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Goodbye, Bluehost

It's been fun.

But shared hosting is no longer for me.

I've moved to linode.com instead. It's faster, and only slightly more expensive then before, in reality. And it's month-to-month.

DNS should be pointing to this new IP shortly.

Xen 4.0 + DRBD + Ubuntu 11.04

So my new job uses Xen. Not the greatest, but it works.
I was testing Nova with KVM, but not using Nova.

I'm trying to see if I can get XenMotion working with DRBD and 2 nodes, no shared storage. But I need to be able to set it up on-the-fly. Ie, we don't need to have XenMotion at all times. Only when something happens to a box that we need to move someone (a customer). So trying this at home first.

CentOS at work, but Ubuntu at home becuase Nova was so much easier to get up. CentOS people: See http://www.gitco.de/repo/

First. Get Xen 4.1 and make packages. Thankfully someone has the hard work done for this:
VirtualUsr - Xen 4.x on Ubuntu

so run the stuff there, and run this command:
debian/bin/packageXen4x.sh

That'll get 4.1.X (in this case 4.1.2rc3).

The Ubuntu kernel shipped with 11.04 works out of the box. -- I thought this was true, but it's not.
You still need to build a kernel, or use a Debian one. Right now my remote boxes are messed up so I will fix them later.

Install the package files with dpkg -i ..generated-packages...
edit /etc/modules and add in:
xen-evtchn
to the file and reboot into Xen 4.1.
One of the packages doesn't quite install right unless you're in xen, so log in to your box (you might have to do this via ssh) and run:
root@box#: apt-get -f install

Which will fix things up.

Do yourself a favor and don't kill xenconsole - it'll halt your box. Lesson learned.

I created a CentOS 6 VM using the instructions here: CentOS 6 domU installation

I modified the kickstart to more closely match our current setup. The one on that site uses LVM on top of the real backing store, which is redundant for us.
After installation, DRBD needs to be set up next.

Getting OpenStack Installed - Part 1

To get OpenStack installed on Ubuntu, I recommend you use the install script. If you want to do it manually, these are the steps from the documentation. I will add in what I had to do in order to get Flat networking working correctly, which was my problem in the whole setup. You can then use something like Puppet or Chef to automate the install (I did it using Chef the first time) but if you don't understand how it works, having it automated just leaves you scratching your head. :-)

Here we go.

Please see docs.openstack.org for more information not covered here. Some of this is verbatim from there.
Continue reading "Getting OpenStack Installed - Part 1"

Getting OpenStack Installed - Part 2

Then make sure the metadata service is set up in iptables:
iptables -t nat -A PREROUTING -d 169.254.169.254/32 -p tcp -m tcp --dport 80 -j DNAT --to-destination 172.16.1.X:8773


Add that line to /etc/rc.local before "exit 0".

Restart networking:

/etc/init.d/networking restart


Finish up the configuration file /etc/nova/nova.conf:
--network_manager=nova.network.manager.FlatManager
--fixed-range=172.16.1.0/24
--num-networks=1
--flat-injected=true
--logdir=/var/log/nova
--state_path=/var/lib/nova
--lock_path=/var/lock/nova
--verbose
--s3_host=172.16.1.20
--rabbit_host=172.16.1.20
--ec2_api=172.16.1.20
--ec2_url=http://172.16.1.20:8773/services/Cloud
--sql_connection=mysql://nova:notnova@172.16.1.20/nova


Restart everything else:

restart libvirt-bin; restart nova-network; restart nova-compute;
restart nova-api; restart nova-objectstore; restart nova-scheduler


Make an admin user and project (whatever you want to call it):

/usr/bin/nova-manage user admin {user_name}
/usr/bin/nova-manage project create {project_name} {user_name}


Finish the guide from this point on:
Creating Certificates

And you should be good to go.

Cobbler and Ubuntu Part Two

So that does work. Now I decided to install Ubuntu Natty (11.04), as it has the Cobbler package in it as well.

I played around with the preseed file until I got it as close as possible, and there are still problems due to network card weirdness (it seems to be re-initialized at some point, breaking everything).

In any case, Cobbler 2.1 is installed, and Ubuntu CDs import just fine. I'm also importing CentOS 6 right now. That worked fine as well.

So 2.1 > 2.0.11 even though 2.0.11 is newer.

Cobbler and Ubuntu or Debian

Cobbler is a system designed to help you automate your installs over the network. It's primarily aimed at Red Hat-based distributions, such as Red Hat Enterprise Linux, CentOS, and Fedora. However, you can use it to install Debian-based distributions as well, with a caveat.

The Debian support is not nearly as good as the RH one. Furthermore, in Debian Squeeze, the network boot does not support AHCI disk controllers, which makes it useless for my test setup. So I will put the Ubuntu instructions here, and someone can modify them to use it with Debian.

I will not be covering Cobbler basics here right now. The wiki is good for that. Also note that there is no package in Debian for Cobbler. There is one in the newest releases of Ubuntu.

