Sunday, December 23, 2007

Virginie Chardonnay

This was a French Chard in a nice bottle. On the label was the term Vin de Pays d'Oc, which is the southern wine growing region of France, so I figured it should be worth a shot. Unfortunately, I was disappointed.

This was another case of read the label, stupid. It clearly states:

...with a hint of vanilla and liquorice.

I don't mind vanilla-- as long as it's in Captain Morgan Spiced Rum-- but I can't stand liquorice. Truth is, I don't want anything in my wine but grapes. I'm giving it a 3 out of 10, with the caveat that somebody else might really dig this stuff.

Blue Flame Pinot Nior

A slightly less expensive Pinot Nior from France. All the positives of previous vintages. I really enjoyed this brand, especially for an under $10 price. A strong 6 of 10.

Banyuls Rimage Les Clos de Paulilles

Yuk. Too much raisin taste. Now I realize that statement doesn't make sense, see as wine is made of grapes, and raisins are made of grapes, but I think it gives it an "old" taste. It's like, "These grapes are old an dried out. Should we sell them as raisins?" "No, go ahead and use them anyway."

3 of 10.

Anakena Chardonnay

There was a Chilean wine called Carmen that I had enjoyed when I lived in Tennessee, but (as with many wines) I have not seen it in either Maryland or Virgina. I decided to try this one, but did not care for it at all. Chilean wines are much more acidic than most other regions and I found this had just too strong a taste. It wasn't undrinkable, but it only gets 3 of 10.

Fedora 7 Kickstart

I needed to kickstart a system running Fedora 7, and discovered that the Rescue CD does not drop you to a boot: prompt to allow you to specify a kickstart directive. There are four options on the Grub menu:
* Install or upgrade
* Install or upgrade (text)
* Rescue installed system
* Boot from local drive
If you select one of the Install options, and press tab, you will be dropped to a prompt that will read:
> vmlinuz initrd=initrd.img
Add your kickstart directives and press enter:
> vmlinuz initrd=initrd.img ks=
Of course, I would recommend selecting the second option for text install, as it will rebuild the system faster.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Washington Monument Rainbow

Sitting around Potomic Park in the rain and noticed the rainbow. It only lasted a few minutes.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Pacific Peak Chardonnay

This wine was worth every penny of the $3.84 that I paid. Unfortunately, it wasn't worth a penny more! Perhaps my taste buds have been ruined the $10 plus bottles of recent months. I was able to finish the bottle, but I'm not sure I know why I bothered.

3 of 10

Ruffino Libaio Chardonnay

An Italian chardonnay from a vineyard I've best known for its chianti. It was nice, but honestly, I think we are paying for the name on this one, because I can get Casarsa for 30% the cost. Some might argue that this is a Tuscan wine, but we're really only talking about the difference between the Italian east coast versus west coast. It gets a 6 of 10.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Bellini Toscana Sangiovese

I found it a little difficult to research this, as there is a cocktail called a Bellini, and it seems that Bellini is a very small vineyard in Tuscany. So small, in fact, that they have virtually no web presence. To make matter worse, the picture didn't post to the blog on the first attempt, and I had to dig the bottle out of the recycling bin. The net result is that I don't really remember what I thought of the wine. Oops.

I remember having it with steak and felt good about it. Perhaps a little too heavy for after dinner. I'll try it again and give it a 6 of 10.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

...Except Holidays

I just noticed the hours at "Total Wine" in Chantilly, VA. Open 365 days a year. But wait! What does the fine print say? "Except Holidays"

Well, that would be less than 365 days, then.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Montebuana Rioja

In the continuing quest to experience red wine, I wanted to try a rioja. This one was about $10 and very full bodied and dry. It was a good wine, but definitely needed to be served with a meal as opposed to sipped in front of the TV. 5 of 10

Monday, November 26, 2007

2000 Monte Carlo Turns 100,000

During my evening commute, my deer smashed Monte Carlo turned 100,000 miles old.

The sad part of this story is that I went to great effort to use my digital camera to make a video of the odometer rolling over, but something went horribly wrong. Now, admittedly, it would seem that watching a digital odometer "roll over" doesn't sound very exciting, but the video turned out pretty good... right up to the point that it stopped: ten seconds too soon! I guess videos had a 2 minute limit.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Canyon Oaks White Merlot

Okay: I can't really fault Canyon Oaks for this one. It's half my fault and half the wine stores fault. I was looking at the White Zinfandels and decided to try this one. Once I opened the bottle, I realized that it was White Merlot rather than White Zinfandel. I'm guessing it was in the wrong section of the store.

Unfortunately, merlots typically contain blackberry, and I'm allergic to blackberry. The wine tasted fine, but after two small glasses, I had a hang-over the next day. The rest of the bottle went down the sink. 3 of 10.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

One Less Deer In Maryland

...At least that's my assessment. I hit her getting on to Highway 29 at about 0600 on my way to work. I came around the cloverleaf at between 40 and 50, was speeding up to merge into traffic, and checking my mirrors. By the time I looked forward, there was no time to react.

I don't know how she made it across the three lanes of traffic or whether she made it off the on-ramp. Just not the kind of thing you think about dealing with on a DC commute.

It's hard to see in the picture, but the right headlight unit (lights, turn signal, running lights) is shattered, hood is dented, and the nose cap has several cracks.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Beringer White Zinfandel

I got this bottle about a year ago when I started stocking my "wine cellar". At the time it was simply a bottle of zinfandel that was on sale. It's a nice wine, that oddly, I like with pizza. Since getting this one, I have found that Beringer has both a red label and blue label zinfandel. (It's actually the border around the label that is colored.) At first glance, the blue label has a higher alcohol content. Its next on my acquisition list, so we'll soon find out.

I paid about $7 on sale. 5 of 10.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Bellini Dessert Wine

Very good. It had a nice little warm feeling, as it was a little better than 36 proof. Not nearly the 80 proof of brandy... which is way to stout for my tastes.

