Why Are There No Good Automated Deployment Tools for Xen on Enterprise Linux?

Currently, when I create a new Xen DomU, I have to create a new logical volume, edit a configuration template, install the OS, and finally modify the configuration file to its final post-install parameters. This is a time-consuming process that should be avoided if at all possible, yet I have not been able to find tools to do so.

I came across xen-tools, but its mainly for Debian based systems. It does have some tools to assist in deploying rpm based systems, but they appear to be clunky. The required rinse tool basically downloads packages twice to do the install. Why?

There is also the Red Hat provided Virtual Machine Manager which is GUI based. I like to stick to command line, but that’s OK since they have a tool called virt-install that will either prompt you for information or will accept arguments to configure the new DomU. The issue here is that virt-install creates the sxp file in /var/lib/xend/domains/(hex number)/ making it impossible to restart the machine after it has been started, as well as place a copy in the /etc/xen/auto folder for automatic startup at boot. However, there is a tool to parse the sxp formatted configuration file, back to the normal format… but its an extra step. Why can’t it just use the simple configuration file format from the start?

All I want is a simple tool that I can throw a few arguments at such as hostname and ip addreess to pass to kickstart, something I can have create the LVM partitions for me, and something that will properly output the configuration file to /etc/xen. Why is this so hard and why has this not been done yet?

Video Ads Now at Gas Pumps

I was recently at a Shell gas station near Hagerstown, Maryland that has video monitors above all the gas pumps. Once you activate the pump and begin pumping gas it starts playing commercials. You’ll get anything from commercials for upcoming TV shows to commercials for products or companies. Once you quit pumping it shuts back off.

Reminds me of the targeted billboards people joked about 5 years ago. I wonder if everybody gets the same ads or if it has some mechanism to target you via your credit card or car you drive. That’d be scary.

Pulling Strings With Puppet

I just received a new book the other day: Pulling Strings With Puppet by James Turnbull. I got turned on to Puppet as a server management tool recently and wanted to try it out. There is a lot of good information on the Puppet project page, but I wanted a book, that spelled things out in a logical order. So far, I’m liking the book, and would recommend it to anybody looking to get into using Puppet.

For those unfamiliar with Puppet, its a configuration management utility that’s cross platform. You can run a central server with a client on each machine to be managed or just run the client with a configuration file. It makes more sense to use a central server in most cases though, but the latter is good for bootstrapping your initial server install and configuration before you can install Puppet. Puppet is nice because it is cross platform in the Unix/Linux world.

You don’t need to specificially know how to do things on each platform. You tell Puppet what you want and it will do it for you. For example:

file {
     owner => "root",
     group => "root",

This sets ownership properties on the file /etc/passwd. You don’t need to know the commands to do so, just what you want the result to be. Its that simple.

What’s the Best IMAP client for OS X?

I’ve been back and forth with Mail Clients on my Macbook Pro over the past few years and was wondering what everybody thought the best IMAP email client was?

I used Mail.app for a while, but started having connection issues. Messages failed to be sent even though Mail.app reported they were sent. Thunderbird gets flakey on and off. Entourage seems like overkill because of the calendar and address features I don’t need. I’m currently using Thunderbird but its not programmed native to OS X so it runs slower than it should. It’s also been hanging occasionally. It does, however, send messages which of course is a vital feature.

I have about 3 IMAP addresses on one mail server (different domains) and 2 Gmail accounts. All are used for various purposes and I’d rather not combine them.

So, what client are you using for IMAP connections on OS X?