to defrag

January 25th, 2009 6 comments

File Systems are a hairy topic, on Windows you should be using NTFS (the days of FAT are long gone!) but on Linux, BSD and *Solaris we still have a wide variety to pick and choose depending on our needs. I’ve always been a JFS and XFS fan (previously ReiserFS) until Btrfs goes mainstream (which is one thing to hangout for in Linux Kernel 2.6.29!) and often I’d have a mixture of all three. Our main server at home – affectionately dubbed Zeus, after our lovable Australian Customs puppy Zeus, uses XFS, JFS and Ext3.

JFS to manage the home directories and core file system, ReiserFS for the temp folder and XFS for the heavy file shares – which span multiple terrabytes of files over a LVM (with each file being 1-2Gb in size). The reasoning behind opting for XFS over another file system for the file server was that XFS performs incredibly well under heavy load and scales well when you know the files are big (over 500Mb). Overall I’ve always felt that XFS does provide consistent performance and scalabilty in comparison to the others – but you may think otherwise.

Unfortunately, XFS – whilst quite an excellent file system for managing large files, it seems, suffers from fragmentation over time (especially true if you use your file system for DVR – eg, a Myth backend host) or if the disk gets close to filling up. Luckily there are two utilities that XFS has to manage this fragmentation.

  • xfs_db – XFS Debug Information
    Used to examine an XFS filesystem for problems or gather information about the XFS file system.
  • xfs_fsr – File System Organiser
    Improves the organisation of mounted file systems. The reorganisation algorithm operates on one file at a time, compacting or otherwise improving the layout of the file extents (contiguous blocks of file data).

In Debian/Ubuntu (and derivatives) these two utilities are found in the package xfsdump. Using these two utilities we can workout the health of the file system (xfs_db) and hopefully tune/optimise it (xfs_fsr). I took the plunge last night and optimised Zeus’s main file storage partition:

Filesystem            Size Used Avail Use% Mounted on
/dev/sdf7              40G  3.5G   37G   9% /
varrun               1014M  4.5M 1010M   1% /var/run
varlock              1014M  8.0K 1014M   1% /var/lock
udev                 1014M  112K 1014M   1% /dev
devshm               1014M     0 1014M   0% /dev/shm
lrm                  1014M   34M  980M   4% /lib/modules/2.6.22-15-generic/volatile
/dev/sdf6            1023M   38M  986M   4% /boot
/dev/sdf10            235G  173G   63G  74% /home
/dev/sdf9              10G  544K   10G   1% /opt
/dev/sdf8              10G  2.7G  7.4G  27% /var
/dev/mapper/Storage
                      2.3T  1.9T  408G  83% /media/LVM/Storage
/dev/sde1             466G  396G   71G  85% /media/Backups

As you can see, the LVM “Storage” mount has just under 20% free space and the non-LVM partition for “Backups” has 15% free space. Both these are XFS volumes, to find the health of the two use the xfs_db command to gather some information.

$ sudo  xfs_db -c frag -r /dev/mapper/Storage
$ sudo  xfs_db -c frag -r /dev/sde1

Here we’re asking xfs_db to open the file system in a readonly mode (-r) passing in a command (-c)  to get the file fragementation data (frag) for the device (/dev/*). When we use the frag command, it returns information only pertaining to the file data in the filesystem as opposed to the fragmentation of freespace (which we can guage with passing the freesp command). The output of the commands appear below for Zeus.

thushan@ZEUS:~$ sudo  xfs_db -c frag -r /dev/sde1
actual 189356, ideal 148090, fragmentation factor 21.79%

thushan@ZEUS:~$ sudo  xfs_db -c frag -r /dev/mapper/Storage
actual 406056, ideal 21584, fragmentation factor 94.68%

Wow! The LVM partition (which spans 4 drives) has around 95% fragementation! Yikes!!! The parition has quite a few Virtual Machine images, various large files (DV Captures etc). The “Backup” (sde1) on the other hand isnt as badly fragmented.

