April 2007 Archives

sshfs / FUSE and gmailfs

Well, I recently setup FUSE and the sshfs. If you're unfamiliar. FUSE is a unique userspace filesystem which provides some interesting flexibility through the goodness of Open SSH.

Of course, you'll need to install FUSE and sshfs on your system to utilize these powerful tools.

I have always used SSH to access remote shell accounts and also to tunnel VNC traffic. Once you've setup secure key pairs, you'll not need to provide a username and password.
Hence, it then becomes trivial to run a script to automate a repetitive tasks.

sshfs allows you to securely mount a remote filesystem to your local machine. Essentially, you are able to mount the remote filesystem on your local box. You can then read/write to it quite effortlessly.
You simply setup a mount point for that remote filesystem, and run:

sshfs username@remotehost:/home/username /local mountpoint/
If you need to run special options 'sshfs -h' will provide you with the appropriate syntax.

Though I know I'm quite late, I finally decided to do something with all of the unused space on my gmail account. It seems that people have written python scripts to interact with gmail over the wire. Now that you've setup FUSE, you can make use of all of that extra filespace. Not sure if you can serve up data on gmailfs, as it could be frowned upon. Well, I suppose you won't know until you try :)

links for 2007-04-27

links for 2007-04-26

Importance of log rotation and maintenance

Yesterday, I was faced with the a perplexing error, "Page not viewable, check proxy refusing.. " or something to that effect. Well, I happen to use Privoxy, the client side web proxy. I also use squid a server side web proxy on my smoothwall firewall/gateway.
Privoxy is great because it zaps ads of all flavors (ie flash, image, js, etc). Privoxy was once managed by the same organization as the Junkbuster web proxy. The squid proxy helps me cache images, in an effort to improve my browsing experience.

Once I began to get these error msgs, I figured that there was a problem with the client-side software. I simply upgraded to latest stable release of Privoxy *3.06* I had been running v3.0.3 for at least 3yrs, and was very pleased (until I was unable to properly load sites).

However, this did not mitigate the problem. For whatever reason, I thought perhaps it was a connectivity issue. So I cycled the cable modem. No improvement. I could ping out to the internet without issue. So, I immediately began to suspect my smoothie.

After logging into the box, I notice this :

[root@goon root]# df -h
Filesystem Size Used Avail Use% Mounted on
/dev/harddisk4 942M 552M 342M 62% /
/dev/harddisk1 5.7M 4.2M 1.3M 76% /boot
/dev/harddisk3 234M 235M 0 100% /var/log

Hmmm. No wonder the squid daemon shutdown.
Heh, /var partition was consumed by the logs. A deeper look @ /var/log/squid revealed:

[root@goon squid]# du -h -s * | more
29M access.log
26M access.log.1
55M access.log.3
23M access.log.5

I began to wonder why the logs weren't being purged appropriately. I'm _sure_ that I had setup a cronjob to rotate and touch the files as appropriate.

As stated earlier, the squid proxy server simply caches all the images of the websites that I frequently visit. Simple problem and an even easier fix.
After reviewing the access.logs to make sure nothing was afoul. I proceeded to blast away the files to reclaim space on /var partition.
As root executed ' /usr/local/bin/restartsquid' ,checked to see if squid process restarted.

[root@goon log]# ps aux | grep squid
root 10376 0.0 0.6 3604 200 ? S Apr23 0:00 /usr/local/squid/
squid 10379 0.1 61.8 27028 18820 ? S Apr23 7:16 (squid) -D
squid 10381 0.0 0.1 1284 56 ? S Apr23 0:00 (unlinkd)
squid 10382 0.0 0.5 1976 164 ? S Apr23 0:27 diskd 10628096 10

All looks well. I also took advantage of this opportunity to run a squid log analyzer via the smoothie web interface. My firewall box simply runs and stays out of the way. I'd forgotten to grab the uptime info before I rebooted. It's pretty easy to forget about it, that is until I am unable to resolve pages as I expect ;)

Penguicon 5.0

Attended my 3rd Penguicon convention. The first night of the convention was lackluster at best. I checked out two talks. Introduction to Python and Moodle, Free Software Web Portal For On-Line Education.

The first presenter was unable to get the projector working, so the audience was asked to huddle around her notebook computer. Luckily I underwent Lasik surgery and my vision is at least 10-20. Needless to say, it still was difficult to appreciate the Python talk without really viewing the code. The presenter promised to post her talk on her blog. I'll have to take a peek later.

The Moodle talk was decent, and provided by the LinuxBox folks. Ironically they used the same room as the Python talk and were able to get the projector working. The problem these guys experienced was a weak Wi-Fi signal. No problem, I later got a copy of the Moodle talk from one of the presenters.

I do not fault the presenters as much as the hotel facilities. It seems that the hotel gofers were either not on duty or overwhelmed by other problems at the time of these talks. Perhaps the hotel just assumed that a group of geeks could simply fix their own problems.

Nonetheless, I'll be taking another trip to the Troy Hilton to take in a few more talks. I especially want to take in some of the Nanotech and TrixBox conversation.

links for 2007-04-19

Never let children use windows


One of the problems of serving as the resident geek, is that people routinely bring computers running windows which are totally overrun with trojans, virii and other assorted adware. It does seem that the majority of the work, I have been getting of late is related to restoring WinXP machines to working order.
*Sigh*, if I could just educate and convince parents not to let kids use that crap..

I have already explained my reasons for not teaching children to use any variant of M$ software. People complain that children barely can clean and organize their rooms, how the hell can they be responsible enough to vigilantly monitor and thwart trojans, virii, and adware on their computers running windows operating system? Does not seem logical.

