What is that?
It's a duck pond.
Why aren't there any ducks?
I don't know. There's never any ducks.
Then how do you know it's a duck pond?

Friday, September 29


Meet Your Maker

This is interesting: MakeVM. It's a little shareware utility that creates virtual machines - either blank ones or clones of existing disks - for VMWare.

This is great if you're running VMWare Player (which doesn't have the ability to create new virtual machines itself), or if you're running VMWare Server and want to migrate an existing Windows server to a virtual environment.

Costs $19.95 for the full version. The free download is limited to teeny-tiny VMs, so I'll need to buy it. I have a couple of Windows servers here at work that do almost nothing but which I can't actually unplug, because they only do almost nothing. Now I can finally get rid of the buggers.

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Thursday, September 28


Well, That Was Fun

Had a little excitement at work today. Apparently several blocks of Sydney's CBD went dark, including, of course, our office. Our elderly UPS valiantly struggled along for nearly a minute before expiring; the blackout itself lasted about an hour and a half.

Then I had to fix pretty much everything. Crashed databases, lost routing tables, failed NFS mounts (the systems didn't neatly reboot in the required order), unending fscks (This volume has not been checked for 562 days* so I'm now going to scan every one of your seven million files and there's nothing you can do to stop me so nyah.), broken RAID sets, misconfigured network cards...


Knoppix was used. It would have been even more not fun without Knoppix.

* Actual number.

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Friday, September 22


VMWare Server


It's not perfect - see my difficulties with the clock under CentOS, for example - but I expect that sort of thing will become less common as OS developers take up VMWare as an important target platform. Linux is Linux, though, so for now it's enough to know that Fedora 5 works fine.

I needed a new Windows PC at work, and I needed at least two servers to test Minx, and I needed a replacement for our ancient development box* and thanks to Intel and VMWare Server I have them all parked neatly under my desk.

I'd be happier if I had 8GB of memory rather than 4GB, but that's still a bit pricey at the moment - and opens up the 64-bit can of worms, which I didn't feel like doing just yet.

* A Pentium III 550.

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Thursday, September 21



Fedora Core 5 has lost the convenient option to install everything. You have to select the various categories, select the various sub-categories, and then open a pop-up window to select the optional sub-components.

I selected all of the basic things, and selected sub-components until I ran out of patience.

This installed 4.6 gigabytes of stuff. It did not install iostat. Or sar.

Update: Updating Fedora is abysmally slow, as always. And while the update is running - which looks set to take several hours - you can't install anything. Bleh.

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Wednesday, September 20


Will That Be Daylight Savings or Non-Daylight Savings?

I installed another virtual machine, this time running Fedora Core 5. The clock seems to work (yay!) and Python 2.4.2 runs my benchmark in 1.8 seconds, about 60% faster the new munu servers. On the other hand, I installed Python 2.5 on the new servers and it is 10% slower than 2.4.3.

Meanwhile, my iPod has decided that my correct timezone is Abu Dhabi. I have no idea why.

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Minus La Change

I'm setting up Kyon as a template so that I can copy it to create Yuki and Mikuru. Having installed the operating system (CentOS 4.4), I'm now installing all the bits and pieces that Minx relies on. Such as Python 2.5RC2.

I downloaded and configured it, and then ran make:

real 0m54.730s
user 0m39.567s
sys 0m13.762s
I wondered how that would compare with the new munu servers:
real 1m48.209s
user 1m41.037s
sys 0m6.834s
What the fnord?! That's one heck of a difference, particularly when you realise that Kyon is running under VMware. Same version of GCC, by the way.

Old server:

real 2m12.971s
user 2m2.240s
sys 0m5.932s
About what I'd expect - the new servers are a little faster than the old ones.

But Kyon just zooms along - if what you want to do is compile Python. It's kind of a slug for desktop use. How does it go for other server-type stuff?

Let's see. I have a little Python benchmark. Nothing complicated, but it gives the interpreter a little test. Old server, Python 2.4.2:

real 0m3.373s
user 0m3.284s
sys 0m0.028s
New server, Python 2.4.3:
real 0m3.028s
user 0m3.008s
sys 0m0.004s
Okay, slightly faster, as expected.

Kyon, Python 2.3.4 (which is what CentOS 4.4 comes with, the slackers):

real 0m0.919s
user 0m0.909s
sys 0m0.009s
Um. That's a pretty significant improvement.

Just one small problem:

It's lying.

The timer is off... Apparently by a factor of two, though it varies a bit. I increased the loop count by a factor of ten and hand-timed it. Computer says 9 seconds, I say 18.

That's gonna really suck for my development work.

Python under Cygwin gives 1.5 seconds for my benchmark, and I confirmed that (roughly) with hand-timing, so the Core 2 really is a lot faster for Python code. Just not quite as fast as Kyon wants me to believe.

Update: A bit of digging came up with this, which doesn't help much, because I've set Kyon up as a dual-processor machine. But it at least explains what's going on.

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Friday, September 15


Praising With Faint Damns

Found on a customer review page for a memory card:
Cons: No built-in street-level GPS. No host-device-accessible cold fusion power unit. No antigravity or timetravel capabilities. That's pretty much it.
Also, Sandisk have announced a 4GB mini-SD card. That's a lot. And here's a 2GB micro-SD card. Now they're just being silly.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 09:56 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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Wednesday, September 13


Architecture Wars

Seen yesterday:
Guy can't make up his mind.

And today:

Hate to tell him that it was discontinued in the early 90s.

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Monday, September 11



My iPod croaked again. But:
1. Toggle the Hold switch on and off. (Slide it to Hold, then turn it off again.)
2. Press and hold the Menu and Select buttons until the Apple logo appears, about 6 to 10 seconds. You may need to repeat this step.

I think I must have done that by accident last time. When in doubt, mash the buttons.

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Wednesday, September 06



You may have a Core 2 Duo E6600; you may have 4GB of memory and a brand-new 320GB SATA-2 disk drive; but if you are running Windows XP you are running with memory management algorithms that don't appear to have been tuned since the release of NT 3.1.

Linux (2.6 kernel) has /proc/sys/vm/swappiness. For workstations, you really want this set to zero. Probably not for servers, but for workstations with plenty of memory, it's great.

Does anyone know if there is anything like that in XP?

Update: Jonathan Tappan says in comments:

My Computer
Advanced Tab
Performance Settings
Advanced Tab
Virtual Memory Change
Select "No Paging File"
Yep, that'll do it.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 10:08 PM | Comments (9) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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