Step 1, get Ubuntu Server Installer CD. I will use 10.04 LTS. Go here to get a list of CD mirrors near you. For me, this URL ends up being:

http://mirrors.rit.edu/ubuntu-releases/lucid/ubuntu-10.04.2-server-amd64.iso


Step 2, loopback mount the ISO.

mount -o loop /home/isos/ubuntu-10.04.2-server-amd64.iso /media


Step 3, rsync files from ISO to /var/www/cobbler/ks_mirror/Ubuntu-lucid-x86_64

mkdir /var/www/cobbler/ks_mirror/Ubuntu-lucid-x86_64

rsync -a /media/ /var/www/cobbler/ks_mirror/Ubuntu-lucid-x86_64 --exclude-from=/etc/cobbler/rsync.exclude


Now you have a local copy of the CD as a Net-boot repo resource. The files needed are at:

/var/www/cobbler/ks_mirror/Ubuntu-lucid-x86_64/install/netboot/ubuntu-installer/amd64:
linux
initrd.gz


Step 4, Create a Distribution in Cobbler

cobbler distro add --name=Ubuntu-lucid-x86_64 --kernel=/var/www/cobbler/ks_mirror/Ubuntu-lucid-x86_64/install/netboot/ubuntu-installer/amd64/linux --initrd=/var/www/cobbler/ks_mirror/Ubuntu-lucid-x86_64/install/netboot/ubuntu-installer/amd64/initrd.gz --arch=x86_64 --breed=ubuntu --os-version=jaunty --ksmeta="directory=/cblr/links/Ubuntu-lucid-x86_64 suite=lucid hostname=@@http_server@@ language=english"


Note Jaunty is the newest one supported by this version of Cobbler.

Step 5, Create the Link for installation use:

cd /var/www/cobbler/links

ln -s /var/www/cobbler/ks_mirror/Ubuntu-lucid-x86_64 Ubuntu-lucid-x86_64


Step 6, Set up a profile

cobbler profile add --name=Ubuntu_x86_64 --distro=Ubuntu-lucid-x86_64 --kickstart=/var/lib/cobbler/kickstarts/sample.seed

Step 7, Set up a system

(Best done through web ui)

Step 8, test!

Need to Visit More

I unfortunately have no monitoring in place due to this being a personal site, so I am sorry it's been messed up for a while. It seems Bluehost is now sync'ing passwords across to the DB, which they weren't doing before.

My former job is no longer, as we ran out of funding.

I'm working on learning some new stuff that will hopefully be useful in the future. Stay tuned.

-Matt

Solid State Disks - SSDs

Here's something I have recommended for those who want maximum performance from their PC or Mac. An SSD. An SSD has no moving parts, therefore everything, no matter where it is, is accessed nearly instantaneously. The read and write speeds are usually higher then most 7200 RPM 1TB disks as well, in the over 200MB/s range. One that is reasonably priced is the:



OCZ Agility 2. I purchased one of these recently, and installed it in my Mac clone. My machine now boots in 9 seconds. Everything opens super fast, and frankly I couldn't be happier.

Of Cameras and Lenses

Sigma, who makes 3rd Party lenses for the Nikon, Canon, Sony, and Pentax (I'm sure others as well) SLR systems, also has their own digital-only SLR system. They have a few models - the SD9,10,14,and 15. The new one coming out, is the SD1. This has got me looking at camera stuff again. Their system is awesome in that they're using the Foeveon technology, which makes a CMOS sensor (what the light hits in a digital SLR) that is similar to film, and gets Red, Green, and Blue at every location. This sounds like it should be standard, but it's not. Regular cameras use a checkerboard-like pattern, and "guess" the missing color information.

So as a result, I'm looking up pricing on the older bodies for grins, and happen to find out information about converting the Sigma system cameras from their own Sigma mount to Canon, Nikon, or Leica R-mount. This would allow you to use lenses from any of the other systems, but losing out on some kinda-essential features. But the glass is much better then Sigma. Zeiss does not make lenses in Sigma mount, or else I wouldn't bother looking stuff up.

But I am.

I found:
Sigma to Canon - the physical mount is different but the electronics are identical. So this sounds simple, but it's not. :-(
Sigma to Nikon - Works, but you lose auto-aperature.
Sigma to Leica - Same as Nikon.

I also found a place that will convert Leica R-mount to Nikon, which is an interesting idea, but same thing - no auto-aperature.

So I'm comparing pricing of various lenses right now, and will update later...What I see so far, is Leica-R is expensive. As usual. Anything Leica is expensive, and it's kinda crazy. It's good, but not 4x pricing good...

Gran Turismo 5 & Driving Force GT Wheel

I recently got both of these from GameStop, as I was in a hurry...but Amazon does have a better deal on them this time...



I paid $59 for the game, and $130 for the wheel, so you're saving $45 right away off average price - Best Buy has the wheel for $150!

