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An invasion of the machine could be the responsable for the load on the CPU
-- Wissam     Add quote.

Selecting random records in postgresql

2015-08-18 09:15:00 by Michael 0 Comments
Tags: postgresql sql code

In an attempt to make my site more responsive I have been working on optimizing the SQL code used on the backend, this includes the random quote generator that I have set up on the main page.

The old code used a query similar to below.

SELECT quote, name FROM quotes ORDER BY RANDOM() LIMIT 1

This works fine if you have small tables and fast disks but consider the issue when there is a table with millions of rows. To find *one* record the server must read through the table, sort the records, and then discard every result but one. This operation is slow and inefficient.

To improve performance you can reduce the number of rows read by using a primary key on the table. Each row has a unique ID number which can then be used as the limit for the random() function. For example, the following query will select a random record based on the last index number created:

SELECT quote_text, name FROM quotes WHERE quote_id = (SELECT floor(random() * (SELECT last_value from quotes_quote_id_seq)+1)) ;

This query is not perfect and may result in empty results which your code will need to accommodate for but it is still more efficient than reading the entire table every time the page is loaded.

Prevent iptables from spamming your console

2015-08-14 13:41:00 by Michael 2 Comments
Tags: linux kernel iptables sysadmin netfilter

How to disable firewall "spam" on your console.

I worked on a ticket recently for a customer concerned about firewall messages being sent to every user's console by the kernel. After doing a bit of research I discovered that the nf_ct_ftp module logs messages to syslog as *emergency* level by default which results in every console being spammed by firewall messages. To prevent this you can make a few simple changes as follows.

First, set up a custom rsyslog conf file to send iptables messages to a different file.

cat << EOF > /etc/rsyslog.d/iptables.conf 
:msg, contains, "nf_ct_ftp:" -/var/log/iptables.log
& ~

The first line means send all messages that contain the “nf_ct_ftp:” string to /var/log/iptables.log. The second line causes rsyslog to discard messages that were matched on the previous line. Adjust this rule according to your needs.

Second, update sysctl.conf with the following lines and then run "sysctl -p".

kernel.printk = 4 4 1 7

sysctl -p

See https://www.kernel.org/doc/Documentation/sysctl/kernel.txt for a description of these values.

Now restart rsyslog and test your changes using the "logger" command.

service rsyslog restart
logger -p kern.emerg -t kernel "nf_ct_ftp: dropping packet test"

You should not see anything on the console. cat /var/log/iptables.log to confirm that the entry was logged properly. After you have confirmed that the messages are being logged properly you can set up logrotate to manage the logs. Create a config file to do this similar to below.

cat << EOF > /etc/logrotate.d/iptables 
	rotate 7
		invoke-rc.d rsyslog rotate > /dev/null

There is nothing else to do at this point.

How to Manually Change Domain in Magento

2014-10-10 10:20:00 by Michael 0 Comments
Tags: magento linux mysql sysadmin

Changing the domain name on a Magento install requires a few steps to update the site URL in mysql. The procedure should be similar to below.

Update your core_config_data table to edit the two records for web/unsecure/base_url and web/secure/base_url


mysql> update core_config_data set value = 'http://dev.example.com/' where path = 'web/unsecure/base_url';
Query OK, 1 row affected (0.00 sec)
Rows matched: 1  Changed: 1  Warnings: 0
mysql> update core_config_data set value = 'http://dev.example.com/' where path = 'web/secure/base_url';
Query OK, 1 row affected (0.00 sec)
Rows matched: 1  Changed: 1  Warnings: 0

After this is done delete the contents of WEBROOT/var/cache. The location of the WEBROOT varies depending on how your server is set up.

cd /home/username/public_html/var/
rm -rf ./cache/*

Update any .htaccess redirects you may have added.

That's it, you're done! Open the site in a new browser tab to make sure that everything loads properly.

