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Comment Re:Ubuntu (Score 1) 319

I prefer Linux and I don't mind Unity, but I'd rather use Gnome 2. Right now on my main home PC and on my work laptop I'm using the Mate edition of Linux Mint. It looks nice, it's low on resources, and it keeps out of my way. I'll leave the change for its own sake UIs for the kids.

Mint has an interesting update policy, where they stay based on 14.04 but do periodic enhancements until the next Ubuntu LTS arrives. After that they continue to supply security and stability updates until the parent LTS version reaches end of support.

Comment i have a great job... (Score 2) 282

I moved to the US from Canada about 10 years ago. Not only did I have no employment history, but the place I had most recently worked at in Canada for the past 5 years had gone bust. And my university degree might as well been from Uzbekistan for all the good it did me. I took the first IT job I could find, as a helpdesk Linux specialist supporting several hundred servers.

When I arrived the Linux infrastructure was in a detuned state. I started fixing what was broken and I am now one of three sr network engineers in the company. I mostly work on whatever grabs my interest, like automating various things with bash/ksh or powershell, optimizing traffic flows through our network, etc. No one bothers me about drifting in at 9 or 10 or wearing flip-flops, and if I need dollars to implement something I generally get it. I've saved the company a s**tpile of money over the years and they know it.

OTOH I work like a dog, just ridiculous hours at times. Although as we all know that is often the nature of IT.

I could make more money by changing jobs. But I basically have complete freedom now and I just don't think I'd have that anywhere else. I'm staying.

Comment Mint+Mate or CentOS (Score 1) 573

By which I mean, a distro that runs Gnome2. I've been using Linux as my primary desktop OS since sometime in the late 90's and I actually work as a shell programmer. I am not interested in using some new UI that is designed to run on a tablet, or that is written by some cabal of out of touch developers for their own masturbatory purposes. I want something that is easy to install that I don't have to waste a lot of time dicking around with. I assume most other people who have lives feel the same way. My 2 cents:

CentOS: A clone of Redhat Enterprise Linux. It is quite stable but does not have quite the same selection of packages as Ubuntu and its derivatives like Mint. Also, the software tends to be lag a bit behind faster churning distros like Ubuntu. But if you don't care about living on the bleeding edge, CentOS is for you.

Mint+Mate: An Ubuntu derivitave that runs the Mate UI, which is a fork of Gnome2. I'm using it now on my home PC. It's fast enough for me and I have it set up so that it looks very similar to the way I had 10.04. So far I have had zero problems with it.

In short, if you want to be on the bleeding edge and don't mind a few bugs, get Mint+Mate. Otherwise, get CentOS.

Comment The case for lower resolution (Score 1) 375

Folks get all exited about having the highest possible resolution, but that is only part of the story. I have 2 x Samsung p2770fh 27" 1920x1080 monitors. They're discontinued now, but 2 years ago I paid $280 each at the local Costco. (I would suggest buying monitors locally so they can be returned if you get dead pixels.)

Anyway, about that resolution. I'm 48 years old and my eyeballs don't work as well as they used to. I have a smokin' work-issued laptop, a Lenovo w520. I love that I can run multiple VMs at once on the thing, but I find myself squinting at it because of the higher pixel density. But at home on the 27's everything is nice and big and easy to read, even if I'm leaned back in my chair.

Otherwise the screens are nice and bright and text is very easy to read. Video looks great. For less than $600 I am a happy camper.

Comment Re:Atlas Shrugged (Score 1) 700

I don't say this to be a smart ass, so please don't take it that way, but perhaps it was that simple to you because you read it when you were 16? Mind you, my youngest child is older than that and I spent half of my life overseas in the Army, so I am neither young nor naive. Give it another shot. You may be surprised.

I did read it again about 10 years ago, 20 years after the first go-round and after picking up a BA in philosophy and literature. It was a remarkably different experience from being a 16 year-old fanboy. The book is not very well constructed and Galt's speech, nearly a book in itself, was nearly impossible to get through.

If I was going to recommend any Rand book it would be The Fountainhead, because it gets the basic message across without all the interminable editorializing.

Comment Re:Atlas Shrugged (Score 3, Interesting) 700

Most of the people who criticize Atlas Shrugged haven't read it, even if they say they have. It's a great book. I second the recommendation!

