Archive for June, 2009

What Operating System do you use?

I thought I’d make use of another WordPress feature for the first time today, polls. Feel free to vote below please, I’m curious to see the results.


Categories: General Tags:

A year’s worth of blogging…

On June 10th this year, my blog turned a year old. I missed the date to write an article to mention this, but I guess that’s how life goes. Sometime you just miss deadlines.

I sat back and thought about this a bit before writing this, it was a chance to reflect on the year that I’ve put into this blog. I originally started this blog for 2 reasons:

  1. Learn what WordPress was about and how to use it, as my previous job wanted to re-launch their website and it was suggested they use WordPress to do the job
  2. A chance for me to rant, rave and just spend some time rambling on about my various thoughts on technology. Interestingly enough, I’ve barely ranted on here, in fact I’ve spent more time raving or rambling than anything else.

My blog has grown in views this year by leaps and bounds, probably because I’ve been paying more attention to it and posting more. With my new job, I’ve discovered a ton of new software and other technologies, which in turn has let me blog about them here. I still want to eventually offer some form of help file downloads that I can write to help fellow admins out. Something along the lines of how I got product XYZ working and so on.

To everyone who has read my blog, and those few who have left comments, thank you. It’s all been worth it, and I hope that by the time next year comes around this blog is even bigger.


Windows Vista Service Pack 2

Service Pack 2 for Vista has been out now for a few weeks. I finally got around to downloading it at my work this past week to bring home to apply to my system. This was the second time I was downloading it, as the first time the download had become corrupt somehow.

The download for the X64 platform weighs in at 577MB for the stand alone installer. I always download the stand alones, as I want to save the file for later (re)use.

Installation is a snap, with 3 or 4 clicks needed to get it going. After you’ve clicked yes to the final question, it starts with a process under Windows where it does something. I say something because I don’t know what it is for sure, but the green progress bar moves along.

After that your pc shuts down to restart. Before it does, the service pack goes through 2 of the 3 stages of the service pack. After the reboot, before you can log in, stage 3 happens. After that, you can log in. Total install time is roughly 40 minutes. at least on my computer. It’s not quite as long as service pack 1 was luckily.

Some people have reported gaining lots of free space after applying the pack. I however haven’t gained anything, as I already had System Restore turned off, which was probably the cause of the gains.

Overall, I haven’t had a major speed increase, nor have I had a decrease. I haven’t seen some of the new features that apparently is included in the pack, so I can’t comment on that. What I can say is that it is good to have been able to catch up in terms of security updates.

In closing, I would suggest that you apply the service pack when you can. It seems Microsoft is focussing everything on Windows 7 now, so Vista is unlikely to gain much in the way of new features as time goes on. Pity really, as it is a wonderful OS. With Service Pack 2, you don’t gain much, but at least you keep yourself relatively secure.

Categories: Software Tags:

FOG cloning software

June 3, 2009 1 comment

I have spoken of the Clonezilla software a few times now on my blog, and to put it in a few words, I was impressed with the features and power but not so with the interface. I’m not a huge command line junkie, and Clonezilla seemed to be taking that to extremes.

Enter a product called FOG. The website is here, where you can find out some more information. FOG stands for Free Open Ghost, though it seems that the project prefers to be called FOG. The package is available under the GPL v3, so it will always be open for change and improvement. Currently it works on Fedora and Ubuntu Linux. You can run it on CentOS as well, and my colleague at work has gotten it set up under pure Debian.

FOG doesn’t quite clone the same number of filesystems yet that Clonezilla can, but since they appear to be using many of the same base tools, I can’t imagine it will be too long before FOG offers the same and more. It also has the crucial multicast facility, which is a must when trying to deploy an image to multiple computers. FOG uses a MySQL database mainly for the web interface, with some parts used for information about the storage. It’s a smart move, and leads to the ability to manage computers long term.

One of FOG’s great features it the web management interface it offers. This alone instantly puts Clonezilla to shame, and in many ways it also puts the Ghost Corporate console to shame as well. I don’t have screenshots to show here yet, but when I do I will put them in a new article. It’s written in PHP5 and looks quite modern and clean, though it does feel a little sluggish at times (happens on all browsers I tested with). Some layout issues are about the only other thing that hinders the interface.

You are able to create and manage your clients, images and other normal cloning features. Where FOG really goes the extra mile though is that you can also boot up the workstations to do an inventory using udev, virus scan with ClamAV, wipe the hard drives, check hard drives for faults and more. Strictly speaking these are not necessary for a cloning product, but in many ways it makes a lot of sense to have them there.

There is also a Windows client that can run on the target computers that does things like printer installations, reboot computers if there is a task waiting and other things I haven’t yet discovered. It can also apparently join the machine to Active Directory, though that again is untested by myself.

In some actual usage tests today, FOG ran well but had some issues with how it needs to be set up. The image directory, /images, needs to be in the same partition as the /, or FOG doesn’t seem to work right. All minor quirks one discovers as you use the software.

In closing, I highly recommend this piece of software out, and I believe that as it matures more, it will become invaluable to any network admin who needs such software.