How to fix "Your profile could not be loaded" error in Google Chrome

2014-03-20 21:04:00 by Michael 0 Comments
Tags: chrome linux sqlite

If you get an error from chrome stating that your profile could not be loaded properly here is the PROPER way to fix the issue. Unfortunately googling for this error leads to a lot of false information and speculation.

First, go to your profile's data directory. In Linux this would be ~/.config/google-chrome/Default.

Now check for any processes that have the Web Data file open.

lsof Web\ Data

Kill those processes.

Next run an integrity check on the database.

sqlite3 Web\ Data "pragma integrity_check"

This should repair any errors in the file. After that is done start up chrome.

Canola Soap Recipe

2013-09-15 09:47:00 by Michael 0 Comments
Tags: soap chemistry homesteading crafts

Here is a simple canola/soybean oil soap recipe. Yield is approximately 8 lbs of soap. Lye amount is based on a saponification value of 0.130. See http://www.millersoap.com/soapdesign.html#SAP Tables for more details.

Canola/Soybean Soap

Ingredients: Preparation:
  1. Dissolve lye into water. Prepare this mixture in advance, the water will take time to cool.
  2. Pour oil into large pot, heat to 130 degrees.
  3. Stir lye mixture into the oil.
  4. Blend with a stick blender until you see signs of tracing.
  5. Pour into molds and let harden.

Raw soap will take 24-48 hours to harden, after that the soap can be removed from the mold to cure. Allow 30 days cure time.

Manually create a Wordpress admin user from the mysql command line

2013-05-01 16:06:00 by Michael 0 Comments
Tags: linux mysql wordpress

If you need admin access to a wordpress install you can easily create a new admin user by running a few SQL commands on the database. This has been tested and verified to work on Wordpress 3.5.

To do this you will first need to identify what database the site is actually using. Check wp-config.php for the database name and mysql host info. Once you have that connect to mysql and run the following statements.

INSERT INTO wp_users (user_login,user_pass,user_email,user_registered,user_status) VALUES("user_name",md5('password'),"username@example.com",NOW(),0);

Find user ID from wp_users table:

SET @user_id = (SELECT ID FROM wp_users where user_login = 'user_name');

INSERT INTO wp_usermeta (user_id,meta_key,meta_value) VALUES (@user_id,"wp_user_level","10");

INSERT INTO wp_usermeta (user_id,meta_key,meta_value) VALUES (@user_id,"wp_capabilities",'a:1:{s:13:"administrator";s:1:"1";}');

Storm VPS Lustre Benchmarks

2013-04-11 13:56:00 by Michael 0 Comments
Tags: linux sysadmin lustre storage

After reading about various cluster file systems I decided to set up a small cluster running Lustre using Storm VPS instances. All nodes have the same hardware configuration and use a 50 GB SAN volume connected through iSCSI as the lustre block device. Specs are as follows.

Node configuration:

OS: CentOS 6.3 x86_64
Kernel: 2.6.32-279.19.1.el6_lustre.x86_64
RAM: 3556 MB (Storm 4 GB)
Primary Disk: 300 GB virtual disk
Secondary Disk (iscsi): 50 GB SAN volume
CPU: Two Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU E3-1220 V2 @ 3.10GHz cores

Lustre configuration: 1 management server, 1 metadata server, 1 object storage server.  LNET was configured to use a private network interface.

Disk performance was tested with the sgpdd_survey script from the Lustre IOkit. Write speed appears to average around 35-40 MB/s.

