I’ve recently been using VMWare ESXi 5.5 in anger – with real VM’s rather than just testing shell commands. Plus it seems the last couple of versions of VirtualBox can no longer run ESXi as a guest.

Anyway, its soooo Windows-centric vendor-locked its unbelievable. I mean you can’t even load a bunch of ISO’s on a USB stick and put them in the back of the machine, you have to transfer them using the VSphere client over the network. I’ve not tried scp but I doubt that would work due to the cut-down SSH server and shell. Seems its not even called ESXi anymore, its VSphere Hypervisor or something.

Also there’s no way to find the physical network interface name/number/ID from the virtual nics! It seems VMWare assumes everyone is either using flat networks with no vlans/subnets or only use multiple interfaces for nic teaming/bonding; and have never needed to know which ethernet cable should go to which switchport and map to which network device in the VM.

The only good point is that the vmware-tools are now in some distro’s like RHEL so you don’t need to install kernel source, gcc and make to rebuild the kernel modules every time you do an upgrade.

There’s an annoying “feature” with the console – if you click on the console tab in VSphere it shows the console, but if you click the console icon, it then shows another one, and there doesn’t seem to be a way to disconnect the tab one and you get an annoying popup telling you there’s 2 connections all the time!

It still seems a bit flaky regarding screen resizing and networking, and the whole virtual switch thing is a mess as you end up having to define one switch per interface with only that interface in it if you want your guest to have multiple network cards. It seems more like a virtual router to me.

I’ve also installed a CentOS7 virtual machine, but don’t like it much, networking seems very buggy – especially the new interface naming conventions described here, and that NetworkManager doesn’t seem to track changes made with ifconfig. Systemd is a pain and I even found that rpcbind can’t be disabled using the systemdctl command, you have to symlink rpcbind.service and rpcbind.socket to /dev/null

I’ve just soldered the pins on my Arduino Pro Mini, and found its not well documented – probably because its not an official Arduino (its kind of based on the Arduino Mini) its a SparkFun board that’s been revised and cloned a lot. I finally figured out the pinout for uploading using a CP2102 – its RX-RX, TX-TX, GND-GND, 5V-VCC, DTR-DTR and don’t connect the reset pins or use resistors or capacitors as some sites say.

The Makefile for the 5V 16MHz ATmega328p board is:

BOARD_TAG    = pro5v328
include /usr/share/arduino/Arduino.mk

Rather annoyingly I’d soldered the rear analogue headers on before I realised that it wouldn’t fit breadboard anymore, so I’ve removed them again and may put right-angled headers on at some point. I much prefer the Nano or even Pro Micro.

I just compiled XBMC 14a4 from git and pretty much nothing seems to have changed from 13.2 other than the Kodi name. Had to disable the Google Test Framework to get it to build as its now enabled by default.

I also upgraded the blog to WordPress 4.0

Virtual Updates

I tried to install Solaris 10u6 in VirtualBox the other day, but whilst the install went OK, it never managed to boot – I even tried going back to using an IDE drive instead of SATA (which was the fix for 10u5 apparently) but that failed with the same problem – I think the virtual BIOS was not setting the disk ID’s consistently by the looks of the error message. I might try 10u5 later today.

M&D came over the other day and we watched Mamma Mia!, which was very good actually. Good music and very cleverly worked into the story.

Much better than Burn After Reading, which I’ve still not managed to finish watching after about four attempts. It seems to be the story of a failed spy whose memoirs are ransomed by a bungling personal trainer.

I also watched Taken, which was a very good action flick about a spy whose daughter is sold as a sex slave, and he has to rescue her.

I also noticed that Transporter 3 is out, hopefully that will be better than 2, although 1 was brilliant (and was also set around Nice, which was familiar).

Update: well I got Solaris 10u5 installed in VirtualBox, but GuestAdditions don’t work – they install and even appear to start as a service, but Xorg won’t start now! Also installing a newer kernel completely killed the install, so it would appear Sun’s xVM doesn’t like Sun’s Solaris.

Funnily enough, even though a five month old Solaris distribution doesn’t work, a beta version of Windows7 worked fine – screenshot. At the moment its a glorified Vista though, almost nothing new except IE 8 and what looks like a Windows port of gDesklets!

VMWare Server 1.0.8 was released, just a security fix now that 2.0 is the so-called “stable” branch. Installed without issue on Fedora7/2.6.23 kernel.

Update 2: turning off VT-X which switches Solaris into 32-Bit mode allowed me to install 10u6 as well as patch cluster and additions, however the additions don’t work very well. Screenshot

Amelia’s 1st Birthday

Yesterday was my niece’s first birthday. Everyone came over to my place and ate/drank way too much – it was like Xmas, especially as I’m having leftovers for lunch tomorrow! Amelia was very happy and not at all noisy, Jacques was having fun too.

Pip has some photos and I made a video – ripped using the Mac’s Firewire/iMovie and converted to DVD-quality MPEG on my new Linux box at astounding speed, it transcoded about 3Gb of DV to MPEG2 in 8mins.

