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Latest software experiments.

Am trying a new software called product snapshot in virtuemart. It allows you to embed the picture of a product within your Joomla article.

Install NetBackup Client on Ubuntu Jaunty (i386 and amd64)

Many enterprises use the Symantec NetBackup software to backup machines.  Last time I checked (6 months ago?), they didn't support Debian-based distros.  I've been using this process since around Hardy and just recently tested this in a Jaunty Xen VM and it seems to be working (waiting for admin to run a backup on my machine to check)

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Hiring a Linux SysAdmin

I am helping with the process of finding my own replacement as I recently accepted a new position. Currently I am the only sysadmin on staff so my duties are greatly varied. Everything from the phone system to mail servers, web servers, database servers, and workstations fall under my responsibilities. I came up with some technical questions and after the first couple interviews it seems I may have over estimated things I think an admin should know.

I found this programmer competency chart that is great for programmers but I cannot find anything similar for SysAdmins.

 Id love to know how you rate your sysadmin prosptects.


How enterprises can save money with Open Source software

As an Open Source Integrator I've helped a number of companies to save money using Open Source software. In this blog post I'll go over a number of software areas where Open Source software can easily be used in place of the existing proprietary software.

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Online Web Game

I've been playing an online webgame recently. (You've probably seen the advertisements for it).  The game is one where you build up your empire in several ways in order to dominate your corner of the world.


One of the ideas of the game is that the game runs even when you aren't online. You're farms keep producing food,  your ironmines keep creating iron, and  so on.  You leave it for a day, when you come back you have the resources to build something you've had your eye on.  The game teaches you patience.  After you start getting some of the higher level buildings and warriors or technologies it can take days to accomplish one thing. (During which you hope you won't be attacked).


I like this aspect of the game, as it will keep users coming back again and again.

 One of the downsides of the game is that it plateaus fairly quickly.  The game design is good, but doesn't go far enough. It also doesn't have enough possible paths in order to advance your "civilization".  The game does copy a lot of ideas from civilization, including most of the quotes. 

 The game is downloaded into flash each time you log in, so it is kept updated in real time. 




Nagios - A Fork in the Road

Nagios Founder Ethan Galstad comments on the recent fork of Nagios

"Nagios-A fork in the Road"

As many of you know, a recent fork of Nagios has been announced, accompanied with a flurry of activity in both the community and press. An email thread titled "Nagios is dead! Long live Icinga!" began last week on the nagios-devel mailing list to kick this off.

What are my thoughts on this announcement? I think its one of the best things to ever happen to Nagios.

Why? The announcement of the fork, along with the community's reaction to it has brought to light several things:

  • Community interest in furthering Nagios is at an all-time high
  • Community developers want to get more directly involved in the future project direction
  • Nagios development has been slowed by some bottlenecks
  • When the community perceives a problem, the community reacts
  • Communication within the community needs to be improved

This entire event has seen some ugly misconceptions and half-truths lobbed in the direction of Nagios Enterprises, the Nagios Project, the Nagios Community, and myself as an individual. That's unfortunate.

I am disappointed that no one from the Icinga project contacted me directly about this before the decision to fork was made. One of the reasons that was stated for the fork was lack of communication on my part. The unexpected announcement of this fork clearly demonstrates that there are communication problems on both sides of the issue.


Many of the individual developers in the Icinga project did what they felt was best in the situation they believed to be true. They appreciated Nagios, wanted to see it succeed, and wanted to play a direct role in its evolution. Many of them have been very active in the Nagios project and community over the years. Their efforts have been much appreciated by both myself and the community as a whole. To those individuals, I pose this question - If what you wanted to do was help create "the" new Nagios interface and be materially involved in the future development of Nagios, why didn't you just ask? It's apparent that we all need to improve our communication and demonstrate better understanding of each other.

In the course of discussions about this fork within the Nagios community, many concerns have been raised, including: the future of Nagios, the Nagios trademark policy, and the commercialization of Nagios.

In an effort to begin to address these concerns, I have penned some of my thoughts in the following write-ups:

Open Source communities are not a panacea. The sky is not always blue. Anyone who tells you otherwise is likely delusional. Community can be great, and community can be frustrating. Ask anyone with long-term involvement in an Open Source project.

It's interesting to watch how individuals and companies react to situations of distress and change. Challenges can bring out the best and worst in all of us. True intentions, motivations, and personal character are often brought to light. I'm sure that the result of all of this will be a stronger Nagios project and community that endures far into the future.

To those of you who would complain about the state of things now or in the future, the time has come to "put up or shut up". If you see the need for change, you must be willing to materially involve yourself and commit your time, effort, and resources to affect that change. Don't assume that someone else will do things for you, and don't complain if they don't.

As things move forward, I can almost certainly guarantee you that you will not always get what you want and things will not always be done the way you want them to. Neither I, nor anyone else involved in the Nagios project, will attempt to please everyone. That is neither possible, nor beneficial to the overall effort.

I would suggest that we need one more fork for Nagios. That being a mental fork - a change in mindset - rather than a code fork. Lets all work together to improve the way we think, communicate, and affect the direction of Nagios for the better.

Are changes necessary? Yes. Will changes happen? Yes. Is Nagios dead? Hardly.

