Friday Aug 21, 2009

Clo- (Sun Ray) -ud

I'm mostly finished with my preliminary testing of Sun Ray in the cloud (which the title of this post refers to), and it's been a pretty successful test. One of the goals for this project was to make it a public cloud that anybody could create an account on, which so far has been accomplished. There is a web interface to register for an account for the Sun Ray server. This will automatically create a account for you, and gives you a brief line of direction for configuring your Sun Ray or Sun Desktop Access Client (SDAC) to connect to the server test it out.


It would be great to be able to expand this type of implementation to allow users to be able to pick their operating system - pretty much like what Sun VDI does. I would have used VDI for this except for the fact that VirtualBox doesn't interract with Xen very well (which is what Amazon uses), and thus doesn't install properly. The alternative to this would be to utilize the ec2 API and have the main "head" start the other instances and manage everything, but this is a. re-inventing the wheel, and b. not the easiest, since each instance would need to have the Sun Ray Server Software (SRSS) installed and configured, given an IP, and so on.

As mentioned earlier, if you'd like to try out the Sun Ray server running on OpenSolaris 2009.06, feel free to click this link, register, and have fun!

Friday Aug 14, 2009

Sun Ray in OpenSolaris 2009.06 on Amazon EC2

While running Sun Ray on OpenSolaris might not be supported as of today, it most certainly does work! My latest project was getting a Sun Ray server set up as an Amazon Machine Image (AMI) in the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). Doing this is fairly simple, as there is already an OpenSolaris 2009.06 AMI (two, actually – one 32bit, the other 64bit – depending on the size of the instance you want) in the list that you can choose from.

After launching the new instance, all you really need to do is to download Sun Ray Software 5 EA1 and then follow this configuration guide. If you’re attempting to enable NSCM, RHA and the other components that need Motif libraries, follow the OpenSolaris 2009.06 appendix. Otherwise, just read and follow the page.

Notes for EC2 Instances

\*For EC2 instances, there is no need to play with NWAM – it is disabled by default, which makes everything just that much nicer.

\*When running utadm, I used the private IP that was assigned to the instance, instead of it’s public address. You should also use the private IP between Sun Ray servers if setting up a FOG.

ex. “utadm –A” if your IP is in this range. //Edit 2009-08-15, 0030 - changed "-a" to "-A"

One requirement that I was playing with was how to allow a Sun Ray to use multiple Sun Ray servers without needing to configure VPN, although this is not a hard step (as demonstrated here). The easiest way I came up with was to instead of put a single server in the “Servers” menu of the Sun Ray firmware, put in a DNS entry that had multiple entries for Sun Ray servers. I created a subdomain “”, which points to the two Sun Ray servers that I set up so that both are available to be used by the Sun Rays.

Multiple DNS records for Sun Ray servers

Downsides of Multiple A Record method:

Now there is a downside to this method of foregoing VPN and simply using multiple A records in DNS. With this, you’re not guaranteed to be connected to the same Sun Ray server again if your Ray disconnects for any reason. In addition, you might need to reset your Sun Ray multiple times if a server goes down; nothing prevents the Sun Ray from skipping the offline server.


If the Sun Rays were VPN’ed into your Amazon “network”, the full Fail Over Group (FOG) experience would be there, and it would automatically fail you over to a different server if the one you were on were become unavailable.

If you just want a simple set-up and to be able to use a Sun Ray anywhere in the world with a 1-line configuration in the Ray’s firmware, you now know what to do. Happy Sun Ray using!

Edit 2009-08-14 1223 EST - If your machine is running headless, you may need to append '0=inactive' to /etc/X11/gdm/custom.conf to silence GDM errors that may show up in your logs.

Saturday Jul 25, 2009

Update, 2009-07-25

In Missouri for a family reunion for the next week or so. We left Friday morning, and got here about 2pm today. We’ll be here until sometime on Wednesday, and then stop at Mammoth Cave on the way back to do some caving.

Anyway, I still have links since RSS never stops :)

Friday Jul 24, 2009

Links, 2009-07-23

  • Ford seems to have had a not-too-shabby quarter, and had one-time gains that helped to post a profit.
  • On top of the news from Ford, The New York Times Comany turned a profit this quarter, reporting second-quarter revenue up from the same quarter last year. I wouldn’t say that the newspaper business is going to be the primary source of news for people again, but it’s nice to see they aren’t going out of business quite yet.
  • In very interesting market news, Microsoft Q4 Sales Miss by $1B; Stock down 7% (about 8% at this writing). This comes on decreased PC sales, but looking forward, may turn around a bit with Windows 7 sales with it’s release sometime later in the year. Microsoft has made a conscious effort in Windows 7 to have it adapt to netbooks in a better fashion, and so to help their sales (hopefully) not slip as much as they recently have.

Thursday Jul 23, 2009

New Projects

While my time at Sun has shifted a bit from my project, there’re many new things for me to be working on. My agenda has consisted of doing benchmarking on some cool new products, but that should be wrapping up fairly soon. Other than that, I’m working with the 10GE network that we have here internally in McLean. We got the switch (made by Arista) set up first, and we’ll soon be wiring the 10GE network module in one of the 6000 chassis we have here, and then hooking it up to the main internal network for storage nodes, computation, who knows what.

A couple of the other projects I have on my plate include setting up xVM Ops Center, LDAP for the wireless infrastructure, authentication, and other various tools, Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, VPN, and helping to clean up and build out some of our under-utilized space. This list and the other things that need to be done here should keep me busy through the rest of the summer, until heading off for college.

Links, 2009-07-22

  • The BBC is running an interesting piece called “Unsung Heroes Save Net From Chaos,” about NANOG, the North American Network Operators Group. Even though some of the details aren’t completely factually true and that it’s been toned down so an average citizen could understand sort of what happened in the events referenced in the article, it’s a nice effort and rare event to acknowledge some of the people that, in fact, do keep parts of the internet running.
  • Sun Blogs Tags: ,
  • I found an interesting opinion piece the other day on Why Google's Chrome OS Will Turn to Lead. The author makes an interesting point, but seems to have forgotten that Chrome is based on Linux, which has a worldwide base of developers working on it.
  • Sun Blogs Tags: , ,
  • California lawmakers seem to have reached a deal to close the budget gap that they were facing. Article linked here: California Reaches Budget Deal, With Billions Cut
  • Sun Blogs Tags: ,
  • Meanwhile, the Washington Post wrote about the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System: Database Combines Details of Remains, Disappearences in Hopes of Making Matches. This is a type of technology that has many possibilities of use within and outside of government organizations for data collection and analysis, especially in events like earthquakes or floods.
  • An employee of Opera wrote about a company that made a mistake trying to sell a product to them, leading to a blog post titled: Most Expensive Javascript Ever? It’s a humorous piece that companies should take heed of if they try to single out any particular browser :-) Also linked from here are some cool pictures of one of Opera’s datacenters
  • This one-liner is very useful for copying a partition table from one disk to another; no need to have to do each one manually!
  • This article helps to describe the events surrounding one of the latest passwords to fall due to social networking. The password recovery in this article isn’t specifically linked to Hotmail, as many email providers do something like this to help you reclaim your password.
  • The hotel made famous by the Nixon administration, the Watergate Hotel, has Failed to Attract Bids for it’s sale to a new owner.
  • In two moves that have seemingly shocked the open-source world, Microsoft Makes Second GPLv2 Release In As Many Days. While these contributions help Microsoft’s products mesh better with Linux, and Moodle, there has to be a beginning somewhere, right?
  • Shark Tank - Which pretty much explains why he didn't mention it

Wednesday Jul 22, 2009

Web Security – The Wac-A-Mole Version

This article from Computerworld earlier today reminded me a lot of the times the TJHSST Student Systems Administrators (of which I’m now a graduate) got to rid our web server of spam that had infiltrated it. The infection I remember most was when a hacked MediaWiki site had been used to upload files to redirect computers to spam sites advertising pills and drugs. It got to the point that there were enough hacked computers hitting our server that most external and internal requests for pages were being refused, and ssh sessions to the server would have a noticeable lag. Eventually one of the other ex-admins got around to doing some scripting, and had a 600-700-line file of computers that were put into ipfilter to eventually block the attack.

Unfortunately we’ve had a couple other smaller infiltrations, but hopefully we closed the hole that they were getting in through. Only time will tell…

Sunday Jul 19, 2009

Links, 2009-07-[16-19]

My RSS reader gave me lots of reading to do for this weekend, but here are a few of the articles I found interesting/amusing:

Thursday Jul 16, 2009

Little River Hit With Water Main Break

Little River Turnpike in Northern Virginia turned into a little river today – literally. A water main break was reported, and two eastbound and one westbound lane are now closed in order to work on the problem. First River Road, now Little River Turnpike, what’s next?

Links, 2009-07-15

Future clouds for Sun Ray in WA schools – Having administered Sun Rays at my high school, I can see where they’re coming from as far as the multimedia perspective goes. As far as general administration, I found it fairly simple

IBM Power servers most reliable in new survey

Opinion: Windows 7, FUD and slow news days

Using Windows Previous Versions to access ZFS Snapshots – a nice blog entry talking about ZFS and Windows integration. Looks promising :)

Indian tiger park 'has no tigers'

Price of Habit Chokes US Smoker – this was a very humorous article, showing that computers and/or human errors still occur in this computer-laden digital world :)

Tuesday Jul 14, 2009

Links, 2009-07-13

'Secure' Wyse thin clients vulnerable to remote exploit bugs – interesting article, but doesn’t actually say much of anything factual

Frentic Pace, Packed Agenda Put West Wing Staffers Through Wringer

Iran's Invisible Nicaragua Embassy

UK Afghan mission support 'rises' – see next two articles, there seems to be a bit of a contradiction here…?

XKCD 609: Tab Explosion

Approval by a Blogger May Please a Sponsor

Image Gallery: Office 2010 Technical Preview

D.C. Students Make Gains in Reading, Math – This is good to see, but we can only hope that it becomes a trend and keeps continuing

US budget deficit at $1 trillion

Monday Jul 13, 2009

Links, 2009-07-12

Outlook Separation Anxiety Holds Back Google Apps – I’m interested to see how this turns out in the long run. Personally, I really like integration with Outlook or Thunderbird, and the way Google’s IMAP is set up means a few of the folders don’t get mapped correctly. I’m also actually a fan of Outlook Web Access. There are so few integrated solutions on the market that can do the job well. Supporting the system may be an issue, but I’ve heard fewer complaints about Exchange 2007

Olympic hopeful opens NZ brothel – I found this an amusing link to include here

Robotic Glider Set To Break Autonomous Flight Records – There are many technical obstacles that would need to be dealt with before using these wide-spread, but it’s good to see progress, especially from young college students

Texting Teen Falls Down Open NYC Manhole – No explanation needed

The Legacy of Colorism Reflects Wounds of Racism That Are More Than Skin-Deep – Interesting discussion about racism/colorism in the modern world

Saturday Jul 11, 2009

Sun Ray Silliness

I’ve been meaning to post these for a while so we could submit a service request about it, but the XScreenSaver software in Solaris occasionally messes up the text on the unlock screen, including changing the text’s size and/or font. Here are two examples of the strange behavior:

DSCF7732 DSCF7733

Another behavior that I noticed that I’ve only seen once is green lines appearing on the screen of the Sun Ray. Note that the Sun Ray is currently running Sun Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) software, which is why it looks like a Windows desktop:

DSCF7843 DSCF7844

Update 2009-07-11, 1628: The two images on the bottom are most likely caused due to interference from the KVM that the ray was using at the time; the model of KVM being used had a history of poor quality.


Welcome to my blog. My name is Stephen (Trey) Repetski, and I'm working at Sun for the summer. I graduated from TJHSST, and am headed to Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in the fall, studying Network Security and Systems Administration (NSSA)


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