February 2007 Archives

Zen asset inventory

We're in the process of rolling out Zen Asset Inventory 7.5. It's going OK, about 600 workstations imported so far. The Collection Server is a 4 proc box, and was quite busy this morning. Once all 2000-odd workstations get in, it's going to be busy a lot more often. We're most likely getting a new server for that role at some point. This is the only CPU-bound product I've seen in a while! Pretty much everything else we run is I/O bound in some way. Kinda nifty.

Which also means that this is not a very virtualization-friendly product. This'll be running bare-iron, thank you.

Novell Open Audio: Zen for Vista

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Novell Open Audio (podcasts) had a session on Zen and Vista. Here are the main points I got out of it.
  • DLU on Vista will work within the Novell client
    • 32 & 64bit
    • Will use the Common Authentication Service to tie into auth.
  • Client will still allow 'admin' level access for installing software while user remains general.
  • NAL window & on desktop still supported
  • Will have native MSI support only, and getting rid of 'snapshot' methods.
    • MSI is defacto standard, and all Vista software comes via MSI
    • MSI packaging products still in Zen
    • Conversion tools to migrate snapshot Apps to MSI Apps
    • Simple changes (reg keys, short cuts, file edits) still there, just no AXT support
  • Vista by necessity introduces a very different Zen architecture. Still WinXP/2K compatible, though.
  • Can run as a separate environment from Zen 7. This facilitates migration.
  • Separate directory store for Zen stuff. Uses eDir for associations and the like. Application Object storage will be outside of eDir.
  • Brainshare: Wednesday keynote will be big Zen demo.
There you are.

Brainshare scheduler is up

The session scheduler is up. I didn't get into the ATT class I wanted because it conflicted with too many OTHER high priority sessions. Overall, it is looking quite interesting this year. Of course, it always does.

Of the sessions I'm seeing that have wait-lists, most of them are Zen related.

TUT212 -- Novell Storage Services NetWare hound that I am, this is an update on NSS
TUT205 -- Dynamic Storage Technology: Reducing the Cost of Storage ShadowVolumes be here.
TUT211 -- NetWare Virtualization The future of NetWare, of COURSE I'm going.
TUT117 -- Migrating File and Print Services to Linux the Novell Way If I'm staying with OES, I'll need this stuff.
IO101 -- Open Enterprise Server 2 Introduction, Overview and Futures Need my intro to OES2. I know some of it, this should fill in the edges.
TUT324 -- Everything You Wanted to Know About Virtualization Virtualization Virtualization
BOF120 -- Discussion: All Things Samba A Birds-of-a-feather discussion. I'll be interesting to see how others are using it.

BUS320 -- Business Continuity Clustering Deployments This looks to be BCC in abstract, not Novell's BCC. Could be good.
TUT204 -- Configuring Samba on Open Enterprise Server I'll need to know this.

TUT222 -- MYTHBUSTERS - OpenSource Media Centers: You Don't Need Windows Anymore! Not exactly work-related.
TUT202 -- Migrating a NetWare Cluster to an Open Enterprise Server Linux Cluster I'll be doing this sometime.
TUT104 -- Choosing the Right File System for Open Enterprise Server I'll be doing this sometime. I hope.
TUT210 -- Open Enterprise Server: An Architectural Overview I'm pretty up on this one, may skip it.
TUT341 -- ZENworks: “Pulsarâ€ and the Vista Lifecycle 1/2 the reason I'm here.

TUT215 -- Data Protection Solutions on Linux Backup options. Need this stuff.
TUT246 -- ZENworks: Design and Best Practice 1/2 the reason I'm here.

TUT106 -- Distributed File Services DFS in OES-Lin? Tell me more...
TUT302 -- Dispelling NetWare Memory Management Myths Look! A NetWare session! I have trouble with this. I'm SOOOO there.

Myweb and KML files

I had a call today about getting some google earth extension working correctly from MyWeb. Not a big deal. I gather there is some hot feelings about this, but I'm at at least two removes from where said feelings are. The long and short of it is that .KML files hosted on MyWeb were not rendering correctly because our web-server wasn't configured for that particular mime-type. The fix is as simple as the linked document says. Add those two lines to the MyWeb config file, and done. Or just add the lines to the "mime.types" file.

application/vnd.google-earth.kmz+xml kml
application/vnd.google-earth.kmz kmz
Again, not a big thing.

