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Bigwig is a systems administrator at a public university
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February 19, 2003

Out to Get Me Could

Out to Get Me

Could not reach blogger all bloody day, though seemingly everyone else could. Everyone else being Kehaar, Laurence and the Tarheel Pundit, the latter of whom had lunch with me today. I could reach pro.blogger.com, and status.blogger.com, but not blogger.com. The status site was as useless as ever. Telling me when blogger has problems would be fine, except that blogger always has problems. What would really come in handy would be a little note saying "Everything's fine right now."

Not that you would ever see it. Hurry, Google, hurry!

Just as well, really. What with the storm, it was my first day back in the office this week, and the things I was unable to do from home had gotten slightly piled up. So I took care of those, and troubleshot permission problems on the new php server, and installed Java on two Linux web servers, or did eventually. That took far longer than it should have. Something about those one of those servers didn't care for the AFS files system it was connected to, so copying and removing files took absolutely forever.*

It was during one of those "forever" periods that I came up with the flag below, so delaying it was the only impact the outage had. It was enough of one that I figured it would be too late by the time I finally posted it, that Laurence or Michelle would have beaten me to it. They have a talent for that type of thing. Others do as well, of course, but those two are the ones whom I know to check.

Which I did as soon as I got home, for about the fifth time overall. No point in having a good idea if someone else has it first, you know?

And of course Blogger came right up afterwards, which gave rise to the paranoid fantasy that for some reason UNC was blocking blogger, or blocking my PC in particular. The Man had noticed me, and set in motion the wheels that grind slow, but exceedingly fine. I figured it was the bumper stickers that finally did me in.

*Here's a slightly more technical explanation, for those who may care. AFS stands for Andrews File System, which is a distributed file system with a common name space. Didn't mean a thing to you, did it?

You know the file system in your computer? Think of a really big one,so big that it is spread across tens or hundreds of computers(distributed). People and other computers can plug into this file system and in theory see everything on it (common name space), if they have permissions. Mostly they don't, but they can see parts of it. Every computer that plugs into it also has its own internal file system, but for all intents and purposes, a computer treats AFS as part of that internal file system.

So I can copy files to and from AFS into my web servers, or from one web server into AFS. It's especially convenient for moving files from one computer to another when you don't want to mount a drive or can't use FTP for some reason.

Anyway, on at least two occasions I've had trouble deleting files in AFS space when accessing them from a Linux box. Our Solaris boxes have no such problem, and usually I'm coming from one of them, so I don't think about it much. It's not that the computer refuses to delete the files, it just takes forever to complete the process. And when I say forever, I mean ten or twenty minutes, when ten or twenty seconds should have been sufficient for the command a hundred times over. The same thing happens when trying to copy files from Linux into AFS space, though not, oddly, from AFS space to a Linux file system. It's hard to troubleshoot as well, since AFS is administered by a entirely separate group. I could not even kill -9 the copy or delete processes, and yes, I was root. "kill -9" mean to end a process with extreme prejudice, to shut it down immediately with no thought for the consequences. You can always do this. Horrible things are afoot when you can't. Root means, well, God. Running the binaries in AFS space from a Linux command line gave a different set of problems, in that they never finished, but they could be killed.

The files I was moving were two Linux binaries, one for Java 1.3.7 and one for 1.4.1, that produced a .rpm file once they were run. And as everyone knows, once you have a .rpm file, your installation goes very smoothly. At least it does if you have all the prerequisite files in place, which we do.

Posted by Bigwig at February 19, 2003 10:12 PM | TrackBack
Postscript:
First time visitor to House Hraka? Wondering if everything we produce could possibly be as brilliant/stupid/evil/pedantic/insipid/inspired as the post you just read? Check out the Hraka Essentials, the (mostly) reader-selected guide to Hraka's best posts, and decide for yourself.
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