 Author:  Ethan Galstad




Zimbra - Mail server for those tired of MS tread mill

  1. Nice features (Free version and Paid version - basically support and active sync for mobile)
  2. Non-Windows
  3. AJAX web client is amazing
  4. Zimbra Desktop is very functional and has cool factor (CFO's will love it because it is Free) 
  5. Runs on Red Hat, Ubuntu, SUSE and (I am forgetting one be right back)
  6. more to come just trying out blog features of


While OSS and mainly FLOSS provide great solutions the implementation is what sells the project. From snazzy installers to finely worded documentation many aspects of a project are constantly a splinter in the implementors thumb. As an implementor I work to smooth ruffled feathers and explain difficult topics. Asking what "we" could do to remedy this is so out dated. I smile and explain, smile and apologize, smile and sell my services. What "I" need to do is get individual people involved. People with great ideas or knowledge that normally don't involve themselves with software. The social capital is there, I do the favors and the pro-bono work. How to apply this capital to interest my peers into contributing to the community?


Giving is not just money, its time and knowledge and sharing.


Building the ultimate network.

Im hard at rethinking how we build our corporate networks today.For some reason we can put endless ours into automating some tasks and in the process put much more man hours into it than it would take to manage things manually. This automation also brings some bad side-effects like the self serving struggle to make machines conform to corporate standards. Im not at all convinced the time i for eg. put into researching, impementing and deploying some policy settings save even an hours work over several years and a couple of hundred machines. Some time those policies even adds significantly to my support burdon. Mind you this is Windows boxes and thats why i have taken a step back and started thinking. One other very bad side effect is that this also makes it next to impossible to introduce anything other than the corporate approved desktop OS.

washing penguin

Our network is built upon the assumption that a workstation thats managed by us on our internal network is more or less secure.  I wonder if thats really a secure way of handling things. Most users that can do anything bad with the information they can potentially steal are employees, not some random hacker trying to get my Wow account

 The most common way is to treat anything inside the LAN as more or less trusted and anything from outside the firewall as untrusted. Im starting to believe that its time to move the trust even longer into the LAN and treat the internal network as untrusted. 

Im currently pondering building a network where its up to the user what they do with their own machine as long as it has antivirus on it and is updated regularly. No managing of the computers whatsoever, no boundaries and no stupid it-policies thats there just for the sake of the it-crowd. By doing that and put every possible service on webservers and refuse to buy server software with clients this would become a totally free network that can be pretty much platform agnostic. The biggest hurdle, the machine management is in itself the biggest stumbling block for the users today. By making the internal LAN completely untrusted and demanding two factor auth regardless of location what computer people use and wheather its trusted or not becomes moot. Everything has to be secured just as if it was publicised on the internet.

 eBox is one way of acheiving this which im currently investigating. Coupled with Google apps and two factor auth its pretty much ready.

 I really call this going one step back and two large step forward.


Reach out easier?

Linux Servers for the masses?

 I work with both Linux, Windows and Netware servers. The difference from my view is that the amount of work on setting up a server is more or less the same regardless of OS. The only difference is how fast the service is configured initially.

 On some systems you can have a wizard  make your server 10% ready in a heartbeat and then put countless ours into tweaking it into what you really want. On Linux you often spend much time doing the initial setup and then maybe 10% for the rest. For the casual deployer Linux seems much harder when its in reality far easier to manage and deploy.

 Its fully possible to make a distribution that makes assumptions, ask the user for the missing pieces of information and slaps up an LDAP, Mail, Webmail, FileServer and other services without to much work from the user. The  missing link is often to tie the bits and pieces together to make a good default system easily. The services are mostly installed without any integration at all by default.

 The thing is not to make the best configuration possible initially but to give users a working system fast and without much work just as they are used to if they come from the Windows world. They are used to put many ours into the system after the installation is done but not to read up on things and know what they do before even beginning.

Various virtual systems that companies like zenoss use to showcase their systems are a good bit on the way but really not an ideal solution.


Microsoft, Going But Not Gone. Yet.

There are going to be some big changes at my company.  And they will hardly be noticed.  While the users will keep using their Windows XP/Office 2007 desktops, the backoffice will undergo a major overhaul.  The Microsoft Small Business Server  that, honestly, has served us well will be going away as we move to full featured systems without limitations.

I hired a consultant to design a system with high availability for mission critical functions and a 72 hour disaster recovery window.  I stressed I wanted to use open source wherever practical.  They have done the environment discovery and will be presenting their recommendations in a couple of weeks.   We have talked about using a Windows Server as a DC to provide Active Directory authentication, Windows Software Update Services, DNS, DHCP, WINS, etc.,  We will also keep our Sharepoint Services 3.o intranet.  Everything else will be running on CentOS5 servers.  Email will be Kerio Mail Server, file sharing/storage will be Samba.  Website will be Joomla.  While the Kerio Mail Server is not open source itself, it does rely heavily on open source products such as Apache, MySQL, ClamAV, SpamAssassin, et al.   I'll be extremely happy to see Exchange Server go and the end users will not see much difference at all with their Outook connected to KMS.

In the meantime, I'm learning CentOS.  Most of my Linux work has been on Ubuntu both server and desktop.  I set up a test server with Kerio Mail Server on CentOS 5.3 and I'm very impressed with the CentOS system.  I'll probably replace the Ubuntu desktop on my notebook with CentOS to help me get used to the differences in file structure and package management.

The eventual goal will be to replace the Windows DC with Samba when Samba will handle Active Directory and WSUS.  I don't know how we'll ever get off Sharepoint, though.

Exciting times. 

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