I read Atlas Shrugged and to my knowledge all of Ayn Rand's other published works. In fact I thought she was the shiznit when I was 16. It all seemed so simple: these people over here are good, and those other people over there are evil. However, I have come to understand real life is a good deal more complex than that, and the binary distinctions favoured by ideologues like Rand in no way correspond with reality.

I have come to believe that any philosophy based on hate is fundamentally untenable.

Comment rsync scripty goodness (Score 1) 304

I haven't bothered with offsite backups. I don't need to because I live in Florida and it's not like we ever get hurricanes or anything like that.

I have a 3ware raid card in my 10.04 box with 4 drives in raid 5, as well as an eSATA drive. I export a TB of the RAID array and a TB from the iSCSI drive via iSCSI to two 2k8 servers running in Virtualbox VMs. In the Windows VMs, DFS mirrors the data to the two mountpoints. I export those shares to a Z: drive which maps on login. I set up the free MicrosoftSyncToys powertool to mirror the local My Documents directories to the Z: drive. When SyncToy is run, and the data is backed up in two places.

I have another esata drive which mirrors my home partition every night. This is slightly complicated because I have a couple dozen virtual machines that could be running (it's usually less than 10), so what I wanted was a way to pause any VMs that might be running, back everything up, then unpause. Here's the script I wrote to do that.

# nightly_backup: Script to pause any virtual machines that are running,
# do an rsync backup, then unpause the virtual machines. Set the SRCE
# and DEST variables below, as well as the USER variable. Script assumes
# that $DEST is a separate partition. If this is not the case for you,
# comment out the line _mount_check below.
# Sample cron entry:
# 30 04 * * * /usr/local/bin/nightly_backup &>>/var/log/nightly_backup.log
# Sample /etc/logrotate.d/nightly_backup file
# /var/log/nightly_backup.log {
# monthly
# missingok
# rotate 4
# compress
# }
# --exclude-from file syntax:
# Copy directory but not its contents:
# + Cache/
# - **/Cache/**
# Do not copy (file or directory)
# - .gvfs
# $Id: nightly_backup,v 1.1 2011/12/03 19:23:15 doodleboy Exp kevin $

ARGS="-aHS --delete --stats --exclude-from=/usr/local/bin/rsync_exclude"

# Function to pause or resume running virtual machines
_pause-resume() {
        VMS=$(su - $USER -c "vboxmanage --nologo list runningvms")
        if [ -n "$VMS" ]; then
                printf "$VMS\n" | while read VM; do
                        VM=${VM%% \{*}
                        printf "Running $ARG on $VM...\n"
                        su - $USER -c "vboxmanage --nologo controlvm $VM $ARG"
                printf "No VMs are running.\n"

# Abort backup if $DEST partition is not mounted
_mount_check() {
        if mount | grep -w "$DEST" &>/dev/null; then
                printf "$DEST is mounted. Proceeding with backup.\n"
                printf "$DEST is not mounted. Aborting backup.\n"
                printf "*** $(date): Aborting nightly backup ***\n\n"
                exit 1

# Start banner
printf "*** $(date): Starting nightly backup ***\n"

# Make sure $DEST is mounted
# Comment out _mount_check if $DEST is not a partition

# Pause virtual machines
_pause-resume pause

# Flush pending writes
sleep 3

# Do the backup

# Resume virtual machines
_pause-resume resume

# Exit banner
printf "*** $(date): Finished nightly backup ***\n\n"

I wrote another script to email me the status of my raid array every night. Admittedly this is only useful if you have a 4-drive 3ware card, but it could be adapted to other hardware. Here it is:



RAID=$(tw_cli /c4 show)
U0=$(echo "$RAID" | awk '/^u0/ {print $3}')
P0=$(echo "$RAID" | awk '/^p0/ {print $2}')
P1=$(echo "$RAID" | awk '/^p1/ {print $2}')
P2=$(echo "$RAID" | awk '/^p2/ {print $2}')
P3=$(echo "$RAID" | awk '/^p3/ {print $2}')
BB=$(echo "$RAID" | awk '/^bb/ {print $4}')

for status in "$U0" "$P0" "$P1" "$P2" "$P3" "$BB"; do
    if [ "$status" = "OK" ]; then
        SUBJECT="RAID Status OK"
    elif [ "$status" = "VERIFYING" ]; then
        SUBJECT="ISSUES with RAID Array!!!"

catEOF | mailx -s "$SUBJECT" someone@somesite.com &
The fortune for today is:

Comment Re:ltsp with fat clients (Score 1) 202

Well, you can PXE boot LTSP over wifi if you have a wireless bridge. It's not exactly reliable though, at least it wasn't when I tried it last year.

