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June 07, 2002


One of the more onerous projects I've had to deal with lately has been the installation of a trouble ticketing system called Arweb on one of our Sun 3000 boxes. Trouble ticketing systems are very popular, since filling out and passing them around to various departments looks a great deal like actual work. The work does get done, somehow, but the realization that the ticket onscreen is not actually your responsibility carries with it a surprisingly potent sense of victory. A few arcane gestures, a "Begone, troublesome electronic sprite, and trouble me no more!", and away goes your temporary responsibility into the aether.

Like Sisyphus after a few centuries, I've forgotten why I have to install this application. I just know I have to get the damn thing to the top of the hill. This is the second machine I've tried to install it on. On the initial install to a Sun Netra, it looked like the New Atlanta Servletexec servlet engine wasn't going to play nicely with the Tomcat engines already running there. I don't know for sure that this was the case, but I'd seen it before with the Resin engine, and anyway the bloody thing wasn't working. My first reaction when something like this happens it to find a less crowded environment to play in, since the fewer applications there are running on a machine, the less chance one of those apps is going to reach out and make me its bitch.

Well, more like my 6th reaction. My first five reactions were to;

1. stop the program, start the program, check the program, mutter
2. stop the program, start the program, check the program, bitch.
3. stop the program, surf the net in the hope that a random cosmic ray would free up some stuck electrons, start the program, check the program, curse.
4. stop the program, delete all the files, install the program, configure the program, start the program, check the program, moan like the damned.
5. stop the program, think about composing a vicious hate letter to the developer, try to delete the files, hit the enter key, hit the enter key, pound on the enter key, realize there's a network outage, try to check my email, realize AGAIN that there's a network outage, talk to the flash crowd out in the hall about the network outage, decide to go to lunch early, realize the network has been back up for 15 minutes, delete the program, install the program, configure the program in a subtly different way, try to start the program, fix the broken configuration, start the program, check the program, feel sorry for myself and wish I never had given up smoking.

At this point I decide that the changes I might need to make to fix this thing will probably start breaking other things, and I don't need that grief. In addition, the Sun3000 at least has a cdrom drive, (Netras don't, at least our Netras don't). In spite of my ever-decreasing faith in software, I hope that the automatic install from the cdrom will remove a source of error. So in the disc goes. I cd to /cdrom...

ksh: /cdrom: not found

Dammit. There's always something to do first. My entire career as a sysadmin is xeno's paradox, filmed in Technicolor for the amusement of the masses. Normally something as integral as the cdrom drive is automatically mounted by the OS. It obviously wasn't, and I hadn't spent a lot of time on it before, so I never noticed. So I have to mount it by hand. By hand, as if I'm going to actually going to reach into the box and re-arrange things to my satisfaction instead of just typing a mount command. Which mount command? I dunno. Never said I was a GOOD sysadmin.

After about 18 thousand false starts, I finally settle on this command "mount -o ro -F hsfs /dev/dsk/c0t6d0s0 /cdrom"

"Mount -o ro" means "add the cd-rom with the "read only option(-o)" I can see specifying read-only being useful in some cases, but here it's just redundant. It's a cd-rom. The system couldn't write to it no matter what. I suppose that it is useful to keep the system from trying to write to it, however.
"-F hsfs" means "using the hsfs File system" This tells Solaris what format the data on the disk is.
"/dev/dsk/c0t6d0s0" This is the shorthand Solaris uses for the physical location of the device
"cdrom" this is the directory to pretend that the information on the disk is. Solaris doesn't actually copy any information into this directory. Essentially I told the machine "There's some data here that I want you to pretend is here, so I can play with it" This is nice because you can do it with a whole other machine, not just a cd-rom. The mount command would be different, though.

Did I know what all that stuff meant before I started? No, which is one of the reasons I write what kehaar calls "those boring-ass tech essays". Writing it up in any sort of explanatory manner will hopefully cause the knowledge to stick there, making me an incrementally better sysadmin, which will give me more money, which will allow me to buy a bigger worm farm.

So, does running the install from the cd-rom solve my problems?

Oh, hell no.

Posted by Bigwig at June 7, 2002 12:45 PM | TrackBack
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