Of course it was more expensive for less quantity than an average wine, but it is not meant to be drunk by the glass. About $20 for 500ml. 7 of 10.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Montresor Soave

I've been looking for a particular wine for several years, but have not seen it since I moved to Maryland. It was an Italian white, Bollo Soave. I've seen several Bollo wines, so they are still around, but no Soave.

After a little research I found that Soave is actually the region in northern Italy where the wine is grown. With this new info, I looked for another brand of Soave. I found this one for slightly under $10 and found it enjoyable. I'll give it 5 of 10.

Vampire Pinot Nior

I'm trying to learn about red wines, so we'll be seeing more reds in the list. There is a minor issue, however: I'm allergic to black fruits (blackberries, currents, etc) and they are often used to flavor the red wines. Luckily, I found a set of charts that describe which types of wine typically contain black fruit. Classic example: Merlot.

First on the list: Vampire Pinot Nior. This is such a classic marketing gimmick. Vampires drinking red wine. Brilliant!

The bad news is that this bottle was more expensive than many other Pinot Niors. I'd say mid range ($12). The good news is that I found out that wine is 30% cheaper in Virginia than it is in Maryland. WooHoo!

I liked this wine. We'll have to try a few others to see if it is the vintage or variety. I'll give it a strong 6 of 10.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Monkey Bay Chardonnay

I bought this New Zealand wine simply because it came with a mail in rebate. That seemed novel. Turns out its not, just void where prohibited by law which is, apparently, me county. I sent it in anyway, but since the receipt was not itemized, I didn't get my dollar back. As for the wine, 5 of 10.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Beowulf: Everybody Needs One

Since my life is so simple and carefree, I decided I needed another project: build a Linux Beowulf Computational Cluster. It actually was easier than I thought. The tough part was retasking my hardware.

I set aside three matched systems to act as nodes. A fourth system is configured as the head. The cluster will be utilizing my standalone MySQL server and file server. I thought (incorrectly) that the head node would only be used as a control point, so it is my application server. This machine runs NIS, Bind, Apache, and Squid.

Starting point was Beowulf HowTo. It's rather old and out of date, but close enough to get things started. The single biggest factor is understanding that their is no beowulf-*.rpm it's lam-*.rpm. (Get it: wolf and lamb.) I didn't need to concern myself with NFS or NIS, as I already had those running.

Build a user, gen and distribute SSH keys. Here's a trick for that one. Since the user is going to be an NIS user, we put their home directory on the NFS server, and configure the nodes to auto mount the home directory.
# ls -s /home/cluso /net/scully/home/cluso
# chown cluso.cluso /home/cluso
(Yes, I know I spelled Clouseau wrong.)

Now, gen the keys, and assign the users public key to the authorized keys file.
$ ssh-keygen -t rsa
$ cp authorized_keys
Since our own key is trusted, and we get the same directory no matter where we login, our keys always allow us in.

I ignored all the MPI stuff, since I'm not doing C++ parallel computing. My goal is to be able to schedule Perl scripts across several machines. The benefit of using Beowulf for this rather than a bunch of crontabs, is that Beowulf will load balance the executions. Thus, the fastest node will be asked to execute the greatest number of incarnations of the script.

For the node configuration, two items of importance. First, disable iptables! Swendson emphasizes this fact, and yes you got to do it, or waste allot of time on rules. Besides, we're in a trusted environment. Second, the lamhosts file has moved. It is now /etc/lam/lamhosts.

Initialize the cluster with:
lamboot -v lamhosts
Read the output. It took several tries to get all the nodes to respond. Since we are not doing MPI I could not use mpirun. Instead, the command is:
$ lamexec hostname

Yeah! Oh wait... It ran on the head node also. Not what I wanted.
$ lamexec n1-3 hostname
Much better. One other small problem is an annoying message about MPI. Let's get rid of that.
$ lamexec n1-3 hostname 2> /dev/null

Now for the real fun. Lets execute 10 runs, without concern for the target nodes.
]$ lamexec -np 10 hostname 2> /dev/null

since we can specify nodes as either n1-3 or n1,3, we have significant control over the processing capacity.

Man, that was easy.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Penn Oaks Nobel Rot

This was dessert wine I got at the Maryland Wine Festival. The brand, Penn Oaks, is locally based, but not locally grown. On second thought, I'm not thrilled with that prospect because, for all I know, the grapes came from Chernobyl. It was a 5 of 10, but I won't buy it again.

Monday, October 15, 2007

NH Rest Stop

This has got to be my favorite rest stop of all time. Above this Rest Area sign on I-93, is a small sign mentioning a state run liquor store is at this rest stop. Yes, a liquor store, at the rest stop, run by the state. Brilliant!

View Larger Map

What is truly amazing, however, were the prices-- 33% less than I pay in Maryland. Too bad I'm flying home.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

"Do Not Push"

The tailgate of the dump truck says "Do Not Push". It was hard to resist pushing the truck full of dirt and rocks with my Chevy Monte Carlo, but some how I restrained myself.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Xen and Fedora 7, Pt 2

There is another issue with Fedora 7. If you elect an interactive install via virt-manager, you do no have the option of a text based install. It must be graphical. Occasionally, however, these have failed.

The problem is one of memory allocation. Under Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5, you must specify more than 512M for an installation. Anything less results in a "not supported" error. On Fedora 7, virt-manager defaults to 500M. If you choose a lesser value, you are threading on thin ice.

There seems to be a sweet spot between 396M and 431M. With memory set to less than 448M, the installation warns that there is not much physical memory, and asks if it can eneable the swap partition for use by the installer. At 256M the system will freeze and the install fails. At 431M, the installation proceeds. Several attempts as 293M resulted in about 50% freezes.

Sorry to say I didn't bang away at it long enough to isolate the exact break point, but there is really no need. If you are critical on memory, and must do an interactive install (as opposed to kickstart), install at 448M, and bump down for production.

