I joined Classmates years ago as a way of hooking up with old friends, and the site enticed me to do so by offering free benefits. But lately I’m come to suspect their motives and business practices. They don’t seem to be advertising-supported (of course, how would I know? I use Adblock), so they must rely on paid memberships to derive their revenue. So far, I’ve resisted their attempts to recruit me into a membership. I sometimes got contact information that included an email from visitors that might have known me, and used that to contact them directly (which never seemed to work), but who knows the ambivalence of a casual web-surfer?
Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of notices that someone has signed my guestbook. On most websites, that means someone who wants you to notice that he or she has seen your information and is interested in saying “hi” to you. But on Classmates, you have to pay to see who did this. So I tried to hack the system, and posted a photo (viewable by all) that included my email superimposed on the image. I keep getting the guestbook signing notices, but nobody emails me directly.
Is Classmates using an automated system to post guestbook notices just to get me to sign up for paid membership? Or am I getting guestbook signings from people too oblivious to notice the email or too lazy to contact me directly?
In either case, I’m willing to withhold the US$39 from Classmates to find out. So if you see me there, send me an email. Otherwise, I’m not interested.
Posted by Greg as Networking, Posts About Me at 18:12 PST
2 Comments »
I’ve been trying to be real good with my new work computer – I got it on 07 June, and there’s all kinds of things that I haven’t installed on it that I used to consider basic necessities. Hell, I haven’t even installed Mozilla yet; but this restraint has given me the chance to try out Internet Explorer 7 Beta 2, which I don’t loathe nearly as much as I expected to.
All this because I wanted to start out on a new slate with corporate IT. My old computer probably had too many applications loaded up on it for their liking, but I enjoyed some benefit from grandfathering – I’m sure they considered it their predecessors’ mess. Of course, also, none of it was malware – I was scrupulous about keeping it clean. But this time I was determined to try and follow all the rules, and I’m sure a lot of my obstinacy was aimed at making a point about how stupid I thought some of the rules were – but I’ve come to realize that the rules are not going to be changed any time soon, because everyone is either totally ignoring them already, or no one is installing additional software on their work machines.
But I can’t get too much on a soap box about all this – I’ve actually started to develop some friendly relationships with several of the IT support people, and even if it isn’t them that are dropping in on my blog every now and again through company servers, I feel I have enough of a relationship with them now that if I have something critical to say, I should be saying it to their faces. There is also a delicate balance to be maintained just because our IT got outsourced – so the people I deal with actually have two masters, and I can’t get too ornery without sounding unappreciative of their support.
But I have come to realize that there are some profound philosophical differences between not only our current crew and me, but with my old IT friends. Apparently, it’s gospel to IT departments that users are somewhat akin to sixteen-year-olds that have just been entrusted with the keys to the family car – there is an obvious need to compel them to allow us to use this equipment, but they know we’re just so hopelessly inept that it’s a miracle any day we don’t break something. Which brings me face to face with that great indignity, big-brotherware.
I suppose a lot of users aren’t even aware of the AssetMetrix agents that are lurking on their computers, but they probably notice little things they can’t do because of Group Policy. I’ve studied both with some interest, but today I learned something new. I was working at home, trying to troubleshoot what has gotten to be very intricate VBA code, when every few minutes my computer would lock up for 30 seconds because something was trying to open up Outlook (which doesn’t work too well when it can’t contact the Exchange Server), presumably to send out an email. I wondered whether I has making coding errors that were somehow issuing OLE calls; I scanned for spyware, even though I doubted I could have picked any up with my habits; and I sat and watched the activity of the processes though Task Manager, but I couldn’t see what was happening. So I broke down and warmed up Sysinternal’s Process Explorer, and found the culprit – it was one of the agents of the Windows Management Interface, wmiprvse.exe.