So right now we’ve found our problem and its time to fix it. First thing to do – and realise that we can fix this on a live running system – is to try and find a time where the partition will be used very little (like overnight) so you let its do its thing without unnecessary burden. Then lets make use of the File System Organiser utility (xfs_fsr) and ask it to reorganise our parition to the best of its ability.

$ sudo xfs_fsr -t 25200 /dev/mapper/Storage -v
$ sudo xfs_fsr -t 25200 /dev/sde1 -v

Now this is much simpler, the xfs_fsr utility is being told to reorganise /dev/* with a timeout (-t) of 7hrs  (60 * 60 * 7 = 25200) which is specified in seconds. Because I like to see how much is done I also specified the verbose output option (-v). Let it do its thing and hopefully when you return you will have the last bit of output showing the extents before, how many after and the inode, something like this:

extents before:5 after:1 DONE ino=4209066103
ino=4209066107
extents before:5 after:1 DONE ino=4209066107
ino=4209066101
extents before:4 after:1 DONE ino=4209066101
ino=4209066091
extents before:3 after:1 DONE ino=4209066091
ino=4209066093
extents before:3 after:1 DONE ino=4209066093
ino=4209066105
extents before:2 after:1 DONE ino=4209066105
ino=4209066143
extents before:27 after:1 DONE ino=4209066143

Now its time to go back and check how well the file system reorganising was:

$ sudo  xfs_db -c frag -r /dev/mapper/Storage

And the results?

thushan@ZEUS:~$ sudo  xfs_db -c frag -r /dev/mapper/Storage
actual 21652, ideal 21584, fragmentation factor 0.31%

Lovely! What a difference and you’ll notice the improvement immediately if you start moving or transfering files around.

Ideally, you may want to setup a cron task to let this process run (maybe with a lower timeout) overnight or when theres low-load. Whats great about the xfs_fsr utility is that its smart enough to remember where it finished up last time and continue from there. Its a shame Ubuntu doesnt do this already.

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Inaguration of Barrack Obama: Microsoft PhotoSynth 3D Viewer

January 21st, 2009 1 comment

We were up till the wee hours of the morning awaiting the broadcast of the inauguration of Barrack Obama, The President of the United States. What an event and if you couldn’t make it dont fear, Microsoft – using their PhotoSynth tech – have a cool view of the area from the many happy snappers on the day.

Things are looking bright, his speech was impecable and inspiring (compared to The Bush) all of which you can read at your leisure. Not only can he give rivetting speeches to inspire a nation (can you see I’ve got some pointers from him?) but he can belt out some dance moves too – again, lets compare that to The Bush. All in all it seems the americans have had a ball which is a seachange from the most depressing farewell party given to Bush and his posse.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus – and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West – know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it. – A fragment from The President’s Speech.

I have a good feeling about this one 🙂

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A tribute to the most well known comedian in the world. George Dubya Bush.

January 20th, 2009 2 comments

A tribute to one of the greatest known comedians of our time – who just happens to also be apparently the President of the United States of America.

David Letterman – George W Bush Moments

Finally, proof that like all comedians, he too can take the piss out of himself – at the Radio & TV Correspondants Dinner. We’re still waiting on the popup book George or ‘how dubya got his groove back’!

Mmmmm Chimpy

Bush may have burnt the economy, dragged the Americans – and subsequently the British and Australians, into an unnecessary conflict, escalated and brought into reality the Big Brother that Orwell predicted and destroyed millions of lives around the globe, but he kept us entertained. He even thinks he’s done the world good, while we can argue till the the troops fighting The War on Terror comes home on the merits of what he thinks, I think all that needed to be said has been said.

To wrap it off, one more video from MadTV.

“So I analyzed that and decided I didn’t want to be the president during a depression greater than the Great Depression, or the beginning of a depression greater than the Great Depression.” –George W. Bush, Washington D.C., Dec. 18, 2008

“People say, well, do you ever hear any other voices other than, like, a few people? Of course I do.” –George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Dec. 18, 2008

“They misunderestimated me.”

