Jrwz.net is James R. Williams Zavada


Tidings and Tidbits

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Although I've not found a new job yet, I've been keeping busy. In addition to looking for work (of course!), I've been working on various computer projects:

- I replaced a previously-created Linux embedded system with OpenBSD. It acts as my LAN's internal DNS, DHCP and NTP server. I originally came up with the idea to create some more-reliable NTP servers for iContact. One of the problems I had with using OpenBSD for this type of system is that OpenBSD's ability to edit ramdisk contents appears to rely on a custom kernel recompile. However, the OpenBSD maintainers will only support the stock kernels. I cooked up a unique innovation that implements a RAMdisk-based system without altering the standard OpenBSD kernel one bit. I'll post the details here.

- I purchased a MikroTik RB750G router for $70 and started learning how to configure it. It's the same as the RB750 that's been advertised lately in Linux Journal, the one that provides “MPLS for the masses”. The only reason it costs an extra $30 is that the ethernet ports do 1000G in addition to the 10/100 of the RB750. When I'm confident I understand it properly, I plan on making it the gateway router for my LAN.

- I've been hosting this web/mail server from my home LAN for ages, running on an old Pentium 400MHz with a mere 128 Megs of RAM. When I set it up, the hardware was already ancient (an old small-footprint Compaq Deskpro), but the Debian version was the newly-released Sarge (3.1). Other than a security update or three, the OS went pretty much untouched. So a new OS version was way overdue. And because there have been a number of relatively long power outages at my home lately (>1 hour), I started getting rather tired of having to restart the server when the power came back on. Even though I've got it on a UPS, there's only about an hour it can run before it has to shut down to keep from draining the battery completely dry. Now that VPS hosting is an inexpensive commodity, I decided to go with the smallest virtual server that Linode provides. It only costs about $20 a month, and with 512MB of RAM and 4 virtual 2.27GHz CPUs it far outweighs what my old server could do! I installed the latest Debian on it, and the hardest part was all the configuration updates that were needed to get the web and mail services properly migrated. And in order to have a smooth and quick cutover, I had to keep all the e-mail and web data synchronized while testing. But all went well (as you can see by the fact that you're reading this :), so I'm happy.

- I'm also in the middle of creating digital copies of my collection of music cassette tapes, which although aren't many (some 100 or so, total), is a time-consuming task, because each song on each tape must be played and re-recorded in real time.

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