Diary of a Network Geek

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


Perennial Server Naming Question

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Fun Work,Geek Work,Novell,The Network Geek at Home,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Ox which is terribly early in the morning or 3:13 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a First Quarter Moon

It seems like this comes around on a regular basis.

Server names and naming conventions are a constant source of argument and irritation in big IT departments.  Everyone has their own idea of just what naming schema should be used for the servers and workstations and such on the network.  And, since it hasn’t shown up recently on Slashdot, we were about due for an article on it.  There is; Why do we name servers the way we do?  The comments, if you can be bothered to dig down deep into them and wade past some of the worst attempts at humor, are quite telling.  It doesn’t take long before the relative merits of using quirky, easy to remember names is being quite hotly debated.

The original article  over at IT World, titled Would a server by any other name be as functional?, seems to weigh in on the side of the more creative names.
I’ve worked both kinds of places, actually.  In one job, we used a very precise naming convention that had been put in place after some, apparently, very intense debate.  There, we used the LocationFunctionOperatingSystemNumber kind of naming system.  So that the first Accounting server in Houston running Novell Netware would be HOUACTNW01.  Perfectly clear to me, actually, because of that job.  It’s a logical system and works well enough, though it does lack a certain “zing”.
At most other jobs, though, we tended toward the other way.  Once, I worked with a guy who named his servers after dead musicians and actors, but that was only so he could ping his favorite router and see “Hendrix is alive” come back to him.  Another place, we used various things and it was, well, far less themed and much more confusing.  I think it’s best to choose from a very, very large mythology or naming pool so that you don’t have to switch themes mid-stream.  We had some servers named for “gods of the underworld” and others that were named after space shuttles at the same company.  There was no rhyme or reason to it, really, just what the last guy felt like doing.

I’m not sure what naming convention I’ll finally use when I finally get around to redoing my network at home.  It’s hard to get motivated, you know?  When you do it at work all day?  Makes you feel sorry for sex workers and gynaecologists, not to mention urologists, doesn’t it?
(Yeah, this is what happens when I stay up way too late.  Or is it too early?)

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
A real hero is someone who's afraid, but does the right thing anyway.


Roll Your Own Linux Distro

Filed under: Fun Work,Geek Work,Linux,Novell,Personal,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:27 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

My regular readers all know how much I love Linux.

Okay, I’ll admit that I don’t run it as my main OS, but I love it for servers. Truly, truly, I do. I use it for all kinds of things, including my own, home-grown imaging system. Sure, it’s not Novell’s ZENWorks, but it does work pretty well. Back in the days when everyone seemed to be coming out with their own specialized distribution, I always thought it would be fun to roll one of my own. Yeah, I know, I am such a geek!

Anyway, thanks to PC Plus, you can roll your own Linux distro. Hit the link to see their super-excellent tutorial.


MCSE is too easy

Filed under: Certification,Life Goals,Linux,MicroSoft,News and Current Events,Novell — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:31 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Full Moon

No, really, it’s way, way too easy.

Why do I say that? Because an eight-year old has just become an MCSE.
Look, there’s a lot of debate in the industry around how valuable certifications really are. Most of us know that the only real value that certifications have are to get you past Human Resources and in front of a hiring manager who actually knows the technical side well enough to know if you’re really qualified. Sure, I’ve got my Novell and a Linux certification and, yes, that attracts Headhunters who have to sort us some way, but they’re not an accurate measure of what I can really do. I’ve never bothered to get my Microsoft certifications, though I probably should. I haven’t bothered because they’ve got the worst reputation for being so-called paper certifications. It’s possible to get them without ever having touched a machine with Microsoft systems installed on it at all. A point proven by an eight-year old completing the certification.
What is wrong with that picture Microsoft?


Novell Cancels BrainShare

Filed under: Career Archive,Certification,Deep Thoughts,Geek Work,Linux,MicroSoft,News and Current Events,Novell — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Snake which is just before lunchtime or 11:29 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous


Okay, this is for the geeks, specifically for the Netware geeks, like me. Novell has canceled next year’s BrainShare. It’s not clear whether this is just due to a really bad economic situation this year, or whether this will be permanent, but, after 20 years, Novell has canceled their premier convention/training session/user-conference. It does not give me a good feeling for the future of Novell or Netware in general. (If you’re interested, you can read the actual announcement here: Novell BrainShare.)

