Does breaking things count as progress?

How about multiple breakages?

So far I’ve managed to compile FreeNAS with varying degrees of success and failure. Either I’m not getting the commands right half the time or I’ve tinkered with something I shouldn’t have and reduced the reliability.


FreeNAS, FreeBSD and fucking FFmpeg

Hitting a brick wall when you’re close to getting something finished is one of those things in life that you hope will never happen but generally tends to.  It’s exactly what happened to me yesterday in my quest to make a package for Serviio that I could just install on FreeNAS.

Creating the FreeBSD build environment on my PC seemed as though it would be simple enough, throw up VirtualBox, throw FreeBSD at it and hopefully job done.  In actuality it was even easier than I’d expected when I followed the guide that I found on the FreeNAS forums the other day (see my earlier post).

Problem was that I know absolutely nothing about FreeBSD in general and that after many hours of bashing my head against building FFmpeg it all came down to one simple thing.  I should have rebooted when it all started going wrong!

Live and learn!

Google Contacts meet Google Plus

Well, I don’t know who’s smoking crack at Google this week but the chocolate factory definitely needs to start taking some samples and testing for illegal substances.

Apparently in the latest bit of joined up thinking everything in your Google Plus circles is now included in your Google Contacts.

Now at first glance this might sound like a really good idea.  If you know “Jimmy” on Google Plus it makes sense that you can easily e-mail him from Google Mail using your Google Contacts, right?

Well, so far, so good.  That makes perfect sense… the bit that doesn’t however is it also adds pages that you follow to your Google Contacts.  That’s right, if you do the G+ equivalent of liking something on Facebook, it’ll add itself to your contacts.

To borrow an old line “whoever thought this up should now be dragged out into the street and shot… twice“.  There is no logic behind this.  Why the fuck would I want Coca-Cola, Nike, The Rolling Stones in my contacts? (PS: Not saying I like or dislike any of these, just examples people).

Thankfully I’m using Soocial which can manage contacts between multiple Google Mail accounts and has allowed me to restore my contacts to a useable state.

That’s LAME

Well, whilst on my mission to make Serviio and FreeNAS live in perfect harmony as simply as possible, I’ve just stumbled upon the fact that LAME has been updated to version 3.99.2.

Does anyone have a summary of the differences / new features  in version 3.99 as the changelog is absolutely enormous and it made my head hurt when I started trying to read it.

Fiddling with FreeNAS

A few months ago I purchased a HP Microserver because it had become necessary to improve my storage arrangements at home.  Before then I had stored things, well actually everything, on a ReadyNAS Duo that had a been running on a pair of 500GB that mirrored each other for redundancy.  This was not an ideal situation and because I was running out of space I had considered removing the mirror.

Switch to something like the HP Microserver seemed ideal because:

  1. I could run whatever I wanted on it because it was effectively a PC in its own right.
  2. I would have 8TB of storage which was a vast improvement over the ReadyNAS.
  3. 4 drives would give me improved redundancy and there would be various configurations that I could choose to suit my needs.

Skipping forward to today I have had my Microserver for a good few months and have run it using FreeNAS but now I’m getting that nerd itch because it’s not running quite exactly how I want it.

Currently I have it so that it’s running FreeNAS and Serviio on top of that to serve my music up to my PS3, etc. but the current method of having to dig into the console to get it all working again every time FreeNAS releases an update is not sitting well with me.

With this in mind I’ve just decided to follow this guide over on the FreeNAS forums and set up a build environment which with any luck I will be able to use to slipstream Serviio into FreeNAS.

Cross your fingers!

Tweets do not site content make

It struck me today that “social networking” whilst a great way of keeping in touch with people was actually sucking all the content away from my websites, especially this blog.

I’ve had this site since 2002 in one version or another.  Ever since Twitter and Facebook showed up though it’s been even more seriously neglected.

Why?  Well because having thought about it a bit social networking sites are all basically big content whores and that actually that’s what this blog was created for, content.

So, with a renewed outlook, I’ve taken away all the rubbish mini updates (statuses / tweets) that I’ve passed off on here for ages and replaced them with… nothing.

Lets see if that gets me to update this thing more than once a year!

Fix broken portage on RPS running OVH Release 2

It was always going to happen.

With my current web host (OVH) when setting up my server (RPS) I chose to run it using their custom version of gentoo Linux (OVH Release 2).  They offer a number of choices but this seemed like the best pick because it was their release running on their hardware so I figured it would just get the job done.

That was all fine until I went and broke it.  Well, when I say broke it, I didn’t break it exactly so much as stupidly try to update it so that it would be running the latest shiny version of things.

This was out not a sensible plan and the net upshot was that I broke the portage system.  Impressively though gentoo didn’t fall over despite my ineptitude and kept serving up my websites (including this one) without issue.  The only thing was, I had no idea how to put things right!

