Autonomics refer to the ability of computer systems to be self-managing. – Here’s one that has been bothering me. Suppose you have a recurring problem that your “autonomic solution” can handle every time it occurs without any one knowing. At what point does the fact there is a treatable issue propagate up to a real person? While an automatic “fix and tell me later” approach helps change your work from fire fighting to planned tasks what classifies a temporary problem as being important enough to warrant you investigating it? Read on →

I’m a sysadmin, half my working life seems to be spent handling other peoples requests (which is why I’m trying to move over to infrastructure work - where I can hopefully concentrate on something for three whole minutes). While chatting with a junior admin at a tech talk in the week the following three tips came up: Use a ticketing system. This one comes up a lot but it’s true, never dropping someones request is well worth the time spent setting it up. Read on →

It’s been a week of databases, replication, provisioning and planning for automation. While winding down (it’s an on-call weekend) I found some links I’d marked for future reading. If you’re interested in database provisioning (especially read only replicated slaves), practical autonomics and how they could potentially be useful in a real environment then these papers make for an interesting ten minutes It doesn’t take a massive leap in imagination to see how a similar approach could be used in to horizontally scale web servers in conjunction with an intelligent monitoring system or load balancer. Read on →

I don’t normally write short posts with a single link but the The Great IPv6 Experiment amused me. In an attempt to crack the chicken and the egg adoption problem they have put up an IPv6 only website full of porn. They say porn pushes technical innovation. We’ll see. Although probably not until the videos are over.

I wanted to like Sunshine, I really did. A new sci-fi film by the writer and directors of 28 Days Later (a very entertaining film) should have been enough to keep me going until Spider-Man 3 is released. Instead it was a seriously dull and predictable two hours. The sun is going out (hip hip hip hurray?) so a small group of scientists are sent to detonate a bomb that’ll kick start it. Read on →

After my little whine I logged in to do my last checks for the evening to discover that one of our webservers had died due to a hard drive going bang, our production environment Nagios box had lost one of its network connections and a chunk of our SAN kit was complaining about power issues. Turns out that most of these were due to a power surge that killed a network switch and three of the racks power strips. Read on →

A Fractal is “a rough or fragmented geometric shape that can be subdivided in parts, each of which is (at least approximately) a reduced-size copy of the whole” – Wikipedia - Fractal Fractally Crap - a system where any piece, when looked at individually, is every bit as broken, badly planned and undocumented as the rest. And yes, I know that if you pile rubbish on rubbish then you get… (strangely enough) rubbish but you can normally find the occasional little gem or ray of sunshine. Read on →

I’ve had a cold / flu for the last month or so that I’ve not been able to fully shake off. I took a weeks holiday from work to relax and kill the damn thing only to be told by the doctor it’s not a cold or the flu, it’s a viral infection. Which will shift on its own, just not for a while. I was told the usual (give it time and lots of rest) and so I’m posting this as a quick and dirty way of explaining why I’ve not responded to your $FOO Back to bed for me.

There is something immensely isolating about working alone in a very secure, huge data centre, at 4am on a Sunday morning in an isolated “business park” in rural Scotland that only a few people will ever understand. The mind wanders, your ears strain to hear things over the quite loud air conditioning and just five minutes in daylight with a can of diet coke and someone to talk to would make the last 48 hours seem tolerable. Read on →

Yes, I’m completely behind with this one but it’s Linux geek funny (the images are CC licensed by Chris Blizzard). It is also a sneaky test of the image handeling. And then to the Debian and Ubuntu versions.