Day-2 (The Macintosh Experiment)

Ok, Day 2.  The Mac is now under my desk where my PC used to be.

So far It’s been a mixed bag.  But part of that is kind of understandable.

I’m running an older G5, with the PPC970 chip in it.  (Only one of them 1.6Ghz, 800Mb FSB)

This means I’m already seeing some sluggishness.  Again, if I had a 1.6Ghz P4 I’d be seeing the same thing, so this is not actually a negative.

Look-and-feel wise I’m liking it.  Mostly because I’ve been running Ubuntu 10.10 with the Cairo-Dock for some time now on my Dell Adamo 13.  My gods it looks identicial.

So far, the cons –

1.  Not nearly enough USB ports, and my Best-Buy purchased Belkin 4+1 USB card causes the eternal hang at the blank blue screen.

2.  The case doesn’t have a place for a Media bay (IE Flash storage, camera cards, etc)  I have to use an external.  See point #1 about USB ports.

3.  Got a dual-port video card in it.  I was happy to see this.  One of the ports is something I’ve never seen before.  Guess I have to pay a visit to best-buy tomorrow.

4.  There are only two internal drive slots, and really nowhere else to mount an internal HD.  Whereas my Dell Precision690 had four, so I could put two fairly high-speed drives in for the boot partition and two slower 2TB drives in for data.  In the Mac, everything goes on the two, so unless I want to run everything over the network, I’m kinda stuck.

And while this isn’t strictly speaking a ‘con’ for the Macintosh, there is no copy of Office2k8 available on Technet…And Office/Mac 2k11 only works on the Intel platform, not PPC.

And the pros:

1.  It’s smooth.  The BSD Linux definitely has everything I’ve come to expect from a Linux distro, Once I found out where they hid the bash prompt, generated an SSH key and threw it into my authorized_keys directory on the CentOS servers I have running right now, I can get into and work on all of my systems.  (I haven’t found the RDP client yet, but I know it’s out there.)

2.  The smaller keyboard and in-line mouse that Apple is famous for leaves a lot more room on the desk for my usual clutter.

3.  It’s *QUIET*.   I can barely tell it’s running, while the P690’s do have some active cooling and so do make some noise, this thing is absolutely silent.

4.  Software compatibility seems OK.  And by that I mean other than Office 2k11, I haven’t found anything that won’t install even with the older hardware / OS.

Day 1

imageI’ve never actually owned a mac..

I guess right up until now.

It was a gift.  I didn’t buy one.  Had no memory or hard-drives but hell, those are cheap right?

Had no operating system….  Not as cheap but still easily doable.  (*WAY* cheaper than Windows – Score 1 for Apple)

I’m installing to an older PowerMac G5.  Single CPU, 4G of ram.   Not fancy but I’m also not spending $1,500 on this little experiment.  I also bought an actual Apple keyboard and mouse, simply becuase I figure if I’m going to experience it, I’m going to experience it right.  They’re cute, but Apple must be pretty proud of them, because I’ve never paid $50 for a wired mouse in my life.  (The “Magic Mouse” was $69 and I briefly considered it before realizing that this “free” mac has already cost me about $500 in parts)

Oh – The reason it was a giveaway?  Bad power supply.  Ebay fetched me a *NEW* one for $125 and while it, at first, seemed bigger than the place it was supposed to fit, once it was in it was pretty slick.

I’ve been called inflexibile in the past.  Someone who doesn’t bend from what he thinks he knows.  I’ve argued against Macs as being “Toys” and “Not ready for Business” and saying that I’m “Not ready to contribute to the Steve Jobs Buy-Me-A-New-Organ” fund.

Ok the last part is still true.  I don’t care for Steve Jobs, I think he’s way too much ego for one (allegedly) human being.

I’ve been a Windows person for a long time, MCSE certified (lapsed & I haven’t put it on my resume in years because it’s not the work I want)  though I will *ALWAYS* prefer some kind of Linux/Unix under the covers.  There is just so much more you can do with a Linux desktop without dropping a dime.  (My Dell runs Ubuntu 10.10)

So fate presented me with a gift of a Macintosh, I decided that I would spend 30 days using it as my primary computer, wherever possible, and see how I like it.  I’ll document it here, this being the place to document things like this.  If I still hate it at the end of 30 days, at least I’ll be able to sound like I know what I’m talking about when I blast people for the ‘toys’ they use.

(Next think you know I’ll be saying I support using tape as primary storage…) 

(No, that won’t be happening)

So far so good.  The thing is whisper quiet, which is a HUGE plus for me.  (It’s hard to have conference calls with a jet-engine sitting on your desk.  The Precision 690 I replaced my last desktop with is better, but still not perfect. (and throws a *LOT* of heat.)

