Clusters and frustrations

I finally had a chance to take a look at the frustrating machine from a couple of posts ago – pulled the video card out and put it back in again, now it’s fine. (The hard disk was fine, although a previous disk from that machine that had apparently failed actually was dead.)
We also took delivery of most of the clusters that I’ll be “getting” to set up – 50ish compute nodes and 3 head nodes. No racks or switches for them yet though. Pictures here – we’re temporarily housing them in the machine room belonging to an entirely different research group. No technicaly details yet – we don’t really know what we’re running on them. This is the stuff I alluded to in an earlier post.

Frustration with hardware

I’ve spent about 15 or so hours the last week setting up vmware server *just right* so that I could experiment with clustering software with the minimum amount of work per reconfigure.
I’ve documented almost all of it, but I hadn’t gotten ’round to backing up the vmware configs or filesystems yet.
My SSH session to the head node virtual machine died just now. Logging in to the host machine, I found out why:
clusterhead01:~> sudo tcsh
clusterhead01:~# /etc/init.d/vmware start
/etc/init.d/vmware: Input/output error.
clusterhead01:~# df -h
/bin/df: Input/output error.
clusterhead01:~# dmesg
/bin/dmesg: Input/output error.
So I figured I’d shut it down:
clusterhead01:~# halt -p
/sbin/halt: Input/output error.
Well, fortunately, as my co-workers can no doubt attest, I’m religious about updating RTs, so at least I’ve got my thought process as I reasoned out how to do the last few hours of work.
But I hate redoing work. With a passion. Looks like I’m going to get to. The other disk in this system died as I was installing it. This system is one of about half a dozen that were purchased all at the same time, and every single hard drive (Western Digital 160gb) has been replaced at least once. I should have taken the hint.
And why, yes, it is 11 on a Friday night, and I’m doing this stuff. So what? I had a few beer earlier, and I got bored.

PGP keys

Per practising what I preach, I’ve switched my mail clients to using GnuPG signing by default, or have at least started on switching them – main work machine done, laptop and home Windows PC to go.
One of my complaints about email is that it’s difficult to verify the sender or the contents, but I don’t do anything to help people receiving my email to do so.
Plus, it started making more sense to me some time ago, protecting myself from people who might misquote me in order to cause harm to me professionally.
It’s not perfection, but it’s a start. My one bitch is Thunderbird/Enigmail will remember my passphrase for an arbitrary amount of time, but can’t be set to clear when the screensaver comes on, for instance. I poked about at gpg-agent, but couldn’t find any frontend for MacOS that seems to do that.


We just made the discovery (ok, it’s likely old news to Microsofties, but I’ve been blessed I guess) that Outlook’s Test My Settings button only appears to show up if you’re using a POP account – not IMAP.
But that’s ok, because it returns false results; it says things fail when they don’t, at least if you’re using SSL on not-port-25.
The mind boggles. “Don’t use open source, it’s poorly documented and doesn’t work right.” Yeah, right.