From January 2009

All of my servers run a flavor of a virtual infrastructure. Most popular is probably the VMWare ESX and ESXi series. Especially, the ESXi offering is a freely available virtualization platform that allows you to host virtual machines hassle free.

So, with any offering there has to be some distinction between the paid offering and the free offering (unless you have open source software, hint hint) and so the ESXi platform is no exception to the game. Still it is a great offering. So, what do you have to do to upgrade to the latest release or available patches?

VMWare provides the VMware Infrastructure Client that can be run (unfortunately only) on Windows. While installing you should choose to install everything, because then there is also the VMware Infrastructure Update installed. With it, is is a breeze upgrade/update your ESXi servers.

The steps are;

  1. Choose Start > Programs > VMware > VMware Infrastructure Update.
  2. On the Hosts tab, select the ESXi hosts to check for updates.
  3. On the Updates tab, click Check Now.
  4. Install the Update. This will download the Updates and Patches. With some it takes a looooong time.
  5. Once downloaded it will prompt for you authentication and install the update.
  6. If needed, reboot the ESXi host machine.

The other day a good friend of mine asked me why relationships between couples suffer so much and why among a lot of our friends (I am sure you know some as well) are suffering from divorce or are about to get separated.

Now, I am no expert in relationships or have a certificate on some sort of psychology, but I am married the second time, had a “not so easy” divorce and got two children. Plus, I am what you would call a “Do-Hower”, a maker, a innovator, someone that does things and not only talks about it, well I guess you got the idea.

That said, I personally think that a lot of people got the relationship, or better said the meaning of it, wrong. I know at least a handful of woman (and man) that think of a partnership as something that impels spending each minute together or think they have to give in to many compromises to appease the partner.

Well then, why do some many partnerships break up if that is true? Do you need some proof?

There are (again) a couple of people (and maybe you know some as well) that as soon as they enter a partnership they “abandon” the time they spent with their friends. Then you start hearing friends saying “well, she/her got a new boy/girlfriend, that’s why she/he not around so much anymore…” or “…she/he is now doing that new hobby, because she/he is doing that…”. There is somehow the understanding that one has to spend each minute with the partner or “become” like she/he. But as with all things that you compensate more then needed they get boring. Partnership is no difference.

Coming back to the point, I think we have to give our partners more freedom in the sense that we have to accept our partners the way they are and not try to change them to what WE THINK they should be! Simply think about what attracted you to your partner at the very beginning when you first meet.

If people would simply accept their partners the way they are, then I am sure there wouldn’t be so many “problems” in the relationship and the endless “you don’t make me happy”. Because after all, it is not the partner who has to make you happy and feel good, it is your own duty to do so. If your partner supports you, then the better, but don’t expect your partner to entertain you. If you want to be entertained go the zoo or a concert.

There is a favorite song that starts with “Don’t go changing to try to please me…”. Just imagine what possibilities there are when your partner does not try to change you AND of course you don’t try to change your partner.

Somehow in our education we must have learned that by manipulating our surroundings we got what we wanted and from that the mindset (paradigm) of changing our surroundings set in. It is therefore no wonder that we try to apply the same “rule” when we enter into a relationship. But when we want our relationships to work, we have to stop forcing people to see the world in our way, to stop telling our spouse how to treat you and foremost to stop thinking that if the other person changes we will be happy.

To love someone, to really love someone, means to accept and respect your partner the way they are and love them for their uniqueness.

I run a couple of servers over at a server farm. All of those machines run VMWare ESX, so today I wanted to move my last physical server to a VMWare image. If you want to convert a physical Windows machine then your task is quite easy. Start up the freely available VMWare Converter and start converting your physical machine to a virtual one. But what about when you need to convert a Linux server?

Since I really did not want to setup a new CentOS machine with all the packages I need and copying stuff from the physical to the virtual I did the following steps successfully. Keep in mind that this is on CentOS 5.2. I am sure this works for other Linux distributions as well.

  1. Create a new virtual machine and install the bare minimum CentOS. I used the CentOS NetInstall Option. This takes about 20 minutes or so.
  2. Now, create a “backup” directory on the root level (“/”) of your disk and copy the following directories into this backup directory;
    1. boot
    2. etc/fstab
    3. lib/modules
  3. Then on your physical server create tarball with the following directories included;
    1. boot
    2. bin
    3. etc
    4. home
    5. lib
    6. sbin
    7. usr
    8. root
    9. var
    10. opt

    Include any other directories that you need or have created. You should not need to include the “tmp” or the “lost & found” one. It is important to keep the permissions settings and this use the following command to create the tar;
    tar czvfp physicalserver.tgz <directoriesabove>
    (be prepared to make yourself some coffee in the meantime)

