Moving On to a New Job

Today is my last day with my current employer and working for a fantastic client here in Delaware.  I made a lot of new friends in IT and on the production floor.  Some of them I will stay in contact with on Facebook or Google Chat, others I will see in the area.  But now it’s time for me to move on, to take care of my family’s needs.  Sadly the new job will not include Linux work, but there are high profile projects which are scheduled to begin shortly after my start date.

My notebook running Linux Mint 11 and my fart bank

During my two year stay, I really appreciate the client giving me a wide latitude to develop my Linux skills.  When I first arrived in 2009, my cube was filled with twelve PCs all running Windows XP or Vista.  Shortly afterwards I installed Ubuntu 9.04 to learn how to use Linux in a production environment.  Soon, I was running two Linux boxes; one as a personal file server with Samba and NFS, the other as a VM host for multiple Windows XP machines in multiple non-trusting domains.

By the time I left, I had four Linux PCs (one as a Linux Mint 11 notebook with a Windows 7 x64 VM, my original Ubuntu file server, a new Ubuntu 11.04 x64 file server with an external RAID 5 1.3TB disk box running Samba and NFS, plus a Linux Mint 11 PC running a Windows XP VM in the other domain for Active Directory support).  I’ve also deployed Ubuntu 11.04 to my manager’s Dell M4500 notebook, Linux Mint 11 to a colleagues’ notebook, and started training another colleague, on using Ubuntu 11.04 with NFS and Samba.

I also had the chance to deploy RHEL 6 workstation as a host with a disk box for off-site archive, and a introduction to ESX for creating new Windows Server VMs.

I wish all the best to previous employer, my manager, my colleagues (local and other sites through out  the U.S.), and to all the people I supported at the Delaware locations.  I will miss working with you, and hope to see you soon!

Resize Virtual HDD in VirtualBox

Several weeks ago I created a VM of Windows Vista with SP2. It ran great on my Sager NP8690. Unfortunately when I created the virtual hard drive I made it a 20GB drive. After all the patches were installed, I was down to about 3GB free. So I read a few posts from VirtualBox Forums about how to resize the drive. Here are the steps I used from the post:

  • Close you virtual machine, leave VirtualBox running.
  • Create a new virtual hard drive with the new size (I went with a dynamic size with a maximum size of 80GB).
  • Download Gparted-Live CD ISO file.
  • Add the Gparted-Live CD ISO file as a new virtual CD in VirtualBox.
  • Adjust your virtual machine settings to add the second larger hard drive and the Gparted-Live CD.
  • Start the VM and boot from the Gparted-Live CD file.
  • Choose all the defaults and wait for Gparted to start.
  • Select the second hard drive and set the partition to msdos.
  • Select the first hard drive, right click on the graph and select Copy.
  • Select the second hard drive, right click on the graph and select Paste.
  • This will take some time.
  • Once completed, shutdown the VM.
  • Adjust the settings for the VM by removing the old hard drive and the Gparted-LiveCD.  Add your Vista CD or ISO file.
  • Boot the VM and press any key to start from the Vista CD.
  • Select the option to Repair the OS.
  • Once it repairs, reboot the VM and do not press any keys.  Vista should boot and run a check disk of the VM.

Now when I boot into Vista, I have a 80GB hard drive with plenty of free space.

Thanks to gushy and bwh1969 for the original posts.

Busy IT Month

Well it’s been a busy month for me at home and work.  I migrated my Sager NP8690 to Ubuntu 10.04 and created three virtual machines; Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7.  To my surprise Windows Vista SP2 is extremely stable as a VM.  I disabled UAC because I don’t like being asked “are you sure you want to do this” from my PC.  Both Windows 7 and Windows XP SP3 ran well also.  Over all I was pleased with the performance from each VM.  Of course that changed when I tried to run two VMs at the same time,  I was running out of RAM.  I think if I had 8GB installed, running two VMs would have worked fine.

However, I was never able to get get Blu-Ray running in any VMs or in Ubuntu.  This bummed me out since I wanted I watch Star Trek.  Maybe I’ll ask Santa to bring a Blu-Ray player for Christmas.  Then I was informed by my wife that she needed Windows in order to work from home.  Plus she was not too thrilled that I didn’t create a account in Ubuntu for her.  Oops!