I’m just so shocked I’m not sure what else to say.

Netware was the first real, viable Local Area Network operating system that wasn’t UNIX or some other mainframe system. Yes, there were others, Banyan VINES, SCO XENIX, and even the early Windows Server, but none were as robust and easy to use in those early days as Novell’s Netware. And, you could load it on what was basically a high-powered desktop machine. It might not run well on that, but you could do it.
Novell was the first certification I got when I was new to the network-geek-game. Back in the day, Netware was the thing to know. Now, it seems like a dead, or dying, technology. Now, we’re all learning Linux and UNIX, which, of course, was what Netware was modeled after. Wow, the times, they are a changing.

So, if you’re a fellow network geek like me, I’d love to hear your opinions in the comments. I have to say, I’m really shocked by this news. It cannot mean good things for Novell, even if they only cancel for this year and start up again next year.


GroupWise twice as stable

Filed under: Certification,E-Mail Entry,Geek Work,Linux,MicroSoft,Novell — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dragon which is in the early morning or 9:36 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Even though I use Microsoft Windows Server 2003 at work, I’m an unabashed Novell fan.

This is a total geek-out post, so if you’re not into server operating systems or e-mail systems or if up-time doesn’t matter in your world, ignore it, okay?

Now, for the few of you who are left, let me emphasize, I am a total Novell fanboy.  I mean, I totally drank the Kool-Aid on this one, okay?  I don’t have a Novell tattoo or anything, but I have been a Novell Certified Engineer since Jesus was a baby.  And, I’ve maintained that certification through the years, even though I have to admit, we’re kind of hitting the law of diminishing returns here.
Novell’s e-mail solution is called Groupwise.  It started out life as something else, but it’s been improved to a very reliable, stable platform that was actually pretty easy to maintain.  Of course, that’s relative when it comes to e-mail packages, but it was a good trade off between ease-of-use and robustness that made it a really nice solution.  And, obviously, it integrated very cleanly into the rest of Novell’s network management systems.  So, once it was all setup right, you could make a user and a new e-mail account in pretty much the same step.  I loved it.

Naturally, there was always a rivalry between Novell and Microsoft.  They each fired shots back and forth about who had the better, more reliable product.  Die-hards like me always argued in favor of Groupwise.  Guess what?  It turns out, we were right!  Google did some testing and polling and compared e-mail packages.  Naturally, they came out as the most reliable system, though, if they lock your account, good luck getting it unlocked again.  But, go to their blog entry about their e-mail findings and scroll down until you get to the graphic.  Go ahead, click the link and look at the graphic.  I’ll wait.
Did you notice the shortest bar, next to Gmail?  Yeah, Novell’s Groupwise.
Groupwise, on average, has half the down-time of a Microsoft Exchange system.  Half!  And, I bet if you loaded it in a multiserver configuration, or even a Linux server, that number would drop even more.  But, still, half as much downtime as Exchange!

So, why don’t more people use it?


SCO Owes Novell

Filed under: Certification,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Geek Work,News and Current Events,Novell — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:28 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Finally a little justice!

Man, this trial has dragged out for years and years and years! But, in spite of apparently basing their entire income structure on suing people for copyright infringement, SCO now owes Novell $2.5 million dollars for doing just that. You’d think that a company that ended up primarily made of, and run by, lawyers would have been pretty careful in regards to the lawsuits they exposed themselves to if they planned on extorting money from people for intellectually property infringement. Well, I would, at any rate.

(Yeah, I know this is kind of old news, but, hell, I’ve been busy and this slipped by me until now.)

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Christmas Bonus

Filed under: Apple,Fun Work,Geek Work,GUI Center,Linux,MicroSoft,Novell,Personal,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dragon which is in the early morning or 8:57 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

I got a kind of Christmas bonus Friday.

iMac So, Friday, after long resisting it, I finally cleaned up my office.
I had all kinds of junk there, most of which I threw out. But, there was this older iMac. It was in decent shape, outside of a temperamental wireless card. So, rather than get rid of it, I asked the boss if I could have it. Mac lover that he is, he was thrilled to give it to someone who’d appreciate it. And, I think maybe he thought he’d converted me to the Apple camp. He hadn’t, but now I have two versions of desktop Windows, Linux and OS X in my house. Not to mention Novell and Linux server systems. So, now, when someone asks me to convert files for them, format shouldn’t be an issue.