Xen and Fedora 7

I've had problems virtualizing Fedora 7 under F7. Seems strange, nothing should be easier. Here's an example:
[root@adama ~]# virt-install -n apollo02
  -f /dev/vg0/xen-apollo01 --nographics -p
  -l -r 520
  -x "ks="
Starting install...
  ... output truncated ...
Write protecting the kernel read-only data: 938k

And the guest locks. Or does it? In reality, the guest is running the kickstart install but the console can not connect. If we try xm console X, we get nothing. If we try to connect through virt-manager, we get nothing. But, as long as the kickstart is fully automated, the install will work.

Let's try this:
[root@adama ~]# virt-install -n fc6vm
  -f /dev/vg0/xen-apollo01 --nographics -p
  -l -r 520
  -x "ks="
Starting install...
  ... output truncated ..
Welcome to Fedora Core

The console launches, and everything works as expected.

Interesting. So... Whats different between the was F7 boots and FC-6? One thing I had noticed was that F-7 boots in the XGA mode (43x80 vs 25x80). I try adding text to the -x option, without luck. Then I tried this:
[root@adama ~]# virt-install -n apollo02
  -f /dev/vg0/xen-apollo01 --nographics -p
  -l -r 520
  -x "ks= console=vga"
Starting install...
  ... output truncated ..
Welcome to Fedora

Much to my elation, it worked. One more thing to check, however.
Stay tuned.

Casarsa Chardonnay

Smooth as can be. This Italian chardonnay is value prices, packed in 1.5 liter bottles and oh so sippable. 7 of 10

Friday, September 28, 2007

Fedora 7 Services

I've always thought Red hat enabled too many services by default. Mauriat Miranda's site has a page that documents many of the default services for Fedora 7 and explains which onces can safely be disabled. This saved several minutes in constructing a kickstart file directive that disables un-needed services.

services disable anacron atd avahi-daemon bluetooth cpuspeed dhcdbd firstboot hidd hplip iptables ip6tables nfslock pcscd rpcbind rpcgssd rpcidmapd

Wow! That's allot of bloat.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Xen: Fedora 7

Today must be my lucky day. Seeing as I am incredibly sick, that seems unlikely, but I have managed to get Fedora 7 to install as a para-virt guest on Fedora 7. That may not seem like a big deal, but it is the first time it has worked.

I did two things different:
1. Allocated 520M of memory for the install. Fedora Core 6 would install with 256M, but 7 would fail.
2. I selected the default partitioning scheme. Unfortunately, the default scheme was thought up by a brain dead engineer. My evidence is that they set aside all disk space for LVM and allocate it all to root. Turns out, root is the only file system you can not reduce. Thus, no way to reorder the partitioning.

I think it was number 2 that made the difference, as Disk Druid would run, ask to activate swap, than freeze regardless of whether I picked Yes or No. Should be easy enough to prove, but that will have to wait for tomorrow.

Xen: Full Virt Solaris 10, Pt 6 (Final!)

Yes, it works. Finally. To paraphrase Calvin Coolidge, it's persistence that triumphs in the end. So, at this point, I have Solaris 10 running as a fully virtualized guest under Fedora 7.

Lessons Learned:
1. Do not use the CD images, use the DVD images. There are several known issues with the CD's.
2. Do not install from physical media. Place the ISO on Dom0's hard drive and install from the ISO. (This also solves the problem of not having a DVD drive.)
3. Set the memory for install at 520M. The Solaris installer needs more than 512M to run properly. (The memory footprint can be lowered post install.)
4. For networking, select "Shared physical device". Otherwise you end up behind a virtual bridge and you have to NAT your traffic.
5. Have a "Solaris recognized" video board installed in the machine. Oddly, you don't have to use the video board, it just has to be there for hardware recognition. (Is the term "Solaris recognized" a real term? No. How do we know if the board is Solaris recognized? Attempt an install or a real Solaris instance.)

What an exercise in aggravation. At least that's out of the way.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Columbia Crest Reisling

Br />

Oh God! This was awful! All I can imagine is that I got a bad bottle. It was so bad, I made the dog go outside while I drank it. You see, the smell of sulfur was so unbelievable, that I accused the dog of having gas.

Normally Columbia rest is a good enough California wine, but this was horrible. Avoid! It was normally $19 on sale for $9. (Wonder why?) Moral of the story: don't buy market down wine from that retailer! Lowest possible 1 out of 10.

Zeller Schwartz Katz Mosel

Warning: I'm writing this review drunk. It has nothing to do with the wine-- I'm sick and my medicine of choice is Taquila.

There's actually a story behind Zeller Schwartz Katz. When I was in fifth grade, I had to write a report about a child in a foreign contry. I waited until the last minute, and asked my mother for help. She looked around the kitchen and pulled a bottle of Zeller Schwartz Katz out of the trash.

"Here," she said handing me the empty bottle. "You're a child in Germany, and you're family makes wine." Works for me. I got an A. As a result, Zeller Schwartz Katz, has always had a place in my heart, even though it's not my favorite wine.

Then, a month ago, I found this. Different label than I was use to. The type of wine is a Mosel. Wow! Good stuff. Turns out, last weekend (before I got sick-- I think it was the flu shot that did me in) I went to the Maryland wine festival. One of the vineyards was offering a Mosel. Good Stuff. Hey... Do I detect a pattern here?

This was a really good wine. I give it 7 out of 10.

Anton Bauer Gruner Veltliner

It's name is Gmork. That's a great name. It Austrian for... Gmork! What else? It was actually a good wine, especially for the $8 price. Alas, it had a screwtop, and we all know how I feel about that. Even so, I'll give it a 6 of 10.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Xen: Full Virt Solaris 10, Pt 5

My praises of Fedora 7 seem much too premature. I seems the Xen technology in this release is highly transitional. After nearly a month of working on this, I have found managed to get Solaris 10 installed, but there was a catch.

