Skip to content

2012 New York Auto Show

I just came back from the 2012 International New York Auto Show. Here are my thoughts about my experience.

  1. It was really hot. That walk from 8th Ave to 11th Ave is brutal.
  2. I’m never going back on a weekend. I definitely have to make time to get it done during the week as there’s just way too many people there to make the experience pleasant.
  3. There were a lot more plug-in hybrids, EVs, and alternative-fuel vehicles. This is a good sign.
  4. Tesla Motors was not there, I guess I mis-read the list on the web site, that kinda sucked.

    Overall, as usual, the show was not bad, but not insanely exciting for me, as it has been the past few years. With the way the economy is, companies just aren’t spending nearly as much on cool concept cars, though it’s definitely on the positive trend this year.

Debian GNU/kFreeBSD - A Toy OS? Maybe

So I’ve read articles about how the Debian GNU/kFreeBSD port is nothing but a ‘toy OS’ and that Debian should focus on other things instead.

Well, I have to disagree. One of the awesome things about Debian, is that it tries to keep all its platforms in sync, like NetBSD. It has like 60+ ports, and that’s one of the reasons releases take so long. That being said, the state of this port is entirely dependent upon what you want to use it for.

As a desktop OS, it’s got some rough edges yet. DBus is not quite right, so things don’t quite work perfectly. XFCE desktop is nice, but logout doesn’t work correctly. I had to use xdm instead of lightdm. Little things like that. On the upside, flash kinda works (gnash) and my sound worked out of the box. (This is on my Dell laptop.) Wheezy is greatly improved over Squeeze in the respect of things working right in kFreeBSD. So I think by the time the release is ready, it will be fairly usable.

The installer is better now, zfs root works, it’s pretty speedy on an SSD. Boot-up time is comparable to Linux 3.0 with Ubuntu 10.10. (I was running the older release for some video conferencing software that broke after I upgraded X, so I will probably update to something like Linux Mint 12 at some point…)

As a server OS, I have no idea, but I’m planning on testing it on a few things later today. I think it will do well in the capacity that I want to use it for.


Windows iPhone backup slow? Here's the fix

It’s simple, it’s easy.

Go to the start menu, Accessories. Right click on Command prompt, and hit run as administrator.


netsh winsock reset

then type exit
and restart your PC. iTunes will no longer suck 50% CPU and Apple Device the other 50% CPU.

Worked like a charm. It was just finding it that was the problem.


The Dumbing Down of Ubuntu

Now, in the past, Ubuntu was good to use. It was not that much heavier then Debian, but much easier to get installed, and usually came with more drivers.

Now, it’s heavy. Not only is it heavy, it’s being designed for idiots.

There are no options for anything. Power management is near non-existent. It’s got this thing called Unity which is the worst UI ever. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING looks like a freaking Mac. I moved to a PC laptop to use Linux, not Mac OS. I have that on my other machine at home.

Trying kubuntu to see if that is better then the default, as with 11.04, they included the full GNOME as a fall-back, called “classic.” That’s gone now in 11.10.

Not happy.

DRBD Setup

Install the headers from the newly generated kernel package.
Download the source for the version of DRBD you’re using.

Goodbye, Bluehost

It’s been fun.

But shared hosting is no longer for me.

I’ve moved to instead. It’s faster, and only slightly more expensive then before, in reality. And it’s month-to-month.

DNS should be pointing to this new IP shortly.

Xen 4.0 + DRBD + Ubuntu 11.04

So my new job uses Xen. Not the greatest, but it works.
I was testing Nova with KVM, but not using Nova.

I’m trying to see if I can get XenMotion working with DRBD and 2 nodes, no shared storage. But I need to be able to set it up on-the-fly. Ie, we don’t need to have XenMotion at all times. Only when something happens to a box that we need to move someone (a customer). So trying this at home first.

CentOS at work, but Ubuntu at home becuase Nova was so much easier to get up. CentOS people: See

First. Get Xen 4.1 and make packages. Thankfully someone has the hard work done for this:
<a href=>VirtualUsr - Xen 4.x on Ubuntu</a>

so run the stuff there, and run this command:

That’ll get 4.1.X (in this case 4.1.2rc3).

The Ubuntu kernel shipped with 11.04 works out of the box. – I thought this was true, but it’s not.
You still need to build a kernel, or use a Debian one. Right now my remote boxes are messed up so I will fix them later.