Where I work we have 300 remote locations running LTSP on lucid. One server at each location, perhaps as many as a dozen thin clients using PXE boot. We built our own update mechanism, where the LTSP servers rsync a directory tree that contains the updates. Anything new, they run the update. If an update fails for whatever reason they send an email back to hq. It's been working fairly well for us.

LTSP enabled us to put a modern Linux desktop with Firefox, OO.org, etc, on the desktop of every underpowered thin clients that we own. This saved us from having to obsolete a big chunk of our infrastructure, probably a couple million in new hardware and depreciation costs.

We used a Clonezilla cluster to build the disk images. We wrote a config script that configured the base images (hostname, network, etc) for each location. It was a big effort but it went well.

Comment Not Really Possible to go Paperless (Score 1) 311

If it's more work to save a doc in a paperless format, or if it costs more, then it isn't practical and doesn't make a lot of sense. Also, if you are all digital and a little lazy about backups, you're only a disk crash away from disaster. I like having paper copies of important stuff.

I do print most everything double-sided. This alone will save a huge amount of paper. Duplex printers aren't nearly as expensive as they used to be. I have a samsung clp-620nd, a networked color duplex laser printer. It's fantastic for the money (about $300), but I'm sure there are others out there that would work just as well.

If I do need to scan, I have a cheap HP j4550 multifunction inkjet. I never bothered buying new ink for it, but I do use the scanner. Normally I'll import into SimpleScan and output to PDF. SimpleScan works surprisingly well. I also print to PDF for receipts and the like if I want to keep a digital copy. If it's important I'll also print a copy and put it in the file cabinet.

My thought on scanning vs printing is, if it's important then do both. Don't keep anything that matters in just in one place.

Comment Been there (Score 1) 315

We had a new IT director show up a few years ago that came around to talk to everyone about their hopes and dreams and all the rest of it. Because he cared about us as people. Shortly after that the IT department shrunk by a third.

It's Friday. I took the night off. I will be VPNing in tomorrow to do a bunch of stuff. I have to go in on Sunday to do a bunch of other stuff I can't do remotely.

Fuck this shit.

Comment Re:I know this isn't what you asked but... (Score 2) 320

I also have a 3ware card and four 1 TB drives in RAID 5 in my 10.04 desktop PC at home. Some of that space is exported via iSCSI to a couple of Windows boxes. Then I back the RAID array up with a couple of external SATA drives. My wife thinks this is excessive, but I lost a lot of data, once, nothing critical but stuff I cared about, emails and papers from college, pics of friends and family, etc. But when the drive started throwing SMART errors I thought, yup, better go pick up a new drive soon... 3 days later, it was dead.

The irony is that one of my main responsibilities at work is backups, mostly with shell scripts I wrote myself.

Many of you probably have most of your important stuff on one drive that you don't back up. At the very least, pick up an external USB drive and schedule backups for anything you care about.

Comment Re:Tape can be unreliable (Score 1) 611

Since when is tape unreliable?

It sure can be, especially the lower end stuff like Travan. Where I work we have over 300 remote sites, which used to have TR-5 tapes and drives that failed continuously. We replaced all of them with a local rsync to a different partition with snapshots going back a week, along with a remote rsync to a bank of servers with snapshots going back a month. We had to shell out some cash for the backup servers and some dev time for the scripts, but the savings from not buying tapes paid for them fairly quickly. The local rsyncs take the place of tapes, while the remotes provide secure off-site storage. We have been able to rebuild branch office servers using data off the backup servers with no data loss and minimal downtime. Hard drives are cheap, fast and reliable. I honestly don't understand the appeal of tapes.

Comment Re:The right tools for the job (Score 1) 421

At work we're starting to install Ubuntu 9.04 to dualboot with XP on upper management's laptops. Ubuntu is pretty slick these days, but there is the problem of syncing files across both operating systems. We've been kicking around the idea of using a fat32 partition to keep files on, but that sucks on many levels. Reading your post, it occurs to me that unison will do exactly what we need. I knew I came here for a reason.

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