Point of fact, end-users can add non-supported mime-types to their own myweb directories by creating what Apache calls a ".htaccess file". Because Windows Explorer will not create a file that starts with a dot, I've set things up so the following three file-names can be used for the same thing. This is a file that goes into the directory being served:


Create an "ht.acl" file, and add the two suggested lines to it:

AddType application/vnd.google-earth.kml+xml .kml
AddType application/vnd.google-earth.kmz .kmz

And TADA! Your KML file works, and I didn't have to do anything. Clearly a system-wide approach is preferred, but this would get an obscure app to work.

I have a directory off of my own myweb directory that I use for "emailing" large attachments. I put the file into that directory, and mail a link to it. Useful for things like 50MB files. Or, on one occasion, a 724MB NetWare service-pack.This is the contents of that ht.acl file:
deny from all
allow from
Which means, no off-campus access. Which is good, since I don't want that directory craweld by google and indexed ;). If I ever mail large files to any of the ResTek folk, I'll add their 'net into the list.

Parking near my job

There is a seeming disconnect between the stated goals of the campus, reduce car use, and the policies of our Parking people. One factor of this is that due to state law, our parking and transportation division is 100% self funded; it gets nothing from the general fund. In order to support any parking or transportation services, the department has to generate funding for 100% of the expenses. Funding through parking fees and fines.

Also, like all campuses our size there is a parking shortage. Parking structures (a.k.a. ramps) cost eye crossing amounts of money to construct and maintain, which is why we don't have one yet. There are some vague plans to build one, but getting the funding for it (see above) is proving quite problematical.

The disconnect I see comes with car-pooling. I car-pool to work with my wife. She doesn't work anywhere near here, so she drives on to her own job. No biggie. Doing this has saved about 40% of the miles we'd incur if we took two cars. Good stuff.

The problem comes with who drives whom to work. Happily, I work mostly off campus, which you can see on this handy map, look for "32G" in the bottom right corner. This means that there are on-street options for parking that are free, which is a heck of a lot cheaper than the $314/year rate for parking to park in lot 32G. I can walk that extra 130 meters, thank you. So for me, the question of who is doing the driving and ultimate parking isn't a big deal.

This isn't the case for the old location of our office, in Bond Hall (building 21 on the parking map (bigger copy)). For someone of my seniority, that's a good half mile (.8km) walk from the parking lot I could get into. Lot 8G behind Old Main requires a seniority of at least 20 years service before you can even hope to get into it.

Parking Services does offer a 'car pool' rate, but it only applies to multiple employees carpooling. It wouldn't apply to me and my wife. They also offer a 'commuter pack' on a quarterly basis of 10 parking passes, which comes to one a week.

My wife only works four days a week, so I drive in once a week. If I were in Bond Hall, I'd have that commuter pack to get me through and not have any fall-back in case she calls in sick and I have to drive myself. WWU is not designed for part-time carpooling. It's either all (you never park here) or nothing (you always park here). Small wonder they're having a hard time convincing people to 'reduce trips'.

Me? I'm happy where I am. The people who moved with the office to the new site still grumble, quietly, about liking it better on campus. But I don't. It would be quite difficult for me to arrange a carpool with my wife the way I have if I worked on campus. Yes, we'd be a lot closer to everyone we know and e-mail. However, we wouldn't be next to a Haggens (local large grocery store), a RiteAid, and a UPS Store (handy for ARS packages).

Novell, Microsoft, and Xen

Novell put out a press release today.

It turns out that Intel has worked out some drivers for use by Windows inside a Xen paravirtualized container. This is distinct from the 'full virtualization' possible only in conjunction with things like the Intel VT instructions. I expected this to maybe be ready in time for SLES10 SP1, if we were lucky.

This is of great interest to me. I'm running windows on Xen right now, in full mode. Network performance is decidedly poor, though the rest of it works reasonably well. I'd like to run it paravirtualized if at all possible as that runs faster. Unfortunately, the drivers mentioned in the PR aren't generally available.

