Friday, August 22, 2008

Ubuntu update

I've been running my main desktop on Linux Ubuntu "Hardy Heron" (version 8.04) for 6 months now, and feel ready to report (if anyone's actually reading this).

For the most part, I would deem this ready for prime time. Especially if all you are going to do is surf the web, create office documents, and consume video/audio you will have no problems.

There are only a couple of areas that are just not easy to do, and I've ended up setting up Windows XP in a VMWare session for these actions:
1) DVD ripping and burning. It's impossible using native Linux tools to rip a DVD and burn it to a 4.7Gb disk. If it *is* possible, I haven't seen the steps or tool that makes it as easy to do as RipIt4Me and DVDShrink on Windows.

DISCLAIMER: I have 4 kids. The youngest is 5. As a policy, I do not let my kids play the original CD or DVD. I burn a copy and let them use that. Then when (not if, but when) they run it over with the Tonka Truck, I just burn another one.

2) Scanners. I have a Visioneer that has been completely useless since the move to Linux. No driver support anywhere. It won't even work in VMWare because Linux doesn't see the device enough to pass it through to the VMWare USB hub.

The other item I struggle with is HTML coding. I really really really like HTML-Kit. It just works for me incredibly well. No editor that I've found has the mix of code display, shortcut buttons, and the WYSIWYG preview. I'm limping along with Bluefish but it's just not the same.

Aside from that though, I'm really enjoying it. The memory usage is far better and I can run more programs in a more stable way than before. Plus the ability to do power stuff when I need it is great.

Technical update

It's been a little too long since I've paid attention to this blog. Here's the stuff I've been working on or working with lately. Check them out!

OpenServices ( - these guys have a suite of monitor tools which scales EXTREMELY well in an enterprise environment. They can get up to over a billion transactions per day (over 10,000 per second) and they link (take input from or pass output to) the usual suspects HP-OpenView, BMC Patrol, Remedy, etc. And they are priced right. Very right. They use behavior models so that you aren't polling for everything all the time, and can mix trap-based and poll-based monitor triggers into a comprehensive solution.

SolarWinds ( - I still love these guys. Pound for pound, if I need to get some monitoring up and in place fast, this is the tool I turn to. Not as robust as the OpenService suite, but it works.

Kiwi Systems ( - I still haven't found anything as good or as easy to set up and configure as their CatTool product for grabbing network device configurations and alerting you when something has changed (something even CiscoWorks struggles with).

REASON ( by DecisionSystems - not a technology, this is a problem-solving and root cause analysis methodology that is time tested and works in a variety of situations. I would STRONGLY recommend their 2 day seminar, along with engaging them to help your organization work through any FMEA (Failure Modes and Effects Analysis) type sessions. They can significantly cut the time you spend figuring out what went wrong (or what's going to go wrong) and how to avoid it now or in the future.

Sooth ( - These guys have a pretty unique product, with more on the way. Their "seer" inventory tool (downloadable for free) will inventory your entire network in an intelligent and non-intrusive manner (no pingsweeps, no hacker-like techniques that will set off alarms to your security group). At the end, you have a full inventory of all your routers, switches, etc along with models, add-on cards, IOS versions and more. The tool can be customized to roll out capabilities accross the enterprise in a single sweep (if you want). Imagine enabling multicast, converting to MPLS or adding all the elements needed for VoIP without touching each device!

ITIL v3 - it's the newest version of the framework that's been around for years. If nothing else, this gets you thinking about how you deliver services and whether you are doing what needs to be done versus what you want to do. As an IT professional, this is a worthwhile framework to be familiar with.