User talk:Sharaz

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DFWLP Network

Notes for Domain Rebiuld

Ensure backup or export:
1) Exchange database in .pst format.
2) GPOs
3) WMI filters
4) mail.dfwlp.com SSL cert from dlp-exch01
5) DHCP database

Ensure backups and file system safety of DLP-FS01.

32Bit Memory Addressing

Well I've finally come to a poing where I'm ready to admit I've outgrown all my computers that have 32bit processors. CANOPUS, has a P4 2.8 with 4GB of ram, and now POLARIS has dual P4 Xeon 2.66's with 4GB of ram. Both of these systems only see 3.5GB at the motherboard level. So annoying!

I have thus far, one 64bit machine. ALNITAK, running Vista Ultimate 64bit, is my gaming box. More or less worthless and not needed 64bit, nor does it really need 4GB of ram. But I put 4GB in it, just becuase it would support it.

I can see 2008 bringing new computers to DFWLP, supporting the latest processor technologies. My servers are ready to do jobs that could put the memory to use... if only they could see it.
--Sharaz 12:42, 6 April 2008 (CDT)


Finally Got Full Remote Xorg Working

XFCE4, in a nest
Gnome, in a nest
Fedora, in a nest

I'be been working for quite a while to be able to have an XFCE desktop, a Gnome Desktop, but with the requirement that these spare desktops be located in jails on a jail-server. Thus, I would require to be able to operate those desktops, preferredly in a window on my main desktop.

These 3 windows are the result of my work. An XFCE4, a Gnome (both of those, are FreeBSD jails on a remote server), and then finally, I was also able to demonstrate opening the desktop of a Fedora linux, in a nested window on my FreeBSD desktop. Cool!
--Sharaz 12:20, 13 January 2008 (CST)

Wireless Network Speeds

Im generally not one to even read those articles about statistics of many different devices compared to each other, but today I'm going to have to write one up myself, due to frustration of "posted" connection speed vs. actual transfer speed. So, I've devised a very simple test that I decided to conduct: Test all my wireless laptops and document their actual download speeds. I have 4 laptops (one of which belongs to my employer), and on each of them, I downloaded the same file (redo.tar.gz, 521.25MB) from my webserver (CASTOR) via ftp:

Computer, Wireless Adapter, Observed download speed, Displayed connection speed, Operating system 
HP NC6400, Intel 3945ABG, 2.02MB/sec, 54.0 Mbps, Windows Vista Business 
Apple iBook G4, Airport Extreme, 2.41MB/sec, 54.0 Mbps, OSX 10.4.11
Apple PowerBook G4, Airport, 356.4kB/sec, 11 Mbps, OSX 10.4.11
HP NC6000, Intel BG2200, 314.4kB/sec, 54 Mbps, FreeBSD 7.0-BETA3

So generally speaking, as you can see, posted speed vs actual speed is off on every one of my systems. The NC6400 and iBook both have wireless-G, but both clock in at 16.32Mbit and 19.28mbit respectively. Both claim 54mbit in their control panels. The Powerbook G4 is a bit older than my iBook, and has the original B version of the Airport. Much slower speed was what I expected, but at 2.78Mbit, I wasn't sure if I was surprised or disappointed. The real disappointment came from my NC6000. FreeBSD 7.0-BETA3. While the ifconfig does show 54mbit, the actual transfer speed was 2.45mbit. Granted, the Intel BG2200 driver just went thru a major overhaul as it became part of the base system of FreeBSD RELENG_7, but I think there is something definitely wrong there.

By the way, this page was what I used to generate my conversions. It was the first link in google, and appeared to perfectly suit my needs. http://www.matisse.net/bitcalc/

So the question is... where does the problem lie? In my Wireless Access Point (I have a Linksys WAP54G, an older one)? I wish I knew!
--Sharaz 09:47, 25 November 2007 (CST)

  • EDIT - After a buildworld and update to FreeBSD 7.0-BETA4 on the NC6000, the iwi driver is behaving much better. Speed today was 2.11MB/sec.

