Enter LDAP

I started playing with openLDAP for some reason. Well, I wanted to build a multi-master replication for a customer I have which wants to replicate their primary datastore to a second ldap server. I really used this as a chance to re-familiarize myself with the 2.4 version of openLDAP. The entire replication thing has changed from the reasonably simple slurp thing to something called syncrepl. Syncrepl is pretty simple as long as you get the “stanzas” right in the slapd.conf or cn=config. I am using centOS 5.4 final for this work because the customer is using RHEL5 update 4.

What I’ve learned thus far is that anyone can really do this replication thing if you read carefully enough and get the basics built. I can now create users on one server and have the replicated to the second in real-time. Simple! Now I have to roll out my changes to a production environment I have built.

I did all this testing in VMWare ESXi 5.0 after creating my two centOS guests. I tried using Oracle VM but its too much! I need to have a Oracle Linux box running a 64bit version of their Linux to even use it effectively. There is no Windows client. That just adds yet another system that I must run over and above the hypervisor. I don’t really care for Oracle’s commitment to open source either. At least with Sun, I kinda got their “mamby pamby” open source commitment down. I don’t get Oracle at all. Anyways, the amount of time to build the Oracle Linux box, install the Oracle VM Manager, install the Oracle VM server was about twice as much as installing the standalone ESXi 5. I was being productive within 2 hours on ESXi. With the Oracle VM thing, I was still wondering how I should install the VM Manager, whether it would use the disk drives in the system, etc. The Oracle VM Manager has no counter-part for Debian or non-Oracle systems. No way to manage the VM server unless I also opt to run the 64bit version of Oracle Linux.  This is a no-pass and complete fail of a solution basically and it takes too long to get productive.

I can see why its rated as a distant fourth by enterprise users. ESXi 5.0 is ready to be used and I can install if on a little flash drive which makes it very portable. Then I am off and running with the guests. I mean that’s the goal right? To get productive whether I use Windows or Linux as a manager? I don’t like Redhat Linux so I probably would not like Oracle Linux either since they seem to have just taken it much like CentOS or something.

Now my two guests are running OpenLDAP 2.4.11 and I can sync between them by creating an LDIF file, seeding it with the user, and then running the tool to import the user.

I’ll publish a bit more next time what a rank nooby needs to know and do to be effective at using OpenLDAP. It ain’t rocket science but you can easily get things wrong.

Time here, time there

I was hanging around after another one of the eternal evenings calls I seem to have for work. My work day seems to be actually two days. One day starts at about 730am and runs to 330pm. Then Sydney wakes up and the next days starts. That day runs from 330pm to some hour pm. In the middle of the second work day of the day, a friend called me at home. We had worked together at Visa USA. Me doing a bunch of infrastructure management and him delivering network operations and architecture.

Anyways, after doing network architecture and systems integration for quite some time, my friend is now working in a non-technology endeavor. He is working for a travel agency in Los Angeles. We were laughing though because everyone in the office found out he is a techno-uber-geek and now he is rebuilding their website, doing a database, ecommerce thing. Now the role is what he called a “cross over”. Seth feels okay though. He still books travel for people which for some reason he claims is therapeutic. Then he gets to get mad at the Windows Server 2008 R2 box he has to work on. At least until last weekend when it mysteriously went down for 4 hours and then came back up. Now it runs something else. Seth strikes again!

We ended up talking about work endeavors, challenge, fun. Visa was all of those things for me. Seth was a machine of a guy knowing so many operating systems but truly loving Linux for its under-the-hood power and flexibility. Yet he could write in C#, Perl, Python, PHP. Very cool stuff. He could also explain it down to a level that a bean counter like I could get it.

Culturally, the transition of work to other work interests me. I’ve done that before too. Its work. Its like learning to walk all over again using new gadgets and objects. Before for me, I walked the deserts and mountains, great plains, and valleys. Now I have walked the data center and managed hosting facilities. Quite a difference. Things humming and servers humming. Maybe not so different in the end; but getting there sure was.

Vacation Day 2011

Today was a vacation day for me. I packed up the car with my precious cargo which is my 13-year old and her required candy, chips, drinks. We headed on down the road first to IHOP to have pancakes. Then we hit the road to Monterey. Discussion follows:

Arry: Are we going to be getting to Monterey soon?

Me: We’ll be there when we get there.

Arry: when exactly is that?

Me: you will know when we get there.

Arry: say what?

Me: Huh?

Arry: Make some sense.

Me: Huh?

Arry: stop it you are driving me crazy.

Me: Huh?

Arry: are we there yet?

Me: when we get there we will be there and not a moment sooner.

