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KEYWORDS=vmware, virtual, host, hosting, merge, usignin, vista, xenix, cpio, tar, Davrom Consulting Newsletter - Issue # 36 - Dated: 6 Mar 2007
From the desk of David Clark
I had hoped to get the newsletter out earlier in the year but there is
never a quiet or dull moment in I.T.
In this newsletter I would like to touch on some of the recent work
solutions we have put in place and a neat little product a colleague
alerted me to.
I would like to thank the reader for their time in reading this
You asked me to comment on Vista, the answer is "No comment." -
It seems that the beginning of 2007 is our season for working with VMWare
and I thought I would touch on basically what it is and where it may fit
into your organisation.
In a nutshell - VMWare allows you to run a complete copy of an operating
system within another operating system. VMWare allows you to run Linux,
UNIX and Windows within your hosting operating system (which could be
running Linux, UNIX or Windows). The operating system(s) that you run from
within VMWare are called "virtual machines" and occupy a section of hard
disk space on the hosting operating system.
An example is my Fedora Core 6 desktop running VMWare with SCO OpenServer 6
(OSR6) installed as one of my virtual machines. I manually boot up my OSR6
within my VMWare GUI on my desktop but I could also configure it to be
started when VMWare itself starts on boot up.
I have also installed Windows XP within VMWare as an experiment and I
couldn't fault it. I was able to "Power On" my copy of Windows from the
VMWare GUI and switch between Windows and my beloved Fedora at the touch
of a keystroke.
Each virtual machine has complete access to the devices on your local
physical PC/server (CD-ROM, Floppy, Hard Disk (of course) and Network card).
Where could you use this? If you have a legacy application that has
specific requirements to run on a particular older version of SCO or Linux
and you don't want the added expense of another server running in your
organisation, you could install VMWare on Linux and then "virtual machine"
host your other operating system. An example of this would be to run
older versions of SCO OpenServer 5.0.x on Fedora Core/Suse under VMWare.
Another would be to run RedHat 6 or 7 under RedHat Fedora Core.
The virtual machines are network accessible and capable of functioning
as if they were on their own hardware platform within your organisation.
Those who are familiar with the SCO Merge product will find VMWare similar
in methodology (Windows running within SCO).
Some consideration to the older operating system being able to support
the local hardware still exist with regards to SCSI and network cards,
but for the most part seem to work well in most configurations we have
been involved with.
Under Linux/UNIX the virtual machines occupy directories under the
normal filesystem structure so backing up is just a matter of copying
these directories to your normal server/desktop backup media (tape, DVD,
USB drive) - or you can backup directly from the virtual machine operating
system directly to the backup media.
An added bonus is that VMWare Server is free.
Some weeks ago a colleague of mine alerted me to a great little product
that may be useful for companies running Linux/UNIX servers within their
We have all seen the "where are we" type of tracking systems hanging on
the walls in most offices, normally maintained by the reception or
administration staff, but what if everyone could find out where people are
without having to leave their desk or phone the receptionist all of the
time..... This is where uSignIn comes to the rescue.
uSignIn allows you to post and track where staff are based on the
traditional board system using your web browser pointed to a local server
web page within your organisation. It allows you to set staff status (In,
Out, Lunch, Sick, Vacation) and to post messages for staff for when they
return - so goodbye to those little phone message books.
This brilliant little US based product is a simple perl script with added
features and there is a trial 10 user version (that's 10 possible people
to track) available. Naturally the full product that retails around
$99.00 USD gives unlimited staff entries and allows you to use the
departmental facility as well.
We have setup a demo site for you to sample so please feel free to visit:
If you would like to have a play with the Good Customer user on our demo
website please e-mail us and we will send you the details.
From the Trenches
Some comic or not so comic relief from the support days gone by.
In the mid 90's I was called to attend an issue on a Xenix system (SCO's
first version of UNIX) hidden in the depths of a large building in Brisbane.
The Xenix system was used to monitor and track the building's elevator
system and I was quite impressed to see how well Xenix integrated into the
building hardware and displays. By this stage Xenix was no longer a
supported product although I was still working with sites running version
2.3.4 on older high end 486 computers.
When I realised the version I was looking at was something like 2.1.3
(286 version) I exclaimed, "Wow, this is the oldest version of SCO Xenix
that I have ever seen or touched.", to which the customer suggested that
since it was such a thrill for me, perhaps they should send me an invoice
instead of me billing them.... not a chance.
Getting more info from your tape/system backup.
Two main things I always want to know about a backup whether it is tar or
cpio to a device, is what is the backup date and can I set a last file on
the backup device?
There are always two command the precede a backup command and they are:
then in my commands to backup I would type something like:
for SCO to tape drive:
find /tmp/BACKUP_07032007 . /tmp/END_OF_BACKUP -print | cpio -ocvB >/dev/rStp0
for Linux to tape drive:
find /tmp/BACKUP_07032007 . /tmp/END_OF_BACKUP -print | cpio -ocvB >/dev/st0
tar -cvzf /dev/st0 /tmp/BACKUP_07032007 . /tmp/END_OF_BACKUP
In the above examples I can list back the tape and by the name of the
first file I can determine the backup date and by checking that the last
file on the tape is /tmp/END_OF_BACKUP, can expect that everything I
needed to backup did actually fit onto the tape.
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