Entries tagged desktop

Related tags: debian, dmonitor, fonts, jessie, sid, ssd, systemd.

I eventually installed Debian on a new desktop.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Recently I build a new desktop system. The hightlights of the hardware are a pair of 512Gb SSDs, which were to be configured in software RAID for additional speed and reliability (I'm paranoid that they'd suddenly stop working one day). From power-on to the (GNOME) login-prompt takes approximately 10 seconds.

I had to fight with the Debian installer to get the beast working though as only the Jessie Beta 2 installer would recognize the SSDs, which are Crucual MX100 devices. My local PXE-setup which deploys the daily testing installer, and the wheezy installer, both failed to recognize the drives at all.

The biggest pain was installing grub on the devices. I think this was mostly this was due to UFI things I didn't understand. I created spare partitions for it, and messaged around with grub-ufi, but ultimately disabled as much of the "fancy modern stuff" as I could in the BIOS, leaving me with AHCI for the SATA SSDs, and then things worked pretty well. After working through the installer about seven times I also simplified things by partitioning and installing on only a single drive, and only configured the RAID once I had a bootable and working system.

(If you've never done that it's pretty fun. Install on one drive. Ignore the other. Then configure the second drive as part of a RAID array, but mark the other half as missing/failed/dead. Once you've done that you can create filesystems on the various /dev/mdX devices, rsync the data across, and once you boot from the system with root=/dev/md2 you can add the first drive as the missing half. Do it patiently and carefully and it'll just work :)

There were some niggles though:

  • Jessie didn't give me the option of the gnome desktop I know/love. So I had to install gnome-session-fallback. I also had to mess around with ~/.config/autostart because the gnome-session-properties command (which should let you tweak the auto-starting applications) doesn't exist anymore.

  • Setting up custom keyboard-shortcuts doesn't seem to work.

  • I had to use gnome-tweak-tool to get icons, etc, on my desktop.

Because I assume the SSDs will just die at some point, and probably both on the same day, I installed and configured obnam to run backups. There is more testing and similar, but this is the core of my backup script:

#!/bin/sh

# backup "/" - minus some exceptions.
obnam backup -r /media/backups/storage --exclude=/proc --exclude=/sys --exclude=/dev --exclude=/media /

# keep files for various periods
obnam forget --keep="30d,8w,8m" --repository /media/backups/storage

| 9 comments.

 

We can't just let you walk away!

Sunday, 3 May 2009

My Desktop

I use a number of computers in my daily life, but the machine I use the most often is my "desktop box". This is one of a pair of machines sat side by side on my desk.

One machine is desktop (Sid) and one is the backup host (Lenny). The backup machine is used by random visitors to my flat, and otherwise just runs backups for my remote machines (www.steve.org.uk, www.debian-administration.org, etc) every 4/6/24 hours.

I apply updates to both boxes regularly but my desktop machine tends to have lots of browsers open, and terminals. I rarely restart it, or logout. So the recent updates to X, hal, udev, mostly pass me by - I can go months without logging out and restarting the system.

On Saturday the desktop machine died with a OOM condition when I wrote some bad recursive code for indexing a collection of mailboxes. Oops.

When it came back I was greeted with a new login window, and all the fonts look great. Now in the past the fonts looked OK, but now? They look great.

I cannot pin down what has changed precisely, but everything looks so smooth and sexy.

So, a long entry, the summary is "I restarted my machine after a few months of being logged in, and now it looks better".

Distributed Monitoring?

Random conversation with Alex about monitoring yesterday made me curious to see if anybody has put together a useful distributed monitoring system?

Assume you have a network with Nagios, or similar, monitoring it. If your link between the monitoring box and the hosts being checked is flaky, unreliable, or has blips you will see false positives. We've all been there and seen that.

So, what is the solution? There are two "obvious" ones:

  • Move the monitoring as close to the services as possible.
  • Monitor from multiple points.

Moving the monitoring closer to the services does reduce the risk of false positives, but introduces its own problems. (i.e. You could be monitoring your cluster, and it could be saying "MySQL up", "Web up", but your ISP could have disconnected you - and you're not connected to the outside world. Oops. The solution there is to test external connectivity too, but that re-introduces the flakyness problem if your link is lossy.)

Distributed monitoring brings up its own issues, but seems like a sane way to go.

I wrote a simple prototype which has the ability to run as a standalone tester, or a CGI script under Apache. The intention is that you run it upon >3 nodes. If the monitoring detects a service is unavailable it queries the other monitoring nodes to see if they also report a failure - if they do it alerts, if not it assumes the failure is due to a "local" issue.

There is a lot of scope for doing it properly, which seems to be Alex's plan, having the nodes run in a mesh and communicate amongst each other "Hey I'm node #1 - I cannot see service X on host Y - Is down for you too?" - but the simple version of having the script just do a wget on the CGI-version on the other nodes is probably "good enough".

I really don't track the state of the art in this field, just struggle to battle nagios into submission. Do there exist systems like this already?

(sample code is here, sample remote-status checks are here and here. Each node will alert if >=2 nodes see a failure. Otherwise silence is golden.)

ObFilm: X-Men Origins: Wolverine

| 3 comments.

 

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