So on a recent trip to a remote office I ended up bringing back some old equipment that needs to be recycled. Sometimes this means we send it to a recycling center but often we end up reusing it ourselves. This time I brought back a Barracuda Web Filter 210 that we used for content filtering in that office. We’ve since moved to a virtualized version of Barracuda so we no longer needed this installed.

Barracuda 210

I have been wanting to play with linux router distributions like pfsense, untangle and endian but didn’t really want to waste a quad core computer for such a simple task. The Barracuda was a perfect match as the specs are an exact match for what I need.

If you can find one of these Barracuda devices on ebay and are wanting a small and very quite server, these are the perfect match. I’ve unplugged the case fan for now but even with it on the entire machine is barely audible from across the room.

Inside of case

Motherboard: ASUS AT3GC-I - Newegg
CPU: Intel Atom 330 64-bit dual core @ 1.6ghz w/ Hyperthreading
RAM: 1GB DDR2
HD: 80GB SATA
PCI: Custom Realtek 8139 10/100 dual port NIC, ports mounted on front of case

With the server back home and the software downloaded, I began the process of trying to get it to boot from USB. Barracuda has locked the BIOS down with a password locking out the undetermined. For those that are interested the BIOS password is BCNDK1. Once in the BIOS you’ll want to change the boot order to promote either the IDE drive for booting from CDROM or the most likely, the USB ports.

For pfSense the best method of installing via USB is from their own website. Follow these instructions and it’s pretty easy to get installed.

If you are looking for the best all free way to route and filter your traffic than pfSense is the way to go. The “best” way may not be the easiest so I’m currently looking and playing with other distributions such as Edian, Zentyal and Untangle. I’ll try to put together a comparison of my experiences with them all and post that here.

Decided to check out my Spam and missed calls folder tonight and found some very odd voicemails. Both of these hit my spam folder which I’m very thankful for. This is one of the many reasons why I love using Google Voice for my main number.

This first one is very odd. Two different voices say “Hello, rate”.

1-414-877-1580

This one is pretty funny. John is selling Dental Insurance, the ending is pretty funny.

1-302-394-9962

Last year around this time my one year promo with Dreamhost was expiring and I didn’t feel like paying for a year of hosting up front. So I decided to shop around looking at shared hosting, reseller accounts and VPSs (Virtual Private Server). Much of the shared hosting I came across either were priced out of my range of comfort or had restrictions like single domain hosting and the like.

The idea of a VPS really intrigued my interest. In my day job I manage a decently sized multi-size VMware cluster with iSCSI SAN backend. I know how stable a setup like this is and what cost savings it offers. So I decided to get out and do a bit of research of what was out there.

The major platforms used by VPS providers are OpenVZ, KVM and Xen. There are a few providers that do offer VMware platforms but these are usually priced outside the range most users migrating from shared hosting deem reasonable.

Xen and VMware are bare metal platforms meaning they don’t require a traditional host operating system. OpenVZ and KVM differ in that they require Linux as the host operating system and as such do incur a bit more overhead. But for the role of low end VPSs they offer a great cost savings in software and licensing.

After some time spent googling around and forum hunting I came across lowendbox.com. Easy to use website that offers reviews from real users. I came across a great deal for a 512mb VPS in Dallas and decided to start the process of moving my three blogs over to it.

I’ve been using Debian since 2002 and Ubuntu since release 4. Since I needed to keep my ram usage down I decided to roll with a minimal Debian 6 x32 install. I also wanted to be able to hand the keys of managing stuff over to a friend so I decided to install a control panel. While the list of free CP software varies from year to year one of the more stable projects is Webmin. A plugin for Webmin called Virtualmin helps with the website hosting side of things.

So I had everything up in running a few hours after my account was activated and was really excited. I wanted to check the stability of the service though so I set it up to by monitored by Pingdom. One day it went offline and I figured it was just a technical glitch like a DoS attack or something. I decided to check the forums and found out that the company owned the datacenter a boat load of money and were more than likely shutting down.