NetStorage and gnome davs::

I just figured out how to get NetStorage to work with openSUSE 10.2! You have to set NetStorage to 'cookieless mode'. Now I have access to my NetWare hosted volumes from openSUSE! It'd be better if I could direct mount them, much more efficient transfer protocols, but this will do until Novell releases the next Client for Linux with SLED10 sp1.

DST & NetWare

DST on NetWare itself is simplicity. Two lines in the Autoexec.NCF file. However, NetWare has been shipping with Java for some time now and that doesn't use the local server's time. So, time to update your java!

Novell has posted two patches to address JVM on NetWare:
JVM-1.4.2_13 for NW6.5
Timezone Updater for NW6.0 and NW5.1
Both update files reflect Novell's new linuxy naming scheme for patches. The first one is 'novpatch3880', the second one is 'novpatch3864'. So when you save the file locally, you'll probably want to rename them to something useful. In olden days the first would probably be named 'jvm142sp6a' or somesuch.
Remember that benchmark series I did back in August and September? We'll we're finally planning on deploying on that hardware. We spent a good chunk of this afternoon trying to figure out how to carve the MSA into pieces. Turns out, it won't be as easy as we thought.

Or more specifically, it'll be very easy. We just won't have enough space to do meaningful backup-to-disk. Its primary role as the disaster recovery copy of the EVA will take up 85% of the available disk-space on the MSA. That leaves 15% of the space to work in VM OS volumes and the B2D stuff. Not much left for the backup-to-disk part of this project, which was billed as a significant part back in June. Oops. We'll be on tape for a while yet.

Happily, we can add storage cabinets to this device no problem. Except funding of course, but that almost goes without saying. We'll have to kick the tree and see if any money falls out of it, otherwise we're waiting until our fiscal year begins (July) to do any B2D stuff.

It's official...

...Microsoft is a Platinum sponsor of Brainshare.

Never thought I'd live to see the day, but here it is. Thing is? They're right in front, right next to the GWAVA booth.

I STILL wouldn't want to be a boothie assigned to that booth. No way, no how. Talk about a hostile audience. 10 years of hatred doesn't magically go away once the business partnership is set up.

Novell Vista client POSTED

Technology Preview, very beta. But IT IS THERE!



Updated interests

Session sign-up starts President's day, and may be open earlier like last year. This is a bit of a pain since we get President's day off, so I have to remember to do Brainshare signup when at home. But, Novell keeps posting more sessions in the Catalog, and I keep looking at them and prioritizing them. I now have 27 sessions I'm interested in, and 14 rated 'Medium' or 'High' priority. This means that I'll be getting into very few of my 'Low' priority sessions, all things considered. In rough order of priority.

Those links aren't live, unfortunately. I haven't found a way to make'em live.

TUT202 Migrating a NetWare Cluster to an Open Enterprise Server Linux Cluster Technical Tutorial
TUT211 NetWare Virtualization Technical Tutorial
TUT326 Virtual Machines and Storage Foundation Technical Tutorial
TUT212 Novell Storage Services Technical Tutorial
TUT205 Dynamic Storage Technology: Reducing the Cost of Storage Technical Tutorial
IO101 Open Enterprise Server 2 Introduction, Overview and Futures Introductory/Overview
TUT101 Open Source Stack vs Open Enterprise Server (OES) Technical Tutorial
TUT204 Configuring Samba on Open Enterprise Server Technical Tutorial
TUT210 Open Enterprise Server: An Architectural Overview Technical Tutorial
TUT222 MYTHBUSTERS - OpenSource Media Centers: You Don't Need Windows Anymore! Technical Tutorial
TUT302 NetWare Memory Management Technical Tutorial
TUT324 Everything You Wanted to Know About Virtualization Technical Tutorial
TUT341 ZENworks: “Pulsar” and the Vista Lifecycle Technical Tutorial
ATT321 Configuring Virtual Machines with XEN Advanced Technical Training
TUT246 ZENworks: Design and Best Practice Technical Tutorial
TUT247 ZENworks: Designing “Pulsar” to Scale to Your Environment Technical Tutorial
TUT104 Choosing the Right File System for Open Enterprise Server Technical Tutorial
TUT129 Troubleshooting a SUSE Linux Enterprise 10 System Technical Tutorial
BOF120 Discussion: All Things Samba Birds of a Feather
BOF100 Discussion: Interoperability with Microsoft Windows and Active Directory Birds of a Feather
TUT215 Data Protection Solutions on Linux Technical Tutorial
TUT218 Learning to Live With Microsoft Without Turning Blue Technical Tutorial
TUT106 Distributed File Services Technical Tutorial
IO106 Novell Teaming + Conferencing: Better Collaboration For All Introductory/Overview
IO124 Using and Understanding Novell Customer Center Introductory/Overview
TUT117 Migrating File and Print Services to Linux the Novell Way Technical Tutorial
TUT140 ZENworks: “Pulsar” Installation and Deployment Technical Tutorial