Now I have no clue what the WMI thought I was doing that merited a call home on a Sunday afternoon – I deleted the wbem logs after they showed up in SpyBot. Hell, I had never heard of WMI, but its description – “a common interface and object model to access management information about operating system, devices, applications and services” – and it’s deployability – through scripted events, or by directly interrogating the client machine remotely – is just chilling to me. I mean, what do they need to know so bad? I see in my router logs that the computer contacted my local office server through ports 2967 and 38293, and then it LDAP’ed every server in the network. Was it squealing on me because I didn’t like the Group Policy and gave myself an extra ten seconds of reaction time after my screen saver kicks in to avoid having to retype in my password? No, I suspect it was just a pervasive climate of constant monitoring. I don’t know what they can do with all those reports – surely there isn’t someone sitting around scanning for the yahoo who thought that he really needed that emoticon toolbar that came packaged with VX2. But I’m supposed to write up a request to justify installing say, the Gimp, on my computer. Why, you ask? Because it’s free, and I can use it! And it’s open source and clean, and it isn’t going to connect to some media server whenever I open it it up, checking for “updates” (see my Update or Die semi-rant), but mostly to download advertising to my desktop.
I would have been using my home computer, but it was tied up a lot today as Partition Magic was shuffling things around to generally make space, and I was setting up a TrueCrypt strong encryption volume – not that I really have anything that private, but it would be fun to watch the forensics people sweat it out if they ever did want to get in.
Posted by Greg as Networking, Software at 23:51 PST
2 Comments »
I have been bemoaning my luck with upgrading to FC5 and the problems with two different wireless cards. But there is progress to report – I have the rt2500 chipset one up now. Good thing, too, because I’m already getting visitors with the same problem.
After my adventure getting this card up and running, I have been regularly upgrading my kernels, and each time I have to re-make the drivers (and install the new linux-ntfs rpm.) It was getting to be a bit routine until I did the big upgrade to FC5, and I did everything the same and it just didn’t work. Here’s a sample of some of the error messages I got:
rt2500 device wlan0:0 does not seem to be present, delaying initialization.
Error inserting rt2500 (/lib/modules/2.6.16-1.2111_FC5/extra/rt2500.ko): Invalid argument
rt2500: falsely claims to have parameter ifname
I’m beginning to think that, the more I feel like I’m starting to get a handle on this Linux stuff, the more I learn that I am truly ignorant. I tried tackling this issue with just a little research and a heightened sense of experience, but in the end I turned to the serialmonkey forums, and I found the answer. Correction – I found the workaround. So if you missed it (thanks, TomG!):
had the same problem but finally got it to work w/ the rt2500-cvs-2006032123 CVS build. Here’s what I did:
1 untared the archive somewhere in my home directory.
2. changed to the “Module” directory.
3. ran “make” as normal user to build the module.
4. ran “make install” as root
5. ran “make install-fedora” as root
Afterwards I was able to configure the card using system->administration->network.
Now, apart from using the CVS tarball, this is exactly the same, simple procedure I’ve always been using except for step 4. Fedora users aren’t supposed to make install this build. In fact, part of my earlier troubles were because I was doing that. There’s two pages of discussion of what might have been causing the problem, but it’s typically forum-muddled, so it doesn’t help me. But the procedure worked. And furthermore, I picked up that they have made improvements to the generic rt2w00 that enables it to work with the SMP kernels – unless that’s the one that doesn’t have WEP.
Posted by Greg as Hardware & Drivers, Networking, OS at 07:35 PST
2 Comments »
No, folks, I’m not dead.
I have been struggling at home, trying to get my second box connected to the wireless lan with Fedora Core 5, trying a lot of things without getting a repeat of the one time I got it all up and running. In a break from this, I used the yum upgrader to update all my packages on the FC4 box I normally use. However, this upgraded SeaMonkey, my browser, and I lost all the extensions that I have come to rely on so much. Rather than mess around retrieving and reinstalling all these, I decided to upgrade the FC4 to FC5. This turned out to be a little tricker that I thought it would be, because the FC5 installation dvd detected my multithreading processor and installed the smp kernel. Trouble is, the rt2500 drivers for my HWP54G wireless card don’t work with the smp kernel. Then I tried hand installing the single processor version from the dvd using rpm, but rpm kept detecting the upgraded FC4 kernel I had installed, and refused to replace it with an older version kernel. I finally went to the source and got the lastest single processor FC5 kernel and installed that. Now, although I can build the rt2500 drivers, I’m having trouble detecting the card.
