Planet MCslp RSS feed links

I noticed today that the feed links on Planet MCslp were linked incorrectly to Coalface.This only affects the links that were provided in the panel – if you’ve subscribed by clicking on the Subscribe button in your browser, or just supplied the main Planet MCslp URL (, you should be subscribed just fine. If you think you’ve got the wrong links, the way to check is examine what posts have appeared in your Planet MCslp feed – you should be getting a range of posts, including in the last week, four from Laptop Solaris, five from Computerworld, and three yesterday from the new Mobile blog generated by the camera on my mobile phone.

Sun announces new servers and workstations

Sun have announced a series of new servers and workstations, just as I finish up testing of the T1000 and begin testing of the Ultra 20M2.The key elements are:

  • An updated version of the T2000 servers under the Netra brand, designed for the needs of the telecommunications industry
  • An improvement to the T1000 to improve reliability (by 23%) and boost disk performance by up to 300%
  • New Ultra 25 workstation provides a 300% improvement in performance, designed for Java development

There’s a more detailed press release and a brief summary at Computerworld.

Sun Studio 11 Commands

I’m really only just getting used to the Sun Studio 11 environment after years of using gcc, so quick guides to the Sun Studio 11 command line environment are a great way to get familiar.There’s just such a list on BigAdmin: Commands for Sun Studio 11 Software.There are some gems here I wasn’t aware of, like xscapture for capturing user interface design from a running Motif/Xt application; anaylyzer for a GUI performance monitor and dmake, for distributed building.I think I need to spend some time going through each tool on this list and finding out how best to use it.

Ultra 20M2 Arrived

Sun have very kindly me a sun Ultra 20M2 to test. I’ve only had it a few days, and already I’m hooked.The spec of the unit they have sent me is:

  • 1 AMD Opteron Model 1218 Processor (Dual Core)
  • 4GB RAM
  • 250GB SATA HD
  • NVIDIA Quadra FX 3500 Graphics Card
  • 20″ TFT LCD

The LCD monitor is superb, and highly recommended; I’ve been using an identical for years, as the Sun unit is a rebadged 20″ NEC unit (my NEC 2070NX only differs by the inclusion of a USB hub).In use the machine is fast and very responsive. Raw computing power is available if you want it, but the dual core approach means that using the machine, even when compiling something in the background, remains just as responsive.For an example of the raw power, I did a very simple test of building the 5.1 version of the MySQL Reference Manual in PDF format. This is a consuming process, as it converts the XML into FO (through XSLT) and then uses Apache’s FOP took to translate the FO into a PDF.

  • Apple Mac Book Pro (2.16GHz Intel Core Duo): 13 minutes, 2.921 seconds
  • Apple iMac (1.83GHz Intel Core Duo): 13 minutes, 26.779 seconds
  • Sun Ultra 20M2 (2.8 GHz Opteron Model 1218 Dual Core): 8 minutes, 32.033 seconds

Full reviews, breakdowns, performance testing and other more detailed thoughts as time goes on.

Using alternative methods to manage and monitor your Unix Servers

I have for a long time been using a number of non-typical solutions for the management of my internal servers and, up until recently, those of my clients. I mentioned this in one of my first posts at Computerworld (RSS as and administration tool), so it was only a matter of time before I shared the techniques with others. You can now read my new tutorial are developerWorks on using alternative methods to manage and monitor your Unix servers. There are a number of key elements here:

  • Using a blog to record changes and important events
  • Using a Wiki to record configuration and setup information
  • Using Subversion to record configuration history
  • Some other, related, points such as security, onsite/offsite considerations and how to combine services to simplify the process even further.

Go and read the full article for more information: Use alternative methods to manage and monitor your UNIX servers.

Cool tools for hot laptops

Belkin have announced two cool tools for using your hot laptop – and I’m talking about the temperature here. You can see them at Gizmodo: Belkin Releases Lap-Friendly CushTop, PocketTop Laptop Accessories. The CushTop is the one I’m most interested in. I have a wooden unit that I’ve been using for the last seven or eight years that Sharon bought for Christmas. It’s great, particularly on the sofabed here in the office, or the bed proper, but it doesn’t work so great with the new squishy leather sofa. There’s a better description of the CushTop on the Belkin website (Belkin: CushTop). The price is good too, but I guess I’ll have to wait a bit for it to hit the UK. The PocketTop looks good too, and I like the ability to keep all the cables with the laptop, but it’s not going to work with the 17″ MBP…

Using static disks in Parallels for performance

Using a static disk, or even just multiple disks, within Parallels can make a big difference to performance. This is particularly true with Windows virtual machines within OS X; I’ve managed to change the boot time from about 30 seconds to under 20 just by changing to a static disk for VM. The default disk in Parallels is an expanding type – this saves disk space, because Parallels automatically adds to the size of the disk as you need it, but it also means that Parallels has to manage the allocated disk space, adding to the file used. Not only does the management imply a small overhead, there is a much larger chance of the file being fragmented. A more annoying effect is that the constant use of the expanding disk with virtual memory under Windows, means that size of the disk may increase just because you opened a large application once. You can get round this by creating a statically-sized disk, and then setting the virtual memory within your virtual host, to use this statically sized disk. To do this:

  1. Shutdown your virtual machine – you cannot do this with a machine in the paused stated, because you are effectively adding new hardware to the machine.
  2. Click Edit to edit the configuration for the virtual machine.
  3. Click Add, and select a new hard disk
  4. Unclick the Expanding checkbox and set the size; probably 1-2GB is fine, but keep in mind you will lose this amount of disk space permanently, even if your VM doesn’t use it all.
  5. Save your configuration.
  6. Start up your VM and configure the new drive.

For Windows:

  1. Log in as a user with Administrator privileges.
  2. Right click on My Computerand choose Manage.
  3. Choose Local Disk Management.
  4. Create a new partition/volume.
  5. Once the new disk is ready to use, right click on My Computer again, and choose Properties.
  6. Click the Advanced tab.
  7. Click Settings under Performance.
  8. Click the Advanced tab.
  9. Click Change under Virtual Memory.
  10. Reconfigure the VM settings, creating the new settings for the new drive (I recommend a lower value of 50MB and an upper value 2-10MB below the maximum size of the disk. Windows will use the minimum and dynamically increase it’s usage up until the maximum.
  11. Remove the VM configuration for the original system/expanding disk.

You should be all set.It’s probably a good idea to run the Parallels Compressor and reduce the size of your disk now that you are no longer using the disk for virtual memory. For Linux, Solaris and other Unix variants you might want to run, the process is of course slightly different. For some environments, there are other benefits, but I’ll cover that in a separate post.