On a Xen system, Dom0 owns the hardware and controls access to the guests. Unfortunately, Dom0 will not give Solaris 10 access to any hardware except the video and the keyboard. Since I had multi-ISO install media, I could not complete an install. The problem was the fact the after the first CD, the guest was never allowed access to the media again.

The solution came from Per Hjartoy, who has observed the behavior for Windows guests. (see his efforts: install trouble with CD-RW, win2k3 server hangs) He recommended using the DVD ISO as the install media rather than a real CD. Thus, no swapping of disks.

Thank you. It worked, as I now have an accessible Solaris 10 environment... As long as I use the console! You see, the network card is hardware, and the Hypervisor won't let Solaris access the network. Thus, I have a working guest, but no way to access it.

Very frustrating.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Xen Console

Command to connect to a Xen console from a shell prompt:
# xm console guestname
This is similar to telnet'ing into a serially connected terminal server. The bad news is that the exit command drops you to the guest's login prompt, not Dom0's shell prompt. Solution:
apollo.terran.lan:   Ctrl+]   [root@adama xen]#

That character sequence is press and hold the control key, and tap the close bracket key. (Yes, it does it up displaying as a single line in the terminal window.)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

L2S: Hardware Analysis

On linux, a few minutes in the /proc can provide a huge amount of information about the physical construction of a system. On Solaris, /proc is exclusively process information. Here are a the two most basic hardware interrogation solutions:
# prtconf | grep Mem
Memory size: 512 Megabytes
# iostat –En | egrep -v "Not|Req" | sed "s/[A-Z]/ &/"
c0t0d0     Soft Errors: 0 Hard Errors: 0 Transport Errors: 0
 Model: ST38420A   Rev: 3.05 Serial No: 7AZ0V59C
 Size: 8.62GB <8622415872 bytes>
c0t2d0     Soft Errors: 0 Hard Errors: 1 Transport Errors: 0
 Vendor: LG   Product: CD-ROM CRD-8322B Rev: 1.05 Serial No:
 Size: 0.00GB <0 bytes>

Given that ifconfig -a will give us a good look at the network cards, we can now get a fair look at our hardware.

Xen: Deleting Guests

I still can not get a Xen guest to see the CD-RW, which has been quite a hassle. In my repeated attempts, I've ended up with a bunch of tangling participles, which is to say I have several bogus configurations in the database. I finally found a way to purge an unwanted configuration.
[root@adama ~]# xm list
Domain-0 ...
apollo01 ...
starbuck01 ...
starbuck02 ...
[root@adama ~]# virsh undefine starbuck02
Domain starbuck02 has been undefined

[root@adama ~]# xm list
Domain-0 ...
apollo01 ...
starbuck01 ...
[root@adama ~]#

Now I can reuse the same name.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


While I should have been trying to solve this whole Xen/Solaris mess, I wasted time looking at Chris Johnson's ASCII Art Gallery. Cool stuff. And did you notice his domain name...

DC Commute

The sun has reached just the right angle during my commute to cast this interesting shadow.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Xen: Full Virt Solaris 10, Pt 4

Haha!!!!! I got it! And (unfortunately) it is a bug in Xen.

After significant playing with the video board, I decided that maybe it was the CD-RW. Perhaps, Linux was aquiring the CD-RW as read-write, and the Solaris VM was trying to access the locked device. To test, I pulled the cable on the CD-RW and rebooted. Without the CD-RW, the error returned. Not the the CD-RW, I thought.

After a few more hours, a couple glasses of wine, and a few minutes of falling asleep in my chair, I decided that maybe I could observe the error on the VM if I could get the console to activate at start, rather than post start. I had no luck, but I did notice something I had not seen.

On the GUI Manager, virt-manager, was a Details button. Clicking this allows a user to browse statistics and hardware for a VM. I examined the hardware, and noticed something strange: the shared CD-RW had a source path of /dev. That's not going to work.

This would be easy to fix on RHEL5, because we could edit the config file. On F7, the config is stored in a database that I had not been able to crack. Then I found a blog entry by Jim Klein where he described a command to export and import from the database. A quick XML edit fixed ten days worth of problems.
# virsh dumpxml starbuck01 > /etc/xen/starbuck01.xml
# cat /etc/xen/starbuck01.xml
--- snip ---
    <disk type='block' device='cdrom'>
        <driver name='phy'/ />
        <source dev='/dev/' />
        <target dev='hdc' />
        <readonly />
--- snip ---
Notice the source dev. Changed it to '/dev/cdrom', and imported per Klein's instructions:
virsh define /etc/xen/starbuck01.xml
Error gone.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Xen: Full Virt Solaris 10, Pt 3

Thus far, every attempt to get S10 to run as a Xen guest has ultimately failed. The problem has been the exact same video driver issue I've been fighting for a month. This means this is, beyond any doubt, a Solaris problem.

In each case, Solaris would install disk 1 in the text mode, then reboot the VM, and die. I tried a logical volume and I tried a real partition. I tried SELinux disabled. Finally (since I had the Cirrus Logic card installed, anyway) I decided to give it a 34th try. The trick was to configure F7 to recognize the Cirrus Logic video board...
90 seconds later...

Okay, that was easy. Of course my max resolution is now 1024x768.

Launched the VM install and found the graphical installed ran perfectly on the first try. Install completed. But when I went to start the VM:
# xm start starbuck01
Error: Device 5632 (vbd) could not be connected.
Device /dev/ is mounted read-write in the privileged domain,
and so cannot be mounted read-only by a guest.

In other words, it failed again, with the same error. I still think this has something to do with the video.

F7 and S10 Dual Boot, Pt 2

I was surprised how easily I was able to recover the S10 boot that was destroyed by a failed VM install. Solaris takes a primary partition and slices it into virtual partitions. The VM install wiped out the physical partition that ran S10. My concern was that a new install of S10 would kill the MBR or /boot, this wounding Fedora.

Since the S10 /boot and Grub are installed in the slice, I was able to reinstall S10 without effecting Fedora. Furthermore, since the "real" Grub is in the Linux partition, once the S10 install was complete, the system booted to Linux Grub, which handed off the Solaris Grub.

