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March 31, 2007

Black Dragon goes Ubuntu

Wild Tree

Wild Tree

    With the primary hard drive in the Black Dragon down for the count, it was time to do some work on the system.  The Black Dragon has had the same OS installed since it was born.  When the system stepped down as my primary console in December of 2003, I didn't do much with the OS.  Nothing was optimized for use as a server and nothing was done to it over the many hardware changes.  The system was quite slow to boot.  It was time to consider an overhaul.  So, when the primary 80 gig drive failed to allow the system to boot, it was clearly time. 
    I've wanted to try out Ubuntu on a system for sometime... but the lack of time has dampened that effort.  Now I had my chance.  The installation went painlessly.  All the hardware, including the PATA RAID controller were picked up right away.  All the drives in the system were formatted NTFS.  I didn't really want to mess with this.  The Black Dragon is primarily a file server, mostly for backups.  So, I looked into NTFS working under Ubuntu.  I found this page and quickly stepped through the process.  Soon, my NTFS drives were mounted read/write.  A quick setup of Samba, and my main machine saw no difference in the new Black Dragon.
    I played a bit with Ubuntu and the GUI.  I've decided I like "VNC".  I can control my Ubuntu box with the GUI on my primary console.
    Just for fun, I tried booting the Red-Dragon with Ubuntu.  It doesn't like my SATA RAID controller and took forever.  Once it started, I couldn't touch any of the hard drives.  I read a little about this and found Linux still does default support for all the SATA RAID controllers yet.  I started going through the directions for installing the RAID drivers manually (HighPoint has Linux drivers on their website), but it was turning into a real pain.  They wanted me to make a boot floppy (like anyone uses floppies any more) from an image.  I used the Black-Dragon to mount the floppy image, but I couldn't find the file they wanted.  The Red-Dragon's upgrade will have to wait for an other day.
    Took a trip to Rockford after class to visit my bike shop.  At the end of the last summer, I had taken in my bike light because the battery wasn't charging.  They had a replacement for me sometime in September or October.  By then, I had started school and didn't have time to make the trip.  I had almost forgotten about it until the weather starter to warm up and today went to retrieve it. 
    While in the area, I decided to take a quick ride around Rock Cut State Park.  I didn't get too far into the drive before rain stopped that.  The rest of the day, I hung out with Tyson from whom I got a 40 GB hard drive.  The Black Dragon's 80 GB main drive died, and I've decided to try some flavor of Ubuntu on that machine.  The 40 GB drive will work fine for a boot drive.  Thankx Ty!
    Pictured are some neat clouds which waved across the sky.

1 comment has been made.

From echobird

April 06, 2007 at 9:02 PM

i read an extended essay that was very hard to define but was mostly about operating systems. now i want to talk about operating systems, will you talk to me?

March 28, 2007

Fixing the water heater

    As promised, the new heat exchange arrived.  I took a trip to the hardware store because I never seem to have any Teflon tape when I need it.  After that, the installation process went rather non-eventful.  I turned on the water, listened to the heat exchange fill and then... nothing.  I relight the pilot and turned on a hot water faucet.  The 150,000 BTU burner flared up and a few moments latter, hot water.  And that I can deal with :)
    Pictured are Link and Amber

March 27, 2007

Water heater takes a dump

Talon and his Staircase

Talon and his Staircase

    The water heater at the Garage is tank-less, and uses a powerful burner over a heat exchanger to heat the water as it travels through the system.  Thus, it only heats water when the water is needed.  Last night (or early this morning) I discovered my water heater leaking all over.  After some investigation, I found the heat exchanger had a thin split in one of the copper joints.  I took out the exchanger and decided to see if I couldn't fix it.  After all, copper takes solder pretty well (that's how you connect copper water pipe) and I can solder.  So I cleaner the area around the split surface, treated it with some strong flux and tried to flow in solder with a propane/oxygen torch.  That worked fine, but didn't fix the leak.
    Having failed to fix the heat exchange, I looked to see if I could find some information on-line about this unit.  Sure enough, Bosch had a web site with the manual on-line.  The manual had a part number for the heat exchange, but no information about how to order one.  It also said the exchange had a 12 year warranty.  Since I didn't have any paper work, I figured this wasn't going to be useful to me.  I sent off an e-mail to tech support asking how I could purchase a new heat exchange and went to bed.
   This morning, I had a response from tech support.  They had a number to call, which I did.  To my surprise, they were going to honer their warranty despite my lack of paper work.  I spent a bit of time on hold, but once I got someone, they said they were overnighting a new heat exchange.  He explained it was fairly easy to install (I figured as much, since I'd taken the old one out) and gave me some tips about down-drafts as a possible cause of failure.  They didn't want back the old exchange which he said I could turn into a flower planter or something (it's solid copper, so I'll probably recycle it).
    While it's not fun to lack hot water and spend an evening mopping and placing fans, this company is doing everything they can to make the situation right.  And I appreciate it :)
    Pictured is Talon sitting on his completed staircase for our school's production of Hair.  I tend of overbuild things so they can take an extra strong beating.  But this staircase takes overbuilding to a new level.  I'm better you could drive a truck up these stairs and they'd take it!

1 comment has been made.

From Zen

March 29, 2007 at 12:25 PM

Glad they are honoring the warranty. FYI, if you have another issue; where I work, we repair heat exchangers (copper, stainless, or whatever) on a fairly regular basis. Let me know if you want us to look at it, I'm sure I can get it done for you for just material cost.
    Did more setup today in the theater for the school's production of Hair.  Having now seen a performance of this musical, I have a better understanding of how I want the lights to be.  Today, I positioned ERS (Ellipsoidal Reflector Spotlights) on the far right and left of the stage at low positions.  I wanted to try an experiment.  Could I turn the stage one color (say red) and keep the actors' faces at their normal skin tone?  I know it's possible because I've seen it done.  But the question is, can I do it with the equipment and light hanging locations available to me?
    It take quite a while to get an experiment like this setup.  But once I had everything ready, I had someone stand in various locations on the stage.  The results: I could indeed paint the stage one color while keeping the actors looking normal.  However, the ERS tended to drowned out the color I had on the stage.  So, either I need to lower the ERS lights so less light hits the stage, or introduce more colored light by which to paint the stage. 
    Pictured is rehearsal, as several actors are being coached about the choreographing of a musical number.

March 25, 2007

Power Supply Forensics

Cause of death

Cause of death

    Preformed an autopsy on the power supply from the White Dragon to determine the cause of death.  Immediately visible was discoloration around some resisters with the classic signs that area got really hot.  One resister, R25, was clearly cooked beyond functionality.  Why this happened I'm not entirely sure.  There was a bit of dust build up on the supply, but it didn't look like enough to have created a short.  There was one leaky electrolytic capacitor, but it wasn't too bad.  Whatever happened, the supply is done for.  I yanked out the useful components (cables for connectors, the fan, switches).  Maybe I'll look up the voltage regulators to see if there are useful in some other project.
    Roni dressed for Altered Reality's trip ti Medieval Times.   I could not afford to attend and instead did some homework-- I went to see a production of Hair in Madison with Lisa.  I had never seen the play before and wanted to know more about what I was working with.  Now I have a much better idea of what is going on am formulating a plan for lighting.