I was more than a little slack in my online activities in February. Between getting back from LCA and preparing for FOSDEM (tip: sleep a lot before you go) I also managed to have curry with both David Cantrells, see Luke Kanies present Puppet at GLLUG, attend a London PM Heretics, a Lonix and two other meetings that don’t have real names yet. And reach another birthday. I’m not going to UKUUG in Manchester (I need some time at home) but I’ve been prodded in to potentially organising another GLLUG evening and a London PM tech meet, Brummie.pm are willing to come down and speak so it’s a perfect time to put one together. Read on →

While digging in to some large log files recently I needed to work out which daemons were causing the most noise, so I wrote a little perl script called daemon_percentages.pl. It was short, ran quickly and did what I wanted. And then my lunch plans were cancelled due to rain. With nothing but boredom, a newly compiled version of ruby and the google homepage at my side I decided to write a version in ruby. Read on →

I originally wrote frdns to find and warn about inconsistencies in forward and reverse DNS records. At the time I was also using a tool called hawk to show both IPs that didn’t have a reverse record and reverse records that didn’t have a responding IP address associated with them (we had a lot of orphaned records). While hawk did the job it required a MySQL instance, a daemon process and an apache server to function - which was a PITA when it had to be moved to another server. Read on →

When you’re first introduced to an environment you’ll have the ever fun task of working out which machines should get the most time; and that order seldom matches which machines actually need the most attention. To help me prioritise I’ve worked out a simple importance rating system to show where I spend my time. Below is a simplified version. I use it to assign a single importance number to each machine, and then I allocate a certain amount of time each day to work on the issues, requests and improvements I’ve got in my todo list for that level. Read on →

Although it’s a rare Unix machine that doesn’t run at least a couple of custom cronjobs it’s an even more special snowflake that does them properly. Below are some of the more common problems I’ve seen and my thoughts on them. Always use a script, never a bare command line. A parenthesis wrapped command-line in a crontab sends shivers down my spine. Nothing says “I didn’t really think this through” and “I’ve done the bare minimum to make it work” in quite the same way. Read on →

I’m a lurker on the Puppet mailing list and after some discussions John Arundel has stepped up and done the organising for the first Puppet London Users Meet - Thursday, March 22. I’m not using Puppet yet but I’m thinking of heading along to hear peoples adoption stories. I’ve also been thinking about the lack of a sysadmin community in London since GLLUG became a lot more newbie friendly and SAGE-WISE faded out. Read on →

“The Google team found that 36% of the failed drives did not exhibit a single SMART-monitored failure. They concluded that SMART data is almost useless for predicting the failure of a single drive.” – StorageMojo - Google’s Disk Failure Experience There have been two excellent papers on disk drive failures released recently, the Dugg and Dotted Google paper - Failure trends in a large disk drive population (warning: PDF) and the also excellent but less hyped Disk failures in the real world: What does an MTTF of 1,000,000 hours mean to you?. Read on →

Here’s one for the sysadmins in the crowd; if you were asked to show the following how long would it take you to gather the information? Which of your file systems have the fastest growth rate? Which are the most under-utilised? Which haven't changed by more than 5% over the last month? If you use Nagios you can cheat and work out the full drive size from the free space and percentage used reported by the disk checks, but that’s… icky. Read on →

When it comes to command line options GNU ls already uses most of the alphabet, so for my own sanity can someone implement a -j that doesn’t change the behaviour much from a ls -alh? It’s my most common typo and I’m willing to offer beer to remove the problem. I could learn to type better but this is easier ;)

Tomorrow sees the unofficial start of FOSDEM 2007. A ride on Eurostar, meet up with some of the London techs, food and then to the usual pub in the evening - it’s the only way for a Linux geek to spend a Friday night in February. This year we don’t have RMS (no song! Oh YES!) and I’ve now (twice) seen the talk I was most looking forward to (Puppet - good talk) so I think I’ll be spending more time in the dev rooms and less in the main tracks. Read on →