Oct 272014

Apparently even multinational insurance companies forget to pay their bills every now and then. At least that’s what I suspect happened to If Skadeförsäkring AB.

The following domains no longer have any DNS records all of a sudden:

  • if.no – If Forsikring AS (Norway)
  • if.dk – If Skadeforsikring (Denmark)
  • if.fi – If Vahinkovakuutusyhtiö Oy (Finland)
  • if.se – If Skadeförsäkring AB (Sweden)

Result: If web sites down in 4 countries, and If not reachable on email either.
(You can still get a hold of them via Facebook though)

update 09:40: Everyone now gets redirected to http://maintenance.if.eu/web/maintenance.htm.
‘If´s home page is currently unavailable due to technical maintenance’.
‘Technical maintenance’… Is that a euphemism for ‘we’re recovering from a major cockup’? 😉

Sep 162014

Now that the hardware has been decided upon and ordered, it’s time to decide on OS & management tools.
My current box runs Ubuntu, and I use virt-manager to create & manage the VM’s. The obvious disadvantage of virt-manager is that it’s an GUI application which runs on the server itself. To access it I either need to plug a mouse & keyboard into the host, or use some type of remote administration software (I currently use NoMachine) to access the GUI.
I want something better on the new box, so one of my requirements is that I can manage the VM’s via a web interface. My options are legion (in alphabetical order):

While some of these are merely lightweight shells on top of KVM/libvirt, others are extensive, modular frameworks intended to be deployed on many-server setups.

Because all I need is something small & light, OpenNebula, CloudStack & OpenStack are not for me. Eucalyptus & OpenNode are ‘maybe’s’ for the moment.
That leaves WebVirtMgr & Kimchi, both of which are pretty lightweight.
I’ve decided to go for WebVirtMgr initially. It works pretty good, although it’s clearly a work in progress.

Now that I don’t need any GUI on the box itself, I’ll settle for Ubuntu 14.04.1 LTS (Trusty Tahr) as OS.

[more to come]

Sep 142014

For at least 5 years (I honestly don’t recall when I put the box together…) there’s a been an Antec Mini P180 purring under my desk. This machine has been running various flavors & versions of Linux, mainly performing as KVM host.
This box contains 4 hard drives, and a Intel Q9400S CPU. (For those who don’t recall: the ‘S’ suffix means lower powered (65W TDP instead of 95W TDP).

For a while I’ve been considering replacing this unit. The replacement has to be equally quiet, good for at least 5 years to come, and easy expandable. And… dual CPU, if possible.
There are not many PC producers who build dual CPU workstations. There’s the Dell Precision Tower 7810, the HP Z820 and… Supermicro.

Supermicro SYS-7048A-T
Supermicro X10DAi
And Supermicro is where I ended up. I was first eyeballing the 7047A-T, but was then informed about the Supermicro 7048A-T which has just been released.

After some debating with myself I decided on the following specs:

 nameamountprod. nr.
CPUIntel® Xeon® Processor E5-2620 v32CM8064401831400
RAMSamsung 8GB DDR4 2133MHz 1Gx4 ECC/Reg 1,2V8M393A1G40DB0-CPB
StorageIntel SSD DC S3500 - 80GB 2.5" MLC SATA 6Gb/s 7.0mm2SSDSC2BB080G4
VideoSapphire Radeon HD 5450 1GB DDR3
PCI-Express 2.0, DVI-I, HDMI, VGA, Lite-Retail, w/ LP bracket

I’ll be slapping some of my existing hard drives in there, but I haven’t decided yet on how many or in what configuration so the final storage space is pending.
This new system will have 4x the amount of RAM of my previous system and it will be at least twice as fast (due to it being a 2 CPU system).

The order has been placed with the good people at Nextron, and they expect to ship it on September 19th.

The only thing I’m not 100% sure of yet is how quiet it is… All Supermicro says is: ‘Whisper Quiet Workstation’. Does anyone know how loud the Supermicro employees whisper? 😎

[more to come]

Aug 052014

the Mighty Microthe Micro MillenniumA little while ago I came across this gem from the past: A book titled ‘The mighty micro: the impact of the computer revolution’, by Christopher Evans. In the US it was published as ‘the Micro Millennium’.
This book contains predictions about the (then) upcoming microcomputer revolution, which includes predictions for the future up to the year 2000.
Just one example: ‘Starting from the 1990’s the use of cash money will be quickly replaced by the use of credit cards, which will most likely contain a chip.’

From the front of the Micro Millennium:

This book is about the future.
Not some distant future which we can blissfully ignore, but one which is imminent. It will involve a transformation of world society at all levels, and while taking place slowly at first, will gather pace with sudden force. It’s a future which is largely molded by a single, startling development in technology. The piece of technology is, of course, the computer.

This book was later turned into a 6-part television series, which is luckily available via YouTube:

  1. The Coming of the Microprocessor
  2. Of Machines and Memory
  3. The Political Revolution
  4. The Introverted Society
  5. The Intelligent Machine
  6. All Our Tomorrows

(Unfortunately dr. Evans passed away before the broadcast of this series in 1979)

Check it out on YouTube, when you have some time to spare. 😎

Jul 312014

A while ago I decided switch to Google’s Gmail as my primary email account. Since most of my emails arrive on another account/server, I was hoping to use the Mail Fetcher functionality of Gmail to collect these emails from that old account automatically into my Gmail account. Well, it’s not that simple…

Gmail Mail FetcherI went to Gmail -> Setttings -> Accounts and Import -> Check email from other accounts (using POP3). Here I filled in all the fields, and hit ‘Add Account’… which gave me the following error: Server returned error: “Connection refused”.
First I thought: ‘Incorrect password’, and tried again. Same error. Then I went to the pop3 service logs on the email server of my old account, to see what was actually happening.
Turns out Google doesn’t even try to connect to my server. No connection attempts whatsoever in my Dovecot logs, and I know for sure my firewall isn’t blocking any connections on port 110.

How to resolve this? I’m not sure… I tried with adding another POP3 account on a different server. Same problem. If only there was a way to get in touch with a human at Gmail… 😎

For the time being I’ve set up forward on the old server, but some day I hope to be able to use Mail Fetcher instead…

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