Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Amazon API Perl Modules

I'm a Perl novice, having only used it for about eight years. As a result, when I needed to add some Amazon modules to my Perl stack for integration with the AWS API, I was at a loss. Once I extracted that zip, here's what worked:
cd /usr/local/src/amazon-*-perl-library
ReadMe.html     src
cd src; ls
cp -ar Amazon /usr/local/lib/perl5/site_perl/*
# test it
perl -MAmazon::SimpleDB::Client -e 1
In this case, no output is good.

I tried to get ::VERSION to work, but it gave a blank line. Guess that command only works if you've used Perl for ten years.

More XenServer Paravirt Adventures

While working with someone else about running Linux under Citrix Xenserver 5, I ran across an interesting paradox. Daniel points out that the ability to run Linux as a DomU has been moved into the kernel, no longer requiring the kernel-xen RPM.

Yet, when I tried to install F11, on XenServer as a paravirt VM using the "CentOS 5.3 x64" template, it failed. When I clicked the Logs tab in XenCenter, I got:
Unable to access a required file in the the specified repository:
The template is expecting the standard install image format.

Tried a few other templates with the same result. The only way I was able to get it to run was by installing using "Other install media", which meant it was running HVM.

The paradoxical part of this, is that Fedora implies that it can be done, yet when attempted on a Fedora Xen Dom0, an F11 paravirt VM fails:
libvir: Xen error : Domain not found:
Invalid URL location given: [Errno 14] HTTP Error 404
In a way, its the message XenServer threw: I can't find the specially compiled paravirt kernel.

My guess at this point is that there has to be a new installer that understands how to use the newly compile options. Looks like there is some more research to be done. Stay tuned.

I'm Not Allowed to Innovate

If an innovation falls in the forest, and there are no managers around to approve it, does it cause any change?

Kagan's answer:
Only if it crushes small bunnies.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Citrix XenDesktop Express

Citrix finally released the evaluation product for XenDesktop 4, with a free Express edition for ten users. Before downloading, watch the introductory video, then come back here, to find out that for 87.3% of you the product will be unusable.

Forty seconds into the video, the narrator announces that the download "includes everything you need for a basic environment". BRAAAAAM! Wrong: You need at least one Windows Server 2003 licenses, and a functioning Microsoft Active Directory Controller. (Which is a second 2003 license... but who's counting.)

A significant disappointment, as I had hoped this could be a tool used by a small mobile work force. Instead, the Express product is completely useless. If an organization has MS Server and AD, they need that full version, not the express.

I guess that's four hours wasted.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Windows 7 - Product Key Is Not Valid

When reinstalling W7 (after all, it is Christmas) I was advised that my product key was not valid. Me... Use an invalid product key... Never! And besides, this is a retail upgrade pack.

So what's wrong?

Turns out this is a known issue where under a normal reinstall, your product key will be rejected. At issue is the fact that his is an upgrade disk rather than a "full version". It assumes you have an existing OS. The good news is there is a Microsoft work around.


To save you the effort of reading their propaganda:

1. Select Custom Install.
2. Highlight the target disk.
3. Click Advanced.
4. Click Format.

After the second install completes, you will be able to use your product key.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Santa Cristina

When I went to open this bottle of Santa Cristina Tuscan Sangiovese, I became highly distressed. Not only was it a 90% blend... and I avoid blends... but it was 10% Merlot! I'm allergic to Merlot.

No, really, I am allergic to Merlot. May grapes, in fact. It has to do with where the varietal is more related to blackberries or blueberries. Blackberries have lumpy skins with lots of little seeds, blueberries have smooth skins and one small (or no) seed. I'm allergic to blackberries, and merlot grapes are closely related.

(The proof exists in a book by Oz Clarke called "Introducing Wine", 2000, Webster's International.)

I tried it anyway, and luckily, no reaction, so the 10% was okay. As for the wine, the merlot added some body and richness, but nothing of interest. I've got another bottle, but will avoid this in the future. I found it satisfactory, but other might like it.

I'll got 4 of 10.

Miyone Granache

My second granache was also a Spanish wine, though I think it was from the Spanish riviera, judging by the unusual spelling on the label. (The southern coast speaks a different dialect of Spanish, called Catalan, which is closer to Italian.) Unfortunately, I was not as impressed with this one.

In my research on granache, it is most often used in blends, which I try to avoid. The problem, they say, is that the grapes tend to color toward rose rather than red. Special techniques allow the unblended granache to maintain its rich color, but are difficult to master. Miyone didn't quite get it.

I give it a 4 of 10. Not bad, but not good.

Perlat Granache

I decided to try a couple Spanish granache reds. This one was reasonably priced and fuller bodied than the Italians I've been drinking recently. I give it good marks a strong 6 of 10.

Santa Margherita

Unlike most of my selections that are mostly from wandering around the wine store looking at labels, I sought this one out based upon an advertisement in Wine & Food magazine. I got the mag as one of those "try it free" subscriptions, and ended up canceling. Instead I subscribed to Wine Spectator-- much better!

