An Englishman's forecast of applications on the cloud:

Dull and drizzly.

There have been lots of talk over the past couple of years, and now more than any time in that gap of applications on cloud. Netbooks have been talked of: > Wikipedia: “A netbook is a small to medium sized, light-weight, low-cost, energy-efficient laptop, generally optimized for internet based services such as web browsing and e-mailing.” Which basically says to me, run a minimal system on your side and let the cloud do the rest.

This is all well and good, conceptually it’s a brilliant idea.  In fact, I do this and more everyday at work (large server serves me not just apps, but also my session on the OS) However, why would we stand for such a poor service!?  I can’t even watch an hour and a half programme on iPlayer without it stopping and buffering, stopping and buffering…Why is this?  Crap servers at the BBC?  No.  Poor internet connection?  Well that probably is a contributor.  The main reason is that someone in the house is taking all the bandwidth by torrenting.  I’ve just fired up my SunRay and it can’t even establish a VPN connection to work, yet I know that when the torrenting stops, I’ll have no bother.

Why would I forsake the applications that run on the computer that sits on my desk (which happens to be portable), for something which I may not be able to access, at all. I can happily program on the train, edit video clips, prepare slides for the lectures I have given.  If all this was on the net, I’d need to fork out for internet through my mobile, which would cost me, and isn’t even that reliable in the middle of Wales…

Why are some of the leading companies wishing to forsake the speed, reliability and the access of our work or working environments by putting these things on the cloud?  Something that doesn’t boast speed or access.  I guess the only thing it does offer is reliability, your trusting someone else to backup your stuff…Companies are plugging this (I believe Bill Gates was praising this at the D5 conference a while back), and yet we have companies such as BT saying that they aren’t going to make our connectivity any better.

People I talk to everyday truly believe this is the future, I just can’t see it somehow…I have seen it work on a ‘small’ scale, throughout a company.  But I think we are not ready to use the internet as a method of delivery for applications, when we struggle to deliver data in a timely fashion.

(I guess)

Sun - Week Twenty

Monday starts off quietly, with fewer tickets than I expected…I progressed a little with some gDoc code, you can now call up the GUI form the command line with some arguments and the app with automagically search for those words. I have also been looking into live upgrading from Solaris 10 to Solaris 10 update 6. I think that I have finally understood how to create a new Boot Environment (BE). I am just waiting for the machine (an 880) to copy the current BE into a new one. I will upgrade the new BE while the system is still running. Then when I know that it is OK, I will simply restart the machine and it will boot into the upgraded environment…

bash-3.00# df / (/dev/md/dsk/d0 ):14587530 blocks 1118064 files /devices (/devices ): 0 blocks 0 files /system/contract (ctfs ): 0 blocks 2147483611 files /proc (proc ): 0 blocks 29950 files /etc/mnttab (mnttab ): 0 blocks 0 files /etc/svc/volatile (swap ):137777776 blocks 4805821 files /system/object (objfs ): 0 blocks 2147483504 files /dev/fd (fd ): 0 blocks 0 files /var (/dev/md/dsk/d10 ):12278616 blocks 730732 files /tmp (swap ):137777776 blocks 4805821 files /var/run (swap ):137777776 blocks 4805821 files /home/bl222517 ( blocks 29777260 files /usr/dist (mf-egmp-01,mf-egmp-02:/usr/dist,rpedist:/export/dist):17190092 blocks 3738502 files /usr/local (e2big:/export/local/sparc):677065750 blocks 677065750 files /usr/local/share (e2big:/export/local/share):677065750 blocks 677065750 files /share/lang (e2big:/export/lang):677065750 blocks 677065750 files bash-3.00# metainit d111 1 1 /dev/rdsk/c1t5d0s0 d111: Concat/Stripe is setup bash-3.00# metainit d110 -m d111 d110: Mirror is setup bash-3.00# metainit d121 1 1 /dev/rdsk/c1t5d0s3 d121: Concat/Stripe is setup bash-3.00# metainit d120 -m d121 d120: Mirror is setup bash-3.00# lucreate -c s10 -m /:/dev/md/dsk/d110:ufs -m /var:/dev/md/dsk/d120:ufs -n s10u6

Just some goop for you all…

Tuesday was more of the same…I finally managed to Live Upgrade my 880. In fact I updated it twice…Once from Solaris 10, to Solaris 10 Update 6, then to Nevada build 102. I basically did what I posted yesterday, but prior to that I installed the new Live Upgrade packages from the CD. And I also installed a shed load of patches. I made sure the patches were installed so nothing had missing dependencies…Then realised patchadd -M `pwd` patches will sort that out for you…ho hum! After doing this I just did luupgrade pointing to the new BE and the CD, and it went and did the upgrade, and I was able to use the machine as I always have. After that it’s just a case of pointing luactivate at the BE and rebooting the machine with init 6.

