Category Archives: rant

ix2 NAS Drive Failure.

I was copying pictures to my network drive and I noticed that it was responding slowly. Taking a good ten seconds to draw a .jpg preview. I logged into my Iomega Storcenter ix2 and the dashboard told me the news: “A drive is missing from the device”

I immediately made a backup to my workstation. Once copied, I completely shutdown the Storcenter, opened it and checked the connections. In order to see that it was a drive that had failed and not the board, I swapped the SATA cables for the two drives, tightened it all up and turned it back on.

What I next learned was that I have little patience for blinking lights. “What are you doing NAS drive?” I asked. “You respond to a ping, but that’s it.” No web interface… Well, let’s see what’s really going on. Connect via SSH and run this command: cat /proc/mdstat You’ll get actual information about what’s going on. At first I saw that the drive was rebuilding and was at 32.4% with 109 minutes remaining. A few minutes later I ran the command and got something like 33.8% with 132 minutes remaining. Okay – time to get dinner and wait for this to finish.

When I returned, the missing drive was back online and was crisis averted? Nope. The next morning I checked my email and received this from sohostoarge:
The Iomega StorCenter device is degraded and data protection is at risk. A drive may have either failed or been removed from your Iomega StorCenter device. Visit the Dashboard on the management interface for details. To prevent possible data loss, this issue should be repaired as soon as possible.

Awesome. 😐 Well, at least my email script still works.
Later that afternoon I picked up a 500GB WD Caviar Green from BB for $56. The Green drives are quieter, a little slower, and use less power – great for this application. I took the ix2 apart AGAIN, and removed the barely 3 year old Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 out of the device. I know that people have hardware preferences out there, and I know they differ, but here’s mine: I don’t buy Seagate drives. Ever. I’ve been a computer tech for over ten years. (Of course I bought the ix2 without knowing it comes with 2 of them 🙂 )

After closing up the drive I powered the NAS up and watched the magic. The new drive rebuilt and I got a steady blue light on my ix2 when I checked later the next day. No linux commands, no format, no partition, no RAID – just replaced the dead drive with a new one of the same size and we’re back in business. Am I pissed that this drive failed in 3 years? Sure. Did the Iomega ix2 do its job and kept my data safe? Absolutely!

If I didn’t need this data immediately I might have experimented with bigger drives, but I think I’ll upgrade to the ix4 before I ever try to upgrade the capacity of this little guy.

WordPress 2.0 > 3.0 now with text!

“Going forward may not be the answer. Maybe I should go back.”

As an early adopter of WordPress (look through the archives some time…) I can clearly remember the departure that WordPress made around version 2.0. They started calling links ‘the blogroll’ like dumb hipsters and when the admin logged in, it said ‘Howdy!’ and lots of other weird things that had nothing to do with the ability to write / create / share were changed. The media uploader was so horrible at the time, I turned ‘upload.php’ back ON and kept my hacked up version WP 2.02+ and it’s been unchanged for years.

I finally started to like the new stuff from WordPress when I installed 2.8 on It’s now consistent and polished, and doesn’t feel hipster and untested. I’ve been putting off a major upgrade of planetkris WordPress for a while. Okay, I guess like four years. It looks as though the WP folks have forgotten about me in the same time a BMW lease takes to expire. Everything before 2.7.1 right now has a very fuzzy upgrade path. Like “Dude – you can’t export XML?! What the hell is wrong with you?” fuzzy.

After reading the ‘update your database until MySQL shoots out of your nose‘ posts out there, and not finding any clear update path for those of us stuck in time – I started to think back to how I got here. I imported my ENTIRE BLOG *gasp from a MovableType text file called mt-export.txt. Yeah… Like a UTF-8 TXT file I can open with notepad.exe – text file. I looked for many ways to export and import and it all came down to this post: WordPress Export to Movable Type or TypePad The idea was to just export everything in MT format, wipe WP 2.02, the folders, etc. Setup WP 3.0, new files, new database, import from MT. If I had to go back, I just restored the files already pointing to the old database.

This clever theme drops your entire blog, all posts, all comments, in a big long page which you can click ‘view source’ and save as an mt-export.txt!
Want to edit where all of your images are stored before you import? Go crazy! Want to not deal with a drop of MySQL and get your blog updated? Here you go! The other positives are that the install is fresh. A fresh database and WP install is ALWAYS going to be better then an ‘Upgrade to 2.1 > Upgrade to 2.3 > Upgrade to 2.5 > Upgrade to 2.7.1‘ ugly beast of a thing.

