Mandriva Linux 2008 On VMware Fusion

This article is obsolete. Images and broken external links have been removed.

Back around Thanksgiving I installed Ubuntu, Fedora and Mandriva Linux virtual machines on VMware Fusion. This article has the screen shots from the Mandriva install. I’m running VMware Fusion 1.1 on my MacBook running Leopard. Mandriva officially calls it’s free Linux Mandriva Linux One 2008.

The VMware portion of the setup was straight-forward since Mandriva is included as one of the available guest OS’s in the setup wizard. The screen shots from the VMware wizard are shown below. (Click the any thumbnail for the full size image.)

When the virtual machine starts up it loads the Live CD. The setup wizard asks for some hardware information and boots to the Mandriva Live CD GUI. In my case I could just accept the defaults that were pre-selected. The screen shots from the setup wizard are shown below.

After the desktop appeared I clicked the Live Install icon (shown to the left) on the desktop to start the actual installation. There’s a wizard that kicks off immediately and another one that runs after the reboot. The screen shots from the pre-reboot wizard are shown below.

After the last screen I just do a normal shutdown and remove the ISO file as the active CD by telling VMware to use the physical drive. When I start the VM up again the following wizard runs. The first screen that pops up asks about the network connection. Even though my MacBook uses a wireless connection I picked the Ethernet connection to configure because VMware virtualizes the connection as an Ethernet connection.

After entering the user ID on that last screen the wizard goes into welcome, registration and survey screens, all of which I was able to skip. At this point the Mandriva installation is done but the VMware tools need to be installed and this is where the problems begin.

Starting the tools install is simple enough, just select Virtual Machine -> Install VMware Tools from the VMware Fusion menu. A RPM and TAR installer will be displayed. I simply double-clicked the RPM package, entered the root password and let it install. But then it has to be configured by running vmware-config-tools.pl from terminal as root. Unfortunately the modules needed for the Mandriva kernel aren’t present so the install fails. After looking around Mandriva for awhile I wasn’t excited so I decided to skip the tools install for now. I did find these instructions for installing the tools on Mandriva. I haven’t tried them, but I’ll revisit them if I decide to actually start using Mandriva.

Anybody else using Mandriva under VMware? You get the tools installed?

The OS Quest Trail Log #18: Year End Edition

Another year comes to a close faster than expected. I supposed to do a year end wrap-up or predictions post but I won’t. I’ll stick to the program and just talk about recent stuff. Plenty of wrap-ups and predictions elsewhere.

Microsoft released Windows XP SP3 RC1 and after my success installing the Vista SP1 Release Candidate I decided to give it a try. I wasn’t so lucky with this update. During the install it told me it couldn’t copy a file. While trying to research the problem I received some memory related errors trying to read the files. These were either incorrect or related to a specific resource since I had plenty of free memory. Since this was a release candidate I gave up quickly since I didn’t want to invest the time. I had created a snapshot with Parallels prior to starting the upgrade so I just reverted to the previous snapshot and pretended I never tried to install SP3. Another benefit of VM’s is the easy recovery.

My troubles installing Ubuntu under Parallels continued. Much to my surprise Ubuntu 7.10 Server installed quickly under VMware. I started the install while the Parallels install was copying files (after the Ubuntu install wizard) and it was done first and booted first time. That’s not a good performance comparison since both were competing for the same disk and cpu cycles, but it was promising. I have both Parallels and VMware on my iMac although I’ve pretty much stuck to Parallels. I doesn’t seem worth the overhead to run both at the same time. (I bought a couple VMware Fusion licenses prior to it’s official release when they were dirt cheap) I’ll probably run Ubuntu Server on VMware Fusion and if it works I’ll move my Windows XP virtual machine over to it using the convertor VMware provides.

There is a reason behind my Ubuntu Server installation. The plan is to set up a complete test & development environment for web software on the Ubuntu Server virtual machine. But I want it as a learning experience so rather than let the Ubuntu Server installer install Apache, MySQL and other apps I just did the base install and I’ll do the rest one at a time as I learn about them. While I could set this up on my Mac using OS X I decided to go with a VM. It’s more like having a remote server and I don’t have to worry about screwing up my Mac.