Shrugs and 13-year old looks. Now you know why I am not looking forward to international flights with these kid dudes.

So we did get there. Then it was when are we leaving? Me…

We’re leaving when we’re ready to go and not a moment sooner.

Yeah… I can drive her crazy.

Minors Rants and Raves

Its a year ago give or take since the last time I was in India. There’s a lot of talk about corruption there these days but given the option or alternative, I’d still take Chennai any old day. I’m waiting for my trip in October and wondering whether I’ll still have a job after three weeks on vacation. Started loading up some travel and walking tour type stuff for Singapore. Believe it or not, never actually walked around there and saw the sights. This trip I have basically a weekend there with no real restrictions. Going to see some stuff there I have not been to and perhaps drop the need to see the IT malls again.

After a few days and hopefully catching up friends there, gonna bust out to Chennai. Every morning there I will amble over to the Krishna multi-cultural restaurant and have some of the filtered coffee large and perhaps a Dosa or other interesting fare. Have more than a few friends there which will be good to see! I also started thinking about a trip in 2012 which I will do earlier in the year and probably just use more of my miles for. I want to go for about a month this time and do a trip to Kyoto first and then go on to Singapore and Chennai. The Kyoto bullet train trip has been on my list for quite awhile.

I also want to get to see the Taj Mahal so will do that trip then since I’ll be there longer. May just do a few train and other trips as well. Would not mind getting back to Bangalore for a few days.

Weekend Joys

This weekend is a long one for me. I end up working more than my share of hours and we had a “strategy” session a week ago on a Sunday which went 7 hours. I had decided to take the next Monday off but did not work it out right. Now will be off this coming Monday for the day.

Also going to head out here in a bit to my Saturday Starbucks destination and camp out with my Xoom for a few hours and then do a late lunch somewhere. I like the Xoom form factor these days. Works quite nicely for me and the apps launched for the tablet are getting better. Games are nice now and the Evernote tablet app plus a mindmapping and drawing tool are really cool. Takes advantage of the screen display and UI a lot!

I also have been flashing ROMs on my HTC Sensation like crazy these days. Mostly Sense ROMs. Still waiting for CyanogenMOD 7 to come along for it. When that happens, everything will change yet again and the ROMs based on it will explode and we’ll a true vitalization on both Sense and AOSP. I’d love to see a MIUI ROM on it as well.

I realized after more than a few discussions about what’s best, what’s next, and why; that the Android devices for me are simply better. I peacefully advocate choice these days around the office and more people have jumped the Apple ship. I can see why consumers choose the iphone and ipad really. Its an easier choice. You don”t have to worry about messy choices about memory, screen, UI, size, form factor. You can just stay with one vendor making your choices and be happy! So be it! Just for me though; I like the choice of being a user these days!

Have a good weekend all. Gonna get dressed now and head out to another pasture with a bunch of semi-isolated starbuck’ers.

The king of the Hill

Linux is probably the most fun operating system I have ever tried. Of the most fun, debian has to hold the top spot on a Linux distribution which is so much more than the sum of its parts. I count myself fortunate to have worked a bit with Ian Murdock. Ian is the “ian” part of Debian.

Now Debian has turned 18 years young. In some ports of call; its old enough to hoist a drink.  Thanks Debian! Its been very enjoyable and the association has enriched me beyond words.

Same Times

Seems to me I’ve lived through the ebb and flow of work before. Sometimes it seems the challenges really aren’t that challenging; that the people strive too hard to be called team members. Maybe we get jaded with the whole thing. Over the past few days I did. I lost interest in continuing where I was. I’ve been doing this for quite a bit. I’ve done really decent professional services consulting with a team at Linuxcare that roamed the world in search of 500k+ deals. I landed one with Dell once which was worth about 380k to certify all 54 product lines on 4 different versions of Linux over a year of time. Very sweet deal. I also did this one with IBM Thinkpad group to build custom Linux distributions for two product lines. Very cool work! Back then, Linux worked on laptops but they chose a desktop derivative called Caldera first off. Bad choice! Suspend, sound, wireless. Bunch of problems. But they hired us because we fixed problems and we built custom Linux. Our group even sounded cool. We were called the “Scalable Solutions Group”. We did big deals with IBM, Dell, Gateway.

Now I have to admit the last few days I felt like saying f**k it all. I threatened to simply leave the company because I had gotten tired of a certain way of dealing with me that had started. I mentioned to my group leader that this was going to drive me away permanently. Immediately they asked me to stay and that things would get better. I decided to stay. I like the guys I work with.