Wed Apr 10 10:29:39 EDT 2013 sgpdd-survey on /dev/sda from oss1.watters.ws
total_size  8388608K rsz 1024 crg     1 thr     1 write   49.32 MB/s     1 x  49.32 =   49.32 MB/s read   68.15 MB/s     1 x  68.15 =   68.15 MB/s
total_size  8388608K rsz 1024 crg     1 thr     2 write   77.15 MB/s     1 x  77.15 =   77.15 MB/s read   92.85 MB/s     1 x  92.85 =   92.85 MB/s
total_size  8388608K rsz 1024 crg     1 thr     8 write   36.15 MB/s     1 x  36.14 =   36.14 MB/s read   94.08 MB/s     1 x  94.09 =   94.09 MB/s
total_size  8388608K rsz 1024 crg     1 thr    16 write   35.84 MB/s     1 x  35.85 =   35.85 MB/s read  101.59 MB/s     1 x 101.59 =  101.59 MB/s
total_size  8388608K rsz 1024 crg     2 thr     2 write   35.34 MB/s     2 x  17.67 =   35.34 MB/s read   67.38 MB/s     2 x  33.69 =   67.39 MB/s
total_size  8388608K rsz 1024 crg     2 thr     4 write   39.09 MB/s     2 x  19.55 =   39.10 MB/s read   79.20 MB/s     2 x  39.60 =   79.19 MB/s
total_size  8388608K rsz 1024 crg     2 thr     8 write   40.40 MB/s     2 x  20.20 =   40.40 MB/s read   98.16 MB/s     2 x  49.09 =   98.17 MB/s
total_size  8388608K rsz 1024 crg     2 thr    16 write   37.73 MB/s     2 x  18.86 =   37.73 MB/s read   99.31 MB/s     2 x  49.66 =   99.32 MB/s
total_size  8388608K rsz 1024 crg     2 thr    32 write   38.08 MB/s     2 x  19.04 =   38.07 MB/s read   97.30 MB/s     2 x  48.66 =   97.31 MB/s
total_size  8388608K rsz 1024 crg     4 thr     4 write   38.38 MB/s     4 x   9.59 =   38.38 MB/s read   98.17 MB/s     4 x  24.55 =   98.19 MB/s
total_size  8388608K rsz 1024 crg     4 thr     8 write   38.25 MB/s     4 x   9.57 =   38.26 MB/s read  100.06 MB/s     4 x  25.01 =  100.06 MB/s
total_size  8388608K rsz 1024 crg     4 thr    16 write   39.42 MB/s     4 x   9.85 =   39.41 MB/s read   99.96 MB/s     4 x  25.00 =   99.98 MB/s
total_size  8388608K rsz 1024 crg     4 thr    32 write   39.43 MB/s     4 x   9.86 =   39.44 MB/s read   99.93 MB/s     4 x  24.99 =   99.95 MB/s
total_size  8388608K rsz 1024 crg     4 thr    64 write   38.22 MB/s     4 x   9.56 =   38.22 MB/s read   97.80 MB/s     4 x  24.45 =   97.81 MB/s
total_size  8388608K rsz 1024 crg     8 thr     8 write   38.73 MB/s     8 x   4.84 =   38.76 MB/s read   87.71 MB/s     8 x  10.97 =   87.74 MB/s
total_size  8388608K rsz 1024 crg     8 thr    16 write   39.70 MB/s     8 x   4.96 =   39.67 MB/s read   81.09 MB/s     8 x  10.14 =   81.10 MB/s
total_size  8388608K rsz 1024 crg     8 thr    32 write   43.40 MB/s     8 x   5.43 =   43.41 MB/s read   81.21 MB/s     8 x  10.16 =   81.25 MB/s
total_size  8388608K rsz 1024 crg     8 thr    64 write   38.88 MB/s     8 x   4.86 =   38.91 MB/s read   67.10 MB/s     8 x   8.39 =   67.14 MB/s
total_size  8388608K rsz 1024 crg     8 thr   128 write   42.19 MB/s     8 x   5.27 =   42.19 MB/s read   65.92 MB/s     8 x   8.24 =   65.92 MB/s

IOPS performance was tested using iozone, here are the results.