So this is keeping me pretty busy, but I’m learning an awful lot about the Linux file system, sources and modules. I might even have to recompile my kernels to get things working. Fascinating stuff. But in the meantime, I’ve been posting on the technical forums and neglecting my blog.
So sorry, Mum (my most regular visitor.) The baby is potty training, and being rather cheerful about it. Chelsea’s been getting excited about learning rifles next year in Color Guard. I have entirely too much work to do, and we’re still looking to hire new engineers. I recently reread Cryptonomicon, and I’m taking another crack at getting through The Baroque Cycle.
And I’m getting a very regular repeat visitor from Milton Keynes in the UK (or so my geolocators tell me.) Drop me a note and say hi!
Posted by Greg as Family & Friends, Hardware & Drivers, Networking, OS at 23:14 PST
Comments Off on Struggling with Fedora Core 5 Upgrades
I got a little more time tonight to try checking the suggestions from cyclopropene, but not enough to answer his questions, so my FC5 machine is still not connected. I did go back and found that I had more notes that look like they went up to the point that I got the card working with the 2.6.15 kernel, but I’ve tinkered with so many things since then, I’m afraid I’ve destroyed any chances that I might be able to retrace my steps. I’m using a mix of line commands, hand edits of files, and the gui for system-config-network and NetworkManager, which seems a recipe for disaster for someone who doesn’t quite know exactly what they’re doing. I remember the last thing I did that made it all work last time – I used NetworkManager to “Connect to another wireless network” and typed in my SSID and WEP key. But at that point I must have properly loaded the primary and secondary firmware. I got my wish, but I’m still having a problem with wlan0 and wifi0 being disabled after running the firmware loader. And the configurations in system-config-network don’t match the output of iwconfig, either, which seems highly suspicious.
Thanks to my previous posts of frustration, if you Google fc5 dwl-520, now my blog comes up as the second website. So one of the experts I can turn to for help is – me! That’s soooo encouraging!
Posted by Greg as Hardware & Drivers, Networking, OS at 00:06 PST
2 Comments »
Well, I was right. Once I rebooted, I could not get the D-Link DWL-520 rev E wireless network card running again.
I was following the most optimistic instructions I could find, which specifically addressed this card under Fedora Core 5. I installed the hostap-utils rpm, the firmware files, and made the edits to /usr/sbin/hostap_fw_load, and ran the firmware loader. I wish, wish, wish that I had have recorded the output of host_fw_load the time when it actually worked, because I’ve noticed the output vary, and give different reasons why it didn’t work.
After I upgraded my packages while the card was working, I rebooted with the newer kernel, 2.6.16. I don’t know why it was 16 instead of 20, which is the 2.6 kernel I’m running on my FC4 machine, but switching back and forth hasn’t helped. I never used make to compile anything, so I don’t see how changing the kernel has created more problem for me. Perhaps firmware incompatibilities?
Now, every time I run the firmware loader I destroy something. If I run iwconfig when I first start the machine, I see the card both at wifi0 and wlan0. When I run hostap_fw_load once, it reports loading the primary firmware, and wlan0 usually disappears. If I run it again, it reports loading the secondary firmware, it says it doesn’t work because there’s no such device as wlan0, and wifi0 disappears. The only way I know how to get them back is to reboot.
Posted by Greg as Hardware & Drivers, Networking, OS at 12:09 PST
1 Comment »
Somehow, in between all the other things going on in my life at this moment, I managed to get another box up and running at home. I used an old hard drive that had been configured for a dual boot with Windows 98 and RedHat 9 (yeah, it’s been sitting around for a while.) I wiped the RH9 and installed Fedora Core 4, and kept the Win98 because I had personal files on it that I’d been meaning to pull out. Besides, I’m not planning on putting Windows XP on this box, I’m going to install Windows 2000 Server, just like the local server at work. I want to learn enough about Windows Active Directory so that I can figure out how to easily and painlessly configure a Linux client to connect to an MS network – and that’s a tall order! I actually got my partitioning scheme all set up and implemented and FC4 installed before I realized that Fedora Core 5 was released last month, so I had to do it all over again.