About the items - Gran Turismo 5 (GT5 from now on), is one of the most anticipated driving simulators for the PS3. It's been delayed forever. But I think it was worth it. It can be challenging to start off, but it's definitely fun. You have to complete a few "license tests" - like accelerating to as fast as you can get to, and then brake within a desired area, in as little as time possible. There are ones on cornering, braking, etc, to help you understand the controls more. You can then start racing, where you buy a car, win races, get trophies, vehicles, money (game money, not real money)...For someone who's a car geek, it's a lot of fun.

As for the wheel, it definitely helps with the experience. However, you'll need a decent table to mount it on, as the force-feedback can move light tables (like the portable tables you can eat off of) around. The pedals work pretty well, and do respond differently to light force vs hard for acceleration and braking. The different vehicles handle differently, without a doubt. The build quality of it is decent, and it re calibrates itself each time the PS3 is turned on. Frankly, unless the quality is significantly higher, which I have not heard is the case...the higher end wheels are for the truly hardcore only.

It's definitely a fun game, and a good combo.

Happy Thanksgiving

Just want to wish everyone a happy thanksgiving / happy black friday :-)

Mine was good, sand the kids weren't too crazy this year, which is nice.

Some photos later..

-Matt

Solaris and disks

Solaris is not very good when it comes to dealing with broken hardware. Sure there is the fault management framework, but that does not mean that the problem is always detected by it. Instead sometimes you have a dead or dying disk drive that spams syslog with annoying messages until you physically unplug the drive from the system. This is what happened to me recently with our live storage system which is based on Solaris.

Thankfully, pulling the drive did fix the error messages from appearing, but then I had to do a format of the disk to make sure that it was OK.

The basis of the Solaris kernel has some really well tested code, but it seems that a misbehaving driver can cause all sorts of problems. This is also seen when a disk is dying and you do a zpool status and it takes forever for the info to come up. It's a shame that is the state of things right now.

Leica M9 - The M8, only much better.

I recommend the Leica M9...IF:

  • You like rangefinders
  • You don't mind a heavy camera
  • You can afford the insane price


If you don't meet these three pieces of criteria, then this is probably
not the ideal camera for you. If it is, then this is definitely the camera for you.
Leica has taken the M8, and put in a full-frame sensor, which delivers stunning photos.

Leica has addressed some of the handling issues with the M8, adding a
ISO button to make switching easier.


They added in a soft-release shutter mode which changes the way the shutter release operates, to make it easier to take longer-exposure pictures. They have 16-bit uncompressed RAW files now, which allows you to see the full Dynamic Range potential of the CCD sensor (Kodak made, I think). Higher ISO settings work much better then the M8.2. For more info the M8.2, take a look down on this blog for my Japan trip, which tells all about it. :-)

American Express - Matt does NOT Recommend

I've been using American Express for 10 years. It was the first card I got as a student - the Blue for Students card. I think it was actually something else when I got it. In any case, I've always been a fan, because of the rewards program. Well, they killed one of the rewards I wanted - the Skip Barber High Performance Driving School, but made up for that in I was able to use the points for ANA Airlines, and fly business class to Japan for dirt cheap (relatively, lol). But that's the positives. The negative is that they are wholly unsupportive of me, as a long time card member. I have to pay fees to have the Gold card as well. They took away my pay-over-time feature as soon as the market started to go sour. This month, they were not willing to extend my payment deadline an additional 10 days, as there's been a lot of stuff going on this month - property taxes, my grandmother has had eye surgery which wasn't covered, and some computer trouble. I called customer service, and ended up asking 'what did this call do for me?' after telling them I was having some trouble with paying, and being told they could do nothing for me. They said 'not much at all - it just lets us know why you're not paying.' I will say they mentioned as long as you get it in before the end of the billing cycle, which is 15 days after the due day, you'll be fine. This unfortunately was 5-7 days too little for me ( I needed 2 pay checks). They sent me a link for a survey, where I told them they were being unrealistic in this economic climate, and I was appalled at their lack of help. I was able to make the payment, on time, but using money I had hoped not to use.

It's clear that American Express is just like any other bank, and I will not be using them much in the coming months, and will close my card within 3 months when I get on top of my others more.

Amazon Kindle

Today I'm writing to recommend the Amazon Kindle. There are two versions, one with WiFi only:



and the Wifi + 3G (Sprint) version:



There are a few devices out there to read books on. However, none are quite as good as the Kindle.
The nook is very similar, but the screen does not refresh as quickly as the Kindle. The iPad has a very large disadvantage (as does other Tablets) in that the screen is LCD based - in other words, light is coming out of the device to you - and is stressful on the eyes. The Kindle, on the other hand, is reflective, like paper, and therefore is easier on the eyes, and allows you to read longer.

Another cool invention that the Kindle has is WhisperNet...With the 3G version that's how you download the books to the device, or get newspaper content on the device. It also keeps the page you are on in sync across devices - multiple Kindle devices, a PC reader, Android, Blackberry, iPhone, or even the iPad.

Whether or not to get a e-Reader in the first place is a question you'll have to answer on your own. It's much lighter then carrying multiple books. The electronic versions of the books are not perfect - they sometimes have spelling errors for example.

For more information about the screen of the Kindle vs the iPad - see this article:
Kindle vs iPad under Microscope