Entrepreneurial Leadership and Management . . . and Other Stuff

RSS
Feb
03

Caught in a Geek’s Gravitational Field

I haven’t been posting much lately.  Once in a while, I find that I get interested in fooling with all the technology around me and, having done so, have to scramble to fix everything I’ve broken.  Of course, the more I scramble, the more stuff breaks, creating a technology focus gravitational field that nothing escapes from.  Blogging, being fairly high on Maslow’s Pyramid  is one of the first activities that gets punted when I’m in such a state.  When I demonstrate this level of obsessive-compulsiveness, even nourishment is dangerously close to being omitted from the schedule.

So, I’ve been in this black hole for about three weeks now.  I’ve taken on several projects and have used the wrong Bower Factor to calculate the length of time they’d take to complete.  Meaning that I’ve been off by at least single-digit multiples of time.  For what it’s worth, here’s what I’ve been up to . . .

  1. Server rebuild (while minimizing downtime)
    • Upgrade memory (1GB to 4GB) – Easy
    • Replace single processor with 2 more powerful processors – Harder than I expected (Intel no longer makes processors for the sockets on my motherboard)
    • Convert current 1TB RAID 5 array to 3TB array (4 750GB drives) – WAY harder than I expected (needed new RAID controller and data needed to make an intermediate stop between the two arrays)
  2. Build new screamingly fast, utlra-quiet desktop machine from scratch
    • New everything – soup-to-nuts – Not too bad, machine didn’t want to boot for a while
    • Move to Vista – Relatively painless, I’ve been using it for months
  3. Install new router based on after-market firmware (very cool)
    • Installed DD-WRT on cheapy Linksys Router (WRT54GL) – Easy, other than worrying that I’d turn my router into a brick by screwing something up in the middle of the firmware upgrade
    • Configuring the router to do what I wanted it to do – Moderately difficult since the doc stinks and there are a zillion options.  My router can jump thorough hoops now, though.
  4. Install and compare Microsoft Virtual Server and VMWare Server – Hard, neither did what I expected when I expected it.  Both were also way slower than I would have expected considering the hardware they were running on (see server upgrade, above)
  5. Install LAMP and WordPress onto each virtual servers
    • Install openSUSE on both virtual machines – WAY harder than I expected.  I don’t know if it’s a SUSE thing, but there were interaction issues with both virtual servers.  And the Linux extensions from both companies refused to work with SUSE, although the documentation said that the operating system was supported.
    • AMP installation on both SUSE implementations was a nightmare – is there a Linux law against application GUIs?  phpMyAdmin, allegedly used to poke into MySQL databases is so arcane, it’s hard to believe that someone doesn’t sit down and just write a reasonable user interface.
    • Install WordPress – Pretty easy.  It’s amazing the amount of functionality that is driven by a relatively small number of PHP modules.  Very elegant.
  6. Install PHP, MySQL and WordPress under Windows (yes, because the Linux installs were killing me)
    • Attempt to get both Apache and IIS running on a Windows 2003 machine – Getting them to run side-by-side isn’t the hard problem, getting them to both run on port 80 with only one WAN address to get to them is.  I couldn’t give up IIS, so Apache got kicked out.
    • Once I found reasonable directions to install WIMP (Windows, IIS, MySQL, PHP) – Relatively easy.  It’s clear no one thought that a whack-job like me would attempt to use IIS instead of Apache so there aren’t a lot of instructions to do so.
    • WordPress still isn’t running correctly and it’s taking me a long time to figure out why not – I think it’s a MySQL protection thing.  At least there’s a really nice GUI for MySQL on Windows . . .

Stuff from this geekfest still pending . . .

  1. The new RAID array on the server is still rebuilding after adding the fourth drive to it.  3Ware’s migration feature is so slow – it’s been running for 4 days now and is only 60% done.  Hope I don’t have a drive failure before then.
  2. Get WordPress completely working on Windows . . . I fear that this is a hierarchical black hole; one within the one I’m already in.
  3. Migrate my blog from the current Community Server server to the new WordPress server.  I basically have no idea how I’m going to do the mapping to make all the permalinks continue to work.  Luckily, so few people link to my blog that it probably doesn’t matter.
  4. More sound-deadening for the new desktop.  Not quite quiet enough yet.

Certainly, a lot of the time I’ve spent on this stuff so far has been wasted because I’m such a noob in several of the areas.  Learning is a blast, though, and the inefficiency of self-education doesn’t bother me too much.  Next time that I do this stuff (which will likely never happen), I’ll be much better at it.  😉

I’ll probably write about a few of these projects, or at least, aspects of them in the future.  If you’d like more detail on something, just send me a note.