--Sharaz 14:32, 9 December 2007 (CST)

Waking Up a Mac

I've been working on using WoL with a Mac, well... since I first got a Mac! All my other computers can wake up from being powered off. I don't know how many articles and blog entries ive read concerning WoL with Macs, but I finally figured out something real important: Macs only wake up from Sleep-mode... not from fully powered off.
--Sharaz 21:17, 31 July 2007 (CDT)

From XFCE4 back to KDE

Sharaz's KDE-3.5.6 Desktop Theme
KDE-3.5.6 Transparency, no active window
KDE-3.5.6 Transparency, with active window
KDE-3.5.6 File Manager as SFTP client

About a month ago, I switched from my beloved KDE over to something else. It took me a day or so to decide what that something else would be, but after polling the FreeBSD-Questions mailing list for an average of their favorites, I decided that I would try XFCE4. Over all, I was fairly impressed. Its a very speedy desktop environment. To compliment this move, I migrated from Firefox and Kmail, to Opera and Slypheed.

However, after a month of honest use, I decided it was time to switch back. XFCE is fast, but KDE is far more mature. Tons of little details, but I think one of the most important to me was the fact that I can use the KDE file manager as a remote sftp client to my other servers. This is especially useful when its time to upload updated wepages or new pics to my homedir on CASTOR. Also, KDE-3.5.6 has been released, and I've just now noticed a ton of transparancy features. Screenshots?? OK!!

The first pic is a pic of my general desktop theme. I like blues and greys (ie, my last 3.5.5 theme). The second pic, shows KDE-3.5.6's ability to have transparency across all windows. In the event that no window is currently active, all windows have transparency. The third pic shows that the terminal window has come active. Finally, the last pic shows the Konqueror file manager being used as a remote sftp client to my webserver.

KDE 3.5.6's transparency, is new, and isn't without imperfections. There are quite a few times when transparency won't hand "active state" back to the clicked application, and I have to click here and there and back again to grab it back. At first, I thought this might be related to some of the settings in the control panel relating to non-KDE apps stealing active state, but this has also happened with native KDE apps too. More testing definitely required. Over all, im fairly impressed at how it looks and works. Good job KDE!
--Sharaz 09:27, 8 April 2007 (CDT)

Mac OSX can do WHAT??

Wow, look what OSX can do!

Uh, stumbled on this one by accident, but apparently, OSX can be controlled remotely by a VNC client. +1 for OSX! To do this, go to System preferences, Sharing, and then simple put a check mark in the Remote Desktop Sharing.
--Sharaz 13:31, 25 March 2007 (CDT)

Trying out XFCE4

XFCE4, showing Firefox, Sylpheed, and Terminals
XFCE4, showing Thunar file manager

I've been using (well, ok "preferring") KDE since my first linux experience back in about 1999. Probably due to the same primal instinct that causes baby birds to latch onto the first being they see when they are born, KDE was my first desktop in the same way. Ive tried Enlightenment, Gnome, IceWM, and a few others, but KDE was the one I always went back to. But, every now and then, I like to give another a try, just in case the day finally arrives that I can learn to like something better then KDE. Next up for testing: XFCE4.

I polled my peers of the FreeBSD mailing list, to see who liked what, and why. There were a number of people who had good things to say about XFCE4. Fast, reliable, super lightweight. It was also a pretty quick build from the ports collection too.

First up, I needed to find a way to migrate my important computing tasks to new programs. Kmail, was able to export its maildir's to mbox format, which Sylpheed was able to import. This was quite simple, as you just enter a mail directory under your inbox in Mmail, export it, and then import it into Sylpheed. I did this for each of my mail directories until I had replicated the entire thing. Next up, I also decided it was high time I tried something else besides Firefox. In FreeBSD, firefox does have some superiority over Konqueror-webbrowser, with sites that use flash and multimedia. Im sure Konqueror could do it, but admittedly, the Linux-Firefox is so much simpler to set up (actually... there is no setup, just build it from ports and go!). So, I decided I would build the Linux-Opera port, and hopefully it will work as well as Linux-Firefox, but with a lighter-weight feeling then Firefox. I have had good luck with Opera on my Mac at the office, so I was hoping for the same with Opera in FreeBSD. Migrating my favorites from Firefox to Opera wasnt too painful, about the only thing I had to manhandle was getting my toolbar favorites from Firefox to show in Opera's toolbar. They didn't quite matchup on import (I suppose, as to be expected), but it wasnt too much trouble to just move them to where they needed to go.

Within XFCE, I was able to pick what my default applications were going to be, for terminal, webbrowser, and email. XFCE seems to treat these areas as a generic activity, which you can point this activity into whatever applications you prefer. Seems kind neat, and I suppose you could change it out with something else at any time. The right click menu took a little while to get used to, but after a day, it seemed second nature.

About the only thing im trying to get used to, is the Thunar file manager. Its simple, and thats about all I can say. Other than that, there are a few KDE apps that I'm finding that I can't live without. K3B, KStars, and Amarok to name a few. At least, they still work in XFCE4.

