Archive for the ‘Guides & How-To’ Category

Channel9: Windows Phone 7 Jump Start

September 14th, 2010 No comments

With the release of the final Windows Phone 7 SDK just days away, now’s the time to get into understanding the concepts, architecture & development side of Windows Phone 7. There’s an interesting series posted on Channel 9 to hep you get there.

This Windows Phone 7 Jump Start video training is for all developers interested in developing applications or games for the new Windows Phone 7 Platform.  The course is based on the Microsoft Windows Phone 7 Developer Training Kit and taught by Microsoft MVP’s and Microsoft Press Authors, Andy Wigley and Rob S. Miles.  Watch these entertaining sessions and complete the labs found on Channel 9 ( to gain development skills using both XNA and Silverlight. For copies of the student files and links to demo code, you can go to the Windows Phone 7 Born To Learn Forum (

Enjoy – the ! I’ll be posting about my own adventures soon!

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Ubuntu 10.04 and getting Sun JRE instead of OpenJDK

May 2nd, 2010 1 comment

If you’ve downloaded the latest Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx you’d realise that they ship with the OpenJDK instead of the Sun (Oracle) JRE. The Ubuntu team has decided to move the Sun Java bits to the partner repository which means we need to do a couple of things prior to getting it through apt-get.
First add the repository to your /etc/apt/sources.list via the add-apt-repository command, then do a full update.

$ add-apt-repository "deb lucid partner"
$ apt-get update

Then lets install the Sun JRE & JDK as required.

$ apt-get install sun-java6-jre sun-java6-plugin sun-java6-fonts
$ apt-get install sun-java6-jdk

Once installed you can verify the correct JRE is installed with:

$ java -version

I have to say, this release of Ubuntu is incredibly refreshing 🙂 Its matured so well in a short period of time, its definitely got the Lynx Effect(NSFW).

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FIX: WordPress Older Posts not working in IIS with Permalinks

April 28th, 2010 2 comments

I spent some time tweaking my blog today after moving it to some fresh hardware. You may find that everything is loading much faster now which can be attributed to two plugins in addition to the hardware upgrade – wp-super-cache and wp-widget-cache.

I’ve also fixed a long standing bug with my particular configuration of WordPress that runs on IIS which causes the “Older posts” link at the bottom does not function for the second page. The WordPress generated URL for this is

Which is a bit problematic, this ofcourse can be reproduced only on IIS from my musings (serves me right eh?). There are a couple of suggestions by people on the forums already, but I wasn’t too keen on them as they seemed too high-level fixes.

I’ve enabled Permalinks with this format:

So I looked through the sources to see why this was happening. After a bit of snooping about I got to the get_pagenum_link function in wp-includes/link-template.php file.

Heres a bit of source for reference – this is with WordPress 2.9.2:

function get_pagenum_link($pagenum = 1) {
	global $wp_rewrite;

	$pagenum = (int) $pagenum;

	$request = remove_query_arg( 'paged' );

	$home_root = parse_url(get_option('home'));
	$home_root = ( isset($home_root['path']) ) ? $home_root['path'] : '';
	$home_root = preg_quote( trailingslashit( $home_root ), '|' );

	$request = preg_replace('|^'. $home_root . '|', '', $request);
	$request = preg_replace('|^/+|', '', $request);

	if ( !$wp_rewrite->using_permalinks() || is_admin() ) {
		$base = trailingslashit( get_bloginfo( 'home' ) );

		if ( $pagenum > 1 ) {
			$result = add_query_arg( 'paged', $pagenum, $base . $request );
		} else {
			$result = $base . $request;
	} else {
		$qs_regex = '|\?.*?$|';
		preg_match( $qs_regex, $request, $qs_match );

		if ( !empty( $qs_match[0] ) ) {
			$query_string = $qs_match[0];
			$request = preg_replace( $qs_regex, '', $request );
		} else {
			$query_string = '';

		$request = preg_replace( '|page/\d+/?$|', '', $request);
		$request = preg_replace( '|^index\.php|', '', $request);
		$request = ltrim($request, '/');

		$base = trailingslashit( get_bloginfo( 'url' ) );

	if ( $wp_rewrite->using_index_permalinks() && ( $pagenum > 1 || '' != $request ) )
		$base .= 'index.php/';

		if ( $pagenum > 1 ) {
			$request = ( ( !empty( $request ) ) ? trailingslashit( $request ) : $request ) . user_trailingslashit( 'page/' . $pagenum, 'paged' );

		$result = $base . $request . $query_string;

	$result = apply_filters('get_pagenum_link', $result);

	return $result;

This function (from reading through) essentially generates the links for the page numbers & page navigation taking into account Permalinks if configured. This is all fine and dandy for Unix hosts but for Windows, unfortunately this bit of code fails us.