So I backed up everything (again) and reinstalled the image I took before wiping out my hard drive.  Since I am dual booting between Windows 7 and Ubuntu 10.04, I deiced to leave Windows with a larger partition and keep all my videos there.  I can access then easily enough from Ubuntu without much hassle.  I still need to install a few application in Ubuntu (Thunderbird, Filezilla) but for the most part I am finished.

Instead of trying to use Gwibber a buddy of mine said I should look into TweetDeck.  TweetDeck requires Adobe Air to install and run.  Being Adobe has issues with x64, there were no .deb files for my OS.  I downloaded the .bin file and from a Terminal window I typed ./AdobeAIRInstaller.bin.  Now I can install TweetDeck and have access to my LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Google Buzz accounts.

At work, I was asked to test a kickstart install script for RHEL 5.3 (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) client install on a test PC.  I used a Dell Precision 370 which has a Intel P4 3.4 GHz  single core, 2GB of RAM, 80GB Sata drive, Nvidia Quadro FX 1400 card, and a DVD drive.  Installation took about 30 minutes.  I test several applications, accessing network shares, and printing to several network printers.  I still prefer Ubuntu or Linux Mint over RHEL, but it was fun to be part of a Linux project.

I also help with installing a new Dell server this week.  The job required us to install a keyboard/mouse tray, move an existing server and tape library up, install a new IP console KVM, and install the new ESX server.  Due to space limitations, we placed a LCD monitor on the side of the rack.  Because I hurt my back several day earlier I was asked not to lift anything.  So for me it was more of a learning experience.  Hopefully I will be asked to assist with other data room projects.

Right now I’m downloading openSuse 11.3 x64 on DVD.  Maybe this weekend I’ll try it out on a VM to see some of the new improvements I’ve read about.

Issues with VirtualBox between Ubuntu and Windows 7

My Sager NP8690 is one awesome notebook (except for the battery life).   Right now I have it configured for dual boot between Ubuntu 10.04 and Windows 7.  The only time I really use Windows 7 is to watch Blu-Ray movies and the occasional office document that down for display correctly in Open-office.  But rebooting the PC to go back and forth between the two OS’s is an inconvenience.

To resolve this issue I installed Oracle Virtualbox 3.2.4.  Currently I have one VM with Linux Mint 9 x64 which works well.  So I attempted to install Windows 7 x32 just like I did at work on an old HP D530 tower.  When the install reaches the point of Installing Updates the OS fails stating it’s unable to find the hard drive.

I searched for an answer but nothing really fixed my problem.  Then I noticed the HDD controller for my Windows 7 VM was set for AHCI with a blank check box.  Selecting the check box allows the VM to access the HDD controller directly.  Installation of Windows 7 is complete.

Everything in Windows 7 seems stable and running well minus the Aero effects.  I checked for updates and out of 21, only 3 installed.  That’s no good, time to reboot the VM and tried again.  None of the available updates would install.  I found this solution for Windows Vista and it worked on Windows 7.

And since I am setting up VMs, I decided to install my copy on Windows XP and Microsoft Vista.  Why Vista?  Because I got it for free and gives me an opportunity to learn something new.  Plus I have friends and family that run Vista and they call for help on occasion.

Unfortunately I made a small error when I installed Ubuntu 10.04.  Since I chose to dual boot, I kept the Windows partition at 2/3 total drive space.  Since I created four VMs I am down to about 7GB free on my Home partition.  If I can get my Windows 7 VM to play Blu-Ray I will copy off all VMs, backup all data files from both OSs, and then rebuild with Ubuntu 10.04 and import all data.  Looks like I’m in for a long weekend.

UPDATE:

After spending 2 hours reading posts about playing Blu-Ray in a VM, it looks like this is not possible.  I plan on moving forward with the migration since I’m out of drive space.  I read a solution in Ubuntu Forums that might work.

Bootable Ubuntu 10.04 USB Stick

Over the last two weeks, the client I work for had multiple power outages. The one outage broken several LCD monitors and a few PCs.  One of the PCs had Windows Vista installed.  The problem was a corrupt OS and would not boot into Vista.  Booting from Last Known Good Configuration or Safe Mode would not allow me to fix the problem.  I explained to my customer that  would repair Vista using the enterprise DVD.  Although he liked that option, he was concerned about losing his data.