I’m hoping to clear up a small backlog of posts and get those up this week. I installed Mandriva and Fedora under VMware Fusion. I don’t plan on doing much with them but I’ll get the install screen shots up.  I’ll avoid mentioning anything else since some of them may not see the light of day since there never seems to be enough time.

News & Links

InternetDuctTape.com: Windows XP – Disable dumpprep when programs crash – Tip for turning off those error report dialogs that most people cancel when a program crashes.

LifeHacker.com: Lifehacker’s 2007 Guide to Free Software and Webapps – Huge list of free software and webapps from Lifehacker.com

Netscape.com: End of Support for Netscape web browsers – AOL will be killing the Netscape browser on Feb 1, 2008. Makes sense – I doubt I’m the only one who forgot Netscape was still being developed. AOL paid $4 billion for Netscape back in 1998.

Installing Ubuntu 7.10 Server Under Parallels

I wanted to install Ubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy Gibbon) Server as a virtual machine under Parallels on my iMac. Server has a couple of differences from the desktop version. The first is that the Graphical User Interface (GUI) isn’t installed which is my primary reason for wanting it over the desktop version. It’s all command line. The second, and the one I didn’t really consider until the troubles began is that there’s a different kernel. Really, the different kernel is the major difference since the GUI could be installed on the server, it’s just not part of the installer.

I made it through the first install just fine but on the first reboot there was a kernel panic with the message “the CPU is too old for this kernel“. Well, my CPU age shouldn’t be a problem. A quick Google search showed I wasn’t alone and that the problem was related to Parallels. I’m running the latest Parallels Desktop 3 which is build 5582. The kernel installed with Ubuntu 7.10 Server is 2.6.22-14-server.

The clearest solution I found was at Paul Annesley’s web site even though it was about installing Ubuntu Server 7.04 on Parallels. The key piece was how to replace the kernel before the initial startup. Since I’m using a newer version of Ubuntu Server there were some minor differences:

  1. I didn’t have to delay the Linux installation or switch the type to Solaris. It appears the CD-ROM detection problem was solved with either the latest Parallels or the latest Ubuntu. (I did have to do this when I installed Ubuntu 7.04.)
  2. I did have to follow the steps under “Start and Install”
  3. There were some changes in the “Roll Up Your Sleeves” section:
    When I ran the umount command there was nothing to unmount so there was an error which wasn’t a problem.
    Version 7.10 has a newer kernel so the remove command is:
    aptitude remove linux-server linux-image-server linux-image-2.6.22-14-server

I also had the same file system errors about time stamps being in the future that Paul mentioned.

The one annoying problem I have is that the system doesn’t completely power off. Even though it says the system is going to power down it ends with a “Unable to iterate IDE devices: No such file or directory” error then the System Halted message. Parallels thinks the VM is still active so warns me when I go to shut it down. This doesn’t seem to be causing any problems and the file system reports clean during the next startup.

I also noticed a ACPI error during boot up. I added acpi=off to the kernel line when booting and while that eliminated the acpi error it didn’t fix the shutdown problem.

The Parallels configuration screens are shown in the screen shots below in the order they appear:

As previously mentioned the OS type was changed to Linux – Other Linux kernel 2.6 post install but before the first startup. This is shown on the screen to the left.

While Parallels has put a lot of thought and effort into their Windows integration it appears Ubuntu support is still problematic and unofficial. While Ubuntu is listed in the OS drop down when creating a VM it’s not currently listed as a supported guest OS.

While I was working on the Ubuntu/Parallels problem I installed Ubuntu 7.10 Server on a VM under VMware Fusion and was surprised how easy and fast the installation was. But that’s another story and I haven’t used it enough to know if there are any non-obvious problems.

I’ll probably move forward running Ubuntu Server on VMware Fusion and leave this Parallels VM for experimentation. Anybody heavily using Ubuntu on Parallels? Is it stable post install?

