Oct 282011

Apparently, it’s necessary to use separate CSS properties for each browser.

Sep 072011

If you have a switch, access point or other piece of network hardware that supports 802.1q VLAN tagging, and you’d like to your FreeBSD system to recognize them, it’s a pretty straight-forward configuration.  I’ll use examples from my network to illustrate.  My goal in this case, which I may write about in a separate post, was to create two segmented wifi networks – one for my main network and one for guests to connect to.  I wanted the guest network to have access to the internet, but not to any of my other systems on the network.

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Mar 012010

I spent some time thinking about backup strategy, and I decided for my purposes, I’d like to handle the staging process (getting all the files put together), and I’d like the backup solution itself to simply upload the files – but since I want to do nightly backups, I’d like the backup solution to have incremental capabilities.

I narrowed it down to two possible solutions – Tarsnap and Duplicity.  Both support incremental backups, both are command-line capable.  I decided to use Duplicity because it uploads directly to whichever back-end service you use – be it Amazon S3 or an SFTP server .  Tarsnap uses S3, but that’s your only option, and they do some processing for you, and because of that, it costs more.

Now, on to the details.

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Jul 042009

The Duke URLGrabber package for Python makes it incredibly easy to retrieve files from remote servers, and it abstracts urllib2 for you in a protocol-independent way, so you can focus on your application instead of spending time working with Python’s built-in urllib2.

On Windows and Mac OSX, by default, urllib2 (and therefore URLGrabber) will use the built-in proxy settings of the system – but sometimes you don’t want that.  For example, let’s say you’re using a Windows box that’s on a domain, and proxy settings have been pushed down by group policy.  You want to access local network resources without needing to route through the proxy or authenticate to it.

With urllib2, you would simply add code like the following:

Note the empty dictionary “{}” to specify no proxies.  Doing the same for URLGrabber was suggested on a mailing list post – and it apparently worked for the poster.  However, I wasn’t able to get it to work, so I came up with another way.  I just specified a dummy proxy for a dummy protocol, as follows:

Have fun!

Mar 152009

Whether you’re using FreeBSD for your workstation, a simple home server, or in a complex IT environment where reliability is critical, losing the data on your hard disk(s) is probably the worst type of failure you can have.  I’ve already gone over a backup strategy for FreeBSD, but it’s best to try to prevent data loss before it happens.

As it turns out, pretty much all modern hard disks have built-in SMART technology (SMART stands for Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology).  It can alert you before many types of problems will occur, and hopefully provide you with enough time to get your data off the drive safely, before catastrophic failure occurs.

It’s pretty easy to take advantage of this technology on FreeBSD with a package called Smartmontools.

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Mar 012009

I previously discussed configuring JungleDisk on FreeBSD.  It’s not quite the easiest to install since FreeBSD isn’t officially supported.  To take that a step further, I’m now going to show what I do to back up my FreeBSD box at home.

Update, November 2009: I am no longer using JungleDisk to back up my FreeBSD box.  Jungledisk recently released version 3.0 of their software which does not include a command-line Linux version in the standard desktop edition.  I was advised to stick with the old version if I want to continue backing up.  Instead, I chose to change over to Duplicity.  I will write a post on Duplicity in the near future.

There are a couple of steps to this process.  First, we must perform the backup itself.  I’m using dump(8) for this purpose – this program is built right into FreeBSD – it’s purpose in the original UNIX was to dump a file system to a tape drive, but we’re going to use it to dump the filesystem to a file.  The second step is to have JungleDisk back the files up to S3.

Standard disclaimer:  This is not at all supported by JungleDisk and if you choose to try this, you’re doing so at your own risk.  This works fine for me, but your mileage may vary.  I am not in any way responsible for any costs this may incur to you, or any damage this may cause.

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Feb 202009

I wanted to follow up a previous post with some additional comments.  This past week, a popular social bookmarking service called Ma.gnolia went down and lost all of their users’ data.  Their users were understandably angry and frustrated.  Citizen Garden did an interview with the guy who created Ma.gnolia and he brings up a question that I alluded to  – we have a lot of content – a lot of data – stored all over the place online – what’s our backup strategy?

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Feb 032009

For those of you who don’t know, JungleDisk is a utility that allows you to back up data to Amazon’s Simple Storage Service (S3).  Soon, it will also allow you to use Mosso’s Cloud Files service, which is similar to S3 but hosted by RackSpace. I recently won a free subscription to JungleDisk, thanks to Mosso.

I’ve got JungleDisk set up on my Windows machine and it’s working really well. I was looking around the JungleDisk website, and I noticed that you’re allowed to install the desktop edition on as many computers as you want.  I’ve got two machines here at home – my laptop with Windows, and my file server running FreeBSD.  JungleDisk doesn’t have a native FreeBSD version, but they do offer a Linux version.  Seeing as FreeBSD does have a Linux compatibility layer, I figured I’d at least try to get it to work.  So far, I’ve been moderately successful.

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