I tried converting a VMWare install of Win2003 for use with VirtualBox. Well it didn’t work, I followed the various instructions I found for doing the same with XP – similar to how I used to convert physical machines to VMWare using Acronis True Image. Basically it never actually got to the login prompt – it just sat there at the loading banner. Bit of a shame as it means that even though I can clone a basic 2003 R2 SP2 install, I still have to install Visual Studio 6/2003/2005 multiple times to fully migrate my VM’s, similar to what I did with RHEL/Oracle.

As a testimony to the ridiculous power of my new Core2Quad, I played OpenArena on full graphics detail (which looks very nice) over the internet whilst Acronis was backing up the VM, and didn’t notice even a pause. As another test I converted some DivX’s to MPEG2 to allow them to be played on a regular DVD player. Well I had four instances of mencoder running at the same time, each using a core; and it still wasn’t really taxing the CPU – or getting hot; it was so fast that by the time I had typed the command on core4, core1 had finished transcoding!

Update: just watched The Happening, which was a pretty good disaster movie about a mysterious toxin that is causing people in New York to kill themselves. Certainly better than 20 Years After, which I have started to watch but turned off twice now, which seems like just another apocalypse movie.

Rsync oddities

I’m trying to sync my “useful software” directory on my desktop with my fileserver, and as there’s so much on there, doing it via NFS and drag’n’drop is a bit hit and miss, so I thought I’d try rsync’ing it.

When I tried using SSH as the transport I was getting strange “Corrupted MAC on input” errors, which nobody seems to know the cause of, its hinted at iffy hardware such as consumer-grade switches. Its nothing to do with MAC addresses, but actually SSH’s checksumming system. I thought it may be due to the VirtualBox bridging setup, so disabled br0 and went with plain old eth0, but that didn’t fix it.

I also tried enabling jumbo frames by issuing “ifconfig eth0 mtu 7200” to enable the RTL8169 chipset’s maximum frame size of 7K, which seems to work fine for NFS, but causes rsync to just sit there doing nothing at the “Receiving file list….” bit.

So I setup a basic rsync server on my desktop machine by creating an /etc/rsyncd.conf file and running rsync –daemon; this stops rsync using a remote shell (such as SSH/RSH) and forces it to use the rsync protocol instead.

Now everything seems to work fine – no SSH MAC issues, and its running up to twice as fast as SSH at about 40MB/s, jumbo frames still don’t work though and I still get a “failed verification” every now and then, although I guess that’s normal enough as I used to find that a lot when mirroring the Fedora Updates repository over the internet – at least it retries rather than giving up as SSH does. I also seem to get a few “permission denied” messages when it tries to transfer PDF files, which seems very odd.

Update: VirtualBox 2.0.2 is out, with many bugfixes, although to me it seems less stable than 2.0.0 as my Vista VM got hosed when I installed teh gest additions, although to be fair I did try to install ServicePack1 at the same time.

VMWare Server 1.0.7 is out too – just some security fixes though.

I watched Finding Amanda, which was a totally awful movie about a gambler who tries to get his hooker niece into rehab, although its him that needs the rehab.


Its been a while since my last post, so thought I’d put a few bits together.

I’ve watched Batman 2: The Dark Knight, which was OK, very dark, but overly long at 2.5+ hours. Anyone who has watched it will know what I mean when I say it should have finished at that point about half an hour earlier, before going off on the tangent.

I thought Iron Man was actually better, it was shorter that’s for sure; about a guy who creates an endoskeleton to escape capture, and goes on to try to save the world with it.

I also watched Get Smart, which was a comedy about an inept secret agent. Much better than Johnny English.

Finally I watched Alone In The Dark 2, which seemingly had nothing to do with the far superior first movie, except it turns out that the main character in both was the same person – you wouldn’t actually know this as the actors were of a completely different race!

I’ve taken the plunge and bought a new PC. I’ve selected the components to be a bit future-proof (well my Pentium4 has lasted a good four years and is still going strong) as it has a quad-core CPU which I’m going to overclock past 3GHz, 8Gb RAM and 1.25Tb of hard disk space!

Sun have just announced that they are almost ready to release their xVM Server product, which is a bare-metal hypervisor based on Xen, and in direct competition with VMWare ESXi, although it is opensource.

I might give xVM a try on my new PC when it arrives, as I think I’ll wait for Fedora10 (due mid November according to the schedule) before installing a longterm operating system – not worth configuring Fedora9 and then have to start again for 10. xVM seems much less Windows-exclusive than ESXi is, as its controlled by web interface that works on Firefox for Linux and Safari for MacOSX, and has a local console, not just RDP.

I just upgraded WordPress to the latest 2.6.2, the upgrade went much more smoothly than usual – just move the old one out of the way; copy wp-content, .htaccess and wp-config.php back over; upgrade some plugins and the database and away you go. The stylesheet modifications I made are still in place.