Seagate FreeAgent Go 80GB USB External Drive

I was in Staples before Christmas and they had the Seagate FreeAgent Go external drives on sale. I’ve never bought a 2.5″ external drive before because of concerns over reliability. But at about fifty cents a gig and the small size I decided to get the 80GB version. The small size would make it easier to carry and use with my MacBook. The five year warranty assuages my reliability concerns a bit.

The 2.5″ 5400rpm drive is 4.8 x 0.7 x 3.9 inches in size and weighs less than 5 ounces. For you metric folks that’s 12.2 x 1.85 x 9.9 centimeters and 182 grams.

The drive draws power from the USB connection and does not have a external power supply. The supplied USB cable has two connections to plug into the computer. One connection is enough on my 13″ MacBook so I can get away with using one port.

The drive comes pre-formatted as NTFS for Windows so I used OS X’s disk utility to format it with the Mac OS X Extended (Journaled) file system. The Windows software is delivered on the drive, there’s no CD included, so it should be copied off before formatting the drive. The Windows software can be used to password protect the drive, run applications on multiple PCs and password protect the drive. I didn’t run the software and generally have a low expectation of bundled software but this ZDNet review seems to like the software.

I use the external drive on my MacBook for two primary purposes. The first is to hold the virtual machines I run with VMware. The second is as a Time Machine drive for backing up my documents and pictures folders (and nothing else). The drive has worked fine for these purposes. It took 20 minutes 13 seconds to read a 21.5GB file from the drive and 16 minutes 8 seconds to write the 21.GB file when connected to my 13″ MacBook.

 

Windows Home Server May Corrupt Some Files

I knew I was liking Windows Home Server (WHS) too much. Microsoft has posted knowledge base article 946676 which describes a potential file corruption issue with WHS. Affected software includes:

  • Windows Vista Photo Gallery
  • Windows Live Photo Gallery
  • Microsoft Office OneNote 2007
  • Microsoft Office OneNote 2003
  • Microsoft Office Outlook 2007
  • Microsoft Money 2007
  • SyncToy 2.0 beta
  • Intuit Quicken and QuickBooks may be affected
  • Torrent applications may be affected

The cause is a terse:

This issue may occur because of a recently discovered problem with Windows Home Server shared folders and with certain programs.

No work-around is posted, other than don’t use the apps with WHS. Microsoft has been able to reproduce the problem according to a blog post by the Windows Home Server team.

Microsoft has said they’d update the KB article when they have a fix but I would expect a software update to follow.

Update: Ed Bott at ZDNet has additional information on the bug. It’s harder to reproduce than the Microsoft KB lets on and requires the WHS to be under “extreme” load among other things.

Security Quest #15: Links & Numbers

 

Not much happening this holiday week so just some spam numbers and links.

Spam Counts

My primary mailbox (which manages multiple addresses) didn’t get any new spam messages and the 30-day count is down to four from last week’s seven.

My more public GMail address received a bunch of spam messages this past week, all of which was filtered by GMail. The thirty day count jumped to 176, up from 154 messages last week.

This site’s spam comment count jumped to 7,414, up 73 from last week. All were caught by the Spam Karma plugin.

News & Links

ArsTechnica.com: Malware construction kit authors arrested, to be tried – The Russians have arrested two malware toolkit authors.

 

CNet.com: Problems updating the Flash player in Firefox? Here’s help – The article provides the reasons I hate Flash player. What the rather long article explains is the steps necessary to remove the old, vulnerable versions of Flash Player.

Davidairey.co.uk: WARNING: Google’s GMail security failure leaves my business sabotaged – David has his GMail account hacked due to a vulnerability (since fixed) which led to him having his domain name stolen from him.

 

Engadget.com: Security exploit bricks HP and Compaq laptops – Engadget reports on a Polish security researching finding yet more exploits in HP/Compaq products.

 

Heise-Security.co.uk: Antivirus protection worse than a year ago – Heise Security points to a study that shows antivirus effectiveness has fallen from a year ago. One reason given is the “professionalization of the malware scene”.

 

Kaspersky.com: False positive detection – system file explorer.exe – Here’s the Kaspersky fix if you got bit by the false virus detection on explorer.exe

 

News.com: Kaspersky inadvertently quarantines Windows Explorer – Kaspersky had a problem with their virus definitions and quarantined explorer.exe as the Huhk-C virus.

