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Archive for the 'sysadmin' Category

Setting up my Mac (part 2)

Friday, December 19th, 2008

(Okay, I’m going to syndicate this to the python planets, because well .. it seems general enough of interest that maybe other python folks might be interested.  However, if this sort of stuff is unwanted, please tell me and I’ll reign in my planet posts to being on-topic.)


So, I think I’m going to go with eset nod32 anti-virus.  From my research there are about a dozen pretty good anti-virus solutions.  I had tried this one out about half a year ago, and I found that it didn’t drain system resources.  My main objective with anti-virus is to have *something* and have it stay out of my way.  This one has one several awards in the past few years, so I guess it must be decent.

Folder Sync

I mentioned in my last post that I really wanted to be able to sync my photos, music, and documents between several machines.  I would use subversion, except somehow it just doesn’t seem like “the right tool” for the task of managing 1000s of photos and mp3s.

What I did find is the Unison File Synchronizer, which appears to do exactly what I want.  If we have a photo gallery and we add pictures to it, those pictures will get automagically synced to a central server and then automagically synced back to other machines.  It wouldn’t be a useful solution for source control, but it looks like a nice solution for managing a photo / music / document collection.

I’ve only given it the five minute inspection, so I can’t say for sure if it will work yet.  Stay tuned for a later report on it.  (If anyone has used it and has tips they want to give me, I’d love ’em!)

Python on Mac

Most people suggested MacPorts.  I guess I’ll give that a whirl sometime.  I think I need to update Classic Galcon at some point anyways.  (Okay, I did mention something about python.  I failed at being 100% off-topic.)

Virtual Machines

I haven’t resolved all the issues yet.  Right now I’m a bit vague on how many Windows XP licenses I’m using.  I’ve got Bootcamp, VMWare, and Parallels all with XP Pro .. Does that count as 3 licenses?  Or one?  Hmmn.  I suppose I should figure that out.  I was able to get Parallels to work with Ubuntu by disabling shared folders, disabling the sync time feature, and enabling the adaptive hypervisor. (As per some post on the Parallels forums.)  Hopefully though, they can fix the bug that causes it to hang with those features on.

Life In General

I’m looking forward to the Christmas break 🙂  A lot of things have been going on between my two businesses and life-in-general.  So a couple days off will do me well.  I must admit, the diversion of messing with this laptop has been pretty fun.  I was able to power up the gimp the other day and color in our Christmas card.  Merry Christmas to ya:

OS/X and virtualization

Saturday, December 13th, 2008

Hey .. so I got myself a MacBook Pro.  Here’s why:

– I found that at pycon, having linux on my laptop just didn’t work so hot.  Just too many driver issues to really make it be great for day to day use.

– I really would like to be able to do all my dev from one machine.  With a Mac “supposedly” I can work in Windows, Linux, and OS/X from the same machine.  Then, gee, I wouldn’t have to have my house cluttered up with so many computers.

I got the machine a few days ago.  Since then I’ve been playing around with my different options for realizing the “one machine” vision.  Here are some of my experiences so far:

Parallels Desktop

– I was able to install XP Pro easily.  Had a minor mouse related glitch when running Microsoft Office Live Meeting and sharing my desktop.  Tried playing Vampyre Story (a new adventure game by Bill Tiller!), this didn’t work.  Game crashed during the startup of the game.  So I guess the DirectX promises are a bit shallow.

– I was able to install Ubuntu 8.10 and 8.04.  However, in 8.10, the shared disk was useless.  In 8.04, the VM hangs after a while for no particular reason.  Most of these issues seem to be well covered in the Parallels forums.  So it seems that Parallels is useless for Linux stuff .. at least for Ubuntu, which is the distro I want to switch to for dev, since it’s most likely to be used by a Linux gamer.

– I tried interacting with their support and found that they appear to be using babblefish to translate my questions to their foreign staff who then type in an incoherent answer which is then translated back to English.  Somehow it didn’t seem worth the bother.

– If they fixed the Linux VM hang issue, it would be an excellent solution for all my VM needs.  

Crossover Games

– I tried to run Vampyre Story.  It didn’t even get through the installer before locking up and anytime I put a disk into the computer it tried to interact (weird default setting, I was able to switch that off).

– Not really useful to me.  I suppose it could be good if your game of choice is supported.

