Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.


Finally Good News!

Filed under: Geek Work,Linux,Novell — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dragon which is in the early morning or 9:44 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Third Quarter Moon

After some long struggles, VICTORY!

In recent weeks I have posted less and less about my job. Why, you ask? Well, aside from a serious bout of depression, things have not been going well on my projects. Oh, the Linux stuff was okay, mostly, except for a nasty little problem with that mkCDrec program and our SAN. Something about the way it makes the boot partition on the ISO just didn’t like the drivers for the QLogic cards we use. It would never recognize more than one partition at a time. Even after we recompiled it with multiple LUN support. But, I digress….

So, I’ve been banging away at this ZENWorks desktop imaging system deal for weeks. Well, it hasn’t been smooth, but we have a way that *seems* to work well. And, get this, we use snapshot! Yeah, I know, it sounds crazy, but it works. So, here’s the thing, we want to have one base image for XP and then just have addon images for everything else. But, we have at least one SCSI-based workstation. So, what does that mean? Trouble, that’s what. Ultimately, here’s what I did…

I started with a base XP image then added just enough to get it to boot on the SCSI machine (a Dell Precision 670). Next, on a second partition, I loaded all the snapshot files and started that process. Then, I loaded all the Dell drivers and such as appropriate and capped off the snapshot. Finally, I make the app and use filedef.txt to create a BAT file that copies the converted files to their original names and directories. From that, I make the ZENWorks image. And, viola! It works like a charm. Okay, so it’s a bit ’round-about, but it *does* work and a whole lot better than using sysprep, too. At least, for me.

So, all in all, it was a pretty good week! Now, all I need is to get a working car….


Learning to Hate Bootloaders!

Filed under: Career Archive,Fun Work,Geek Work,Linux,News and Current Events,Novell — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dog which is in the evening time or 9:57 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Too much of a good thing!

I have installed, played with, and uninstalled way too much Linux in the past month. We’re still having “fun” with the ZENWorks imaging boot disk. Now, we’ve moved on to other machines and discovered that there aren’t any drivers compiled for the particular kernel that Novell uses for the boot cd. Okay, that’s not quite true. There has been an update to the boot iso which actually fixed at least two problems. But, not, I’m afraid the one that is currently kicking my ass. Namely, the SCSI drivers for a Dell Precision 650. So, we’re going to have to find the right kernel version and complie these bad boys ourselves. Oh, God, save me!
So, if you downloaded my USB boot iso, it’s obsolete now. The newest, non-beta, non-6.5 boot iso from Novell Forge is correct. Use it!


Slaving over hot BOOTLOADERS

Filed under: Fun Work,Geek Work,Linux,Novell — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:22 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

My eyes are practically crossed!

I’ve been going around and around with the Novell ZENWorks Imaging boot CD Linux partition trying to get it to boot a laptop via a USB CD-ROM for the past two days! I guess the good news is that I’ve made progress.
For those of you who care, but don’t know, the ZENWorks imaging boot.iso was built with ISOLINUX/SYSLINUX, which are pretty close to the same thing. I know because I’ve practically rebuilt the whole damn Linux disk image it uses when it loads! So far, I’ve added the menuing system that I worked on last week and added support for the USB drives on a Dell laptop into two of the Novell default menu items. Oh, and I also set it to pull DHCP settings when it boots off the USB drives, too. I’ve been testing that on a Lexar Media 256 MB USB JumpDrive, BTW. And we made that happen with ISOLINUX. When I get it all worked out, I’ll burn a CD and we’ll make sure it runs from there, too. It’s been a real challenge, but it’s pretty cool to have a real technical challenge to work on for a change. Sometimes it’s frustrating since I’m doing this on my own laptop and that means I don’t have a regular system yet, but I figure that it’s “motivation”!

Anyway, when I get it all done, I’ll post all the scripts so that other folks and use them if they want.
Oh, yeah, I also installed Mozilla earlier this week. I “upgraded” my Netscape and found that I couldn’t send or reply to e-mail anymore! Damn! So, I went to the “source” so to speak and, so far, it’s been great. Mozilla is what Netscape is based on and you can’t hardly tell the difference, at least in the UI. (Which is a fancy way of saying that I like it and I’m very comfortable using it.) I highly reccomend it to you, especially if you’re looking for an IE replacement!!

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Where does the time go?

Filed under: Fun Work,Geek Work,Linux,Novell,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dog which is in the evening time or 8:15 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Wherever it goes, it goes too fast!