 

Techdirt.com: Sears.com – Join Our Community… So We Can Spy On Your Every Online Move – Techdirt brings news of a report from CA that Sears.com’s “community” is really a ploy to get you to install the Comscore toolbar and watch your online moves.

Weekend Links: December 23, 2007

No Trail log this weekend, just some links that caught my attention.

AppleInsider.com: Mac OS X 10.5.2 to deliver sprawling list of fixes for Leopard – The first rumors I’ve seen about what to expect with OS X 10.5.2 which is expected in early 2008.

ArsTechnica.com: First look: Firefox 3 beta 2 officially released – Ars looks at Firefox 3 beta 3. They summarize "Overall, it’s another very impressive release that reflects the rapidly-growing robustness of Firefox 3."

ArsTechnica.com: Hands on with the new online version of OpenOffice.org – OpenOffice.org goes online, in beta

Engadget.com: Dell updates to Ubuntu 7.10 Gutsy Gibbon, adds DVD playback – Dell continues to sell some models with Ubuntu pre-installed. They’ll now have Ubuntu 7.10 on them.

MacFixIt.com: Security Update 2007-009 (#5): Uninstalling; More Safari crashes, slowness, and other maladies – MacFixIt reports some users are uninstalling Security Update 2007-009.

PCWorld.com: The 15 Biggest Tech Disappointments of 2007 – PC World seems to just hate technology.

TECH.BLORGE.com: Windows XP driver support begins to end – HP and other manufacturers aren’t writing XP drivers for some new hardware.

TUAW.com: Quick Look Plugin sites – The Unofficial Apple Weblog has info on some Quick Look plugin sites

TechCrunch.com: Bloglines Gets A Triple Dose Of New Features – The Bloglines RSS service picked up a three new feature

Apple Updates Security Update 2007-009

Apple released Security Update 2007-009 v1.1 which resolves an issue Safari has with certain web sites. This update replaces the original update. If you installed the original update this will install over it and require a reboot. The update is available through Automatic Update or as a direct download.

I haven’t experienced any actual Safari crashes, just some intermittent connectivity or website problems problems. I had one gray screen of death when Safari was running but that hasn’t returned since, even before this this update. So, it’s hard for me to say this latest update improved anything since the problems were intermittent, but I have visited numerous sites in Safari and it seems OK.

Security Quest #14: Apple Releases Security Patches

Apple released Security Update 2007-009 for OS X 10.4.11 Tiger and OS X 10.5.1 Leopard on Monday. The Apple support article lists 41 vulnerabilities that were patched. Patched components include Core Foundation, CUPS, Flash Player Plug-in, Launch Services, perl, python, Quick Look, ruby, Safari, Samba, Shockwave Plug-in, and Spin Tracer. The update requires a reboot.

The Leopard update was a 35.4MB download on my Intel Macs through Apple Automatic Update. It’s also available as a 35.6MB standalone download. There are two versions for Tiger. The PPC version is a 15.9MB standalone download and the Universal version is a 27.4MB standalone download.

I applied the update to my iMac, MacBook and Mac Mini. All are running OS X 10.5.1 Leopard on Intel cpu’s. I’ve been running the update for a little over a day without a specific problem but have had some new instability. Not necessarily due to the updates, but they are new problems.

On my iMac Parallels is a bit unstable. Windows XP SP2 is having some network connectivity issues and some keyboard issues. On the network side of things some connections time out through Windows while connecting fine in OS X. There’s so many potential failure points for Internet sites it’s hard to point the finger at the update and be sure. The keyboard issue within Parallels is more annoying. Sometimes the VM starts up in caps mode (while staying lower case in OS X) until I restart the VM. It also buffers keystrokes and falls behind my two-finger typing. But, I haven’t seen any info that others are experiencing the problem.

My MacBook has gotten the gray screen of death once since the update. It was soon after startup and Safari was the only app running. I think that was the first OS crash for the MacBook. It’s been OK since and I’m using it now.

