PXE Installations on RHEL6 / OL6

I spent yesterday neatening up a few old articles. For the most part it is a bit of a dull process, but it has to be done every so often.

With what’s going on at work, it seemed like a good idea bring my old Kickstart and PXE Installation articles up to date. My kickstart article was written in the RHEL3 era which needed bringing up to date. Nothing has really changed about the process, but some new screen shots from OL6 make it look a little fresher. My old PXE Installation article was written against RHEL5/OL5, so I figured things wouldn’t have changed much between that and RHEL6/OL6… Wrong! I ended up having to write a new article specifically for PXE Installations on RHEL6/OL6.

I think that’s enough of me pretending to be a Linux sysadmin for a while… 🙂



Django Unchained…

I’ve delayed watching Django Unchained for a few weeks, mostly because it is 3 hours long and I struggle to sit for that long in the cinema, no matter what film I’m watching!

Let me start by saying I’m a big fan of . He’s obviously a smart guy. I like the dialog in his films. He always does interesting things with his characters. I think he’s got a good eye as a director. I kinda like the extreme nature of many of his films. Having said all that I really don’t know what I think about Django Unchained.

So the bullet points that should make me love this film are:

  • The dialog is what you would expect from QT.
  • The characters are interesting, as you would expect from QT.
  • It looks great. Or to put it another way, it looks bad when it is meant to look bad and great when it is meant to look great.
  • It is extremely violent at times.
  • It has some genuinely funny scenes.

Where I struggle is the racism in the film. Now as I’ve said before, Quentin Tarantino is a smart guy, so I think my reaction to this is what he intended. As well as the obviously funny scenes, there are some “comedy” scenes that I think will draw differing reactions depending your attitudes in this area, kinda like the following:

  • If you are a racist you will find them hilarious and be falling off your seat laughing, before renewing your subscription to the British National Party, or the equivalent right-wing racist organization in your country!
  • If you are kind-of oblivious to race issues you may find them mildly amusing, or maybe not even notice them.
  • If you are sensitive to racism, in whatever form it is presented, you will find them very hard work.

I think this may well be the genius of this film, but ultimately it is what makes me uncomfortable about this film.

It’s a great piece of work. Do I think you need to see it? Yes. Do I think you will enjoy it? I hope you don’t “enjoy” it, but I hope you see its value. Will I ever watch it again? I don’t think so.



Children of Dune…

Children of Dune is the third book in the Dune series written by Frank Herbert.

As I suspected, Children of Dune is a bit random. In summarised form the story would sound quite good, but the books rambles on a lot. I found myself wishing for chapters to end. I’m told by a few people things pick up from here. I’ve already started the next book and so far it sounds pretty promising… 🙂



Nexus 4 & 7: Android 4.2.2 Updates

Android 4.2.2 dropped a couple of days ago and the updates of my Nexus4 and Nexus7 went without a problem. The reason for this post is to point out something I found amusing about my usage of the Nexus4…

I just attempted to send a text message and noticed my Nexus4 was not connected to my phone network. I don’t think it’s been connected since the update two days ago. When I noticed, I did a search for the phone network, found it and played catch up on a couple of old messages.

What I found amusing is it shows how little I actually need a phone network. I am almost continually in wifi range and most of my communication is via email, twitter and skype, so having no data connection for two days went unnoticed. I’m glad I only pay ÂŁ8/month. 🙂



All change. Virtualization, here we come!

Followers of the blog will know I dig virtualization. I first ran Oracle in virtualized environments over a decade ago.

In my current company there is a strong virtualization presence in the Windows space. Pretty much all Windows servers, including those running MS SQL Server, are actually VMs running on a VMware farm. The UNIX/Linux side is a little different. Most stuff is still done on physical boxes and what little virtualization is done, uses CentOS and KVM for freebie open source solutions.

There are a lot of architectural changes going on at the moment and I’ve been pushing *very hard* for a switch to the virtual infrastructure (VI) for all our middle tier servers and a few of our databases. It is looking very likely (but not guaranteed) that this will happen.

Q: What is the incentive to switch to a virtualized environment?
A: We have a bad spread of resource utilization at the moment. Some very big boxes doing very little work, but in security zones that are too unsafe to use them for other purposes. Other boxes will soon be maxed out because they have been used to consolidate services. What’s more, some of the servers that are used for consolidation have multiple, conflicting, installations on them which are already starting to cause administration headaches.

Q: How can virtualization help with our resource utilization?
A: Using a 12 core server with 60G of RAM for a little Apache reverse proxy is crazy. For the sake of resilience, we have multiple of these. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Imagine adding those servers to the farm, carving out some little VMs and leaving all the rest of the resources to do cool stuff with. Sounds like a no-brainer to me. 🙂

Q: How can virtualization products ease our administration headaches?
A: By far the biggest administration headaches we are seeing in the middle tier relate to having multiple installations of products on a single machine. Doing upgrades and trying to remove old software can cause no end of headaches. Some of our old boxes have 30+ installations on them. It does your noggin in when you are trying to find out what is going on. You often spend much more time trying to identify which installation you should be looking at, than actually doing the task you’ve been asked to do. By moving to the VI we can add a greater level of separation between some of these installations, making life much clearer. Our current vision is one installation per VM. To upgrade we set up new VMs, migrate the services on to them and bin the old VMs. Everything remains clean and simple.

