Friday, 23 November 2007

Living on the Cloud: A lookback

The experiment to move a lot of my data to the cloud has been very successful. I now use my Google Mail and Yahoo Mail accounts regularly, Google Docs quite often, and Google Reader has become a part of my daily routing.

I'm using Yahoo Mail's AddressGuard feature regularly and it's been brilliant at giving me a way to stop companies using my real address. To be fair, I've not had a single spam mail from either Google or Yahoo.

Google Docs has been developing nicely and I especially like the collaboration features (the ability to allow others to access and update specified documents, versioning etc). It's not a perfect product, and there are better online office apps available, but it's developing quickly and has the advantages of having the resources of Google behind it.

But it's Google Reader that has had the most impact. It's solved the problem of keeping RSS feeds in sync, has a speedy interface that can be keyboard driven and actually allows me to keep up to date with a large number of sites and blogs.

There is still more to be done. I'm not synchronising my contacts, tasks, notes and calendar from Exchange at work to a cloud based service at the moment, but as I have a Blackberry Pearl, I can easily access my data on the move.

For the future, I would like to look further into online collaboration for church use. Some future form of Google Docs might be the answer, or there might be a better solution out there...

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Fixes to Solaris Express on VMware Server

Having installed the VMware Tools into my newly created Solaris Express VM, I discovered that the X screen resolution was absolutely massive (something like 2000x1000 pixels). The solution was to edit /etc/X11/xorg.conf from a command line login and remove the unwanted Modeline entries. As I wanted to run my VM in 1024x768, I removed all other lines, and then exited the shell. When the desktop manager reloaded, the screen was at the desired resolution.

The second problem was that installing the VMware Tools changed the network device from pcn0 to vmxnet0, but the /etc/hostname.pcn0 file remained and a new file was not created. I renamed this to /etc/hostname.vmxnet0 and restarted networking (rebooting will also work!).

Sendmail complains if it does not have a fully qualified domain name. The easiest fix it to edit /etc/hosts and add on a domain name alongside your host entry.

These are fairly minor changes than need to be made and the installation is looking pretty decent so far.

Friday, 9 November 2007

Making virtualisation a reality

My second Shuttle is now up and running as a VMware Server. The host operating system is a fairly small version of OpenSUSE 10.2 which on its own seems very nice.

So far, I have created a Solaris Express installation which I'll need for doing the sysadmin exam, and I've just finished installing CentOS 4.5 which should mirror closely our hosting provider. I want to create a local development version of the MBC website.

After months of procrastinating (and getting married!), the VM project is finally kicking off!

Saturday, 3 November 2007

Google Mail to get IMAP

Some people are reporting that Gmail is introducing IMAP support. This is a real bonus for those of us that want to access our mail on the cloud while at the same time maintaining a synchronised offline copy.

My current system for handling Gmail is to download it all through POP3 (and keeping a copy on the server). Email that is sent from my Thunderbird client goes through the Gmail SMTP servers which save a copy of the mail in my sent items "folder".

While this works, it's not as good as real IMAP. It looks like Google are making some web UI improvements to Gmail as part of the upgrade and although I don't have this feature yet, it looks pretty promising.