Category Archives: linux

Building firefox and mozilla tools on an AMD64

Sometimes I curse the day I decided to get a 64 bit box. Everything is fine until I want to build something by hand or upgrade something and then if it doesn't just work it is like a maze of problems.

Recently I was trying to build firefox from source along with XULRunner so that I could try out JavaXPCOM. The first problem I ran into was a GCC 4 bug that breaks the build. Luckily someone out there had an easy fix for the problem (see GCC4.0 – relocation R_X86_64_PC32 against memcpy@@GLIBC_2.2.5 can not be used). After getting that problem fixed an a little fight with setting up XULRunner I got a very simple program working. That is when the 2nd problem showed up. When I tried to use some of the GUI functions I started getting core dumps from within GTK2. At that point I gave up and moved to my laptop. The same code worked right off using my laptop.

I should have instructions soon on how to embed gecko into a java app with JavaXPCOM. There isn't much documentation or example code out there on making it work. As for the 64 bit box, I think I have had about as much of it as I can take. At least it can run in 32 bit mode when I decide to re-install.

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5 ImageMagick command line examples – part 1

If you have ever wanted to manipulate images under linux you probably have used Gimp. This isn't your only option and if you want to do things from the command line a better option is to use ImageMagick's convert utility.

I've put together 5 simple command line examples that I have found useful. This is just a sample of what you can do with convert. To see more examples and get more explanation of options see: ImageMagick v6 Examples.

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Tape drives are obsolete

I was reading an article today that asks the question Are Tape Backup systems obsolete? I would say the answer is yes and that it has been that way for some time now.

Take google who build thier own commodity hardware. How would they ever back up so much data? Why would they even try? It would be much easier to just do what they are doing and replicate the data multiple places. Drives are becoming so huge how can you manage to keep up with your tape library solution? What if you had to back up the Sun Thumper at 24T? That would require a massive number of tapes.

We tried to use tapes for the longest time but the expense got to be too much. We were adding hardware left and right with drives that could fill an entire tape. After looking at autoloaders to cover the amount of data our graphics developers produce we gave up on tapes. That was two years ago. We went with Amanda's tapeless setup and a load of cheap hard drives that we could swap out for offsite backups. This setup has worked great. The cheap drives let us to expand our backup range from a couple weeks to month and longer if we wanted to. Having the extra space gave us the ability to back up user pcs if we needed to as well. As the size of drives for servers we buy increases so does are ability to expand our backup system. Moving to a hard drive based backup scheme has releaved us of the burden of waiting for tapes to catch up which they never seem to do.

backup, amanda, tape

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Sun ZFS and some big hardware

This is one large set of disks to have in only 4u of space. And to top it off the thing has 4 cores. I love commodity hardware and sun has been rolling out some nice commodity hardware these days. The price for some of the equipment has started to catch my eye now. I think as far as initial interest this file server would be great if they just had ZFS working for linux. It looks like they are trying to port it with FUSE as a Google SOC project. If they get it going it would probably fit in well with XEN.

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Upgrade FC4 to FC5 with yum

I recently upgraded a bunch of FC4 (a few FC3) installs to FC5 using yum. It has been a long time since I've tried doing an OS upgrade like this because it used to be pretty painful. I was surprised at how easy it is to do now. There are a few issues to get past but for the most part for fedora core 4 to fedora core 5 you just have to follow a few simple steps:

  1. Remove any kernels before 2.6.14. There are packages that will not allow you to upgrade unless you do this step. Use the yum command: yum remove kernel-2.6.14* or the rpm command rpm -e kernel-2.6.14*
  2. Even though it isn't in the documentation I have had trouble in the past with some dependancies not working out correctly so I like to run "yum clean all" before starting the true upgrade.
  3. Install the fedora-release for Fedora Core 5. Use the rpm command: rpm -Uhv
  4. Run the yum update: yum -y update

That is all there is to it.

For more details see the following links:

YumUpgradeFaq and a good post on doing a FC4 to FC5 upgade.

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How to build the PHP rrdtool extension by hand

I think by now most sysadmin types know about rrdtool and the nice graphs it makes. I recently wanted to create some graphs by hand using PHP so I turned to the php-rrdtool extension. I found that it takes a little work to get it to compile but that could be because I'm not constantly recompiling PHP and just don't know better. You can get this module as an rpm for fedora (php-rrdtool) but I like to compile php by hand so I couldn't use it. I'm going to assume that you know how to compile PHP normally with whatever other items you want to include and that you have the rrdtool development libraries installed or have compiled and installed rrdtool from source.

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