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Archive for October, 2009

Rebuilding Zeus – Part I.5: Change of heart, change of hardware.

October 14th, 2009 No comments

After a bit of digging around, my original spec’d hardware I’ve decided is too much for a boxen that will be on 24×7, especially with the rates for electricity going up next year – every little Watt counts. The existing 65W CPU isn’t ideal, instead I’m opting for a 45W CPU instead and this means – looking at the lineup, its going to be a walk down AMD way. Less watts, less heat and less noise, noice! See AMD’s product roadmap for 2010-2011.

The original specifications I mentioned were:

I’ve decided to change the CPU and Motherboard but keep the other bits and bobs – I could loose the graphics card and go onboard but I felt like leaving it there for now. The target budget is $250 maximum for both CPU+Mobo, so this means I’m sticking with DDR2 which implies AM2+ but it must also satisfy:

  • CPU has to be 45W and be atleast 1.6Ghz, dual core no more, has to support Virtualization.
  • Motherboard has to Support 8Gb (most boards doo!),  have atleast 2x  PCIe and a PCI slot, it would be nice if the network cards work (gigabit) but no fuss if it doesnt. No crazy shebangabang Wifi, remotes etc bling and if it has onboard Video great, otherwise its OK to use a crappy card.

I picked the AMD Athlon X2 5050e CPU because it was cheap (~$80), supports a 45W, has virtualisation and is an AM2. Next was the motherboard, looking at the ASUS, Gigabyte & XFX models as my target.

Chipset wise only the following fit the criteria for a possible match because others just don’t have the number of SATA ports available onboard. Primarily AMD boards are supplied by NVIDIA or AMD themselves.

Initially I looked at the ASUS  boards (they’ve been nothing but rock solid for me in the past) but after a lot of research scouring through the manufacturer sites I ended up picking out the Gigabyte GA-MA790X-UD4P which is based on the AMD 790X Chipset. The board came with 8x SATA Ports, 3x PCIe and 2x PCI and a  Gigabit NIC all for a $137 from PCCaseGear. Not only was the power consumption lowered but the noise and heat generated was substantially lower too!

Coming in close was the ASUS M4N78 PRO or the ASUS M4A78 PRO, each of those unfortunately didn’t have as many SATA ports (2-less) nor the PCIe ports (1-less).

GA-MA790X-UD4P
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Avoid using Snow Leopard Guest Account, unless you want to loose your home.

October 13th, 2009 No comments

Dude wheres my data? Well chances are you’ve logged into a Guest account on your shiny new Snow Leopard (the world’s most advanced operating system!).

As a confused veteran of the Mac informs us:

Ok accidentally clicked on “guest account” to log into my mac…was taking a while to log in so i walked away, came back a minute later and i was greeted with my normal login list again, my usual acc, and the guest user, this time i clicked on the correct one and when it started up i now have a VERY simple desktop, std snow leopard desktop (not my normal desktop pic) and cant see any HD.

Ive been using macs for decades.. what the heck have i done here? repeated restarts and logins never get me back to me usual user acc?… errrm panic kicking in

They should have a feature listing for that, finely tuned operating system level porn mode! Maybe for iSkeet Leopard 2.0!

But in all seriousness you should disable your guest account, its not worth loosing your /home over. Hopefully you’ve kept backups to revert to. QA much?

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Part I: Rebuilding ZEUS, the journey of training the next home server

October 6th, 2009 No comments

I’ve been looking at upgrading our existing home server from the archaic (and unsupported!) Ubuntu Gutsy (because I was feeling gutsy at the time) to something newer, fresher and that will last me atleast another 2 years. This is purely for my documentation.

Current Setup

Currently running an AMD setup with Ubuntu Gutsy (7.10) – I didn’t think it would last this long, honest! Ubuntu 6.06 had too many issues with the hardware/driver incompatibilities.

DISTRIB_ID=Ubuntu
DISTRIB_RELEASE=7.10
DISTRIB_CODENAME=gutsy
DISTRIB_DESCRIPTION="Ubuntu 7.10"

On an ASUS A8N-SLI Deluxe motherboard (because you know, servers need SLI!) sporting a AMD Athlon64 3200+ (the only AMD CPU at home!) with 2Gb of RAM (hey, DDR1 wasn’t cheap enough!)