VMWare Fusion

– I was able to install XP Pro easily.  It auto-installed its Tools.  Sound seemed to work better in this than in Parallels.  Vampyre Story failed exactly the same way as in Parallels.  I suspect they have some common code for doing the DX9 emulation.  Too bad it doesn’t work for my game of choice.  Hopefully the 3D is good enough for my game dev, which isn’t so bleeding edge.

– I was able to install Ubuntu 8.04 on it.  The handing of Fullscreen vs. Windowed mode isn’t nearly as smooth as in Parallels.  One real drawback is that if I have both Windows and Linux in Fullscreen mode, Fusion attempts to put them both on the same “Space”, so I can really only have one in Fullscreen mode at a time.  That is non-awesome.

– If it weren’t for the Fullscreen issues, this was looking like an excellent solution.  I guess I’ll have to wait and see if Parallels or VMWare fixes issues quicker.  It does seem that VMWare has a better commitment to Linux support, which is hopeful.

Boot Camp

– OS/X comes with “Boot Camp” which allows for Dual booting of your machine into OS/X or Windows.  It works great if you don’t mess up.  It took me three tries to get Windows XP Pro installed properly.  (HInt: read the Apple troubleshooting guide BEFORE you try to run Boot Camp, not afterwards.)

– I was able to play Vampyre Story with no problem.  The game looks great!

– I haven’t tested much else, but since it’s just booting into Windows, I’m guessing it will work fine.  When running Vampyre Story the fan is on most of the time.  I guess all those pretty graphics really tax something or other.

Misc Thoughts

Both Parallels and Fusion support shared disk, which I’m hoping works.  It won’t be until I really dive into some dev that I’ll be able to comment on that.  Nice stuff, anyways.  

I do hope this all works out, as I really want to trim down the amount of machinery I have in my office.  I think my favorite experience so far was getting Parallels doing fullscreen for both Linux and Windows.  With OS/X Spaces, I was able to switch between OS/X, Windows, and Linux with the press of a key. 


I’m basically taking off a few weeks from game dev to mess around with this machine.  Some of the things coming up are:

– Figuring out how to deal with python under OS/X.  If anyone cares to give me tips in advance, I’d sure appreciate it.  I’m aware there are at LEAST 3 major ways of doing this.  1. Use the included python 2. Use the python from 3. Use darwin 4. Use macports .. Or something like that.  I’m not sure which will be best for my situation.

– Trying out the iPhoto, iMusic, Garageband, and iMovie software.  Linux has always lacked on the “use to use junk” front .. and Windows isn’t much any better.  So hopefully these tools will be nice.

– Figuring out a decent backup scenario.  I’m aware of timemachine, which I’m sure is great .. But I’m interested in having shared folders across several machines .. and doing backup to a 3rd machine.  We’ll see what I can come up with for that.  I’m quite comfortable with rsync, so I wouldn’t be surprised if that comes up.  Any suggestions would also be appreciated here.

Stuff-n-maintenance-n-stuff stuff stuff ..

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

So this past week or so was pretty wild. I was doing all “behind the scenes” stuff mainly. Sometimes these sorts of things are kind of weird to do, because the main goal is to do them in such a way that nobody really notices that I did them (so the point of this blog post is to point out the invisible so I can FEEL like I accomplished something in the last two weeks) … Anyway, they (supposedly) had to get done so that everything can keep moving along without collapsing.

  • Fixing up the themes on so that all the pages actually use the same header/footer and everything. I also restyled the whole site so that all the pages use the same style.css file. (Previously each part of had its own stylesheet. Weirdness.)
  • Moved to using a real mailing list (it took me forever to decide!) But in the end seemed to be the ticket. This is a pretty big step. Previously I was running some script which took a very long time to send out the newsletter and made me very nervous.
  • Updated my game server with init.d scripts so that should my server get rebooted, the game servers will automagically restart. Previously, well, if the server got rebooted, no games would come up.
  • I also migrated to point to .. So now all the “classic” Galcon customers get to see my new swell site. This is also good for search engine stuff, so has a nice position now.
  • While I was at it, I set up google mail for .. So now I can e-mail in style!
  • Upgraded the maze so that each user’s “save state” is a single database record. Previously I saved the full history of a user’s game, so a single user could have hundreds of records if they were wandering around. This table got to around 362,525 records and it was making those pages go pretty slow! With a single record per user, I’ve only got 1371 records in the table and things are nice and fast again. (BTW – Maze 2.0 is up, you can create your own separate adventure mazes now!)