Compromise for some? I’m sure. All I wanted was the posts. I didn’t even really care if the comments came over, but they did. Categories, author, and dates too! You’ll have to figure out your links, pages, themes, etc. on your own. WordPress 3.0 feels good and I particularly like this quote from the dev team – “Normally this is where I’d say we’re about to start work on 3.1, but we’re actually not. We’re going to take a release cycle off to focus on all of the things around WordPress. – – The goal of the teams isn’t going to be to make things perfect all at once, just better than they are today.” Dumb hipster? Not these guys.

I’m rocking a slightly modified theme from Yashfa right out of the box. You like?

I can not be a Gmail Ninja. :(

Google Video Chat NO Linux VersionSadly, It looks like I will be stuck as a ‘white belt’ when it comes to my Google Gmail Ninja status. Today a New! Email Tips link appeared in gmail and that is when I learned the harsh truth.

You see, Google hasn’t really bothered to make a video chat client for Linux and I REALLY want them to. This is on their list of ‘green belt’ items, early on the path to becoming a Gmail master. They said back in November of 2008 that they would be working on it… If you want to get on the beta test list, clicky this: Gmail voice and video – Linux. I think that this would not be too hard to pull off considering they have a Mac client already (read: X distro on x86 32-bit hardware) I don’t want a rush their genius, but I know it’s probably down low on a ‘shit Google has to do today‘ list. :p Maybe this post will rustle up some priorities. Skype works great on Ubuntu BTW.

Dell Mini 9 back in black as Vostro A90

Dell Mini 9 rebranded as Vostro A90For those who missed the Dell Mini 9 but wanted one – The Vostro A90 is a re-branded Dell Mini 9 (Inspiron 910). I almost like it better in black. It looks like the Ubuntu option is there as well as a standard 16GB SSD and 1GB of RAM (Things I had to option UP to with my Dell Mini 9.) Not bad for $294.

The only official ‘Dell Mini’ option is the Dell Mini 10v now – and is being hated upon for its un-possible to open and upgrade design. You need THREE videos to show you how to open it.

What? No more Dell Mini 9? Oh well…

Dell Mini 9 Inspiron 910 end of lifeI’m typing this post on the last of a great little netbook from Dell. Yep, the Dell Mini 9 is confirmed by Engadget to be end of life. And what a short production run it had. Replaced by a 160GB spinning mechanical disk crammed inside the ‘I just can’t go any smaller then ten inches of screen’ Dell Mini 10. I’m uber glad I optioned it up with the extras – extras that will be that much harder to find in the coming months.

Oh well – their loss. A silent – super portable – network engineers pal for the last two months, my Inspiron 910 has been great for setting up routers, ssl vpn’s, remote controlling servers worth 20 times its cost, and keeping my iGoogle feeds at the ready for when customer downtime occurs.

Tonight’s project is to get DVD video ‘converted’ to a portable media format I can watch on the upcoming summer air trips. 3.5 hours of battery is enough time to watch a movie or two…

My Linux Ubuntu Score Card

What worked great?

1. Printing. Ubuntu found my HP 920c and made it my default printer right out of the box. It was a mere checkbox to get it shared on the network. My Windows XP machine had no issues with it. “Holy Shit!” was all I said when it took 10 seconds to get printing set. The .pdf maker support that comes with Ubuntu was especially helpful when publishing documents for our rally.

2. Firefox.
Still loving that decision after 8 years.

3. VirtualBox.
I knew I would miss XP a little. *tear. It is a good stable OS that MS will force all of us to move away from because they need money for the next “new” thing. I setup VirtualBox and it works great. I am running XP SP2 (inside VBox) with only a handful of small issues. When I updated, I had to rebuild VBox following this fix. I take snapshots before installing any major software or changes and that has saved my ass twice. The apps I can’t live without right now are running great: Photoshop, Macromedia Flash. I also run MS Office. (Still trying to get used to OpenOffice.)

