• Linux,  Work

    Migrating mail from KMail to Evolution

    At work I am busy migrating some Linux desktop users from an old Slackware 12.0 system with KDE 3.5 to Debian Squeeze with GNOME 2.30. So I had to migrate the e-mails from KMail to Evolution, a task which was not that trivial as you would hope at first. On these systems, the mails were saved in ~/Mail. This directory did not contain a standard maildir structure or mbox files, but some weird mix of those two. I do not know whether this is typical for KMail or whether this was a peculiarity on these systems because the e-mails have been migrated from even other e-mail clients and versions in…

  • Linux,  Work

    A wise server migration

    Yesterday I migrated two servers at work to a new machine. The old machines were pretty underpowered: a Pentium III 1 Ghz system (with 384 MB RAM if I remember correctly) and a Pentium 4 system. The new machine is a Dell Poweredge R410 with a Xeon E5504 processor, 12 GB RAM and a PERC H700 RAID controller (which is actually a LSI MegaSAS 9260) with 3 750 GB SATA disks in RAID 5. The hardware is pretty nice (although I am not happy at all with the way Dell treats its customers, so I will rather prefer other vendors in the future, but maybe more about that in a…

  • Linux,  Work

    Server migration

    Since two days, I have merged the main servers used by two research laboratories at work. One server was an old Linux server which really needed a hardware upgrade, and the other one was a Mac Pro machine running a flaky OS X Leopard. The new server is of course running Linux: Debian Lenny. It was a very interesting experience: working out procedures to migrate the mailboxes (from Dovecot on the Linux server and Cyrus on the Mac server to Cyrus on the new server), finding out how to set up one NIC in two different subnets (especially the routing is a little bit tricky), getting all services hooked up…

  • Linux,  Work

    Updating to Debian Lenny

    Last week-end, Debian Lenny 5.0 was finally released. I use Debian on most servers I manage at work. A few of them were already using Lenny when it was still the testing branch, but most are still on Debian Etch. So this morning I decided to test upgrade one of the less critical Etch systems to Lenny. That system is only used to store back-up files from other systems, so it would not be a problem if that machine was off line for a couple of hours. According to the release notes, you should rather use aptitude instead of apt to upgrade, so that’s what I did. All went well,…

  • Linux,  Work

    Data recovery from a USB key

    Some time ago, somebody from my work had problems¬† reading files from a USB memory stick. In Windows, she just got the message that the disk was not formatted and so none of the files could be accessed anymore. I checked the disk in Linux. The kernel still found a partition on the disk, but it was not mounted automatically. I tried to mount it by hand, but that failed. Then I decided to run TestDisk, to verify the partition table was really correct. I used dd to copy the whole disk to an image file on my hard drive, because I prefer not to do these kind of experiments…

  • Linux,  Mandriva,  Work

    Using KVM on Mandriva 2009.0

    Introduction My new Dell Latitude E6400 laptop, is my first system which support hardware visualization. It also has 4 GB RAM, making this an ideal machine to start experimenting with KVM, the kernel based virtual machine system which is now integrated in Linux itself. In the past I had already used different virtualization systems. VMWare Server is annoying because you have to rebuild the kernel modules by hand each time you install a new kernel and it’s not Free (as in Free Speech). Virtualbox handles the modules rebuild nicely thanks to the use of DKMS in Mandriva, but always randomly crashes on an assert, making it totally unusable for serious…

  • Linux,  Mandriva,  Work

    Mandriva Linux 2009.0 on a Dell Latitude E6400

    Introduction A few weeks ago the hard drive in my Apple Powerbook G4 which I was using at work, had died. As this machine was already a few years old, it was already planned to be replaced soon. The hard drive crash only accelerated things a bit. I wanted a not too heavy laptop with 14″ screen and a high resolution (1440×900) screen and an Intel CPU of the latest generation (style Core 2 Duo P8400/P8600/T9400). Lenovo’s Thinkpad T400 with such a high resolution screen seemed to be difficult (impossible?) to find here in Belgium currently and generally Thinkpads are rather costly here. HP’s Elitebook 6930p did not seem to…

  • Linux,  Work

    File format war

    At work, I’m currently helping out with a report. In our department, there is a mix of different OSes en office suites, mainly Mac OS X (MS Office 2008), Windows (Office 2003) and Linux (OpenOffice.org 2.4 and 3.0). Because of this, I very often get involved in the office file format mess these days. Mac and Windows users never have heard of things like open standards and OpenOffice.org. They use whatever is used by default by their MS Office suite, which generally gives either proprietary doc files or docx files which are in practice almost as proprietary as doc (office 2008 docx definitely is not OpenXML!). While doc is pretty…

  • Linux,  Work

    Quick look at Kubuntu 8.04 KDE 4 Remix

    A few weeks ago, a researcher at work received a new HP 6910p laptop. As he’s a Kubuntu Linux user, we decided to try the new Kubuntu 8.04 KDE 4 remix to get an idea of all the new features in KDE 4. The first impression was not very good. Already quickly after the installation, we discovered lots of bugs and missing features. It was impossible to drag and drop an application to the panel at the bottom. The battery monitor looked huge and ugly compared to kpowersave, which is what we are used too. There was no possibility to suspend to RAM and suspend to disk in the user…

  • Linux,  Work

    Reducing power consumption

    Last week, I installed a new 2.6.25.4 kernel on CoMO’s HPC cluster. The cluster consists of 9 IBM System x3550 machines with each 2 quad core Xeon E5320 CPUs (1.8 Ghz) and 8 GB RAM connected by a gigabit ethernet switch. According to the PDU, under full load, the power consumption is about 12.1 A (which should equal about 2800 Watt). Now in the new kernel I enabled some power saving features, such as cpufreq (ondemand governor), tickless kernel (dynamic ticks), USB suspend, etc. When the cluster is idle, it only uses 9.4 A now.. That’s a reduction by more than 20%! I still don’t understand why not all distributions…