A passing side note: I had to reinstall the Cirrus Logic video card in order to install Solaris.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

F7 and S10 Dual Boot

Oops. Why is it that no good news ever starts with "oops"?
Oops. I accidentally deposited $10,000 to your account.
Oh well, I guess you can keep the money
No. Oops is always bad.

As per standard operating procedure, I loaded Solaris 10 in the PC. Turns out, S10 uses GRUB, so BIOS hands off to MBR, which handed off to GRUB in sda2. (I had left sda1 open for a Linux /boot partition. Once I Solaris stable, I loaded Fedora 7.

I loaded F7 with /boot on sda1, / (root) on sda3, and a swap partition on sda5. Unfortunately, Fedora did not recognize Solaris at install time, so it did not add a GRUB stanza. With the install complete, BIOS hands off to MBR, which hands off to GRUB on sda1. Solaris was non-bootable. A quick modification to grub.conf:
title Solaris 10
rootnoverify (hd0,1)
chainloader +1
Now, BIOS hands off to MBR, which hands off to GRUB on sda1, which chooses Solaris 10, which hands off to GRUB on sda2 (presenting a second GRUB screen!), which boots S10.

Here's the oops. I attempted to build an S10 VM in a dedicated partition: sda7 (sda6 was an LVM partition). What I did not realize was that when linux boots, it sees that sda2 is a type bf Solaris. It then looks inside the partition, and allocated partition numbers to the Solaris slices. This means that when I added a partition, sda7, it actually appear to Linux as sda11.

When I installed the VM, however, I specified sda7. This means the VM installed in the slice that was S10 root. Thus, S10 is no longer bootable.


Furthermore, on reboot, the partition that appeared as sda11, now appeared as sda7 (as expected) and sda10 was now the S10 /export/home slice.
# grep "sda.*>" /var/log/dmesg
sda: sda1 sda2 sda3 sda4 < sda5 sda6 sda7 >
sda2: < solaris: [s0] sda8 [s1] sda9 [s2] sda10 [s7] sda11 >
Now I have two problems:
1. Recover the S10 boot without loosing F7.
2. Rebuild the VM on the correct partition.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Xen: Full Virt Solaris 10, Pt 2

As I expected, the Solaris 10 install failed when it attempted to access CD 2. My research seems to indicate there is a known problem with the x86 CD ISO's installing in text mode. Unfortunately, the fix is not a high priority for Sun. But then Sun is a hardware company, so what do you expect?

On subsequent attempts to install, the GUI would not launch, though I was surprised to find that the default selections for the virtual display adapter would render 1024x800. What was truly bizarre was that the virtual display adapter showed as a Cirrus Logic card, which is what I had to use to get the "real" machine running.

And then I stumbled upon this:
Solaris 10 6/06 Installation Guide
Under System Requirements, it qualifies GUI install as requiring 512 MB for x86. The default memory footprint for a Xen VM is 500 MB. Ooops.

I set the memory for the VM to 532 MB, accepted all of Solaris 10's defaults, and...

Eureka! I got the GUI. Now I feel confident the install will work.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Xen: Full Virt Solaris 10

I am astounded at the ease with which I could create a Solaris 10 virtual machine under Fedora 7. The virt-manager recognized the Solaris 10 CDs and launched the image without error or complaint. It also claimed support for Solaris 9, as well as some BSD beasties (who I care not about.)

Of course the Solaris install was still completely borked. I was able to get the installer to display a good 800x600 test pattern by selecting the XF86 VESA compliant driver, but the installer still insisted upon running in the text mode. Of course, we know what that means-- We're going to have trouble with CD 2.

L2S: /home vs /export/home

One of my big annoyances with this Linux to Solaris transition has been the difference between the Linux /home directory and the Solaris /export/home directory. From the Solaris point of view, no one should ever have a local account. Since all accounts will be exported, they all go under /export/home. When a network user log's in, the automounter mounts their account to /home.

Turns out, we can trick the automounter to clean up this mess by commenting out the last line of /etc/auto_home, and adding the user name and exported directory:
# Copyright 2003 Sun Microsystems, Inc. All rights reserved.
# Use is subject to license terms.
# ident "@(#)auto_home 1.6 03/04/28 SMI"
# Home directory map for automounter
doug localhost:/export/home/doug

Now we steal a trick the Linux automounter man page. Replace the last line with the following:
* localhost:/export/home/&

The asterick and ampersand allow wild carding. Next time users login, they find them selves in /home/$USER.

Solaris 10 Stats

I few notes on running Solaris 10 on the AMD 64 X2 CPU:
# uname -a
SunOS starbuck 5.10 Generic_118855-33 i86pc i386 i86pc

Not what I expected to see some 64's in there.
# psrinfo -v
Status of virtual processor 0 as of: 09/06/2007 00:01:51
on-line since 09/05/2007 17:55:46.
The i386 processor operates at 2109 MHz,
and has an i387 compatible floating point processor.
Status of virtual processor 1 as of: 09/06/2007 00:01:51
on-line since 09/05/2007 17:55:51.
The i386 processor operates at 2109 MHz,
and has an i387 compatible floating point processor.

Still no 64's, but at least it sees two CPU's.
# isainfo -v
64-bit amd64 applications
cx16 sse3 sse2 sse fxsr amd_3dnowx amd_3dnow amd_mmx mmx cmov amd_sysc
cx8 tsc fpu
32-bit i386 applications
cx16 sse3 sse2 sse fxsr amd_3dnowx amd_3dnow amd_mmx mmx cmov amd_sysc
cx8 tsc fpu

Ah... There's some 64's.

But this is what bothers me:
# pkginfo | grep "64-bit"
system SUNWj5dmx JDK 5.0 64-bit ...
system SUNWj5dvx JDK 5.0 64-bit ...
system SUNWj5rtx JDK 5.0 64-bit ...

