Grant McWilliams

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This article is a  response to and article written by David Salaverry,  the founder of the California Conservative Action Group. The article - California High Speed Rail: Part One, Arguments For posted on Fox and Hounds was an interesting slant on California's High Speed Rail project. We take it for granted that liberals will vote for HSR and conservatives won't. David takes a different tone and introduces a few reasons why the GOP should take a lead on building this infrastructure and I've taken it upon myself to add a few thoughts to his words.

Thank you for writing with this perspective David Salaverry.  I'm afraid that if the GOP doesn't start thinking about getting something done they may not be in office anymore. At some point people will see the GOP as the "No you can't have education, No you can't have infrastructure, No you can't have transportation, No you can't live here and work". If you say no to everyone no matter how good your intentions there won't be enough people to vote for you because you're completely ineffective at doing anything but shutting stuff down. The Democrats on the other hand may end up being the "Yes they spent a lot of money but at least some of their stuff worked". It's sad that "some of their stuff worked" would be considered a success but in comparison "none of their stuff worked because they didn't do anything" is a failure to do anything.

At one time in history the GOP was the anti-slavery, pro-American enterprise, pro-infrastructure party. Now they're the "you can't have money unless you're a defense contractor" party. This is a sad state for the GOP party and I think only when they start losing seats in congress will they think about addressing the real issues. You could make the argument that the Democrats aren't doing anything right too but that would be a different topic. Currently we're discussing the GOP and High Speed Rail.

The crazy thing about HSR is that it does work in most nations they build it in. Operating costs are cheaper per passenger mile (7-9 cents) than airlines (12-14 cents) and in those countries the HSR breaks even or even makes money (TGV makes $1.6B a year helping to offset local trains deficit).  I haven't quite figured out why the GOP is so against passenger rail because we're not exactly inventing something new and risky. I've come up some possible reasons. Most are arguments I've heard in forums.

  1. It costs money and spending ANY money is bad. This doesn't make sense because just upgrading the freeways and airports for the increased population for the next 30 years costs the same as the HSR as the cost analyses for California showed.
  2. Trains are old technology, planes are the way to go. This 1950's era thinking is old technology. HSR has proven to be the most efficient for trips from 100 - 500 miles. Just because these folks have never traveled beyond their local Walmart doesn't make it not so.
  3. Environmentalists push trains since they emit less Co2. Is there a negative to lowering Co2 that I don't know about? Even if global warming is a hoax making less pollution is generally considered a good thing.
  4. Putting everyone on public transportation is socialism and we don't want to be Russia. Airplanes are public transportation... we all ride together. With trains you ride in comfort.
  5. We don't like the idea that the government would own the infrastructure instead of private enterprise. Two words - Freeways and Airports. Both are owned by the state and both work wonderfully for their intended purpose.
  6. Liberals like trains and we can't support them. This is how you get nothing done in Congress. At some point people will have had enough and stop electing you. Try to agree on something once in a while. Your career may depend on it.
  7. Only rich people could afford to ride it. Like airplanes and cars. Driving your car one mile costs 55 cents. Only a fool thinks their car costs the price of gas. Everyone has to do maintenance, pay for insurance, tires, depreciation etc... The more you drive it the less your car is worth and the closer you get to having to buy a new one. Driving 500 miles (HSR's maximum) will cost you $250 whereas the train would cost you half that. Even planes are cheaper than driving at that distance. Save your car for driving short distances where it's the best mode of transportation.
  8. It won't go where I want. Trains go between cities and I'm a conservative so I live in the country. This is actually a VALID reason which is why you should be in the planning process. Trains have the ability to stop in smaller towns whereas planes don't. HSR could have an advantage if you live in the country.
  9. I don't want my tax money going toward something I'll never use. Currently about 30% of freeways are paid for directly by people who use them by way of gas tax. The rest comes from taxes collected from people who will never use that freeway. Currently Amtrak's dilapidated network of 70s era trains have an average farebox recovery (ticket sales) of 55% or nearly double that of freeways. Amtrak relies less per passenger on subsidies than freeways. HSR if done right will break even as it does in most countries thus having a lower burden on taxpayers not using it.
  10. I'm all for private companies like airlines providing my transportation, not government inefficienciesIf you think those private enterprises are surviving because they're more efficient you may surprised to learn they're heavily reliant on subsidies.  Airports are run by the government as is the FAA, and the TSA. Most every flight is subsidized to keep the airlines solvent. The subsidy varies depending on which airports the flights use and how popular it is. The average flight out of LAX is only subsidized $9. However, a direct flight from Spokane WA to Irvine CA is subsidized roughly $200. 