The problems can’t be tied to the update and they aren’t persistent, but my Macs have been stable and the updates were the last change before the problems occurred. That’s usually the place to start.

 

Spam Counts

Time to start keeping track of my spam again, at least for awhile.

Spam to my primary GMail mailbox (which manages multiple email addresses) has had seven spam messages in the last 30 days. What’s interesting is which e-mail addresses were used. Back in October when I redesigned the web site I decided to stop using two addresses which appeared on the site. I removed one at that time. I missed the second one and it still appears on the web site in clear text/html since I removed the obfuscation plug-in. The one in clear text since October picked up three email messages that are clearly spam. The address that I removed was picked up by a software company and I received three “promotional” emails from them. You could say they’re on topic for the blog but there’s no unsubscribe link and GMail sees them as spam.  The seventh spam email was sent to my Yahoo email which I’ve never given out. I canceled AT&T/Yahoo as my ISP but the email account remains.

A GMail address I use extensively picked up 2 spam messages in the last 30 days, both blocked by GMail. I don’t use this account with places that are high spam risks but I’m actually surprised there’s not more yet.

A third GMail address that gets used almost exclusively where there’s a high risk of spam received 154 spam emails in the last thirty days. This is less than 50% of what the count was in June. On June 24th there were 343 spam messages in the previous 30 days.

Much to GMail’s credit their spam filter works well for me a they didn’t let anything through and didn’t flag anything I wanted.

I use the Spam Karma plugin for WordPress on this website. So far its caught 7,341 spam comments.

 

News & Links

Apple.com: About the security content of Java Release 6 for Mac OS X 10.4 – Apple released a java security update for mac OS X 10.4 Tiger. I don’t have any Macs running Tiger so don’t have any first hand experience.

Apple.com: Safari 3 Beta Updated – Safari 3.0.4 beta for Windows XP/Vista.

Centrally Managed iTunes Library on Windows Home Server

picture of some vinyl record singles I decided to move my iTunes Library to a shared folder on my Windows Home Server. The HP MediaSmart Server does come with the ability to stream songs to any computer running iTunes on your home network. But this only provides streaming ability, which I can already do from my iMac. I wanted to be able to manage the library from any Mac, not run multiple iTunes simultaneously. This does not provide the ability run multiple copies of iTunes at the same time, rather it allows the library to be stored on a server and managed from multiple computers.

This article at Mac OS X Hints, provides information on how to share iTunes between Mac and Windows. While the procedure basically worked I had some problems, possibly due to changes in iTunes since the article was written, possibly due to something unique in my setup or requirements.

I had two problems:

  1. iTunes would not let me select the library on the share from my iMac. When I option->clicked to open iTunes and browsed to the WHS it wouldn’t list anything (literally – no shares, no files). I ended up creating an alias (sym link) to the iTunes directory on my WHS music share. I could then browse to the alias and select the library. To add to the frustration this worked fine from my other Macs but still fails to work on my iMac, even moments after shutting down iTunes.
  2. Switching between the Windows and Mac versions of iTunes caused the library to rebuild each time. I didn’t like the delay. Besides, all my Windows machines are virtual machines running on a Mac so I don’t need Windows iTunes. This appears to be due to the way iTunes addresses the library and it updates the path to the files. But the procedure outlined in the Mac OS X Hints article does work and there may be a way to specify the location that will be both Mac and Windows happy.

You may want to turn off DS_Store files on network drives, if you haven’t already. The process for setting up my specific WHS configuration is documented below.

Setting Up the Share

I decided to create a folder called iTunes under the common Music share that was there upon delivery. Since my iTunes library was on my iMac I needed to set that up to connect to the share. I browsed to the share in finder to mount it and told OS X to save by id/password in my keychain. You can also mount it by selecting Go -> Connect to Server in the Finder menu. Type in your WHS name in the format smb://servername, where servername is your WHS. You’ll be prompted to pick the share and enter a ID/Password (if it’s not already saved in your keychain).

I want this share mounted all the time so I’ll add it to my start up items. To do this go into the Accounts panel in System Preferences. Select the ID and then the Login Items tab. Click the plus sign to add an item then browse to the new iTunes folder on the Windows Home Server. Click the Add button and it will appear in the startup list. To work seamlessly the id/password should have been added to the keychain when you manually connected.

