Category: sysadmin (page 1 of 2)

great migration

Back in 2014, most of my servers were using Ubuntu. In April of that year, a long-term support (LTS) version was released and I migrated the servers to it. LTS releases are supported for five years—it seemed an eternity at the time.

In April 2016, the next LTS release came out. By then, I probably had close to 50 servers running a handful of distributions. All the Ubuntu-based servers migrated successfully except for two (four, actually, as each of those servers had a hot backup). One of those handled the office phones (asterisk, hylafax, IAXmodem), the other mostly handled email (postfix, dovecot, spamassassin). Those machines died horribly when I attempted to upgrade to 16.04 (saved by backups!) and, since they handled critical services, I decided to leave them on 14.04. After all, I had until 2019 to upgrade.

Plenty of time.

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spamassassin update

Most email users are blissfully unaware of the magnitude of the spam problem. Major email providers do a pretty good job of filtering, so you might see little or no spam in your inbox. Even the stuff that gets sent to your “spam folder” is only a tiny fraction of the spam that gets sent to you. That hides the magnitude of a really big problem, and one you pay for even if you don’t realize it.

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IPv6If you don’t know what IPv4 and IPv6 are, this post isn’t for you.

If you know, and are wondering how you might implement IPv6, this might be of interest. We handle http/https requests using a white box router running Debian. Until recently, we were IPv4 only, and the router used NAT to connect to an existing subnet with a local IPv4 address space (in the 10.x.x.x range). What makes it odd is that the subnet is also reachable through a different IPv4 address and NAT—it’s ancient history in a network that has been running since the 1990’s.

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systemd strikes again

I have written before about the horror that is systemd. I was just bitten again.
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cheap phones

A year or so ago, I was looking for a new phone. I had been using a Google Nexus 6 for two years, ever since I became a beta tester for Project Fi. I loved Project Fi (Google is eversomuch cooler than any other cellular carrier/MVNO in the US), but getting timely updates—even security updates—for the Nexus was like pulling teeth, and they dropped support for what had been their flagship phone barely a year after I bought it. Add to that the fact that there’s no effective private backup solution for Android devices, and I didn’t have any real choice. I had an old iPhone 5 that I had owned for maybe four years, and it was still running the latest version of iOS with all the security updates delivered instantly, while my three-years-newer Android was a security breach waiting to happen.

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miss me?

If you tried visiting this site (or Loose Associations or or Sacramento Medical Oasis, Inc. or…) over the past five days, you’ve probably been disappointed. I took a little trip with Matthew and Joshua to Key West and, as soon as I got about 3,000 miles from home, a network switch decided to die.

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parallel productivity

Josh asked me the other day about how we backed up early hard disks when we didn’t have small portable drives, the internet, NAS, or writable DVDs. I started telling him about my teak box with the tambour top that held 50 (or was it 100?) 1.4MB 3½” floppy disks. I remember a routine of running a backup program while feeding disk after disk into the machine for an hour or two every day.

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WordPress updates

One critically-important aspect to running WordPress sites is keeping everything up-to-date. Not just the WordPress software itself, but themes and plugins. I wrote a quick script to keep everything tidy; it runs as a cron job, and it runs often.

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usb thumb drive stand

There are a number of cool-looking thumb drive holders around, but I decided to roll my own using FreeCAD and my 3D printer. It holds six drives with space in the middle for any loose caps. Continue reading


My internet went down on Saturday. The very friendly and competent folks at Consolidated Communications couldn’t get a truck out to fix it until today (Monday), so we had to spend the weekend limping by with mobile data.

It turns out an animal had chewed through a couple of cables under the house. It’s the first significant failure of my service here in 15 years, and they fixed it quickly and efficiently. Both the phone staff and the field tech were awesome.

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