The Desk

I decided to re-0rganise my desk recently, so that it’s a bit easier to get to bits and bobs. However here is living proof of the working output from my ‘modified’ poweredge machine -> how-to. The silver fronted machine is the server, quad core with 4Gb of ram which is next my ‘workstation’ which is the dual core xeon with another 4Gb of ram. All in all my set up is nearly put together, under the desk which you can’t see is the gigabit switch and the NAS.

The Desk

The NAS is an Maxtor MSS II, which i’m part way through botching in order to make it more useful. The MSS II is alright but it’s really designed for small businesses that generally don’t have an IT department, just one of those members of staff who buys some daft magazine every now and then, but assumes he knows everything. With that in mind the NAS is a simple little linux box with a web front end and samba running on it. This would be alright in a simple office with a couple of xp/vista boxes but start to mix OS’s and utilise the device a little bit more than it likes and thinks will break quite quickly. The people from are always coming up with new ideas and bits of software and it’s looking like NFS and iSCSI may be not too far away.

Seperate spreadsheets, seperate windows, stupid excel

Who knows what goes through the mind of developers these days, you have an application where it’s entire basis is the display and management of lots of data. Being able to move around various columns of data and move data from one place to another, sometimes one entirely different spreadsheet. It appears that Microsoft have decided that only a single window view is the way to go, this is quite an old problem btw. This means that opening multiple spreadsheets makes management of them an absolute nightmare as you can only manouver them around in the same window. Any spreadsheet opened through windows explorer as added to the already running excel so the plan of having multiple excels opening wont work either.

Poweredge Sc440 Pci-e hack (x16 vga card in any slot)

I decided to re-write this looking at what i wrote last night, I was evidentally effected by the inhilation of melted plastic fumes.

I was recently sent a link to where there was an offer on their servers, making a dual core xeon with 4gb of ram etc.. dirt cheap. So without any hesitation I wipped the card out and a week later my brandnew machine arrived, the reasoning to myself was that this was going to be my new workstation. I stuck in a vista install disk and off I went, didn’t take long and a fresh install and a new machine was there ready to use. The poweredge comes with an onboard ATI es1000, which honestly is bloody awful. So without any real investigation i went out and purchased a gfx card allowing me to hopefully have some sort of graphics acceleration in my machine. New GFX card in hand I opened up my dell machine and found there was no where inside the machine for this card to fit…

Centos 5.1 Xen build (domU)

Here is a quick how to for installing centOS 5.1 in a domU, this is a netinstall so all thats required is a kernel and a ramdisk. The latest release is 5.1 and i’m in the uk so I’m using the UK mirror.

The Kernel and ramdisk are found here, download these using wget or any of your favourite methods and place somewhere in your dom0. In my templates folder/xen you will find a simple template for a centos config, change the paths to match your kernel and ramdisk… you’ll also need to change the disk to whatever you’re using, disk image or another LV.

then xm create -c <centos_config> and you’re away.

 The templates folder can be found here.


I’ve used GNU screen for absolutely ages,  a recent chat made me have a look around for an alternative, the alternatives are at best weak. The best i found was a program called twin, which cleverly enough stands for Text WINdow manager….  🙁

 It works *just*  there is a screenshot, but I think im going to stick to screen for now

chasing your tail

In my earlier builds (v66) of opensolaris xen domUs i’d already been through the playing around with the networking bug. So realistically you would document all of the steps that you took with the physical nic and virtual nic’s etc.. whoops

I decided that i’d do a fresh install with (v77) of opensolaris, which after discovering in the bug report has a kernel problem with mounting HSFS. This means that it can’t use an install cd properly (genius), the bug report suggests doing a NFS install which is fantastic(regarding the networking bug requires a reboot and the boot_archive updating).


bash-3.2# uname -a
SunOS host-a 5.11 snv_77 i86pc i386 i86xpv

Notes to follow

Bleeding edge sometimes makes too much mess

As my continual ‘tinkering’ I prefer to think of it as fannying around I decided that my half-baked/uncompleted solaris domU’s may as well be built from the latest version of open solaris, generally released quite regularly. Latest is 77, which as i managed to find after an hour of fiddling has a bug — YOU CANT INSTALL IT.

So luckily i’ve found version 75 which im downloading ever so slowly from a russian site, hopefully by tomorrow I can start to re-do my domU 🙂