Archive for the ‘Home Life’ Category

Hey! Wait a Mint-it…

Broken Cinnamon

Broken Cinnamon

I spent an entire night in frustration with this so if anyone has any ideas, I am all ears.

I upgraded my Linux install from Mint 13 (yes I know – old) to a fresh v15. After a couple hours the lappy locks up hard, and I mean hard. Video still running but nothing else working at all. No kb/mouse/ssh/nothing. I jumped to a VT and let it go until it hung again and see this (pictured). DAMN, I thought. I have a bad CPU – just my friggin luck. I decided to do a bit of googling around and I saw a post somewhere that someone had some hard lockups running Cinnamon on v13 (I think it was), so I figured I would install XFCE and let it run under that just for a test. Guess what? It ran all night under XFCE with no issues. Although I am relieved that I probably don’t need to buy another new laptop (I am so damn poor), I am somewhat frustrated by the effect of Cinnamon on my machine. Anyone, anyone?


Well, it finally happened again. It appears that it is actually the CPU. Dang.

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

Adventures in Virtualization

A long long time ago, I virtualized all my home infrastructure onto an ESXi 4.0 server. It has run perfectly fine, minus one hard drive failure, for quite a few years. Lately, though, I had been wanting to upgrade it because it’s not terribly fast and I have run out of resources to be able to add new VMs. It was running on a dual cpu machine (single core) with 160Gb HDD and 4Gb of ram, and I was just using it all up. No more ram for new stuff.

I decided that I would upgrade the matching spare server I had and try out KVM because I had used it a bit for RedHat training and it worked so well. Of course, Fessenden’s law, as opposed to Murphy’s law, stated simply that “Something will go wrong.” And it did. Over and over again.

First off, let me say that on an enterprise class server system, if it says it needs registered ECC ram, it is NOT kidding. I must have swapped ram around in that server 50 times before I noticed 2 sticks of non-registered ram in there. Once I got over that, I had 8Gb of ram and a new 250Gb HDD and I was ready to rock! Or so I thought.

I decided to use CentOS 6 as my virtualization host OS and that went right on but I soon discovered that my CPU doesn’t support virtualization. Ugh. So I decided that I would switch gears and go with virtualbox instead so that I could continue using my current hardware. I have often used virtualbox on other machines and it is a fantastic platform. I set about getting things running.

When I installed the base OS, I did a minimal install. No GUI, etc.. There is no sense in putting stuff on there you don’t need on a server right? Well, the very first thing I found was that I could not use the virtualbox gui controls because I did not have any X installed. To rectify that:

yum -y install xorg-x11-xauth dejavu-lgc-sans-fonts

You need the auth to be able to forward your X session, and need the fonts to be able to actually see words on your app.

Next I copied all my vmdk files to the new server. This takes a LONG time for old servers to move around 100Gb. Once there, however, I discovered that virtualbox cannot read native vmdk files. Ugh again.

yum -y install qemu-kvm

And then I could convert the vmdks to raw images, and then again to native vdi files for virtualbox.

qemu-img convert machine-flat.vmdk machine.bin
vboxmanage convertfromraw --format VDI machine.bin machine.vdi

I put all my machines together and noticed that virtualbox was complaining about uuid on some of the disk images. To fix that:

vboxmanage internalcommands sethduuid machine.vdi

The first machine I started up was a CentOS 6 machine and that fired right up, however, udev immediately reassigned my ethernet device to eth1. In order to get thatr back where it was supposed to be I had to go into /etc/udev/rules.d/70-persistent-net.rules and delete the ethernet rules in there and reboot.

Along about this time my server powered off. No idea why. It powered itself back on again about 30 seconds later. I checked everything on the server and it looked fine. Curious, but I kept on going.

Next I tried to start up my remaining Centos 5 VMs. These were problematic. The very first thing I noticed here was that they were barking because I never uninstalled the vmware drivers. I fired them back up on the original server and ran the program. I turned them back off and spent hours re copying the over, and then reformatting the vmdk files into vdi.

Starting them back up, I found that, again, they would not run. This time I received the error that it could not locate any LVM partitions. This, it turns out, is because the initrc files did not have the appropriate drivers in them. Fixing this was fun. First off, you need to add a cdrom drive to the vm and put a CentOS rescue cd/dvd there. Boot it up in rescue mode, chroot to the /mnt/sysimage and then fix the /etc/modprobe.conf file:

alias scsi_hostadapter mptbase
#alias scsi_hostadapter1 mptspi
#alias scsi_hostadapter2 ata_piix
alias scsi_hostadapter1 mptscsih
alias scsi_hostadapter2 mptscsih

The entries with the #s are the ones I had to change. Then I needed to rebuild all of the initrd images.

cd /boot
for file in $(ls init* | cut -d'-' -f2,3 | cut -d'.' -f1-6); do mkinitrd -v -f /boot/initrd-$file.img $file; done

After that, the machines came right up! Of course, the host powered right off. Several times over the next day. Grrr.

