Archive for the 'Linux' Category

ESXi and Subsonic

In continuation, somewhat, of my last post and a brief review on the last TechShow, I wanted to jot down some notes about my newest encounter with ESXi and Subsonic.

Subsonic

Subsonic

I wanted to try out Subsonic, so I really needed to put together a new machine to play with it a bit. As a RL System administrator, some things carry over into my home computing environment, and paranoia is one of them. I just *have* to test things outside of my “production” servers at home too. Since I run my servers in a virtualized environment, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

I run ESXi at home for my virtualization platform, and the norm there is to use virtualcenter (or the vic) to create and manipulate VMs. The problem there is I am just not a Windows fan (no kidding). I had gotten around this problem initially by creating a VM on VMware Server (running on Linux) and then using VMware Converter to move that VM to my ESXi machine. This time, I did a little more digging on the subject of using the command line to create those VMs natively and I actually found some great information that let me do just that. What I found was these two links that contain all the information I needed:
ESXi – creating new virtual machines (servers) from the command line
and
http://www.vm-help.com/esx40i/manage_without_VI_client_1.php

Without rehashing a lot of the detail provided in those two sites, the basics are using vmkfstools to create a disk image for you to use and then building a small minimal vmx file with enough info in it to get things going. To do the install, make sure have your vmx start an iso image from the cdrom drive and turn on vnc for the box. From there it’s quite easy to get an install working.

The server I decided upon installing is CentOS 5.5. I chose the standard server install and the only things that were required to get Subsonic working on it were:
yum install java-1.6.0-openjdk
and then to download and install the rpm from Subsonic’s website. A little later on I found that Subsonic would not stream my ogg files and that was easily fixed by:
rpm –import http://apt.sw.be/RPM-GPG-KEY.dag.txt
wget http://packages.sw.be/rpmforge-release/rpmforge-release-0.5.2-2.el5.rf.i386.rpm
rpm -Uvh rpmforge-release-0.5.2-2.el5.rf.i386.rpm
yum install lame ffmpeg

After all that, pointing your web browser to http://:4040 and you are rocking and rolling with the big boys. The thing that really impressed me with the setup is when you tell Subsonic where your music is. On every other music server install this is the part where it takes a while to scan and index your music. With Subsonic this was surprisingly almost instantaneous! You tell it where the music is and *whamo* your music shows up, ready to be played. Fantastic! The other great piece is the ability to add album art. You can just tell subsonic to change your album art and it finds some suggestions on the web and will let you pick the correct one and save it to your collection. It’s very nice and a complete time grabber :)

Amazon Kindle, Subsonic and MusicBrainz

Kindle 3
   Early last week I had another burst of reading activity on my Kindle 3. Reading for me tends to come in spurts when the rest of my life doesn’t interfere and it had been a while. I loaded up the Kindle with some new goodies (Sh*t my dad says is hilarious, btw) and started peeling through not only the books but also the menus, setting things up just the way I like them.

RANT: As a side note here, why the heck are collections so freaking difficult to setup? I mean come on Amazon. Make them work by directory structure or something easy, or at least fix it so that when you add to collection, you are only shown books not already in another collection by default. OK, rant done :)

   Anyhow, as I was reading and setting up different collections, etc. I noticed a familiar recurring problem. The short history is when I got my Kindle 3 I noticed every so often the e-ink would not fully display, but only display VERY faintly. I called Amazon and they had me update the firmware but ut was really hard to tell if that fixed it as it was not a constant thing. Queue up last week and I notice this a LOT more. Not only while reading the books, but now in the menus, etc.. So, I called Amazon right up as they instructed me to do the last time I noticed this. They IMMEDIATELY sent me out a replacement. I mean I had it the NEXT day, during a snowstorm. There was no arguing, no listening to some low end tech worker flip pages on the other end of the phone, no shipping or return costs, no hassle whatsoever. THIS is what customer service is all about and it’s easy to see that Amazon stands behind it’s products. This is why I will always recommend the Kindle. I don’t know what the other guys service is like, but Amazon is absolutely tops every time I have had to deal with them.

Subsonic

   Shortly after I got my new Kindle (read hours) I got horribly sick (sinus infection) and have been that way for 4 or 5 days now. During my occasional bouts of lucidity and while waiting for the NyQuil to kick in again I was reading through my facebook posts and noticed Tom Higgins mentioning that he was enjoying using Subsonic, which is a new (to me anyway) software that manages your music collection for you. It’s a server side app with some seriously nifty clients you can run on you android phone, which made it catch my eye. I have (and still do for now) been using Kplaylist for quite some time and I really like it, but, hey, nothing wrong with checking out new things, right?

