Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Updated NVIDIA drivers

For those not constantly checking, NVIDIA have released updated Solaris drivers.

(OK, so it was a few days ago, but I had missed it.)


Went along to the LOSUG meeting last night. Good to meet up with everyone again.

Mulled wine; nibbles; good talks; even the occasional mince pie finally made an appearance.

The lightning talks part worked pretty well.

Even managed a quick pint before having to leg it for the train home.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Domino Backup

One of the problems I'm working on at the moment is online backup of a Lotus Domino server running on Solaris.

Nothing too complicated, right? Just whip out your favourite backup solution , install the domino module, and you're good to go. Right? Wrong!

I've tried Legato Networker, which I've used for regular backups without any problems for the best part of a decade. Works on a trivial test, fails completely on the real thing. I've tried Backup Express from Syncsort (used by our PC systems) and haven't yet managed to persuade it to recognise that I've got a domino server installed.

I stumbled across BakBone, who make something called NetVault. I had never heard of it, but first impressions from the web site were good, and I was able to get an eval copy off their download site straight away. Installed pretty easily, and it wasn't too hard to work out how to drive it, so it's currently doing a test backup. (Performance isn't too bad, especially considering I've set it up to save to a disk based virtual library on the same disk array that the Domino server lives on.)

The real test, of course, is to wipe the Domino server out completely and see what happens if you restore it. More on that phase as it happens.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

[ID 335743 kern.notice] BAD TRAP:


As you may recall, I've been playing with apache httpd 2.2.0.

I was also looking at Derek Crudgington's comparison of Apache and Sun Webserver. So I decided to just test out Apache 1.3.34 against 2.2.0, and also going through to tomcat which was generating dynamic pages from mysql.

To cut a long story short, testing Apache 2.2.0 paniced my machine. I wasn't able to do too much damage with 1.3.34, but under stress 2.2.0 became rather sluggish, and then it and the whole machine became completely unresponsive.

Of course, it's not apache's fault. It shouldn't be capable of taking the box out. This is definitely something in Solaris that's gone awry.

A quick search of sunsolve didn't show a match, but for the enthusiast here's the (trimmed) message:

Dec 6 11:32:28 ratbert genunix: fffffe8001773b80 unix:die+da (fffffe8001773c20, 1fb955d3a)
Dec 6 11:32:28 ratbert genunix: fffffe8001773c60 unix:trap+5ea ()
Dec 6 11:32:28 ratbert genunix: fffffe8001773c70 unix:cmntrap+11b ()
Dec 6 11:32:28 ratbert genunix: fffffe8001773d70 genunix:list_remove+b ()
Dec 6 11:32:28 ratbert genunix: fffffe8001773da0 genunix:port_remove_done_event+4b ()
Dec 6 11:32:28 ratbert genunix: fffffe8001773e10 portfs:port_associate_fd+2b8 ()
Dec 6 11:32:28 ratbert genunix: fffffe8001773ec0 portfs:portfs+303 ()
Dec 6 11:32:28 ratbert genunix: fffffe8001773ed0 portfs:portfs32+24 ()

Simple presentations

One of the things almost everyone has to do sooner or later is make presentations. And while some people can just stand up for a few minutes and hold an audience's attention, most of us need some sort of visual aids.

Personally, good old fashioned overhead foils work fine. But we're in the 21st century, and it's almost impossible to find an overhead projector.

So the general solution appears to be powerpoint or something similar. I've been using StarOffice Impress for a few years now. It sort of works, but it's a very clunky way of doing things.

Yesterday I came across Eric Meyer's S5, a simple but phenomenally powerful slide show system. Using a combination of XHTML and CSS you can easily and quickly put a simple presentation together. If you can edit basic html, you can put together a presentation. (And using superior content creation tools like emacs or vi, at that.)

As a very trivial example, I've put together a presentation on JKstat.

Monday, December 05, 2005

New Apache

Just recently, Apache httpd 2.2.0 was released.

Now, I've been a bit traditional here. I'm still using apache 1.3.34, almost always with mod_jk to talk to tomcat, and occasionally with mod_ssl for https support.

Why not upgrade? Well, there are two reasons really. One was that it wasn't at all obvious that 2.0.x was in fact an upgrade. It always felt like a retrograde step and if anything I would describe 1.3.x to 2.0.x as downgrading. The second is that actually getting 2.0.x installed was a right pain. They mistakenly switched to using autoconf, so it's much harder to get the installation and configuration right. (If it installs at all. Many a time I would find autoconf just goofing out on one of its random guesses and failing to do anything at all.)

So, is 2.2.0 any better? Well, it still uses autoconf - and it's still a very bad move - but it is possible with enough effort to circumvent most of its mistakes (although not all). But it includes ajp support to talk to tomcat, including load balancing. Which, coupled with native ssl support, should reduce the complexity of installation - if it works.

So far, running under Solaris 10 works fine for http. I haven't exhaustively tested the ajp support to see how well it handles load balancing and failover, but basically it works and looks good.

I had fun and games with getting https to work though. Essentially, the combination of httpd 2.2.0, gcc and the Solaris 10 openssl libraries didn't work. (Using curl I could get sslv2 to work but not sslv3, and neither mozilla nor firefox would have anything to d with my server.) Compiling up the latest openssl myself (which is what I do for 1.3.x anyway) with gcc works just fine. So it's either a gcc vs. cc incompatibility, or a version problem (Sun are supplying quite an old version), or some other strange incompatibility. It would be nice if I could rely on the openssl bits that come with Solaris, as openssl itself is a reasonable size and takes quite a while to build, but it looks as if I still have to do it myself.