No problem.  I brought up my bootable USB Ubuntu 10.04 flash drive I made a little while ago.  While it was booting my customer explained that his PC has 2 hard drives.  The primary drive contained Vista on a 40GB partition, the rest was his “D:\” drive.  The second hard drive was used to additional data storage.  My Ubuntu flash drive found all the hardware on his HP XW4600 Workstation and using GParted I verified his hard drive configuration statement.

On the second hard drive I created 2 folders,  zzz-d_drive and zzz-c_drive.  All data files my customer was concerned about were copied to the perspective folders.  After a shutdown, I disconnected the second hard drive to ensure all data files are safe.  Unfortunately the repair for Vista failed as did restoring from the last 2 restore points.  My only option was to reinstall the OS.  After installation I copied all the data files back to the “C:\” drive, the “D:\” was intact since I didn’t format that partition. 

If you don’t have a bootable Ubuntu flash drive you should take the time to create one.  For me it is a valuable tool which enables me to meet my SLAs.

Running NetMeeting in Vista Update

So Wednesday July 22nd came and I attended the company meeting using NetMeeting in Vista.  Everything was going well at first, but then our manager had a document written in Excel 2007 and he was running Office 2003.  Although he had the Office 2007 Compatibility program installed some features were not available, such as clicking on a link in a chart to open the sheet which displayed additional information.

So he asked who has Office 2007, which I do, but I can’t share my Desktop or application in NetMeeting within Vista.  Solution… email everyone a copy of the Excel document and have everyone follow along manually.  Now to resolve that issue on a more permanent fix, I will install Office 2007 on my XP PC.  So when asked in the next meeting when my manager asks “who can resolve my problem”, I’ll be ready.

Running NetMeeting in Vista

My employer uses NetMeeting 3.0x in Windows XP to hold bi-weekly meetings.  This is all good in all and runs well, but I have Vista on my PC at work and guess what, it doesn’t come with NetMeeting.  Meeting Space is standard with Vista. So I spent my lunch searching for a solution to my problem.  This is what I found and it works.

  • Download a version of NetMeeting from this link.
  • Right click the file and select Properties (see picture below)
  • Click on the Compatibility Tab
  • Enable the check box for Compatibility Mode and select Windows NT 4.0 Service Pack 5
  • Click Apply and OK buttons.

Now run the file and complete the installation of NetMeeting 3.0x.  One feature that is not available is Remote Desktop Sharing. This is OK if you don’t have to host a meeting or share a program, but if you do than you out of luck.  Some people has stated you need version 3.02 in order to enable Remote Desktop Sharing.  I was able to get a copy of NetMeeting 3.02, install it on my Vista PC, and still cannot enable Sharing of applications.

Net Meeting 3.01 Properties

SATA Emulation

I asked a colleague of mine to come over and look at the HP system I was trying to load the Vista image on.  After about 5 minutes, he asked if I went into the BIOS and changed the SATA Emulation from AHCI to IDE.  Of course I didn’t, it never occurred to me. Once we made the change, the image loaded with no problems.  It is good to have colleagues who are smart and can look at your work so you  can take care of your customers.  Thanks!!

The New Job

Well it’s been a few days, and I can say I really like my new job!  First all the building is nice, probably the nicest build I’ve ever worked in.  I work in a cube on the first floor, with a nice big window looking over a nice patch of grass with a walkway.  I an only a few cubes from the free coffee, which is a bonus in my opinion.  After all, I love having coffee while at the computer.  I think it is a little weak, but hey, it’s free and I have a big cup from Krispy Kremes.

The client gave me a HP Elitebook 2530 with Vista (which I am going to see if I can dump it for XP or maybe Linux, but we’ll have to see), plus 8 other PCs running Windows XP / Vista / Windows 7.  All the PCs are connected by Belkin KVM switches.  The guy I replaced fixed a HP 4250 Laser Printer and left it connect to the network in the cube.  So I don’t have to go far for my print outs.

I am supporting 450 PCs which are connect to GCMS and LCs.  I can’t get into more detail, but it is a cool assignment.  There is also a chance to learn and support Linux in a production environment.

One downside is the building is shielded from all outside radio signals, so I can’t receive calls on my cell.  I tried to get the phone right up against the windows, but there was no signal.  They installed an AT&T micro cell to cover the service the client uses.  So now I have to check my voice messages during lunch, which is no big deal, but I still like to answer the phone when someone calls.

All in all, I think this was a smart move for me.  I am closer to home, making a few extra dollars, and doing something I like.  So hopefully I will be here for a few years, and gain a ton of experience.