MusicBrainz

   Well, the thought of me trying out some new music collection software got me looking at my music collection. You know what this is like. I have been hanging on to my music in digital form for better than 10 years, so, it’s substantial / sizable, in different formats, mixed up, formatted and named badly, bad mp3 and ogg tags, etc.. What’s a guy to do? Well, I searched around a bit and found a whole lot of programs for Linux that will let you manually fix tags. Ick. With thousands to do I kept searching. I found a bunch of programs for windows and mac that will help you reorganize and fix your collection, and, eventually, I found ONE that will do the same on a Linux box. It’s name is MusicBrainz Picard I have been using it here and there (still sick) for a couple days now, sicking it on a directory of my music collection here and there. It sure beats doing this all by hand! It’s not perfect software by any means, but it sure will be a timesaver compared to the alternative and the more people that use it and update those databases, the better it’ll work. Check it ut, I think you’ll like it!

Epson Workforce 520

Epson Workforce 520

Epson Workforce 520


Some days things just go right. It’s been a while since that happened to me, hence the lack of posts lately. Well, that changed tonight…

I decided it was high time to get a new printer. I have been using used HP LaserJets for years and my last, a LaserJet 5 was finally starting to show some wear, not to mention hogging enough electricity to power a small city. I have also endured about 4 years of complaints that we didn’t have a color printer.

I checked out the stock of some local electronic stores online and spent an hour or two googling whether this or that model printer wold work under Linux. I actually wanted to grab the same printer Dann bought, just because I knew that one would work, however, I couldn’t find a local source. I settled on buying an Epson Workforce 520 from the local BesyBuy.

Setup was an absolute breeze. I unpacked it, followed the setup instructions to add it to my local wireless connection via the printer’s control panel. Then I headed to openprinting.org to grab the driver and installed it. It’s just a deb (or rpm) package so it was a click or two to install. After that I headed to Linux Mint’s printer config utility, told it to search for network printers and it was found and installed automatically with no fuss, no muss whatsoever.

Everything works, and I mean everything. This is one of those multifunction printers that not only prints, but faxes (actually I haven’t tried that and probably won’t), copies AND SCANS! After my initial test print, I fired up Mint’s “Simple Scan” which scanned a document I had on the printer easily and perfectly. I was amazed!

I believe I may have found the perfect wireless printer/copier/scanner to run under Linux Mint (yes, it’s wireless too, did I mention that). I know Linux printing has come a long long way, but this was trivially easy. If you are looking for a great new printer addition to your Linux setup, this is it!

What’s with the Lemur?

System 76 Lemur

System 76 Lemur


Nope, I am not talking about the curious little Madagascan primate, I am talking about the one from System 76!

It has been a while since I have done a review, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been working one up :) At this past years Ohio Linux Fest I got to rub elbows with Carl Richell from System 76 who promised me the opportunity to review one of their masterpieces. After some killer anticipation, the unit arrived on my doorstep and it turned out to be their Lemur Ultra Thin laptop.

This lappy has a GORGEOUS 13″ display, a core-i3 proc, and the all the assorted (and working) ports, wifi, ethernet, sound, SUSPEND, etc., that you would come to expect. I did say working didn’t I? That’s important because, as retailer of Linux computers, it’s important to make the distinction that there is NO guesswork as to whether or not Linux will run on perfectly on it. It does :)

System 76 was nice enough to let me demo this thing for a long time, so it’s safe to say that I tested this thing out really well. I used it extensively at home to do my normal web surfing, video watching and music playing. I also used it for work where it was my portal for a bunch of system administration work, rdesktop and ssh sessions galore, plenty of terminals open with configuration scripts and php programming, connected through every kind of free and paid wifi you can think of, not to mention my work vpn. And a lot of that was all at the same time! This system performed more than admirably. I even used it at a work conference where I did splunk installs and testing without issue.

I am not sure what kinds of proprietary things that System 76 provides in its own packages, however everything in Ubuntu, the Linux distribution that System 76 ships with by default, runs perfectly. Then again, so did Mint 10, the other Linux distribution I installed and tested with. This left me with, literally, nothing whatsoever that didn’t meet my personal satisfaction :)

This laptop is very light, perfectly functional, very good looking and stunningly well designed and put together. It feels to me like a MacBook Air with a warp drive, and at literally half the price. In short, this is the laptop that I want to carry around (did I mention it’s light too)? I am hoping that Mrs. LincolnClaus is reading this. It would look great under the tree this year! I would gladly get rid of most of the rest of my laptop entourage to be able to carry one of these.