$request = preg_replace( '|page/\d+/?$|', '', $request);
$request = preg_replace( '|^index\.php|', '', $request);
$request = ltrim($request, '/');

As the preg_replace is case sensitive, it will not replace the invalid Index.php that is seen on IIS. So the easiest fix is to tweak the regex pattern a little bit and tell it be case insensitive.

$request = preg_replace( '|page/\d+/?$|', '', $request);
$request = preg_replace( '/|^index\.php|/i', '', $request);
$request = ltrim($request, '/');

This will then generate the (invalid) urls and the preg_replace will remove any additional Index.php’s from the request URL as its already mentioned in the $base variable a few lines below:

if ( $wp_rewrite->using_index_permalinks() && ( $pagenum > 1 || '' != $request ) )
$base .= 'index.php/';

Once you make the change and upload the files, your “Older posts” will start working again. I’ll submit a patch to WordPress I’ve submitted a patch to WordPress Trac, now its just a wait and see what they say, in the meantime here’s a patch file if you don’t want to modify sources manually. If there any issues, post a comment 🙂

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Beautiful wallpapers for you to relax with.

March 8th, 2010 No comments

Some really cool wallpapers from Windows 7 Technical Evangelist Mike Swanson.

I’ve got the new Audi RS5 wallpapers on my work and home PCs if cars are your thing 😉

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Upgrading non-Global OpenSolaris Zone to latest BE

January 14th, 2010 1 comment

I’ve been tracking the latest dev version of OpenSolaris (as of writing I just upgraded to Nevada SNV 130 ) because of some issues surrounding CIFS in the 2009.06 image of OpenSolaris.

To update to the latest BE, simply update your packages and image-update (after configuring the dev repository!).

# pkg refresh --full
# pkg image-update
# reboot

If you’ve created zones in your OpenSolaris system after upgrading to the latest BE you will need to upgrade your zones as well. Here’s a simple guide on how to update a zone named tomcat to the BE on the global zone.

# zoneadm -z tomcat halt
# zoneadm -z tomcat detach
# zoneadm -z tomcat attach -u
# zoneadm -z tomcat boot

The output of the attach and upgrade command appears below, here I am upgrading from 127 to 130.

Log File: /var/tmp/tomcat.attach_log.23aWZl

       Global zone version: entire@0.5.11,5.11-0.130:20091219T044839Z
   Non-Global zone version: entire@0.5.11,5.11-0.127:20091111T131831Z
           Publisher Check: Zone preferred publisher does not contain
           Publisher Reset: Copying preferred publisher from global zone.
  Updating non-global zone: (Stage 1).  Output follows
DOWNLOAD                                  PKGS       FILES    XFER (MB)
Completed                              130/130   6842/6842  191.0/191.0

PHASE                                        ACTIONS
Removal Phase                              3529/3529
Install Phase                              7108/7108
Update Phase                               5247/5247
  Updating non-global zone: (Stage 2).  Output follows
No updates necessary for this image.
  Updating non-global zone: Zone updated to entire@0.5.11,5.11-0.130:20091219T044839Z
Attach complete.

Thats it, the updated zones are now booted! Whilst I’m posting this, if you want to upgrade to a specific version of OpenSolaris you can do that too!

# pkg refresh --full
# pkg image-update --be-name opensolaris-128

This will upgrade your BE to 128 instead of the latest – 130.

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Ars reviews the Nexus One!

January 14th, 2010 No comments

Excellent review of the Google Nexus One on ArsTechnica – as always. Don’t forget that the Nexus One SDK got released too recently.

