Saturday, January 19, 2013

A boy and his erector set

This week parts of my fifth erector set have been arriving. To the right here is a picture I found out there of my first set, which I dearly loved of everything Santa Claus ever brought me and with which I built all sorts of cool things. It was a pretty dangerous toy: if you put your finger into the gearing of the motor power take-off box, you'd get it seriously shredded.

You can't buy such a thing anymore, but the whole concept has been handily replaced by a different sort of erector set. I'm on my fourth, it's called parts for a computer.

Indeed, as soon as the last piece, the case, arrives next week, I'll assemble a new computer designed to replace my web server (eventually) and serve as a platform for me to cement my understanding of managing a professional data center using VMware vSphere to manage the virtual machines (VMs) I will create. Each VM is in fact a virtual computer host that behaves as if separate from its siblings. So, it's like one great big computer masquerading as several, separate ones. I'll also be using software called Chef to manage what ultimately populates any VM I create with software. It's more or less a tiny part of what I do at work.

For example, my brother has such a set-up in which he uses separate VMs to be 1) a PBX (telephone exchange system), 2) a network router, 3) and one or two other things at home.

My usage will be 1) my primary web server, 2) one or more applications running on Tomcat on separate VMs and 3) a set of MongoDB database replica nodes consumed by those applications.

Below, in conch-shell order beginning with the big, black power supply at top left: DVD drive, two 2Tb hard disks that will be put into a RAID 0 configuration (if VMware will support that), the motherboard, the CPU fan, the Intel i5-2500K quad core CPU clocked at a stock 3.3GHz, a scrap of metal to put over the connectors on the back plane, two 8Gb DIMM memory sticks, an orange SATA cable, two black SATA cables, a small package of screws and a utility knife (for opening packages or for my wrists if things don't go well—all depending).

Should be fun.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A new era begins...

I began putting a period to a blessed life pre-Unity today at work as I relegated my primary development host, running Ubuntu Maverick Meerkat, to second fiddle while I picked up and am now playing (identical HP hardware) on Precise Pangolin with Unity (12.04LTS).

I really do not like Unity as compared to Gnome. I develop software and I can't see how using Unity helps me do that better than using Gnome. Mostly, it gets in my way.

And chasing Unity off and restoring Gnome isn't fun and easy, nor was it altogether successful the time I tried it last November. I don't just want Gnome, mind you, I want it exactly how I've had it and I could not reach that point in the few hours I allotted to the experiment. I also don't want to have to hack every new OS I install, so before fleeing Ubuntu altogether, I'm going to see how badly my productivity is afflicted by Unity.

So here I am with about half my crucial development tools running on the newer operating system and the ones that don't still running under Maverick. Principally, I can't get Remmina to work and I need it to replace tsclient. I'm also struggling with Thunderbird in some ways. Today I finally got it set up to do my HP mail, but then it refused to do my personal mail.

The reason for this bothersome detour from productive life? Lucid Lynx LTS expires next April. Maverick already expired last April.

At home I'm going to be undertaking much the same journey if with less angst about how fast and well it works.