  4. Copy the file physicalserver.tgz to your new virtual machine.
  5. On the virtual machine move the physicalserver.tgz to the root (“/”) folder and extract it. This will probably take some time and you should get to your second cup of coffee.
  6. Once it has finished extracting do not attempt to reboot the server. Doing so will most probably render your image unbootable!
  7. Copy all of the directories within the backup directory to their original position (the ones from step 2) and confirm to overwrite existing files.
  8. Once done, issue the command “grub”. You will then be in the grub editor. Type the following commands to create a new MBR;
    1. root (hd0,0) (this is hd<zero>,<zero>)
    2. setup (hd0) (this is hd>zero)
      You should see some confirmation messages. Type “quit” to exit the editor.
  9. Now reboot the server and pray :-)

I have done the above steps with 3 servers and it has always worked without problems. But there are some post-reboot steps that you should do as well. They are;

  1. Network Adapter. During the move above you will loose your network adapter. Thought CentOS still got everything setup and all working, you wont be able to reach outside of the virtual machine. Funny thing is that the Network Adapter in the Virtual Machines Configuration Settings also shows no problem. To make it work again you have to remove the Network Adapter in the Virtual Machine Settings and add one again.
  2. Install VMWare Tools. Since your physical server has no VMWare Tools installed this is a obvious step.
  3. Run security configuration. In my case, after step 1 and 2 above were done, I still could not get outside of my network. This was due to a mess up with the security settings of CentOS and most probably SELinux is running and prohibiting any network traffic. Simply run “system-config-security” in the shell and adjust your settings.
  4. Reboot your server.

With the above steps you should have a full copy of your physical server on your virtual machine environment. Let me know how it goes for you in the comments.

My previous settings for the CentOS NetInstall did not work anymore. So, I was hunting around for the right ones. In the end, I found that the below ones work the best:

This is for the HTTP one
Host: mirrors.kernel.org
Directory: centos/5.2/os/i386

I, like a lot of other people, have accounts on a couple of social networks. Most prominent might be Twitter, where we might have more then one account, FaceBook or/and FriendFeed. The last time I looked I counted around 30+ social network sites. That is a lot of updating and keeping up with the news. After all, who wants to miss the latest and greatest :-)

Thought there are a lot of social network sites around and the publicity around it have risen in the last couple of months, most prominently because Barack Obama has used Twitter and other sites to get the people vote for him (and he has done so very successfully). The one thing that is really (still) missing is the one client to fit it all!

The Quest for the client application starts

In the past I have used TweetDeck as my main Twitter client, because it simply features a couple of really useful functions, but again, it is only for one social network (Twitter) and can handle only one account (for now). So, my quest for a client which can connect to the social universe was still going on.

Then I found EventBox. EventBox has the mantra I was actually looking for, that is “Pack Your Social Networks in One Box”. Great, I thought and started trying it out. After all, it promises to bring together Twitter, FaceBook, a RSS-Reader (with synching to Google Reader) and Flickr support into one box.

Frankly said, after trying out EventBox for a week, I was disappointed, because it does not actually bring your social networks together, but is a client which tries to be everything. It might suite some people, but it did not work in my work flow. See, I am trying to find a client to connect to my social network to keep up with all the news that go on. For me it did not make sense to have a RSS-Reader build in (for that NetNewsWire does a much better job) or putting photos on Flickr. Second, the application costs you $20 (during beta $15). Personally, I would love to pay for a client, but then I would have to have a web, desktop and mobile interface that would sync with each other. That would make sense, and would be a perfect Business model.

twhirl-intro-screensThen the other day I have found Twhirl. Twhirl just like TweetDeck is based on Adobe AIR and has been around for quite some time. The main difference between TweetDeck and Twhirl is probably the possibility to connect to multiple Twitter, laconi.ca, Friendfeed and seesmic accounts. Which alone is a big plus, in that it covers 4 social networks that a lot of people use. Especially, Seesmic looks like a promising network and from what I see and hear, will be a big player in this field.

After using Twhirl for some time now, I have to say that I replaced TweetDeck with it. I am now able to keep up with 4 social networks in one client (thought from the architeture, I am sure that adding other networks will be easy to do). Also, the notification window does not only notify me of new Messages (like TweetDeck) but also shows me the messages itself. If you are using Entourage you know those notification windows in the lower right corner, Twhirl also has those. Thus you won’t have to switch to the client just to read what just came in. This is a huge time saver for me!

So, for now, Twhirl wins my sympathy as it helps me save time and lets me read and write messages to more then one network in one application. If the developers add some more networks to it, I believe it can become the social network client for people who want and need to read/write to more then one account.

What about Chat?

Instant Messaging is also another big part of my communication with friends, customers and team members. Be it on MSN, Yahoo!, GTalk, AIM or FaceBook Chat I found that IM is one of the best communication channels to quickly discuss a topic with a fellow developer or get/give help.

As written before, AdiumX is a big lifesaver in this regard as it allows you to bring together all your IM accounts in one client. With the addition of linking in to the FaceBook Chat, AdiumX has a foot in the social network and I wonder if they will expand on it. I could imagine that the developers would add Twitter to the bundle or some other networks.