So far, so good! --Sharaz 18:35, 14 March 2007 (CDT)

Bought a New Toy

Many times when we visit over to my mother-in-law's apartment, I bump into her downstairs neighbor, Hugo. He is also a truck fan, just like me, and we have had many conversations about his 1971 Chevy C10 Custom, my Z71, and just cool trucks in general. Well, one day a couple weeks ago, as I was sitting in my truck waiting for my wife to come back down from dropping off our son, Hugo came and tapped on my window.

"Morning, Hugo, hows it goin' today?" "Good man. Say, would you be interesed in buying my '71?"

Long story short, yes, I bought it!! Ever since I bought my Z71 in 2002, I've always wanted another truck that I could customize... a two-wheel drive or something that I could drop down and make into a sweet custom street truck. In that same spirit, I've also always wanted a classic vehicle that I could restore and put some love and care into. Now, I'll have the opportunity to take care of both of these dreams, in one shot!

I keep plenty of pics and updates of my new toy over at Z71silverado.com.
--Sharaz 10:18, 7 April 2007 (CDT)

Why I Fell In Love With FreeBSD

For the first time since July, I feel a blog entry coming on.

So, why do I love FreeBSD? How could it have wrested my full attention from Linux? Why do I preach it to my clients whom I consult for? Well, its not because I think its more secure. Per Capita, I'm fairly sure both Linux and FreeBSD suffered about the same number of security advisories this year. Is it because SCO is not suing over code that is included in the BSD kernel? Nope, not really, all though 2 years ago, that might have been a plus. As comical as that whole fiasco is, in the beginning, SCO could have won (hey, it could have happened... but they shouldn't have squared off with IBM!!!) So my reason that I really like FreeBSD more than Linux, is simply... Options.

So many Linux distros these days dont offer good options during install. Building a server is no longer a selectable item during install for all the distros I've tested recently. 99% of my systems are servers. Minimal install is also not an option. I like my system lean, clean, and minimal. I already know what I want, and I'll add what I need, when I need it. I'm also a grumpy old man now, and I only like it the way it was when I was younger. I don't want my KDE changed to anything but straight KDE. I will say, that several Linux distros still ship an unchanged KDE, and for what its worth, I do appreciate that.

Ok, back to 'options'. I don't like being forced into an upgrade, I don't like being left out in the cold because I don't want to upgrade. I don't mean ill will to Fedora, but I'm going to single them out since I used that family from RedHat 5.2 until Fedora Core 4. First, lets talk about an option called "Apache".

(Oh, and note, that my point of view here comes from the requirement that I only use vendor provided packages, no 3rd party. When the vendor no longer supports a version with updated packages, that version is considered EOL.)

If I were running Fedora, and I had some systems that were updated to the latest packaged supplied by the vendor, here is the version of apache each of my Fedora 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 would be running:

FC1 - httpd-2.0.50-1.0.i386.rpm
FC2 - httpd-2.0.51-2.9.i386.rpm
FC3 - httpd-2.0.53-3.3.i386.rpm
FC4 - httpd-2.0.54-10.4.i386.rpm
FC5 - httpd-2.2.2-1.2.i386.rpm  (currently)

I do realize, FC5 may still be under security development, but as of Dec 12 2006, FC4 is no longer being maintained. What if, I was required to recover a server at a clients site, and all that was available for one reason or another was FC4? Or earlier? Using only vendor supplied updates, I would not be able to secure the server with an .rpm file of the latest Apache installation. Surely at some point, this will leave any new legacy installation vulnerable to some attack. Also note, that the upgrade from FC4 to FC5, introduce the upgrade from Apache 2.0.x to the 2.2.x tree. At the time FC5 came out, my apache configuration did not work in my test environment with Apache 2.2.x. I would have liked to upgrade to FC5, but mandatory update to 2.2.x (in order to satisfy my requirement that I only use vendor packages for updates) would have been unacceptable. I'm going to stop at this point, but I could continue this part of my argument on and on over different sets of applications, especially core components such as glibc and gcc, etc etc. They all suffer the same problem that my Apache example above does.