Moving the iTunes Library

I moved the iTunes library from my iMac to the Windows Home Server by following the standard procedure for moving an iTunes library on a Mac with some minor modifications. Be sure to select a sub-directory of iTunes for the files, I created iTunes Music to match the standard. After finishing the standard move process (the bulleted items in the Mac OS X Hints article) I copied the iTunes Library file from my local iTunes folder to the iTunes folder on the share. I did not add the extension so it’s still Mac only.

I could not do the next step on my iMac until I created an alias. Browse (in Finder) to the iTunes directory in the WHS music share (not the “iTunes Music” folder with the song files, but the main iTunes directory.) Right-click (or control-click for one-button mice) the iTunes directory and select Make Alias from the menu. Then move the alias that was created to your local hard drive. I put mine in my home directory. I did not need to do this on my Mac Mini or MacBook.

Start iTunes by holding the option key when you click the icon (aka option->click it) browse to the alias you just created, then select the iTunes Library file and open it.

The album art will be missing so now’s a good time to copy it. Copy the contents of the Album Artwork folder (located in the iTunes Folder) from your local PC to the iTunes directory on the network share. I did this with iTunes shut down (not sure if it matters but to be safe) and made sure the network directories were empty of files.

At this point I just option->click iTunes on each of my Macs the first time I start iTunes and select the shared iTunes Library file.

I still haven’t deleted my old local iTunes library although I did rename the iTunes folder.

Additional Information

I haven’t purchased or used any iPod games although the one demo game I had (Vortex) seemed to move to the server share just fine. This may have occurred when I first synced my iPod as I was told some purchased items were missing and I let them be restored from the iPod. I didn’t notice the directory earlier but since I didn’t have any games I didn’t think to specifically check. You may also need to manually copy the iPod games directory and library file to the share, or make sure they get restored from your iPod.

I did try using iTunes for Windows and Mac to access the same library. This did work but every time I switched the OS the Library was rebuilt which was time consuming. Since I have no real need for iTunes on Windows I decided to drop it.

Since doing this I’ve had problems keeping my sync connection to Apple TV. Apple TV still only syncs with my iMac and not with any Mac that has the library open. The iTunes name displayed for sharing is still unique on each computer. But, I’ve had to set up syncing for my Apple TV to iTunes a couple of times since setting up the shared library. I’m unable to reproduce the problem on demand by going to the different copies of iTunes and starting them and then checking my iMac iTunes. But eventually it just disappears. I’ve never had a iTunes sync problem before but others have so this may be unrelated to the shared iTunes library. Or, it could be related to the DRM that limits Apple TV to one iTunes library for syncing. The good news is all I’ve had to do is re-authorize it, it doesn’t clear the hard drive and cause everything to resync again or force me to reconfigure what I want synced.

My iTunes Library file consists of about 8,100 titles and is about 19MB. When shutting down iTunes over a wireless connection there is a short but noticeable delay while it saves the library. Over my 802.11n network it takes less than 10 seconds and over 802.11g it takes about 20 seconds to exit iTunes. Not a problem for me, but noticeable.

Backup Considerations

Windows Home Server has the ability to duplicate shares which means it makes sure there’s a copy of the file on two different physical drives. Not exactly mirroring, but similar in concept. With the iTunes Library on my Mac it was being backed up in Time Machine and on my drive clone, two different pieces of hardware. On WHS it’s on two physical drives but not truly backed up. If a WHS drive fails I’m OK, but if WHS itself or the server hardware fails the files are trapped. Also, if something gets deleted from WHS accidentally it gets deleted from the duplicate drive too. The same with corruption.

I’ll probably set up something with ChronoSync to copy the library down to a local drive either as a current backup or to be picked up by Time Machine. The benefit of Time Machine is I’m not locked in to restoring only the latest files. If I missed some deletion corruption I can go back. Unfortunately my iTunes library is just to large to back up over the Internet to something like Amazon S3. It would max out my upload bandwidth for weeks.