Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Fire Breathing Ruby Goldberg Machine

They say this is part of a bigger video that runs 30 minutes.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

OpenNebula Cluster

My OpenNebula cluster is up an running, and all seems to be stable. There were a few fits along the way, but must was probably due to the crap hardware I'm running this thing on. Understand, of course, that this is not a production cluster, so the fact that it runs on four Pentium III's can be forgiven.

The thing to understand about OpenNebula, is a cloud environment, not a virtualization platform. This means that we need to choose an OS first. Because of the hardware, I'm using Fedora 8 with Xen. (I prefer Fedora Core 6, since it is more like RHEL 5.2, but it was not stable with OpenNebula. Lesson learned: use F8.)

I did a base kickstart on the nodes, to ensure a slim footprint. I loaded the Xen kernel and libraries, but left off virt-manager to avoid the overhead of an X server. In my cluster, three of the four nodes are identical, but the fourth is more powerful. That will be our head node.

When I tried to load the one-1.4.0 rpm on the head node, I ran into dependencies. (Ah, yes: the download says its for F11, and I'm using F8.) Needed packages:
yum install -y xmlrpc xmlrpc-c
yum install -y ruby
This extracted to the /srv/cloud/one directory.

The RPM created accounts:
/etc/passwd: oneadmin:x:512:903
/etc/group: cloud:x:903
The users's home directory is set to the containerized directory created above. A little simple sysad magic to clean up the account and assign keys to allow oneadmin the SSH to localhost without a password.

And here is where it gets beautiful: We now use NFS to export the directory to the nodes. Log in to the nodes, mount the NFS share, and replicate the user accounts. (Note to self: add user and group to NIS.) With the mount in place, return to the head node, become the oneadmin user, and SSH to the node. Since the user's home is the share, and keys are in the share, we get right in.

The infrastructure is in place, now its on to VMs.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

SVN Ignore

Okay... Spring's here, no more snow, I've gotten out of the house two weekend's in a row. Time to get back to work.

I keep forgetting how to tell SVN to ignore a directory. This is a big deal for me, since I have a habit of creating working directories outside of my server's web root, then moving the files once they are validated. It's a security thing, but it means my dev serves always have allot of dead files laying around. Here's how to ignore the working directories.

First, ensure your EDITOR environmental variable is set:
export EDITOR=vi
(Add this to your ~/bash_profile if needed.)

From SVN root, execute:
svn propedit svn:ignore ./target/dir
This should toss you into the editor. Add the appropriate bash style wildcards representing file names and types. For my, a simple * (asterisk) usually suffices. Save the file, and run and svn status to verify the results.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


The National Gallery of Art's highlight exhibit is French works. I often wonder how much of our mass media mindset is influenced by these works. Maybe Napoleon only stuck his hand in his vest just this once. This portrait is almost life sized!

There were other French paintings by Matisse, Monet, Toulouse-Lautrec. In the same collect, a couple by Picasso and Van Gough.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Spiceworks IT Dashboard

I spent a few hours playing with Spiceworks, a product that provides a web based infrastructure management and monitoring platform. Its a interesting and versatile product. Most unique is the fact that it is offered at no cost: its free as in beer, but not free as in speech.

Spiceworks installs as a service on a Windows system on the network. (I used a VM, of course.) It launches a network discovery process, classifies devices, and presents its information through a web interface. Since it is web based, the service can be accessed and managed from an workstation on the network, including Linux.

So, how well does it work? Oddly, my biggest problem was its failure to properly identify Windows systems. Once discovered, Spiceworks prompts for a username and password to be used to access the system. This is kind of scary, since the product is not open source. Unfortunately, most "home" Windows systems do not support remote access. To further complicate things, my Windows systems that do support RDP were shown as "no ports open".

On the Linux side, it was actually quite impressive. It provides graphical versions of df -h as well as a trend chart of disk usage over time. There are also IP and ethernet reports. For the ESX server, it provided a report on running VMs. As for Citrix Xenserver and Linux Xen... nothing.

I can see that the product could have value for a small enterprise: 100-200 people, with an IT staff of 5-15. Anything larger and it would be blocked by firewalls. Anything smaller (like me) and it doesn't really add value. Most importantly, the product is "advertiser supported". There needs to be an ad free subscription version.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Health Care Protest

Health care protest today. I guess the good news is how few Kool-Aid'ers exist (though this is probably not even .01%). But the thing is: this protest was pretty wimpy, as they go.

Personally, I think the topic is a distraction at time when we need jobs. These idiots are too deluded to understand. They were too busy chanting about socialized medicine and government financed mass abortions to be bothered doing something worthwhile.

Oh well, at least they stimulated downtown's weekend economy.

Golden Gun, Circa 1650

You got to be severely piss at somebody to shoot them with a gold plated flit lock pistol. Can you imagine parading through the piazza in tights, a velvet tunic, and this baby tangling from you hip. Dude, you be pimpin' big time!

(Museum of the American Indian, Washington, DC)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

More snow at RFK?

The snow piles at RFK are getting bigger!

Actually, they are moving the snow from the other parking lots and have consolidated it into Lot 8. In some parts of the lot, the piles are 15 to 20 feet... within five foot of the tops of the light posts. Sorry for the slant and blur in the picture: it was snapped from a moving vehicle.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

That's Where All The Snow Went

Remember that big snow we had a month ago? When DC plowed the streets, they trucked the snow to RFK stadium. These piles of snow (yes, they look like dirt) have melted do to about eight feet tall. And this is parking lot #8... The others are full, too!

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Strolling Through Downtown Baltimore

I can count the number of times I've been in downtown Baltimore on one hand. But here's a dude who's been to downtown Baltimore. Look at him on Google maps street view. See-- he's counting the number of times he's been to downtown Baltimore... on one hand!

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