June 2005 Archives

Installing Cacti on SuSE 9.3

I wanted to get a web accessible graph of system temperature from my server. There are a variety of methods, many building on top of the brilliant RRDtool package. Since it seemed to simplify configuration, I decided to try Cacti.

Cacti is available as a standard install package on SuSE (provided you have the DVD version of 9.3 Professional, the FTP tree is not fully populated yet).

Cacti installation instructions, manual, an installation walkthrough and a forum are all available, but none are quite correct for SuSE. I don't feel this is the fault of the documentation maintainers, the SuSE system is set up to allow the addition of many packages without editing central configuration files through the extensive use of included files and directories, no package maintainers can reasonably be expected to maintain instructions for every combination. This is really the job of the community: to document installs to help others.

The SuSE install bungs everything into /usr/share/cacti and also adds a file to the /etc/apache2/conf.d directory, which should be imported automatically by apache to set up the aliasing, so no links or copies into /srv/www/htdocs/ should be necessary.

It also adds /etc/cron.d/cacti so that crontab modification is not necessary.

However, the install doesn't get everything right. The following is based on a synthesis of the above instructions, and works for me !

Slipstreaming Windows XP CD for Intel ICH5

All my recent hassles with trying to configure dual-booting on a system using "fakeraid" has led to some useful discoveries.

One of them concerns building Windows XP installation CDs so that you don't need to insert floppy discs for 3rd party drivers during the process. This very useful if you don't have a floppy drive in your PC, in my case because there is a radiator where the floppy drive should be. I thought a USB floppy drive would be the solution, but despite the BIOS recognising it for booting, the Windows XP setup process does not.

This process is called "Slip Streaming", and there are plenty of guides out there. What has made it a lot easier is an really nice little utility called nLite. Using this you can incorporate SP2, hotfixes and 3rd party drivers, and also tweak a bunch of settings. You can even set the disc up for unattended install. I found a great (although apparently slightly out of date) guide to the process.

In order to slipstream the Intel drivers for the motherboard chipset I had to pick them up from their installed location (C:\Program Files\Intel\Intel Application Accelerator\Driver) - the driver download only unpacks to an installer, not the separate files.

Chilli Choccy

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Just been up the farmshop. Got some of this:

chilli choccy

The reason it's not a pristine bar is that it's delicious. But I think it would also be an effective method to tame chocolate over-consumption.

Giving up on Linux/Windows Dual-Boot on SATA Raid

Aftering fritzzing about for far too long trying to find a way to get a dual-boot set up working on my current machine, I've decided to give up.

The current configuration is a pair of disks on the ICH5 as Raid-0 and another pair non-Raided on the Promise controller. After building a GRUB floppy (using a SuSE 9.3 Live CD) I discovered that during boot the BIOS is presenting only hd0 (the psuedo RAID-0 volume, I presume), all other disks upto hd6 presenting disk read error 25 when probed with the geometry command. This probably explains why GRUB gets stuck on stage 1.5, since it's boot partition is on hd2 and it can't see it.

At this point I have four choices:

  • Attempt the build on PATA, patch for SW RAID and transfer trick

  • Image the Windows partition, break the RAID, restore the image to unRAIDed disks, do normal Linux install

  • Break the RAID, re-install Windows from scratch, etc

  • Build a Boot CD and reconfigure the BIOS every time

Frankly, I don't fancy the first, since if something goes wrong later I'll have to repeat all the trickery. I'll take some pain initially, but don't want to repeat the experience.

The second is slightly risky, but will probably work out fine.

The third may be better due to inevitable Windows Bit Rot (why does my XP Professional Backup seem to have decided to work like XP Home now, failing to build ASR backups ?), but it's a lot of work to get everything re-installed and set up again.

The last one remains continually inconvenient.

It's going to be 2 or 3. Just gotta decide which one. Maybe even 2 then 3.

BootMagic Doesn't like Intel ICH5 SATA

It all started when I tried to switch to SATA in my server box ...

I needed to install Linux for dual-booting on my main machine, mainly to compile a kernel for my server box, since I needed to patch in some SATA drivers. Or, at least I think that was the reasoning, it all seems a long time ago...

Are Americans Genetically Optimistic ?

After watching an episode of Channel 4's Pioneer House, it struck me that you'd have to be pretty optimistic to have been an early migrant to the New World. Even if news of the appalling survival statistics didn't make it back to the motherland, the migration would be a step into the complete unknown, starting with a terrifying ocean voyage. Even later migrations, whilst frequently fleeing abject poverty, would be based purely on the hope of a better life. That seems a pretty good definition of optimism to me.

So I wondered if this meant that the population of the US was seeded by overwhelmingly optimistic people, and this has led to a genetic bias in favour of optimism in the US ?

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