Impressive! Definately awaiting the launch here to get one to replace the Windows Mobile phones. Whats even more impressive is the fact that it ships with a 1Ghz Snapdragon (ARM Cortex A8) processor with 512Mb of memory! Smooth cat!

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Part II: Rebuilding ZEUS – The Operating System, FileSystem & Virtualisation

October 18th, 2009 No comments

Now that I’ve decided what I want out of the server (and the hardware I’ve got), its time to workout what operating system to run the system on. Currently, ZEUS is running on Ubuntu Gutsy (7.10) which is running LVM with an XFS volume holding approximately 2.5Tb worth of data. There’s a cron job that defrags the XFS volume to keep things in order.

The Operating System

As the operating system is no longer maintained (my oversight into how long it would survive) I have to find an OS that supports the hardware platform without hacky hacky bits (and by this I mean avoiding buggy ACPI and issues with the NForce4 chipset and IRQ problems) and has a file system that will benefit long term.

There were a few considerations:

  • Ubuntu 8.04.x LTS
    I like Ubuntu, I’m comfortable with the user land and find the Debian package system (in particular the dependency resolving) most impressive. Hardware is well supported and 8.04.3 (at the time of writing) boots on the hardware I originally selected (Intel) and the new configuration I recently selected (AMD). I could most definitely use Ext4 but the problems with data-loss (which I’ve reproduced on several occasions on desktop machines) scare me.FileSystem: I’d have to adopt either XFS or Ext4 on an LVM to factor in future-proofing, maybe get some fakeRAID happening for redundancy.
    : comes with a Server edition that’s bare bones allowing it to be a minimalistic installation which is always nice!
  • Ubuntu 9.04
    Initially when I started to rebuild Zeus back in April I wanted to use Ubuntu 9.04, I was really excited about Ext4 and the promise of a brand-spanking new file-system and what it would bring to the table. Unfortunately after using Ext4 with 9.04 I’ve come to realise its probably not the wisest to trust your data with it just yet – unless you get yourself a UPS! Laptop seems to be chugging nicely though.Installation: Like LTS, comes with a Server edition that’s bare bones allowing it to be a minimalistic installation which is always nice! (copy/paste!) Unfortunately picking 9.04 when 9.10 is just around the corner is not going to be ideal, I’ll be stuck with where I am right now in a year or so.

So in case the sudden influx of OpenSolaris posts didnt give you the hint, I decided on OpenSolaris to power the new iZeus 2.0, actually no that sounds lame, zeusy will be the new ZEUS until ZEUS is retired in which case zeusy becomes zeus (confused?).

Why ZFS?

ZFS is one of those file-systems you look at and think, wow! Why didn’t anyone else think of that before?

  • Very simple administration – you only use two commands, zpool and zfs.
  • Highly scalable – 128-bit means we can hold 16 exabytes or 18 Million terabytes worth of data! More porn for you! XFS can no doubt handle the TBs we use for our home boxes now, but no-chance you can get the performance or benefits of ZFS in Ext3/Ext4 or XFS.
  • Data integrity to heal a filesystem (no fsck’ing around!) – 256bit checksuming to protect data, if ZFS detects a problem it will attempt to reconstruct the bad block and continue on its merry way (utilising available redundancy)
  • Compression – you can elect to compress a particular file-system or a hierarchy just by setting one command! I’m thinking things like logs here.
  • No hardware dependency – JBOD on a controller, let ZFS maintain the RAID volumes in software. Checkout Michael Pryc’s crazy adventure with ZFS using USB thumb drives and Constantin’s original voyage with USB drives! RAID-Z is essentially RAID-5 without the write-hole problems has plagued it if power is lost during a write, it can also survive a loss of a drive (with RAIDZ-2 you can loose two drives).
  • Happy snaps for free! Snapshot (a live) file-system as many times as you like, again one easy command. Its like that tendency to hit {CTRL+S} when your working in Windows from back in the days of Windows 9x, snapshot regularly!

So ZFS sounds much like marketing spiel right now, best thing since sliced bread, cooler than a cucumber, and you’d be right it is cool and the best thing since filesystems came to being. Over the coming days I’ll post some more on my musings with ZFS – keeping in mind that I’m still learning these things. It helps to have lots of hardware to play with, but even if you don’t, you can knock up a virtual version of OpenSolaris in VirtualBox, create some virtual disks and try it out.

