What we're doing with FreeBSD (was Re: Newbies or trolls?)

Paul Robinson paul at iconoplex.co.uk
Mon May 15 16:42:25 BST 2006

On 15 May 2006, at 15:24, Geraint Edwards wrote:

> That had crossed my mind, but I didn't mention it, for fear of
> sounding as much like a troll as you.  :-p

Yeah, I'm sounding old then. :-)

> Lead by example:  as an old-timer on this list as well as with  
> FreeBSD,

Oh God, now I feel REALLY old...

> I've been building an Opteron-based server recently, my first
> FreeBSD-related foray into both 64-bit *and* dual processor
> computing.

You're so 2001... :-)

> It's *not* a lot different from the 32-bit world, and
> not (so far) a lot faster, either.  It is quite different,
> though, financially-speaking - ahem.

Strange you're not seeing a performance boost - you tried running any  

The other plus is that you're covered for 2038 already - that's great  
forward planning. :-)

> I also splurged out for an expensive 3ware RAID controller for
> it, and that's been a source of unhappiness from this new server.

Yeah, 3ware RAID seems to have caused untold problems on various  
boxes handed to me for repair in the last 12 months.

> I'm still looking for inexpensive RAID cards to keep older hosts
> going, if anyone has any suggestions.

"inexpensive" and "RAID card" normally precludes "FreeBSD compatible"  
in my experience. :-(

Anyway, what I've been doing:

In the last 6 months I've actually been moving away from systems  
administration and now spend most of my time doing Ruby on Rails  
development. I was always a web geek and a programmer before I got  
into sys admin work, so it's kind of returning home. I've set up on  
my own, have plenty of work, but always on the look out for more -  
http://vagueware.com currently has my holding page, but will be  
'fixed' in the next week or two - so if you need a BSD geek with his  
own Limited company, just shout. :-)

That said, I do still have a fair bit of FreeBSD work on the back- 
burner. I'm looking after a few servers that are handling web, mail,  
and other webhosting-like functions for a small ISP. That's likely to  
go upscale a lot in the next few months, and I'm currently looking at  
making Rails deployment on FreeBSD much easier as well. I expect that  
in the next 6 months a lot of time will be spent helping getting  
Rails apps deployed.

I'm also looking at ways of being able to use Capistrano - a tool for  
Rails software deployment - to automate systems administration work,  
allowing large clusters of disparate web servers to be controlled  
from one central console. Once this is put together, there is no  
reason why it can't be extended considerably, so creating a failover  
webserver, or updating a mail aliases file across a dozen machines  
would be as simple as editing a local config file and running one  

Once I get a little more free time after the Summer, I'm going to  
start looking at getting into bug catching in FreeBSD, but suspect  
that I need to spend some time re-acquainting myself with K&R 2nd  
Edition before I get to make any real progress - I haven't touched a  
line of C in about 3 years and now think/dream/execute in Ruby, which  
is one of the most fun languages I've ever played with. :-)

Bizzarely, I don't have any FreeBSD boxes at home any more though.  
Need to get myself a new workhorse on that front, but I'm now Apple  
and Windows on the desktop with FreeBSD, Linux and Solaris shoved out  
into distant data centres I no longer ever have to visit.

Top tip: leasing a dedicated server might feel pricey, but it means  
you never have to worry about hardware ever again. :-)

That's me anyway for the time being.

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