Install the package files with dpkg -i ..generated-packages…
edit /etc/modules and add in:
to the file and reboot into Xen 4.1.
One of the packages doesn’t quite install right unless you’re in xen, so log in to your box (you might have to do this via ssh) and run:
root@box#: apt-get -f install

Which will fix things up.

Do yourself a favor and don’t kill xenconsole - it’ll halt your box. Lesson learned.

I created a CentOS 6 VM using the instructions here: CentOS 6 domU installation

I modified the kickstart to more closely match our current setup. The one on that site uses LVM on top of the real backing store, which is redundant for us.
After installation, DRBD needs to be set up next.

Getting OpenStack Installed - Part 1

To get OpenStack installed on Ubuntu, I recommend you use the install script. If you want to do it manually, these are the steps from the documentation. I will add in what I had to do in order to get Flat networking working correctly, which was my problem in the whole setup. You can then use something like Puppet or Chef to automate the install (I did it using Chef the first time) but if you don’t understand how it works, having it automated just leaves you scratching your head. :-)

Here we go.

Please see for more information not covered here. Some of this is verbatim from there.

Getting OpenStack Installed - Part 2

Then make sure the metadata service is set up in iptables:

iptables -t nat -A PREROUTING -d -p tcp -m tcp --dport 80 -j DNAT --to-destination 172.16.1.X:8773

Add that line to /etc/rc.local before “exit 0”.

Restart networking:

/etc/init.d/networking restart

Finish up the configuration file /etc/nova/nova.conf:
--sql_connection=mysql://nova:[email protected]/nova

Restart everything else:

restart libvirt-bin; restart nova-network; restart nova-compute;
restart nova-api; restart nova-objectstore; restart nova-scheduler

Make an admin user and project (whatever you want to call it):

/usr/bin/nova-manage user admin {user_name}
/usr/bin/nova-manage project create {project_name} {user_name}

Finish the guide from this point on:
Creating Certificates

And you should be good to go.

Cobbler and Ubuntu Part Two

So that does work. Now I decided to install Ubuntu Natty (11.04), as it has the Cobbler package in it as well.

I played around with the preseed file until I got it as close as possible, and there are still problems due to network card weirdness (it seems to be re-initialized at some point, breaking everything).

In any case, Cobbler 2.1 is installed, and Ubuntu CDs import just fine. I’m also importing CentOS 6 right now. That worked fine as well.

So 2.1 > 2.0.11 even though 2.0.11 is newer.

Cobbler and Ubuntu or Debian

Cobbler is a system designed to help you automate your installs over the network. It’s primarily aimed at Red Hat-based distributions, such as Red Hat Enterprise Linux, CentOS, and Fedora. However, you can use it to install Debian-based distributions as well, with a caveat.

The Debian support is not nearly as good as the RH one. Furthermore, in Debian Squeeze, the network boot does not support AHCI disk controllers, which makes it useless for my test setup. So I will put the Ubuntu instructions here, and someone can modify them to use it with Debian.

I will not be covering Cobbler basics here right now. The wiki is good for that. Also note that there is no package in Debian for Cobbler. There is one in the newest releases of Ubuntu.

Step 1, get Ubuntu Server Installer CD. I will use 10.04 LTS. Go here to get a list of CD mirrors near you. For me, this URL ends up being:

Step 2, loopback mount the ISO.

mount -o loop /home/isos/ubuntu-10.04.2-server-amd64.iso /media

Step 3, rsync files from ISO to /var/www/cobbler/ks_mirror/Ubuntu-lucid-x86_64

mkdir /var/www/cobbler/ks_mirror/Ubuntu-lucid-x86_64

rsync -a /media/ /var/www/cobbler/ks_mirror/Ubuntu-lucid-x86_64 --exclude-from=/etc/cobbler/rsync.exclude

Now you have a local copy of the CD as a Net-boot repo resource. The files needed are at:


Step 4, Create a Distribution in Cobbler

cobbler distro add --name=Ubuntu-lucid-x86_64 --kernel=/var/www/cobbler/ks_mirror/Ubuntu-lucid-x86_64/install/netboot/ubuntu-installer/amd64/linux --initrd=/var/www/cobbler/ks_mirror/Ubuntu-lucid-x86_64/install/netboot/ubuntu-installer/amd64/initrd.gz --arch=x86_64 --breed=ubuntu --os-version=jaunty --ksmeta="directory=/cblr/links/Ubuntu-lucid-x86_64 suite=lucid hostname=@@http_server@@ language=english"

Note Jaunty is the newest one supported by this version of Cobbler.