There are a few caveats that I’ve come across though using ZFS, one is memory! ZFS will try and cache as much data as it can in RAM, so if you have 8Gb of RAM (as I have in this box) it will happily use as much of it as it can afford. Rightfully so, I was getting ~96MB/s transfering a 16Gb MPEG from one box to the other over our Gig link (thats from one end of the house to the other!) mind you this was just a test configuration using 2x 74Gb Western Digital Raptors (WD740ADFD) in a RAID-0 style hitting a single 150Gb Western Digital Raptor (WD1500ADFD). They could have gone much higher, but I was happy with that.

There are also (as of writing) no recovery tools for ZFS, but these are slated to arrive soon (Q4 2009) which is quite scary after you read this post about a guy loosing 10Tb worth of data, however a possible revert to an older uberblock may fix some problems.


Initially I wanted to concentrate quite a bit on Virtualisation, I tried Xen on OpenSolaris. It was quite easy to setup a Xen Dom0 in OpenSolaris but with the 2009.06 release you had to tweak the Xen setup a bit. I wasn’t too enthusiastic about using Xen after seeing the performance lag in Windows in my musings. Instead I’m opting for my crush, VirtualBox.

So why use VirtualBox when you can get a bare-metal hypervisor? Firstly, performance seems to be sluggish with Xen for me (I didn’t investigate this too much), secondly I want to be able to run the latest and greatest OS’s out without worrying about upgrading Xen (I’m a sucker for OS’s!). VirtualBox development has accelerated at a feverish pace, I started with VirtualBox 1.3 in 2007 and its come an insanely long way since then. When a new release comes along, its as easy as updating VirtualBox and getting all the benefits. Plus with SunOracle‘s backing of VirtualBox you know things are going to work well on OpenSolaris, the Extras repository of VirtualBox makes it as easy as doing a pkg update.

I’m still quite intrigued by the way KVM is heading and how it will pan out, but for the future zeus, it will be VirtualBox.

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FIX: OpenSolaris Package Manager fails after adding Extras Repository

October 16th, 2009 No comments

After setting up the extras repository for OpenSolaris I tried to install VirtualBox via the package manager.

thushan@zeusy:~$ pfexec pkg install virtualbox
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "/usr/bin/pkg", line 2598, in ?
    __ret = main_func()
  File "/usr/bin/pkg", line 2541, in main_func
    return install(mydir, pargs)
  File "/usr/bin/pkg", line 710, in install
  File "/usr/lib/python2.4/vendor-packages/pkg/client/", line 203, in plan_install
  File "/usr/lib/python2.4/vendor-packages/pkg/client/", line 1410, in log_operation_end
    self.img.history.log_operation_end(error=error, result=result)
  File "/usr/lib/python2.4/vendor-packages/pkg/client/", line 680, in log_operation_end
    self.operation_result = result
  File "/usr/lib/python2.4/vendor-packages/pkg/client/", line 279, in __setattr__
    raise AttributeError("'history' object attribute '%s' "
AttributeError: 'history' object attribute 'operation_result' cannot be set before 'operation_name'.

pkg: This is an internal error.  Please let the developers know about this
problem by filing a bug at and including the
above traceback and this message.  The version of pkg(5) is '87d6ba4c8e1c'.

Uh-oh, what the hell did I break now I thought? After some messing about I realised the time on the machine was a few hours behind – this was just installed on the new hardware I picked up the other day, the certificates were timestamped and I figured this was probably a clash of the space-time continuum. Instead of opting to manually set the time, I let it sync (periodically) with an NTP Server local to us here in Melbourne.

To do this, we enter our NTP server in /etc/inet/ntp.conf like so:


Then we tell it to update itself:

thushan@zeusy:~$ pfexec ntpq -p
 remote           refid      st t when poll reach   delay   offset    disp
*yarrina.connect mumnunah.csse.u  2 u   20   64  377    50.22  -11.747    0.44

Done, now you’ll find that your package manager will no longer fail with the stack-trace as the timestamps will match correctly!

