How to Edit an Automated Installer Manifest with NetBeans

Editing XML

Editing XML is something system administrators seem to really hate; understandably, XML can employ a soup of standards! (Click to see Ken Sall‘s awesome image-map of XML related standards.) However, XML is awesome in providing a structured format for configuration and data files. In the OpenSolaris Automated Installer, XML is used as the manifest to select the system for install and how to install the system once selected. The Automated Installer uses a schema to verify the XML is acceptable to the installer engine and to provide a vocabulary of acceptable tags. However, if using a traditional text editor the process to author a manifest is rather painful since this data is not easily available to the author.

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How to use ISC DHCP for the OpenSolaris Automated Installer

DHCP, DHCP, DHCP everywhere!

Most everyone is used to using DHCP. It’s used at coffee shops and wireless networks to acquaint traveling laptops with their DNS and router settings as well as, of course, to provide the machines an IP address too. However, corporate and enterprise use of DHCP is often reasonable too. One can use dynamic DNS updates to handle having a static reference for a machine traveling on various networks. When network migrations are necessary (i.e. say your Fortune 500 gets bought by another) and you need to move thousands of machines, it’s much easier to simply tell your DHCP server to migrate the machines than have to log on to each and every machine and change network settings.
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Mercurial Learning

Why make folks do new things?

I realized that despite the importance for software development, many folks are largely unaware of the features and power their S(ource) C(ode) M(anagement) tool can provide them. In my group, we use Mercurial. It is an awesome SCM and perfect for our team (which is largely Python writing) as it is written in Python.
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I’m connected through the aether! (Well using 1900Mhz — cellular)

Cingular cellular using a Lenovo X200 and Ericcson F3507g built-in cellular modem


Internet connectivity is necessary in this day and age, especially for an engineer at Sun! So, one day at my Father’s house I was playing with his Sierra Wireless USB dongle and not succeeding at figuring out what to do without internet (this might help for those with one), but I remembered my work Lenovo X200 had a Cingular capable WWAN (Wireless Wide Area Network) card.

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Creating OpenSolaris USB Sticks Is Easy!

Putting OpenSolaris on a USB stick is part of the distribution
constructor project. It’s very simple, however, right now, one must be running on a Solaris host; though there are some interesting ways to get around this, just we need someone to spend some time to do it. Well, on a Solaris host, to begin with:
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Basic Tasks On OpenSolaris 2008.05 For Many A Sun Employee

At Sun there are tools which we’ve distributed with Solaris internally through NIS auto mount maps and other things which all depended on NIS. Now with the new OpenSolaris installer a number of us are finding we’ve forgotten how to get NIS setup on a machine and have never setup Real Media RealPlayer, Adobe Flash, or even OpenOffice.

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Power Savings In A Lab Environment

The green lab — that doesn’t cost an arm and a tail and doesn’t bark either

Recently after having a discussion with my manager about the cost of a hypothetical 30 person computer lab with both SPARC and X86 technologies we pondered prices and performance.

Here at Sun one can find Sun Ray’s in use for workstations everywhere. These workstations have been served off Sun Fire V880’s and Sun Fire T2000’s quite often in my campus. These systems serve people working on StarOffice, Firefox, Sun Studio, and even Windows applications.

This got me to thinking about the applications I used at my university when I was an undergraduate: ArcGIS, OpenOffice, Mathematica, Matlab, AMPL, SAS, and NetBeans. These all of course run on Solaris SPARC fine, but some other majors relied on Windows only apps too, like MineSight, and SolidWorks.

The buzz-word often heard today, but certainly true from a cost perspective is green technology. Read More »

An easier way to dual boot under Indiana

Ever want to run fdisk(1) on a machine just to label a partition?

Recently in the February FROSUG meeting I was being a less than polite speaker as Ginnie Wray was presenting. I felt bad about my lack of manners, but I think Ginnie knows me well enough to understand I was wanting to make a cool tool, to – I hope – make someone’s day a bit better.
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Lempel Ziv Markov Algorithm and 7-Zip

I’ve been working with the LZMA compression algorithm and code for a little while playing around with rewriting it in C and just understanding the algorithm and how it works. Certainly it’s attracted some attention with its impressive compression ratios, especially for just random bits of one’s disk. However, I’ve also found a lot of confusion about what is LZMA and what is 7-Zip. As in some ways 7-Zip is LZMA’s interface and in some ways and it’s completely orthogonal to a discussion about LZMA. So hopefully these questions and answers can clarify some things for folks just starting to look into this cool compression algorithm.

What is LZMA and what’s it have to do with 7za?

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Removing AdminTool and replacing what’s left with a very small shell script

For a few years, Solaris sported a nifty user command called admintool(1M). This used to be my friend when I started doing system administration around 1997 on Solaris 2.5.1, but slowly the tack at Sun changed and admintool(1M) was replaced with solstice(1M), it was more extensible but low and behold that was soon replaced with the current Solaris Management Console (smc(1M)), however, solstice too used the backing admintool libraries.

This certainly makes sense from software engineering principles, as who wants to rewrite code you don’t have to? However, there was a small command many systems administrators know and love for its patching knowledge caught up in these libraries too. This command was showrev(1M). This little command is all that’s left of the once very large and mighty admintool libraries. Though it’s certainly time for the libraries, and all last vestiges of solstice to leave the code base, but showrev(1M) should stick around a bit longer.

Certainly the days of showrev(1M) should be numbered. Read More »