Step 5, Create the Link for installation use:

cd /var/www/cobbler/links

ln -s /var/www/cobbler/ks_mirror/Ubuntu-lucid-x86_64 Ubuntu-lucid-x86_64

Step 6, Set up a profile

cobbler profile add --name=Ubuntu_x86_64 --distro=Ubuntu-lucid-x86_64 --kickstart=/var/lib/cobbler/kickstarts/sample.seed

Step 7, Set up a system

(Best done through web ui)

Step 8, test!

Need to Visit More

I unfortunately have no monitoring in place due to this being a personal site, so I am sorry it’s been messed up for a while. It seems Bluehost is now sync’ing passwords across to the DB, which they weren’t doing before.

My former job is no longer, as we ran out of funding.

I’m working on learning some new stuff that will hopefully be useful in the future. Stay tuned.


Solid State Disks - SSDs

Category: MattRecommends

Here’s something I have recommended for those who want maximum performance from their PC or Mac. An SSD. An SSD has no moving parts, therefore everything, no matter where it is, is accessed nearly instantaneously. The read and write speeds are usually higher then most 7200 RPM 1TB disks as well, in the over 200MB/s range. One that is reasonably priced is the:

OCZ Agility 2. I purchased one of these recently, and installed it in my Mac clone. My machine now boots in 9 seconds. Everything opens super fast, and frankly I couldn’t be happier.

Of Cameras and Lenses

Sigma, who makes 3rd Party lenses for the Nikon, Canon, Sony, and Pentax (I’m sure others as well) SLR systems, also has their own digital-only SLR system. They have a few models - the SD9,10,14,and 15. The new one coming out, is the SD1. This has got me looking at camera stuff again. Their system is awesome in that they’re using the Foeveon technology, which makes a CMOS sensor (what the light hits in a digital SLR) that is similar to film, and gets Red, Green, and Blue at every location. This sounds like it should be standard, but it’s not. Regular cameras use a checkerboard-like pattern, and “guess” the missing color information.

So as a result, I’m looking up pricing on the older bodies for grins, and happen to find out information about converting the Sigma system cameras from their own Sigma mount to Canon, Nikon, or Leica R-mount. This would allow you to use lenses from any of the other systems, but losing out on some kinda-essential features. But the glass is much better then Sigma. Zeiss does not make lenses in Sigma mount, or else I wouldn’t bother looking stuff up.

But I am.

I found:
Sigma to Canon - the physical mount is different but the electronics are identical. So this sounds simple, but it’s not. :-(
Sigma to Nikon - Works, but you lose auto-aperature.
Sigma to Leica - Same as Nikon.

I also found a place that will convert Leica R-mount to Nikon, which is an interesting idea, but same thing - no auto-aperature.

So I’m comparing pricing of various lenses right now, and will update later…What I see so far, is Leica-R is expensive. As usual. Anything Leica is expensive, and it’s kinda crazy. It’s good, but not 4x pricing good…

Gran Turismo 5 & Driving Force GT Wheel

Category: MattRecommends

I recently got both of these from GameStop, as I was in a hurry…but Amazon does have a better deal on them this time…

I paid $59 for the game, and $130 for the wheel, so you’re saving $45 right away off average price - Best Buy has the wheel for $150!

About the items - Gran Turismo 5 (GT5 from now on), is one of the most anticipated driving simulators for the PS3. It’s been delayed forever. But I think it was worth it. It can be challenging to start off, but it’s definitely fun. You have to complete a few “license tests” - like accelerating to as fast as you can get to, and then brake within a desired area, in as little as time possible. There are ones on cornering, braking, etc, to help you understand the controls more. You can then start racing, where you buy a car, win races, get trophies, vehicles, money (game money, not real money)…For someone who’s a car geek, it’s a lot of fun.

As for the wheel, it definitely helps with the experience. However, you’ll need a decent table to mount it on, as the force-feedback can move light tables (like the portable tables you can eat off of) around. The pedals work pretty well, and do respond differently to light force vs hard for acceleration and braking. The different vehicles handle differently, without a doubt. The build quality of it is decent, and it re calibrates itself each time the PS3 is turned on. Frankly, unless the quality is significantly higher, which I have not heard is the case…the higher end wheels are for the truly hardcore only.

It’s definitely a fun game, and a good combo.