FreeBSD on the other hand, does not suffer this problem that I have described. FreeBSD offers me the options that I require. No matter if I'm going to run any version of 6.x, 5.x, 4.x, etc etc, the ports collection is the same for each. FreeBSD 4.11? No problem, the ports collection gives me access to the most current version of Apache, whether I prefer 1.3.x, 2.0.x, or 2.2.x. Same thing applies for MySQL, PHP, and the myriad of other applications you can think of that you might want to run. The fact that FreeBSD puts at my fingertips the latest of whatever I want to run, allows me to relax and not be forced into an unnecessary operating system upgrade. I can stay on FreeBSD 4.11 for as long as I can bear. 4.11 was released January 25, 2005, and is scheduled to finally EOL January 31, 2007. Thats right at 2 years. FC4 was released July 13, 2005, and was EOL'd on the 12th of December. 18 months vs 24 months of security review, but in my opinion, the clincher is the ports collection. On the last day of official support what version of Apache will 4.11 be running?

Answer: Whatever www.apache.org publishes as "latest". And that goes for *everything* that you could put on FreeBSD.
--Sharaz 21:40, 27 December 2006 (CST)

A Bit of a FreeBSD Paradigm Shift

I migrated both ZEUS and TYCHE from the STABLE development tree over to RELENG. Why? Aren't both STABLE and RELENG both as current as possible on security updates and critical code patches? Well, yes, they both are. But, RELENG has a kernel naming convention that gives away the patch level, whereas the STABLE branch's kernels are always named 6.1-STABLE. I guess my point of reference is, that one would hope to have to do as few as possible buildworld's on against a production server, so having a way to easily just look at a computer and instantly know how far back the patch level is a nice luxury. However, my workstation ATHENA, will probably continue to follow the STABLE branch, under the assumption that ATHENA has enough power to stand up to as many buildworlds as I coule care to do.
--Sharaz 17:03, 11 July 2006 (CDT)

Suse Linux

This week I tried Suse Linux for the first time. I have to say, I was as impressed as I could possibly be. I installed it on my laptop (IBM T42), and it found all my hardware on the first run. This is quite important, especially considering the Intel BG2200 wireless card. I've been searching linux distros lately, and my number one requirement is it must be able to find and configure my wireless without any trouble. I might also add that my wireless network uses WPA encryption, and this was also not an issue at all. On top of that, Suse appears to install moderatly cleanly, with what appears to be minimal bloatware.

I really don't use linux much anymore, but until I get wireless working on a FreeBSD desktop install on my laptop, I hate to say "sorry Fedora, you're out."
--Sharaz 23:46, 27 May 2006 (CDT)

Macintoshes

At work, I just changed to a position where I will be supporting Macintosh users from time to time. Since I have no experience with Macs, I decided it would be best if I just switched to one and jump in, sink or swim, with both feet. Actually, I have to say, I am pretty impressed with their product. The computer I'm using at work, is the new iMac. If you havent seen one yet, the entire thing is built into what basically amounts to a 1.5 inch thick LDC display. I have to say, functionality wise, it runs great. No speed issues or bog downs at all. My only beef with it got tossed and replaced with a multibutton mouse. My honest opinion is that its such a practical computer, that when its time to finally buy my wife her own machine, I will give an iMac thurough consideration.

(hehe, I just hope they can wake on LAN! lol)
--Sharaz 09:10, 20 May 2006 (CDT)

Wake On Lan

For a technology that been around for a long as I can remember, I have finally sat down and spent the time to set this up. Unfortunatly, I currently have only 1 computer that properly supports it. But, wow, what a convenience! My firewall has an interface to send WOL packets to any mac address on the network that you setup to manage. If my main pc was last powered off via acpi, WOL can power it on. What a simple technology, and yet, how on earth did I live without this int he past? Here is yet another feature which I now consider to be a minimum requirement of any new motherboard I buy from now on.

Speaking of, the next time I schedule maintenance on ZEUS, I need to see if that overly-expensive SuperMicro board supports it with its onboard Intel NIC. One day recently, I had a shell logged in on ZEUS, from HERA at my apartment. At the time, HERA had a CPU fan that was so stinking loud, that I had to power the computer off at night. Well, it was bedtime, and without looking to see what server I was root on, I just issued 'shutdown -p now'. Oops... ZEUS powers off, and I don'd live one mile from the Co-Lo anymore. See above paragraph. *wink*
--Sharaz 09:10, 22 April 2006 (CDT)

My Love for FreeBSD Grows

The more and more I play with FreeBSD, the more I come to favor it over anything I have previously used. At the same time, I have really increased my respect for Linux (expecially Fedora, my production distribution) and how it has evovled. I'll get to that in a moment.