The wine sounded perfect: northern Italy, not a blend, safe white, and I like pinot grigio. But.. I knew it had to be expensive. Turns out not as much as I expected. I paid about $27 for the bottle, and, according to WS, $40 is considered expensive.

This was one of those moments when any novice wine drinker thinks, "is this really worth twice the price?" Yes, this one was. It was excellent. The only problem was the fact that many other norther Italian whites are excellent, too.

Factoring in the cost, I have to say a high 7 or 10.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

AMD Athlon 64 Family CPUs with SVM

In my search to tell which AMD CPUs support the HVM virtualization extension, SVM, I found a page at XenSource site. Not only does it cover AMD, but also the totally convoluted Intel VMX issue. One would imagine that by now all chips would be virtualization optimized, but not yet. For AMD:
older Athlon™ 64 processors above 4000+
Athlon™ 64 X2 processors above 4800+
all AMD Athlon™ X2 processors (I guess they're dropping the "64")
all AMD Athlon™ X2 BE, LE, EE processors
all AMD Phenom™ X3 and X4 processors

They also mention Turion, but I'm satisfied with my laptop, as is.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

"CompUSA" Extreme 908 Liquid Cooled PC

I got an e-mail from CompUSA.com about their new system, the Extreme 908, with liquid cooling system. Now I think liquid cooling is a great idea, but does anyone else see a problem with this design:I'll give you a hint: Think about gravity and leaking pipes.

Tera Bites fdisk

For half a dozen years, I've been showing people how to use fdisk in varying capacities including positions as a technical trainer for Red Hat and VMware. I had a standard joke that:
...you can specify a partition size K's, M's, or G's, but I've not had a chance to test if T for terabyte will work.
Today, I had the chance:
Command (m for help): n
Command action
e   extended
p   primary partition (1-4) p
Partition number (1-4): 1
First cylinder (1-182401, default 1):
Using default value 1
Last cylinder, +cylinders or +size{K,M,G} (1-182401, default 182401): +1T
Unsupported suffix: 'T'.
Supported: 10^N: KB (KiloByte), MB (MegaByte), GB (GigaByte)
2^N: K (KibiByte), M (MebiByte), G (GibiByte)
Last cylinder, +cylinders or +size{K,M,G} (1-182401, default 182401):
So, fdisk does not support terabytes. This was under Fedora 11, so its a somewhat recent distro. I'm sure thee is probably a replacement somewhere that does work, but not using fdisk is like not using a screwdriver, just because a Ryobi 18v power driver is available.

The good news is that fdisk isn't broken, per se: +1024G works just fine.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

P2V Happiness

It worked. I was able to use the Citrix Xenconvert to P2V a Windows XP Home system to a VM on a XenServer 5. There were a few lessons learned that should have been obvious... or maybe documented.

Citrix XenConvert works differently than some other P2V utilities in the respect that most of its operations are offline. It creates the image on the local hard drive, and does not contact the virtual infrastructure until the image is finished and ready for import. This is good because it prevents network issues from preventing image creation. The downside is that it requires the source machine to have 60% free space. (Preferably on a second disk.)

On the server side, you have to have a default landing zone (Storage Repository) for the imported VMs. I forgot to define the default SR, so my import failed. The good news is that the image was retained on the source machine, so I was able to transfer the image, and import directly.

It took about an hour to create on the source side, but about four hours to import the image on the server side. This is because the server is "governed" to prevent impact on production VMs. (In the real world, I'd have a staging server just for imports, deployments, and installs.)

Last detail is that once on the server, I had to strip the hardware specific software. The drivers were already loaded.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

P2V, Windows XP, and SP3

In the continuing saga of P2V, my last plan was to wipe out the Linux instance (gasp!) on the target machine and attempt the process as strictly Windows XP. This box is an HP, so I fired up the recovery partition, and put it back to factory defaults. Of course that means there was 5 gig of garbage-ware on the C: drive, so I invested some time uninstalling stuff. Since it will once again be a dual boot system, I left things like multimedia and DVD burning software in the instance.

Once I had C: down to 10Gb (still bloated) I decided I would install SP3 on the physical machine. The plan was that the physical drive would handle the service pack better than the virtual drive. Much to my dismay, the machine booted, crashed, and rebooted. I assumed my server based copy of SP3 had been corrupted.

I was able to boot to safe mode, uninstall SP3, and recover the system to a normal desktop. That confirmed SP3 was the culprit. This time, I used Windows update. And... It crashed again. Same problem: perpetual reboot.

After loosing another hour monkeying with Microsoft's OS, I found that there is a known bug with SP3 effecting some HPs with AMD processors. Oh, thanks. I found a workaround for the problem on Jesper Johansson's blog. He's written a VBS utility that will prep the system for SP3. In my case, it worked retroactively.

At this point, SP3 is loaded, and P2V is running. Let's see what happens next.