We have a 64-bit OS, but we're running everything 32 bit. Except for Java. Does that seem just a little unusual?

Solaris 10: Locked and Loaded... Finally

I needed to get an instance of Solaris running at the house to get a little extra research time. The job is running 9, but Sun has opened 10 for "free" private use. What ensued was several weeks of agony and tragedy. Here's what it took to get Open Solaris 10 running under x86.

Download: Solaris 10 is distributed on 5 images. Unfortunately, the images are packaged in two formats, the first of which requires a Solaris system with CD burner. Seeing as I did not have a Solaris system available, I had to use the second option, which is 5 Windows executables. Turns out these were self extracting archives that each contained a single ISO image. What? Why didn't they just post the ISO and let me use whatever OS I wanted to burn the CD?

Installation: I dusted off a PIII 550, stuffed 396M of memory, and started the CD install. Luckily, it failed within sixty seconds. "Error 28: Selected item can not fit into memory". The problem stems from Solaris 10 needing 256M of memory. Uhhh... Isn't 396 more than 256? Guess not. I moved the install CD to two other systems both with 1G. Both moved past the error. Okay. I can get a new mobo with a gig of RAM for under $200.

New Hardware: Ordered parts from New Egg and installed in a spare case. Foxconn mobo, AMD-64X2 4200, 1G DDR2 800, integrated ATI Xpress 1250 video, and 1G Realtek ethernet for $184.96. Start the install, get past the error, install crashed. Let’s try again using text mode. Much better, except for one small detail... In text mode, you can only install the base system. The other CD's are then installed from the functioning base system. Guess that’s okay. Besides, now that we’re past the error, we need to grab the 64-bit ISO’s, so we’ll just consider this install a dry run.

Download, part 2: Back to the Sun website, follow the links for x86 64-bit, download the first Windows EXE. Oddly, it seems to have the same name as the 32-bit download; even the file sizes are the same. Let’s go back and examine the installed system. Hey! It’s booting a 64-bit kernel! Obviously, the ISO contains both the 32 and 64 bit kernels, and the OS recognizes which needs to be loaded. That is an innovation over Linux, though I question the value of loaded a 64 kernel and running 32-bit application stack.

Additional CD’s: The system is now booting to a console login. As I expected, the 1G Realtek card is not recognized. Luckily, I had the foresight to install a 100M Intel ethernet card. Inserted disk 2, mount, execute the install command, instant failure. Seems disk 2’s installer is a GUI utility, and we don’t have a window system. (As a matter of fact, I didn’t really care about a windowing system.) Certainly, there was a way to force the install utility to text, but it was easier to restart the install.

Installation, part 2: Selected text install, attempted to manually configure the X window system. Several attempts proved that there was not a compatible driver for the ATI board. There is a driver for an ATI Mach64 board, circa 2002. No go. Tried a Cirrus Logic 5434, circa 1998. Yeah, figures that one worked. After all it’s a decade behind current technology… just like Solaris. Graphical installer launched, just as it should, installed without any problems.

Operation: After the successful install, I logged in to switch the system from GUI to Console mode (runlevel 5 to runlevel 3). Normally this would be a straight forward exercise if it weren’t for Sun’s decision to deprecate the /etc/inittab and /etc/rc?.d scripts. How was this a good idea? Found a few hundred references to others that had to learn this lesson the hard way. Since there is not inittab to provide virtual consoles, you have to get the system to a Desktop Session, login, and issue the command:
bash-3.00# svcs –a | grep cde
online ... svc:/network/rpc/cde-calendar-manager:default
online ... svc:/application/cde-printinfo:default
online ... svc:/application/graphical-login/cde-login:default
online ... svc:/network/rpc/cde-ttdbserver:tcp
online ... svc:/network/cde-spc:default
bash-3.00# svcadm disable cde-login

Issued a power down, pulled the Cirrus Logic, and booted to a console session.

Finally! System is now running.

Time to dual boot this puppy to Linux.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

HP Recovery Partition

I got an HP desktop computer for Winter Solstice Festival Holiday, last year. It has a recovery partition that is suppose to rapidly rebuild Windows XP, but its availability has been rather inconsistent. In all fairness, it is because my system has always been a multi boot system.

In the process of ditching Vista, I reformatted the drive back to the factory default. As I rebuild the system, I tested the recovery partition to ensure that it was still working. It seems the secret is to keep the recovery partition as the last partition on the drive, but it must be a primary partition.

This means the disk is arrange similar to the following:
1 Primary Windows XP-M
2 Primary Linux /boot
4 Extended
5 Logical FAT-32 (data)
6 Logical NTFS (Win Apps)
7 Logical Linux LVM (F7)
3 Primary Recovery

The big trick is going to come when I try to re-install Vista as Logical partition number 8. Oooo... Won't that be interesting.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Zeller Schwartz Katz

A German white table wine, this is one of those wines that needs the right food. (Of course, its suppose to be the other way around.) By itself, I didn't care for it, but with a spice tomato based dish, it had a completely different flavor. Who would have thought to drink a German wine with Mexican food? Under $10, 6 out of 10.

Oroya White Wine

Found this at the wine store: Oroya, Made For Sushi. It's from Freixenet, which means it's Spanish, which is an unusual place to get wine designed for sushi. But you gotta try new things. Under $10, nice enough, but nothing interesting. Just a 5 of 10.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Windows Computer Management

I have yet to figure out how to navigate to the Computer Management tool for remapping drive letters. [compmgmt.msc] I can do it if I switch Control Panel to Classic View, so apparently, its something I'm just not suppose to do anymore. Here's the easiest route:

Click Start.
In the Search field, type "management".
Click the Computer Management icon.

It's a case of having to know exactly what something is called. If I can't find something at the grocery store, I ask "Where macaroni and cheese?" I'd expect a response like, "Go over that way to aisle seven and look on the left side. You should see pasta. The mac'n cheese is around there."

