Most Recent Ramblings


Introducing proks: An XML creator/manager for roksbox video

I was an early adopter to the roku Streaming Video Player. The only downside I could find with the device was the inability to stream your own video from within your own home network. Over the years several options have arisen to include: roConnect, Plex, roksbox, and others. After testing all of these over the last year I found the roksbox channel to be the best for my needs. roksbox allows me to stream from a plain old web server which is very powerful. The setup can be daunting but that is only because of the huge amount of options available. As is often the case with technology, the more powerful an application is often the more difficult it is to setup.

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Truncate KVM/QEMU Raw Disk Image

Most modern filesystems allow you to create virtual disk files without pre-allocating disk space. These virtual disks grow in size as the space is needed. The default virtual disk image type in KVM/QEMU is a sparse “raw” disk image which consumes real disk space as files are added. Interestingly, when files are deleted the virtual disk does not shrink. This makes sense as deleting files from a filesystem doesn’t typically erase the data but only the reference to where the data is stored on the disk. What follows is a recipe to reclaim this disk space. Read moreRead more


Fixing VMware Workstation 8 and insserv

Not too long ago VMware has a product called “VMware Server” which originally came with a dedicated management application. Later VMware threw out the console and created a web interface for VMware Server. Not long after that they completely threw VMware Server away in favor of their new enterprise software solution(s) ESX/ESXi/vCenter/vSphere/etc. For the new(ish) VMware Workstation 8 one of the most notable features is the “Shared VMs” which is more or less a reawakening of  their original VMware Server application functionality. With this feature you can once again set VMs to run in the background, autostart, and access via network. However a problem arises with the installation on systems which use insserv. Read on and I’ll explain the problem and show you how to fix it. Read moreRead more


Progamatically Comparing Debian Package Versions

Continuing on with this project it became necessary to look a little deeper on how apt based software repositories handle version numbers. At first I thought this was the silliest overly complicated mess I could imaging. For instance, how does one compare package versions that look like this ’2:1.0~rc3++svn20100804-0.2squeeze1′ with versions that look like this ’2:1.0~rc3++final.dfsg1-1′ to determine which is newer? Luckily this is actually well documented, makes perfect sense when you stop to think about it, and (through the power of open source) easy to accomplish programatically. Read moreRead more


VMware Removes Some Functionality

I happen to use quit a diversity of VMware products both for personal use and work. On my work laptop I have been using VMware Workstation now for a few years. When working with ESX(i) or VMware virtualization technologies in general I used to love some of the great lesser documented utilities which comes with Workstation. Two utilities that I have used rather extensively were vmware-mount and vmware-vdiskmanager. After upgrading to the latest VMware Worstation v8 I was super impressed with some of the great new features. However, when trying to convert a virtual disk (vmdk) using vmware-vdiskmanager I was awfully disappointed to see some functionality left out on this version. Read moreRead more