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Linux is not Unix [Jan. 15th, 2009|12:31 am]
Tomas Gallucci
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bjucomputersciencecamp


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.





red_hat_logo_big



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.



InsideMyComputer3



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.


UbuntuLogo
Courtesy of meisok of ubuntu-art.org


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.


Solaris_Install


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 in unixadmin, 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?
linkReply

Comments:
[User Picture]From: dwell
2009-01-15 07:51 am (UTC)
you're a brave man to run LJ on solaris.

there might not be a good book on Solaris 10 because that OS is dead. look, i'm less than 60 miles from silicon valley, i used to get calls on my resume just because i could spell s-o-l-a-r-i-s, i remember why SunOS is different than Solaris and when we actually would run both flavors and people would stubbornly call solaris 2.x, "sunos 5.x"... but even here, even in start-up SF where every one that was cool was running solaris+oracle+java in 1999... there aren't any new solaris shops coming up.

except for Sun processors, there is no reason to run solaris. except for fun. so i'm not trying to talk you out of it. i respect learning for learning's sake, and if it's something that excites you and gets you looking forward to coming home and playing with blueportal, then go for it.

could i interest you in learning cisco IOS or juniper's junOS instead?

bt
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[User Picture]From: schpydurx
2009-01-15 07:57 am (UTC)
I didn't think that Solaris was dead. But that just goes to show you what I know. I figured that Solars would still have market share in servers...what is the dominant OS for that market? I also hoped that knowing Solaris could help land me a job one day...

I'm just looking at playing with something I haven't seen before. I want to run Fedora 10 on a spare box eventually.

could i interest you in learning cisco IOS or juniper's junOS instead?
Perhaps after I research them...of course, you're more then welcome to attempt to entice pre-research.
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[User Picture]From: dwell
2009-01-15 08:09 am (UTC)
that's just my viewpoint. you're right that solaris is not DEAD DEAD, otherwise sun professional services and tech support would have nothing to do.

dominant OS? it depends on what market you're talking about. sheeeeet, AIX is probably still the "dominant" market if your dominant market is backend servers for established financial corporations. in general, i would say certain flavors of Linux are "dominant": Ubuntu for desktops, CentOS and other RHEL offshoots for servers, Debian for the crazy, *BSD for the twisted, Solaris if you've got massive single-chassis servers that run on SPARC chips, AIX if you've got old massive single-chassis servers that run on whatever IBM made, HP-UX and Digital for decrepit, forgotten installations that haven't seen a smile since 1987.

in general, knowing many OSes *will* help you land a job. why? because once you get to really know an OS, and have to do many different things on different OSes, you will gain an understanding, a way of thinking, that will help you... as you learn your next OS.

"playing" with slackware helped me get my first tech job. knowing solaris helped me learn cisco. knowing solaris helped me with linux which helps me with a bunch of appliances (load balancers, SSL off loaders, network monitoring devices) that i've had to maintain at one point or another.

so learn young man, but search craigslist or dice.com or monster.com for key words and do your own informal evaluation of how many employers are looking for a given skill set.

bt
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[User Picture]From: dwell
2009-01-15 08:11 am (UTC)

dominant OS?

and of course i left out windows for almost anything corporate/enterprise.

bt
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[User Picture]From: schpydurx
2009-01-15 03:16 pm (UTC)

Re: dominant OS?

Have you see the videos on Microsoft's site for Vista 2 Windows 7? Microsoft can't bring themselves to overhaul the UI while at the same time they continue to get closer to cloneing the most advanced desktop OS on Earth--and fail miserably doing so. I predict that Vista 2 Windows 7 will drive more customers to Leopard/Snow Leopard. Time will tell.

Edited at 2009-01-15 03:16 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: ehowton
2009-01-15 03:25 pm (UTC)
In the enterprise mid-range datacenter, Solaris is still the defacto operating system. The SPARC processor remains one of the most advanced chips on the market. HP/UX & AIX are close seconds to be sure, but nowhere near Berlin is Solaris 'dead' in any sense of the word.
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[User Picture]From: drax0r
2009-01-15 07:16 pm (UTC)
you're right that solaris is not DEAD DEAD

I can't speak for what people are doing in The Valley, but as someone who has been dipping his toes into the job market in the Dallas area, I've got to say that Solaris is still a major player in this area. I haven't seen any indication that it's going anywhere as the sort of default midrange database engine of choice for most large, established, admittedly boring companies.

What I have noticed is Linux gaining more of a foothold in those types of companies, albeit mostly as web and app servers attached to bigger-iron DBs.

I did an interview for a storage engineer position last week with a company that runs an AIX shop - they say they like the performance and capability but they can't afford to scale it. They're planning on making SPARC/Solaris the new architectural standard starting next quarter.

A quick un-scientific polling of Dice.com for my area shows 48 hits for "AIX", 79 for "Solaris", and 121 for "Linux".
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[User Picture]From: ehowton
2009-01-16 01:40 pm (UTC)

WTF?



Nice head.
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[User Picture]From: schpydurx
2009-01-16 01:44 pm (UTC)

Re: WTF?

Whatever.
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From: snapper521
2009-01-19 04:33 am (UTC)
This was a decent post. Not a 10, but also not a 1. More like... a strong 6 or a weak 7.

(*looks at your photo*) See? you were a dork even then... (*smile*)

They say that style is learned but with you I think that lack of it was bred into you (*smirks*) combined with the unusual home you were placed in through the foster care system.
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[User Picture]From: schpydurx
2009-01-19 09:10 pm (UTC)
This was a decent post. Not a 10, but also not a 1. More like... a strong 6 or a weak 7.
I'm surprised you read it at all.
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From: snapper521
2009-01-19 10:33 pm (UTC)
*shrug*

YOU are the one who said we would not be talking any more. Besides I had told you that we could still be friends just so long as you never called me up to bitch like that again.

I had told you I would read this post...
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: schpydurx
2009-01-19 10:35 pm (UTC)
No, you said that you didn't want to be friends and that you had plenty more. If your conscience is bothering you, you need to call your shrink.
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From: snapper521
2009-01-20 03:44 am (UTC)
No. I said that if you ever treat me like that again, that we can no longer be friends.

You said that I didn't need you because I had enough friends to go around. And that I should never call you again.

My conscience is fine thanks.
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[User Picture]From: schpydurx
2009-01-20 03:49 am (UTC)
My conscience is fine thanks.
Yet you keep feeling like you have to clear something up or get closure or something.
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From: snapper521
2009-01-20 10:25 pm (UTC)
What the fuck. :-| You are beyond retarded sir.
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[User Picture]From: fabrizzo
2009-01-19 03:37 pm (UTC)
So you've always looked goofy? =P
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[User Picture]From: schpydurx
2009-01-19 04:51 pm (UTC)
That's what ehowton said.

btw, my previous post is an open invitation, though it doesn't look like Nashville's getting The Dark Knight. I think I will have a better turn out for Taken (two weeks from yesterday) as there are several more people who will have the ability to go. Ya'll should come.
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