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.

Fecking Fedora

I made the mistake of trying the Yum Upgrade method of moving my rock-solid F13 install to F14 before they end-of-life’d it. Well that resulted in a machine that would constantly reboot at the “Loading operating system….” bit just before Grub. I couldn’t fix it no matter how many times I tried variations of “grub-install /dev/sda”.

So I decided I might as well bite the bullet and do a fresh install of Fedora 15. The first problem there was that my computer becomes very unreliable when I plug in the DVD drive (I really have to buy a new PSU) so I created a bootable USB installation using the UNetBootIn instructions. Well that took literally hours to write 3Gb to my flash drive on Ubuntu for some reason and then wouldn’t boot anyway, the fix was to type “/isolinux/vmlinuz initrd=/isolinux/initrd.img” at the boot: prompt.

So I merrily went and selected a smallish installation, not every package a I usually would do. Apparently this came to over 2000 packages! 4 hours later its still installing, then I notice the switch is blinking like crazy, guess what – despite unticking the “Use Fedora Updates repository” option, it seems to be downloading 2000+ RPM’s from the internet!

Anyway, eventually I’m booted and into Gnome3 – well what a screwup that is – I can’t even find where to configure the screensaver! The only thing I like about it is I don’t have to spend a day configuring compiz-fusion plugins as most of what I use is built-in and preconfigured now (like drag’n’drop windows between workspaces). Gnome-Shell I hate, what is it with having to search through a list of all your applications rather than just selecting from a menu?!

I found this site which at least tells you how to move the stupid clock and get the shutdown menu back again.

The SysV-init replacement “systemd” doesn’t integrate with any of the GUI tools for configuring services and doesn’t work with akmods so every kernel update is going to be fun with NVidia/VirualBox. I can see that becoming the next PulseAudio heathen.

For some reason NFS is all screwed up with Nautilus and won’t let a regular user unmount (although it will mount!) despite what /etc/fstab says. So I went back to autofs, which at least these days seems to cope with the remote server being offline. Then I noticed that USB drives won’t mount – turns out I can’t use /media for NFS mounts anymore, so have to create a specific /nfs directory now:


/nfs /etc/auto.nfs --timeout=3600 --ghost


data0 -fstype=nfs4,hard,intr,timeo=10,rw,rsize=32768,wsize=32768,noatime server:/data0
data1 -fstype=nfs4,hard,intr,timeo=10,rw,rsize=32768,wsize=32768,noatime server:/data1

So I’m pretty much back at a working system now, although I’m getting the odd hard-lockup like I was with F14 (despite removing USB/DVD devices) so I think I need a new PSU. Odd that F13 was fine.

Skype works, Firefox4 by default, Nessus’ F13 RPM works, VirtualBox has a new F15 RPM, I can rsync all my servers etc. I rebuilt my RPM’s for JtR, gSTM, gIP and knockd and I built VirtualBox4 and CyanogenMod7 using Sun JDK.

I noticed that even if you run “ssh-add” you still get a popup dialog box from gnome-seahorse-whatever asking for the passphrase. Apparently ssh-add is deprecated, and ssh-agent is fired up by the dialog now, so just enter the passphrase in there and it will cache it in the agent.

Nothing but Totem will play .FLV files for some reason – I think RPMFusion broke their MPlayer build or something.

Whenever I fire up QGit now I get some annoying warning:

An error occurred while executing command: git repo-config --get i18n.commitencoding
Git says: WARNING: git repo-config is deprecated in favor of git config.

One thing I noticed was that when restoring, BackInTime (root) sets all the directory modification times to now, although files get their original datestamp. Bit of a shame that, as it means sorting a directory listing my date is pretty ineffectual.

More NFS bugs

I upgraded my main desktop machine to Fedora 14 the other day and noticed that it hard crashes when transferring over about 300Mb of data over NFS. rsync and ssh are fine.

So I did a bit of searching and as usual there’s a shedload of Ubuntu users reporting the issue but none of them fixing it or raising it with the kernel devs instead of Canonical.

Anyway I tinkered with my /etc/fstab entries and it seems to either be down to the buffer size or async setting as now it seems to be working fine, and faster than before – odd as async and a larger buffer should speed things up!


vader:/data1  /media/data1  nfs4  noauto,rw,user,hard,intr,timeo=14,rsize=32768,wsize=32768,noatime  0 0


vader:/data1  /media/data1  nfs4  noauto,rw,user,hard,intr,timeo=600,rsize=65536,wsize=65536,noatime,async  0 0

Update: seems this is more of a bug with the r8169 driver at gigabit speeds as I’m getting hard lockups now when rsync’ing large files (doesn’t happen when using 100Mbps or r8168.ko)

Fedora 11

Well Fedora 11 was released to the European mirrors yesterday and I had DVD+R in hand ready to upgrade my backup machine.

I had to reinstall soon afterwards as the Nvidia drivers and/or compiz-fusion borked my display, so for now I’m sticking to the slow Nouveau drivers and no desktop effects, although Plymouth works. I might ghost boot the drive and then try the beta Nvidia drivers.

My JFS partitions (drives) had some weird issue after the reinstall, I couldn’t mount them anymore until I ran fsck on them, I guess I had rebooted without unmounting them, or they hadn’t written their journal or something. Mind you, the ext4 boot drive says “Partition 1 does not end on cylinder boundary.” so could be filesystem issues with F11, glad this is only a backup machine at the moment!

I found that you can no longer blacklist the ipv6 module as some part of NFSv4 depends on it – and you get some silly “cannot allocate memory” error if you try to mount a v4 server (not v3). This is new from F10.

F11 does seem to have solved the NFS+Nautilus problems I was having, although that could be due to using the onboard e1000 NIC instead of the PCI r8169. Also the e1000 doesn’t hard lock the machine under heavy load anymore, guess that was a Fedora7 bug.

My existing fileserver is acting up – wonder if its boot drive is dying, as even root doesn’t seem able to write to /media anymore – so I can’t create the NFS mount points, again some silly “No such file or directory error”. There’s nothing on the boot drive that I need, and I’m rsync’ing the data to the backup machine now.

Update: it seems that the e1000 is crashing when transferring large files, so I’ve had to replace it with a PCI r8169, which is running slower but stable. I hope its just an issue with the motherboard, and not an e1000 issue in general, as the new fileserver has an e1000 onboard, although Marvell PCI-e gigabit NICs can be had for under a tenner, then again the fileserver will be getting Ubuntu 8.04.2 LTS Desktop anyway, not Fedora/CentOS.

I’ve finished rsync’ing my virtual machines, documents, software etc; and have two of the 250Gb drives free, so room for backing up some of the other stuff on the fileserver.

Turns out no Acronis product supports ghosting ext4 drives (other than DD-esque, sector-by-sector).

The problem with not being able to write to /media was due to autofs being enabled, so disable that and you can create NFS mounts as required. Dunno what turned that back on though…..

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.