Hey, anyone want to buy a pristine condition used netbook? Or two? :)

Resize iscsi volume on RHEL 5

I have this ISCSI volume mounted on a RHEL 5 system that is running out of space. How do you grow your mounted iscsi volume? Good question!

* Unmount the volume. In this case it was /dev/sdb1 for me.
umount /dev/sdb1

* Grow the volume size on your san/nas (however your san/nas does this).
In my case - "Hey SanAdmin, can you add another 100gb of space to $volume?"

* In order to resize, your server needs to see that there is more volume space available, so you need to “service iscsi restart”.
[root@nile ~]# service iscsi restart
Logging out of session [sid: 1, target: iqn.2001-05.com.equallogic:0-8a0906-4cb5c3602-e9b001184684cc04-nile-splunk-index-archive, portal: nnn.nnn.nnn.nnn,3260]
Logout of [sid: 1, target: iqn.2001-05.com.equallogic:0-8a0906-4cb5c3602-e9b001184684cc04-nile-splunk-index-archive, portal: nnn.nnn.nnn.nnn,3260]: successful
Stopping iSCSI daemon:
iscsid dead but pid file exists [ OK ]
Starting iSCSI daemon: [ OK ]
[ OK ]
Setting up iSCSI targets: Logging in to [iface: default, target: iqn.2001-05.com.equallogic:0-8a0906-4cb5c3602-e9b001184684cc04-nile-splunk-index-archive, portal: nnn.nnn.nnn.nnn,3260]
Login to [iface: default, target: iqn.2001-05.com.equallogic:0-8a0906-4cb5c3602-e9b001184684cc04-nile-splunk-index-archive, portal: nnn.nnn.nnn.nnn,3260]: successful
[ OK ]

* fdisk /dev/sdb and delete the old partition (yes, delete it).
fdisk /dev/sdb
Command (m for help): d
Selected partition 1

* Create a new bigger partition over top / in place of the original.
Command (m for help): n
Command action
e extended
p primary partition (1-4)
p
Partition number (1-4): 1
First cylinder (1-26109, default 1):
Using default value 1
Last cylinder or +size or +sizeM or +sizeK (1-26109, default 26109):
Using default value 26109

* Run e2fsck on the partition.
e2fsck -f /dev/sdb1

* Resize it.
resize2fs /dev/sdb1

* Finally, mount it back up!
mount -a (yes mine was listed in fstab)

RHEL 6 is here!

As many of you know, RedHat released RHEL 6 recently. I just finally got a chance to install the production version and thought I would share some of my immediate notes:

RHEL 6 Installation Notes: (text/net install)

No boot.iso available. Must use the ENTIRE installation DVD to boot, even for a network install.

Press tab at the boot splash to enter extra parameters – “linux text askmethod” worked appropriately.

Askmethod prompts for URL rather than http or ftp and has you put the entire URL in one line instead of splitting into server / location like RHEL 5 did.

Installer does not ask for registration number – must be done through rhn_register *after* installation has completed.

Install does not ask you for “types” like RHEL 5 did (webserver, virtualization, development).

Post install does not have configuration menu where you can change authentication, firewall/selinux, system services, etc..

That’s about where I am with this right now. The install is reminiscent of RHEL 4 in a lot of ways. I am sure things will change and improve like they always do. The one clearly needed addition right now, though, as far as I am concerned is a boot/netinstall.iso image.

Diagnosis: Paranoia


You know, there are just some things you do not need first thing on a Monday morning. This was one of them…

I came and and started reviewing my reports and was looking at an access report, which is basically a “last | grep $TheDateIWant” from over the weekend. I keep a pretty tight ship and want to know who is accessing what servers and when (and sometimes why). What I saw was monstrously suspicious! I saw MYSELF logged in to 3 different servers 3 times each around 5am on Sunday morning – while I was sleeping.

This is the kind of thing to throw you into an immediate panic first thing on a Monday morning, but I decided to give myself 10 minutes to investigate before completely freaking out.

The first thing I noticed was that the access/login times looked suspiciously like the same times I ran my daily reports on the machines, however, the previous week I had changed the user that runs those reports and this was still saying it was me. I double, triple and quadruple checked and searched all the report programs to make absolutely sure there was no indication that they were still using my personal account (which was probably bad practice to begin with btw). Then I scoured all the cron logs to see what was actually running at those times, and oddly enough, it was just those reports.