4. Wine + USB to Serial. This was the unbelievable success I spoke of, let me set the scene. I have a year old USB to Serial converter that I bought for $20. No manual, no drivers, it’s made in China and I have NO idea what the chipset is. Will it run in Linux? Doubt it. I didn’t want to bog down the Mini with VirtualBox, so I loaded Wine. Wine is a windows emulator for individual programs. The application I want to run is an APRS tracker programmer with no linux version. To recap: Emulated windows application running inside Ubuntu Linux with Wine – connected to a USB to serial converter made in China – hooked to a serial device powered by a robot battery. :eek: I created a sym link called COM1 that pointed to /dev/ttyUSB0 in the Wine directory. Started it up – reset the Tracker and “WoAH!” I actually jumped out of my chair because it just works.

What kinda worked?

1. MP3 players. Finally settled on XMMS. I tried ‘Listen’ (on my Xubuntu Desktop) and ‘Rhythmbox’ (on my Dell Mini 9). Listen is pretty good, the controls and layout are good, the internet radio station setup was a little too complex. Its biggest problem really is that it’s called ‘Listen’. It’s practically impossible to search for help on a music player using the search string ‘Listen’. Rhythmbox seems to do all right, it does seem to do a little too much disk IO and was a total CPU hog on the Mini. I tried Amarok, which I heard was good, but it had issues with my desktop sound card. I could do without all the fancy indexing and lyric and album cover features. I am NOT an iTunes person. I’m used to a plain-jane ‘winamp’. Installing XMMS was fairly easy for me. Editing your sources.list and updating apt-get seems to be standard Linux stuff to me now, so Your Mileage May Vary.

2. Bluetooth. I got the option with the Mini and ran out and picked up an expensive Bluetooth Mouse which worked great – until I restarted. The mouse seems to work about 70% of the time. The other % I spend 2 minutes muttering while I re-acquire the device by deleting it and re-adding it. The script to get it to auto connect is in progress at: Ubuntu Forum Bluetooth Mouse Thread

3. Dual monitor support. I originally chose Xubuntu (with Xfce) for the desktop, but got Ubuntu working with dual monitors. The Mini saw an external monitor only after a log-off log-on and the ‘monitor key’ on the Dell does zero. Well it does make the external display flicker like it totally was going to do something…

What was a pain?

1. Networking. First, the absolute bullshit update for the Mini: Ubuntu 8.10 Kernel Update Has Broken Wired Connection. Seriously? You just broke my ethernet connection with a kernel update? This is no good Ubuntu… This is not making open source OS’s shine. “Oops – at least you still have wireless.” On the desktop I had a little issue with a NAT connection on my VirtualBox. Make sure VBox gets its own IP from the router. You’ll avoid weird Windows Networking issues when both your Linux machine and the VBox machine are connected to the same share. Figuring that out was certainly a pain.

2. Updates. Did you see that coming? I did… One of the biggest pet peeves I have with MicroSquash is: “Important Security Update – This update fixes a problem where an attacker can take over your machine.” I’d certainly believe that if not every single update from MS said this. Seriously? Your OS is so vulnerable to attack you need 20+ security patches every month? Nope, I don’t believe it. So my standard practice now is to stop the Automatic Update and Security Center services after loading SP2. Go to services.msc and disable them – forever… XP is “end of life” anyway. Plus they like to slip in “Genuine Software Checks” in those automatic updates. I have seen 2 of my customers PC’s rendered useless, even though they were running an valid XP key.

Ubuntu UpdateSorry about the MS rant, let’s get back to Ubuntu. The update manager is also pretty pervasive in Ubuntu. I found the following settings to be a good safe bet. There is more information on updates and kernel updates, but you still need to watch this like a hawk and presume that after an update your machine may have issues. I also discovered that a full shutdown and restart solved problems on my Dell Mini after an update.

What is still brox0red? What have I yet to try?

1. CD / DVD Burning. I am embarrassed to say that as of right now, I can’t burn a CD in my home. I guess I can buy Nero for Linux… At least I will get pay-for support. I get an IO error in the logs and a Power something Check FAILED. I’ve tried Brasero and K3B – no dice. I can’t play DVD’s on my system, so I think it may be time to retire my old Sony drive for more Linux friendly hardware.

2. Video Editing. I have downloaded about 3 non-linear video editing apps, and I’m in the process of getting them to work. If Ubuntu can do this for me – there will be no going back to Microsoft.

The wrap: Ubuntu is running steady on my desktop and my Dell Mini. The occasional bumps in the road are probably no worse then if I went over to Vista. I have since upgraded the Mini to Jaunty 9.04 and have had better success with bluetooth, the system seems to boot faster, and my wired ethernet works again! I have been getting back into the swing of linux and Ubuntu has made it great!