RedHat 133 System Administration Completed

It's been a great week!† A long one, ... but a great one.† Today I completed the 3 hour performance based exam for the RHCT (Red Hat Certified Technician), which itself capped off 4 days of solid Linux training in the†RH133.† I was definitely sweating bullets.† Just a word to the wise, when you hear through the grapevine that the exam is tough, well believe it!!† Boy, can I do a wicked install now ...†complete with RAID arrays, user quotas, network configuration, and kernel upgrades.† I highly recommend this course to anyone wishing to shore up their proficieny in Linux system administration.††

Mounting Filesystems: External USB Hard Drive and NTFS

I've never had formal training in the basics of Linux Administration, and so this week I'm finally in the RH133 Red Hat Linux System Administration course. So far the course completely lives up to my expectations based on my previous experience in the RH253 Red Hat Linux Networking and Security class.

I highly recommend RedHat training because the instructors are both very knowlegeable and capable of effective presentations; two traits that aren't always found together in IT training.

The RH133 curriculum is saturated with great tips and tricks in addition to the curriculum which itself is incredibly packed with very useful information.

Among the many things I'm learning in class that I'm finding personally useful at home is how to mount an external USB harddrive and how to mount the NTFS partition on the "flip side" of a dual boot machine. I could never figure out just what device to mount for the USB drive... I was trying things like /dev/usb or /proc/bus/usb/001, but that wasn't working. When I inquired with the instructor about this, he immediately knew it should be /dev/sda1. Well, I asked him how he knew this and he said that `lsusb` should list the proper device in the output if you search for the vendor name of the drive such as "Lexmark" or "Western Digital". But when he demonstrated the command, it turns out that the device wasn't in there, and when pressed he said that he "just knew" that it was /dev/sda1. He added that I should try mounting /dev/sdaN where the maximum value of N is the total number of USB ports on the machine. Upon trying this at home, I found that `mount -t vfat /dev/sda1 /mnt/usb` worked like a charm on the first try.

To facilitate mounting this drive, I added a line to /etc/fstab with the desired options. Example:

/dev/sda1 /mnt/usb vfat noauto,rw,user 0 0

When I first installed the external hard drive from the Windows side, I formatted as FAT32 knowing that a filesystem of this type could be mounted from Linux... once I knew how to do it. FAT32 is accessible as vfat from Linux. The options "noauto,rw,user" mean that the system does not automatically mount the partition upon boot (noauto), that the filesystem should be mounted as read/write (rw), and that any user has permission to mount and umount the filesystem (user). Then when logged in as a non-priveleged user, all I have to do is issue `mount /mnt/usb` and voila! Note that I previously created the /mnt/usb directory for the purpose of mounting /dev/sda1 there. The directory /mnt is the conventional location to mount filesystems such as floppies, cds, nfs, samba and as well as others.

I also learned that although RedHat cannot automagically mount NTFS partition out of the box, it is possible to install a kernel module that will let you do it, with the only downside that the module provides read-only access not read-write. No biggie to me, but if you want rw access to an NTFS partition then you can either use samba if the disk is on another machine or recompile the kernel to mount either another NTFS machine or the NTFS side of a dual booted machine. Not knowing exactly how to recompile a kernel (yet!), I'm satisfied with just ro. By the way, the RedHat instructor said that they are discouraging the practice of rebuilding kernels due to the added complexity and difficulty of supporting "mystery kernels".

I found everything I needed to know about installing the module for NTFS support at the Linux NTFS RedHat Page. I just downloaded the appropriate rpm, ran the followup commands, and away we go. I added this line to /etc/fstab to allow any user to mount the NTFS side of the machine in read-only mode:

/dev/hda1 /mnt/windowsxp ntfs noauto,ro,user,umask=0222 0 0

One thing I've yet to figure out is that when a regular user mounts the NTFS partition why is the user-group on the directory set to root root while when the same user mounts the USB disk the user-group is the user user. Example:

[steven@dragonfly mnt]$ ls -ld usb/ windowsxp/
drwxr-xr-x 8 steven steven 32768 Oct 28 18:31 usb/
dr-xr-xr-x 1 root root 8192 Oct 26 19:02 windowsxp/

Now any user can mount/unmount the external USB hard drive and the NTFS half of the machine. The USB is available as read and write and the NTFS is read only. This makes it possible share resources between the two sides of a machine and saves the trouble of having to write to floppies or zip drives. Here are relevant lines in /etc/fstab when I was finished:

/dev/sda1 /mnt/usb vfat noauto,rw,user 0 0
/dev/hda1 /mnt/windowsxp ntfs noauto,ro,user,umask=0222 0 0

Happy Mounting!

Photo Gallery of Trip to New York City, 2003

Click for Photo Gallery of New York City
Here's a photo gallery from a recent trip to New York City. Sights include:

  • Battery Park
  • Brooklyn Promenade
  • Brooklyn Bridge
  • Ground Zero
  • Central Park
  • Times Square
  • Hayden Planetarium
  • Museum of Natural History

Beware of Howard Johnson, West 34th Street, New York City

I'd like to share the photos from a recent trip to New York City. Specifically, I'd like to share my negative review with supporting photographic evidence for the Howard Johnson on West 34th Street.

Take a photo tour: Hotel from Hell

Complaints regarding Howard Johnson on West 34th St:

  • Only 1 elevator. Serves dual purpose for cargo/trash and guests. Smells like ripe trash. Watch out for the puddles from the leaky trash.