I'm sure there are other arguments but I haven't thought of them yet. Comments?

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 This tutorial is for installing XenWebManager on an XCP host but should work just as well for installing XenWebManager on any Redhat based hosts (CentOS/Fedora).

It's best to install XenWebManager on another machine or even a VM for security reasons but I could see installing it on a host for simplicity's sake.

You will need to be root in order to follow the instructions below.

 

1. Download and install the packages

 

cd ~
wget http://iweb.dl.sourceforge.net/project/xenwebmanager/xenwebmanager_beta_full.tar.gz
tar -xzvpf xenwebmanager_beta_full.tar.gz 
cd xenwebmanager/tools
bash install_rh.sh

 

2. Run XenWebManager

Run xenwebmanager service. The install script above already configures it to auto-start on XCP host bootup. To turn auto-start off - chkconfig xenwebmanager off...

service xenwebmanager start

 

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Possibly the easiest way to get a graphical management interface running on XCP is to use the Xen Web Manager Appliance. The appliance is a complete Virtual Machine with XenWebManager installed and ready to run. 

These commands should be typed into your XCP cloud host.

 

1. Download and import the appliance 

This is a very long URL from Sourceforge but it does work if you copy and paste it.

cd ~
wget http://downloads.sourceforge.net/project/xenwebmanager/appliances/xenwebmanager.xva.gz?r=http%3A%2F%2Fsourceforge.net%2Fprojects%2Fxenwebmanager%2F&ts=1365405701&use_mirror=superb-dca3 gunzip xenwebmanager.xva.gz xe vm-import filename=xenwebmanager.xva

 

 

2. Verify the appliance and start it 

[root@testcloud1 ~]# xe vm-list name-label=xenwebmanager
uuid ( RO)           : 70f63ce4-b775-22c6-a556-a03a7bea6220
     name-label ( RW): xenwebmanager
    power-state ( RO): halted

[root@testcloud1 ~]# xe vm-start name-label=xenwebmanager

 

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Getting VMs to boot up automatically when an XCP host powers up is fairly easy but not entirely logical. With the old Xen we'd just copy the config file into /etc/xen/auto but XCP/Xenserver has no such directory. Using XCP/Xenserver you have to tell the pool to turn on auto_poweron and you also have to set it for the VM you want to autoboot as well. 

 

1. Get the Pool UUID number

Use xe pool-list to get the UUID of the pool.  We see the pool UUID is d47b4251-60bc-aa36-c572-c425fdc1b897.

[root@testcloud1 ~]# xe pool-list
uuid ( RO)                : d47b4251-60bc-aa36-c572-c425fdc1b897
          name-label ( RW): 
    name-description ( RW): 
              master ( RO): c76a1ba7-8cdd-45a7-8399-38f242355a43
          default-SR ( RW): 735f9d8e-64eb-71b7-9fd4-47c342c7c9e4

 

2. Set auto_poweron for the pool 

To set the value of a pool parameter we'll use the xe pool-param-set. Use the pool UUID from the previous step here. We'll be setting the auto_poweron item of the other-config map parameter to true.

xe pool-param-set uuid=d47b4251-60bc-aa36-c572-c425fdc1b897 other-config:auto_poweron=true

 

3. Get the VM UUID number

Use xe vm-list to get the UUID of the VM you'd like to autoboot. We see the VM UUID is  d2e81fdd-e2cd-b0db-8b0e-e280611eb446. 

[root@testcloud1 ~]# xe vm-list
uuid ( RO)           : d2e81fdd-e2cd-b0db-8b0e-e280611eb446
     name-label ( RW): CentOS6
    power-state ( RO): halted

 

4. Set auto_poweron for the VM 

To set the value of a VM parameter we'll use xe vm-param-set. Use the VM UUID from the previous step here. We'll be setting the auto_poweron item of the other-config map parameter to true.

xe vm-param-set uuid=d2e81fdd-e2cd-b0db-8b0e-e280611eb446 other-config:auto_poweron=true

 

5. Test

Test your work by rebooting the host.

 

 

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Xenserver hotfixes are released as patches that need to be applied with patch-pool-apply. Although technically this could work with XCP as long as you got the correct Xenserver patch it's better to apply patches the "new" way using Yum and the default xcp repository.

