Ahh… The joys of an old IBM 486. I’m putting one together so that I can test the installation/conversion process I have for everybody.org. When I climbed up in the attic I came across some old VGA monitors as well. Those’ll come in handy for watching what is going on and in the rare case that I’ll need to log into the console on the machines.

My NeXTI have too much hardware lying around. I had told Alexis I would sell the NeXT to make up for some of the cost of some upgrades. It wouldn’t be that much, so she suggested setting it up for the kids to bang on. They’ll have their own ‘net connection and the only laser printer. Time to get some RAM for that baby.

Now that Mozilla support’s tabs (and I’ve figured out how to keep them from popping up in front) and is getting faster, I’m using it more. If it’s mail client supported PGP, I’d use it, too.

The project for today: a Solaris JumpStart installation.

To get started, Here are Sun’s Blueprints. Especially interesting is the article on Customizing the JumpStart[tm] Boot Image Recovery. We need that for our new NetBackup recovery procedure. Also of specific interest to me is the Building a Bootable JumpStart[tm] Installation CD-ROM since we don’t have enough machines to justify a dedicates JumpStart server.

A Google search turns up more information, of course.

From Halley’s Comment:

With a resident 5-year-old, you’re either trying to do too damned much, or just having too damned much fun.

So true. It’s 11:15 and I need to be up at 6 and I haven’t been getting enough sleep. I’m going to bed.

Since I’m in a writing mood, a quick comment about New Orleans politics. In the past couple of years, there has been a bit of ruckus about the payroll system that the public school board put together with Oracle’s help. Instead of out-sourcing payroll like any sane corporation would do, they spent a few million dollars to beta test there own system on the teachers. Since so many people (including a friend of mine) didn’t get paid or had the withholding done wrong, there was a lot of negative publicity about it. Oh, and the school board also lost almost all the people they had trained in Oracle (probably because those people soon learned they could double what they were making elsewhere).

That, of course, led to payroll snafus — like the superintendent’s father, a janitor, being paid more in overtime than any principal in the system got.

More great grist is provided by the mayor, Marc Morial, who recently attempted to get a third term by requesting an amendment to the city charter just for him. Today, in an op-ed piece, James Gill recounts a recent Sewage & Water Board meeting on the privitization that they Mayor is pushing. People had questions about why the Mayor was trying to make the privitization happen so fast, but Morial couldn’t be bothered with all the questions and responded “We do not appreciate being consistently and constantly questioned.”

And they wonder why we can’t attract any businesses to New Orleans.

Today I cycled a few miles on the levee. It reminded me that the romance of the Mississippi river is one of the big reasons I like New Orleans.

On this side of the levee, there is a track where trains move containers between the docks and shipping yards. Today there were two trains moving stuff in opposite directions. I rode a few hundred yards just a few feet from one of the trains. You can feel the massive power as you ride beside several tons of steel. It rumbles.

The Jungle over the LeveeOn the other side of the levee, it is pretty wild in some places. Between the levee and the river, it ranges from swampy to woodsy. A boy could have a lot of fun down there. My three year old had fun when I took him down there. We looked at the barges tethered by there long steel cables (as big as his arm) and pretended to run from the “Indians”. Along that side of the levee, you can get the feeling that Huckleberry Finn could still ride his raft down the river and, except for the fact that the steamboats would now be non-existent, replaced with other more modern ships, he would have much the same experience.

I’m starting to cycle again (besides my commute to work) because I weigh about 20 lbs. too much and I was reminded by a recent article in the Times Picayune how much energy cycling can burn (sorry, link will expire as there is only 14 days worth of archiving).

On the ride today, I noticed some things that need to be done with my bike. I plan to do some of those with my kids.

Here is a copy of a great article from the Wall Street Journal titled IP: the web runs on love, not greed. The internet is an amazing success:

Why don’t we see this miracle? Because large amounts of money can obscure larger evidence. So much money flew around dot-coms, that it hid the main event on the web, which is the exchange of gifts. While the most popular 50 websites are crassly commercial, most of the 3 billion web pages in the world are not. Only thirty percent of the pages of the web are built by companies and corporations like pets.com. The rest is built on love, such as care4pets.com or responsiblepetcare.org. The answer to the mystery of why people would make 3 billion web pages in 2,000 days is simple: sharing. While everyone was riveted by the drama of companies such as pets.com, we overlooked the steady growth of enthusiast sites and governmental depots such as Usenet and nasa.gov, to name some larger ones.

How disappointing… I can’t point you directly to Tina Cassidy’s article in the January 3rd issue of the Boston Globe on beards. It contains this quote:

Those who don’t [shave] choose not to for a reason, conscious or unconscious.

Well, of course!

I, for example, cut myself when I shave. My brother started shaving when his girlfriend said she thought he would look better beardless. Since shaving takes more concerted, consistent effort than not shaving, a more interesting question would be “Why do men shave?”. Another priceless quote that must be taken out of context (surely they are referring to the beardless men):

The gesture of changing one’s face is simply too powerful to be strictly conscious.

Uh… Aren’t those who shave the one’s who are changing their face? Beards, if I recall, are a natural occurance on men’s face.

Anyway, I wonder what Dave Winer would think of the article, especially given that he is a man of many opinions and that he has a beard

I’ve been wanting to move everybody.org to LDAP-based backend for email and authentication. For the longest time, I was stuck on the idea of using Cyrus IMAPd — the server is the basis for much of what is done with IMAP. However, although it is designed for large sites, it is not designed with virtual domains in mind. I was so stubborn when it came to using Cyrus that I even looked at embedding a Perl interpreter into Cyrus to help it at the Authentication/Authorization stage. It worked — somewhat. This is impressive because I am not a C programmer. It is a huge credit to the authors of the documentation that comes with Perl. I certainly have very few qualms now about embedding Perl wherever I feel it would help me.

Still, for all my stubbornness and grunting, Cyrus wasn’t designed for virtual domains. It is a bit too monolithic as well, which makes it less flexible. After looking a bit, I dug a little deeper into Courier IMAPd and found that it would do what I wanted and it is packaged to do what I want out of the box on Debian. And, although there is a Courier SMTP server, I decided to stick with Exim since it already has Perl embedded and, as a result, allows an enormous amount of flexibility.

Last night, I successfully got Courier IMAPd up and running. Since it authenticates using an email address for the username, it is perfect for virtual domains. I was a little leery at first, but it turns out that the Authdaemon backend (which supports LDAP) actually works quite nicely.

It is all maildir, though, so that will be a change for our shell users. (Though, technically, I could allow them shell access to mbox mail or POP/IMAP access to maildir mail.) The stats seem to show that only Jeff and I really use the shell access, so I’m not really worried about that, though. New shell users (if we get any) will have to use a maildir client.

Since I have that done, I plan to write up the plan for transitioning everybody.org to Debian tomorrow, test it this week and execute it next weekend.

The major changes that will be happening are:

  • Move from FreeBSD to Debian
  • LDAP-based backend.
  • Kerberos support implemented.
  • Virtual domain support for email.

All this should be transparent to the end users if it is done right. Which is why I’m writing up the migration plan and testing it thoroughly.