Archive for October, 2009

Reading Virtual Memory Stats

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

The vm_stat command in Mac OS X will show you the free, active, inactive, wired down, copy-on-write, zero filled, and reactivated pages for virtual memory utilization. You will also see the pageins as well as pageouts. If you wish to write these statistics routinely then you can use the vm_stat command followed by an integer. For example, to see the virtual memory statistics every 5 seconds:

vm_stat 5

NetBook Upgrades for Windows 7

Monday, October 26th, 2009

Chances are that if you have a NetBook you don’t have a DVD drive. And chances are if that NetBook is running a previous version of Windows that you’re probably thinking about upgrading it to Windows 7. If you are using a NetBook with Vista then you might want to check out the new Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool. With the Download Tool you would use a 4GB USB drive to cache the installer files and install Windows 7. Therefore you wouldn’t need an optical drive! But you will need the .NET Framework 2.0 or later and to configure the BIOS to boot off the jump drive.

Happy upgrades and if you need any help, as always, feel free to call 318.

318 Video on “Gone Phishing”

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

Windows 7 Officially Available

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

Windows 7 has been released officially released. You see the wacky people standing in line and you know that’s just wrong when you can get it on Microsoft.com as an immediate downloadhttp://store.microsoft.com/microsoft/Windows-Windows-7/category/102. All that time spent driving home could instead be spent running the installer and crossing your fingers that your hardware works! Well, if you’re going from XP or Vista then you should be fine on that point… Windows 3.1, maybe not so much…

New Mac mini w/ Mac OS X Server for $999

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

Apple has released a new Mac mini that retails for $999. You might be thinking that $999 is just a little bit high for a Mac mini – and you would be right, that is, if it didn’t come with Mac OS X Server. The combination of the price point, the hardware and the software make the new Mac mini with Mac OS X Server a perfect purchase for small businesses and servers geared for use as specific utility servers!

The new Mac mini server comes with no optical drive, which is great because instead you get a pair of internal drives that can be setup in a RAID to protect your data! The server also comes with 802.11n, Ethernet and bluetooth – allowing a variety of uses.

Call 318 today for more information on this great new product from Apple!

senuTi

Monday, October 19th, 2009

Ever lost the data on your computer and then realized that your media library was on your iPod or iPhone but not on your computer? Or maybe you had some data backed up but not your massive media library? Well what you need is iTunes backwards: copy the media files from your iPod or iPhone to you computer. Luckily there’s Senuti, which is iTunes spelled backwards because it does just that; it copies data from your mobile device into the iTunes library. This should not be used as a backup tool but it does make for a nice recovery path in some cases!

The iPhone USB Jump Drive

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

When you plug in the iPhone, iTunes opens up automatically as does iPhoto if you have any images in your Photo Roll. But what if you want to use your iPhone as a regular old USB jump drive? Run this little program:
http://code.google.com/p/iphonedisk/

Thawte No Longer Offering Free Certificates

Monday, October 12th, 2009

Thawte is no longer offering free accounts for mail. As an interim, they are going to offer a free year (through a partner deal) of VeriSign’s similar service which is then $19 after that initial year.
https://search.thawte.com/support/ssl-digital-certificates/index?page=content&id=AD196&actp=LIST&viewlocale=en_US

When to Replace APC Batteries

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

All good networking server setups require a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) to keep the equipment going long enough to properly shutdown after a power outage has occurred.

What is sometimes neglected is to regularly check your battery to ensure that it’s holding a charge, should the time come when you have to use it.

This is done by connecting the UPS to the network or a Server, and then running the proper diagnostic testing on the battery. Often times the software or the controller will test the battery on it’s own interval, but without the software you may not notice the gradual changes that occur when the battery slowly is no longer holding as much as a charge, or is able to keep the system up, as long as it used to.

Once this occurs, it is time to replace your battery.

Here’s a scenario, you have recently been assigned a new client, and they already have a power structure in place. A week or two goes by. One of the UPSs lights are all green, but constantly blinking. What does this mean, and what do you do? Here’s a little guide you can follow:

Symptom
Battery light is Red
Explanation
The battery is no long holding a charge

Symptom
The charge light is green, but blinking.
Explanation
The battery is only able to keep the power going less than what it is supposed to. Default is usually 2 minutes.