Wednesday I wanted to make sure I had this LU thing nailed, and so set about doing it one last time and documenting what I was doing. I spent the afternoon looking at some tickets, I hooked up a multipack to an ultra 40, and replaced a T5120 system board after an engineer had done some testing (no, he hadn’t broken it, he was testing a new board or something).

I came into the office on Thursday finding David rushing towards me. When I had replaced the system board from the T5120 yesterday, I had forgotten to take off the address module (which holds the MAC address and possibly other things). So I ran off the goods in and retrieved the package before it had left, replaced the module and gave the package back. I then ran up to the office and looked at a dead machine. I haven’t managed to get it working yet, but I’m going to keep thinking. I worked through lunch so I could play with the V880 more, and also looked at my SunBlade 150 which I hope to install the SunRay server software on. I also replaced a failed disk into the array used by our NFS server. Blog updates: I looked at all the last nineteen posts and put links in them to point to various machines and software sites. And machine I mention in my blog, I will try to link it to the relevant homepage for it, the same goes for any interesting software. I also posted an entry about SunRay keyboard shortcuts

Nifty keyboard shortcuts on SunRay's

At work, our department has it’s own SunRay servers. I am currently running on a V890 server running build 101a of Nevada and running the SRSS 4.1 (SunRay Server Software (I think)).

I was trying to switch tabs in Firefox, in Camino I can use command+alt+arrow to switch tabs, under Safari I can use command+shift+arrow. Under Firefox, I can use…Well, I’ve got no idea what I can use…So I set out to find a way!

I figured there was two ways about going about this. Either I use the trusty Google, to search the net for people who have the answer, or I press buttons until it works…I decided to press buttons. The first couple of key combo’s did nothing… Then I found that control+alt+arrow brought up a small workspace changer in the middle of the screen and allowed me to see the workspace name, an outline of all the windows in the workspace, and allowed to me switch between them with a press of a button. After this, I tried using control+shift+alt+arrow, this did the same as before, except it didn’t bring up the graphic. Interestingly, it took the currently selected window, and moved that as I switched workspaces…Kinda handy I suppose…

How to save the British economy

How do we save our falling economy? Well, it would appear the answer has arisen in the popular BBC quiz show QI. On Friday 14th November 2008, QI did a Children in Need special. The topic was on the Eaurovision song contest, and how countries such as France complain about us, yet use our language to sing their songs. Ronni Ancona said (at somewhere around 19 minutes in), that we should tax other countries for using English.

What a ruddy good idea! Tax countries for using our language which we have shrived to create. Can you imagine how much America could owe us! The penalty to other countries would be “sod off then and create your own language, or steal someone else’s”, it may also allow us to imprison the youth of today for fowl mouthing out language, and we could filter texts etc to stop the annoying use of ‘text talk’.

A jolly good idea I think


Sun - Week Nineteen

After spending most of Sunday cooking meals for the following two weeks, I came in to find that it was fairly quiet. I spent Monday looking at some disk drives, in meetings and looking at gDoc. I also looked at the ticket with the Neptune card. I now needed to put two systems back to back, I corresponded with the engineer to book another system.

Tuesday morning we had a meeting with Paul and David to discuss how things were going, we have planned some more TOI’s about some of the finer points here and there. I picked up a ticket from an engineer in the Czech Republic, he was trying to install the latest Navada build on a V20Z, but he couldn’t…I have tried it also, but couldn’t get a lab box to install…Most strange… In the afternoon I had heard back about the back-to-back systems. They were at opposite ends of the lab, typical! I patched them through to each other and reported to the engineer what the configuration was complete.

Wednesday I looked at the Neptune ticket, the one I had hooked up two systems back-to-back the night before, the engineer claimed to not be able to see the connection. I went down to the lab only to find that someone had undone all my patching. Everything was gone. I hooked them back up and told the engineer what had happened. I also picked up two more tickets; one was to install a card in a T1, then hook it up to some storage, more patching across the lab! The other was to transfer a blade from a 6048 chassis, to a 6000 chassis and install some PCI fiber cards. I had to rename the system to make the blade work, after I had completed it I reported back to say it had been done.