I looked through the command line history on those machines and checked again the “last | head” to see who was logging on those machines. Nothing out of place BUT with the “last| head” I was NOT listed as being on the machine on that date! So I ran the entire report command again “last | grep $TheDateIWant” and there I was again, listed right under the logins of the report user.

Anyone catching this yet?

What I had stumbled upon were a few machines that are used so infrequently that the wtmp file, which is what the “last” command uses for data, had over 1 year of entries. My search of “last | grep ‘Oct 31′” was returning not only this year, but my own logins from last year as well.

WHEW!

Moral of the story? Mondays stink – Just stay home!

Linux Mint 10 RC

Linux Mint 10 RC on ThinkPenguin Air

Linux Mint 10 RC on ThinkPenguin Air


After having a couple really long and bad weeks here at the Fessenden residence, I finally got the chance to send back my Think Penguin Air review unit. But right before I did that I wanted to make sure I wiped all my personal info from the computer. Cue Linux Mint 10 Release Candidate.

I was so excited when Ubuntu 10.10 came out because I knew that meant that a new Linux Mint would not be far behind. It was not long afterward that I learned that Mint had a release candidate ready. Not being a patient man, I grabbed an iso and, via unetbootin, stuffed it onto a usb stick so I could try it out.

It just so happened that I was way overdue to send back my review unit, so what better place to try the new Mint than to use it to wipe my data off that review unit? I could think of none, so on it went!

The interesting thing I noticed in the installer was that it was installing packages while it was asking the “end of install” questions. You know, the ones where it was asking my account name, timezone, name for my computer, those sorts of things. Now I may be wrong, but I am pretty sure those were never asked on previous releases until *after* all the software packages were installed. Anyhow, I believe this sped up the install considerably. 15 minutes and I was up and running.

Once running, one of the first things I noticed was the default background was grey and the theme has some polished metal thing going on. Initially, I was incensed that Mint would release without their trademark beautiful green background, but after a few minutes, it started to grow on me a little. I looked at the other included backgrounds and found the same background as the default, but in green. I decided that what they really *need* to do is to take the green logo from the green version and apply that to the grey default background and that would fix things for me :) Maybe Clem is listening?

I can’t comment too much on the rest as I have not had much of a chance to use it, however, everything worked, everything was aesthetically pleasing, and the Mint menu looked a bit different.

Kudos to the Mint team and I cannot wait for the final release so I can upgrade some of these machines around here and give Mint 10 a better run :)

A Practical Guide to Ubuntu Linux 3rd Ed.

Practical Guide to Ubuntu Linux, A (3rd Edition)

Practical Guide to Ubuntu Linux, A (3rd Edition)

I have said before on several occasions that Sobell does really good work. Well, this holds true to my words. This is a big book with some 1250+ pages in it absolutely filled to the brim with useful information. The review on the front cover mentions that the book is “comprehensive” and that just might be understating it a little. This book has practically anything you might want to know about Ubuntu, and references a lot of really helpful general linux and userland program information and it’s put together in a very straight forward and understandable way. Having the word “Practical” in the name is also a really good fit as the book offers great walk-throughs on things people will want to do with their Ubuntu install from beginner things like configuring a printer all the way up to things like some perl programming and running your own web server. All in all, this book is not only worth a look, but a keeper. It’s a good read and great technical reference.

EncFs

EncFs

EncFs


I had the opportunity to check out some encrypted filesystem stuffs recently. The one that really stood out as easy to install. manage and use, for me, was EncFs. Now this post is mostly for posterity, but I wanted to share that, unless you are trying to get it running on RHEL, it’s pretty easy to get set up. I mostly referred to this site and had it up and going lickety-split.. I really am thrilled with how easy this actually was…

Until….

I tried getting it running on RHEL 5. I will spare you all the gory details about how it took hours of peeling through the dependency issues with nonstandard RHEL packages, but you get the idea. What I will leave you with here is what actually made it work:

yum -y install fuse fuse-devel fuse-libs
wget http://packages.sw.be/rlog/rlog-1.3.7-1.el5.rf.i386.rpm
wget http://packages.sw.be/fuse-encfs/fuse-encfs-1.4.1-1.el5.rf.i386.rpm
rpm -Uvh rlog-1.3.7-1.el5.rf.i386.rpm
rpm -Uvh fuse-encfs-1.4.1-1.el5.rf.i386.rpm
modprobe fuse
useradd -G fuse your_user_name

And that was it! Bask in the glory!!!

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