lspci

00:00.0 Memory controller: nVidia Corporation CK804 Memory Controller (rev a3)
00:01.0 ISA bridge: nVidia Corporation CK804 ISA Bridge (rev f3)
00:01.1 SMBus: nVidia Corporation CK804 SMBus (rev a2)
00:02.0 USB Controller: nVidia Corporation CK804 USB Controller (rev a2)
00:02.1 USB Controller: nVidia Corporation CK804 USB Controller (rev a3)
00:04.0 Multimedia audio controller: nVidia Corporation CK804 AC'97 Audio Controller (rev a2)
00:06.0 IDE interface: nVidia Corporation CK804 IDE (rev f2)
00:07.0 IDE interface: nVidia Corporation CK804 Serial ATA Controller (rev f3)
00:08.0 IDE interface: nVidia Corporation CK804 Serial ATA Controller (rev f3)
00:09.0 PCI bridge: nVidia Corporation CK804 PCI Bridge (rev f2)
00:0a.0 Bridge: nVidia Corporation CK804 Ethernet Controller (rev f3)
00:0b.0 PCI bridge: nVidia Corporation CK804 PCIE Bridge (rev f3)
00:0c.0 PCI bridge: nVidia Corporation CK804 PCIE Bridge (rev f3)
00:0d.0 PCI bridge: nVidia Corporation CK804 PCIE Bridge (rev f3)
00:0e.0 PCI bridge: nVidia Corporation CK804 PCIE Bridge (rev a3)
00:18.0 Host bridge: Advanced Micro Devices [AMD] K8 [Athlon64/Opteron] HyperTransport Technology Configuration
00:18.1 Host bridge: Advanced Micro Devices [AMD] K8 [Athlon64/Opteron] Address Map
00:18.2 Host bridge: Advanced Micro Devices [AMD] K8 [Athlon64/Opteron] DRAM Controller
00:18.3 Host bridge: Advanced Micro Devices [AMD] K8 [Athlon64/Opteron] Miscellaneous Control
01:00.0 VGA compatible controller: nVidia Corporation G70 [GeForce 7300 GT] (rev a1)
05:06.0 RAID bus controller: Silicon Image, Inc. SiI 3114 [SATALink/SATARaid] Serial ATA Controller (rev 02)
05:07.0 RAID bus controller: Silicon Image, Inc. Adaptec AAR-1210SA SATA HostRAID Controller (rev 02)
05:0a.0 RAID bus controller: Silicon Image, Inc. SiI 3114 [SATALink/SATARaid] Serial ATA Controller (rev 02)
05:0b.0 FireWire (IEEE 1394): Texas Instruments TSB43AB22/A IEEE-1394a-2000 Controller (PHY/Link)
05:0c.0 Ethernet controller: Marvell Technology Group Ltd. 88E8001 Gigabit Ethernet Controller (rev 13)

/proc/cpuinfo

processor       : 0
vendor_id       : AuthenticAMD
cpu family      : 15
model           : 47
model name      : AMD Athlon(tm) 64 Processor 3200+
stepping        : 2
cpu MHz         : 1000.000
cache size      : 512 KB
fdiv_bug        : no
hlt_bug         : no
f00f_bug        : no
coma_bug        : no
fpu             : yes
fpu_exception   : yes
cpuid level     : 1
wp              : yes
flags           : fpu vme de pse tsc msr pae mce cx8 apic sep mtrr pge mca cmov pat pse36 clflush mmx fxsr sse sse2 syscall nx mmxext fxsr_opt lm 3dnowext 3dnow up pni lahf_lm ts fid vid ttp tm stc
bogomips        : 2011.59
clflush size    : 64

This faithful boxen has been the primary source of our fileserver (XFS+LVM 3Tb) – used internal to our house and also by others who upload their stuff to be backed up. Subversion repositories, Apache/LightHttpd test servers for PHP work, Virtualisation for Windows 2003, 2000 and SqlServers running for testing and several other things (think: TeamCity, Continous Integration tools, Confluence etc). Its also been damn convenient when your at work or on holidays to be able to login, muse about via SSH and even fix things remotely.

Needs & Wants

The new server will need to fufil the following roles:

  • Function as a NAS to continue to offer backup (via users home directories) and storage options
    • No file-system constraints asside from no Ext3 or ReiserFS.
  • Offer the ability to still run Virtual Machines, need to virtualise CentOS, Ubuntu and Windows for testing, they’ll be running in  Bridged mode
  • No real need for a Gui (I can consider myself a little l33t than a few years ago)
  • Run a Subversion repository (not that hard!)

The idea is to have a bare bones operating system install and have the virtual machines handle the hard and ugly work – webservers to test things, servers to try development deployments (java) and other bits and pieces. The core OS just has to manage the NAS and allow the ability to SSH in to offer subversion access.

Hardware

The hardware I’ve picked from things I had around the place, the only thing I’ve bought is just new sticks of RAM.

