Aug 27

Upgrading to FreeBSD 9.x with a whole-disk gmirror

My FreeBSD desktop workstation has been on 8.x since I built it just over two years ago. When I made it, I bought two 1TB HDDs and setup a RAID-1 volume with gmirror, following what was at the time the recommended instructions from the FreeBSD Handbook. After delaying the upgrade to 9.x repeatedly over the last several months I finally decided to give it a try after 9.1-RC1 was announced. Read on for how it went wrong, since FreeBSD 9.x more correctly handles partition integrity checks.

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Aug 24

Setting Up a FreeBSD SVN Mirror

According to discussions on the FreeBSD-stable list, CVS support for FreeBSD sources is not just dying, it’s practically dead. (I’ll skip over the jokes about Netcraft confirming it…) So I setup an SVN mirror of the FreeBSD base and ports repositories and documented the process a little. I did this mainly because there are a lot of servers in two locations that need frequent access to the base and ports repositories, and there are currently cvsup mirrors running (one at each place) to keep the load off the upstream servers and for faster local access.

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Apr 07

How to make a Tweetdeck Chrome Application shortcut in KDE

The other day I found that the Tweetdeck Chrome extension worked on FreeBSD (With Chromium 18.0.1025.142, probably earlier as well). I had been missing a full GUI to monitor some things on Twitter on my FreeBSD box. I have a much larger monitor on my FreeBSD workstation than on my Windows laptop, so I’d rather use the extra screen space there to keep a search column up (For pfSense, mainly).

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Jun 12

Server Move + IPv6

A quick note that I moved my site from an aging server to a fast VM at a data center, and in the process gained not only a much newer version of FreeBSD, but also native IPv6 connectivity. A few days too late for World IPv6 Day, but it’s still great to see IPv6 happening finally.

I’ve also got IPv6 going at home using he.net’s tunnelbroker service from my home router running pfSense 2.0’s IPv6 branch. All things considered it’s pretty easy. All of my PCs in the house are using IPv6 happily, even my Droid X running Gingerbread is using IPv6 without problems.

Apr 15

Growl Server for KDE to Receive Network Alerts

It’s no secret that I work with pfSense a lot, and a while back support was added to pfSense for Growl alerts over the network. Tired of being jealous of everyone else with a Mac (and even Windows!) who could get growl alerts, and not having any growl servers available for FreeBSD, I decided to dive in a little deeper.

After searches for a stand-alone growl server came up empty, I started looking for anyone who had implemented a server in another language like python, ruby or perl. Lo and behold, I found one in python! Just one problem: I use KDE, and that one was for gnome/dbus. Luckily the code is quite easy to follow and it was easy to modify. The kdialog program in KDE already supports growl style alerts by using kdialog –passivepopup, so it was just a matter of ripping out the gnome/dbus bits and replacing them with a call to kdialog.

Without further ado, I present: kdegrowl.py:

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Sep 12

Brother HL-2170w

I picked up a new Brother HL-2170w last week. It’s a network-enabled (wired and wireless) black and white laser printer. At just under $100, and with $30-50 replacement toner cartridges good for thousands of pages worth of output, it was quite a steal in terms of features for the money.

I had been looking for an all-in-one color printer to replace my scanner and inkjet, but the more I looked, the more horror stories I saw. And when I didn’t see horror stories, I saw absurd ink costs on a per-page basis. The sheer number of horror stories was astounding. I have always considered printers to be evil, banes of our very existence but the tales of woe that wait on printer reviews are really like no other components.

So as inconvenient as it may be for color, it seems that doing photo prints (99% of what I want in color) is cheaper to do at an in-store lab (such as Wal-Mart) than to do it at home, plus I don’t have to worry about the crazy quality of inkjet printers, or expensive-yet-not-photo-quality color laser output. I still have my existing inkjet for the rare case where I might need a print fast, but at what seems to be about $0.50/print, it’s really not worth it.

The Brother printer was pretty easy to setup. Plug it into the network, and it pulls a DHCP address. I went to the printer’s web interface and setup a static IP, changed its name, and had all the PCs printing in no time. The Windows 7 boxes found the driver automatically, XP I had to pick the driver by hand, and my FreeBSD workstation needed the hpijs-pcl5e driver for CUPS, but needed no other special configuration.

Given all the negative experiences I’ve had with printers (and everyone else has had), I thought I’d share this positive one.