Sunday Jul 12, 2009

The personal is the professional, using Google calendar

I have been using Google calendar and the Sun calendar for a while now, and ideally like to read them through one viewer. Today I had to upgrade one of the laptop's I use to connect to Google calendar. The best viewer I have found is Thunderbird via the Lightning add-on. This also needs a second add on, the Provider for Google Calendar. I had to reinstall these earlier today and found this blog post entitled How to integrate Google calendar into Thunderbird very helpful. The other tricky bit is how to find out the login credentials and while one should be able to remember one's Google login and password,the URL of the calendar is a bit trickier. (You need to use the web interface and examine the calendar settings, which the article above describes.)


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Thursday Mar 19, 2009

Installing the Amber Road simulator on a Laptop

Sun's Open Storage software comes as an appliance from Currently available as a VMware image, and I now have it running on my trusty laptop.

Unified Storage Simulator screen shot

The management panel in in the browser, the appliance console is the black window, I have started the CIFS service, mounted a file system using SMB onto my host image (the windows folder) and I have opend a file using notepad. It was easier to do than attach my Vista systems to my legacy home windows network.

I had to install VMware Player first and when the VM starts for the first time, you are offered a text menu to install the network identity and point to the network gateways. I was nervous about VMware because I wasn't sure about what VMware does to implement the network interface. This wiki page has been created by the FISHworks team to help you, which discusses how you configure each of the four netowrk interfaces and I advise you to think hard about the node name and domain name as I havn't yet worked out how to change it. The wiki's advice on the network gateways didn't work for me so I used dor both the default gateway and DNS server. Anyway the boot screen looks like this,

unified storage simulator first time screen

I am off to install it on my home server and maybe I'll try the Virtual Box version and use the appliance to manage my home network storage, I think its legal, but in order to get the performance advantage at scale, you'll need to buy the hardware.


Tuesday Feb 17, 2009

How to set up a USB Flash Drive from Windows to Windows in Virtual Box

Read the User Manual, available on and think "all that stuff you need to know that's a bit poor". Then,

  1. Make sure the windows guest is dormant
  2. Plug the Flash Drive into the Computer
  3. Edit the VM Settings
    1. Enable USB
    2. Enable USB 2.0
    3. Create a Filter
      • move the mouse over the add filter button and the USB devices will appear in the display box. This box is active. Select the one you want. If this is not obvious, then you can test this by removing the USB In the example above I have also taken Sasquatch's advice and created an empty filter which will assign all USB devices to the guest operating system. This is however disabled.
  4. Start the VM and wait for Windows to do its plug and play magic.
Virtual Box USB Settings Editor

This process was developed using a Windows Vista 32 bit guest and a Windows Vista 64 bit host, and a patched version of Virtual Vox 2.1.3

I have left the "All Devices" filter disabled. It will do all devices and thus some system devices will become visible to the guest such as the fingerprint reader, and whatever Chicony Electronics provide.

Sasquatch is a regular correspondent at virtual box forums and offered his advice in a thread called "USB on Windows host and Windows guest".


Wednesday Sep 17, 2008

Laptop Diaries,

Before I start to install Open Bravo, I notice/knew that there's no personal productivity tools on OpenSolaris, I need openoffice. Its easy enough, a quick google points me at Chris Gerard's article on installing Open Office, on Open Solaris. As he recommends,

    pfexec pkg install openoffice

does the trick, off it goes to and downloads the package and installs it.

screen shot

and it looks like this.


Monday Sep 15, 2008

Laptop Diaries, Open Solaris

So while at the Lintlithgow EBC launch last week, I saw a demo'd copy of an opensolaris VM which looked really cool, and then Jingesh Shah, published this blog article on an Open Source ERP package, called "openbravo" running on Open Solaris. This has to be done.

Open Solaris running on my Laptop

I have downloaded the Open Solaris .iso from, and this is how I did it.

Start a VM using the .iso as the boot device.

Follow these installation instructions to define the locale and users.

Shut down the VM

Using the Virtual Box control panel, point the CD/DVD drive at the VX additions .iso, which is in the installation folder and restart the VM, then as root,

    cd /media
    pkgadd -d ./VBoxSolarisAdditions.pkg

I was using V1.6.4 of Virtual Box and for some reason, the "Add Guest Additions" on the Virtual Box command bar didn't work. The above trick seems to work quite happily, I have full screen mode working. Now to upgrade to Virtual Box 2.0.2.


Thursday Aug 21, 2008

Laptop Diaries, don't do this.

I feel a complete and absolute fool about this one. Longtime readers will know that I have from time to time mucked around with the operating system I use on my laptop, from single to dual boot, experimenting with various Windows, Solaris and Linux iterations. At home I have a couple of desktops running windows, (XP at the moment), primarily because they come with it, but it also runs games, and supports the UK education system's curriculum. I have been experimenting with Virtual Box; at home, mainly to give me x-windows access to my Qube. On my work's laptop, I have vm's running Indiana, Nevada and Ubuntu 7 & 8. I plan to do some pretty exciting things with it when I can find the time. At home, I installed an Ubuntu 8 VM, but i have a very important piece of advice for people using Windows as a host operating system, which I discovered on one of my desktops.

