Mac OSX 10.5 Upgrade


Apple Online Store
I’ve just finished upgrading my Mac Mini to OSX 10.5, and I have to say, the upgrade could not be simpler. While it did take slightly over an hour to complete, there were fewer than 10 clicks throughout the entire upgrade process, so I can’t imagine how anyone could mung it up. The one detail that I found a little strange was the lack of any indication that the installer was going to perform an “upgrade” install rather than a “fresh” install. Zach simply took it on faith, but I insisted on clicking the “Details” button just to be certain.

The OS itself is quite nice, although it is a bit strange to get used to the finder looking like iTunes. Stacks is a great idea, but part of me wishes it behaved more like a launcher-type application than a different interface to folders. Who knows though. Maybe after using them, I will come to appreciate the feature a lot more.

One thing that I am very glad to see is “Spaces”. Basically virtual desktops, X Windows has had this feature since the very beginning, but it is just now becoming native in Mac OS. Granted, there has almost always been external applications that handle this, but it’s nice to see it wrapped in.

There is a lot of buzz about the “Cover Flow” features that have been added to the finder. I have to admit that it is extremely aesthetically cool and very very slick. How much I use it in my day to day life remains to be seen, but it will be nice to browse documents visually without having to depend only on the title to find them.

Time machine, basically well integrated filesystem snapshots, seems like it will be a wonderful addition, but I have not had the chance to use it yet because I don’t have an external fire wire drive. It’s on my shopping list though, so I will be enabling it just as soon as I have the gear to make it run.

All and all, I think it’s an outstanding upgrade, and well worth the money. Give it a shot… You won’t be sorry.

Another Used Sun Fire T2000 For Sale

STATUS: Sold
We have another used Sun Fire T2000 server. Since the first one was sold in less than 24 hours, I thought it would be nice to offer this one up to this site’s readers as well. It has never been used in production and is in like-new condition.

  • Sun Fire T2000 Server
  • 8 core 1.0 Ghz UltraSPARC T1 processor
  • 16GB DDR memory (16 1GB DIMMs)
  • 2X 73GB 10,000PRM disk drives
  • 1X DVD-ROM/CDRW drive
  • Serial Number: 0639VB0053
  • Starting Bid: $13,000

If you are interested, or would like any further information, please leave a comment or visit this link. Our university campus policy states that big ticket items like this must be sold using an auction style bidding system. I should add, however, that most items in the surplus system are sold with only one bid, so please don’t let the process discourage you if you are at all interested.

VMware Fusion Evaluation

Since much of my job involves rolling out Linux solutions I’ve been experimenting with VMware Fusion Beta for the Macintosh in my development environment. Given that the product is still in beta, I have very few complaints about its actual stability. Most of the features work reliably as advertised, but there are some basic points of functionality that I feel the software is lacking. More on that later.

First, let’s take a look at exactly what VMware Fusion is. At its core, the package allows the user to create and run virtual machines on the Macintosh. For those who are new to virtualization, it is a way to run multiple virtual computers on one actual computer. The hardware resources are abstracted and shared to the virtual machines through the virtualization software — in this case VMware Fusion. A complete description on virtualization can be found here.

Previous to Fusion, only VMware player was available to Macintosh users, so it is nice to actually be able to create virtual machines locally. The snapshot feature is also very nice for development purposes since you can instantly roll back to a previous working state should you corrupt the software on the virtual machine.

Perhaps the problem that annoyed me most, however, was the fact that there is no clear way to delete virtual machines from within the software. I actually tried to get rid of one by deleting this folder:

/Volumes/Macintosh HD/Users/myaccount/Documents/Virtual Machines/Mymachine.vmwarevm

But I just ended up breaking the “Virtual Machine Library” application and having to uninstall and reinstall everything from scratch. The process detailing how to delete a virtual machine did not exist anywhere in the VMware Fusion FAQ or documentation as far as I could tell. Granted, it’s beta software, but I would think this should be a core feature of any virtualization product. At least they provide an “Uninstaller” script.

VMware Fusion is a basic piece of software that succeeds in fulfilling the most fundamental of virtualization requirements. If all you want to do is be able to run a virtual machine or two on your Mac, it will most likely work for you. If you are looking to deploy it as part of an enterprise solution, I would suggest letting the product mature a while and using something like Parallels instead.

Using My New Mac Mini

My new Mac Mini came in yesterday and I just got it all up and running. I had some misgivings about allowing the system to transfer over all my applications and information from the old system, but I went ahead and did it anyhow simply because I seriously doubted I could find all the CD’s for my software. For the most part, the process went smoothly, although I had to do a little cleanup afterwards because a few applications did not work after the migration.

I was also a bit concerned about what kind of performance I would get out of the new Intel processor because many of my applications are older and were compiled on the old PPC chips. This has turned out to be a total non-issue! I got the new Mini fully loaded with a 1.83Ghz Intel Core Duo processor, 2 Gigs of RAM, and a 160 Gig SATA drive, so even the older applications that require the carbon libraries scream right along.

While I would have obviously liked to get the Mac Pro, I am very much enjoying using my new Mini, and feel that I can recommend it fully.