It’s taken about an hour and a half to install the OS.  I’m attributing that to the single CPU and older system.  I’m sure the newer ones run faster.  If Apple wants to send me a free one I’ll be sure to comment on how fast it is. 😉

I’m replacing my desktop with this for one main reason.  My goal is to force myself to use it wherever possible.  I have my Dell running Linux and an HP running Win7 should it significantly impede my ability to work.

Gotta run, the install just finsihed. 🙂

Quick note…

It’s cold in this data center.

I went to stand behind the IBM XIV to stay warm.  I actually had to stand 5′ from the box to keep from being uncomfortably HOT.

Just an observation…

Security Quick Note

I think that every network security department operates under the following motto:

“If you can do you’re job, we’re not doing ours.”

The customer I’m with has instituted a massively long password scheme. Now I’m not going into details, because that would be telling and would give even the greenest of hackers enough to walk right in.

My point is this. If you make a password scheme overly complicated or tedious, what you’re going to find, and I say this as an absolute, that 20-40% of your users will WRITE THEIR PASSWORD DOWN AND PUT IT WITHIN REACH OF THEIR WORKSTATION.

Hello social engineering.

Dear QLogic…

Here’s a note.

If youre hardware has a driver that requires you compile it before use, and that can’t be easily upgraded.

Your hardware isn’t ready for prime-time.

It’s why I like Emulex. You plug it in and it works. You upgrade the driver with rpm and it works.

You used to have great stuff. Not so much any longer.

The Great Conversion… (Part1)

Tonight I have started the process of converting my own CX300 to a CX3-20c.  (yay!  upgrading from SERIOUSLY out-of-date hardware to MODERATELY out-of-date hardware, right?)

Why?  Because it’s there.  Since EMC doesn’t offer free training to sub-sub-sub-contractors such as myself, it falls to me to learn what I can where I can. 

Besides.  It’s fun.

So far it’s been pretty simple.  Printed out the 63 page guide from the Clariion Proceedure Generator, and was briefly intimidated by it before I realized that 80% of it is completely useless.

But, because I want the experience, I’m going through each step of it.

First thing I did was backed up the vault pack.  This particular CX300 has no data on it, so it was a simple process to swap the five vault drives on at a time.  Though in the interest of doing it gracefully, I did bind a 1G lun across the five drives so that I could use the proactive sparing to gracefully remove each drive.  (The option isn’t available unless you have a bound lun on the raid group)

Obviously I want to come out of this with a working CX300 as well as the CX3-20. 🙂  (And of course my fear is ending up with not one but TWO doorstops at the end of this process)

Ran CRC2.  Interesting application, might come in handy in the future, because  when it comes down to it, it gives you a LOT of information about your clariion that you don’t get from the GUI.

Luckily this is a situation where there isn’t anything i need to keep on the array.  One thing stands out though, I had to delete the little 1G lun I bound on the vault pack to get the CRC2 check to pass, because apparently a number of the system partitions need to expand.  (Life would have sucked if I didn’t have the ability to wipe the drives)

After deleting the 1G lun, CRC2 passed and all was good with the world.

Skipped the next 6 pages, which describe how to make room in the rack for the new equipment.


No rack in my basement anymore, I guess a desk will do.

Let’s just say rack-space really isn’t the issue here. 😉

So the only thing I wasn’t able to find was a copy of EMCRemote.  Though I have an older one from back in my EMC days, hopefully the protocols haven’t changed much.  <crosses fingers>

So Unisphere Service Manager (Formerly Navisphere Service TaskBar) is installed, and the first step is to install the target platform conversion-prep software.  A pretty straight-forward install.  Once this package is installed you’re comitted. (or should be)

I had a bit of a worry loading the conversion-image, SPB didn’t come back before USM timed out…which seems like something that might just happen in these older, slower devices, right? 

The ConversionPrep, ConversionImage, and most importantly, the new Utility partition all seem to have installed correctly, as with the HSConversionB package. 

Now sadly, there are no descriptions as to what each NDU does, though logically:

ConversionPrep handles the settings – one of the things that you verify after the ConversionPrep is loaded is that write-cache is disabled (which it always was because I don’t have a SPS cable for this model) and such.

ConversionImage and Utility Partition are pretty self-explanitory, the CX3 looks for things in different places, requires different drivers, etc. 

HSConversionB was the stumper.  HardwareSwap?  Any ideas?

Last step was to shut-down the array.  This will be my stopping point. 

Stay tuned, same bat-time, same bat-rss-feed.

Quick note…

Transitioning “dial-home” away from modem has got to be the crappiest idea there is.