Any minor software updates to Xen Cloud Platform will be released into the XCP Yum repository at downloads.xen.org.  XCP 1.6 comes with a ready made Yum repository file at /etc/yum.repos.d/xcp.repo although by default the repository is disabled.

To apply updates use the yum update command you have to enable the repo and tell rpm not  to gpg check the packages. Hopefully the latter behavior will change in the future.

yum --enablerepo xcp --nogpgcheck update

If you'd like to enable the repo and turn gpg checking off by default so future updates are easier then change the enabled=0 line to enabled=1. Also add a line to the /etc/yum.repos.d/xcp.repo file to turn gpgchecking off for this ONE repository.

 

[xcp]
name=XCP 1.6 Updates
baseurl=http://downloads.xen.org/XCP/repo/xcp-1.6.10/
enabled=1
gpgcheck=0

I don't know if I recommend enabling by default as I like to do my updates manually. I really have issues with turning gpg checking off but currently the packages are distributed without a gpg signature so if you have it turned on the update will fail. Our only choice is to turn it off.

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I've been harping on how I predicted that traditional desktop (Windows dominance) would shrink while mobile marketshare (Linux dominance) would go up and that this is important for us to know so we can focus our education better. 

So far this has been me watching the industry and doing a little hocus pocus foretelling of the future based on a lot of data in a lot of areas. Now other analysts are putting the real numbers down. Businessinsider wrote an article about Apple being impacted by Android but there's an interesting graphic in the middle. As you see over the years the Windows/Intel monopoly has had the mass majority marketshare for quite some time but look what it's done in the last couple of years - halved. Also look at the amount Android has made in the exact same time. 

At this rate Android may be the majority OS in a couple of years. I don't know if I like that or not since I'm not really an Android fan but it shows that Linux is making massive progress in marketshare because the MARKET is changing. This year will be an interesting one as more mobile Operating Systems enter the fray. With Samsung (who makes 25% of all smartphones) is investing heavily in Tizen, Firefox releases Firefox Mobile, Ubuntu releases Ubuntu Mobile and Jolla brings out SailfishOS (outgrowth of Nokia's Meego) it will be an interesting year. All of these operating systems are Linux. If Android loses marketshare it will be to other versions of Linux.

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Ethiopian food is a treat for us locally. Although Seattle based Ethiopian restaurants can't hold a candle to those in other places like Washington DC they're still pretty decent and it's hard to argue against Ethiopian food in general. However, none of the local restaurants are very near me so I have to either drive in traffic or make it myself. 

I can get Injera bread from Amy's Mercato in Seattle and I can get Berber spices as several African grocery stores.

 
Naturally making both at home would cut the cost of this dish substantially but even buying my Injera/Berbere from local stores this ended up costing about $1 per person per meal.  Following is the preview recipe for Doro Wat. It's not hard but don't get impatient as it takes quite a while. Later I'll formalize it into a real recipe for the recipebook section of Recessionchef.
 
 
 
Check out the recipe at doro_wat recipe.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

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Using my tutorials it's fairly easy to install Linux... as long as I've written a tutorial for it. It's also fairly easy to start and stop your VMs... if you understand the XE command or you've installed xenapi-admin-tools. If you're the type of person who appreciates a good graphical interface you can run Citrix' own Xencenter software which does a great job. However it's a Windows application so if you (like me) don't run Windows then you can't easily run Xencenter. There is a free GUI based management tool named XVP that allows you to do simple administration of your VMs like starting and stopping them. It also handles the messiness of tunneling through network and firewalls to provide a VNC console on your local desktop which can be very handy if you want to do a graphical install.

 

There are two ways to getting XVP to run on your xapi cloud:

  1. Create a CentOS VM and install/configure all of the XVP packages
  2. Download the XVP Appliance VM image and run it

We will choose the latter as it's a great deal easier to do. 

 

Creating a download location large enough for the xvpappliance VM image

You have an issue with just downloading the XVP Appliance and importing it into XCP as the image is too big for the stock XCP Operating System drive so we will remedy this by creating an ext3 formatted Logical Volume to store the image in temporarily.

Get the name of your  Storage Repository named "Local Storage". This would be the default SR created on install. 