Recently, I was asked to rescue a machine running WinXP Home. The machine had 373 variants of adware which had corrupted the system registry. The machine was still running SP1, as the trojans prevented the software updates.

So, as customary, I grabbed Spy-Bot Search and Destroy, and began to methodically remove the crap from the system registry. I also ran the Windows Update, so that I could upgrade the machine to SP2. Bare in mind that had the system not been so-called M$ genuine, the service updates and patches would not be available for install through conventional means. Yet another reason, that I strongly discourage the use of this software. Because the machine was a shrinked wrapped variety, I also grabbed the 3rd party virus and adware protection package. It seems that M$ acquired a company to help it better manage adware attacks on its system registry.

Receiving these updates took nearly 4.5 hrs (constant reboots), I then removed the very annoying Norton Anti-virus software and replaced it with Clam-Win a GPL'd anti-virus software package for win32 platform.

At the end of this entire ordeal, there was still one very pesky adware program that was embedded in the registry. Even booting in safe mode and running Spy-Bot from DOS shell did not remove it. The job was actually a freebie, so I left it there. Simply did not wish to waste further time. It is clear that the cost to maintain a windows box is extremely high considering the constant effort to thwart attacks on the system registry. My expectation is that I'll see the machine again in 6mths - 1yr.

The Redmond woolly mammoth claims that the registry will be restricted from 3rd party software. We'll see. Until then keep your children away from this software, instead introduce then to FOSS programs.

GParted 0.3.4 - Reviewed


Ok, after a few failed attempts of completing this entry... Here it goes.
A bit of background is required to appreciate the problem which facilitated the need to use G-Parted.
I am attempting to squeeze every bit of life from my aging workstation (modded Dual Athlon MP 2.4GHz).
Eventually, I will pull the trigger on an 64Bit AMD Athlon 4400+ 2.3GHz Brisbane Core. Until then, I'm limping along with older system.

When I initially setup my system, I allotted a mere 437MB to system swap (/dev/hda2) and roughly 7MB to /boot (/dev/hda1). The problem with this setup was that the Linux kernel images have really become much larger over the past few years. The reason for the large growth is that most distros (Slackware included) insist that a vanilla kernel contain modules (read: drivers) for every piece of hardware under the sun. So, when you boot your system hardware is recognized immediately, regardless if it is an old AHA-2940 SCSI adapter or very recent SATA drive.

In general, I typically experiment with at least two kernel images, so a 7MB seems impractical. In fact, one image consumed 99% of the /boot partition. So, what must be done?

Passing of Greatness

Some weeks a talked about death, that is the passing of the father of a former mentee. Though, I experienced another passing several months prior, I did not speak of it. Really I was at a loss for meaningful and thoughtful utterances.

Perhaps now I am better able to describe the impact Grandmaster Jae Joon Kim had on my highly coveted World Moo Duk Kwan Tang Soo Do. Besides the seminars and the Dan testings (another coming testing this Saturday), he took pride in promoting responsible and respectful martial arts practitioners. He had very little patience for those who did not appreciate the long standing benefits that Tang Soo Do afforded him and his family. It is of course a way of life and path of infinite discovery. Why not embrace it ?

I still remember his sometimes amusing question, "Why you do that?" Typically asked of a student who has forgotten basics or appropriate protocol. Jae Joon Kim was loved and will sorely be missed.

Nonetheless, I do look forward to getting to know his sons Nam and Saul much better. Another era has begun in wake of the passing of greatness.

links for 2007-04-11


Printed Media in Digital Age (Revisited)


It seems that InfoWorld has decided to discontinue printed editions of its very long running articles on the Information Technology. Actually, I had come to know this magazine quite late, but found it to be very useful. How many people actually pay for there printed copy of IW? My thought would be not very many. I never thought that a printed magazine could sustain itself without much of a paid subscriber base, but it seems that magazine's digital presence likely supported its printed base.

There was lots of interesting discussion from industry pundits. Perhaps most interesting was observing IW's foray into FOSS.

I started with Russ Pavelic, later the torch was passed to Neil McAllister. I watched this metamorphosis with keen interest because I knew the IDG had some minor stake in IW. Of IDG is a hugely supported by M$, so I often wondered how the IW FOSS news column would evolve. Much to my surprise, evolve it did. I never noticed any hesitation on behalf on the writers Pavelic or McAllister to take shots at M$ when warranted. The articles were largely well researched and insightful.

Now regarding this idea of the new media, and its ability to be highly disruptive in the traditional media space. I spoke about this here. I'm convinced that the new media model is positioned to continue its new growth. The early adopters of netcasting, screencasting or any other casting seems to have peeked the interest of all brick and mortar establishments. Heck now companies like Limelight and O'Reilly have begun to rival Akamai for media distribution dollars. Economies of scale is certainly in order here. Thank God for commoditization of software and hardware. As Doc Searls would say, these are the building materials that make it all possible.

I suppose this digital revolution holds no prisoners, I can point to a few brick and mortar record stores, like my beloved B'klyn based Beat Street, that went under because it didn't understand the digital model very well. Though in their later years the variety of music was seriously lacking, I would imagine that they could have done far better if they simply established a digital presence.

links for 2007-04-07

links for 2007-04-06

Bloglines Musings

I only wish I had the virtual celebrity of some people. Bloglines has always been my favorite, on the rare occasion that there have been outages they have not created serious problems for me.
Not sure if there is a benefit to switching RSS readers on a regular basis. Perhaps I should begin a running list of the most preferred RSS reader features?

My Dearest Bloglines (by Jeremy Zawodny)

AG Speaks Episode 0010 - Keith Elder

Finally published my 2nd segment for 2007.


Download mp3 (87min || 10.46MB)
Download Ogg (87min || 23MB)

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This page is an archive of entries from April 2007 listed from newest to oldest.

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