At BusyTonight, trying to see how much bandwidth we can consume crawling sites. Bandwidth tends to be pricy, so we haven’t had much chance to really test our wings till now. We got a colo’d server with a 10mb unmetered pipe. Problem was, it had RedHat installed and our software is written to be installed as Debian packages on Ubuntu. So, how do you manage convert the operating system of a server you don’t have physical access to? Well, Debian makes it (relatively) easy. The debootstrap tool that Ubuntu inherited from Debian make it possible to set up a spare partition (swap, if need be) as a boot disk into which you can temporarily install Ubuntu. Once you have that up, you can tweak Grub, reboot with your fingers crossed, and — provided everything works smoothly the first time — you’ve got a Ubuntu system running. Of course, nothing works smoothly the first time. Luckily, I had kvm access for a few hours. So, I used it to struggle with the kernel. Too late, I realized I needed a custom kernel. Since I didn’t have to figure out which bits were missing from the Ubuntu kernel or what bits were included that shouldn’t have been, I just used the stock RedHat kernel to run the Ubuntu OS. It works enough to test out some ideas we have. And, if we need to do this in the future, I’ve a good idea of where to start.