I figured that there was a hardware issue with the host somewhere and resolved to buy myself a new server. I picked an open box refurb from microcenter that had 8Gb ram, a 750Gb HDD and a nice quad core cpu that supported virtualization. Wohoo! I can now switch to KVM!

I set up the new machine and installed KVM and started copying vmdk files over again and, bingo, kernel panic. I rebooted and the machine would not even get past bios. This went on for a couple days until I took the machine back to microcenter. I picked up a different machine, better quad core with 12Gb of ram and 1Tb HDD and set about getting it running.

This time, success! I set up CentOS 6 and KVM, added the bridged networking and copied over the vmdk files. KVM will read vmdk files but I decided to convert to a more native format, qcow2, the preferred format for qemu, anyhow. that is fairly simple to do.

qemu-img convert -O qcow2 machine-flat.vmdk machine.qcow2

I put all the machines back together again and started them back up. I still had to do the initrd fixes on the CentOS 5 VMs to get them going, but after that all has been running fantastically!

Somewhere along the line here I figured out that my issue with my secondary server powering off was a bad port on my UPS.

KVM is really easy to run and manage for a Linux geek as opposed to VMware 4. The native gui tools do the job just fine, although they are not quite as intuitive to me as VMWare’s VIC. I am quite happy, though, with the switch. I now have more than twice the resources of my initial virtualization environment. Now I am good to go for several more test VMs and the new machine is nice and quiet and doesn’t have to hide under my couch :)

Sunday, August 5th, 2012

Happy Father’s Day!

My Dad

My Dad

I was, I think, 7 years old when this strange furry creature married my mother. I remember being really excited at the time, because my mom was so happy, and I remember being kind of scared about what would happen to me.

I had never had a dad up to that point, so you can imagine that the transition was quite difficult for me, and, in turn, I made it hard on him. What he did, however, was miraculous and a true testament to his character.

My dad took me as his own. I NEVER remember hearing the words “step son” from his mouth. He always introduced me as his own. I was included, whether I wanted to be or not :) It was certainly a learning experience for me. He taught by example.

He taught me to be responsible.
He taught me to have integrity.
He taught me to be honest.
He taught me to have fortitude.
He taught me how to love my wife and daughter.
He taught me to respect other people and myself.
He taught me how to be a man.

I respect my dad more than any other man alive. I could never tell him “thank you” enough, but I hope this gets me a little closer. If you ever meet a certain Roy Fessenden, you can thank him for me too. I love you dad! Happy Father’s Day!

Saturday, June 16th, 2012

Helping Kids

I grew up in a town of 2000 people in Upstate NY called Laurens. There are currently approximately 350 students enrolled K-12 in my old school and they are desperately trying to win a chance to sing with Foreigner (yes the rock band)! PLEASE help me help them by visiting this link and casting your vote for the kids at Laurens Central School!

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

An open letter to NY state police.

This week I am in NY visiting helping out my mother after her knee surgery. This morning around 7am I ran to the post office for her and stopped at the gas station to pick up a pack of smokes. On the way home, about 2 houses down from my parents place I see this guy aggressively yanking on the leash of his dog he’s walking down the sidewalk. I keep an eye on him as I drive past and then I see him throw his dog down to the ground and start kicking it (think superbowl field goals here) and then he doubles up his fist and just starts pummeling the dog. I slam my breaks on and jump out of the car and yell at the guy to stop and he tells me to mind my own “effing” business. I tell him he needs to simmer down and he says he can’t get the dog to walk (no kidding, if he beats the thing like that). I tell him he needs to understand that dogs have the mentality of small children and ask him if he would beat a child like that. Again, I get the mind my own business stuff. I tell him I will call the cops and he says “do what you want”. So, I pull up 2 houses and park in my parents driveway and watch this guy go to his house. Turns out he’s my parents’ new neighbor on the street, almost directly across from them.

