02 January 2012

File server WoL

A while ago I decided to upgrade my file server hardware but didn't want it to run 24/7 anymore.
Obviously I only use it for a small portion of the day, so it shouldn't be running all the time.
Saves money and energy, right?
I quickly decided to look into wake-on-lan to wake it up using an app on my phone.
The minor inconvenience of having to push a button on my phone and waiting a couple seconds would be offset by the saved money.

There are plenty WoL apps on the Android market, but I settled on "Wol Wake on Lan Wan", the main reason being the simple straightforward widget it has.
Push the widget and it sends the magic packet, that's it... works like a dream.

Server side, there were a couple of problems.
I use encryption for the storage volumes so just booting the server each time wasn't an option.
Having to enter the key each time kind of retarded for file server usage.
So that left me with a couple options:

  • Use a USB device with the decryption key on.
    • Insecure, physical access means access to the encrypted data.
  • Don't use encryption
    • Insecure, obviously.
  • suspend-to-disk / hibernate / S4.
    • Insecure, physical access means access to the encrypted data as hiberation writes the complete content of the memory to disk and then completely shuts down the server. Next time it boots it just puts the content back to memory.
    • Relatively slow.
  • suspend-to-ram / sleep / S3.
    • More secure. S3 doesn't write anything to disk, the system goes into a power saving state where everything but a couple components still get power to ensure the system can boot to full operational state quickly.
    • Less energy saving than the other options.
    • Wakes up very quickly (matter of seconds).

In the end, I went for S3 as it'd be secure enough for my needs, the power saving would still be a lot better than running it 24/7 and usability is exactly what I wanted.

For some reason the suspend wouldn't work correctly with a 2.6 kernel, so I installed 3.0.0 through apt-get.
It would go into sleep but never wake or work fine for a couple of times before stopping to work.
After troubleshooting the hardware I decided it must have had something to do with the kernel/LKM's so I tried the latest and greatest and it worked fine.
ACPI Linux implementation redesign? Beats me and tbh I've been too lazy to check out what exactly went wrong. Linux 3.0 works, so I'll be using it.

Moving on; the main focus of this project was to have an easy way to serve the files to my PS3 through Mediatomb.
I first thought about a system where a packet sniffer would constantly be sniffing the network for possible connections to the file server and send wake it up as soon as it saw any.
But that required a constantly running server and I wanted as less devices to run 24/7 as possible.
So then I though it'd be pretty cool to have the file server itself look if anything was connected to it and go to S3 state once a certain timeout when nothing connecting to it would be reached.
This is the script I'm using right now to do just that:
while [ True ]; do
echo "$date - MARK" >> /var/log/night
# If we're coming out of S3, we want to kill these
killall s2ram 2>/dev/null
killall pm-suspend 2>/dev/null
# Sometimes resyncing gets stuck on Debian
grep resync=PENDING /proc/mdstat 2>/dev/null
if [ $? -eq 0 ]; then
echo "$date - Setting md0 r/w" >> /var/log/night
mdadm --readwrite /dev/md0
# Check our networking status
ping -c 1 2>/dev/null
if [ $? -ne 0 ]; then
echo "$date - Couldn't reach gateway, restarting networking" >> /var/log/night
/etc/init.d/networking restart
# Check the WoL setting
ethtool eth2 | grep "Wake-on: g"
if [ $? -ne 0 ]; then
echo "$date - WoL setting wrong, correcting" >> /var/log/night
/sbin/ethtool -s eth2 wol g
connections=`netstat -natp | grep ESTABLISHED | wc -l`
if [ $connections == "0" -a $udpconnections == "0" ]; then
# Ok, no connection, let's increase the timer value
echo "$date - No connections, pass $timer of $timeout" >> /var/log/night
let timer=$timer+1
sleep 10
# Oops, there's a connection, resetting the timer
echo "$date - Connections detected" >> /var/log/night
# It's time to go to sleep
if [ $timer == $timeout ]; then
echo "$date - Going night night" >> /var/log/night
pm-suspend &
sleep 30
echo "$date - Lingering for $interval seconds" >> /var/log/night
sleep $interval

Of course, this script applies to my situation.
If you want to use it, you'll have to adjust some settings like the networking interface, the timeout you want, the ip address of the server itself and so on.
But it works pretty well and manages to avoid some pitfalls I encountered along the way.

Right, so the script was ready and worked as it should.
Now how could I get it to run "constantly"?
I tried running it through a startup script as a daemon, but for some reason it wouldn't survive the S3.
I tried running it through cron, which was fine but it wouldn't run 'all the time' as I originally wanted.
Even if the above solution would've been fine, it still wouldn't be optimal as the daemon/script could've been killed by other processes and I don't want that. I want it running, all the time.
So the perfect solution was to use init(8) through /etc/inittab:


The respawn line makes it respawn whenever its not running, no  matter what.
Even if the OOM killer should kill it, it'll be restarted by init and if init(8) gets killed off, there's a far bigger problem going on so it's perfect for my set up.
Anyways, initialize the new line with init q and it works.

