Archive for the ‘ Hardware ’ Category

Life, serve-you.net, and everything else

It would seem a few months have passed since my last substantive post, so here we are again….

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Debian still sucks!

So my brilliant company signed another big debian customer. Lucky me gets to create images for this crap across 2 data centers, 3 hardware platforms, and 2 different versions of debian. Such BS. Of course the first server I try to build is complaining about the CDROM, cuz it’s virtual.

I H A T E D E B I A N

Updates to serve-you.net

I’ve been doing a lot of work on my hosting company over the past week. This weekend I decided that my shared hosting plans weren’t competitive enough anymore, so I jacked up all of the plans quite a bit. I also decided it’s time to start selling Virtual Private Server packages now, since the technology is rock solid. I’ve had one for several months now (this domain is actually hosted on it along with the rest of our personal domains), and it’s been awesome. It replaced a dedicated server, and the performance has been way better.

I love technology! I’m always amazed at how quickly things progress. When I started serve-you.net back in 2001, my biggest hosting plan was 500 MB of disk space. Now that’s my smallest plan. The fact that any monkey can setup a blog with a couple of clicks. Or even some more complex software. It just blows me away. I just wish I got rich off of it 😉

Off to the UK again…

It’s been a crazy past couple of weeks. I’ve been working ~12 hours a day trying to both get the UK shit straight, and make sure my group doesn’t completely self destruct. I am officially leaving tomorrow for my 2nd tour of duty in the UK. Once again, it almost didn’t happen. and quite honestly, had I not already made personal plans for the weekend, I would not be going until mid next week. The majority of my gear is still sitting in San Diego, so it’s doubtful that it will make it there until late in the week. My itinerary has me returning Friday morning, but it’s looking likely that I’ll have to stay a few days longer.

I’m so drained. I’m glad I have a couple of days to try and relax before the craziness resumes.

About time for a proper update

I realize that I haven’t updated recently so I thought it was about time. My apologies for the blast of worthless posts today. Stephanie finally convinced me to start using twitter, so I started using it when I arrived in London Friday, and just pushed all my updates to my blog.

So London! I got here on Friday morning, after not being sure if I was actually going this week up until the day before I left. I didn’t get any real sleep on the plane, which sucks cuz I was sure I would sleep since I got a premium economy seat (which is awesome BTW). So needless to say I became a bit of a zombie by mid day. I had some breakfast at the airport, while waiting for my coworker to arrive from Chicago. Once he got there, we took the tube to a station near our Data Center, and dragged our bags several blocks in the cold to it.

The Data Center sucks. Maybe I’m just spoiled from working in high class DC’s, but it really is a nightmare. We arrive to find out that they have been rejecting our packages because we put the DC’s name care of our company (which is how you usually do it), but they informed us that we weren’t directly a customer of theirs (we are essentially colocating in a large providers space), so we should be putting their name care of us. So he tells us that a shipment of about 12 boxes got sent back to UPS, and it’s likely they are on their way back to Holland if we don’t get in touch with them before the weekend starts. Whatever. We were fully expecting gear to be missing, since this process has been a total clusterfuck from the get go.

We finally get escorted to our cabinets, then go in search of the shipments that are actually there. We find several boxes of servers, and some switches sitting in a fire escape stairwell, that is pretty much open access in the facility. Our space is on the third floor of this building that was once a brewery or some shit. The design is HORRIBLE! There are all these little rooms that have either a few cages, or just a room alone with a bunch of racks with locks on them. There are security doors in between all of these suites. then there are these random stair cases that go down like 5 steps, turn around and go back up like 10. Then 2 more secured doors. So needless to say it was an adventure getting our gear in there. BUT, that was just the servers. We still had to go find a pair of cisco 6509-E switches, which anyone who’s ever seen/used em know are huge! So we find them in a sprinkler pipe room (are you starting to understand my hatred for this place yet?) with several more boxes.

We get this crap back up to our racks after 3 trips back and forth. As we’re putting all this stuff up there, the guard informs us that when we signed the house rules, we agreed to getting rid of all of our own trash. We say that’s not a problem, where’s the dumpster. He proceeds to tell us there is none, and we’re on our own. I go ballistic on this dude and ask him wtf I’m supposed to do with 60+ boxes and tons of Styrofoam and other padding. He tells me “unofficially” that if we come in on the weekend, we can sneak the trash down the alley and throw it in someone else’s dumpster! So after we got it all unpacked yesterday, that’s what we did.

Friday night, we went out with one of our coworkers who lives here, and her husband. We went to some little burger place. I had some fallafal, and it was pretty good. Then we went to a pub and had a couple of pints. They were cool, but by this time, both Pete and I were dead to the world, so we headed back to our hotel. I came in and brushed my teeth and stuff, and crashed HARD around midnight. 11 hours later I woke of to my phone buzzing!

So yesterday after I finally got moving around noon, I headed to the DC. We got almost everything unpacked, and racked. I got all my servers cabled up and labeled. Pete got all his network configs rolled out, but we found out that our fibre drop (the one going to Internap) was the wrong type of connector, so no intarwebz for us till Monday. I decided that I was not going in today, because I have jack shit to do without the intarwebz. So I’m going to take our coworker from India out sightseeing today. It’ss actually sunny out right now, which is a rarity here, let alone in the middle of their dreary ass winters.

XBMC = love!

I was reading some tech crap last week, and I came across this article about turning your old xbox into a media center. It reminded me that I had wanted to do this for some time, but never got around to it. I decided it would be a fun project, and it would be cool to have in time for the party, so I can stream mp3z from my server to my stereo. I didn’t really follow this guide, I just searched around for the things I wanted to do, and ended up with bits and pieces from everywhere.