Can anyone else you know use this information? Please share . . .
Share on Facebook
Facebook
Share on Reddit
Reddit
Tweet about this on Twitter
Twitter
Pin on Pinterest
Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn
Linkedin
Buffer this page
Buffer
Email this to someone
email
 February 3rd, 2007  
 Will  
 Computers, Software  
   
 17 Comments

17 Responses to Caught in a Geek’s Gravitational Field

  1. Jason Alexander

    Sorry to hear you’re going to be migrating off of Community Server! I would love to get any feedback you may have on our product: jalexander [at] telligent [dot] com. Take care, -Jason CTO, Telligent

  2. Sorry to hear you’re going to be migrating off of Community Server! I would love to get any feedback you may have on our product: jalexander [at] telligent [dot] com.

    Take care,
    -Jason
    CTO, Telligent

  3. Good question Jason, and thanks for slogging through the post to even recognize it. I haven’t made the move just yet, but I am going to do my best to make it happen.  No one seems to want to make this move easy.  Without some massive database manipulations, I’m going to have to rely on RSS to make the move.  Even then, I don’t know what I’m going to do about remapping permalinks. I think the bottom line is that I’m looking to move because CS is just requiring too much overhead – personal overhead that is.  I have had constant problems with the server since I began using it.  Most of them not very large, but often difficult to fix.  For example, I wasn’t getting emails when people left comments for me.  It took me months to resolve this and many changes to configuration files.  Another example, for some reason, some people using IE7 cannot submit a comment to my blog.  When they click on “submit,” nothing happens.  I haven’t resolved this one yet. Like all issues, I’m sure that this too can be resolved.  I just don’t want to continue to spend time doing it.  Right now, I’m getting about 50 ASP.NET warnings (unhandled exceptions) in my event log every day having to do with CS.  I ignore them because they don’t seem to affect the operation of the server, but they are bothersome, nonetheless. In the end, I think that CS is just too hard to manage for a one-man shop when that one guy has limited knowledge of its inner workings.  Perhaps the other servers will be no better, but they do have the advantage of larger communities to support them.  Those large communities are also creating loads of add-ons that make it easier to build a better blog. Since I’m not a user of all the other great stuff in CS, like forums, photos, files, etc, much of it is wasted on me.  I just want a blog. I hope that makes some sense.  I can hardly complain as I’m using the free version of the software.  If I can, though, I think it’s time to try the free version of another offering. Thanks for asking, Jason.

  4. Good question Jason, and thanks for slogging through the post to even recognize it.

    I haven’t made the move just yet, but I am going to do my best to make it happen.  No one seems to want to make this move easy.  Without some massive database manipulations, I’m going to have to rely on RSS to make the move.  Even then, I don’t know what I’m going to do about remapping permalinks.

    I think the bottom line is that I’m looking to move because CS is just requiring too much overhead – personal overhead that is.  I have had constant problems with the server since I began using it.  Most of them not very large, but often difficult to fix.  For example, I wasn’t getting emails when people left comments for me.  It took me months to resolve this and many changes to configuration files.  Another example, for some reason, some people using IE7 cannot submit a comment to my blog.  When they click on “submit,” nothing happens.  I haven’t resolved this one yet.

    Like all issues, I’m sure that this too can be resolved.  I just don’t want to continue to spend time doing it.  Right now, I’m getting about 50 ASP.NET warnings (unhandled exceptions) in my event log every day having to do with CS.  I ignore them because they don’t seem to affect the operation of the server, but they are bothersome, nonetheless.

    In the end, I think that CS is just too hard to manage for a one-man shop when that one guy has limited knowledge of its inner workings.  Perhaps the other servers will be no better, but they do have the advantage of larger communities to support them.  Those large communities are also creating loads of add-ons that make it easier to build a better blog.

    Since I’m not a user of all the other great stuff in CS, like forums, photos, files, etc, much of it is wasted on me.  I just want a blog.

    I hope that makes some sense.  I can hardly complain as I’m using the free version of the software.  If I can, though, I think it’s time to try the free version of another offering.

    Thanks for asking, Jason.

  5. I’m not sure you can get Apache, and IIS, to both listen on port 80, on the same system [nor would you want to]. You can however disable socket pooling, and have Apache listen on 80, and IIS on some other port… And have Apache ProxyPass URLs or a VirtualHost to IIS.  The client will only see port 80. Its been a while since I have looked into it. BTW, for simple ASP.NET stuff, you can always use mod_aspdotnet. It works well, except for ajax/atlas.

  6. I’m not sure you can get Apache, and IIS, to both listen on port 80, on the same system [nor would you want to]. You can however disable socket pooling, and have Apache listen on 80, and IIS on some other port… And have Apache ProxyPass URLs or a VirtualHost to IIS.  The client will only see port 80.

    Its been a while since I have looked into it.

    BTW, for simple ASP.NET stuff, you can always use mod_aspdotnet. It works well, except for ajax/atlas.