On a more “in your face note” I did add in a games section to I’m sort of excited about this, because it makes it look like I’ve actually made more than one game 🙂 More importantly, it makes it really easy for me to put up a quick page for small games. I’m always making new mini-games for game-dev compos or whatever that don’t necessarily deserve their own “special custom website” but I still want people to be able to get at them. This will make that possible. It also makes it easy for me to link to some of my game-dev friend’s games.


Not enough errors??!

Monday, July 21st, 2008

# urpmi mysql
installing mysql-5.0.45-8.1mdv2007.0.i586.rpm from /var/cache/urpmi/rpms
Preparing…                     #############################################
1/1: mysql                 #############################################
080721 13:04:46 [ERROR] Error message file ‘/usr/share/mysql/english/errmsg.sys’ had only 469 error messages,
but it should contain at least 472 error messages.
Check that the above file is the right version for this program!
080721 13:04:46 [ERROR] Aborting

The really rough bit is now my mysql install doesn’t work anymore 🙁  Blah.

Good server hosting? rackspace? other?

Friday, April 11th, 2008

A client of mine hosted with cihost recently had an outage.  (Which hasn’t ended.)  They want to move their dedicated server elsewhere.  Any suggestions?  I’ve done plenty of googling for stuff, but really, personal rec’s carry way more weight for me.  We want a host that:

  • linux (LAMP stuff)
  • e-mail server
  • has excellent uptime
  • can manage backups
  • has excellent support
  • can manage security
  • is able to deal with a crisis (say, a backhoe digs up their fiber, they are able to get your server running somehow within half a day)

Which I suppose aren’t really extravagant demands, but anyway .. I’d appreciate any recommendations you can offer.  The hosting is for a U.S. based company, so we’ll want a host with data centers here.

Please don’t bother responding with a rec if you haven’t personally been with said host for at least 3 years.

The Canadian Invasion .. and MORE!

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008
  1. The only bit I remember from that conversation is all the stuff about Canadian global domination.  Let me tell you, if Mike Fletcher has his way, we’re doomed!  (Maybe we’re doomed either way, but be sure your passport is ready when we have to head north!)
  2. I remember peaking into the pycon-dev room at one point and Doug was giving a lecture on menu structures in websites.  He said the pycon navigation was stored completely independently of all the modules used by pycon.  I think that’s great.  I’ve been thinking about it ever since.
  3. I do most all my dev at home on my linux system.  My laptop last year was loaded with XP and I found it painful to do work on at pycon.  So this year, the day before pycon, I loaded it up with Ubuntu.  Which was a mistake.  It *sort* of worked, in a kind of the network didn’t exactly always work and the video driver didn’t always work .. and then it got worse .. but I won’t name names 😉
  4. Which brings me to two happier points, which are points 5 and 6 in this list.
  5. Sean was quite swell and set me up a personal hard-line during the sprints when I needed to get some work done :)  Yay!
  6. I was told about PyPE, which is a nifty python editor for windows :)  I’m having to do some win32 dev lately (see previous post), so having that on hand is great!  I like it.  I was able to do about 5 hours of dev on it this evening, and I think the main complaint I had was I was using a laptop keyboard.  If you like kate, this is the editor for you.

Daylight whatever time

Sunday, October 28th, 2007

So last night, ’bout 11, my wife Nan says, “Oh, shoot! Tonight is daylight savings time… better set the clock ahead an hour.” So I set the clock to 12 and we went to bed.

… 5:30am comes along, I wake from my slumber to hear, “Phil! I just remembered, ‘Spring forward, Fall back’! That means, it’s really 3:30 now.” So I changed my clock back to 3:30am and settle myself back to sleep.

Eventaully, I woke up around 8:00 and rounded up some cookies and milk for breakfast and sat down to read the latest rot on the internet. I notice the clock indicates that it is 9:00. A bit of checking the news reveals to me that daylight savings time is not until next week.

My thumb is now officially worn out from all that clock button pressing. On a more technical note, I guess I should have known this, since I spent a bit of time earlier manually patching several older linux servers with the latest timezone changes so that when this day came they would plod along as usual.