	OPS Mode. Output is in operations per second.
	Include fsync in write timing
	No retest option selected
        Record Size 4 KB
        File size set to 4194304 KB
        Command line used: iozone -l 32 -O -i 0 -i 1 -i 2 -e -+n -r 4K -s 4G
        Time Resolution = 0.000001 seconds.
        Processor cache size set to 1024 Kbytes.
        Processor cache line size set to 32 bytes.
        File stride size set to 17 * record size.
        Min process = 32
        Max process = 32
        Throughput test with 32 processes
        Each process writes a 4194304 Kbyte file in 4 Kbyte records

        Children see throughput for 32 initial writers  =   27764.87 ops/sec
        Parent sees throughput for 32 initial writers   =   26692.16 ops/sec
        Min throughput per process                      =     840.07 ops/sec
        Max throughput per process                      =     903.35 ops/sec
        Avg throughput per process                      =     867.65 ops/sec
        Min xfer                                        =  975918.00 ops

        Children see throughput for 32 readers          =   26758.37 ops/sec
        Parent sees throughput for 32 readers           =   26755.12 ops/sec
        Min throughput per process                      =     448.79 ops/sec
        Max throughput per process                      =    1372.74 ops/sec
        Avg throughput per process                      =     836.20 ops/sec
        Min xfer                                        =  342845.00 ops

As you can see lustre is a relatively high performance file system and is easily scalable to store petabytes of data. Adding more space is as simple as building a new object server and running mkfs.lustre.

create an rpm mirror using wget

2013-04-10 13:35:00 by Michael 0 Comments
Tags: wget linux sysadmin scripting

If you want to set up a yum repo you can easily mirror an existing site using wget. To do this you will need to run this command.

wget --mirror -np --no-host-directories -A rpm,srpm http://downloads.whamcloud.com/public/lustre/latest-maintenance-release/

In this case we are mirroring the lustre rpm repo.

After the files are downloaded you can run the createrepo command to create yum metadata.

quickly remove old ssh keys with sed

2012-04-24 10:13:00 by Michael 0 Comments
Tags: sed linux ssh sysadmin

If you work on a lot of servers and do a lot of reinstalls you will see the following error often.

Someone could be eavesdropping on you right now (man-in-the-middle attack)!
It is also possible that the RSA host key has just been changed.
The fingerprint for the RSA key sent by the remote host is
Please contact your system administrator.
Add correct host key in /var/root/.ssh/known_hosts to get rid of this message.
Offending key in /root/.ssh/known_hosts:9948
RSA host key for host.example.com has changed and you have requested strict checking.
Host key verification failed.

To save some time you can quickly remove the old host key with a single sed command:

sed -i '9948d' .ssh/known_hosts

Building the wl module on linux 3.2

2012-04-02 21:57:00 by Michael 0 Comments
Tags: linux kernel hardware hacking

After upgrading my netbook kernel to the latest stable version available on backports.org I soon discovered that my wireless interface no longer worked. Trying to rebuild the module resulted in the following error:

/usr/src/modules/broadcom-sta/amd64/src/wl/sys/wl_linux.c: In function ‘_wl_set_multicast_list’:
/usr/src/modules/broadcom-sta/amd64/src/wl/sys/wl_linux.c:1435: error: ‘struct net_device’ has no member named ‘mc_list’
/usr/src/modules/broadcom-sta/amd64/src/wl/sys/wl_linux.c:1435: error: ‘struct net_device’ has no member named ‘mc_count’
/usr/src/modules/broadcom-sta/amd64/src/wl/sys/wl_linux.c:1436: error: dereferencing pointer to incomplete type
/usr/src/modules/broadcom-sta/amd64/src/wl/sys/wl_linux.c:1442: error: dereferencing pointer to incomplete type
make[4]: *** [/usr/src/modules/broadcom-sta/amd64/src/wl/sys/wl_linux.o] Error 1
make[3]: *** [_module_/usr/src/modules/broadcom-sta/amd64] Error 2
make[2]: *** [sub-make] Error 2
make[1]: *** [all] Error 2
make[1]: Leaving directory `/usr/src/linux-headers-3.2.0-0.bpo.2-amd64'
make: *** [all] Error 2
root@netbook:/usr/src/modules/broadcom-sta/amd64#  run "make API=WEXT"
bash: run: command not found
root@netbook:/usr/src/modules/broadcom-sta/amd64# "make API=WEXT"
bash: make API=WEXT: command not found
root@netbook:/usr/src/modules/broadcom-sta/amd64# make API=WEXT
KBUILD_NOPEDANTIC=1 make -C /lib/modules/`uname -r`/build M=`pwd`
make[1]: Entering directory `/usr/src/linux-headers-3.2.0-0.bpo.2-amd64'
  CC [M]  /usr/src/modules/broadcom-sta/amd64/src/wl/sys/wl_linux.o
/usr/src/modules/broadcom-sta/amd64/src/wl/sys/wl_linux.c: In function ‘_wl_set_multicast_list’:
/usr/src/modules/broadcom-sta/amd64/src/wl/sys/wl_linux.c:1435: error: ‘struct net_device’ has no member named ‘mc_list’
/usr/src/modules/broadcom-sta/amd64/src/wl/sys/wl_linux.c:1435: error: ‘struct net_device’ has no member named ‘mc_count’
/usr/src/modules/broadcom-sta/amd64/src/wl/sys/wl_linux.c:1436: error: dereferencing pointer to incomplete type
/usr/src/modules/broadcom-sta/amd64/src/wl/sys/wl_linux.c:1442: error: dereferencing pointer to incomplete type
make[4]: *** [/usr/src/modules/broadcom-sta/amd64/src/wl/sys/wl_linux.o] Error 1
make[3]: *** [_module_/usr/src/modules/broadcom-sta/amd64] Error 2
make[2]: *** [sub-make] Error 2
make[1]: *** [all] Error 2
make[1]: Leaving directory `/usr/src/linux-headers-3.2.0-0.bpo.2-amd64'
make: *** [all] Error 2

A bit of googling lead me to a few patches that helped solve the issue. Here is a unified diff of my changes which should allow you to cleanly build and install the wl module using module-assistant.


One thing to note is that the source code needs to be patched BEFORE you run m-a, i.e. cd to /usr/src/modules/broadcom_sta/amd64/src/wl/sys and run patch the patch from there.

I hope that somebody will find this useful.

Happy Thanksgiving!

2009-11-26 13:16:12.582753 by Michael 0 Comments
Tags: thanksgiving ascii shell

Hard to believe it's been a year since I posted this.

                         ,*^^^^              )
                      _+*                     ^**+_
                    +^       _ _++*+_+++_,         )
        _+^^*+_    (     ,+*^ ^          \+_        )
       {       )  (    ,(    ,_+--+--,      ^)      ^
      { (@)    } f   ,(  ,+-^ __*_*_  ^^\_   ^\       )
     {:;-/    (_+*-+^^^^^+*+*<_ _++_)_    )    )      /
    ( /  (    (        ,___    ^*+_+* )   <    <
     U _/     )    *--<  ) ^\-----++__)   )    )       )
      (      )  _(^)^^))  )  )\^^^^^))^*+/    /       /
    (      /  (_))_^)) )  )  ))^^^^^))^^^)__/     +^^
   (     ,/    (^))^))  )  ) ))^^^^^^^))^^)       _)
    *+__+*       (_))^)  ) ) ))^^^^^^))^^^^^)____*^
    \             \_)^)_)) ))^^^^^^^^^^))^^^^)
     (_             ^\__^^^^^^^^^^^^))^^^^^^^)
       ^\___            ^\__^^^^^^))^^^^^^^^)
               ___) >____) >___   ^\_\_\_\_\_\_\)
              ^^^//\_^^//\_^       ^(\_\_\_\)
                ^^^ ^^ ^^^ ^^

