I’m in 24 Hours Vancouver!!

Posted: June 22nd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Free Geek, Vancouver | No Comments »

Somehow I managed to squeeze myself and Free Geek Vancouver into today’s edition of Vancouver 24 Hours. Hoorah!

http://vancouver.24hrs.ca/News/local/2010/06/21/14469491.html


Free Geek Server Room Build Part 4 AKA How I learned to love LTSP, Migrate OpenLDAP and get bind running all in one day!!

Posted: May 8th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: DNS, Free Geek, Insight, LDAP, Linux, Migrate, SSH, Vancouver | 2 Comments »

Free Geek Mascot #1

Today was awesome! We got so much done!!! And it all went without a problem… oh except for when we tried to create an LACP bond on our NFS server and crashed the whole network… yeah… Quick story on that. we have 10 VLANs all trunking between our switches and our router. The NFS server is on VLAN 5 untagged on port 17 on the switch, we the added port 18 and created a bond on the switch. We then created a bond0 interface on the NFS server and used ifenslave to assign the eth devices to the bond device. Then….

BAM! WHOLE NETWORK GOES DOWN. Not just vlan5, no no, the whole god damn network. No Internet access nothing, not even from the router, the router can’t ping a thing on the whole network.

Why God? Why?

Then the Network God ARP said, “Jordan did you check those top kwality DLink switches?” So off I went to check the switch I just modified. For some unknown reason the DLINK decided to plunk VLAN 6 tagged onto port 16 for no reason what-so-ever. So I fixed that, but no, nothing worked still. So Tyler says, just unplugg the ethernet cables to the NFS server. Voila! Problem solved. Basically we think the NFS was just spewing out crap across the network and making all the servers in VLAN 5 bail, including the router. We were getting some pretty crazy ARP poisoning happening the router. Now, on to the good stuff.


This is a basic (and poorly made) diagram of how the Free Geek Vancouver network looks. We’ll take a look at how an LTSP client boots and logs in.

First the LTSP client boots looking for a PXE server, DHCP is handed out and tells the client to grab a boot image from yew. The LTSP client then boots into Ubuntu 10.04 (bleeding edge baby) where the login screen is presented. The user logs in and authenticates against our new fancy LDAP server on teak. When the client logs in their home directory is handed out via LDAP as /net/home/<$user> This directory is handled by AutoFS and mounts the NFS home from maple. The user now has full desktop experience with all their account info and home directory handled by 3rd parties.

What? Centralized authentication AND home directories?! REALLY?

Our LTSP server is now a 2 x Dual Core Xeon 3.20GHz with 4GB of RAM. A HUGE upgrade from what we running before. In addition to all this insanity Vicki was able to migrate our ticketing system for us as well as update all the LDAP records for home directories, install autofs on all servers, install the mount maps, comment out all the irrelevant fstab crap AND switch over all our servers to the LDAP server. Pow vicki, pow!

The backup system is pretty sweet as well. In our NFS server that holds the home directories is two RAID 5’s, a RAID 1 and some spares. One RAID 5 has a slice out of it that is for home directories. The other is 1TB for nothing but backups. What Tyler did was write a script that uses rsync to create incremental backups all done thru hard links. It’s pretty rad.

Now that I come to think of it, I didn’t really do much except play with the dogs!!

She helped in her own way


What's going on?

















The Advantages of Volunteering

Posted: October 13th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Free Geek, Insight, LDAP, Vancouver, VPN | No Comments »

As I touched on very briefly in one of my previous posts, I volunteer. I volunteer for a non-profit organization by the name of Free Geek. It’s the local chapter here in Vancouver and they have a very simple purpose. Their website states: Free Geek is a nonprofit community organisation that reduces the environmental impact of waste electronics by reusing and recycling donated technology. Through community engagement we provide education, job skills training, Internet access and free or low cost computers to the public.

Free GeekWhen I first arrived at Free Geek I was amazed at how much computer hardware there actually was, but even MORE amazed the second time I went to see that it all had changed. I mean, all of it. The amount of hardware that that flows through their doors is mind boggling. Immediately I knew this was something I wanted to be a part of. I met one of the founders and explained my talents and I what I could do for them, Ifny LaChance, she hugged me! She explained that Free Geek was desperately in need of a good Systems Administrator as their current person could not adequately handle the failing systems. The Free Geek infrastructure suffered from network outages, power outages, overheating, and poor performance, and they were all considered part and parcel of the environment. Most of the users had learned to live with it, or work around the issues.

They use a system called LTSP for all of their public and private workstations. These workstations were at a crawl. The first thing I took care of was all the physical wiring between computers, switches, and servers. While pulling cable out I would find the oddest things, like a six foot ethernet cable running from a switch to hub, then from that hub another cable extending about four feet to a switch. This switch was not only then connected to three different computers but also plugged back into the same switch that this connection originated from! After the wiring had been taken care of, an 802.1d trunk was introduced between two main switches and then VLAN’s were placed on the network to segregate subnets up a little better and to give some added security.

Since then I’ve gone on to introduce an OpenLDAP directory system, integrate user authentication for all workstations and switches. Created an OpenVPN install and added services such as SNMP monitoring by way of Zenoss. I am on a never-ending mission to improve the stability and the scalability of their infrastructure while only being able to work with recycled hardware and open-sourced software. It has been a great challenge, but of all the years I have worked with technology I must say that nothing compares with the satisfaction I feel from knowing my hours of labour are enabling an amazing organization to help keep this planet green and give back to the community.

Please visit their website to see how you can help. freegeekvancouver.org


A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood

Posted: September 27th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Vancouver | No Comments »

Sun behind harbour center

Sun behind harbour center


Vancouver really is an amazing city. I forget this sometimes as I’ve just grown so used to it all. The sights to see here are world class, there’s always something to do whether it’s getting a drink in Railtown, climbing the Grouse grind, or hanging out in some of the hidden parks downtown. What I love most though is discovering something new in the city, especially when it was right in front of my eyes all along but I never saw it.

The view from Crab Park

The view from Crab Park

One of my favourite discoveries is an unknown little park right down in railtown area called Crab Park. It’s so unknown that Google Maps doesn’t even have it labelled. To get there you have to go over the Main St bridge, yes that’s right Main St has a bridge at the very end. Go over the bridge and follow the roundabout. Park, and enjoy. It’s one of the nicest views the city has with its stark contract of colours from various shipping containers, the bustle of frigates moving in and out of the Port as well as the constant traffic from the Seabus and Helijet.

CyclistsThe only problem one might say about it is, because of its location and the issues that lie therein, a lot of people have ended up calling this little place home. Whether it be under a tree, in the bushes, or under the pier, there are a few less fortunate than I who have seemed to find a place of serenity amidst the turmoil of the DTES Some may find this a problem, I find it to be quintessential for mixing what is usually a vast dichotomy in this city. On one side you have the stereotypical Vancouver polished aesthetic, and on the other the disheartening reality of a large populace that have been beaten down and forgotten by our society. All things considered however, this is a great place to take the girl for a walk and enjoy the smell of some open air.