If you see red on the battery, then it’s a no brainer, time to replace the battery.

Back to the scenario, if you see blinking green, it’s a little tricky. This doesn’t mean that the battery is necessarily dead, it just means that the controller is saying that the battery can’t hold power on it’s own for longer than 2 minutes. Here’s what you do:
1. Login to the APC monitoring software and perform a runtime calibration test
2. If after the calibration test the lights are still blinking – it’s time to get a new battery. Sometimes though, it will return back to normal after the run time calibration test (about 1 hr after). In which case, all it needed was a good kick in the pants.

How to get a new battery:
1. Write down the model number of the unit and also get the serial number (The exact model number is at the rear of the unit, or behind the face plate.)
2. Get the serial number of the unit (by the face plate).
3. Get the serial number of the battery (on the battery towards the face plate).
Note: On some APC UPSs you can remove the battery, while the UPS is still plugged in so as not to have to shutdown servers.
4. Call APC to see if the battery is under warranty. If not, it’s still recommended to buy a battery through APC since they give a warranty on them.

Replacing the battery:
Once you get the new battery, check to see if the battery is hot swappable. If it is, go ahead and replace it with the server still connected. After replacing the battery INITIATE A RUN TIME CALIBRATION TEST FROM THE APC MONITORING SOFTWARE. If you don’t, the time wont be calibrated on the APC and you may get false results, or the battery may run down a lot sooner than it should. If you can’t install the APC monitoring software, then you will need to:
1. Charge the battery until it is full on the front panel
2. Power down all of the servers, plug a CRT or another non critical item into the UPS and unplug the UPS from it’s power source. Allow it to run down, and then charge it again. Doing this will initiate a automatic built in run time calibration.

TIPS:
Once you’ve been at a client long enough you will get a feel for how long a battery lasts in a UPS. It’s recommend that you replace it around the time that you’ve noticed it tends to begin to deteriorate. If they were all installed around the same time, try to replace them all at the same time – because if one fails the others are probably soon to follow (especially if they’re the same model).

Greylisting and Snow Leopard Server

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

10.6 has introduced the use of Greylisting as a spam prevention mechanism. In short, it denies the first attempt for an MTA to deliver a message, once the server tries a second time (after an acceptable amount of delay, proving it’s not an overeager spammer), it can be added to a temporary approval list so future emails are delivered without a delay.

The problem with this is many popular mail systems, including gmail, don’t exactly behave as expected, so the messages may take hours before they are delivered. To get around this, the people championing greylisting suggest maintaining a whitelist of these popular, but ‘non standard’ mail servers, allowing them to bypass the greylist process entirely and accepting the messages the first time around. The other problem is for companies that send mail through mxlogic and other similar services, the mail is sent from the first available server, potentially causing delayed because they were being sent by a different mxlogic box each time.

The problem with this under 10.6 is there is no gui or interface to inform you that greylisting is enabled (it gets turned on when you enable spam filtering), and so it just takes forever for messages to hit your inbox. You can start managing the whitelist / greylist system, or you can just turn it off:

cp /etc/postfix/main.cf /etc/postfix/main.cf.bak

vi /etc/postfix/main.cf

change line 667 from:

smtpd_recipient_restrictions = permit_sasl_authenticated permit_mynetworks reject_unauth_destination check_policy_service unix:private/policy permit

To the following (removing check_policy_service unix:private/policy):

smtpd_recipient_restrictions = permit_sasl_authenticated permit_mynetworks reject_unauth_destination permit

You can then run postfix with the reload verb to reload the config files, as follows:

postfix reload

Open Directory Auto Archiver

Saturday, October 3rd, 2009

Have you struggled with Open Directory backups? Do you open up Server Admin and click on the Archive button when an alarm in your calendar tells you to do so? Well, we’re gonna’ help you out then. We’re going to automate backing up your Open Directory. We’re going to invoke the backups through launchd and we’re going to keep them for an amount of time you determine and automatically prune the old ones. We’re going to let you choose the location to store them and the password to unlock them. And we’re going to let you do all this through a graphical package called the 318 Auto Archiver.

Originally written for our own staff, we now open it up to you as well.