Of course, I have a cheapo PCI wireless network card for this box – this time, it’s a D-Link DWL-520 revision E1, which has a Prism 2.5 chipset. Once again, as it turns out, not a Linux-friendly card, so I’ve been learning a lot as I stubbornly plug away at getting it to connect to my wireless network at home. I thought that this time, it would be a lot easier because I could put into good use everything I learned by setting up the Hawking HWP-54G with the Ralink rt2500 chipset on my FC4 box (soon to be upgraded), but that wasn’t the case. The DWL-520 has no firmware, so it has to be flashed every time you boot.
With FC5 out so recently, there’s a paucity of help available in the forums, but it seemed worth it because the best advice I was getting on the solution for FC4 involved recompiling the kernel, and I don’t really feel ready for that yet, especially with a brand-new install of a new distro. Hell, there’s a whole new system of mounting floppy and cdrom drives, and when you don’t have a network connection, those are vital for transfering drivers and whatnot.
I’ve tinkered with it whenever I’ve had the chance, and taken pretty of good notes on what I’ve tried so I can write this all up, but when stuff doesn’t work even when you’re trying to follow directions, you end up trying all kinds of things just to see what happens, and you lose track of what you’ve done and what actually might have made a difference. So, of course, when I was mucking about today, I did something – I’m not sure what – and now it works like a charm. I don’t know whether it’s going to last past my next logoff, so I’ve used the new software updater, pup, to upgrade all my packages, but it’s a real long shot that it will work again after a reboot. At least I know it can be done, but getting it working is not enough – I have to know why it works, and what it took to get it working.
Posted by Greg as Hardware & Drivers, Networking at 18:26 PST
1 Comment »
I’ve been incredibly busy over the last couple of weeks, trying to accomplish quite a few feats in my personal, professional, and linux-user lives. And they have all seemed to overlap.
- My parents were in town last week, attending the NACE National Convention. I wanted to see as much of them as possible, so we met on Sunday night for dinner with the family (unfortunately, my wife couldn’t make it), Monday evening for the NACE Fellowship, and Thursday for a quick coffee before they had to leave.
- My wife and I had a couple of Very Important matters to attend to, which we don’t need to get into here.
- Last week was the NACE National Convention, held this year in San Diego. The only thing I attended was the Fellowship on Monday night, which gave me the chance to catch up with some old friends, co-workers, clients, and associates. And, of course, there was free beer.
- We also held our monthly meeting for our local NACE chapter: this year, I’m the chairman. There’s no way I could have pulled this meeting off this month without the extensive help of my vice-chair, Roger Benham. There you go, Roger, I put in a link for your company!
- With the convention in town, our office was trampled with visits from VIPs. I have a conversation with the Chairman of the Board and acting CEO, Jim Johnson. I ran into him again at the Fellowship; he ended up chatting with my parents (my dad is a Corrpro customer), while I was chatting with the Corrpro Chief Engineer (David Kroon) and his wife, and met the guy who was responsible for the launch of the revamped Corrpro website, which seems very impressive.
- I’m still trying to catch up with my backlog at work. I have a number of overdue reports, and I’m trying to shake off the malaise since a coworker died and my boss left.
- With my recent blessing to install Linux on my workstation, I’ve been trying to reformat and install FC4 on my computer at work. It’s been tough, and very tempting not to get distracted when I should be working on my backlog. I’ve been using two machines – one to work on, another to install Linux on. The installation takes a long time when you can only glance over at it every half-hour or so, and it seems a little tough to figure out how to integrate it into the Windows server network and get myself authenticated. But this is low-priority, and will take as long as it needs to. I can’t put too much of my attention into it, as much as I would like to.
- I’m also trying to establish a VPN from my Linux box at home into the Windows server network. Also tricky!
Posted by Greg as Family & Friends, Networking, Posts About Me at 17:25 PST
Comments Off on Hectic
I was working with Fedora today when I found out that what I was trying to do would be a lot easier if I was running the 2.6.15 kernel. What version was I running? Well, initially I found out by opening
/boot/grub/grub.conf, but as I tooled around later, I realized the proper way was
uname -r or
cat /proc/version. I was running 2.6.14 – needed to upgrade!
Most of the info I found after a search dealt with upgrading between major releases – FC 3 to FC 4, for example. But I saw enough to figure out how to do it using yum. Upgrading the kernel seemed like heavy stuff, so I logged off and logged back in as root.