I bet everyone has felt that pull and tug. Work and play get there. Whatever happened to play though? I don’t remember play. Somehow play is harder to do these days. Maybe when you are a entrepreneur, its all play. Even work is play somehow. They just lead charmed lives in charmed careers in charmed neighborhoods with charmed relationships. I know a few entrepreneurs. My friend Art probably qualifies as one. He’s started his share of companies, done some consulting services for a few interesting companies notably one software company up in Washington state :-).

I’m prety sure though that they still have to do the duty by dropping the pants and addressing the porcelain goddess.

The good news is that perhaps the same times will change. Work will become play again. I’ve not enjoyed work for the past months or so. Its been too hard and sometimes demeaning. I don’t mind demanding. But when it gets insulting or less than fun; I start questioning the values.

I left Celestix at perhaps the perfect time. Its nose-dived in a few ways now and the survivors there should definitely consider their options. Its not healthy and the people in charge are single-minded enough to drive it to destruction believing they’re doing right. Dangerous when you are an entrepreneur and cannot see the forest for the trees. Pay attention there in Singapore!!

Anyways, its not the same times now and I hope I have the feeling down.

The Lancaster Drive-In

In the way-back machine, we used to visit a Drive-In theater. Anybody remember them? They used to be the “bees knees” for young people on dates. I used to have a old pick-up truck I would drive and park backwards and we would take blankets, a ice cooler, pizza, and put the tail gate down and sit in the back. My drive-in is here. This place used to hop and the snack bar would have hundreds of people waiting during the break between the movies.

I was telling my daughter about the experience and she could not quite get it. It dawned on me she had never seen one, been to one. Amazing! This social and cultural institution which impacted and built how we identified with others is pretty much gone. I have these memories of attending the drive-in; sitting in the back of the truck and we all had a great time. People would drive in and drive all around the theater with the three screens looking for the place to park where one could see two screens at the same time.






That’s what it was like. People outdoors on a starry evening. Socializing, talking, maybe watching the coming attractions which seemed to go on for quite some time. Now we sit in isolation in the theaters with the 3d sound. The recorded messages remind us to not talk or move around or answer the phone. What a difference!

The loss of a cultural icon I feel. The drive-in was a social marker of the times. People would end up at the drive-in on a Friday night and sometimes they had three movies that night at the Lancaster Drive-In. After, there was the rush to get out of the place but many people just stayed until the traffic died down.

I guess we’ve replaced that whole socializing thing with the new 3d glasses and 25 screen monsters. Something was gained there; but a lot more has been lost.

Been to a drive-in lately? I am going to find one here and take my daughter to it before they fade away and all we have are urban anthropological folklores about them.


Let it be Friday!

Yes. Friday has arrived in this part of the world. Already come and gone in other parts. What is on the table for this Friday for me? Well, the whole HTC Sensation 4G scene has gone viral! Lots of ROMs, hackage, making the phone do strange and whacked things. As one of the developers was saying, “its sick. totally sick”. That means good! 🙂

Another thing Friday brings is beer. Tonight I drink a San Francisco special; Anchor Steam. I will settle back after 10pm and some minor things I need to get done and kick id down a notch with some big bottles of Anchor, some chips, and perhaps additionals.

I got to talk with my bud Michelle today which was cool. She and I worked together at Celestix and I really appreciated her advice, wisdom, and humor. Many times when troubled at things that CLX asked me to do; I would turn to her on skype for some words. She always had those for me plus being able to relate. Having a woman as a friend is truly something special around here. I kinda lost my trust in most women when mine could not stay true; but Michelle has always been rock solid, a good and faithful friend, and able to tell me the things that make a difference. I don’t know that you read this Michelle; but thanks. I treasure the friendship maybe more than you would believe. I don’t make friends easy and after a number of “friends at work” failures; I had given this up. These days, I segregate the people out and really do not want more friends at work. I always feel that things end up not so good since the whole DaveR thing.

I also reflect on work past and present on Fridays. I remember some of the fun days at Celestix with my boss and the CEO. We had a gentle teasing thing around iPhones and Android devices. I would send articles to them and they would send others back to me. It was fun and innocent and I always felt that the ribbing and teasing was enjoyed. These days, my boss does it too; but it does not feel the same. Work these days seems to be artificial with some of the changes and we seem to have created a few arbitrary levels of bureaucracy just because we can. For a company of about 90 people, its a shame we seem so hell-bent on building this monster.

I will also work on building my new Debian server which will gently backup all the computers in the house. My son’s music; daughter’s drawings, wife’s documents. This box has some storage in it and still has room to grow. Debian does simply rule at so many functions. I’ve basically given up on Ubuntu since the Unity thing. Its just too much and its slow and I don’t care for the direction things are going. So going back to Debian is not like going back at all.

