Tagged: Cloud Computing


Image representing Nitrous.IO as depicted in C...

Image by None via CrunchBase

I’ve had the Pixel for a few months now. The most surprising thing that I’ve realised is how much time I have been using this without modifications. In the first month, I immediately dropped into devmode, installed Gentoo, Debian and my own builds of ChromiumOS.

In the end, I decided to use the Pixel with devmode off, while I sacrifice shell access to the local filesystem, the extra security of the verified boot is nice. This isn’t that restrictive for me because the crosh shell (ctrl+alt+t) has a ssh client which is enough for me to do my “real” computing on a server somewhere else.

When at home, I have a server at home, at work I have a small cloud and workstation to connect to. But sometimes, I wonder if I really can get away from these support servers and make the most of the ChromeBook environment.

I don’t care about picture or video editing. There are some HTML5 games too. What will matter to me most is an IDE and collaboration tools (groupware). I’ll save groupware for later.

Introducing Nitrous.IO. This is going to be one of those multi-page blogs.

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English: Cloud Computing

English: Cloud Computing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Modern cloud computing doesn’t install the same way that “bare-metal” and traditional virtualisation system use. As I have discussed before, they may not even be using a boot loader. This has a dramatic effect on the way cloud servers (aka. instances) are booted.

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Bios (Photo credit: Henrique Vicente)


I’m a big fan of the stage3 install method.


Prepare partitions, format filesystems and make a mount point. Extract a root filesystem into place. Add a kernel and boot loader, reboot and done. The rest is configuration.


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I’m rebuilding juniper this weekend. It was getting a bit crufty recently. Now that I’ve had a chance to get comfortable with Xen, I think I am ready to attempt putting windows under HVM using the IOMMU and getting VGA Passthru to work.

 The goal is simple, get a full-time Linux desktop which can still play games.

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Azərbaycan: Ubuntu-nun rəsmi loqosu. Deutsch: ...

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Through no fault of my own, I found myself sitting patiently at my desk waiting for a progress bar to complete. That was last Friday, the progress bar was for Ubuntu 11.10 Server 32-bit. The line between me and the ‘true’ internet contains a vast array of firewalls, switches, routers, nexuses (nexii?), IPS and fiber. I don’t actually hit the internet until the “local” pop-out somewhere in Amsterdam.

20 minutes of a 0.5MB/s download later, I should have realised. I can’t just close my eyes and hope that my dive into Ubuntu would be challengeless.

My task, package ‘P’ so that end-users don’t have to wade through ‘developer-friendly’ documentation[1]. In the modern inclination towards Cloud Computing, Virtualising ‘P’ and pushing it out onto UCS[2] farms seems like the way forward.

We’re experimenting with a Linux port. Linux has the happy ability to live happily with copies of itself in a network without calling in the accountants. It also means that a single use box only needs a single (or dual) core, a bit of RAM and ~5GB of disk space[3].

When building test tools, one writes code that works to do the job in the very limited scope of the moment. And so it is with program ‘P’. ‘P’ is a perfectly pythonic program and, in theory, should run perfectly happily on any modern OS. It’s a long and even more complicated story why, but program ‘P’ only works on windows. Stands to reason, windows is the most popular desktop OS.

The hand-wavy excuse for this legacy behaviour is that there’s a compiled C module that has one too many windows dependencies.

Snag. Developers, when forced to not use Visual Studio, think Linux is synonymous with Ubuntu. They have my pity and sympathy for not spending too long deciding. It’s understandable since they just want to get on with writing code, if it’s written well, then it should work anywhere.

I fire up my Gentoo templates. I have this really cool one that I just clone, change the hostname/root password and I immediately have a new Linux server[4].

Gentoo naturally has … err … differences and it is going to take too long to sift through and re-port ‘P’. Ubuntu here I come. A true case of whenyoucantbeatthemjointhem syndrome.

So, actually installing the bug ‘U’ isn’t that painful. There’s a curses wizard that guides you through some nice desirables, LVM partitioning, boot loaders and the VM friendly checkbox. I’m prepared to sacrifice updatability and tweaking if the end executable still works. The package manager works well enough, and google knows which commands I need next. I might even learn something about how the Ubuntu world works, then come to love it hate it less. I only need to follow a recipe.

[1] I actually learnt the python language by reading this program.
[2] http://www.cisco.com/en/US/products/ps10265/index.html
[3] Compared to quad/octo-core 8GB RAM (max guest support) and ~40GB disk space, typically.
[4] It is REALLY cool, menial things like portage trees, local rsync mirrors, binhosts and icecream clusters are pre-configured. I should write a post about setting one up. From this template, friends at work have instantiated new subnets of production worthy servers within hours of summoning it from the mighty god VLAN.