 #    #    ##    #####   #####    #   #
 #    #   #  #   #    #  #    #    # #
 ######  #    #  #    #  #    #     #
 #    #  ######  #####   #####      #
 #    #  #    #  #       #          #
 #    #  #    #  #       #          #

  #####  #    #    ##    #    #  #    #   ####
    #    #    #   #  #   ##   #  #   #   #
    #    ######  #    #  # #  #  ####     ####
    #    #    #  ######  #  # #  #  #         #
    #    #    #  #    #  #   ##  #   #   #    #
    #    #    #  #    #  #    #  #    #   ####

  ####      #    #    #     #    #    #   ####
 #    #     #    #    #     #    ##   #  #    #
 #          #    #    #     #    # #  #  #
 #  ###     #    #    #     #    #  # #  #  ###
 #    #     #     #  #      #    #   ##  #    #
  ####      #      ##       #    #    #   ####

Download the script here: http://linuxshellaccount.blogspot.com/2008/11/happy-thanksgiving-unixlinux-ascii-art.html

Ubuntu Automatic Updates

2009-09-14 00:38:05.296489 by Michael 0 Comments
Tags: ubuntu linux

If you're sick of the update notifier bugging you on your Ubuntu desktop you can easily set up a cron job to automatically take care of things.

sudo crontab -e
0 5 * * * apt-get -y upgrade

Change the time to whenever you want.

Directory '/var/run/screen' must have mode 777 fix

2009-06-05 14:51:43.503040 by Michael 0 Comments
Tags: linux shell console

Directory '/var/run/screen' must have mode 777.

This is a fairly common error I've been seeing lately and the solution is quite simple.

chmod g+s /usr/bin/screen

Sensible Bash Prompt

2009-02-23 19:21:40.643867 by Michael 0 Comments
Tags: linux bash unix

If you're a bash user like me and login to A LOT of servers every day, it helps to have a visible notation of what server you're actually on. Add this to your .bashrc file and source it.

# set prompt
PS1="[\u@`hostname`] \W > "

There's a lot more you can do like adding a clock, the history number, etc. but I prefer to keep it simple.

Happy Thanksgiving

2008-11-26 13:23:53.773664 by Michael 0 Comments
Tags: thanksgiving video

Happy Thanksgiving folks. Here's a classic RvB holiday video.

Xen with File Server Replication

2008-11-19 14:33:36.756208 by Michael 0 Comments
Tags: xen solaris unix sysadmin zfs iscsi AVS

I've been working on a project at work that has kept me pretty busy this week, it involves shared storage and computing clusters which has me pretty geeked out. I must say that I've learned A LOT about Solaris clustering, iSCSI, and disk replication, throw ZFS with Xen on top of that and things get pretty complicated.

Here's a diagram of the current system I have built.

With this setup the file server has ZFS pools that replicate each disk over to the secondary, the concept is the same as a local disk mirror. I've tested out a few different fail over situations which have worked so far, the one wrench in the works is that Linux doesn't like having iSCSI targets moved around while the device is open. This means that the xen server must shut down all running domains, take the volume offline, and then restart everything. Naturally this is not desirable in production, I will be testing out a Solaris server running xVM to see how that handles moving iSCSI targets later this week.

Running Linux on Solaris

2008-10-17 14:16:42.069090 by Michael 0 Comments
Tags: solaris linux unix howto virtualization

Virtualization is a big trend in computing right now and Solaris offers some very nice options of its own. One of these features is zones and branded zones which allow non-native operating systems to be installed into a container, this is similar to other technologies like OpenVZ and linux-vserver but zones add the power of ZFS as well.

I started reading the excellent article on Blastwave about setting up zones in Solaris 10 and within an hour I had everything finished with a Linux branded zone running CentOS 3.9. Here's a quick run down on how to accomplish this.