First, I made sure that I was using the latest version of yum (which I wasn’t):
[root@localhost /]# yum update yum
Then, a bunch of yum output messages later, I tried the same with the kernel:
[root@localhost /]# yum update kernel
I didn’t get any bells and whistles, just yum telling me it worked. Was I already running the new kernel? Using
cat /proc/version I saw I wasn’t. So I checked the
/boot directory – yep, there were more files there, including several that had “188.8.131.523” in their names. I went further, looking at the
/boot/grub/grub.conf. Yum had thoughtfully added the new kernel version to my list of startups, and left the default alone. So everything was set for a reboot. But wait – I was expecting that changing the kernel meant that my HWP54G rt2500 wireless card driver would need to be reinstalled. Did the Internet still work? Yes, cool, I could go to my blog and check my notes. There, I was reminded that I needed to install the new kernel source, so I also ran
[root@localhost /]# yum update kernel-devel
While my connection still worked, I saved a copy of the installation notes in my blog to the hard drive, and I was set for a reboot. During this, as expected, I failed to connect to my network. I also failed to mount my NTFS drives, so apparently I had done something special to make that work! But that’s for later. I had to look for the rt2X00 driver files – I had placed them in /etc/rt2500/module – which, if I had have read my notes fully, I would have seen from the examples. So I tried the following:
[root@localhost /]# cd /etc/rt2500/module
[root@localhost module]# make
make: Entering directory `/usr/src/kernels/2.6.15-1.1833_FC4-i686'
Building modules, stage 2.
make: Leaving directory `/usr/src/kernels/2.6.15-1.1833_FC4-i686'
[root@localhost module]# make install-fedora
if ! [ -f rt2500.ko ]; then \
install 'rt2500.ko' to /lib/modules/2.6.15-1.1833_FC4/extra
install -m 755 -o 0 -g 0 -d /lib/modules/2.6.15-1.1833_FC4/extra
install -m 644 -o 0 -g 0 rt2500.ko /lib/modules/2.6.15-1.1833_FC4/extra
(Hope you can pick out what I typed in – the bold text – from the responses.) And then I was back on my network! Nothing else to configure – all the settings were retained from before. I was able to open up a browser and go back to my blog – which I searched using the term ntfs. I was lucky – I had mentioned how I got the ntfs drives mounted, so now I’m off to fix that!
Posted by Greg as Hardware & Drivers, Networking, OS at 15:57 PST
Comments Off on Reinstall RT2500 Driver After Kernel Upgrade
How To Get Approval For A Linux Desktop In A Windows Server Environment
This week has been a busy one for me, both at work and at home, but I’m going to write about the work aspect.
I ended up getting permission, if only in an surreptitious way, to do something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time but never thought I could get away with – I’m going to install Linux on my computer at work.
This may be a long story, but for those of you out there who consider Bill Gates to be the AntiChrist, or who just plain chafe at having to work with a flawed and vulnerable operating system when there are so many out there that are much better, and against all better judgment suffer at work by using Windows, this might be inspirational, and a roadmap for affecting change.
About five years ago, corporate send out a network engineer to install our new server, to replace some of our older machines, and to dump our old peer-to-peer network and hook us into a real WAN with Internet access at every desk. I got a brand new, 700 MHz machine running Windows NT – not top of the line for the time, but one of the faster machines in our office, because I was authorized to have AutoCAD. I also got to meet with Dane Hershberger. I hung over his shoulder every chance I got, asked a lot of questions, and later, after he got everything set up and left, I found out that I had been flagged as the local IT guy, complete with local administrator permissions (which in my opinion, were more like a power user than an administrator.)
For years Dane and I had frequent conversations, particularly about the corporate computer policy (which he wrote), that placed strict limits on what software could be installed on a company machine. I got tacit permission to experiment with any software I found useful, as long as I observed the appropriate licensing requirements, and I ended up submitting quite a few examples of useful applications I had found, all freeware or open source, which Dane posted for download on our intranet. The corporate IT people knew me well. I was also regarded with some suspicion – having been placed in the “knows enough to be dangerous” category, and being relatively open about my password-cracking and network probing past. I may have been the only person who got away with installing a hex editor and disassembler on my machine. Along the way I also became acquainted with one of the other systems engineers – Rayna, initial last name unimportant because she ended up becoming the bride of Dane (that lucky bastard!)