Finally, I will most likely get a bit drunko and blotto tonight because I can. After about 11pm, I will crack open the Steam. Eat chips. Puzzle at things that puzzle me. Laugh at things which seem stupid. Then head on off to my rather drunken stupors at 2am tomorrow morning.

Its all good!


Android and Linux Thoughts

I read a number of developer and end user forums for Android devices. Its the way that people communicate basically. Two of them focus on completely different sets of devices around a worldwide hacking community at XDA and a user forum for Archos android devices. Another news type site is Android Tablets which has pretty good news and commentary on tablets in our world. Finally, I submit Android Central for all round good news source on mobiles and other connected devices.

So what have I learned with all this reading? Well, first off, Android benefits by having one of the greatest user communities I have ever seen! Much the same as Linux in so many ways. Both share a certain “unfinished” look and feel. They both enjoy rapid development; new devices appearing; new paradigms emerging. The truth is by using Android devices you buy into a rapidly evolving phenomena and the phones change so quickly. The old phone companies really don’t get how they could make money from us. The old and jaded 2 year service plans really do not account for how often Android users want to change out phones. I think most Android users buy a new phone every 6 to 9 months to take advantage of changes in the platform, new hardware, cool new features. Having two versions of the platform at the same time (Honeycomb and Gingerbread) make things even more interesting. My Xoom runs Honeycomb 3.2 and my phones run Gingerbread and the differences are really marked. Yet they are android devices. My music player is a Archos 70 with a 250g drive.

Now the interesting part! We all know and perhaps some of us wait for the so-called convergence device. Imagine the phone with a great form factor yet with more storage that could effortlessly hold my 50g of mp3s and still do all the other things. Archos is budging that to a new place with Honeycomb tablets coming which include 250g hard drive models. Suddenly tablets and dedicated mp3 players converge for those of us wanting to travel or move around with all of our goods included.

These are exciting times if you use Android on your connected devices. The world belongs to Android. Its really proof you cannot sue your way to world domination or use litigation to enforce innovation. They may both end the same way but the difference is immense.

Use what you love! Use the tool that fits. My choices are Linux and Android. Yours can be what you want.

Monday Morning and Why

Now its Monday and I seem to be stuck in the morning blog writing thing. Its about 640am here at this point. Woke up to find that the guys had solved a charging issue with my recently rooted HTC Sensation! Way to go everyone. Not that this affected me but you always want the same functionality before and after a change like rooting and unlocking the boot loader and stuff. The HTC Sensation is really a cool phone and device and the community around it on XDA is getting very cool. I forecast that this phone will really take off as far as users, developers, and themers.

Travel Tidbytes

For some reason on the weekends, I always remember other events or let myself drift through previous times on the road. I happened to be in my favorite and secret Starbucks and heard these two guys talking at a table about Chennai. I tried hard not to listen but when you hear things about Mylapore (where I lived and commuted to and from in 2009), you always are interested. I waited and one of the guys got up to get more coffee and I asked.

Sure enough! Both guys were from Chennai. We joined up for coffee for a bit and they told me they were from Chennai originally but had lived in the states, going to school and then working for some years. We both had a good laugh about some common places we all knew. They had been back in 2009 or so and we talked about Hotel New Woodlands and some other places in Mylapore. We laughed about some of the fun stuff about Chennai like the traffic. They both miss the city itself. We agreed it has this certain spirit, essence, and feeling that you cannot replace in all other places in the world.

Other Essences

How long do people feel that the shine wears off a job and they start thinking about looking around a bit for the next thing? Is this only a technology thing? I think that it takes 6 months. Ain’t that the length of time for unemployment compensation? 🙂 Why does it happen though? I’ve come up with a few reasons localized to the Silly Icon Valley:

  1. The challenge when you joined was reached. The new challenges are not quite so challenging and seem common-place and routine.
  2. Its in our jeans or I mean our genes to want change. As a species we thrive the best when change is around us, forcing us to adapt and adopt. I think in technology, its almost required. Its hard to support the same ole, same ole month after month.
  3. You get bored. This does happen too. You reach the zenith at 6 months and then its all downhill. Nothing really makes it better after this is reached.
  4. Management changes that cause a rupture of the force. No more said on this one. The clueless management team decides that everything that was built needs recycling or they move someone in that is not qualified to do what they ask. People tend to leave or they are asked to leave when this happens.

There are more and many individual reasons. When do you know its time to say “time out” on the current thing? I read that many people last 6 to 12 months and are seriously craving something else in the technology sphere.

And on when we go…