June, 2007

Jun 07

Notes on setting up Gentoo

I’m installing Gentoo on my laptop – here are some notes (for myself, really).

  • Gentoo installs the flash plugin to a path with “netscape” in it. There is a problem with this http://groups.google.com/group/opera.linux/browse_thread/thread/9e9a3c21cd413c2f/3949ce2e8f96f84a so we need to symlink the plugin to the opera plugin path.

Jun 07

What’s up with the ScottishClimbs server?

In case anyone has been wondering “What’s up with the ScottishClimbs server recently?”, here’s a wee explanation (I guess I’m saying, bear with us!):

Yesterday was interesting. I was up and about at 04:30 to catch a flight to London for a conference related to my work. With ten minutes until my taxi was due, I logged into the server to check my mail. BOOM – something was up! Funky “read-only filesystem” errors and more strange behavior all over the place – can’t do anything. Check the logs, unmount the drive, remount it but still no joy. Five minutes to taxi. Reboot into maintenance mode and start running fsck. Answer “y”, “y”, y”… – should’ve used the “-y” option! Taxi rings, “y”, “y”, “y”; shit, he’s going to leave! “y”, “y”… done! Type “reboot”and run out the door. Phew!

Fortunately, it was all good (at least, as far as I’m aware – I wasn’t online yesterday) – I’m pretty sure we didn’t lose mail (the most important thing, IMO) and I’m assuming SC was OK too. I do think that this filesystem corruption ties into a deeper problem we have though.

You may notice that the server is slow to respond to things sometimes. The lucky devils with @sc mail accounts might have noticed similar slowdowns too. This is usually because the app that runs whatever you’re trying to do is busy hauling itself out of swap space. I’ve spent the last few weeks tweaking the server in various ways – this is part of why things have been up and down recently. The sys admin at work and I have been trying to work out ways to optimise the system, but we’re starting to run out of ideas. The fact of the matter is, the server needs more RAM. Put simply, 256Mb isn’t cutting it. I’m going to continue to try to find ways to trim the RAM usage and stabilise the system (it’s already a lot better than it was), partly becuase I’m really enjoying learning about this stuff but also because we don’t want to spend any money we don’t have to. I suppose ultimately though, we might need to just upgrade our service.

Note: yes, I realise RAM is very cheap. However, since we use a virtual machine we can’t simply upgrade the RAM and need to upgrade our whole service proportionally. In this case it’s pretty much doubling our costs which is why we’re trying some other stuff first.