Unix Package Managers

I spent the day yesterday fighting with an HP-UX system trying to get OpenSSH installed. It was an OpenSSH binary in HP’s goofy DEPOT format. You really begin to appreciate things like RPM when you have deal with the Sun or HP package managers. HP has a fancy Motif GUI package manager but it couldn’t see the OpenSSH depot file even when pointed right to the directory it was in. Interestingly there were a dozen other depot packages in this directory and the package manager GUI could only see one of them. I eventually found the command line version and got the package installed only to discover it was missing all the files that are supposed to end up in the /etc directory. I ended up grabbing the source and doing it the old fashioned way.

Today I’m working on robots.net again. The traffic is begining to pick up and so far my mutant version of mod_virgule is holding up pretty well. It’s now syndicating content to xmlTree – though I found some more hard-coded references to Advogato in the RSS code I had to alter for our site until I get time to make them configurable.

Why Build a Website When You Can Build a Portal?

If I haven’t been doing a very good job of keeping my news page up to date lately, I can only make the excuse that I’m running a little short of free time these days. I’ve been helping a client migrate a lot of Solaris and Linux boxes to a new data center and it’s turned into a quite a major project. The last several days have also been spent helping them set up a Linux box to run Epicentric, a large, non-free, buzzword rich web development gizmo. Officially it’s used to make “portals” but the term seems to be defined very loosely so as to mean what we used to call a “web site”. And to make sure that enough buzzwords can be included, the Epicentric Portal Server runs on top of a big stack of other stuff including a Sun JDK, a JIT compiler, a web server, a Java servlet engine, JSP server, JDBC, and an SQL database. The end result is that you can take a simple web project that would take one person a couple of hours to do on a server with Apache and mod_perl and turn it into a giant project that requires dozens of developers, costs lots of money, and goes much slower.

The large number of components involved has created its own political problems with some people insisting that only high priced, non-free software like NT, IIS, and such must be used. What I’m actually using is Linux, Apache, the Sun JDK, IBM JIT compiler, and Jakarta Tomcat (the Apache Java servlet engine & JSP server). The only non-free components will be our existing Oracle 8i database and Epicentric itself. If anyone is interested, I may post a HOWTO page of the steps it takes to get all this debris working together. (assuming that I do in fact get it to work together!)

In unrelated news, I guess everyone saw the Slashdot article about Copyleft being named as a new defendant in the DeCSS suit because their DeCSS T-Shirt is a “circumvention device”? I’ve already bought two of their DeCSS shirts but when I heard the news I decided to buy some additional T-Shirts from them. Some of the money from each shirt you buy goes to the EFF or FSF so visit their site, buys some fun stuff and help fight the forces of evil.

APC SmartUPS and the Fate of Civilization

The replacement APC SmartUPS arrived today. They forgot the prepaid airbill for the dead one, of course, so I’ll have to call them about it tomorrow. I set up the new UPS and it seems to be working okay. I plugged a Sun Ultra 10 and monitor into it and, if nothing goes wrong with this one overnight, we’ll put it online and try to get it talking to Linux. I managed to get a nasty cut on the tip of my right index finger from a sharp edge on the UPS while lifting it – so typing is no fun at the moment.

I started reading How the Irish Saved Civilization by Thomas Cahill to Susan this week. Maybe someday I’ll figure out how to read books faster than I accumulate them.

One of our clients had a wav file that needed editing and I decided to find a sound editor for Linux. I found half a dozen but they were all version or somesuch and, after going to the trouble of building them, they generally consisted of a nice gui that didn’t actually do anything yet. Looks like I’ll have to use Sound Forge on the NT box for this one.

Computers, Software, and Art

Another week already gone! After solving our Verio DNS problems earlier this week, I spent the rest my time working with PostgreSQL. It took a couple of patches but I got it compiled and running on our Sun Ultra 10 with Red Hat Linux 6.1. I added a new 13gig drive just for the database. That should be enough space to get started. I’ve got our new web server (an Intel/RH61 box) set up with Perl DBI and PHP interfaces to the database server. Meanwhile, I’ve been working with Erin on our first web database application. I sneaked out of the office for a few hours today to catch the Georgia O’keeffe exhibit at the Dallas Museum of Art. It’s over in a couple of days and I’d promised Susan we’d go see it. It’s definitely worth seeing (but skip the audio guide!).

Openboot Update on the UltraSparc II

Today I did something new. I upgraded the Openboot PROM on our Sun Ultra 10. The version it shipped with seems to have trouble with IDE drives larger than 8 gig. And the Linux SILO program also seems to have a few problems with the old version of Openboot. Upgrading firmware is always a bit scary since a power loss or mistake results in an unbootable motherboard. Fortunately, all went smoothly. No more problems with large IDE drives and Linux boots perfectly every time. I highly recommend converting any UltraSparcs to Linux. Not only can you run in true 64bit mode but you’ll find that everything runs a lot faster – apparently this has something to do with the size of the Linux kernel and cache architecture of the UltraSparc II cpu. The next step is upgrading the IDE drives from 5400 rpm to new 7200 rpm.