  7. Thanks for the comment and the advice.  I was able to get IIS and Apache both listening and responding on port 80, but using different IP addresses (2 adapters in the machine).  As long as I was within my LAN and could specify both IP and port, it worked like a champ.  The problem I had was doing a port routing through my router – once a request comes into the router on port 80, there isn’t enough routing information to get to the target destination.  I suppose a content router would take care of this, but I’m not interested in such an upgrade. I had considered doing redirects or URL rewriting of some sort through IIS or Apache – to the other server on a different port, as you suggest.  I was concerned that search engines wouldn’t weave their way through such muck though.  Do you have any idea how this works? Thanks.

  8. Thanks for the comment and the advice.  I was able to get IIS and Apache both listening and responding on port 80, but using different IP addresses (2 adapters in the machine).  As long as I was within my LAN and could specify both IP and port, it worked like a champ.  The problem I had was doing a port routing through my router – once a request comes into the router on port 80, there isn’t enough routing information to get to the target destination.  I suppose a content router would take care of this, but I’m not interested in such an upgrade.

    I had considered doing redirects or URL rewriting of some sort through IIS or Apache – to the other server on a different port, as you suggest.  I was concerned that search engines wouldn’t weave their way through such muck though.  Do you have any idea how this works?

    Thanks.

  9. Did you install the VMware Tools inside your guest OS? That can speed up display & networking. Check in with the <a href=”VMTN’ target=_new rel=nofollow>http://www.vmware.com/community/forum.jspa?forumID=219“>VMTN Forum for VMware Server</a>, who are the real experts.

  10. Did you install the VMware Tools inside your guest OS? That can speed up display & networking. Check in with the <a href=”

  • Thanks, John.   Yeah, I had tried to install VMware tools on SUSE, but could only get the mouse/display tools to work.  The disk and networking tools failed to compile.  I perused the forum and there were many suggestions I tried.  There was also some indication that SUSE was less than ideal for this.  I had the kernel, and C++ RPMs loaded, but the compiler was throwing errors.  I didn’t have the energy to poke into the source to find out what was going on. I’ll get back to it this week to see if I can get it going.  I’d especially like to get any virtual disk acceleration working. I appreciate the suggestions.

  • Thanks, John.  

    Yeah, I had tried to install VMware tools on SUSE, but could only get the mouse/display tools to work.  The disk and networking tools failed to compile.  I perused the forum and there were many suggestions I tried.  There was also some indication that SUSE was less than ideal for this.  I had the kernel, and C++ RPMs loaded, but the compiler was throwing errors.  I didn’t have the energy to poke into the source to find out what was going on.

    I’ll get back to it this week to see if I can get it going.  I’d especially like to get any virtual disk acceleration working.

    I appreciate the suggestions.

  • Having two web servers listening on port 80 at the same IP address doesn’t make conceptual sense – when a request for a socket connection comes in, exactly one piece of software needs to respond. I’m not sure exactly what you’re trying to do, but you can do a lot with port forwarding and such via the router.  Basically you can have an externally visible port 80 forward to a different port on the internal box.  However, you’ll still need to have a way to separate the traffic from the external perspective.  

  • Having two web servers listening on port 80 at the same IP address doesn’t make conceptual sense – when a request for a socket connection comes in, exactly one piece of software needs to respond.

    I’m not sure exactly what you’re trying to do, but you can do a lot with port forwarding and such via the router.  Basically you can have an externally visible port 80 forward to a different port on the internal box.  However, you’ll still need to have a way to separate the traffic from the external perspective.  

  • Hey Dave, Sorry, this wasn’t clear in the original post, but It comes up in the comments.  There *are* two ip address.  So, I’m not trying to share port 80 on the same address.  As I mentioned, getting two web servers to work on port 80 in this configuration is trivial.   Port forwarding doesn’t help since all traffic is coming in on the same port.  A content router could deal with this – routing based on header information – but at unreasonable cost. The best basic solution is to have one of the web servers running on a different port, say 8080.  Then the server on port 80 would look at the header and forward certain requests to the server at 8080.  I *believe* the problem with this approach is that search engines won’t weave their way through the remapping back to the correct server.  I might be wrong about this – it’s way out of my league.

  • Hey Dave,

    Sorry, this wasn’t clear in the original post, but It comes up in the comments.  There *are* two ip address.  So, I’m not trying to share port 80 on the same address.  As I mentioned, getting two web servers to work on port 80 in this configuration is trivial.  

    Port forwarding doesn’t help since all traffic is coming in on the same port.  A content router could deal with this – routing based on header information – but at unreasonable cost.

    The best basic solution is to have one of the web servers running on a different port, say 8080.  Then the server on port 80 would look at the header and forward certain requests to the server at 8080.  I *believe* the problem with this approach is that search engines won’t weave their way through the remapping back to the correct server.  I might be wrong about this – it’s way out of my league.

  • Pingback: Wrapping Up My Latest Geekfest - 3Ware RAID Controller « 2-Speed

  • %d bloggers like this: