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Archive for October, 2009

The best laid plans…

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

I’ve been doing a hard drive shuffle in an attempt to utilize ZFS on FreeBSD some more in one set of my systems.  Well, I decided that I wanted a direct dedicated network between one pair of boxes, but the catch is that there are no more expansion slots available to plug in another network card.  That got me looking at the onboard FireWire port.  I had read about the capability of runnning IP over FireWire and so I looked into it some more.  Things looked good, so I set forth with that as my plan — I’d run a FireWire network between the two machines.  Well today I got the boxes together, plugged-in the FireWire cable and configured the virtual fwip interface on both.  What’s the typical first test? ping.  BAM!  Immediate kernel panic on the pinger (running FreeBSD 8.0-RC1 amd64).  Ugh, what did I do wrong?  My on-the-fly plan B was to try the fwe interface instead.  It’s not as recommended, as it doesn’t implement a standard like the fwip interface does, but both boxes are going to be FreeBSD anyway, why not try it?  It didn’t have any problems.  I need to do some more network speed testing, but so far so good.  I’d really like to be able to up the MTU, as I plan to use the interface primarily for NFS, but it doesn’t look like it’s possible.  Tonight I did some digging to see if anyone else has encountered the same problem with the fwip interface and I found a bug report:

http://www.freebsd.org/cgi/query-pr.cgi?pr=139162

Well, at least it wasn’t me.  It’s the only reference I’ve found to this problem, so it’s probably low-priority for 8.0-RELEASE, but who knows.  I’m just thankful that there is a viable work-around.

You’d Think I’d Be In Withdrawal

Sunday, October 18th, 2009

So, I did the unpredictable, impossible thing — I cut my cable TV.  Yes.  I did it.  You’d think I’d be in withdrawal.  Well, the fates are working against me.  The ones in Hollywood anyway.  They decided to put some good shows on the regular networks (all made possible by OTA HD).  A lot of them.  It’s ridiculous.  I have more shows set to record than I ever have.  It’s crazy.  Anyway, saving $600 a year on TV services is a great bonus.  My top new show: Modern Family.  Although, I haven’t gotten through all the new shows yet.

New Adventures in BSD Land

Friday, October 16th, 2009

Recently, I started moving from BeyondTV to SageTV for my PVR needs.  Maybe I’ll hash out all the reasons in a future post, but in the end it leaves me with my old BeyondTV “server” hardware free to move on to other purposes.  As such, I’m building out FreeBSD on it for it’s next task.  I decided to build out with gjournal from the start.  I’ve build a few boxes with gjournal after the fact and I hated having the extra slices.  Besides, I quickly run out of available slices.  So this time I wanted to build it out from scratch with gjournal such that I could have the journal in the same filesystem AND I decided to go with GPT as it’s the next big thing.  Well, to accomplish this I used Fix-it mode on the installer DVD and for the first time in a dozen years of FreeBSD usage, I installed without sysinstall.  I’d never contemplated not using sysinstall, but having done some reading on ZFSroot installations people were doing I used some similar procedures.  I must admit, I was surprised how simple it was and there’s a good bet this is going to be the way I do installs from now on (until gjournal and/or ZFS are available in sysinstall).  It worked beautifully and in a single attempt.  Disks are just too big now for fsck.  I lived through one 800GB UFS2 filesystem having to be fsck’d when someone decided to turn off a system on me and it’s just way too slow (and I was lucky to have enough RAM).  I’ve got probably 9TB of hard drive space now (6TB in 1TB drives; 3 of them in 1 system) and there’s now way I could fsck many of them if something happened.  Gjournal and/or ZFS are the answers in FreeBSD land.  Manual install is the way to get them going from the beginning.