For a long time everything was comfortable. Problems got solved, and I was tolerated. I tested my limits, sure, but I was bound by the knowledge that if anyone ever uncovered traces of serious network abuse, I was guilty until proven innocent. I probably knew enough to get into places or do things that I wasn’t supposed go to or do, but I wasn’t confident in my ability to hide all the traces of where I had been or what I had done. I remember well the time I came into my office and found the visiting Dane and Rayna sitting at my machine and just shaking their heads with mixed dismay and interest. I got the impression that if the machine had belonged to anyone else, it would have been immediately boxed up and sent in for an OS reinstall. One thing I established well – they were both totally opposed to anything Linux.
But about a year ago, in the midst of some serious corporate overhead slashing, Dane and Rayna quit and moved on, and corporate decided to outsource. I immediately researched the new IT company, and in particular the names of the few who showed up in our address book as belonging to IT – we not only got an offsite Help Desk, we got a few new employees working at corporate headquarters. I was particularly disturbed that I couldn’t find any poop on our new network engineer – no personal website, and no postings on technical message boards using her real name. She was either really, really tech-savvy, or she was a just a tool that I could dance around. I had to err on the side of caution (and a damned good thing I did, too.)
I tried to establish a rapport, sort of like the way two modems handshake. I included her in my now routine submissions – security advisories, workarounds and fixes I had discovered (like how to get VPN working in NT), and I knew she was party to the reviews and suggestions I occasionally sent to the IT Steering Committee. But not a peep out of her. So she remained The Big Unknown. I’m sure she has been busy trying to understand and fix the personal handiwork of Dane, who, although he was good, had his own personal quirks, and was pretty much obliged to patch things instead of going back and redoing the hasty network setup that had been thrown together.
Apparently, things are so nonstandard in our network that other outsourced employees have been deployed to headquarters. I found this out this week in the course of pursuing a fix for my now outdated and overloaded computer.
My machine (yes, it’s still the same one I got those years ago, although I am next on the list for upgrade) has repeatedly butted up against the limits of its configuration. NT was installed on a front-end 2 GB partition of a 10GB hard drive. Long ago I decided to install any new applications on the second partition, but the first has gotten pretty full with security fixes (which I installed religiously while NT was still being supported), user profiles, Exchange folders, network monitoring software (now that’s a story in itself!), browser plugins, default-to-C-drive software, and the like. I’ve dealt with it on a patchwork basis myself, but finally it got to the point that Something More had to be done. I called the Help Desk, described my problems, and was astounded at their suggestion – use Partition Magic.
That’s funny – last year I saw PM on sale, $0 with rebate – and purchased it because I had heard such great things about it, and although I have addressed the same problem at home by reinstalling (I now have nine partitions on my main home computer), I had an eye on using it at work. I never tried it because I didn’t want to run software, especially privately-owned software, that performs such an elemental task without testing it first on something less significant than my primary work tool. The last thing I expected was a recommendation to use it from my own IT department. I eagerly set about doing so. I faithfully backed up my entire hard drive, loaded PM, and ran into a wall.
I’ve provided plenty of support for our network deployment of Norton (or Symantec) AntiVirus, so I was pleased and confounded to find that my client was now configured so that the user couldn’t turn it off. Someone’s been diligent – bringing our network machines under better management – but it didn’t help me, the somewhat talented maverick, when I needed to shut off all processes (I used to call them TSRs) that run in the background. So I called the Help Desk again. I re-enabled the corporate trojan (DameWare) to allow it to run, and reset the configuration to make it more interloper-friendly, and invited IT in to shut the antivirus client off. Our offsite office couldn’t do it, so I got referred to corporate, but the first person I talked to also couldn’t do it. (Did I undo everything I had done before to cripple it? Oops, better re-enable it in the hardware profile!) I was again referred, and soon got a message from The New Guy.