Q: What virtualization product should we use?
A: We have a big investment in VMware. There is a dedicated team who manage this infrastructure and know what they are doing. IMHO it is only Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) that prevents other people in the company moving some or all of the Linux stuff on to that infrastructure. Oracle products are only part of the infrastructure, but we understand and accept the Oracle licensing, support and certification implications of this move.

Q: What version of Linux will we be using?
A: Oracle Linux! Yeah baby!

Q: So nothing can go wrong?
A: Don’t be stupid. We are bound to get some pain points, but I think it will be a fantastic move in the right direction.

So now all that remains is to get the final approval and start moving this stuff on to the VI. If this happens I will be ecstatic. If it doesn’t I think my tantrums-per-day ratio will increase, but I’m bottom of the food chain in the company, so I will have to do what I’m told. 🙂 Fingers crossed.



RHCE Certification Articles (continued)…

I mentioned in my previous post on this subject that I had 5 more objectives yet to cover. The articles for those objectives have now been added to the website.

That completes the set!

The articles for both exams are available here. I also have a page listing the objectives for both exams, with links to each of my articles that cover them.

Now I just have to find the time to prepare for and sit the exams… 🙂



Bullet to the Head…

After boring myself to tears watching The Hobbit, I lost my cinema mojo for a while. I’ve struggled to motivate myself to get involved. Tonight I decided to give Bullet to the Head a shot ( ouch 🙂 ) at revitalizing my cinema spirit and you know something? It did it!

Stallone is a low grade hitman. His partner gets killed, so he accidentally teams up with a cop and goes on an ultra-violent killing spree of revenge.

The film plays to all Stallone’s strengths. He is doesn’t get involved in lengthy dialog. His lines are simple and direct, with a lot of attitude and a reasonable amount of humour. It’s a very basic action flick, but I think it delivers very well. If Stallone can keep delivering stuff like this, I’ll keep going to the cinema to see it.

On a mildly related note, I watched Dredd (2012) last night on cable at a mates house. It was pretty good. I should have seen it on the big screen.



Oracle and Itanium…

The recent ruling on the Oracle vs. HP case throws a lifeline to those customers already committed to Oracle on Itanium, like my current company, but what does this really mean as far as new customers are concerned?

Now this is just my opinion and you are free to disagree, but as far as I’m concerned, making the decision to go Oracle on Itanium is a massive mistake. In fact, it has been a mistake for the last 5+ years. During the death of Tru64, HP sales people were advising us to go HP-UX on Itanium and HP engineers were advising us to go Linux on x86-64, at approximately 1/10 of the cost. Who are you gonna believe? I’m sure there are workloads where Itanium used to work well, but from what I can see in my company, the regular Linux on x86-64 kit kicks the ass off the HP-UX on Itanium kit. When you consider the price difference between the two, that’s really the final straw…

I’ve now lived through the death of Oracle on Tru64 and I’m experiencing the slow death of Oracle on HP-UX. Forcing Oracle to support Itanium is all well and good, but it doesn’t make it a good choice for the future. Like Tru64, new versions and patches of Oracle products take ages to appear and the level of support for these platforms has always lagged far behind. I’ve heard plenty of people make the same complaints about Oracle on AIX, but I’ve got no recent experience of this, so it’s just hearsay.

When I’m asked my opinion, this is pretty much what I say:

  • For any 3rd party product (that includes Oracle DB), always pick the platform the stuff is developed for. In this case, I would suggest that Oracle Database on OL/RHEL x86-64 is the natural choice. Pretty much everything else is a port from there. Solaris (SPARC) has some life, having been bought by Oracle, but that would still be further down the list for me, especially as the hardware is crazy expensive. Solaris on x86-64 is such a small user base I don’t even count it yet.
  • The Oracle middleware products are Linux-only gear IMHO. Yes, they are supported on other platforms, but personally, I would not go near them. I’ve had a couple of bad experiences here and it’s just not worth it. Once again, new versions and patches come out quickest on OL/RHEL, so it’s a no-brainer for me.

To emphasize the first point, we recently initiated a project for a non-Oracle 3rd party product and were told it was supported on Linux or Windows. I asked the question, “What do most of your user base run on?” The answer that came back was Linux, so we went Linux. If they had said Windows, we would have gone Windows. Of course I have my preferences, but I don’t want to be anyones guinea pig where production applications are concerned!

When I arrived at my current company, the general strategy was Oracle DB on HP-UX and middleware products on RHEL. We will have some HP-UX kit for a few years to come, but Oracle databases for all new products are going on to Linux from now on. Most of those will probably be on VMware, since that is a strategic platform for our x86-64 installations. It looks pretty likely we will ditch RHEL in favour of Oracle Linux. Suits me just fine! 🙂



Note. The legalities of what Oracle did is not my concern in this post. The courts say they were in the wrong and they will have to pay for what they have done. My point is from the perspective of a user of Oracle products on this platform.