Thursday morning started with the two tickets from yesterday requesting more facilities. The first one from yesterday wanted me to patch the T1 and storage through a brocade switch, this was simply some repatching which was nice and easy. The second ticket asked for some storage, the guy had booked an array, but it was only an expansion tray, so didn’t have fiber connectivity. After hunting around I found something a bit more suitable and hooked them up, patching the two machines together. James asked me to plug another port of e2big (our NFS server) into a black diamond switch, so I went down to the production cage to do that, it was fiddly as the cables run up near the roof, and being as short as I am, even the step ladder didn’t get me up high enough. I did it in the end, with some careful throwing of cables and retrieving them using a very long screwdriver… I spent the afternoon trying to create some LUNs for an engineer. For this I needed to add the storage controllers to a management suite, this turned out harder than it needed to be…Out M8000 had decided to use one of the IP addresses, so after half sorting this out (we gave the IP a false hostname and created a ticket for Steve to sort it out, then assigned a new IP to the controller), I re-registered the controller and started making pools and volumes…We shall see what the result is on Friday, as I can’t get connected to the host at the minute…

Friday morningI finally sorted out that storage. Then I focused on getting some more of gDoc done. After lunch I looked at all of our recycled machines for Paul, updated the sheets etc…


Aled popped online the other day and told me about Quidco.  It’s a system that somehow give you money back on purchases made online.  It will pay you back over a period of months, taking £5 every year as a subscription charge…

I’m gonna give it a go, will report back with results…

Sun - Week Eighteen

Monday was spent traveling back from Aber, I arrived back in Camberley at just past midnight

Tuesday was spent getting some storage trays set up for an engineer. It just comprised of setting up two trays really, there was thought about getting me to hook the systems up, but the engineer decided to do the rest himself. I spent a portion of the afternoon postbooking some systems in th 02 lab as they were appearing dead. I brought two of them back to life…One still needs my attention.

On Wednesday I completed two SunRay related tickets. One was to tear down a multi-head group, and another was to replace two DTU’s (DeskTop Unit) which had broken. They caused a peculiar problem which meant that the mouse froze. I replaced the two units with a couple of spare and still have the old ones sitting on my desk for me to test…I had to tear down the old multi-head group and make a new one:

utmhadm <..List of multi head groups..> su - utmhadm -d oldMultiHeadGroup utmhadm -a newMultiHeadGroup -g 2x1 -p primaryMAC -l primaryMAC,secondaryMAC ^D

Thursday was spent corresponding to an engineer who wanted an unspecified host linked up with unspecified storage. After making him book the various pieces of kit, I started setting up the infrastructure. Basically just using a fiber connection from a host (x4100) to a storage array (StorageTek 2540).

On Friday I set up a new KVM unit. A 1U tray which looks a bit like a laptop, cables come out of the back and you can hook them up to hosts to see whats coming out the vga port. I was also given a Neptune card by Paul to plug into a machine, along with the card came a ticket which involved just plugging the card in at this point…More next week I suppose…

One year on...

Well, it’s my second ‘one year’ celebration in a matter of days!

Today, I have been blogging for a year!  I first posted with: Leopard

Of course, this was back on blogger, I moved to Wordpress shortly after.

My second celebration was mine and Faye’s one year :D

Sun - Week Seventeen & week with Faye

I only spent one and a half days in work this week!  Monday was spent doing some work, while Tuesday morning was spent tying up loose ends and passing other people ongoing work.

I then travelled up to Aberystwyth.  I was delayed in getting to Wolverhampton by 20 minutes, so missed the train to Aber.  A two hour wait sitting by a vending machine so I could charge my phone and I was back on the train, arriving in Aber for about 11:40pm.  I met Mike and we went off to Downies where I met up with Faye, Ben and Lauren.

Wednesday marked one year for me and Faye, we didn;t do a great deal, we went to Morrisons for ice cream (Ben & Jerries only £1.80), and in the evening we went to the tapas restaurant just up the road from Downies.  It’s a lovely place, and the food is great.  We had some tapas (cured ham, chicken salad, meatballs, beef croquets and warm vegetables), and the some paella.

Thursday was spent doing not a lot, we rearranged Faye’s room, and went up to Mike’s in the evening to for TV, pizza and drinks :D Oh, and I did part of the CS101 lecture :D  I’ve blogged about it here: clicky

Friday we ran around looking for Halloween gear, then rushed up to Mike’s in the evening to get ready.  We then spent the evening at Rockey Horror at the union (Facebook photos are up I’m sorry to say).

Saturday was a quiet day.  We walked up the hill to get Faye’s car, well, we had to clean it first as someone had egged and floured it :(  After that the day was spent relaxing.

Sunday was, again, not spent doing a tonne.

Monday me and Faye spent the day together, wandering out into town and having a womble around Aber.  I left Aber at 5:30, only to get back to my Camberley house at 12:30.

It was a great week, I loved spending all that time with Faye :)

OpenSolaris & CS101

On Thursday 30th October, I attended the CS101 lecture in Aber uni.  I was there to give a brief talk about OpenSolaris, focusing on aspects like Zones, DTrace and ZFS.  I think it went OK, possibly pitched it a tad too high, and I missed out tonnes of stuff I wanted to put in, like the copy on write feature of ZFS…

If anyone attended that lecture and is reading this, please feel free email me any questions you might have about OpenSolaris.  If I can’t answer them, I can find an answer :)