Now, that is what I call a Christmas bonus!


D.I.C.E. Framework

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Geek Work,Linux,MicroSoft,Novell — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:45 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Just a little something for the techie manager-types.

I know I still have some tech-geeks who read this blog. I mean, I did start out, all those years ago, blogging about mainly technical stuff and some of the real die-hards have to still be reading, right? Well, I do try to keep y’all in mind and occasionally write up something that might help you get things done. Most of you fellow geeks know me as a Novell enthusiast, but I don’t limit myself to just one set of tools. There’s an old saying that when your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. Well, I like to keep a bunch of tools in the old tool bag to solve all kinds of problems.

Sometimes, though, it’s not that easy to figure out which tool to use. So, when I saw these two related articles on TechRepublic about choosing the right tools, I thought I’d share. The first is a blog post that describes the D.I.C.E framework. (In short, D.I.C.E is an acronym for Difficulty, Investment, Capability and Expandability. All things to keep in mind when implementing new technology.) The second article is really a download. It’s a spreadsheet that helps you evaluate systems in relation to the D.I.C.E framework.
So, between the two, you should have a little extra help determining what technology to install and support.
And, you might even pick up a few ideas about how to present it to the boss, too!

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"When in doubt, don't."



Branded Merchandise

Filed under: Art,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun Work,Personal,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:09 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Third Quarter Moon

Or, why wear someone else’s logo?

So, I’ve been thinking a lot about logos and branding lately.
I often wonder what makes people choose to wear particular logos or promotional “gear”. Now, as a die-hard Novell fan, I often wear Novell-branded polo shirts. Most of them I got from sales staff over the years as I renewed our company’s license agreement and support contract. But, I actually bought some Novell logo gear myself once. I needed shirts and Novell’s gear wasn’t any more expensive than plain golf shirts, so, I bought some. I also wear golf shirts with the Linux mascot on them. (For those of you who aren’t familiar, the Linux mascot is a cute, little cartoon penguin named Tux. The chicks dig him.)

But, now that I’m thinking about rebranding both this website and a future, creative website, I’ve been thinking about getting branded merchandise for my own, personal use that ties into those brands. I mean, if I’m going to wear a logo and advertise a product, I might as well advertise my own product, right?
So, I started looking around at various on-line retailers that did custom embroidery on shirts. Naturally, there’s CafePress, but they really cater to a more sales-oriented market and are a little more low-end than I was looking to wear. Back in the day, Branders was another option that was more upscale. But, that was back in the heyday of the Internet bubble, so they were a little more high-end than I’d been looking for. Also, they have significant minimums to buy and, honestly, I don’t need 17 of the same color shirt with a custom logo on it. Well, I did some more searching and found University Fashions. They seem to be the right blend of upscale product, reasonable pricing and no minimums to buy. But, there’s also Corporate Casuals and The Logo Centre, so I’ll have to compare them all, and most likely need to get actual quotes from all three places before I decide to go forward with a purchase or not. Oh, and one other factor is that the Logo Centre seems to be in the UK. That might effect the price a bit.

In any case, my thought was, “Why wear someone else’s logo when I can promote my own brand?” So, maybe, that’s just what I’ll do. If I follow through on getting my own logo merchandise, rest assured that I’ll get pictures of it up here somehow.


Free VMWare

Filed under: Fun Work,Geek Work,Linux,MicroSoft — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:08 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

Okay, this is probably old news to everyone by now, but since everyone is talking about the VMWare IPO, I figured it was a good time to bring it up.
In case you geek readers out there haven’t see this, you can still download the VMWare server for Linux for free. TechRepublic has an entire article about downloading and installing VMWare. (Yeah, yeah, okay, it’s a beta version, but from everything I hear, it’s good to go.) Now, I’ve used the full, very expensive, version of this and it pretty much rocks. If you absolutely must run Windows server in an otherwise Linux envrionment, this would be the way I would choose to do it.

If you’re absolutely married to Windows and want to try VMWare, you can either download the server version or the “player“.   Now, the thing to keep in mind is that the player will run virtual machines that were created with the full product, but, as far as I can tell, won’t create its own virtual machine.  So, if you don’t already have virtual machine files somewhere, you’ll have to Google for them.

Oh, and if you’re looking for something to play with on this, but don’t feel like Googling for a good virtual machine? Why not try the free Mono VMWare image from Novell?

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