A new design

I have redesigned my webshite, mostly because I got bored and didn’t like the old design…

You can still find it at: users.aber.a.uk/bil6

It has been tested using a number of browsers; each work OK, Opera and Safari for iPhone both have slight issues with the CSS…

Sun - Week Nine

So, two months on and we have moved from knowing nothing, to knowing a bit more about what we’re doing.

Monday started with panic, one of our SunRay servers had been upgraded, and now things didn’t work…Though we think it was an ITOPs issue, as we didn’t fix it…The server is question has been upgraded to a later version of Navada. The afternoon was littered with tickets and went very quickly.

Tuesday morning started with looking at some tickets I picked up last thing on Monday, I had an 880 to look at, this now requires me to test 32 ports on an etherlite, and then potentially label up said 32 ports and cables, then pull them so I can reset the etherlite (just resetting the etherlite with cables plugged in will send a break to all the attached machines). The afternoon was spent trying to get a v880 to work, it would appear that the RSC is flakey…Might be a case that it needs a new one, or it may be that the firmware is incompatible with something else…I also shifted a A5200, which was really heavy, to the overflow lab.

Wednesday morning was hectic; Liam and James were both out of the office, and there was a number of tickets on the queue. We all took a number each and set to work. My first job was to talk to Paul about some of the ticket details. Then I spent 20 minutes talking to Michael Clarke about a 25k problem, which turned out to be more of a problem with NIS+. I am to order in some new parts for an ultra 24 workstation as the one in question is overheating. I have just moved the Minnows to GMP02, and am waiting for a guy to come and see me about them…

Thursday came and went, with more tickets coming and going. More looking at machines that seem dead, and rebooting them. Faye came to see me for lunch :D After work, we went to the Dolphin for a pint, and we were all sad to hear that it will be closing shortly, the to a restaurant called ‘so asia’, this was all because Michael Clarke had come back for a day. We went to ‘The four horseshoes’ and won the pub quiz after arriving late.

Friday mornign started with a conversation with Paul on the bus! He had checked his car into a garage and had caught the bus. When we got into work Liam showed me how to kill off sunray sessions as he needed to use his main card and had a duff session trapped on it. I also looked at an old 65x which seemed to have a memory problem. Looking up some docs I managed to cure this. The machine is now running Solaris 10 update 4 quite happily. I also had a v240 which didn’t appear to be alive. After a reboot and fresh install, all is good. This afternoon I spent a lot of time finding a camera. The camera was so an engineer in Australia could see some LEDs on the box he had booked. I got my Sun Ray today, however, I’ve forgotten my PIN number! Silly me! :(

Sun - Week Eight

Now this week started off brilliantly, I mean who can argue with your boss telling you ‘it’s OK, take Monday off, and we’ll pay you!’ Of course, it was bank holiday Monday :wink:

Anyhoo, Tuesday started off with me clearing up some details in NIS+, some servers had gone but not been taken out and some things needed to be moved from one subnet to another. I still have a niggling problem with one v240, it’s SP still doesn’t respond to pings.. Tuesday afternoon saw the start of a new server being set up. I had to label up the box, evacuate disks and other devices inside the box, and then cable it up. Cabling the SP and the network wasn’t too bad, but there was no space left for the serial connection, too late in the day to be worrying about this, so off I went home.

Wednesday morning I started again on the server, after rejiggling the network, I fitted in a serial connection. Then I sorted out the ower to the machine, then it was off for configuration. This mainly went smoothly, until it came to the install. It would get so far then drop the serial connection. Using the ‘snoop’ command showed me that it was still installing, but I couldn’t see anything…After install, the serial was still blank :S

On Thursday I was asked to scan in new hard drives and PCI cards, this meant spending an hour or so battling with the scanner and finding out what barcodes meant what…I also sorted out my problem with the server and decided to give up on the problem with the v240, DW reckons it needs a new SP…After work we went to the pub to celebrate Robin and DW’s year at Sun, it is a shame to not see them again.

Friday we were on our own…Paul was on holiday, David Cole had just left for his…Just Steve, Tom, James, Liam and myself. I spent a lot of the day battling with an AMD system. But also helped a couple of people out with a few small problems.

After work, Mike came to see me :D We went to the all-you-can-eat Chinese at the end of Frimly road, then waddled home :P Saturday saw us waiting in for a plumber, and walking around town, we had lunch in Yates, a massive burger each and a free game of pool! For dinner, we trekked 3 miles to Farnborough along an A road, and eventually found ourselves a Pizza Hut :D Today, Sunday, Mike has gone back home…An early night and not too much to eat, me thinks…

Sun - Week Seven

More training this week.

We started the week looking at how Solaris interfaces with the network, then went on to look at some networking basics related to Solaris.

On Tuesday we looked at what Swap was and why and how we should use it and also the pros and cons of using it. We looked at managing crash and core dump files too. We spent the afternoon looking at NFS and AutoFS, these go hand in hand to make an NFS server and allows users to automatically mount filesystems on their client machines.