First create a file system to contain your zones:

zfs create -o mountpoint=/zone rpool/zone

After this is done you need to create the zone and install it, these are two separate processes.

zonecfg -z lx-zone

lx-zone: No such zone configured
Use 'create' to begin configuring a new zone.
zonecfg:zone1> create
zonecfg:zone1> set zonepath=/zone/1
zonecfg:zone1> set autoboot=true
zonecfg:zone1> set brand=lx
zonecfg:zone1> add net
zonecfg:zone1:net> set address=
zonecfg:zone1:net> set physical=hme1
zonecfg:zone1:net> end
zonecfg:zone1> verify
zonecfg:zone1> commit
zonecfg:zone1> ^D

For the install you will need the iso images or a tar ball of a file system, you also need to create a new distro file as Solaris only goes up to CentOS 3.8 right now.

wget http://mirrors.example.com/CentOS/3.9/isos/i386/CentOS-3.9-i386-bin1of3.iso
wget http://mirrors.example.com/CentOS/3.9/isos/i386/CentOS-3.9-i386-bin2of3.iso
wget http://mirrors.example.com/CentOS/3.9/isos/i386/CentOS-3.9-i386-bin3of3.iso

cd /usr/lib/brand/lx/distros/
cp centos38.distro centos39.distro

Edit this file and change the serial to "1183469235.99" and the version to "3.9"

Now install the OS

zoneadm -z lx-zone install -d /export/centos_3.9/ core

Check the results:

bash-2.05b# zoneadm list -vc
  ID NAME             STATUS         PATH
   0 global           running        /
   - lx-zone          installed      /zone/1

The STATUS is now "installed".

Boot the environment:

bash-2.05b# zoneadm -z lx-zone boot
bash-2.05b# zoneadm list -vc
  ID NAME             STATUS         PATH
   0 global           running        /
   2 lx-zone          running        /zone/1

bash-2.05b# ping is alive

Now you can access the zone using zlogin:

# zlogin -C -e\@ lx-zone

[Connected to zone 'lx-zone' console]

CentOS release 3.9 (Final)
Kernel 2.4.21 on an i686

lx-zone login:

-bash-2.05b# uname -a
Linux lx-zone 2.4.21 BrandZ fake linux i686 i686 i386 GNU/Linux

As you can see zones are very powerful and allow a system to be divided up as you see fit. Each zone is completely isolated from the others and has its own cpu limits, process lists, network stack, etc. Even if a zone is completely wiped out it will not affect your global zone.

Open Solaris Desktop

2008-10-05 19:04:18.964429 by Michael 0 Comments
Tags: solaris unix sysadmin

I've recently switched to OpenSolaris on my desktop at work and I just wanted to write a bit about my experiences.


Installing the OS is about the same as any other unix system. Boot the CD, enter a host name, root password and select the drive you want to install to. One nice thing is that you can set up a ZFS mirror out of the box, if not you can easily mirror your pool later without having to mess around too much, one command takes care of it.

Hardware support:

All of the hardware on my computer was detected and loaded the proper drivers without me having to intervene. As long as your hardware is listed on the compatibility list you'll be fine. Setting up X with multiple monitor support is also very easy, just run the Nvidia settings app and configure your screens.


One issue I did have is that mp3 support isn't included as part of the default install, you have to download the codec package from Fluendo if you want mp3 support in totem or anything else that uses the gstreamer backend. Flash also requires a manual install, the plugin is pretty easy to set up however.


After using the system for a few weeks I'd have to say I'm impressed. If you have any experience at all with running a Linux desktop it shouldn't take long to adjust and you'll have access to zfs and dtrace which simply don't have equivalents in Linux. In short, give it a try, you might like it.

Watch C-SPAN on OpenSolaris

2008-09-29 16:51:00.548481 by Michael 0 Comments
Tags: video streaming unix solaris

Since the C-SPAN web site crashes firefox you need to use Real Player by itself to watch live streams, just use this URL.