As it stands now, Twhirl and AdiumX are my constant companions to be connected to the social universe.

enviro-hero20081014I am a big MacOS X fan (not to be mistaken with a fanatic Apple follower) and just love my new MacBook Pro. First I thought, that the glossy screen is a major headache, but to be honest the crisp screen and the ease on the eyes makes up with seeing myself sometimes in the screen.

But what is a Operating System without applications that make live and work with it a pleasure? So, here is a list of applications I have come to love and could not imagine a day without it.

LaunchBar

LaunchBar is by far the best application I have come across in all the years of using MacOS X for lunching Applications. I have been a using DragThing for many years before I found LaunchBar. Where as DragThing lets you organize your Applications in Drawers and with a simple click launching them, LaunchBar let’s you work more in a “find and launch” approach.

move-file-zoomedLaunchBar scans your whole drive and creates a index of all available documents, applications, music, videos and just about everything. You then simply call up a “bar” and start typing the document or the application you want.

But where DragThing and other tools are simply Application launchers, LaunchBar lets you interact with your system in any way. Say, you need to search on Google you simply start typing “goo” and a search template shows up. Enter the search term and LaunchBar passes the query to your default browser and you get the results in your browser. The real benefit is that you can do this from about everywhere in your Mac. Say you are in Apple Mail and want to open a website. Instead of going over to Firefox, then open a new page and enetering the URL, you use LaunchBar, type “.” (dot) and type the address.

Or how many times do you have to send a attachment by eMail? Doing so with LaunchBar is a peace of cake. Chose the file in your finder (or even find the file in LaunchBar), hit “tab” and type the “mail” (for Apple Mail) then hit Enter. LaunchBar will open a new mail message in Apple Mail and has added the chosen file as an attachment already.

I like to work on my Mac, I don’t want to waste time. Thus LaunchBar is just about the best, you can do to save money and time.

PathFinder

The Finder of MaxOS X has seen some major improvements in the last releases. Nevertheless there are some things that are a hassle to do. Just think of copying or moving a file to another folder. With the current Finder you would have to open two windows, start dragging the file, see that you hit the right window, navigate to the folder, etc. What a pain!

path-finderPathFinder comes to the rescue. With PathFinder you will not only get a very slick Finder replacement, but one that features Tabs (multiple finder windows in one window), a Dual Pane File Browser (remember Norton Commander on Windows:-) ), Cut & Paste in the File Browser and among other things a very handy “Drop Stack”.

With the Drop Stack alone you will be able to drag and drop a folder or file to the Drop Stack, grab some other files or folder, drag them again to the Drop Stack and then choose where you want to copy or move them.

Path Finder is on par with all the features that the Finder offers, comes with QuickLook, Spotlight search panel, SVN support, FTP and Shell browser built in and much more.

The developers are super fast with replying and the tools just works. What else do you want?

Yojimbo

Just like about everyone, I got tonnes of information that I want to keep. URLs I like to archive for later consumption or snippets of information. Say you want store all your serial numbers or passwords in one place or travel information, ideas, images or whatever. Most use FireFox for storing bookmarks, or then a web archive, others use folders full of information, but imagine you have one convenient place to go to and get all you need.

yojimbo-glamorWelcome Yojimbo to your Application foler. Yojimbo is the small but brilliant information keeper for all your information.

The latest version brings MobileMe access to Yojimbo that allows you to sync your information to more then one Mac and you can sync Notes with a addon. Sure if you really need synching and a mobile client then Yojimbo is not your first choice.

I personally, love Yojimbo because it is just simple, easy to use and there is nothing to learn. Just use it.

NetNewsWire

If you follow a lot of blogs then there is nothing better then a dedicated RSS-Reader. My favorite RSS-Reader is NetNewsWire. In the past, one had to buy a license for it, but it is now free to use. Actually, my favorite feature is to be able to have my read/unread status on my BlackBerry with the NetNewsWire mobile client. Also, one has a slick web interface, which again syncs with the mobile and the desktop client.

Skitch

Showing someone what you mean in a image is better then describing it. I guess the makers of Skitch had this in mind when they created one of the best screen shot utilities for the Mac. With Skitch you are able to annotate your image with circles or arrows, write text that stands out, resize and crop and best of all simply drag and drop the image to your desired destination or application.

Adium

AdiumX is for Mac users what TrillianPro is for Windows users, that is a free instant messaging application which can connect to AIM, MSN, Yahoo, GTalk, FaceBook Chat and many other messaging protocol. Actually if you are on any of these networks you should use AdiumX, because you then only need to have one application open for all your instant messaging networks.

That’s it. This is the list of the applications I can not live without. Well, let’s say this is the list apart from the Apple’s own fine applications that I daily use. In the past I have used Entourage a lot, but now mainly live in Apple Mail. Same goes with Word and Excel, they are mainly replaced with Pages and Numbers. Not to speak of the presentation ware PowerPoint which now totally replaced by Keynote. I think Keynote alone is the most appealing reason to consider to get iWork.