  • Hallways very narrow, need to carry bags lengthwise to pass
  • Rooms exceptionally small, perhaps just 7x 15', plus a room they refer to as a bathroom.
  • Map of fire escape route doesn't show you where your room is on the map.
  • Advertises internet access in hotel. In reality this means a coin operated kiosk in lobby. Bring a napkin to wipe the snot and greasy fingerprints off it.

  • Advertises desk/work area. In reality there is a narrow desk opposite the door and cluttered with coffee maker, telephone books, etc... No chair provided
  • Air conditioner did not work. The cold setting just blew hot air. Windows did not open.
  • View from window to a dark, inner courtyard consisting of concrete, trash, and views to other guestrooms. Very depressing.
  • Television marred with many cigarrette burns where the plastic was burned. No remote control.
  • Dorm-like shower stall had no lights, a flimsy plastic curtain with rusting hangers, and tile floor infested with god knows what fungus.
  • Toilet paper 5 feet away from toilet. Picture this in your mind for a second...

  • Sink positioned in tiny alcove only shoulder-wide.
  • One wash rag. Two towels. That's it. Material was thin enough to see through.
  • Ventilation system had something like spanish moss hanging from it or growing out of it. Last I checked spanish moss does not grow in New York City.
  • Ceiling tiles ajar and water stained with yellow tint. You may want to consider moving the bed under a tile that does not have leak stains, but you may be torn between that and moving the bed towards the hot air coming from "air conditioner" just to have a breeze of any type.

  • Coffee maker was clogged. Coffee (dark water) ran over and onto desk. Saturated personal items on desk.

Any hotel in NYC is going to be much more expensive than hotels in most other small cities, and the Hojo charged about $100+ for this dump. What a hell hole. After one night in the Hojo we cancelled the remaining 5 days and went somewhere else. Just say No Go to the HoJo!

For about $240 we stayed at the Hilton. The Hilton is immaculate, elegant, and professional. The rooms were spacious, well appointed, and had spectacular view of the Hudson in the distance and 42nd street below. Take my advice, stay at the Hilton in Times Square instead!!!

See also Eric's Guide to Hotels in NYC

TechNote: Returning Oracle Refcursors in CFMX

A new technote was published today that expands upon the change in syntax between CF5 and CFMX 6.x for returning reference cursors from Oracle.

Calling stored procedures which return reference cursors in Oracle 8.1 and higher

See also:

ColdFusion MX 6.1: Combined Hot fix for using COM objects

Macromedia has created a hot fix to address several issues with using COM objects in ColdFusion MX 6.1.

The hot fix resolves the following issues with COM objects:

  • 53224 - Child COM objects should not be released when the parent is released

  • 53243 - Empty string variables should not be passed as Nulls

  • 53283 - Optional arguments should be recognized correctly

  • 53114 - VT_INT arguments should be converted to VT_I4 integers

  • If a null argument is passed to a COM object, it should be initialized VT_EMPTY

See: Macromedia Technote

First Snowfall for Fall 2003

First snow in Concord 2003

Well, snow fans, the day has finally arrived. Today is the first snowfall in Massachusetts this season, and the webcam has captured it all. If a few snapshots just don't do it for you, then you can always relish this short video from where ever you are...

Seems an appropriate time to quote from my favorite Nothern Exposure character, Chris Stevens, played by John Corbett. Chris read this poem over KBHR radio during the December 1993 episode.

Oh the snow the beautiful snow
filling the sky and earth below.
Over the house tops and over the streets,
over the heads of people you meet.
Dancing flirting skimming along.
Oh the snow the beautiful snow
how the flakes gather and laugh as they go.
Whirling about in their maddening fun
it plays in its glee with everyone.
Chasing laughing hurrying by
it lights on the face and sparkles the eye.
And even the dogs with a bark and a bound
snap at the crystals that eddy around.
The town is alive and its heart in a glow
to welcome the coming of beautiful snow.

Later I found the souce here...

Reply To Boston Linux and Unix User Group on Topic of Education

Someone was asking me today where they might take a fundamentals of LinuxUnix class that isn't going to break the bank. Anyone have any suggestions?? Thanks, Michael.

--- paulc wrote: So, you attended the Networking course from Red Hat (???)

Yes, RedHat Networking and Security.


Giving Thanks is Very Much Appreciated

Over the years I've enjoyed helping others with to find answers to simple questions and solutions to major crises. Often customers have thanked me in different ways, and I just want to say that I'm always very appreciative of the positive feedback. It makes me want to work harder in the future and keeps me motivated to learn more. So, a big Thank You in return for all positve comments I've received, and regardless of how small it really does make a difference.

I would like to share some customer quotes from those who took an extra moment to write to my manager or myself.


Versioning of CFMX Certification Exam

I followed up with the program manager for the ColdFusion MX Developer Certification exam regarding a recent thread on CFTALK that discussed the ambiguous nature of one of the exam questions. It was confirmed that for now there is one question that may have a different correct answer depending on whether you are talking about CFMX 6.1 or CFMX 6.0.

The exam is scheduled to be updated in the very near future, according to the program manager. Until then, if in doubt, follow Ray and Sam's advice to choose the CFMX 6.0 answer.

See also: How I prepared for the ColdFusion 5 Developer Exam.

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