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You Greeks take pride in your logic. I suggest you employ it.

8 March 2010 21:50

Tomorrow, all being well, I'll receive a new computer.

I've always run Debian unstable upon my desktop in the past, partly because I wanted to have "new stuff" and partly because I needed a Debian unstable system for building Debian packages with.

However I'm strongly tempted to just install Lenny. I use that upon my work desktop and it does me just fine for surfing, building tools, and similar.

I can use pbuilder, sbuildd, or similar to build packages for upload to Debian, and if I want to experiment with new-hotness I can use a KVM guest or two.

Providing the hardware works with Lenny (and I have no reason to believe it won't) then there's no obvious downside I can think of.

The only potential complication will be restoring my backups, it is possible that my firefox databases, and similar things, might not work on older version. Still we shall see.

I plan to install software RAID, and run the system on LVM because quite frankly it rocks. Unless my current system fails in the next 24 hours I can use that to do the installation (My current desktop acts as a TFTP/DHCP/NFS server so I can use it to PXE-boot).

Anyway now I need to go eat food, tidy my desk, and decide what to call the machine .. At the moment the choice is between "march.my.flat" and birthday.my.flat, as my 34th birthday is on March 10th.

ObFilm: 300



He's so mean he wouldn't light your pipe if his house was on fire.

9 March 2010 21:50

By the time this blog entry goes live I'll be running upon my new machine. The migration process was mostly straightfoward and followed my plan:

  • Using my existing desktop system as a PXE server to install Lenny over the network.
  • Copied over important directories.
  • Restored backups.
  • Turned off old machine.

Of course it wasn't that simple in practise, as previously mentioned the whole reason I was looking for a new machine was because the software RAID upon my old desktop was failing - One of the two drives was completely dead.

As I'd feared the second drive failed partway through my migration. But thankfully I'd copied off the important stuff before then, and the backups I have off-site mostly covered everything else. (The things I lost were things I can find again such as ~/Music, ~/Videos. On the one hand they're too large to backup, on the other hand I should probably do it next time as they never change.)

Unfortunately the version of X in Lenny refused to work with the GeForce G210 video card I had. To be more correct using the Vesa driver I could get a picture and a smooth desktop, but when watching videos with xine I got maybe two frames a second. Both the open nv driver and the closed nvidia driver failed to support the card - so I swapped hardware, and I'm now running with the GeForce 7300 GS card from my previous desktop. This allows me to watch videos at full-screen with no issues. (Desktop size is 1600x1200 FWIW).

So now it's just a matter of tweaking the system. I've installed enough to be useful:

  • miredo - So I have IPv6 connectivity despite Virgion.
  • squid - So that I have a decent cache for surfing.
  • pdnsd - So I have a caching nameserver and am not at the whim of Virgin.
  • kvm - So I can setup scratch machines for play.

I've still got to setup pbuilder, but that'll be done shortly, and I've installed backported packages such that I can watch youtube videos. I'm currently running firefox from lenny but I expect that will change soon enough - not least because that version fails to support "adblockplus", only "adblock".

Two partitions md0 for /boot and md1 used as LVM, from which I've taken /, /home, etc:

Filesystem                      Size    Used    Avail Use% Mounted on
/dev/mapper/birthday--vol-root   9.9G     2.8G   6.6G  30% /
/dev/mapper/birthday--vol-home   22G      4.3G  16G    22% /home
/dev/mapper/birthday--vol-music  127G    43G    78G    36% /mnt/music
/dev/md0                         988M    38M    901M    4% /boot
/dev/mapper/birthday--vol-kvm    22G      8.8G  12G    44% /mnt/kvm
/dev/sdg1                        163G    143G   12G    93% /media/disk


skx@birthday:~/hg/blog/data$ sudo pvs
[sudo] password for skx:
  PV         VG           Fmt  Attr PSize   PFree
  /dev/md1   birthday-vol lvm2 a-   464.82G 274.51G

Update: Three irritations with this machine:

  1. As supplied the BIOS was set with "USB Mouse" and "USB Keyboard" set to "disabled". I had to beg the loan of a keyboard from a neighbour.
  2. As supplied the BIOS had virtualisation set to "disabled". Not a huge shock, but it caught me out regardless.
  3. As supplied the system had only a single SATA power connector. Annoying given that the motherboard is advertised as having "onboard RAID" and I'd purchased it with two hard drives. Happily I had a spare adaptor to hand.

I'd still recommend Novatech, but the last point had me swearing for a few minutes until I realised I did have a spare adaptor in the house.

ObFilm: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang



So mid-summer is over.

26 June 2013 21:50

So my partner and I spent last week in Helsinki, visiting for Midsummer.

The place was lovely, albeit "too damn hot"tm. (Despite my regularly shaved head I'm a pale-skinned redhead covered in freckles. In sustained sun I can be burned in the space of 10-20 minutes. Ouch.)

I ate cake, went to a sauna, and all the usual things. I also had personal interviews with all the mosquitos.

The only downside to the holiday was the timing:

  • Friday Worked.
  • Saturday woke up early and flew.
  • Time passes, Thorin sits down and starts singing about gold.
  • Sunday flew back.
  • Monday .. worked.
  • Tuesday worked ..

I'm a sysadmin and sometimes that involves out of hours work, so you can shuffle virtual machines around, upgrade processors, and do all the kind of "disruptive" work outside core business hours.

Yesterday I was awake for 22 hours and I was working for 14 of them. Today I'm doing nothing that involves a computer other than a token check-in or three to make sure everything is fine.

99% of the time I don't mind working late, starting early, or scheduling an event outside working hours (e.g. last night I worked from 10PM-3AM ). But with the holiday I've definitely been feeling burned. My sleeping is screwed up, and I'm just getting grumpy and stupid.

Still there were some highlights and I took some nice photos, met some good people, and learned some more Finnish.

I actually tried to find some Finnish instructor(s) here in Edinburgh, upon my return, and was amused to discover that there is an Edinburgh-based Finnish Society. Amused? They cancelled their midsummer event due to poor weather.

For the rest of the week I'm going to be very careful to count working hours and do nothing excessive. I've also got to get back into my gym-routine.

Still there is good news on the horizon. I get a new computer next Monday.

The new machine will run Wheezy, and Awesome. With 8GB RAM I'll stop hitting OOM conditions once I process many photographs, and I'm going to be very dedicated in using revision control for everything.

(I've noticed I've gotten lazy and have started storing bookmarks locally again, instead of under revision control which is a bad sign.)

Rambling. I woke up early (10:30AM) because "Microsoft Technical Support" called me and told me my computer had a virus ..

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