The Lone Geek Blog

One geek in a sea of nerds.

I Bought a Real Server

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So yesterday I bought a server, like an actual server capable of being installed in a rack. A Dell Poweredge R710 with dual Intel Xeon E5640 cpus, 24GB RAM, 2x 146gb 10k HDDs. It has upgrade potentials in all those areas but that’s at a later date.

The idea for this is for me to get my hands on a cheap server to get a real world sense of what’s inside, to see how it goes together, and play with random software. It will become a virtual lab server. I’ll boot it up occasionally to run whatever software I’m looking at at the time during my free time. I want to play with enterprise grade software within a virtual world. I figured this would be cheaper than just getting a few optiplexes and toss some OS them and set up a simple network. Just one optiplex was going for about or a bit more than just this one server and wouldn’t be powerful enough do a lab themselves. I need to be able to run 3 or 4 VMs with several GBs of ram each and my current computers just can’t cope with that.

First, I want to play with some bare metal hypervisors. Just to poke about the interface and likely will settle on ESXI and from there, install one or two windows servers (maybe look at the different versions I’d expect to see in the real world) and a client box or two and whatever else I might need to run.

My current computers are just a couple quad cores with 8gb of ram each and are configured just how I want them. They can and do run VMs, just small ones though. My desktop might have 2 or 3 at the most and that’ll occupy more than half of the ram. The other desktop, my file server, runs a few small linux VMs for various reasons.

Considering I can pick up a decent used computer for under $200, I figure, why not. It’s something to learn on. Maybe I’ll blog about it.

And the purpose of it all, to practice for my comptia network+ and server+ certs. The virtual networking within the VMs probably won’t help but it’ll give a general idea.

A Shameless Plug for itpro.tv

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A few days ago, I joined a website that teaches IT related stuff. It has videos and virtual labs for all kinds of things. I’m using it for Network+ and while some of it kinda puts me to sleep, it’s educational. They have a coupon right now for 30% off for the lifetime of your account. I picked the standard account for like $40/mo with the coupon.

I Hate Web Design

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I hate Web Design, it’s time consuming and exhausting trying to find what broke, where it broke, and how to fix it. I can sit here and chase a problem all day and still not accomplish anything. It’s so annoying. Is it just me or does it effect many or all new developers? If I try to study code, I fall asleep or become incredibly lost.

I just want to throw up some functioning code and modify it a little to add my own text. The templates are there, why not use them. This blog, powered by Octopress, is fantastic but heavy on javascript and loads of CSS makes it kinda chunky for what it is. Right now, I am writing in a text file that is written in a certain format that Octopress takes and spits it out into a html file, complete with the template layout. It makes it easy to make plain HTML pages.

My problem comes in when something doesn’t quite work out right and I’m left spending hours troubleshooting and trying to find what’s wrong. Things aren’t always verbose enough for me to understand the problem, sometimes, I don’t get an error. It just simply fails and that’s anything computer related.

People elsewhere seem to make it look easy or maybe I’m stressing out over nothing and everyone faces the same problem. I don’t know. All I know is when crap doesn’t work, I get frustrated and something might end up deleted or broken even further. sigh

Home Server on a Budget

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Step 1: Obtain the fastest, yet cheapest, computer you can find.
Step 2: Load your server software.
Step 3: Config software.
Step 4: ???
Step 5: Profit!

Nah I’m just messing with you…

Host a Website for Free (Almost)

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So, you wanna host a website, eh? Well, it’s really not that difficult. It just sounds that way from a non-technical prospective. No worries, I’ll try to explain it. I’ll explain my method and perhaps offer up a “easier” route.

My method consists of 3 seperate, independant hosts.

  • Domain Host
  • DNS Host
  • Web Host

A Review: LG Destiny

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A bit of History

I bought a new phone and I like it. I’m moving into the android market where previously, my only android experience has been from a underpowered Kindle Fire 2nd-Gen. Then just a few months ago, I nabbed a neat little LG Optimus Fuel to handle work related tasks like check emails and do normal tasks one does with a smart phone. It does ok if you keep things simple.

For years I’ve been happy with my trusty old java powered LG 500G with it’s hardware QWERTY keyboard and basic phone + text abilities with a few smart phone abilities like note taking and a basic web browser that’d crash if the page was too big, assuming it loaded in the first place. LOL.

Anyway, onto the Review!

Linux Tips: Caching in Ram

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If you’re like me, you’re probably running linux on a SSD and wish to reduce the amount of writes as much as possible to prolong the life of your SSD and if you regularly view image or video files in your file browser than this tip is for you.

My file browser, or nemo as it’s called, saves it’s thumbnails in ~/.cache/thumbnails. This folder can get quite big if you happen to browse folders full of images every day. Lucky for us, we have a built in ramdisk to store them in.

So, simply make a directory and symlink it like so:

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mkdir /dev/shm/thumbnails
ln -s /dev/shm/thumbnails ~/.cache/thumbnails

You can set your computer to create this folder in the ramdisk at boot time and you’re good to go.

Cheers! :)

Bootable USB Swiss Army Knife

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If you’re in the computer repair business then good valuable tools are nice to have around. Especially if you fit them all onto one little usb flash drive.

  • CentOS x86_64 Minimal
  • Clonezilla (Clone Hard Drives and SSDs)
  • Dan’s Boot ‘n Nuke (Wipe out them pesky bits on the hard drive. :) )
  • FreeDOS
  • Gparted Live (Standalone Partition Editor)
  • Hiren’s Boot CD
  • Kali Linux (For the “hacker” in you. :P)
  • Linux Mint or your distribution of choice.
  • Memtest86+
  • NTpasswd (Reset windows passwords)
  • Ophcrack (Cracking simple passwords. Your mileage may vary.)
  • Puppy Linux (A small but simple Linux Distribution)
  • System Rescue CD
  • TinyCore (Another small Linux Distribution)
  • VMware ESXI (Could come in handy)
  • Windows Defender Offline

The tool I used to stuff all this onto a flash drive is called YUMI. So many tools can be crammed onto a 32GB flash drive and have spaced left over. I suppose more can be added but I also have 4 different versions of Kali Linux and Linux Mint 32bit and 64bit versions, 2 editions each.

Bonus points if you make all those bootable over the network for say a small network of customer computers. :)