Brainshare crystal ball

I'm sure I'll make more posts like these as we get closer to the week, but here is my stab at the hot topics of Brainshare 2007.

Top tech topics:
  • Zen Pulsar
  • OES2
  • SLES10/SLED10 sp1
  • Vista Compatibility
Top attendee gripe points (i.e. questions that'll be asked that are contrary to Novell's desired Brainshare spin):
  • Novell/Microsoft deal (I do not want to be the booth staff for the MS booth at Brainshare, they should get hazard pay. When mentioned during a Keynote, there will be booing).
  • Where is the NetWare (a theme continued from previous years).
  • Will it run on NetWare (lots of new stuff this year, and all of it runs on not-NetWare, see previous gripe).
There are some other topics that'll be covered a lot but are more evolutionary rather than Big! New! Things!
  • 64-bit everything.
  • Virtualization
    • 10sp1 introduces a newer Xen setup, but still no supported Windows VMs that I've heard.
  • Groupwise 7
  • Identity Management
  • Even More Open Source
Brainshare attendees have proven in the past that they're capable of booing keynotes speakers. I don't care that WalMart made Microsoft give them Linux certificates (heh heh heh, okay maybe I do), but that isn't enough to make the rank-n-file attendee keep mum when the compact is brought up. There is still bad blood over the killing of NetWare, so expect unpleasantness there as well.

What am I looking forward to? See the list of top topics, except for possibly 10sp1 all of those are ones I'm going to be looking into in some detail. Will I be taunting the Microsoft boothies? No, I have more respect for them than that. I do expect to be embarrassed by my fellow attendees at several points, but I'm still looking forward to a very informative Brainshare this year.

Depressing stock spams

In the course of dealing with the new antispam appliances, I've had to look at a lot of spam. Wowzers, a lot of spam. Most of them are stock scams, which jives with the industry conventional wisdom about spam these day. On a lark, I dropped some of the symbols into CNN Money to see what suckers had fallen for the scams. Too many.

Drop 'PSUD' into your favorite stock tracker, and look at the 10 day report. I saw the mails arrive mid Monday, which is after the buy-up. Two days ago, trading volume was about 4x what it normally got. As of today, the price is still above what it was two weeks ago.

'AFML' had activity two days ago. Their chart shows a clear bump a few weeks ago where the stock was abused. The volume average is well above yesterday's volume, so this is another victim of pump-n-dump.

'QCPC' in a message from yesterday, has today's volume about 2.5x their volume average, another clear sign of pumping. They have been a victim of this scan several times over the last two months. Perhaps the scammers are trying to make back money lost?

Depressing statistics, none the less. Unlike other scams, this is something you can actually see happen from your desk. You only hear about victims of the Nigerian scams in the news, or if you're unlucky through the grapevine. Stocks are tracked WIDELY, so you can see them rise and fall.

Community filters

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The admin of the student email system related a tale the other day that I found interesting. They use dspam for their anti-spam needs, and it has a Bayesian filter. It also has some other features which have, as I said, interesting side-effects.

There is a local independent movie theater that sends out a newsletter. Some students have plonked the newsletter into Spam rather than unsubscribe.

The dspam system is configured so that if enough students mark a specific sender as spam, then that sender is blacklisted system wide.

You can see where this is going? I thought so. Enough students have reported this independent movie theater's newsletter as spam that the whole system now blocks it, and we're getting reports of 'false positive!'