[root@testcloud1]# xe sr-list
uuid ( RO)                : 735f9d8e-64eb-71b7-9fd4-47c342c7c9e4
          name-label ( RW): Local storage
    name-description ( RW): 
                host ( RO): testcloud1
                type ( RO): lvm
        content-type ( RO): user

 

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I've been wanting to revive some equipment from the garage. I have some old dual Xeon machines that I picked up from a contract a while back. I also bought some "Designed for Google" dual CPU Xeon boards that I haven't used for anything. I've been using one of these boards in a server that's been running non-stop for probably 6 years and it's always been rock solid. Now that I'm documenting Xen Cloud Platform as part of the Xenapi Admin Project I wanted to put together a multi-host cloud using Xen Cloud Platform and it's best if your hosts match thus the renewed interest in getting this machine up and going.

However, there's been a few problems. 

  1. The CPUs from the Google boards don't work in the ASUS boards due to different FSB
  2. I only had three CPUs for four sockets
  3. I was missing a heat sink too
  4. They use DDR2 ECC Registered ram which isn't common
  5. Intel should have their teeth kicked in for designing three (count them) different heat sink/fan designs for one socket.
  6. I needed backplates for two CPUs, the ones that arrived had no spring clips
  7. My replacement heatsink came with one spring clip
  8. Only one retailer had spring clips

So I started by ordering a new copper heatsink because at the time I thought I could use the CPUs out of the Google boards.  The heatsink arrived with one spring clip, I needed two. After I realized that I couldn't use the CPUs from the Google boards I then ordered a new CPU.  Armed with a new CPU and heatsink I installed them only to find out that I needed a spring clip to keep the heat sink ON the CPU. Only one retailer even carried it so I ordered one.  Now if only I had a power supply strong enough to run the board. Back to the garage again. 

In the garage I found a brand new computer case which surprisingly also had a brand new Pentium D motherboard in it. More booty from contracts. I wasn't concerned with the Pentium D but it had a Sparkle Power 600 watt power supply... Score!! 

As of today I now have a dual Xeon server in a 4u case to match it's duplicate. I need to score some ddr2 ecc registered ram as it only has 2 GB in it. That crap is expensive so I went to Ebay and I have bids on a couple batches of 8GB. We'll see if I get them.

The board was too big for the case too. I had to get out the hacksaw and cut away at the drive cage so it would fit. and drill new holes in the side of the case to mount a fan for more direct airflow.

 

This board is a little interesting.  It has...

  1. Two Ultra-SCSI 320 channels
  2. A zero channel raid slot
  3. 64 bit, 133 mhz PCI-X slots
  4. 8x PCI Express slot
  5. 133 MB/sec IDE
  6. SATA2
  7. 8 Dimm slots
  8. 2 CPU sockets

The Xeons don't have VT in them so I'll only be able to paravirtualize but that's all I ever do anyway. However Xeon 7030s have VT and will fit the board if anyone has any they want to get rid of cheap.

 

{gallery labels=filename}galleries/frankencloud{/gallery}  

 

 

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To develop the Xenapi Admin Tools for the Xenapi Admin Project I install git on the XCP/Xenserver host so I can write tools and keep the github project up to date as well. Following is how to get git working on XCP 1.6 - Xenserver 6.5.  To develop tools I just mount my XCP host /partition on my development machine via sshfs so I can edit tools remotely. When I'm satisfied with the tools I commit them using git commit -a  followed by git push to send the changes to the xenapi-admin-tools github repository.

 

 Add the EPEL repo, install git then disable the repo

We add the EPEL repo (which is necessary), install git and then disable the repo immediately to keep other system specific packages from updating.

rpm -ivh http://mirror.itc.virginia.edu/fedora-epel/5/i386/epel-release-5-4.noarch.rpm
yum install git
sed -i 's/enabled=1/enabled=0/g' /etc/yum.repos.d/epel.repo

 

Configuring git

To use git to clone our Xenapi Admin Tools repository you'll need to set a few configuration items. Change "Your User Name" to your actual username you want to authenticate with. Change "Your Email Address" to your own email address.

git config --global user.name "Your User Name"
git config --global user.email "Your Email Address" git config --global credential.helper cache git config --global credential.helper 'cache --timeout 3600'
git config --global push.default simple

 

Clone the xenapi-admin-tools github and add it to your PATH (OPTIONAL)

Cloning the github repo is pretty easy. Below we clone the Xenapi Admin Projects tools repo which  will create a /root/xenapi-admin-tools directory. The tools are in xenapi-admin-tools/releases/<version number> but to use them we'll need to add that directory to our system $PATH variable.

cd /root
git clone https://github.com/Xenapi-Admin-Project/xenapi-admin-tools.git
echo 'PATH="$PATH:/root/xenapi-admin-tools/releases/4.1"' >> ~/.bashrc 

 

 

 

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