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Submission Summary: 0 pending, 11 declined, 0 accepted (11 total, 0.00% accepted)

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Submission + - The true cost of Microsoft (

Simulant writes: A recent blog post on Microsoft's Volume Licensing Website attempts to clarify just what requires a CAL (Client Access License). The answer appears to be more or less everything on your network if you have Windows servers doing network basics like DNS & DHCP. According to MS, not only do all your network printers and other gear need CALs, but also your e-commerce customers, once they've authenticated to any software running on Windows.

The ridiculous CAL situation has never gotten the outrage it deserves with most of us being ignorant or in denial. With more and more MS audits happening these days perhaps we can spread the word.


Submission + - Google Enterprise Support Experiences?

Simulant writes: I like Google as much as the next geek but I'm having reservations about referring customers to Google Apps. I recently had a case where a paying Google Apps customer's email was deleted (by what appears to be an unknown person with access to the account) without their consent or knowledge. This has happened twice.

The first time Google enterprise support was contacted I got nowhere. It took a few days to get a response and when I did, the technician kept insisting that she could do nothing unless I provided the SMTP message-ids of the missing email. She never explained how I was supposed to obtain the message IDs for mail that no longer existed. She also ignored direct questions about the availability of backup and restore services, instead directing me to the Postini website after the third or fourth query. I gave up at this point, primarily because there had been long delays between the time the mail was deleted, noticed, and reported. I also suspected accidental deletion on the part of the user. The experience left a bad taste in my mouth, though.

A month later, it happened again only this time ALL of the mail in the same user's account disappeared. This time I called rather than emailed and was unfortunately assigned to the same technician who again, was slow to respond. When she did, I go this:

"I've taken a close look at this account, and I didn't see anything suspect in the recent activity- about 4000 messages were manually deleted, and about 15000 messages manually had labels removed from them, but it looks like it was done by someone who was legitimately logged into the account."

Now, is it just me or does the deletion of 4000 messages (all of them, in this case) from someone's account without their knowledge not count as "suspect" activity?

After further delays I was finally able to get a log of recent account access where I discovered that the user's account had been repeatedly accessed from an IP in another city. The technician also failed to note this as suspect activity though she did point out that my logging into the account AFTER the mail had been deleted was anomalous.

What I still don't know, despite asking repeatedly is:

  * When, exactly was the mail deleted? (and by which method)
  * What is the official Google policy or ability to restore data in the case of accidental or malicious deletions?

  My questions to Slashdot are:

* What has been your experience with Google Apps support?
* Do you think that I got a reasonable response?
Data Storage

Submission + - Cheap RAID Alternatives for home networks.

simulant writes: After running single drives with occasional backups for years now , I finally decided to give RAID a try at home. My media collection is over 1TB now and a little built-in redundancy would be nice. (I'd still back up, of course but a less frequently... not much of my data is irreplaceable).

And so the nightmare began.... I've got a lot of extra equipment lying around and did not plan to buy anything other than three new 1TB drives, the cheapest I could find. (probably Mistake #1)

My first thought was to simply install the new drives in my existing Win2k3 server. This server was already full though and I didn't want a lot of downtime so I decided to build a dedicated NAS box instead. I had some low power mini-itx boards that I thought would be perfect and I'd heard of free solutions like OpenFiler and FreeNAS. After reading up on both FN and OF, I decided FreeNAS would best suit my needs so I built a test box with a bunch of random drives. These drives weren't the same size so I didn't use RAID on the test box but, it worked and I really liked the result (though performance was a bit slower than I would have liked) So... I ordered the three 1 TB SATA drives.

Attempt #1

    My mini ITX boards have only 1 PCI slot and no on board sata so I had to install a sata card for the new drives. No problems there. I installed the card and the three drives and proceeded to build a RAID5 array in FreeNAS. It takes A LONG TIME to build a RAID 5 array on cheap hardware. I was looking at about 24 hours. Half way through, two of the drives started reporting errors and Hardware ECC Recovered time went through the floor (lower is bad) After a few more attempts (and several days) I finally gave up and decided to return the two drives. It took a week or so to get the replacements.