When the network is down, remote support is down.

I’m sitting in a datacenter that was powered off this weekend (don’t ask) On recovering, one Symm failed to IML.

The network is still down.

I can’t even START troubleshooting the Symm until it’s back up.

Start of a craptastic weekend in my book.

Lesson Learned – keep the modems JUST IN CASE.

What’s this blog thing?

Oh….how I’ve neglected you.  But it’s been for good reason.

You see, the little nothing company that I quite literally started in my basement is growing up…  A few dozen customers and suddenly I’m finding that the electricity and heat problems in my basement were *NOT* going to tolerate a second tray of disks, let alone higher end vmware servers.

Customers?  Yeah.  Customers. 🙂  I host a few dozen websites for people for a nominal fee, provide off-site storage for a few local small-business customers who aren’t happy with the idea of keeping their backups in the same room with their servers, and the like.  It’s come a long way from running a webserver that I’d hand-out space on to friends from time to time.  Long and short, it’s starting to actually pay the bills (or at least a portion of them.)

So I’m moving.  Moved really, I moved everything to a “temporary” CX500 in my basement, and hauled the original CX500 and NS502G have moved to a colo site in Springfield, VA. 

Hello HopOne Internet Corp.   We’ve been together for barely a month and yet bits of you are already annoying the hell out of me.  Like trying to charge me $400 “setup fee” to plug a power-strip into a recepticle, or the fact that the 20a circuit you sold me was limited by the 15a circuit-breaker in the strip, you know, the little things.

But it’s working.  The hardware is up and running, and I started writing this post while the Celerra there was upgrading to 5.6.49 DART.

Also new to the mix is a pair of Dell PowerEdge 1950.  Not new by any stretch but dual, quad-core processors and 16GB of RAM/ea will make for a good pair of VMware servers.  The old servers?  On the block (See below)

So that’s it.  We keep evolving, slowly but surely.

As far as hardware goes, the 3 Gen-2 PowerEdge 1850 servers I used to run on are for sale if anyone is interested.  $450/each, including shipping via FedEx ground to anywhere FedEx ground will ship from here.  (Contental US)

These include

Dual 3.2Ghz Xeon Processors
*8* GB of ram.
PERC Raid (I think 4i or 5i)
Rapid Rails / Bezels
Dual Power Supplies
Dual 18G 15K rpm Drives.

Let me know if you’re interested.  They won’t run ESX4.1, and won’t virtualize a 64bit OS, but they’re great for lab / playtoys. 😉

Dear EMC…

I would have much less problem with you putting Americans out of work by shipping our valuable support jobs to India if you could at least do us one favor:

At least find people capable of actually providing support.  Your rep, Anshu Kitchloo, seems to have tremendous difficulty understanding basic sentence structure (let alone technology) and of responding to a question without having to run every line of web-chat through an interpreter would be a tremendous plus.

Only then will I stop cringing at the suggestion that I open up a ticket.

Love, Me.


I have seen the future of data storage and I weep for it.

A few random rants at 2am after a data migration didn’t go because I’m not willing to kill a backup process that has a hold of my mount-point.


Engineering seems to be a thing of the past.  We’ve graduated to the world of “that’s good enough for launch, we’ll fix the bugs in future releases” in spades.

I’m so tired of hearing people explain to me that a solution is “good enough” or compromising technically due to cost, when we all know that a badly engineered product will suck the life and profitability out of any company.

Most vendors, and EMC is included in this generalization, have taken to solving hardware engineering problems with software.  Enter the “appliance”.  Consumer grade hardware thrown in with crappy software designed in some third-world country without any thought to the long term failure rates on such combination.

Poor engineers make the mistake of assuming that an overly complex solution must be better than a simple one.  IBM GPFS, Sun Shared QFS, EMC Celerra MPFS are all examples of a psychotically overcomplicated solution to a very simple problem that can be solved with NFSv4 and a decent network back-end.

The more moving parts you throw at a problem, the more chances something stupid, or someone stupid, is going to foul up the mix.

And the more external vendors you buy your parts from the more your chances of having to deal with a problem that is of SOMEONE ELSE’s making, since you’ve given up control of your product and Quality is truly a thing of the past.  (You’ve also made your product *WAY* more expensive than it needs to be, because you’re not supporting the margin of everyone else between you and the supplier)

And if you buy the cheapest product to do a job, remember that it’s cheap for a reason.  IBM has been known to give up to 90% discounts on the XiV platform in order to compete with EMC.

90% – wow.  Reminds me of the usual assumption about guys and big trucks.

If you’ve got to give that much of a discount to convince people to buy your product, then it’s not much of a product now is it.