I guess I should have anticipated being so overwhelmed by my new job, but I didn’t. I mean, I really, really love it, but I’m so tired now. I guess part of it is the stress of adapting to a new environment and digging all those old Novell skills out for use. Of course, that’s one of the nice things, too.
In the past week, I’ve learned a whole bunch about ZENWorks for Server and ZENWorks for Desktops, since that’s what we’re focusing on right now. We’ve got to get the desktop images worked out for the remote sites. And, we have to test the system I developed for letting the monkies in the field to roll the images out with a minimum of thinking. So, how did I do that, you ask? Well, gentle reader, I learned shell script. I found the basic source for a menu system on the web and tailored that to our needs. I got a little help from my co-worker on syntax for the ZENWorks portion, and I still have to test the TID I found on integrating it into the PXE boot system, but, the way I have it set up, it’s very easily updateable from a central location. See, I made a shell script that TFTPs the most current menu to the local machine then loads it. That way, we can send a very static disk image to Dell and our users in the field can simply choose their machine type from a menu to get the latest image! It’s pretty damn good for my first two weeks!
So, anyway, even though I’m tired and I work in a closet, I’m really digging this new job.

More soon. I promise!

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Dell moves Call Center back to US

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Geek Work,News and Current Events — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:19 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Now, we’re getting somewhere!

According to this story in the Houston Chronicle, Dell has heard their customer’s demands for service and moved a corporate support call center back to the US from India. Apparently, business cutomers were complaining that it was too hard to understand the Indian service operators and that they weren’t really helpful. Of course, that’s been the joke about phone support helpdesks in general for years. They follow a script and if they can’t find the answer in their database, you’re out of luck. But, the overseas phone support desks were the worst. Not only were they not helpful, but they were hard to understand most of the time, too!
So, this is what can happen when consumers vote with their hard-earned money. We, as consumers, can make a change in the way companies do business! And, in the process, help make jobs for American workers.


Back In Baton Rouge

Filed under: On The Road — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dragon which is in the early morning or 8:46 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Hey guess where I’m writing this from? Yep, I’m back in Baton Rouge! Yahoo! Only this time, I flew. No more of that driving across the swamp at night. Blech!
Things were going fairly well Monday. I got to start correcting the NDS (that’s Novell Directory Services, for you neophytes) synchronization issues that we’re still having thanks to Mother, our primary NDS Replica server, going South on me. Of course, just about every change I want to make takes about two hours to replicate out. Now, I *know* that I’ve explained that to the Supreme Commander, but he still doesn’t seem to “get” it. He’s a really Big Picture sort of guy and doesn’t understand *any* of the details of what I do. The joys of working for a former programmer. That’s all they truly understand or think matters. The rest is just magic that should happen instantly. *sigh* Of course, the fact that our building lost power didn’t help much. Thankfully, I’ve got my Palm IIIc! I just whipped that out and started playing Space Trader. Ah, what fun.
Then, on Tuesday, I started on that again. Until the Baton Rouge server dropped off the network. It still was up, but it stopped communicating with the rest of the network. The Cisco router was fine, so I knew it wasn’t the WAN connection, but it just wouldn’t see the network. So we rebooted it. Oh, boy, was that a mistake. It never came up right. Eventually, we got to a point where all we could get was an “Invalid Partition Table” error. So, it’s off to the airport for me. Leaving my poor sick wife to deal with getting our daughter from school and taking care of our leaking pond. Oh, joy.
Well, I got there and started fumbling around with stuff, but didn’t get very far. Then, I noticed that we had been trying to use Windows 95 utilities on a DOS 6.22 formatted partition! Damn, no wonder we weren’t getting anywhere! So, that started us root around for a DOS bootable disk. We finally found one and I was able to FDISK and FORMAT the old Primary drive and copy everything from the DOS partition of the mirror. Then, while eating my oyster po’boy, we rebooted and *shazam*! The server starts to come up. The next thing we know, it’s already started running the backup. So, since all looked well, we called it a night. Now I’m waiting for everyone to get caught up so I can clean up the hardware and get the server back up, hopefully for good. Or at least until they move, when I hope they’ll upgrade to real hardware. You know, something brand-name, like Compaq or Dell or even HP. I hate having to figure out clones. Then, I’ll try to get an earlier flight back to Houston and just enjoy a night at home. Maybe even snuggle with the wife on the couch while we watch Star Trek. Voyager’s still in reruns! ; }

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