Said TNG send an email expressing his reservations for the whole scheme and making a few specific points. I answered him, addressing his concerns with great restraint, in a way that I hoped revealed my less-than-bumbling-idiot appreciation for the points he had raised. Apparently I was successful, and not totally offensive, because we ended up engaging in a dialog that lasted several days, whereby I found him accepting of me and my views. He expressed appreciation for my “going through the right channels regarding this issue.” (Hmmm… so my restraint was noted and encouraged – this is an adroit administrator.) He had also had read my IT Steering Committee comments, and echoed sympathy for my subtle push to rid ourselves of Microsoft hegemony. This was great – I was finally being treated with some respect and empathy from the new Powers-That-Be at corporate IT, but I was probably pushing it when, after my initial PM run, I noted ruefully that there was sufficient disk space left to install another OS, and spat off another email saying so, and included a mechanical (read: hopeless) justification for why testing a Linux workstation on a Windows network was a good idea:
I’ve often wondered, support issues aside, whether it was even possible to get a Linux desktop workstation to work with the Corrpro network – to interact with the Exchange Server, network partitions, centrally managed antivirus, etc. I was wondering if, just to answer such theoretical questions, I could be permitted to give it a try on my own time? Just think of it as a test bed. I could report on the difficulties I encountered, and then IT would know how practical the concept of running some clients would be. Think of the pace of software development right now – there are already applications that have been developed that are only available for Linux. In the future, or maybe even now, there could be specialized technical applications that we, as an engineering company with at least some R&D capacity, might want to be able to use. If anybody put in a request to try it to IT, right now all you guys can say is no, because you don’t know whether it’s even possible.
And think of the line you guys could put in your resumes:
“integrated Linux workstations into a native MS server environment”
Of course, my project would be entire self supported. If it doesn’t work, you’ve learned something right there.
To my surprise and delight, I got the following response:
I am ok with you trying this … My caveat being that your manager there is ok with this too. I don’t want to get put in an awkward situation where down the road someone gets pissed at IT cause they told you to load Linux and now you can’t get any work done. ;) From what you said before though, you have another machine you can use if need be so it should be ok.
As a longtime (4+ years) Linux user in a corporate environment, I can tell you where the big problems will lie:
* Getting your Linux box to use active directory for authentication is not easy, and doesn’t seem to always work well.
* Evolution isn’t Outlook, and you have to pay extra for the Exchange connector anyway so that is a net loss of $50.
* Network drives aren’t quite as easy to use as they are in Windows.
* Network printing can be a bitch, or can be simple … depends on the printer really.
* Won’t be able to integrate any Anti-Virus, which in the short term I’m not that worried about, but long term I’m not sure what the solution would be.
Now that said, things are probably much better since they were 2 years ago when I had this setup at my previous job. I basically ended up requiring VMWare and to always be running an XP box inside my Linux environment. Of course a lot of that was because I had to be able to support the Windows network.
So give it a try, but lets keep this between us and your manager for now since I am out and haven’t spoken to anyone else on the team about this yet. :)
Assuming we ever get the backlog of tasks needing to be complete in IT to a much smaller number, I will be doing something similar. There is just so much going on right now and in the foreseeable short term future that I just can’t afford to do it yet. So I’ll be curious to hear your results!
What distro are you thinking of starting with?
Longtime Linux user? Pointers? Doing something similar? What distro??? I’m in heaven! I’ve found a kindred soul!
My PM repartitioning, run in DOS mode straight from the CD, seemed to work fine – I now have some room to breathe, and 4 GB of unformatted space on the tail end of my hard drive. A backup machine spent most of today downloading the FC4 iso’s, which should by now be stored on the network drives. Unfortunately, I can’t just bring in my copy – it’s on DVD, which my machine can’t handle.
You know, looking back at my past posts about Corrpro, there’s no way of evaluating just how much my feeling of disassociation that I had with the new IT guys colored my disaffection. I never mentioned it during that chaotic period between my finding out that my boss was leaving and the formalizing of our new organizational structure, but now that I’ve seen the light, it must have had a big impact. Just watch how I knock down the obstacles in my way, and see my morale improve!
Oh – hope posting all this doesn’t sour me.
Posted by Greg as Networking, OS, Posts About Me at 16:05 PST
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