With Vista, it's like getting the response of...
"Sorry, don't know what you're talking about."
"I'm looking for Kraft Macaroni and Cheese."
"Nope, still nothing."
"How about Kraft Macaroni & Cheese."
"Oh yes. I can't tell you where it is, or how to get there, but if you'll wait a few moments, I'll bring it to you."

Admittedly, it is nice to have people waiting on you. It make you fat, stupid, and lazy.

Vista, Pt 2

I know I promised a post on what I didn't like about Vista, but, as it terns out... I like everything about Vista! It is the most incredible product ever to be sold to the American consumer. Dare I say-- It shall be bigger than cigarettes, its so good!

Bottom line. After about a week, I see absolutely nothing new about Vista, accept the flippy-flippy window list thing. And of course, there's the blue screens, but I can live with them. They are self inflicted injuries. The price you pay for being an early adopter.

Granted, Vista has introduced new features, like the gadget sidebar. After all, I really need a second clock on my desktop. Can't trust the clock on my palm, in it's cradle beside my computer. Can't trust the clock on my Sprint phone, in it's cradle beside my computer. Can't trust the one on my NTP synchonized Fedora system, on my desk, beside my computer.

Now come time to start loading software to see what all doesn't work.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

What's Wrong With This Picture?

Started driving home when I heard a funny sound: Whop, whop, whop...

Uh oh-- Flat tire!

Not quite, I'd picked up what Firestone calls a road hazard, but the true technical term is big ass screw in the tire. I didn't figure I'd survive the beltway if the tire blew, so I pulled over and tossed on the spare. Look at that thing! It looks like it came off Malibu Barbie's convertible.

Then I took off the Protenza G009, I had about an inch of clearance between the rubber and the asphalt. When I put on this thing, I had to lower the car four inches before it even touched the ground. And it's like two inches wide.

But, I shouldn't complain... It got me home.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Windows Vista: Things I Like

My HP came with a free upgrade to Windows Vista Home Premium (when available). After sitting on my desk for the last several months, I finally got it loaded. Lets start with the good:

* Remember network passwords - Great for my Samba server.
* Free space meters - Displayed next to the drives.
* Upgrade to Solitare - It's about time.
* Upgrade to Minesweeper - Now with sound!
* Mahjong - One less thing to download.
* Album Art - Fetched the images and saved them on the server.

Perhaps more to come, but the next post will be Things I Don't Like!

Windows Vista Upgrade

Haven't seem one of these in a while.

After four days of backup and preparation, I got Vista loaded. Actually, I wiped the system, recovered to HP's base image, stripped out the HP supplied malware, then upgraded from there. If I had done the upgrade, start to finish, it would have take four hours.

I booted Vista for the first time, played with it for thirty minutes, then went to the gym. When I got home, I woke up the box, to be greated by a BSOD. I've not seen a blue screen in years! (Of course, I principally use Linux / Redhat / Unix / Solaris.) On recovery I was met by this happy little fellow.

This should be fun!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Best Looking Truck of the Evening

No reason for the picture of the zebra on the back of this truck, but it was a very pretty zebra.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

See Through Windows!

Passed this truck on the morning commute. Picture didn't post as nice as I'd hoped, but on the back door, they are bragging that they sell See Through Windows.


I do have to admit, however, that they are better than the windows in the old SAC facilities I supported in the early 1980's. The facilities would be mostly underground, so they would hang these large starving artist type paintings, and but curtains around them. At first I thought that was stupid, but then I had to pull an overnight duty at a B-52 alert station. My room mate said he couldn't sleep with the window open, so he close the curtains.

Now, I've never been a morning person. And with the lights out, this place was black as pitch. When the alarm went off, I staggered to to wall switch, and was immediately blinded by the florecent light. My room mate asked "Is it still raining?"

"Hold on," I offered, as I walked across the room. "Let me look outside." I pulled the curtains apart, and found myself staring at painting of the ocean.

Good thing he was too groggy to notice.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

L2S: Process List

When you do a process list on Linux, you get the process in age order. I don't know how Solaris is ordering them. Here's the closest solution so far:

Linux: ps -ef
Solaris: ps -ef | sort -n +2

No Video For You

Here's an experiment that didn't work. The idea was to post video from my phone to the blog. No go. We got the preview image, but no video. Too bad.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Lehmann Semillion

The guy at the wine store recommended this one. A dry white Australian. About $11. Didn't care for it, so it gets a below average 3 of 10. And besides: It had a screw top!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Independance Day, Baltimore Inner Harbor, Pt4

Horrible, horrible, rain. Heavy winds. Fireworks starts in 20 minutes, but its just too bad to stay. So sad.

Independance Day, Baltimore Inner Harbor, Pt3

The black thing in the middle of the harbor is the launch platform. This means any point along the shore will have a good view.

Independance Day, Baltimore Inner Harbor, Pt2

USS Constitution. They fired one of the cannon earlier, and scared everyone half to death.

Independance Day, Baltimore Inner Harbor

Cloudy day, waiting for nightfall to see the fireworks.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Black Opal Shiraz

I was read in a book recently that the only real Shiraz, has to be vinted in Australia. So, I decided to get a bottle of Australian Shiraz and try it out. Normally, that would mean Lindemans, but I asked one of the guys at the wine store, and he suggested Black Opal for about $9 for .75L.

I'm not going to rate this wine because, as it turns out, Shiraz not strictly a grape wine. It contains hints of black fruits. Unfortunately, I'm alergic to verious types of black berries, and in a wine, this results in a terrible headache. (I've often said that merlot is an instant hang over.) The wine was tasty, but within hours, I know it wasn't for me.

It did, however, become one of the prime ingredients of some truly killer steak fajitas!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Piane Di Maggio, Trebbiano d’Abruzzo

This bottle was on the clearance shelf. For $6 for a 1.5L, how bad could it be? I had no idea what it was, or even what it was called. The brand is Agriverde, the vineyard is Piane Di Maggio, and the type of wine is Trebbiano d’Abruzzo. Having never had a trebbiano before, it is hard to catalogue it with like wines. It had a nice taste, with more of an acidic bite than the chardonnays we usually get. It was nice to find a cheap European, but there are better Californians for the same price (Vandage). I'll give it a 5 out of 10.