Since the Action Replay is pretty much non-existent now, I opted to create my own USB adapter. To do this, I took a USB extender, and cut off the female end, then took an xbox controller and cut off the connector. I then stripped the cables on both, and twisted them together. My first attempt failed miserably, because I cut the controller cable too close to the adapter, so I didn’t have enough room to splice the wires together. So I had to go out and buy another used controller (I didn’t want to kill my other one). I also picked up a copy of Splinter Cell for like $1.50 (needed to “crash” the xbox). Then I took my trusty titanium cruzer USB stick and plugged it into my xbox.

Ghetto USB - XBOX Adapter

I decided to use the awesome Auto Installer Deluxe, to get everything setup on the xbox. Doing the softmod was stupid simple. Basically you grab a couple of “game saves” for Splinter Cell, and copy them to your xbox via the handy little USB adapter. Boot Splinter Cell up, and load one of the “saves”. Then you boot AID, and it has a nice graphical menu that walks you through installing what you want. I opted to use XBMC as my dashboard, cuz it’s just awesome. After a few minutes, I had a fully operational xbox media center.

I had no trouble connecting to my samba shares. So now I have mp3z, videos, and all kinds of other cool toys to play with, I even finally ordered another Harmony 880 to use in the living room (we’ve had one in our room for a couple years), since we have way too many remotes and devices. It makes me happy to put this thing to good use again, cuz it’s been collecting dust for over a year since I got my xbox 360.

Time flies when you work 10 – 12 hours a day

I seriously can’t believe it’s already mid September. I have been working a lot of crazy long days (more than usual) lately. It’s not that I’m required to do so, I just find myself still working at 6 or 7 PM most days. It’s a bug I have. I know that me working late doesn’t make the work go away, but for some reason I continue to do it.

Saturday, had coffee, did a little shopping, then came home and watched football on and off all day. Went out for chinese, then came home and forced myself to sit through the VT vs. LSU game. Sad, sad game. The only good that came of it was Glennon getting the boot, and Tryod getting to step in. There is hope VT fans!

On Sunday, we went out to Alexandria to see Tony & Dawn’s new house, then have dinner in Old Town at Austin Grill. Food was great, so was the company. We walked around Old Town a bit, and caught up. It’s been way too long since we’ve hung out. Definitely gonna try to make it a more regular thing.

Monday evening I decided to take off early (read: on time), went to Bungalow Billiards with Tony & Ivan for $1 Coronitas & pool. We had a good time, then came back to my place to watch the first half of the Monday Night Football game.

Still working on that stupid Debian build. After I got things working last week, I find out that now people want to have some input on how I deploy this. I’m like WTF? I asked the day that I heard about this deal, to get requirements. Not one fucking person spoke up with anything productive. 2 weeks later they want to talk about “standards”. So I have to start from scratch. On top of all this, I can’t even start builds until I get this massive re cabling project done in one of our Data Centers. I finally got the approval on the contracting quote, but of course the contractors are slammed this week. Might have to do a Saturday babysitting session. Once I get all the cabling done, I have to reconfigure & migrate 14 enclosure switches over to our other network. Fun stuff.

Friday night, is migration night for serve-you.net. I’m really not looking forward to it, but I’m ready to get it out of the way. Especially since I’m paying for both of these servers right now, which really isn’t cheap.

I love Red Hat

Yesterday afternoon I found out we signed yet another customer wanting a non-standard OS. These guys want Fedora. While it pissed me off that they once again dropped this on my plate, without consulting me first, I wasn’t too worried, as I knew I could make Fedora work with my current kickstart server easily. How easy? Within an hour of being told this customer was signed, I had the iso’s downloaded, extracted to my kickstart server, kickstart config built, and a working deployment to one of my blades! The only thing that didn’t work right off was the Proliant Support Pack, which is to be expected, since I think HP hard codes OS versions in the installer. It was a nice break from the Debian nonsense and a small victory of sorts for me.

As for Debian, I finally had a successful install on a blade this morning. I got the Proliant Support Pack .deb’s from HP installed, and I even got the Altiris agent installed. Believe it or not, the server actually checked into altiris, and I can manage it. This is huge! So I made an image of the server from altiris, and deployed it to another blade. Unfortunately there’s issues there that I need to figure out. But I’m pretty happy I finally got an successful install.

On a side note, while looking into the Fedaora PSP install failure, I figured out something that I’ve been looking for since April.

More reason that Debian sucks

So apparently I Debian sucks so much that it can’t recognize a SAS controller. I tried 3 different installers based on “etch”, none of which could properly “see” a hardware raid. Keeps giving me a drive error. So I run a Red Hat install, and of course it detects and installs perfectly. Do I really need to make driver disks to make this shit work? Seriously. This is 2007 (almost 2008). Driver disks are so 1990’s.

Fucking Debian!

Have I mentioned how much I hate Debian?

So we landed a fairly big customer. Said customer is all about Debian. It went down kind of like this

Sales: “Will you guys support 40 Debian servers?”
Us: “No!”
Sales: “Okay, we’ll need those by the end of September”

So of course not only am I the guy responsible for creating all Linux deployments, I’m one of the only people in the company that know anything about it. I’ve never been a fan of Debian. I’ve tried to like it, and it just never works out. Talk all the shit you want about Red Hat based distros, but there’s a reason they rule the corporate Linux marketplace.

So anyway, now I have to figure out a way to integrate Debian into my kickstart server, or create another deployment server using their lame ass FAI. And did I mention that said deployments will be happening on blades that HP completely does not support Debian on? Should be fun trying to find modules for this shit, let alone managing these servers after the install.