The setup has been running for a couple months now and it suits my needs, YMMV of course.

Edit: refer to Label: wurmd for an easy way of waking the box back up.

For completeness' sake:
I'm running a combination of Debian testing and sid.
Linux: 3.0.0-1-486 (486 as I used the same disks as in my previous x86 compatible hardware).
NIC:  Marvell Technology Group Ltd. 88E8056 PCI-E Gigabit Ethernet Controller (rev 12).

01 January 2012

Machine Head guitar tuning

A lot has been written about the subject, but here's the deal:

Machine Head doesn't tune to A440, they tune to 450 Hz.
So configure your tuner to reference A as 450 instead of 440 Hz, tune to Drop B and it'll sound good.
Tuning (low to high): B F♯ B E G♯ C♯ (So 1,5 steps down from Drop D)
That's all there is to it. \m/

Boss NS-2

Right, I'm going to kick start this with something I've noticed about the Boss-NS2.

I wanted a noise gate because my setup was pretty noisy, especially at high gain.
So I Googled for a bit and decided the entire ISP Decimator vs Boss NS-2 discussion is a bit like Nintendo vs Sega, Vi vs Emacs, Jap bikes/cars vs Euro bikes/cars, Apple vs Microsoft etc etc etc
(btw, the correct answers to those are, in order: Nintendo, Vi, Japanese bikes/cars and Debian)
Anyways, apparently it's very hard to try and make an objective opinion about the damn pedal.
"There's tone sucking going on", I've read that a gazillion times on forums and in reviews.
Nice information dudes, cheers for that!
Well, I haven't tested the ISP so I can't compare the two, but I noticed something:

I never really liked the sound of my Hardwire TL-2 distortion on the Blackstar HT1 in some situations.
It was ok for everything except for those real chunky down stroked riffs Metallica is known for.
As soon as I engaged the pedal on either channel of the amp 2 things happened:
* the chunkiness disappeared and no matter what I did with the TL-2's settings, I couldn't get it back. It sounded pretty tame actually.
* high tones got boosted slightly ("high" dial at 12 o'clock). Wasn't that big of a deal, just turned the dial down a little.

So, I got the Boss NS-2 today (it's a lot cheaper than the ISP and if it's good enough for Mr Hetfield, it's good enough for me) and I set it up like this:

guitar -> NS2 input
NS2 output -> amp
NS2 send -> TL-2 input
TL-2 output -> NS2 return

So the standard "let's put the distortion pedal in the NS2 loop" set up, basically.
I engaged the distortion on the amp's clean channel and lo and behold, my chunky sound is back.
Don't ask me why, I have no idea... but I'm digging the sound a lot.

So, is there tone sucking?
Define tone sucking... my tone has definitely changed, for the better that is.
The chunk is back and the highs sound "normal" again.
The distortion pedal now sounds like what I'd expect from a distortion pedal.
It took the NS-2's effect loop but it sounds good to my ears now.

The noise reduction and gating function of the NS-2 works like it should on my set up btw, thought I should mention that as well.
Some people on the forums I've read on the subject claimed it didn't work for them, YMMV.

For completeness' sake here's the gear used in the set up:

* Epiphone '84 Explorer reissue (EMG's 81/85)
* Blackstar HT1
* Digitech Hardwire TL-2 Metal Distortion
* Boss NS-2

First post!!!one!!111!!1

(in case one of my friends should bump into this...)

I hate blogs, I really do, and here's why:

I don't give a fuck what kind of spaghetti you like best.
I'm not interested in seeing your baby pictures.
I don't care about what you think about politics and I can do without reading about your kid.

I like _useful_ information, the kind of information that can help you solve a problem.
Well, the problem is that I often search for information on something on Google but the information I'm after is nowhere to be found. 
A shitload loosely related stuff (but always very vague, of course) on blogs and mailing lists, yeh, but not the specific info I'm after.
And that, random reader, is why I start this blog.
To cache information which wouldn't be on Google otherwise, Blogger stuff gets cached so the information I want to share will be easily accessible.
Topics can and will include anything that I think is interesting and I feel should be cached...

Oh and don't send me emails expecting me to do your job for you.
I've had it happen before... what I've learned is employers generally don't like to hear stories about members of their staff being in charge of stuff they don't know shit about; who would've guessed?
I'm not doing this because of some altruistic urge you know, just saying.