So, I call the cops. They have me call the dog warden. I call the dog warden. She has me call the State Police. They said they would send someone by but “couldn’t really do anything about it.” I asked them if this guy has this much of an anger issue, what happens when he gets mad at his wife/girlfriend/kids/etc.? They said they could send someone out to talk to him. That was over 4 hours ago now. Sheesh!

I am certain if this had happened outside Philly, where I live now, there would have been some kind of reaction from the authorities. Here in nowhere NY I guess it is completely legal and acceptable to be cruel to animals. It really makes me sick. Honestly, in hind sight, I should have just run the prick over and taken the dog.

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

The Original Screensaver



I know, I know. I have been really busy lately and have not posted anything. You wouldn’t even believe how much so.

Last night, right before I passed out from another long week I was reading my email (in mutt, the best email client btw) and I decided I was going to take a little nap. Well, as a hold over from the old days when you had to worry about screen burn-in, I wanted to start a screensaver, but something different.

As a cli addict, in the old days I remember using a couple terminal savers, worms and rain. I decided to start up worms for nostalgia sake. Well, it wasn’t installed. AHH THE HORROR! As it turns out, most distributions do not automatically include these anymore and they are normally in a package called “bsdgames”. Once that was installed I was ready to go. Simply running a maximized terminal session with worms -d 60 (a switch to delay the worms a bit), was enough to make things right once more.

I bet that many new Linux/unix users have missed out on the wonders of such simple things and decided that today I would make a little post to try and encourage you to try them out. Please do so! (and remember rain too.)

The bsdgames have a lot of those kinds of little gems and you just cannot go wrong playing around with them. There are greats in there like hack and tetris and snake and on and on. You might be surprised how entertained you can be while enjoying some of the old-school stuff that gives you some great unix creds :)

Saturday, April 21st, 2012

Who is that masked man?

Probably you have either listened to me or read my thoughts or both for several years now, but it occurred to me today that someone out there might be interested in seeing what actually drives the LincGeek.

I currently live in Pennsylvania, but I was born and raised in Upstate NY, with a brief stint in Washington state. New Yorkers and hillbillies are my people and I understand them. Washington is some of the most beautiful country I ever spent time in and I hope to at least visit out there again someday.

Well, first and foremost, computers and Linux are my personal crack. I started on a life long obsession with computers back in 1983 with my first Vic=20 (Thank you William Shatner). I learned to program in BASIC and from there it was all over until I met Linux in the 90s, then that added into the mix.

I like the fastest computers I can get my hands on. I like Apple computers (more for their quality and aesthetics than OS – they do tend to run Linux very well). I love my Kindle, my Android phone and my Asus TF300T Linux Mint is probably the nicest version of Linux I have ever run and I use that almost exclusively as my desktop OS of choice. I am RedHat certified and use RHEL and CentOS for the vast majority of my enterprise and personal server needs, because, IMHO, it’s better than the rest.

I am a music lover. I dig 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, Big Band, Jazz, Funk, Disco, Bluegrass and Classical music. I was a hardcore low brass musician and vocalist in my school years, even making it into “Who’s Who In Music” in my senior year in high school, and those are some of my most cherished and fondest memories. Rap is *NOT* music, by the way.

I have been married once, to my college sweetheart, for almost 20 years now and have an adult (she thinks so at least) daughter, currently in college. I am a Conservative Libertarian, politically, and a proud Christian.

Although I am now diabetic and stick mostly to various forms of Chicken and veggies, I LOVE good food. my favorites are good Irish cooking like my Grandma used to make. Corned Beef and Cabbage. And she made a monster macaroni and cheese too. I would literally hurt someone for some of that again. I strongly believe that vegetables are what food eats.

I like my coffee with (nonfat) milk and sweet-n-low. Buy it from Wawa because Starbucks coffee is overpriced and bitter yuppie coffie IMHO. I like an occasional good cigar (Acid Blondie) and enjoy them most when I can smoke them and hang out with my friends. (Edit, I am a confirmed Vaper now – RY4 absolutely ROCKS!)

I am not a drinker. If and when I do imbibe, I do so with Scotch or Whiskey as I believe beer must be what urine tastes like.

As you can probably surmise, I am highly opinionated, and as I have a monster sized guilty conscience and I am not at all politically correct, so if you ask my opinion, you are liable to actually get it.

I still think the occasional fart joke is funny. I hate unproductive meetings and long phone conversations. I try very hard to be honest, forthright, fair and maintain integrity.

I am a pet guy and love small furry mammals of all kinds. I have and have had cats, dogs, rabbits, mice, rats, ferrets and even a smattering of budgies and small lizards.