“I want to tell you how proud I am to be the President of a nation that — in which there’s a lot of Philippine-Americans. They love America and they love their heritage. And I reminded the President that I am reminded of the great talent of the — of our Philippine-Americans when I eat dinner at the White House.” –George W. Bush, referring to White House chef Cristeta Comerford while meeting with Filipino President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Washington, D.C., June 24, 2008

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xkcd: I am an iDiot

January 14th, 2009 2 comments

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Windows Server 2008 R2 Beta Download

January 11th, 2009 1 comment

Now that the road to downloading Windows 7 Beta 1 and finding a key for Windows 7 Beta 1 have been travelled by most, its time to look towards Windows Server 2008 R2 Beta.

This release contains some significant updates to the virtualisation hypervisor in Windows Server (Hyper-Vwiki) and will only be offered as a 64-bit release sporting 256 processors (with 32 processors in VMs).

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Getting a Windows 7 Beta 1 Product Key

January 10th, 2009 4 comments

Just over 12hrs ago the download links for Windows 7 Beta 1 went live and I posted not long after about it… But in my rush to get Neo to a friends place for a doggy day (where were my priorities aye?) I forgot to mention how to obtain a proper license key to utilise the betas. So heres the spill.

Sign in via your .NET Passport

Its vital that you sign in via your .NET Passport, otherwise you’ll keep getting redirected to the Microsoft homey page or the Windows Beta 7 site. You can do this by visiting any protected section of Microsoft, say like the Manage Your Profile section.

Once your signed in, your ready to try and obtain your key. Use one of the following URLs (they are purposely not hyperlinks so you are forced to copy/paste):

  • Windows 7 Beta 1 – x86
    https://www.microsoft.com/betaexperience/productkeys/win7-32/enus/default.aspx
  • Windows 7 Beta 1 – x64
    https://www.microsoft.com/betaexperience/productkeys/win7-64/enus/default.aspx

If at first you don’t succeed, reload and try again.

Most of the time you try the links you’ll be greeted with this:

But dont fret, its only to warn off n00bs, just keep refreshing your browser and eventually the server will bite.

Successful x64 Key obtained.

Some people have gone so far as to using 20 tabs in firefox, cycle-through (just use CTRL+TAB) after they’ve all reloaded and checking, if none bite just right click on a tab and select “Reload All Tabs”. Repeat till key found.

If your _really_ desperate, you can automate the entire process via Firefox + GreaseMonkey by following this forum posting. Nothing like calling on the greasy helper monkeys to work whilst you ponder the mysteries of life.

You can also readup on Installation Instructions for Windows 7 Beta 1 to get up to speed on the setup process and also some information on the Windows Blog about downloading and installing Beta 1.

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Windows 7 Beta 1 Public Beta Download Live!

January 10th, 2009 2 comments

Just under half hour ago Microsoft released the Windows 7 Beta 1 for public viewing, hurry in and get on the wagon because it can only fit 2.5Million people.

Grab a copy whilst its still hot from the direct links below, from TechNet Evaluation Centre or the Windows 7 home and your personal key from here (currently down).

Download: Windows 7 Beta 1 (x86) | Windows 7 Beta 1 (x64)

No doubt the servers will be are being hammered, alternatively, you can use your Microsoft Connect, MSDN, or TechNet for subscribers and testers.

IMPORTANT:

If you do download the Windows 7 Beta and you have a healthy collection of MP3s, make sure you download the patch that was released to fix a serious bug that may cause your MP3s to stop working. This is all documented in Microsoft Knowledgebase Article 961367. Download links for x86 and x64.

Enjoy!

UPDATE (8AM Australian EST – 10/01):

“Due to very heavy traffic we’re seeing as a result of interest in the Windows 7 Beta, we are adding some additional infrastructure support to Microsoft.com properties before we post the public Beta today. We want to ensure customers have the best possible experience when downloading the Beta, and will be in touch once the Beta goes live.”