Monday, June 18, 2007

L2S: Determine runlevel

Solaris does not have the runlevel command. Furthermore, they are still using BSD init scripts, thus requiring the system to move from one level to the next. To determine a system's current runlevel:
Linux: runlevel
Solaris: who -r

Riondo Prosecco

I'd never had a Prosecco before and was pleasently surprised to find that it was a sparkling wine. Not nearly as bubbly as Champagne. Smooth taste. It was on sale for about $7. It's a 6 out of 10, for the visual fun factor.

Voga Pinot Girgio

Had a very buttery taste. Not the best Pinot Grigio, I liked Luna better for the same price. Honestly, it was chosen for the bottle. About $7. I'd rate it a 5 out of 10.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Saturday In DC

Driving down Louisianna Avenue.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Solaris vi Defeated: Part 1

I'm finally making some headway in my downgrade from Linux to Solaris. The biggest productivity killer has been learning to use vi. Don't get me wrong... I've been using vi for over a decade. The problem is that the version used by Solaris is so old that it is missing all but the most basic of functionality.

What has frustrated me the most is that if you strike an arrow key to navigate while in the insert mode, it spluges letters on the screen. This is terminal emulation problem. Solution:
From bash: export TERM=ansi

Next, the annoyance of not knowing whether you're in insert or command mode. This can be fixed with a set option. Solution:
From bash: alias vi='vi +"set showmode"'

(I also chose to implement ignorecase.)

These items will, of course, be lost on exit from the session. I've added these lines to my user's .profile, which gets sourced at login.

It would be nice to be able to map the , , , , , and keys, but I haven't found thier translations yet. I found the function keys:
map #1 :set nu[crtl]-[v][enter]
map #2 :set nonu[crtl]-[v][enter]

Upon pressing F1, the system displays line numbers. In order for the sequence to be automatic, we have to add an "Enter" sequence. This is done by pressing and holding the "Control" key, tapping the letter "V", followed by "Enter". It displays as ^M.

The map and set commands could also be issues on a per session basis, but would be better stored in ~/.exrc.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Oops... I Crashed Windows XP Pro

In theory... It should have worked. I installed Fedora 7 on the company laptop without incident, but when I went to install Solaris 10, I didn't have a primary partition for a Solaris /boot. My primary concern was the old issue of an OS not being able to boot if its first sector was beyond 1G.

I tried to use Partition Magic to get generate two primary partitions in front of the WXP install, but it failed with a nondescript error. It could shuffle the NTFS partition, but could not reassign the partition numbers. Sounds like a job for fdisk.

In theory, fdisk only edits the partition table and has no impact on data. Since the NTFS partition was between cylinders 20 and 2039, it should have been a simple case of rebuilding the partition table. Guess what? It didn't work. So, on my fourth day on the new job, I get to take their laptop in and explain that I blew up Windows.

So what went wrong? I'll have to research this, because I've used fdisk a thousand times before, without any problems. A few differences: I've not tried this trick with WXP, and I've never done it under F-7. I'm inclined to think that this is an NTFS issue.

Solaris Shell Scripting: Part 1

Shell scripting is suppose to be universal if you use #!/bin/sh. Yet, some if my scripting tricks are not working. A few notes:

Suppressing carriage return (CR):
Linux: echo -n "Hello "; echo "World"
Solaris: echo "Hello \c"; echo "World"

Capturing keyboard input:
Linux: prompt -p "Input: " VAR
Solaris: echo "Input: \c"; prompt VAR

Single command conditionals:
Linux: if [ -f /etc/passwd ]; then echo "Go"
Solaris: if [ -f /etc/passwd ]; then echo "Go"; fi

Finite count loop:
Linux:for X in {1..5}; do echo $Z; done
Solaris: X=0; while [ $X -lt 5 ]; do X=`expr $X + 1`; echo $X; done

Fedora 7 Install ISO

Had the hardest time finding an install ISO for Fedora 7. Seems there isn't one. There's probably an FM that I could have RT'd, but I figured it out on my own. And the way they have done it is brilliant.

Here's how difficult it is:
1. Insert "Live CD", boot system to Fedora.
2. Login as root. (No password... After all, we have physical access.)
3. Click the icon that says Install to Hard Drive.
4. Anaconda will launch in a window, select the defaults, until you get to partitioning:
Choose Create custom layout from the pull down.
5. No package selection: That's done by YUM.
6. System reboots to Firstboot, where we build a user account.

Simple. It cut the install foot print from five CDs to a single CD. Brilliant.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Welcome Back

Let's see: December, January to May, and part of June. That's easily over seven months. So what happened. Simple answer, I've been busy. Slightly less simple answer...

I had a 1U server at a collocation facility where I was host most of my apps, as well as most of the graphics on this blog. The colo decided to throw out everyone that was not making them at least $500 a month. That was me.

Then the holidays came and went. Then there was the RHEL 4 to RHEL 5 migration. Then there was a management change at Red Hat. (Can you say "disruptive innovation"?) Then I left Red Hat and have started at Windward Consulting Group. (Can you say "Oops... I guess the innovation was too disruptive"?) But... Now I'm back to the blog. With any luck, I may even get the server back online.

So what's new?

*** Fedora 7:
Tried out the Live CD today. Still can't find an install ISO. Luckily, I've got a hack for this.

*** RHEL 5:
Just because the new management team has their head's up their collective asses does not mean the product isn't the best OS on the planet.

*** Vista:
Got the disks, but haven't bothered to load them. My primary concern is that Full Spectrum Warrior will run.

*** Solaris 10:
No, it's not new, but after 7 years, I once again find myself supporting Solaris. The good news is that in nearly a decade, the product has remained completely stagnant.

An then there are my recent Blackjack adventures.

Lets get to business, and see if we can learn anything.