Meanwhile, I played around with my FreeNAS system and a single drive and decided that performance was simply too slow. The onboard NIC was only 100Mbps and since I had to use the PCI slot for a sata controller I couldn't put a 1000Mbps card in the box. 8-9MBps was about the best I could get over the network. Not really good enough. (btw, this first FreeNas box with 4 drives in it drew about 90 Watts)

Attempt #2

    I decided to switch to an Athlon 64 based mAtx board with more slots and onboard sata. I also installed a 1Gbps NIC. This was going to suck some more power but, maybe with Cool & Quiet and good power settings I could minimize the power usage. I also began to re-think Freenas, as cool as it was, If I was going to set up another box with more or less the same specs as my current server, I may as well just make it the server and get rid of the old one. Why run two boxes if you don't have to? So, somewhat reluctantly, I decided to ditch FreeNAS and install Win2k3 on the new box. (I did play with OpenFiler as well, just for kicks, but since I use my server for much more than just storage, Win2k3 works better for me. BTW, if you really just want a simple NAS Box, I would have to say FreeNAS is superior, at least in the ease-of-use department, to OpenFiler at this stage)

    My replacement drives arrived, I installed all three drives in the Win2k3 box and proceeded to build a RAID5 array (yes I know... Windows software RAID sucks but I don't have the money for a hardware RAID controller). 12 hours later..... one of the new drives has errors, Windows is reporting it can't re-allocate bad blocks, and Hardware ECC Recovered is through the floor again. Crap.

Ok... so maybe RAID 5 on cheap huge drives is not such a great idea. The rebuild time is way too long (though in Windows it appears you can use the array during a rebuild) and these cheap drives have too many bad blocks. I'm not getting a very warm feeling about this. Well... I've got two good 1 TB drives so let's just mirror those and see what happens. I remove the bad drive and configure the other two as a RAID 1. The rebuild takes about 12 hours but it is successful. Cool. Now lets move some data around.

    I fill up the array at about 40MBps over the network which is quite acceptable. ( Though, can anyone explain why it takes so much longer to sync the array than to fill it up?) It runs for a day and then there's brown out in my neighborhood. Another 12 hour rebuild. Next day, I'm moving more data around and the drive I'm copying from (on a different machine) experiences some sort of read error and my new server locks up while copying. After 20 minutes of trying to kill the copy, I finally have to hit reset. Blam... another 12 hour rebuild. Soon after that completes, I reboot after installing a piece of software and, despite a clean reboot, the raid1 array is re-syncing again! (btw,performance takes about a 50% hit during a resync)

    So.. Now I've got this nice new server (140w, btw) with lots of space but it's in rebuild mode 80% of the time and I've probably spend 40 or so hours on this project, originally intended to be a simple capacity upgrade.

    I've learned alot about RAID in the process and I'm coming to the conclusion that it does not make much sense on cheap hardware or large drives. It seems odd to me that RAID requires a sector to sector match on each drive, that a reboot even when the drives aren't being accessed (or being read only) triggers a re-build, there there isn't some sort of quick verify mode, and that there isn't some less anal retentive system which can provide similar redundancy at a low level. Is there some consumer grade RAID replacement that just matches files rather than sectors/blocks?

I've got drives with bad blocks that are still useful and running 5 years later I just avoid the bad blocks.

At this point I think it's back to single drives and after hours rsync backups. Are there any other solutions out there?

Submission + - New Microsoft CLI doesn't rate a /. article?

Simulant writes: Come on guys... this is arguably more important than Vista's release to Windows sys admins.

Windows PowerShell 1.0 is now available. It's a massive improvement over the old command prompt and is available for XP and Windows Server 2003, as well as Vista.

If the object oriented environment doesn't suit you, you'll still want this if for no other reasons than you can now 'cd' into UNC paths and use backs slashes & forward slashes interchangeably in path names. Tons of other good stuff including regex support.

This is most definitely worth a discussion on Slashdot.

Download at: ogies/management/powershell/download.mspx

Developer's Blog at:

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