Don't use FAT or FAT32 file systems.

I made a mistake, I can't remember how, but my new HDD has a FAT32 file systems. This has a 4Gb file size limit, so while the virtual box manager will let you define the max file size as whatever you want, when the VM tries to extend beyond the 4Gb limit, the VM reports a disk full error. Fortunately I don't have very much on this disk yet, so the repair is fairly painless.

I documented this here at the virtual box forum, unfortunately the title's not so useful. As I said, I have been working with UNIX too long, I'd forgotten what 32 bits means.


Wednesday Aug 13, 2008

Laptop Diaries, more Bluetooth

Over the last few weeks I have struggled to create a bluetooth 3G modem on my new Tecra M5. The Bluetooth drivers on this XP build have been provided by Toshiba and the big difference between it and my previous configuration which uses the Microsoft stack is that the special phone number code that the microsoft drivers require is not required when using the Toshiba drivers. It has a specific field for holding the modem configuration parameters and uses the default phone number of \*99#. I should have waited.

You can also ignore the create the modem stage.

tags: should be 'how not to'

Friday Jun 06, 2008

Video Conferencing for free

I was introduced to last year by colleagues in the US, and its a quite cool video conferencing feature. The lag in Europe is appalling, so I use the phone to host the voice channel. You can use whatever string you want to act as the meeting name, which you can enter on the home page, [ hover or click on the link above] or in your browser's URL entry box.

So I use IM and the phone to support the video channel. I was having some problems connecting up with some Mac using colleagues, so connected to Hans Joerg who is a bit of wiz with the Mac. I am on the left, and you can see the IM dialogue box.


a mebeam conference

and he explained that the configuration needs to be changed using the panel that is opened by pressing the 'settings' button on the bottom right hand side of one's own picture. Mac Users may default to 'DVD Video Class' and they require 'USB Video Class'. (The picture below was scrapped from my screen, and I am using a windows XP machine, which is why the text says something else.)


mebeam devices configuration


Wednesday Apr 23, 2008

My Twitter Manifesto

Twitter birdAfter my trip to Italy, where there was no broadband in my hotel room, I decided to reinvestigate twitter. So I am now broadcasting using it and also following some colleagues and friends.

I do not intend to use it as a microblog, but mainly to let people know about my access to the internet, "Will e-mail work?", and maybe the phone networks, since some places I may be visiting over the next couple of years may not have such great communications infrastructure, although how I do this without phone or web will be interesting. However, it might be useful, if I forget my charger lead. I do not expect to twit every day, so its not a major overhead for those of you who consume twitter on the mobile phone. I have also forwarded my feed to my facebook profile and I have a twitter feed URL, which can be consumed by any RSS reader, although not it seems my Sony Erissson's reader.

I am consuming those I follow's feeds using my phone. This is, as I said, a Sony Ericsson and has a pretty small screen and although it does have a wap browser, the browsing experience is not very satisfactory. If you are a frequent poster, you'd best stay interesting, as one of the reasons I first dropped twitter was that I found consuming it on the phone too intrusive. This time I shall probably stop following those who post to much. I have already tried and stopped using the sun bloggers twitter feed.

Another reason to be mannerly is that as a consumer, one only gets 250 messages/week, at which point one has to restart the feed.  With twitter, we may have returned to the days of Usenet, where authors were asked to consider reader's bandwidth, but its now frequency, not verbosity that's the potential problem.


Friday Mar 16, 2007

My Laptop Marathon, installing Open Solaris & liveupdate

After mixing it in a conversation about what Solaris needs to make me use it as my Laptop operating system of choice I was persuaded to trash my Linux build (Fedora 3.5) which was broken and unusable anyway, mainly because the update manager was completely shagged. (I'm in good company, see Eric Raymond's goodbye to Red Hat). I then can use the new space to create an up to date opensolaris build with liveupgrade, so I won't ever fall so far behind again. My Solaris build was Nevada 35 which has served me well as a Solaris platform for development and demonstration, but I had left it where it was because I am working on two projects which I wanted to finish before I caught up, however my colleagues have persuaded me to bite the bullet now.

My laptop is a Toshiba Tecra M2, with 1,6Ghz Intel Pentium M CPU, and 1Gb of RAM and 60 Gb of Disk. I planned to combine my Linux & Solaris partitions to give me 25 Gb for Solaris. I need two slices for Liveupdate and propose to place /export/home on a ZFS file system on a third slice. The lu slices are about 7Gb and the common data slice is about 11 Gb.