UPDATE: There’s already a bug report about this in the OpenSolaris Bugzilla.

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Setting up OpenSolaris Extras Repository for VirtualBox, True-Type Fonts, Flash & JavaFX SDK

October 16th, 2009 3 comments

I’ve been messing about with OpenSolaris (you’ll know why soon!) and decided to install the OpenSolaris Extras repository so I can grab the latest VirtualBox install from the repository. This repository has the following packages (as of writing) and is recommended if you plan on using VirtualBox:

NAME (PUBLISHER)                              VERSION         STATE      UFIX
SUNWadmj (extra)                              0.5.11-0.111    known      ----
SUNWjsnmp (extra)                             0.5.11-0.111    known      ----
SUNWwbapi (extra)                             0.5.11-0.111    known      ----
SUNWwbcou (extra)                             0.5.11-0.111    known      ----
SUNWwbdev (extra)                             0.5.11-0.111    known      ----
develop/java/javafx-sdk (extra)      known      ----
service/compute/sungridengine (extra)         6.2.2-0.111     known      ----
service/compute/sungridengine/arco (extra)    6.2.2-0.111     known      ----
service/compute/sungridengine/domainmanager (extra) 6.2.2-0.111     known      ----
system/font/truetype/ttf-fonts-core (extra)   1.0-0.111       known      ----
system/iiim/ja/atok (extra)                   17-0.111        known      ----
system/iiim/ja/wnn8 (extra)                   8-0.111         known      ----
virtualbox (extra)                            3.0.8-0.101     known      ----
virtualbox/kernel (extra)                     3.0.8-0.101     known      ----
web/firefox/plugin/flash (extra)     known      ----

So what do you need to get these freebies? (source help)

  • Register if you haven’t already with Sun, otherwise login to your Sun Online Account get your certificates.
  • Download the Key and Certificate files onto your desktop. They are named OpenSolaris_extras.key.pem and OpenSolaris_extras.certificate.pem respectively.
  • Now we need to create a directory in /var/pkg to store the certificates – ensuring they have the correct permissions. Then we’ll add them to the folder.
    $ pfexec mkdir -m 0755 -p /var/pkg/ssl
    $ pfexec cp -i ~/Desktop/OpenSolaris_extras.key.pem /var/pkg/ssl
    $ pfexec cp -i ~/Desktop/OpenSolaris_extras.certificate.pem /var/pkg/ssl
  • Then we add them to our configuration.
    $ pfexec pkg set-authority \
        -k /var/pkg/ssl/OpenSolaris_extras.key.pem \
        -c /var/pkg/ssl/OpenSolaris_extras.certificate.pem \
        -O extra
  • To test the above worked get a list of the packages in the repository with the command below. Your output should be similar to mine above.
    $ pkg list -a 'pkg://extra/*'

Now make sure your datetime settings are valid when you do the above, as I found mine was a little out of date and raised a few python exceptions.

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Mounting and activating LVM Volumes from BootCD to recover data in linux

September 2nd, 2009 3 comments

I’ve been working heavily with Red Hat Enterprise Linux (and subsequently CentOS) the past few months (shh! dont tell my MSFT homey!) and one of the great things about CentOS and RHEL is that they both install using LVM – which is a helluvah lot easier when time passes and you realise your running out of space on a drive.

But today I had to recover some data from an LVM partition and copy over some bits to another partition without actually booting the CentOS install (it was bj0rked by yours truely!). What to do? Throw in a Ubuntu LiveCD (or another) and just mount the partitions 🙂

First thing we need to do is install LVM – remember we need to be sudo for these to work.

$ aptitude install lvm2

Then scan for any available physical volumes on any of the drives.

$ pvscan

Scan for any Volume Groups that may be present.

$ vgscan

Now activate any of the Volume Groups that it finds, running this makes the logical volumes known to the kernel.

$ vgchange –available y

Then let it scan for any Logical Volumes on any drives

$ lvscan

After running the logical volume scan it will show the path to the LVM mount path, for my boxen it gives something like this

ACTIVE            ‘/dev/LVM/Data‘ [5.26 TB] inherit

You simply mount the path specified and browse like normally 🙂

$ mount /dev/LVM/Data /mnt


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