Upgrades Galore

I fitted my new SSD to my fileserver yesterday as it was a rainy Sunday afternoon. Oddly enough the new 2.5″-to-3.5″ drive rails I got don’t fit in a floppy bay – well they do but the screw holes won’t line up, so I fitted it in my one remaining hard disk bay.

Anyway I was surprised how quickly I replaced the Ubuntu 9.10 setup with Debian 6.0.3 without losing any functionality. I decided to stick to Squeeze+Backports as Wheezy like on my desktop machine is way too much maintenance for a fileserver – I can’t cope with the “apt-get upgrade” fear! 😉

Speaking of backports, to replace OpenOffice.org with LibreOffice, you need to run this and answer “yes” to the dependency questions:

apt-get -t squeeze-backports install libreoffice libreoffice-gtk

Anyway the main thing I was worrying about – the printer/scanner was truly plug’n’play – I turned it on to do some scanning and CUPS automatically configured the printer part, and SANE just worked. None of the Epkowa (iscan+pips) Epson proprietary crap required.

I encrypted the boot drive using LUKS+LVM so I only need to enter the passphrase once, that seemed a lot easier than when I installed Wheezy and did multiple partitions.

I copied across the fstab and /etc/exports and all the various disks mounted and shared over NFS to the Mac seamlessly. I literally rebuilt the fileserver in two hours! Plus now it is all encrypted I can use it as a backup desktop machine for work.

Next up was the Mac Mini, currently running Leopard 10.5.8, I decided for £21 I might as well upgrade to Lion 10.7.2 as I already have 2Gb RAM and a Core2Duo, and apparently the new version of Plex doesn’t work on 10.5

Luckily I had a Snow Leopard 10.6.8 install in a virtual machine, so I bought Lion via the App Store (basically iTunes) using that. Wow the App Store is crap – I had to sign in about 6 times, I guess they’ve not heard of sessions at Apple.

I then used these instructions to create a bootable USB disk to do a fresh install of Lion – all within VirtualBox.

I’m actually dual booting Leopard and Lion using these instructions. Shrinking the disk so I could add a partition in the free space took the longest, installation was about 25mins. I’m glad I did it actually as although Lion runs fine (except it doesn’t like etherwake) the latest Plex is rubbish, so I’m booting Leopard and Plex at the moment.

New Fileserver

M&D are back from their trip to Brighton and have brought my new fileserver components back with them.

The build went pretty well – almost as quick as KK’s Quad build. The main problem was swapping the SATA cables around to get the boot drive on /dev/sda, its a bit tight with all six SATA ports utilised! I put the Intel Retail Core2Quad HSF on instead of the smaller one that came with the Pentium Dual Core, well it fits and is just a bigger bit of aluminium, so why not? I cleaned off that thick grey thermal paste crap they bundle, and applied a thin coat of Artic Silver 5. The whole box would be silent if it wasn’t for the 120mm case fan I have in there, which is whining a bit, never noticed it before with the noisy HSF from the AthlonXP-M. The CPU is at 36c at the moment, pretty much idle, so I’ll have a go at overclocking soon, although the Intel BIOS looks a bit basic for that sort of thing.

I installed Linux last night only to find that Ubuntu 8.04.2 LTS with its 2.6.24 kernel doesn’t see the integrated ICH10 ethernet NIC, so I’ve now gone with the non-LTS 9.04 Desktop, which correctly loads the e1000e driver from its 2.6.28 kernel. Its no real problem as I’ll probably reinstall when 10.04 LTS comes along rather than upgrade to 9.10 in six months or whatever.

I managed to get iScan and PIPS working with a bit of tweaking (had to build a 32-Bit Jaunty VM to use alien on the RPM) although I can’t get ekpstm to work as it looks like getlibs doesn’t support Jaunty. I tested printing and scanning. NFSv4 is working and Compiz works out of the box with the integrated Intel graphics.

I’ve encrypted the two terrabyte drives and am now copying stuff across from the 500Gb’s, then I’ve got to get rsync, sudo, Samba, CUPS and so on configured.

I’m awaiting a new PSU for my ADSL modem as it seems to have died. I’ve had to knick M&D’s for now, so they’re without phone even, bloody pain, but luckily we live near enough to drive quickly and have mobiles. Its amazing that you really can’t do anything with Ubuntu without a broadband connection – even the SSH server is an optional extra not on the CD. Dunno why they don’t make a DVD with a load of packages on like Fedora etc.

Update: I got rsync, Samba, CUPS, sudoers, SSH and so on sorted and tested. I think GimpPrint (Gutenprint) may have had a driver for my Epson, but I went with the PIPS driver anyway. All my files are copied across and my backup regimen works (backup desktop to fileserver, fileserver to backup machine). It seems that you can no longer disable IPv6 as its not a kernel module but a core part of the kernel now, so I’ve changed all my services to only listen on IPv4, I guess I should configure ip6tables.

nmap v5.00 has been released as the new stable version, so I’ve downloaded and tried it out. There’s a few things that I’ve got to look into that may be useful, the OS detection and version scan seems to have come along a lot, as has scanning speed.