Firstly, I backed up my home user on the SNV 35 build, then I checked the disk partition table to create a new partition map on paper. I have two windows partitions, I can't remember why now, but I might have documented this in my Laptop Diaries articles and it probably relates to the windows skills available to me at the time. This isn't work I do often and so I generally ask for help. I also bookmarked on the wallpapers I had taken from, I'm particularly fond of “Neon Night”.

Next I borrowed a snv 58 bootable image from Chris. I booted the system using the bootable image and up came the solaris installer with its good old CDE look and feel. Sadly it didn't do very well with recognising the graphics chip set but we got the install done. Defining the partition table with the installer was a bit exciting because of the poor visibility and sharpness. This is not a mind-share winning experience; the install is all. Anyway at this point we have a bootable image on the first slice of the disk with Nevada 58. This took about 45 minutes.

We ran lu to make the bootable image part of live update and create a second boot environment.

Now I needed to reconfigure Solaris to be updated using liveupdate. There is a curses based program called lu that runs from an xterm, but not a gnome-terminal. This is menu based so that seemed to work OK. Now I turn my attention to the third file system which will be a ZFS file system.

I issued a “zpool create” command which failed. This is because while we unmounted the disk slice from its mount point in the live image, the zpool command was aware that the disk was mountable from the second bootable image. The BE was deleted using luremove/ludelete.

zpool create ${devicename}
zfs create ${poolname}/export
zfs set mountpoint=/export $poolname/export

I then repeated this for /export/home, /export/home/${USER}, /export/home/${USER}/Documents & /export/home/${USER}/Desktop

This gives me separate file systems and hence snap shot for each user, their documents and desktop.

I next installed three essential utilities, frkit for power management, inetmenu to manage the NICs and punchin to access the companies applications behind the firewall.

I now need to force Gnome as the default login manager, in a root

svcs disable cde
svcs enable gdm

Now the line "SystemMenu=true" needs to be inserted in the [greeter] section of /etc/X11/gdm/custom.conf. Gdm now handles RBAC authority. Previous versions i.e. At about nv 35, this had to be fixed using usermod.

Lastly, I prepare for the nv59 upgrade

lucreate -n nv59 -m /:${devicename}:ufs

this creates the boot environment and prepares the file system for a bootable image. I then find there's a pretty shitty bug in zfs in nv58 so I need to move forwards to build 59. Here's how I did that. I copied the new bootable image to ${ZFS_POOLNAME}/os/nv which I declared as zfs file system, then,

isofile=$(lofiadm -a ${ZFS_POOLNAME}/os/nv/${ISOfilename})
mount -F hsfs ${isofile} /mnt

then update the liveupdate packages

yes | pkgrm SUNWluu SUNWlur
yes | pkgadd /mnt/Solaris11/Product SUNWluu SUNWlur

then perform the liveupdate itself

liveupgrade -u -s /mnt -n nv59

and release the resources.

umount /mnt
lofiadm -d ${ZFS_POOLNAME}/os/nv/${ISOfilename})

then activate the update. I used lustatus before and after the activiate and rebooted using init 6. The command to reboot is important init 6 and shutdown work, while reboot is not to be used.

luactivate -n nv59
init 6

This didn't work for some reason, basically the boot archive wouldn't work and the system came up on the previously installed disk. I checked the menu.lst at /etc/lu/, came to the conclusion that the menu.lst had been changed an then,

#$ bootadm update-archive

this required no parameters because the first partition was the current boot partition. NB the first partition is the lower of the two slices used as live update partitions.

Reboot the system, and I am offered my five old entries plus four new ones created by the liveupdate process; select nv59 and up it comes, actually with snv59. xwindows dumps core the first time and the zfs file systems fail to mount because the live update process has created the directories and zfs mount points. This is fixed as follows:-

cd /export/home
rmdir \*
rmdir \*

and copy thegdm customisation

#$ zfs mount nv58 /a
#$ customfile=/etc/X11/gdm/custom.conf
#$ diff /a/${customfile} $customfile
< SystemMenu=true
#$ cp /a/${customfile} $customfile
#$ diff /a/${customfile} $customfile

Reboot and we're there!

Read Chris Gerard's blog article on automating zfs snapshots (every minute?), or you can check everything he's written about snapshots by going to his blog and using the search box with the search argument snapshot. I installed his scripts in my user area and set up a cron job to snapshot every hour.

I then created a top of desk panel, created the inetmenu and punchin buttons and assigned some other frequently used applications to the top panel. I pulled down some wallpapers from my static content site, and my list.


Sunday Jan 28, 2007

Uograding Postgres on a Qube

I've been busy installing Postgres on my Cobalt Qube, running Linux. The first thing I did was to decide to install a second and newer version of the product. Despite the fact that I can see the installed version of Postgres (V6.x) is not running, you can never tell what the OS designers decided to do for database services. Here's how I did it.

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Thursday Oct 26, 2006

The road to SMF

Just checking out SMF and found these resources at &

Now I just have to read them.





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