Wednesday began with us looking at RAID, specifically RAID 0,1 and 5, looking at how they worked and in what scenarios we would use them. We also looked at the Solaris Volume Manager software (formally Solstice DiskSuite prior to Solaris 9) to manage our volumes. The afternoon saw us studying the topic I was waiting for, the topic which is a buzzword all around Sun and throughout the UNIX communities: ZFS. ZFS is amazing, it really makes you see how simple volume management can be, and how easy it can be to grow, shrink and RAID volumes. It’s a truly marvellous topic to study.

Thursday saw us looking at RBAC. RBAC is a technology which allows you to create Profiles, these Profiles have permissions to do a defined amount of things. Profiles can be assigned to Roles, Roles are like users must be switched to using the su command, this allows you to give root privileges of a certain command to a Role, give the Role a password, then give the Role name and password to a specific user. This way, you could have another member of your admin team be responsible for shutting down a machine, but they still don’t have full root rights. You can also assign Profiles directly to a user account. We also looked at syslog, the daemon responsible for logging various events on the system. After lunch, we looked at naming services such as DNS and and briefly at LDAP, but we concentrated most on NIS. We set up one of our machines to be a NIS Master server, then another to be a Slave Server. We could then assign users to the NIS database, and log in from other clients machines. We looked at taking the Master offline and seeing the impact on the clients as they switch to the Slave.

On Friday, we concentrated solely on Zones. Zones allow you to run an instance of Solaris 8, Solaris 9 or Solaris 10 or even a couple of versions of Red Hat. It runs an instance of the OS, and acts like a separate OS, however, it doesn’t run on it’s own Kernel, it passes system calls to the main Solaris 10 Kernel to execute. This is a great method to not only sandbox systems, but to consolidate them too. Think about it; you have a separate server for your accountants, for your web server, and for your NIS server. But during the day, your web server isn’t particularly busy, and during the night your NIS server has no activity at all, your accounts server works during the day, and also at night, but doesn’t strain too much. Now, consolidate three boxes to one; less power consumption, less space taken, etc… Each of these servers now has it’s own zone, which will take up resources as it needs (load balancing), and will be isolated from the other zones. Each zone is it’s own system, with it’s own users, software etc. Some patches are centralised from the Global zone, and they apply through all the zones.

Sun - Week six

So, as you know from my other posts, I have been off to London and Aberystwyth this past week, so was only in work for Friday.

We had a busy day, I picked up a number of tickets, one was to set up three customer machines, which took longer than anticipated.  Robin had set up an area for customer machine which is great, I set up the three machines and hooked them up.  However, after looking at them, two out of the three console lines didn’t work.  After an hours trouble shooting, I still couldn’t get the last one to work, so I handed them over to the engineer looking after them and said to him that if anything needed doing, I was there. I also picked up a ticket regarding another server.  One of our German engineers wanted a specific server type.  We had one that he had booked, but he couldn’t get DHCP or networking to work, that would be because all our machines have static IPs, I reinstalled Solaris, and everything seemed fine, it net booted fine, I could ping servers and indeed google.com fine.  So what was the problem?  I dived in back to the ticket and discovered that he was installing Red Hat, so I went ahead and net booted using Red Hat, and here is the snag!  Red Hat wants to use DHCP to get some stuff during the install!  So I had to look up in the NIS hosts table, the machine and find what it’s given IP was ,I posted this back to the engineer and closed the ticket, I’ve not heard anything back just yet…

That was about it!  I got home, found the lights were still not working downstairs, so called Luffs and they said they would sort it, and I made home-made chips, steak and peas…Was nice :P

Sun - Week Five

So I have been working at sun for over a month now, and I’m still having a great time. I’ve decided I need to get “Networking for Dummies” to learn more about networking.

I’ve been really bad, I’m writing this in retrospect, and went to London the weekend after this week of work, so can’t directly remember what I got up to…

I remember I was doing some swapping of disks out of a disk array, and I almost brought the whole network down :D  Well, possibly just part of it.  I was to add some names to the NIS+ thingy, and thought I was doing it correctly, but actually assigned the machine name to the same IP as the default switch, so James quickly fixed this…At this point, I knew I needed to learn more about networking…

Sun -Week Four

Monday When I got into the office today, James had stolen Michael’s nice big monitor, and swapped it for a small 17”one. So, after claiming Michael’s desk, I set about looking for two CRT monitors that worked, both are about 20”, but do consume a lot of desk room. I had to set up two SunRay clients too, one to be a master and control one screen as well as the keyboard and mouse, and another to be the slave, controlling the second screen. I’ll try and get a picture tomorrow. In the middle of this, James gave us a TOI on servers, past and present, as well as giving us a good, general overview of the history of the SPARC processors. The afternoon came and we had our regular meeting, Steve, Tom and myself were asked to relabel some racks, and change the locations of the servers in the database if they had changed. My other task for the week is to localise some documentation given to new interns, I had mentioned it was difficult to follow as the American servers I hadn’t heard of, but if they had been localised, I might have understood the document a bit more, so I’ve got to do that somewhen…

