Saturday, May 9, 2009

Spring Break

Ok, March was 200 hours just on company projects, April was pretty much about the same and upcoming installations during May and June will take some extra hours as well. With that desperate vision I booked flight to Malaga and the day before the flight it looked like: no wind forecast, no sure place to stay as the guy I was supposed to stay with had to move to Stockholm temporarily.

Got up at 1:45am, moved to Germany, hugged almost-wife and ola to Spain. Switched planes in Mallorca (that place is so German) arrived in Malaga, hired car, took A7 to Tarifa and enjoyed 3 hours of perfect wind. Met some Czech people and found very nice place to stay.

Got to the beach just when it started to rain, met some Germany guys who takes old cars from Switzerland and move the to Morocco (one way) all the way to mountains Atlas and then fly there with hang-gliders and then come home with small back pack by plane. Enjoyed sort of up-hill rally and got back to the beach for some wind. Took out my 13m kite, but after 40minutes of riding the wind got much stronger, I was glad to land safely and refreshed with few beers in the city center later that night.

Got late, moved to beach but no wind today. Few people (including me) were waiting if termic wind picks up, but it did not. Instead I got some interesting sun burns, ouch! Cooled down by few beers in PachaMama and met friendly British girls who lives in Morocco and wave surf there, wow!

Get up late, make sandwich, move to kite beach and enjoy it until late. Then come home, get shower, apply cooling cream for the sun burns, wash the kite stuff and explored the city as much as possible. Kiting was great, some waves came and even it took me while to learn how to get over them it was worth it. Managed to do some very first and small jumps with landing downwind, can't wait to get more :) I think I am hooked for life.

Up 5:03, moved to Malaga and 10:05 flight to Dusseldorf and at 17:15 I kissed my pretty-soon-wife again .)

Refreshing, enjoyable those small little trips.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

GNOME and The Cloud

Recently I've read some thoughts on GNOME and its (no) integration with the Internet. Let me throw my 2 cents here:

Please allow user to fill its accounts in 'About Me' dialog. Distros (like Ubuntu) can make a nice wizard. possibly the first time GNOME starts (is installed). It can even simplify the install process a lot. User would fill Name, Password (also default from gnome-keyring) and was allowed to add its on-line accounts (possibly with templates for well known, reccomended and new online services out there).

First time user can benefit in following ways:
  • It is logical to edit this kind of information in one place. It will not have to be entered multiple times in various applications. User will be happy.
  • Gnome can automatically start Piding, Empathy or other IM if user has pre-configured at least one IM account.
  • Other applications can pull for this information (Ekiga, DropBox, Firefox Plugins?, Banshee-Last.Fm) and use it whenever appropriate.
  • The first time application wants to know about specific account, confirmation dialog for access gnome-keyring data is raised.
I am not a GNOME hacker but is this feasible? I guess store it in the gnome-keyring and write a DBUS service Accounts?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Internet HD TV

I recently bought an HD LCD TV just to find out the only super picture I can get is from the PS3 console. I can't understand why are people buying those TVs, the picture compared to old analog CRT TVs really sucks unless you get and HD signal. In Czech Republic we have a DVB-T (digital broadcasting) already but as it uses MPEG2 compression so the resolution is still the same (or almost the same) as it was for analog broadcasting. Such a resolution has to be so called upscaled (converted, recomputed) and thats where the crappines comes from. Even if your TV does a good job in this, you are still getting low resolution picture. MPEG4 wich might bring HD signal to your TV is only supported on very few channels provided either via Cable TV or Satelite (DVB-S). Most of the people uses DVB-T.

Luckily we have the Internet. I put aside this 'illegal' content, which can be nice, but is too much of effort for me to do it. I rather reccomend Miro. Miro is an Internet TV. Via nice guide it allows you to subcribe to 'channels' (there are over 5000 already!) you are intereted in. Then whenever there is a new content/episode availabe it is automatically downloaded for you to see later. It includes some nice features like automatic expiring of episodes (until you click to keep them) so you do not have to worry about your disk space, rating, sharing and much more.

