|[||Tags|||||blueportal, debian, domain name, file server, linux, minimax0r, print server, red hat, solaris, solaris 10, ubuntu, unix, web server||]|
I was first introduced to Linux in 2000, back in the days of Red Hat 6 at the Bob Jones Computer Science Camp. Linux was a curiosity to me in those days, a toy to be played with. LILO reigned king. You could dual boot a Win98 box with Red Hat, but that didn't work for too many cycles on my Gateway Gateway E-300. I do know I got very good at installing Windows. To this day, I could probably install '98 from muscle memory alone. Despite loosing all of my data several times over, I didn't learn to backup until I finally upgraded that box and put in a CD burner, but that's another post. The drive was only 5 GB big and MP3s and blogs weren't thought of at the time, so I had nothing to loose.
I didn't have Internet growing up. My parents were uber-Christian. They wanted to use an inclusive-only proxy that was put out by a cult who thought shorts were evil. Said cult was alleged to have blocked a website for a missionary trip to Russia that our church went on because the pastor's son was wearing shorts. Yes, I was deprived as a kid.
Nevertheless, two years later and none more experienced, I bought Osborne's Complete Reference Red Hat Linux Second Edition along with a copy of Red Hat Linux Survival Guide, the former coming with a copy of Red Hat 7.0. I may have tried to dual boot that OS, I don't recall. I kept thinking about Linux, but learning it never materialized. It was too complicated to figure out, especially not having Internet access or a second computer. Somehow, through some process of osmosis I picked up the tiniest bit of Linux along the way.
My first year of college, I got my guru to help me set up a network for a small church school. I had never built a network before, but we knew it could be done. The church had three or four hubs, but no routers. For whatever reason, the church didn't want to buy a router, so we wound up making a router, print server and web server our of a K6 with 90MB of RAM. It took over three hours to load Red Hat 7.3 on that machine but God was it fun! I think we got started at around 2200 and the project was still going at 0700 the next morning.
The machine had two NICs. Thankfully, I wasn't the one who set up the routing on the box as I had no clue how to use ipchains or iptables. In fact, I still don't to this day.
During this period of time, I was closely following the IMAX story. IMAX was trying to figure out how to convert 35mm film to IMAX without loosing quality. They built their own film scanner which they controlled via Red Hat 7.1 running on 350 dual Xeon Dell boxes. Red Hat has always been a great OS for clustering and the IMAX project was my introduction to the concept of Beowulf clustering.
When I got to UAH, we were given computer accounts in the labs. They were dual boot boxes running Red Hat 9 and XP Pro. I had no use for booting into Linux and I think I did so a grand total of maybe
three times over my three year tenure.
During my second year of college, I built Black Widow. P4, 1GB RAM (later upgraded to 2GB) 160GB 7200 RPM drive, DVD burner, Sound Blaster Audigy 2 Platinum eX...man, she was a beaut! And she flew even while running XP. I tried to install Red Hat 9 on this box but there were some complications with the particular hardware I was running. I don't remember ever getting 9 to properly install, but I do remember asking a classmate to come have a look at the box. It seems like I tried installing Fedora Core 1 on Black Widow...I think I even got Astro to send me Fedora Core 3 on 4 CDs, but never installed.
As faithful readers know, one sad day Black Widow died
. This forced me to get a laptop that I got plenty of mileage
out of in eight months of ownership. Black Widow's death coupled with having a laptop as my primary computer forced me to put up a server fast...I went for Ubuntu as I had been toying with it since hearing about it from princessleia2
I never gave the Ubuntu box a name.
It was a piece of shit HP XP box that was given to me with Mepis installed. Specs were something like P3 Celeron ungodly slow, 512MB RAM, crappy hard drive. It was enough, however to get the drives out of Black Widow into enclosures, transfer the music and set up the Ubuntu box as a file server, a print server, a web server and a linux learning tool. It was the fastest OS install I've ever done--9 minutes to a fully functional machine after testing the Live CD. As much of a loyalty I had to Red Hat/Fedora, it just never worked between us.
Working with Ubuntu taught me a lot. Granted, I was a Google SysAdmin, but I was adminning my own box, damnit! For the first time, Linux was user friendly. Because of the searchable, step by step instructions in Plain English (English motherfucker! Do you speak it?
) in the community-supported Ubuntu Forums
, the "how" and the "why", were immediately answered and those answers were at my fingertips.
Six months later, the Ubuntu box died. I loved having a laptop, but it did run Windows and had an under-powered graphics card. I wasn't ready to go full-blown Linux yet. ehowton
had been after me for months to get a Mac which I did
. It has been a fun journey learning a new operating system, especially getting work to put an iMac on my desk. Fifteen months into being a Mac guy, I'm planning on writing my views on that experience very soon.
But now I have new challenge: Solaris
I've wanted to conquer this beast for years. When Solaris 10 came out, I heard that they were killing SPARC and were supporting x86 natively. God knows that I've always looked up to Solaris people with a furrowed brow, faced screwed up in curiosity. Solaris is just backwards from the rest of the world (but love you Sun people all the same, Java and all.) to this end, blueportal (featured here
) has been converted from a Debian box
Let me tell you, Solaris isn't a kid's toy. Immediately you have to set up DNS. Getting blastwave to work was a chore (mostly because they screwed up the address of their repositories on their site). I finally got drivers installed for the nVidia card in the box and installed Opera. Ironically, Firefox, though installed with the OS doesn't work off of the menu.
Finding a dead-tree manual for Solaris is a bitch too. Sure, I can get all the Solaris 9 books I want, but I want something that covers zones, dtrace, the works. I asked
, but all they offered was the Sun (R) Certified System Administrator for Solaris (TM) 10 Study Guide)
. I really wanted something more along a Dummies series title and was disappointed with the dismal response I got. After a long debate with myself, I have finally settled on the fact that something is better than nothing. If the book is good enough to get you past the test, it's good enough to better understand the OS.
Of course, as mentioned at the beginning of this post, a *nix box doesn't make any sense if it doesn't have a purpose. So blueportal will be used as a file server and print server for learning how to set that up in Solaris. I've thought about using blueportal as a web server too just to get that traffic and burden off of miniMax0r. I've thought about setting up an IRC server now that I have a spare box and could experiment with that. But I have an even more ambitious project that stemmed from a recent conversation with ehowton
I read about the sudden shake-up at LJ
and asked ehowton
what he would do if LJ started to get shaky. He said he'd set up the LJ software on his server and try to import his journal. Now, I've been thinking about putting my domain name to good use. In fact, I want to have my own blog on my own server on my own address so that I can be network independent, increase my SEO and hopefully make a few bucks off of Google Ads. So I'm thinking I should attempt to figure out installing the LJ software on blueportal after I learn my way around Solaris.
Any other suggestions?