Epson 64-Bit drivers

I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t be able to use my Epson Stylus Photo RX425 printer with a 64-Bit Ubuntu 8.04 install, as Avasys/Epkowa haven’t written a 64-Bit version of PIPS. So the alternative was to install a 32-Bit Ubuntu or a distro like Fedora that includes both 32 and 64-Bit libraries in its 64-Bit installation.

Anyway, I think I’ve gotten around it with help from this forum post. I can’t really test it actually prints as I’m doing it in a Virtual Machine until I build my fileserver next week sometime, but it did at least start the ekpd daemon, ekpstm ink monitor and CUPS registered the printer.

Basically I built a 32-Bit PIPS .deb file on a 32-Bit VM, using alien to convert the RPM (oh did I mention they also don’t supply .deb files, only .rpm?!) using instructions here.

Next I installed the 32-Bit libraries into Ubuntu:

apt-get install ia32-libs lsb-core libgtk1.2
dpkg -i --force-architecture pips-sprx420-425-430s-cups_2.6.2-3_i386.deb

Next we install getlibs which is some kind of wrapper around apt-get that installs the 32-Bit libraries that ekpstm needs to work:

dpkg -i getlibs-all.deb
getlibs /usr/bin/ekpstm

Thankfully there’s an experimental 64-Bit Ubuntu 8.04 .deb package for iScan which is being actively developed here, so I’ll be able to get the scanner part working too, I did a test install and the Gimp plugin is certainly working (again, can’t test in a VM).

I watched Watchmen, which was an absolute waste of three hours of my life! The reviews seem to be an equal 50:50 split, you either love it (comicbook fanboys) or hate it (general public).

Disks and fileservers again

Pip has had major hard disk failure issues this week, which has prompted me to bite the bullet regarding larger hard disks and a better fileserver, rather than clinging to old hardware. So I’m going to order:

  • 2x 1Tb Samsung Spinpoint F1 SATA hard disks, they’ll be a bit noisey but they’re the fastest and cheaper than Seagate;
  • A Pentium Dual Core E5200 2.5GHz CPU, which is essentially the same chip as a Core2Duo E7200 with less cache, for a damn site less cash (see what I did there?) huge improvement over the 2.4GHz single core AthlonXP, apparently they overclock to over 3GHz on the stock cooler too!
  • An Intel motherboard, which has an onboard e1000 gigabit NIC not some Realtek rubbish, and 6x SATA2 connectors as well as onboard DVI+VGA graphics so no PCI-E graphics card required. The onboard gigabit and SATA300 should significantly speed things up without the PCI bus limitations and SATA150 controllers of my older hardware;
  • 4Gb RAM

I’ll bung the 2x500Gb and a 250Gb boot drive in there too, using the case, DVD burner and 520W PSU from the old fileserver. It’ll probably run Ubuntu 8.04.2 LTS Desktop.

Then my old Pentium4 desktop machine will become the backup machine (as well as second desktop/PVR box) with 4x250Gb and a 200Gb boot drive, pretty similar to its current config. That will get Fedora 11. Wish I hadn’t bought that eSATA PCI card for it now….

I was going to put a TV tuner, 2nd DVD-ROM and 2nd gigabit NIC in there, but I decided to keep the PCI bus clear and preserve some drive bay space. My AthlonXP fileserver just crashed again as I was playing some MP3’s at the same time as copying some stuff from DVD to hard disk, so I’ll be glad when its banished to the loft!

New fileserver

I’m thinking of moving my fileserver from CentOS 5.2 to something more up-to-date. Partially due to 5.3 being pretty late, but also because the NIC bonding seems to be flaky due to the old kernel I guess.

The main requirements that have to be met by a replacement distro are:

1. Must be able to run PIPS for my Epson Stylus Photo RX425;
2. Must be able to run iscan for above scanner, which also requires a graphical display (Xorg);
3. Must be able to run NFSv4;
4. Must be able to do NIC bonding;
5. Must be able to mount JFS drives;
6. Must be supported for free for longer than a year;
7. Must be reasonably up-to-date, i.e. kernel 2.6.24 or later.

I can’t use Ubuntu Server as it has no X11, I can’t use OpenSolaris as it won’t work with the printer/scanner, I can’t use Fedora10 as it’ll need updating in six months.

So far I think its down to Debian Lenny or Ubuntu 8.04.2 LTS Desktop edition.

I’ll probably setup my Pentium4 as a new fileserver in parallel with the existing AthlonXP fileserver for zero downtime.

I’ve already got iscan and PIPS working in an Ubuntu VM, I converted the Fedora RPM to a .deb file using alien, with instructions from here, screenshot.

I got NFSv4 I setup in the Ubuntu VM using instructions from here, which I wish I had when I was setting it up on CentOS as it would have saved me a lot of going through poor documentation.

Update: just got NIC bonding working on the Ubuntu VM using these instructions. If I disable eth0 in VirtualBox, my SSH session stays open using the bonded eth1. I also got rid of Avahi (zeroconf) and NetworkManager.

iptables is a bit different on Ubuntu to RedHat, there’s no automatic startup of your firewall rules! I got it working within the ifup scripts using instructions here.