Sunday, 17 April 2005
|1907 - A quick upgrade|
It was time to upgrade thebrain to run current versions of the system software. Since this is the main production server here - all email, all web service, and all news reading is done from that box - I was a bit nervous about it, but the job wasn't difficult.
thebrain runs Gentoo Linux. When I upgraded the packages database, it told me that the profile I had been using was obsolete and would be removed in the future. I switched to the new profile, ran
emerge system, and waited. That rebuilt 61 packages, and took about 6 hours. I spent another 30 minutes going through the various configuration files it wanted to upgrade, applying most updates, rejecting a few, merging in customizations to a few more.
Then, it was time to reboot. The system had been up for 117 days and 12 hours by that point. It came down cleanly, but didn't come up the first time: it hung early in the initialization process. I cursed, and rebooted it in single-user mode, which came up fine. I rebooted it again in multiuser mode, and it came up fine again. I'm a bit nervous about that, but if it won't fail, it's kinda hard to fix.
I'll wait till I get back from Penguicon to copy the installation over to my backup hard disk. Right now, I'd rather have it to fall back on.
current mood: accomplished
You got a GENTOO system to stay up for 117 days and 12 hours?
You *are* The Man!
(As a Debian user, I'm greatly impressed)
Gentoo is not difficult for the experienced Linux user to make stable. It probably helps that I'm not always messing with mine; I usually only update software when a security alert goes out. I also only installed stuff I knew I'd need, instead of the mountain of crap that most other Linuxes (Debian definitely included) install by default. In particular, there's no X on that system at all, as it's a server, and it's only accessed via SSH.
I also did a ground-up install on the box from stage 1, compiling the world on my hardware. The system helps, too: it's an Alphaserver 4000 with two 400 MHz CPUs, 1 GB of RAM, and a 6x4GB hardware SCSI RAID-5 with a hot spare. Solid, reliable, server-class hardware designed for long uptimes.
In short, I took a server-class system and manage it like it's a production box serving the needs of a large corporation instead of just a few friends. Any Linux can achieve that kind of reliability, but you have to get out of the mode of treating it like a hobby system.
Ah yes, well all those factors put together does explain an awful lot.
And yes, the point about it being easy for experienced Linux users to make stable is a good one, and why I avoid Gentoo like the plague. It'll be many, many years (if ever) before I become skilled enough to do at least as good a job of making things work well than the average Debian package maintainer.
Debian is nice for n00bs like me that way.
Indeed. While I dislike Debian for its slavish following of the Gospel According to St. Stallman, I will readily agree that they do a superlative job of making things easy for less-experienced users to understand.
Whatever else Gentoo may be, it's not for the inexperienced. OTOH, installing and running it will teach you more about how Linux goes together than anything short of building your very own distribution.
For the record, I did try Gentoo once.
But I made a typo somewhere in the install and hadn't the slightest clue where I'd gone wrong. So I was up shit creek without a paddle. It didn't take me too long to lose all hope and "rm -rf /*" for shits and giggles.
Technically speaking, I don't actually run Debian. I run Mepis, which is a Debian variant customised to make it as easy as possible for people used to Windows (like myself) to get used to it.
I know what you mean about the St Stallman thing, becuase Debian's current evangelical arm (Ubuntu) got pissy at me when I made an unflattering comparison of Ubuntu compared to Mepis on matters of usability on my weblog. They babbled a whole bunch of crap about SMB4K (whatever the fuck that is, I have NO use for it) and how Ubuntu is superior because it's community based whereas Mepis is a one-man distro.
Linux people who think that process is more important than result scare the fuck out of me. Fortunately, I've found that they are generally only found on discussion forums. I've found the cooler Linux people tend to do real work, like bug reports, documentation & the like. (I'm trying to make documentation based on my own experiences now. I probably get a few things wrong, or make suggestions that would piss off purists, but they work)