Diary of a Network Geek

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


An OS Inside An OS

Filed under: About The Author,Better Living Through Technology,GUI Center,Linux,Never trust a Network Admin with a screwdriver,The Network Geek at Home,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:55 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

As you might have guessed from the title of this blog, I’m a geek. In fact, I’m actually a professional geek. Rumor has it, being a geek is cool now. I’ll get back to you on that.
In any case, one of the ways my geek has expressed itself is in early support for Linux.  I’ve used Linux, one way or another, for more than twenty years.  It’s hard to believe, but it’s true.  What’s more, I’ve been Linux certified for more than ten years!  Strange but true!  I don’t use Linux as my main operating system, though, because I live in the real world, not a Techno-Libertarian Utopia.  And, yes, that means, I use Windows.  At home, it’s Windows 10, because that’s what came installed on the laptops I got for my wife and I while I was a highly-paid contractor in 2016 and we were refreshing all our electronics.  But, much to my surprise, there’s a way to run both Windows and Linux, together on the same machine!  Without having a dual-boot system!  Thanks to an article from the Linux Journal, which almost went the way of the dinosaurs last year, I have activated Windows Subsystem for Linux, which is ONLY available on Windows 10, and then installed Ubuntu, which is free, from the Microsoft Store.  The little screen-shot at the top of this post is Ubuntu, running in its own, little window, on my Windows 10 laptop.

This is exciting!
Now, I can brush up my bash scripting by setting up a series of rsync jobs to keep my two Western Digital MyCloud drives in sync, essentially backing one up to the other.  From the literature, I had thought that was built into the models I got, but it wasn’t.  I tried to use SSH to get that setup directly on the MyCloud devices, since they’re running some limited *nix kernel, but something about the way they were configured made connecting one directly to the other and running rsync from working “as expected”.  This, though, should get me around all that.
Now, all I have to do sort out the syntax for properly mounting the Windows shares I’ve set up in the Ubuntu virtual machine app.  So, I’m not 100% there yet, but this is a great start!



Keeping Windows XP Alive

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Geek Work,MicroSoft,Never trust a Network Admin with a screwdriver,News and Current Events,The Dark Side — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Snake which is just before lunchtime or 11:49 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

First, let me say that I don’t endorse this as a way to avoid upgrading.

Second, let me fully affirm that this is completely awesome!  And, as someone who maintains a Windows XP virtual machine to run some older software for my camera, I am thrilled to have this option, for as long as it lasts.
The hack is pretty simple, basically just adding a small entry to the Registry.  First published by Wayne Williams at BetaNews a day ago, it’s been all over the internet today.  I did it earlier on an old machine at work and it worked great.  Your results may vary.  The steps are simple and in that linked article, but I’ve included the 32-bit version of the registry file that you can just download and import to your machine or virtual machine.

Use at your own risk!
And upgrade as soon as possible!
(Here’s the link to the REG file.)

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us."
   --Helen Keller


Windows 7 Virtual Machine

Filed under: Geek Work,GUI Center,MicroSoft — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Monkey which is mid-afternoon or 4:48 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

I probably should have posted this last week, when it was fresh, but…

So, I have this issue at work.  We run an older version of Autodesk Inventor.  Actually, Inventor 10, which we really only use for AutoCAD 2006.  But, this presents a problem.  You see, this version of Inventor won’t install on Windows 7.  Might work on Vista, but who in their right mind would run Vista?  Right, so, I’ve got a problem.  If I want to upgrade someone’s Windows version, or even their whole machine, I can’t.  So, what to do?

Well, as it turns out, if you get the super, ultimate, Professional version of Windows 7, it comes with a Windows XP “compatibility mode”, which is really just a virtual machine.  If you crank up that virtual machine, it will install that old version of the program my engineers and draftsman absolutely must use.  What’s cool, though, is that once you install it, it makes short-cuts on the Start menu that let you launch the old program encapsulated in that virtual machine.  How cool is that?!  So, problem solved, right?

Well, almost.  Turns out the one guy I installed it for, as a test, is having some issues with adding text to a drawing.  I haven’t quite figured that bit out yet, but, still, I’m working on it.  And, all things considered, it’s a small glitch in an otherwise very clean solution.

Uh, yeah, so you may now return to your regular Memorial Day Weekend time-wasting on the Internet.
That is all.


Linux-based PC Imaging, Part One

Filed under: Fun Work,Geek Work,GUI Center,Linux,MicroSoft,The Dark Side — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening or 6:17 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Hey, I get paid to be a geek, right?

So, I’ve been having some issues with my network and several Windows XP machines. In a nutshell, these machines seem to lose connectivity after approximately nine hours and fifteen minutes from the last restart. In other words, when my crazy-dedicated engineers work past their ninth hour, their machine slows to a crawl and eventually locks tighter than a Catholic school-girl’s knees. In any case, after weeks of troubleshooting this issue, I’ve come up empty. The best that I’ve got for these guys is either a) Don’t work such long hours or b) Reboot the machine at lunch.
In a further attempt to fully understand what is happening and at what level, I’ve gotten one of these machines and I’m going to install Windows 2000 on it. If we have the same issue, I know it’s hardware. If I don’t, I’ll be certain, within a reasonable percentage of sureity, that the issue is some arcane aspect of Windows XP. Either way, I should be closer to a real answer.

But, before I wipe my current experimental machine, I decided I wanted to back it up. Naturally, I turned to my old friend, Linux. A quick Google turned up a blog entry titled “Cloning XP with Linux and ntfsclone“. So, with a few modifications for my own environment, I followed the instructions there. Incidentally, I used the latest version of Knoppix as a boot CD.

First, open up a terminal/shell session and create a mount point with the following command:
# mkdir /tmp/server

Then, because my DHCP server didn’t give the Knoppix virtual machine the right DNS information, add your server to the /etc/hosts file.
Next, mount the network share that you want to dump the images on.
# mount -t smb -o username=administrator //server1/share /tmp/server

Check how your live CD sees the partitions you want to save with the following command:

# cat /proc/partitions
major minor  #blocks  name

8       0   78150744  sda
8       1   76211608  sda1
240     0    1939136  cloop0

I want to save that 80 GB disk sda, which has a primary partition sda1. First I saved the partition table and the Master Boot Record this way:

# sfdisk -d /dev/sda >/tmp/server/images/cad1r-sfdisk-sda.dump
# dd if=/dev/sda bs=512 count=1 of=/tmp/server/images/cad1-sda.mbr

and then the partitions:

ntfsclone -s -o - /dev/sda1   | gzip | split -b 1000m - /tmp/server/images/cad1-sda1.img.gz_

Note that this saved disk image in 1G files, in case the way I mounted the share to the network server didn’t allow for large files. Sometimes that can get tricky going from Linux to a Windows 2003 server and back, so I decided not to take any chances. It makes a mess of files, but at least it took the guess-work out for me.

Coming soon, the restore process! Keep an eye out!


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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