Miro was here for some time already, but last year it received one million of dollars for development from Mozilla (yep, the same non-profit company that makes sure the Internet is free, open and safe and gives you Firefox) and there is new 2.0 version out there. It supports Mac, Linux and Windows. So head to and test it for you today.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Dealing with bugs in Linux and Windows

This afternoon Eva told me her Firefox crashes about 10 times a day on just bought Lenovo IdeaPad S10. We've checked that updates are enabled and that she is using latest version 3.0.6 and no extra add-ons are installed but nothing helped. In the end we installed a Chrome for a while. Now what to blame? Old Windows Xp running on netbook, mozilla, antivirus? No clue where to start or what to do next.

Contrary, on my Linux machine one super application stopped working. It is called gnome-do and it is unbeliable productivity booster. I worked for about two days without it and my work flow was seriously disrupted. Today I created bug in ubuntu and joined #gnome-do IRC channel on freenode server and got an answer which has solved my problem within few minutes.

You decide which system works better.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

1234567890 is here, heureka

Time on UNIX like machines (including Linux) is counted in seconds since midnight January 1st 1970, the moment when time began on the Unix operating system (aka the Unix Epoch).

Today at 00:31:30 CET (23:31:30 UTC) counter showed magnificent number 1234567890 (that happens once in an epoch !) and many hearts of the right geeks have been pleased ;) Congratulations.

Celebrations have taken on many places around the world. Sometimes its the little things I enjoy.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Sunday Linux adventures

Sometimes it does not help how much you prepare ... the system is mighty.

To keep practicing and learning Linux with my friend we are running small business including hosting couple of websites and running about a dozen of virtualized machines. We are actually proud of our solution as we have managed to build kinda interesting infrastructure that runs for years.

If we have any problem with it, the it is usually with hard drives. We now have achieved 222 days without a downtime (I guess our SLA is now much better then London Stock Exchange powered by Microsoft). With this gained confidentiality we decided to upgrade whole SW stack on our infrastructure including major changes (XEN core, Linux Kernels and up-to-date to all services / packages). We decided to clean up everything for the next big thing.

We spent whole Friday and Saturday preparing all the packages and the process for smooth upgrade. On Sunday before lunch, we were ready just for the reboot. I asked my friend to get to site just in case anything goes wrong. In short we ended up at 1:00am on Monday morning. But we learned a lot, all the services have been restored and machines are ready to rock again.

Now follows Linux rant about the problem:

13:00 - Hypervizor complains about being compiled against wrong kernel headers. Solution was to recompile against latest xen headers. That means boot into usable environment using rescue CD. Our system has not CDROM, create usb stick and boot from that.

14:30 - Root partition is not detected. We use otherwise excellent Enterpise Volume Management System ( EVMS ) stack to manage our disks/partitions. But for some reason the root (main) partition was not detected. Too bad, after some help from IRC we reenabled EVMS flag on the partition and it was back online. Ok we can access everything to recompile the XEN.

15:30 - Hypervizor recompiled and is booting but now complains about mismatch with kernel. It turns out, kernel for some reason was compiled without PAE extension. XEN has dropped support for non-pae kernel in 3.1+ series. Took a while to figure out, but we recompiled the kernel with High Memory Support.

16:30 - Hypervisor boots, kernel boots but now init complains it can't switch root partition from RAM to EVMS partition. After some investigation it turns out something is worng with BusyBox (missing switch_root function). Edited initrd manually and used busybox from working initrd.

18:30 - System boots. We now have our main domain ready.

19:00 - 01:00am we spent in an effort to bring the rest of our services back on line. We allso had to recompile kernel for domU machines, modules for our FireWall to include support for iptables and TUN/TAP interface for VPN services, modify udev rules to create persistent rules for network interfaces.

What a learning experience. Anytime I hear a PM saying upgrade process has to be smooth, there has to be 0 downtime I have to laugh. World is not static, so is not development of the packages. The longer you do not touch your system, the more interesting things appears when you try to get it up-2-date. Linux is great.

UPDATE: One day later we probably could avoid the hypervisor booting and save about 5 hours! Everybody is a general after a battle :)