So, after much tinkering behind the scenes (with gentoo still managing to keep going despite me doing my best to knock lumps out of it and wreck it completely) I managed to get things back on a proper footing, i.e. a working Release 2 running the latest patches from OVH.

Here’s what I did to fix the mess I created which I’m sharing because I thought it might be useful to other people out there who have also “tinkered” with their RPS and struggle, as I did, to read all the technical support that’s mainly found in French on the OVH RPS forums.

Disclaimer: These commands worked for me but they might not work for you so if you decide to use them backup everything on your RPS first because I’m not responsible for any commands you issue to your server!

  1. Firstly SSH into your RPS with root access.  This will land you in the home directory.
  2. Run the command: echo “2.10” > /etc/ovhrelease as this will fool the OVH updater into thinking you’re running an earlier version of Release 2.
  3. Run: eselect profile list
  4. Look at the list and find the number of the profile that matches: default-linux/x86/2007.0/desktop on my RPS it was 4.
  5. Run: eselect profile set <> where <<NUMBER>> is the profile number you looked up at step 5, e.g. for me it was eselect profile set 4
  6. Remove any pre-existing upgrade scripts with: rm -rf patch-2.*.sh to make sure that you get a clean update.
  7. Restore and run the OVH patch-all scripts with: wget -O; sh
  8. Now, that should, ditch the broken portage tree and run every automatic update script since they released 2.10.  I found that this upon reaching patch 2.19 it was necessary to change the profile again.
  9. Run: eselect profile list again
  10. Look at the list and find the number of the profile that matches: default/linux/x86/2008.0/desktop on my RPS it was 9.
  11. Run: eselect profile set <<NUMBER>> where <<NUMBER>> is the profile number you looked up at step 5, e.g. for me it was eselect profile set 9
  12. Run: sh
  13. This should finish the patches and bring you up to current which at the time of writing is 2.30.

Hopefully this will be of some use to those out there like me who just can’t help tinkering with things!

Twitter Tools & OAuth Problems

Well, I’ve finally gotten to the bottom of this bloody stupid problem.

If you have Twitter Tools installed and keep getting stupid error messages with no obvious issues in sight then check the date and time on your web server (I used this handy command line guide for my remotely hosted Linux web server).

This has solved all my issues with Twitter Tools in a stroke.  Hopefully this will help some of you out there!

Connecting to a linux share from windows

I’ve been having one of those annoying problems connecting to my NAS that I wasn’t able to pin down.  Finally after a bit of a rummage on the internet I stumbled across the following on

Hi all,
I have  a similar problem with Ubuntu Server and Windows Vista and Seven.
I have created a share on Samba with user and password. I opened some ports on the firewall to allow access outside.
I can see the share and mapping the disk with this command:

NET USE Z: \\publicIP\share “PASSWORD” /USER:user

The problem is that: When I’m opening a file (Excel for example) this file is always in ready only mode. With Windows XP everything works fine.
Can this fix resolve my problems?

Control Panel – Administrative Tools – Local Security Policy
Local Policies – Security Options
Network security: LAN Manager authentication level
Send LM & NTLM responses
Minimum session security for NTLM SSP
Disable Require 128-bit encryption

I basically had the same issue.

With mine it all came down to the fact that windows didn’t like “multiple” connections using different usernames, in my case one username and one anonymous access.

So, if anyone else comes across this bloody simple yet irritating problem do the following:

  1. Run “net use” from a command prompt to see if you are already connected to \\share on your windows PC.
  2. If you are then sever that connection using “net use” again with an added “/delete” switch.
  3. Reconnect using the login and password using either “net use” or explorer.

Sounds simple but it took me ages to figure out purely because I wasn’t logging in to begin with!

Everything in moderation

Forum moderation.  Sometimes I really do wonder why people do it, myself included.  Recent discussions in the forums of FreddysHouse really have led me to wonder.

Unlike a lot of forums on the internet that are set up by completing a form in 2 minutes on a free forums website, FreddysHouse has a bit of history behind it.  A history that is explained rather nicely here.  The community is solid and has a reasonably family friendly feel to it.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s an internet forum and everyone clashes opinion on a daily basis, but rarely does anyone ever take it deeply personally or get seriously bent out of shape about it.

Unfortunately, despite the rarity, there are still those occasions where people do.

Moderating is always a sensitive area as too much one way is censorship and too much the other way tends to lead to a flood of posts containing nothing more than swearing or personal insults.

On FreddysHouse I tend to take the approach of cracking down hard only when completely necessary and then letting the dust settle. So far it works but it strikes me that it is a shame it is still necessary to kick people into touch in such a friendly environment.

On the other hand someone has to keep out the riff raff, no?