Blast from the past

(Note: this was actually written back in May.)

Top Tip: Filenames with a tilde in them can confuse Samba.

Case in point: last week a user was having problems loading his profile: W2K kept choking and saying that the file Local Data\Applications\foo\backup\~AvariciousMonkeys.c was in use. Naturally, lsof on the Samba server turned up nothing, and I couldn't see any obvious problem. On a hunch, I tried renaming the file to AvariciousMonkeys.c~, and hey presto! goodness all over.

This week I'm trying to get FAI going in seriousness. I've worked on it before, but now I've got three developers who want to switch to Linux. The last thing I want is another series of one-offs, so I'm taking the time to do it right. Now there's a CD version in beta, and so far it's working well. Cf. the usual way of doing it, which is to do PXE booting and grab everything off the network. I'm not opposed to that, but one of the things I wanted out of FAI before was the ability to do CD-based, kickstart-like Debian installs; looks like it's finally going to work.

Looks like we're having a problem with a Maxtor PCI IDE controller and the Intel mobo in our backup server. It's been mysteriously crashing in the middle of the night w/no log messages. Some checking in the BIOS turned up another problem: going to the hardware monitoring page to look at the CPU temperature made the damn thing freeze. WTF? Sure seems like the symptom we were seeing, and backups running at night make big use of the Vinum array that uses drives attached to the IDE adapter...long story short, taking out the card stopped the BIOS freezing. It remains to be seen if it'll work for the random midnight freezes, but it's good to have something to try. I'm hopeful that FreeBSD will be able to handle SATA drives attached to this thing...we'll have to see.

Which brings me to the next bit: fleshing out plans for server upgrades. As I mentioned, last week we had a power supply fail on our Very Important Server, and I want to try and keep that from happening again. Of course, adding umpty thousand dollars worth of hardware to your budget four months before the end of fiscal doesn't really work too well, so as much as possible I need to do this w/o new hardware. Ha! But I'll give it a try.

First off is setting up OpenLDAP and importing Samba's information into it. That'll be neat, since I've never worked w/LDAP before. Second is to set up some BDCs using OpenLDAP to query the master. (Or do they just suck over the whole database? Hm. Either way.) Third is to set up some Linux machines. Why? Two reasons:

LinuxHA and DRBD seem fantastic, and there just doesn't seem to be anything comparable on the FreeBSD side. As for the hardware...well, my first impression of server hardware from IBM, HP and the like (no, don't talk to me about Dell) is that I'm going to need a newer version of FreeBSD than we currently use in order to run SATA drives. (I know SCSI is the way to go, but I was quoted two thousand dollars for two IBM 73GB 15k drives! I know: 15k, IBM, etc, but even halving that means two -- two! -- 73GB drives for a thousand bucks, a/o/t two 200GB drives for, what, four hundred. Heh.)

We're using an older version of the 4-series FreeBSD here. I've already set up one server using a newer 4-series release, and it's a pain: too many differences, one more thing to keep in mind when making changes, and so on. I haven't worked with the 5-series yet, and I don't want to start now...not entirely sure that it'd work for us. Plus, we'll probably migrate to Linux anyway, so I don't mind doing it for a server.

Anyhow! Get a Real Server and throw Linux on it. Hook it up to our drive array and start migrating home directories to ReiserFS from UFS/FreeBSD. Not trivial, but doable. Add more Linux servers as budget allows.