  • Motherboard: ASUS P5QL-PRO
    This board offered some excellent specifications via the P43 chipset, the things I looked for was the number of SATA ports ‘out of the box’ – 6 native SATA2, the number of 1x PCIe slots (2!) for future addions of PCIe SATA adapters and the maximum amount of memory possible (8Gb). Oh ofcourse, something cheapy and that can run the CPU I had around. A Gigabit NIC was also important (dual would be better!) but if it wasn’t supported I had a trusty Intel PRO 1000MT Server PCI cards to fill the void – almost everything supports them (e1000)!
  • CPU: Intel Core-2 E6750 – 2.66Ghz (65W TDP, VT)
    Importance was Intel-VT support, low TDP and a dualcore thats not too high.
  • RAM: Corsair TWIN2X4096-6400C5 (4Gb kit x 2 = 8Gb)
    Cheapy cheapy, twice the fun of a regular kit, slightly higher CAS, but who CAreS this isnt being overclocked.
  • Graphics: ASUS 9400GT PCI-Express
    The cheapest graphics card to be found at the legendary& award winning computer store MSY Technologies. Depending on how the drivers go (I’m usually biased towards ATI for all Linuxes) I might endup paying for a ATi card later.

Next up the investigation, be warned though I started this initially back in June/July (possibly a bit earlier).

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Thunderbird 3.0 Beta 4 fixes corrupted summary files!

October 6th, 2009 No comments

Since ditching Outlook after Outlook 2003 (Outlook 2007, 2003 was fine in comparison) came around I’ve been using Mozilla Thunderbird as my ever faithful email client. Its fast, lightweight and not as bloated as Outlook is – couple it with Lightning and you’ll be laughing!

Thunderbird 3 brings some cool features for users with the biggest being tabbed message windows (and calendars etc). If you downloaded the new 3.x betas make sure you get Beta 4, the long standing issue with the Messagebox Summary file being corrupt has been finally addressed. Its been a pet hate for a long time now, sometimes searching a folder can corrupt an MSF (means having to go and remove the MSF so it rebuilds the index!), no more! Thunderbird will now fixup any problematic MSF files in the background, yay!

The search in Thunderbird 3 is a massive improvement over the other clients I’ve used, give it a go!

After you download Thunderbird, make sure you get the latest nightly for Lightning Calendar Addon and Google Provider and use them.

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Keeping track of time with ntp in Linux

October 4th, 2009 No comments

So today we had to move our clocks forward 1 hour (at 2am). Just realised that our Ubuntu box (zeus) was not displaying the right time to begin with (prior to the change). So to keep your computer clock in time with the world, use ntp.

$ sudo ntpdate [timeserver]

I use the Melbourne AAPT time-server but you can find another here or if your an aussie, use these:

ACT ntp.can.connect.com.au stratum three
NSW ntp.syd.connect.com.au stratum two
Queensland ntp.bri.connect.com.au stratum three
South Australia ntp.ade.connect.com.au stratum three
Victoria ntp.mel.connect.com.au stratum two
Western Australia ntp.per.connect.com.au stratum three

Configure your /etc/ntpd.conf with

driftfile /var/lib/ntp/ntp.drift
server ntp.mel.connect.com.au

So how far off was zeus?

4 Oct 21:39:46 ntpdate[24844]: step time server 192.189.54.17 offset -1225.284656 sec

eeek!

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xkcd: Surgery

October 3rd, 2009 No comments

\

Source: http://xkcd.com/644/

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Learning Scala from a Java perspective

October 1st, 2009 No comments

I’ve been reading up and keeping abreast of both the .NET world and Java world this year, both have some mighty exciting advancements coming – teaser: its all about the Pentiums! I’ll try and cover some of my research into parallel work later.

One of the other areas I’ve been keen on (after hearing from the leader of our pack, Mr Wolfe) was Scala and came across a incredibly useful resource by Daniel Spiewak on looking at Scala from a Java developers perspective.

The linked article is a ’roundup’ of the many posts he’s done on the topic and covers the many facets of Scala and gives it in a Java developers perspective. Highly recommended reading if your just starting out in understanding Scala and functional programming general. I have to admit, Scala is growing on me.

F# is the key functional programming language in .NET and whilst I’ve seen them being compared quite frequently, I feel they target to different areas. From a n00bish-functional-programming perspective, it feels like Scala is all about the OO and F# is more about writing in a functional perspective. But here’s an article from 2007 that may give you a better idea or Brandon Werner‘s article comparing the functional languages.

By the same token, there’s a great introduction to F# that will cover the historical and core language.

I remember messing about 10 years ago with Delphi, VB, Java, C/C++ and thinking this is RAD, but the world seems to be morphing into the functional programming paradigm now.  What better time to start musing with it?

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