FreeBSD has an incredibly powerful tool called "The Ports Collection". When I say incredibly powerful, I definatly mean incredibly powerful! When you enter into port's directory, the port is compiled from the latest version of the software that is immediatly downloaded from the authors site. Two days ago, I started a compile of KDE for my latest workstation, and it pulled down the entire sources for KDE-3.5.2 and compiled it all from scratch (hehe, for 2 days!!) Any dependencies are also taken care of on the fly, also using latest sources from the authors sites. Amazing!

Linux RPMs are really good. My original Linux guru, teaching me how to operate a system on Red Hat Linux (6.0 back then), taught me to "trust RPM, but prefer source". And for a long time, I compiled everything I thought I needed. But little did I understand, but RPM files are compiled on Red Hat... for Red Hat. Soon enough, enough time passed that I learned to really trust RPMs, and pretty much forgot about sources, except for the oddest of things that were just not included in Red Hat Linux. Eventually, more time passes, and things like 'yum' emerge, and RPM installation dependencies become a memory from the past. Similar in fasion to the ports collection of FreeBSD, yum knows where to find RPM files that it needs to complete an installtion of some other new RPM file that I want. But... who knows when the RPM its pulling down as a dependency was prepared, and what version. Perfect example; Rrdtool released 1.2.x a while back, but if you 'yum -y install rrdtool' on FC4, it will pull down rrdtool 1.0.x. on FreeBSD, the ports collection pulls down the latest sources for 1.2.x, which has quite a bit of improvements over the 1.0.x series.

However, my favor of the ports collection over yum repositories, does not mean I have not learned a great deal of respect for Linux over the past month of so. To build a fully functioning Fedora (I'll just say "Internet) server, you need about 1 hour. Pop in the DVD, run your install (which lasts about 15 minutes), and reboot. Turn on the daemons that you might need (httpd, vsftpd, mysql, sendmail, dovecot), and you're ready to go. These things are all already installed. Becuase they came in RPM files that were pre-prepared by Fedora. The operating system installer just unpacks the RPM files!! How simple is that?? Even older hardware can be up and running as a fully functional server in a very short amount of time.

The trade off of using FreeBSD over a Linux distribution is, that it definatly takes time to build your software from all these sources. FreeBSD installation takes about 5 minutes. Buildout of daemons needed to run a serer took me at least 4-6 hours. KDE compile for my workstaion, on an AMD Athlon 2200 took about 36 hours.

I definatly appreciate the time Linux Distributors take to compile all their packages before they send it to us.
--Sharaz 10:06, 13 April 2006 (CDT)

My Migration from Linux to FreeBSD

A few weeks back, I finally made the migration from Linux (Fedora Core 4) to FreeBSD 6.0 on my server. I spent nearly every available waking hour of the previous 2 weeks doing test install/configurations on virtual servers in my dev envrironment, to make sure I was ready to make the jump. And then I did. I came out with an installation that I was happy with. ZEUS is very functional, and I'm pretty sure I could turn my back on it now and enjoy as much uptime as I care to have.

However, I now wish I would have waited another 1 or 2 weeks before I made the transition. Since my deployment of ZEUS on FreeBSD 6.0, I have since continued to play around some more, and have mastered more and newer technologies than the ones I included in what is my "standard configuration". One more week, and I would have PHP5 and MQSQL5, and other such niceties. PHP4 and MYSQL4 are not broken, and have no lack in functionality as far as what im using it for, but it would be nice to be on the latest. Oh well, next time.
--Sharaz 08:27, 4 April 2006 (CDT)

Moved My Family to a New Apartment

Been planning this move for over a month now. One of the first things I noticed when we were moving in, was that the A/C unit seemed to work with much less effort than the unit in my old apartment (which, is a good thing). After I had set up my office, that room was noticably warmer than other rooms of the apartemnt (computers...). As I was making adjustments in the vents to change the amount of air let through them, I was thinking about electronicly controlled thermostats. We had one in a place I lived in a few years back, and it was great. It would turn the A/C down during the work day while we were not home, and cool it down to how we liked it just before we arrived. But, I think they should take it one step further. Many houses or apartments have rooms which will always be cooler or warmer than others. And, on top of that, most thermostats are located in a place where it doesnt matter one bit if its comfortable right there (like, in the hallway outside the kitchen). I think it would be cool to have a thermostat system, that had sensors located all around the house. The thermostat could then read them all and take the mean temperature of the house, and use that to determine if it should turn on or not in order to meet the specified setting on the dial. I know it still wouldnt be perfect, but I think it would sure work better than locating the thermostat in my office, and thus freezing the rest of my apartment.  :)
--Sharaz 11:02, 3 April 2006 (CDT)