Tuesday As promised, I have some pictures for you: Click on the photos for a bigger view :wink: This morning started with a developers meeting, just discussing some of the internal tools used by some of the departments, we spent a lot of time talking about JLT, and a lot less time on the other tools :P This afternoon was split up with Paul giving us a TOI on the service desk, how to respond well to requests, etc. He also used the time to see how we were getting on and for a chance for us to ask him any questions. After the meeting I gobbled up some tickets for post-bookings. Basically, this is where an engineer has booked a system, potentially modified the spec (more/less RAM, various PCI cards, storage etc.), networked it up with other machines, or in some other was had a play. It is then our job to return the machine to it’s original configuration, we always need to have various cards free, so we always need to keep the lab tidy. I spent a couple of hours finding the machine and clearing it, finishing up by putting Solaris 10, update 4 onto it. I have two more to do, so they will get done tomorrow, or by the end of the week. I finished up the day by pulling some hard drives for an engineer, then replacing them…

**Wednesday **The day started off with me finishing up a post booking, then melted into a TOI with Liam and James about how to book in systems and how to use the barcode. Lunch followed closely after the TOI, so not much got done. I spent the afternoon in Falcon, one of the meeting rooms, with DC. He was teaching us some of the more advanced features of JLT, this went on for a lengthy two hours! But we learnt one heck of a lot! The rest of the afternoon was spent post-booking a small server, the name of which escapes me…It was fairly old, and a SPARC system… In the evening I sat down and helped Steve with some databases. I don’t think I should have helped, in my dreams last night, the roads were like conveyer belts (really weird) and as I was walking somewhere I noticed Nigel Hardy bound and gagged just lying on this conveyer belt :? Never fear though, the travelling Sun bus came to his rescue, and me and the driver are going to communicate over ssh….I then woke up and was rather confused with myself…

Thursday After last night, today didn’t seem promising…It started with me finishing up the last of the post booking for that old system, just jump starting it and one or two minor things, then went over to the O2 lab with DW, we looked at a system who’s console wasn’t working, and with good reason too, the cable was out! We plugged it in and it didn’t work, so tested some other routes, it turned out that the etherlite port had died…We relocated the cable and it all worked, yey! :D Liam then pulled me over to help organise the installation of some stuff (leads and boards into a system). Then it was lunchtime. After lunch we went and plugged in more cables as well as did some labelling. After we had finished I started my final post-booking, clearing up a Netra T5220 (telecoms version). It proved a challenge as it used an iLOM, not something I have been trained on, but as I left the office I set it off to jumpstart with Solaris, and got the email confirmation when I got home that it had finished, so all is good :D .

Friday That old machine I was on about, it was a V210…Just remembered! This morning went slowly, I had nothing directly to do, apart from finishing up the post booking that finished last night. I booked out a Serengeti 6800 to have a play with, and to refresh what I learned last week…Then looked at a T2000. This afternoon I decided to rekindle some of my UNIX skills, I just edited my crontab file on the uni server, now my website permissions are checked every hour :D I will be looking at doing some more things like this in the comming weeks… After doing this, I set about looking for more tickets, one brought up a discussion with Liam about subnets, although good, I opted to go and buy ‘Networking for Dummies’. I got a ticket to post book a T2000 (just above the one I had booked out earlier), so spent some time booking in a fibre card and some hard drives. I also took some pictures :D One is of the ‘SPARC House’ sign, and the other two are of the moat…

etc -> private/etc

After delving into Solaris10 a couple of weeks ago, I thought I would explore the hidden regions of my Mac…It turns out that it has many of the same things as a typical UNIX/Linux system, but doesn’t seem to use them :?

For example, /etc, is not there! Its a symlink to /private/etc, which is most weird, and even weirder still, I had a look into fstab, but it’s not there! Well, it’s called fstab.hd, and here’s the contents: > IGNORE THIS FILE. This file does nothing, contains no useful data, and might go away in future releases. Do not depend on this file or its contents. How weird!

I’ve noticed this about OS X, it still has a lot of UNIX files in, but doesn’t tend to use them…

Off to the tip, I did go...

Last Saturday, after cleaning the house, I decided to pack up almost two weeks worth of recycling, put it into my camping rucksack, and take it off down to the local recycling centre/tip; here’s a picture of me:

Silly old bear

It’s been really hot here the last couple of days, and it has finally decided to rain! Hopefully we’ll see a slight drop in the humidity…

Anyhoo, it’s not pouring, per say, but I was reminded of our dear old friends Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin from the Hundred Acres Wood….”Tut tut, it looks like rain“ > The rain, rain, rain came down, down, down In rushing, rising riv’lets, ‘til the river crept out of it’s bed And crept right into Piglet’s! Poor Piglet, he was frightened, With quite a rightful fright. And so, in desperation A message he did write. He placed it in a bottle And it floated out of sight.

And the rain, rain, rain came down, down, down So Piglet started bailing. He was unaware, atop his chair, While bailing he was sailing!

And the rain, rain, rain came down, down, down And the flood rose up, up, upper. Pooh, too, was caught and so he thought, “I must rescue my supper!” Ten honey pots he rescued, Enough to see him through, But as he sopped up his supper, The river sopped up Pooh! And the water twirled and tossed him In a honey pot canoe! Anyhoo, it seems to be getting a little stronger now…Night.