Bad C-SPAN, no donut.

Random Albums with Python

2008-09-03 00:51:33.124830 by Michael 0 Comments
Tags: python programming

While setting up my new music server today I had a small issue to take care of, setting up play lists. While I do like having tracks play randomly most of my music is meant to be listened to as a complete album, Dark Side of the Moon, for example.

Enter python, in less than 25 lines of code I came up with a solution. The below script parses through my music directory, shuffles the albums and then creates a play list file.

#!/usr/bin/env python

import commands, os
from random import *

cmd = "find /export/home/music -type d"

dirs = commands.getoutput(cmd).split("\n")

f = open("/usr/local/etc/ices-playlist.txt", "w")

for dir in dirs:
        cmd = "find '%s' -maxdepth 1 -type f -name '*.mp3' -print | sort" %dir
        output = commands.getoutput(cmd)


os.system("sed -i '/^$/d' /usr/local/etc/ices-playlist.txt")

Fuel Prices

2008-04-12 15:04:00.395294 by Michael 0 Comments
Tags: economics finance

I've been studying economics lately since I'm a stats freak and I find the economy really interesting, I also like to plan things financially so it's nice to spot where trends are going. Here's a chart of diesel prices over the last 5 years, adjusted for inflation. I already had the price data in my database so all I had to add was a table for the consumer price index and create a view to display the new data. The values are in 1982 dollars, to convert to current values just multiply them by 2.13 which is the CPI for March 2008.

Diesel Prices - Inflation Adjusted:

Xbox 360 Video Streaming

2008-03-11 00:00:00 by Michael 0 Comments
Tags: xbox video networking linux

Last night I set up ushare to stream videos from my PC to the Xbox, it's a lot more comfortable sitting on the couch to watch movies and now I can just download anything that I want to watch.

Setting things up wasn't too difficult, I had to add an extra NIC and run a crossover cable for the connection, I also had to set up IP masquerading which only requires 4 simple iptables rules. After that stuff is done just start up ushare and point it to your video directory, the Xbox will automatically see the share and let you browse videos.

If you don't have an Xbox ushare also works with the Playstation 3 or any other UPNP or DLNA device, there's also dedicated boxes that you can buy for your TV that just need a network connection.

Google Charts

2007-12-09 00:00:00 by Michael 0 Comments
Tags: programming google apis

I could swear that Google is reading my mind. I was just thinking the other day that it would be nice if somebody made a simple, easy to use API for generating charts on web pages. Lo and behold Google goes and does it.

I've been messing with other options like PyX for python, MRTG, and gnuplot but all of them are clunky and the images they generate are ugly, the charts generated by google are just regular PNG files so you can embed them in any web page using a simple tag.

For you python users out there I've written a small python module to encode values and generate a request URL, you can find it here.

Here is a small test application that I made, it graphs my car's fuel mileage history and the cost per mile over time by pulling data from a table in postgres.

Xbox 360 Repairs

2007-10-23 00:00:00 by Michael 0 Comments
Tags: xbox hardware electronics

I started playing Halo 3 at my friend's place and I got hooked so I decided I had to get a system for myself.

After doing some research I discovered that most of the 'broken' systems out there are easily repairable, all you need is 8 bolts and some washers, along with some Arctic Silver for the heat sinks.

I looked around Ebay I found a place that sells broken electronics which had a bunch of systems available, I sniped one and won it for a decent price. After I got the system the first thing I did was tear it apart and proceeded with the X-clamp removal process, put it back together and everything works, no more red ring of death!

While my repairs were successful I would only reccommend doing this if you're into electronics repair and have some experience working on circuits, you can easily screw things up if you don't know what's going on.

Cat Engineering

2007-09-22 00:00:00 by Michael 0 Comments
Tags: caturday humor

Happy caturday folks.