This is when it slapped me in the face that I had forgot to setup a backup process. I had seen that little tab in Virtualmin that offers automatic backups even to an external server but I had just skipped past it. Well the datacenter finally got things back up so customers of this client could retrieve their data which was so awesome of them. Thanks again Rackspace!

I’m currently running two VPSs, one with Virpus.com and another with BuyVM.net. Both are pretty stable but I’ve gotta say the guys at BuyVM really love what they do and it shows, they are amazing.

So if you are tired of the limitations of shared hosting or just want to get your hands dirty try moving your site(s) to a VPS. And yes, I back it all up everyday offsite.

So a few weeks ago I entered one of site surveys we all see and most of us just skim past. Take our survey to help improve our site and enter for a chance to win an iPad2! Yea right I thought but the website was one I really enjoy and I thought if nothing else my input might help them actually make the website better.

So a few weeks latter I’m at work talking to my office mate when I see an email from the admin of the site. I thought great, they picked the winner and were announcing it through email, skip. I decided to read the first of the email and noticed it was actually sent only to me, informing me that I had won their iPad2 from the survey drawing!

Anyways, I’ve had a Viewsonic G-Tablet for a few months and even have honeycomb on it. I really loved my HC tablet, the entire HC experience was a huge improvement for tablet users over Android 2.x.

I was actually planning on just loading my work apps on the iPad and not using it much. Well, two weeks later and I can’t put it down. I think the biggest plus over my G-Tablet is the screen size difference. The 9.7″ is a better format than the 10.1″. I didn’t think it would be but it’s easier to hold the iPad than the G-Tablet.

Another plus is the speed. I know I can’t compare a hacked HC to the iPad but the responsiveness overall is just so much better with the iPad.

My one problem where Android does get it right is app scaling. Android 2.x apps scale very well on HC. On the flip side the way Apple offers their 2X button for iPhone apps is a pain in the rear.

Always, just thought I’d share my thoughts after using both platforms for awhile.

Sent from my iPad :)

So I’ve been looking at replacing our aging Citrix Access Fundamentals installation with something newer. We have a legacy app that won’t run on Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Server 2008 because of some arcane or horrible design. So with it almost out the door it’s finally time to start evaluating a replacement solution. Hooray for new projects!

So I began by attempting to install the newest version of XenApp 6. I stumbled a few times because my eval licenses were for a different version then what I had downloaded, oops. Once I had everything setup and working it worked great, typical Citrix environment. It felt like though for all that we would use it for, it may be overkill so I began looking around at their competitors to see what had improved since the last time I looked around a few years ago.

This was my first true evaluation of two products to present to someone else. None of this was verified with the vendors but the bandwidth figures are not exact.

Product Citrix XenApp 6 2X Application Server Windows 2008 TS/RemoteApp
Bandwidth  Idle – 0kbitAverage – 10-30kbit

Max – set by policy

Idle – 0kbitAverage – 10-30kbit

 

Idle – 0kbitAverage – 10-30kbit

 

Protocol ICA RDP RDP
Server OS Requirement Windows Server 2008 R2 Windows Server2008/2003 Windows Server 2008 R2
Windows, Mac and Linux Yes Yes Yes
Tablet, Smartphone,Thin client support Yes Yes No
Single Sign On Yes – Platinum Yes No
Multiple Monitors Yes Yes Yes – Limited by OS
Universal Printer Yes Yes Yes
Universal Scanner Yes – 3rd Party Yes No
Application Filtering Yes – User, Group Yes – User, Group, IP Yes – User, Group
Resouce BasedLoad Balancing Yes – Advanced Yes – Advanced Yes – NLM
Web Portal Redundancy Yes Yes No
Licensing
Per Seat $250 $123 $98
Total Cost to Implement $20,000 $9840 *Dell.com $7840
Support Costs $2800 $940 $0

 

  • Licensing was calculated using a base number of 80 users using two terminal servers  (home/remote office). Included in all pricing is Terminal Server CALs.