Used Sun Fire T2000 For Sale

STATUS: Sold
The University where I work is currently selling a used Sun Fire T2000 server. Since many of this site’s readers are fellow Solaris administrators, I thought it would be nice to offer it up to them. It has never been used in production and is in like-new condition.

  • Sun Fire T2000 Server
  • 4 core 1.0 Ghz UltraSPARC T1 processor
  • 8GB DDR memory (16 512MB DIMMs)
  • 2X 73GB 10,000PRM disk drives
  • 1X DVD-ROM/CDRW drive
  • Serial Number: 0617NNN1FY
  • Starting Bid: $6,000

If you are interested, or would like any further information, please leave a comment of visit this link. Our campus policy states that big ticket items like this must be sold using an auction style bidding system. I should add, however, that most items in the surplus system are sold with only one bid, so please don’t let the process discourage you if you are at all interested.

Setting Up The Automounter Service on RHEL

Mounting filesystems in RHEL is pretty straightforward and easy. Occasionally, however, you will not want the filesystem to remain mounted all the time, but rather to automatically mount for a set period of time only when it is needed. Because of networking overhead, and the general unreliability of networks, NFS mounts are a good example of when this can be especially useful.

In order to manage the automatic mounting and unmounting of filesystems on RHEL, we use the Automounter service. Here is how.

First, The main configuration file is “/etc/auto.master”. It should look something like this:

#
# $Id: auto.master,v 1.3 2003/09/29 08:22:35 raven Exp $
#
# Sample auto.master file
# This is an automounter map and it has the following format
# key [ -mount-options-separated-by-comma ] location
# For details of the format look at autofs(5).
#/misc  /etc/auto.misc --timeout=60
#/misc  /etc/auto.misc
#/net   /etc/auto.net


Let’s assume that we want to set up an NFS mount on “/misc/backups”. We would first create an entry in this file that looks something like this:

/misc   /etc/auto.misc --timeout=120


This tells the autofs service that we want to use it to manage mounts from within “/misc”, that the configuration file is “/etc/auto.misc”, and that it should disconnect after 2 minuets of inactivity.

Now, let’s edit the “/etc/auto.misc” file. The file has three columns: the mount point from within the /misc directory, the options for mounting the filesystem, and the filesystem to be mounted. It also includes the remote server’s name since we are using NFS. It should look something like this when you are done:

#
# $Id: auto.misc,v 1.2 2003/09/29 08:22:35 raven Exp $
#
# This is an automounter map and it has the following format
# key [ -mount-options-separated-by-comma ] location
# Details may be found in the autofs(5) manpage

cd              -fstype=iso9660,ro,nosuid,nodev :/dev/cdrom
backups         -rw,soft,intr remoteservername:/path/to/nfs/export

# the following entries are samples to pique your imagination
#linux          -ro,soft,intr           ftp.example.org:/pub/linux
#boot           -fstype=ext2            :/dev/hda1
#floppy         -fstype=auto            :/dev/fd0
#floppy         -fstype=ext2            :/dev/fd0
#e2floppy       -fstype=ext2            :/dev/fd0
#jaz            -fstype=ext2            :/dev/sdc1
#removable      -fstype=ext2            :/dev/hdd


Next, we create the directory for the mount point in /misc:

# mkdir /misc/backups

And finally we restart the autofs service:

# service autofs restart

That should pretty much do it. If you don’t have autofs configured to start up, you can use chkconfig to enable it. “/misc/backups” will now be mounted whenever a user or process attempts to access data on it, and it will be automatically disconnected after 120 seconds of inactivity. Last, but not least, you can always confirm that it is running with the “service” command:

# service autofs status

As always, change the details to match your own requirements.

Working With Disk Labels in RHEL

When you install RHEL, the filesystems are labeled for you. Usually you won’t have to mess with it anymore, but on occasion, you may want to change them to more accurately represent the data that is stored on that partition. If, for instance, you used to have all of your database files on a partition labeled “/database”, but you have now moved them somewhere else, and you now wish to house your user account data there, it would make sense to change the label to something like “/users”.

Labels are, of course, arbitrary, so there is no technical need to do this, and you could, instead simply change the mount point in the fstab file, mounting the partition by device name rather than label, but it is usually cleaner to change the label. Here is how you do it:

First, let’s figure out what the partition is currently labeled as:

[root@calvin /]# /sbin/e2label /dev/hda4
/database
[root@calvin /]#

It’s current label is “/database”, and, since we have moved the database data somewhere else, we now want to store our user account data here, we need to change it to “/users”.

[root@calvin /]# /sbin/e2label /dev/hda4 /users
[root@calvin /]#

That’s all there is to it, now we check to make sure we have done what we think we have done.

[root@calvin /]# /sbin/e2label /dev/hda4
/users
[root@calvin /]#

Sure enough, it’s now labeled “/users” and the data on the disk remains intact. Now all we have to do is change the appropriate entry in the “/etc/fstab” file to represent the change.

Change this:

LABEL=/database       /databases            ext3    defaults        1 2


To this:

LABEL=/users          /users                ext3    defaults        1 2


And you’re all set to go. Make sure you have unmounted “/databases” before making the change.

Now, just run:
[root@calvin /]# mount /users
[root@calvin /]#

And you’re all set to go. As always, change the values here to represent those in your environment.