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Google Chrome 2.0

January 9th, 2009 1 comment

While Microsoft flaunts Windows 7, everyone’s second favourite company, Google is hard at work on Chrome 2.0. They’ve just release a pre-beta release tagged Chrome 2.0.156.1 which brings some funky new changes:

  • New version of WebKit. WebKit is the open source code Google Chrome uses to render web pages (HTML and CSS). 1.0.154.36 used basically the same version of WebKit as Safari 3.1, but the WebKit team has made a lot of improvements since that was released. 156.1 uses WebKit version 528.8 or, more precisely, revision 39410 from the WebKit source tree. In addition to fixing bugs and enabling features like full-page zoom and autoscroll, the new version also enables some nifty CSS features:
  • Form Autocomplete. Google Chrome remembers what you’ve typed into fields on web pages. If you type in the same form again, it will show any previous values that match what you’ve typed so far. You can disable Form autocomplete on the Minor Tweaks tab of the Options dialog.  (Note: this is like the basic form autocomplete available in Firefox or Internet Explorer. It is not the same as the form fill feature in Google Toolbar.)
  • Full-page zoom. Previously, page zoom (Ctrl++ or Ctrl+-) increased or decreased only the text on a page. Zoom now scales everything on the page together, so pages look correct at different zoom levels.
  • Spell-checking improvements. You can now enable or disable spell checking in a text field by right-clicking in the field. You can also change the spell-checking language by right clicking. To enable spell-checking in a language, add it to the list of ‘languages you use to read web sites’ in the Fonts and Languages dialog ([Wrench] > Options > Minor Tweaks > Fonts and Languages). Note that Google Chrome doesn’t have spell-checking dictionaries for every language you can add to this list.
  • Autoscroll. Many users have asked for this and (thanks to our WebKit update), we now offer autoscrolling. Middle-click (click the mousewheel on most mice) on a page to turn on autoscroll, then move the mouse to scroll the page in any direction.
  • Docking dragged tabs. When you drag a tab to certain positions on the monitor, a docking icon will appear.  Release the mouse over the docking icon to have the tab snap to the docking position instead of being dropped at the same size as the original window. Docking positions are:
    • Monitor top: make the dropped tab maximized.
    • Monitor left/right: make the dropped tab full-height and half-width, aligned with the monitor edge.
    • Monitor bottom: make the dropped tab full-width and half-height, aligned with the bottom of the monitor.
    • Browser-window left/right: fit the browser window and the dropped tab side-by-side across the screen.
    • Browser-window bottom: fit the browser window and the dropped tab top-to-bottom across the screen.
  • Import bookmarks from Google Bookmarks. The [Wrench menu] > Import bookmarks & settings… option now has a Google Toolbar option to import Google Bookmarks. The bookmarks get imported into your Other bookmarks folder. The bookmarks are not kept in sync; the import process simply reads in the current set of online bookmarks.
  • New SafeBrowsing implementation. SafeBrowsing is now faster, more reliable, and uses the disk less often.
  • Use different browser profiles. You can start a new browser window that uses a different profile (different bookmarks, history, cookies, etc.). Use [Wrench menu] > New window in profile. When you create a new profile, you can name it and add a shortcut to your Desktop.
  • Update the V8 Javascript engine to version 0.4.6.0 (from 0.3.9.3).
  • New network code. Google Chrome now has its own implementation of the HTTP network protocol (we were using the WinHTTP library on Windows, but need common code for Mac and Linux). We fixed a few bugs in HTTP authentication and made Google Chrome more compatible with servers that reply with invalid HTTP responses. We need feedback on anything that’s currently broken, particularly with proxy servers, secure (https) sites, and sites that require log in.
  • New window frames on Windows XP and Vista, supporting windows cascading and tiling, and other window-management add-in programs.
  • Experimental user script support (similar to Greasemonkey). You can add a –enable-user-scripts flag to your Google Chrome shortcut to enable user scripts. See the developer documentation for details.
  • A new HTTPS-only browsing mode. Add –force-https to your Google Chrome shortcut, and it will only load HTTPS sites. Sites with SSL certificate errors will not load.

Go on, try it out.

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Windows Se7en, feedback.

January 9th, 2009 No comments

Long is the way, and hard, that out of hell leads up to light. – Movie: Se7en

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