Saturday, March 31, 2012

Managing Old Dell servers

A few Dell servers I am working with were getting long in the tooth. I was worried about their performance so I decided to monitor them more closely. I didn't have a lot of experience dealing with on-board management with Dell servers, although at first glance, they took a different approach than HP or IBM servers. With HP or IBM, the on-board management system has it's own network interface with a web-based front end or accessible via remote clients. They worked independently of the server OS. Dell's approach was to have a system running on the server's OS accessing the management hardware, even though the management hardware had it's own network interface.
I've always known Dell for their support of IPMI, so decided to take that route first. This great article that explains how to get it up and running quickly. It was command line-based and flexible. However, it wasn't giving me the information I needed easily. IPMI spewed a lot of information but the output needed to be parsed. To decipher the data, it needed to be cleaned-up and restructured. Sorta like SNMP but a tad friendlier.
Then I read on-line about OpenManage which was Dell's own system. OpenManage was both the monitoring hardware on the system and the software suite that used it. It gave administrators information on the servers via a web interface. The servers had the hardware but I wasn't sure about the software.
A quick check revealed that the original CDs were long gone with the boxes after a clean-up some years ago. So I hunted for the files on Dell's support site. The site was helpful in throwing at me all they had but finding the explanaiton for what the files were required a lot of back and forth between web pages that didn't refresh well
In finding out what some of those files were from Google, I found another great article on that was basically a howto to set up OpenManage. But I still needed the correct installation files. I first tried to get all the correct files mentioned in the article from the Dell Support site but couldn't sift through all the gunk. I found the MD5s for the files i needed but not the actual files. I felt more and more like Dell wanted me to download ISOs from their site and find them there.
Finally, I decided to dump the 'correct' way and use the files the article linked to instead. The files the article linked to were on a Dell ftp server but were meant for specific versions of Linux for specific versions of OpenManage. The files the article used didn't match the version of CenOS the server had nor the version of OpenManage that was compatible with it. Regardless, I downloaded a more recent version of OpenManage for the RedHat equivalent version. I reckon if yum/rpm craps out, then i'll just hunt some more. It was a CentOS instead of true-red RHEL but I guess they were close enough.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Choosing an Android Smartphone: The hardware

Continued from here.
Half of the battle of owning an Android is choosing the right hardware. Tablet or phone? How much memory? How big is the screen? How long does the battery lasts? What accessories should I buy? As more and more options become available, the choice just becomes more difficult.
The key thing is to match the hardware with the way you want to use it. Imagine you are selling a tablet or phone.Then, advise someone who is trying to buy one. Here are some simple match-ups.
  • How long am I away from a power plug? = How long does the battery need to hold up. This is simple. If you are more away from the office or from your desk, the more likely you need a battery that lasts longer. 
  • Work or Pleasure? Or more work or more pleasure? = what do I need to connect it to and does the hardware support that. This is more complicated. Look at the way you are doing things now. Imagine the way you want it to be. Now douse that with a bit of reality by remembering a victory or success and how you worked to achieve that or what led you to that. What tools did you use? What did you need to make that success? Now can the phone or tablet be a part of that or replace tools that you used? Did you need a connection to a projector or TV? How much typing was involved? At any point, did you plugged in a thumb drive from someone else? Those are those things then the phone or tablet should support.
  • Did you wish you had access to the Internet when you didn't? = Do you need a mobile data connection? If you find yourself more often that not thinking "I could've looked that up on the Internet" and "I wish I can connect with you to give you that information", you probably need mobile Internet. But consider also other options like portable hotspots or using your current smartphone's Internet access, especially if you are still on a Blackberry. Factor in your current mobile plan or the one available to you.
  • How big is big? = What size the tablet or phone. Buy as big as you need. And match the battery for it.
  • Buy a casing = buy a case. The device was sold without one because they knew someone would sell it to you separately. Then think of it in terms of fashion: how do you want to look holding it.
  • Should I wait for the next software release? = You shouldn't wait. But buy a recently released model, if possible. That way if a newer OS is available, it will support it. 
Whether it is a tablet or phone, it should do the thing you want to do now. If it doesn't, why are you buying one?

Recently Popular