And now you know all about me!

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

MagicJack Plus

MagicJack Plus
I was an early adopter of voip, initially using Broadvoice, then later inphonex for service, but lately, their service has been problematic. My wife had noticed that after making or receiving a call, the next call she would not be able to hear or talk to the other end of the line. This often required me to reset and restart the IP phone and connection. After mucking around with all sorts of settings on my IP phone and then trying several soft phones as well, all with the same results, I was in the market for yet another carrier. Enter MagicJack.

MagicJack has been all over the media lately and I have stayed away from it mostly because there was no linux support. Well, recently, they came out with the MagicJack Plus, which they advertise as “Use without a computer”. I decided that was probably the way to go. After all, who can resist a $25 A YEAR phone bill, right? Shoot, even my Inphonex plan cost that much per month. So, I went out and bought a MagicJack Plus at my local RadioShack and also purchased a cheapo phone to use with it as my only phone for years has been a voip phone.

The good:
The phone quality is decent. It is easy to set up and get going. It is way inexpensive. It is very portable.

The bad:
You *DO* need a computer to set it up. I had to use a mac to get it registered (no Linux yet and I refuse to use windows). Once set up initially, no more computer needed. The quality is decent. Transferring your old number costs additional $$. Had to change my home number.

All in all I call it a good purchase. I spent $70 on it and that gets me a free year phone service along with the equipment. I have made and taken several phone calls on it now with successful results. The money I spent on the MJP will pay for itself in 3 months of my previous carriers phone bill and then I am saving $25 a month and getting better service. I have to admit it seems hard to beat at this point!

Sunday, February 5th, 2012

And then there was 1

Almost everybody knows I have ferrets, and many of you have heard me talk about the phenomena of ferret math. The downside of this is when you have to say goodbye to one of your fuzzy friends. Today was just such a day for me.

Ferrets, for those of you not in the know, are not really a creature of nature. Having been bread in captivity for eons, they do not survive on their own. Their survival traits have been almost completely bread from them and they are not much like their ancestors any longer except in appearance. This also brings with it a horrible genetic disposition to certain cancers and diseases witch are all too common in modern day fuzzies.

Today, my friend Teddy was put to sleep. Teddy mysteriously contracted something resembling cancer in his mouth, which rapidly spread into his sinuses and eyes. I am glad to see him go only in the sense that I hated to see him suffering. Teddy came into our home about 3 years ago and was a little fluffy snuggler. He was literally a little teddy bear, which is how he got his name. It was only weeks later that we found his mischievous side that he also really enjoyed pinching my wife :) Hey, I do too!

Teddy is survived by his life long friend Puff, our only remaining ferret, and, of course, 2 cats, a dog, 2 rats and his beloved humans.

I am gonna miss you friend. Safe journey. I promise to keep pinching my wife for you until we meet again.

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

Roku 2 XD

Roku 2 XD

Roku 2 XD

Long have I wanted to have a device that would easily tie my Netflix subscription and other streaming internet media to my tv. I have tried lots of nice things, but they all left me wanting something more, that is, until I got a Roku.

I picked up a Roku 2 XD at BestBuy for $79 and figured I would try it out and return it if it wasn’t what I really wanted. To my surprise I really like it!

My first impressions are that it is REALLY small. It literally fits, in its entirety, into the palm of my hand. It’s pretty slick looking for a little black box with a fabric tag sticking out the side. It has the normal input/output ports that you would expect for a device that connects to your tv to have, and, really, nothing else but the remote, which is also quite small.

Once you hook it all up and plug it in, you are greeted by the Roku logo while the system loads, and then you are taken through a series of steps to register your box and your account (free). After that you can start adding channels and enjoying your streaming web content on your tv!

Now the channels on Roku are different than I expected. Each channel is a service. For example, Netflix is a channel and Hulu is a channel and Crackle and Pandora, etc. and the list goes on. I am sure there is something in there for almost everybody. The ones I really enjoy, outside of Netflix, are Crackle, which somehow provides FREE streaming (recent) movies and tv content, Pandora, and Pub-D-Hub, which has all kinds of old movies, shows and cartoons (and even commercials).

The only thing I really do not like is it’s difficult to actually locate the kind of content you are looking for. This is primarily because there is so much available, and, I will have to admit that sometimes it’s fun just searching around.

What’s Good:
Small, Good looking, Quick, Inexpensive, easy to set up and easy to use.

What’s Bad:
Hard to sort through all the content to find exactly what you want.

Thursday, September 1st, 2011