MPU Meeting Friday 7th November 2008

Buildtools Project

Stephen has renamed the release command to micro; he's updated documentation; he gave a COs talk; and he's converted more components.

Power Management Project

Chris didn't get time to work on the project this week.

LCFG Component Testing Project

No further progress to report.

Misc Development: interim virtualisation solution

Alastair has been working on virtualisation, specifically Xen. The current release looks seriously unstable. It can only support one DICE guest on a DICE host: two DICE guests makes the host panic. This doesn't seem to be a hardware problem as it happens on several different machines.

Before that Alastair tried then abandoned Citrix Xen Server Express (which has similar functionality to VMware ESXi). PXE was unreliable and there were CDROM disc errors. However when the ISO was uploaded to NFS or SCSI it was fine. Citrix could also support two VMs at the same time. But local ISO doesn't work. Alastair has been using HVM as paravirtualisation doesn't work with the DICE install.

ESXi is certainly more polished and stable than the Citrix equivalent. However ESXi guest consoles have to be viewed through a Windows-only GUI, whereas with Citrix one can ssh to the host and effectively get a serial console. This is probably also possible with VMware on payment of extra cash, but with Citrix it's free.

We need to use these "server" virtualisation tools because the more lightweight "desktop" virtualisation software such as Virtualbox lacks scriptable or text-based control and generally has to be configured using GUIs, and isn't designed to run guests continuously for a long time.

Misc Development: PXE configuration using spanning maps

Stephen has mostly finished this. There are two new components, pxeserver and pxeclient. pxeserver can be used by itself to reproduce our current PXE configuration, or the two can be used together to produce a configuration that uses spanning maps. The documentation isn't yet finished.


DIY DICE under VMware
Alastair has now documented this for static hosts. Documenting it for roaming hosts is more complex and will be tackled later.

bugzilla is up and running and largely configured with LCFG. Alastair suggested that Chris experiment with adding an extra bugzilla instance for e.g. LCFG before switching the bugzilla service to this new installation.

New Inventory
There is still a problem with DIY DICE: Stephen will contact the managers of affected profiles. The changeover is now almost complete: we now just need to remove the interim sysinfo macro overrides from LCFG source files. However before this is done we need to make sure that User Support is happy with the new inventory tools. There's a problem with auth.users: this currently only gets synced from the database once per day, which is a problem with new users or new machines. We may need to sync once per hour or so, and we may need to get the database to generate the info more regularly too.

Server reboots
All servers need to be rebooted to pick up the new SL5 kernel. Stephen and Chris will do it between them.

GDM theme
The new DICE theme will be in the next stable release.

Apple keyboard
No luck with this (RT#38897). We'll suggest consulting the Occupational Therapist.

Optiplex 760
Alastair has ordered one. The 755 was scheduled for availability until January but it has gone from the web site so it appears that Dell has withdrawn it early and without notice and imposed the 760 on us. It also seems so far that the University is going to accept this behaviour. Alastair has ordered one and Stephen will try it out. The spec doesn't look promising. If necessary there are other procurement agreements which we're allowed to use, and we may have to resort to using them.

New Storage Arrays
Alastair and Craig will spend a day the week after next making sure that the dual path and dual controller stuff works with them.

LCFG Package Lists doc
Stephen has filled in the gaps here. Chris will go back and review it.

Installroot on Linux
The problem had been that the installroot needed to write to /tmp, but nothing was mounted locally and it was trying and failing to write over NFS. Stephen solved this with tmpfs. Also, NFS needed the norootsquash option. It's now all working. Stephen will put it on tummy. It'll be configured using dice/options/pxe_root_server.h.

Forum server moves
We need to re-rack our Forum-based servers before the Infrastructure Unit's rack rotations on the 18th, unless we want the machines concerned to be down for several hours. Stephen and Chris will do it between them.
tobermory Now re-racked
blurt Rack now rotated
figgy Rack now rotated
prague Now re-racked
tummy Now re-racked
lochranza Rack now rotated
budapest Now re-racked
telford Rack now rotated

This Week

Alastair will:

  • Order R805s
  • Work on virtualisation, especially writing up what's been done so far
  • Work on his LCFG Users Day talk.

Chris will:

  • Move servers
  • Reboot servers
  • Make an LCFG skin for Bugzilla 3
  • Tidy RT configs
  • Power management project
  • Write up comments on the DIYDICE docs for Alastair
  • Review package lists page

Stephen will:

  • Move servers
  • Reboot servers
  • Think about the testing project
  • Move the PXE NFS root to _tummy_
  • Work on his LCFG Users' Day talk
  • MPU RT duty
  • Installroot on Linux
  • New inventory

-- ChrisCooke - 11 Nov 2008

Topic revision: r8 - 19 Nov 2008 - 13:02:34 - ChrisCooke
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