Roy's Blog

A Hacker's musings on Code | Tech | Life

My brother got me some very tasty presents for Christmas (and my up-coming Birthday), namely the GIGABYTE BRIX J1900 and a Samsung EVO 750 250G. Santa also brought me 8G of Crucial memory. Putting them all together is a nice new machine to install NetBSD Xen! The key part is this is a low end CPU, but critically supports Intel VT-x virtualization technology.

There were some challenges. Firstly, I couldn't find a way to get into the BIOS. Neither F12, F2 or Del hammering during the boot process worked. While there is a mouse cursor to move and click, it booted too fast to actually use it. Actually, pressing the BSS on screen button did briefly display a keyboard to enter the SSID, but it then booted instead. This meant I couldn't enable PXE boot, so a USB install is needed. This lead onto the next problem ..... NetBSD-7 is too old, you need a recent -current for the USB ports to work. No matter, making a NetBSD USB install was quite trivial, the only challenge being to find a pre-built image. Luckily I found and browsed to the dates images folder to get the install img for amd64.

From this point, installation was trivial. But here are some notes:

  • Allocating 5G to / is enough to install a -current base and compiler, pkgsrc checkout and build xentools.
  • No idea if I need it, but I allocated 1G swap.
  • I setup XEN backing using LVM, so the rest of the disk is allocated to that.
  • I needed to reboot twice to get LVM/Xen to start recognising the assigned LV.
  • The NetBSD Xen How To needs some love in places.

The speed of this box compared to my current Shuttle XS35 is impressive. While I have less disk space (quite a lot less), it should still be enough to replace it entirely and power my email, web and other stuff. As it's Xen, I am hoping that I can use this box to do my open source work on other OS's easily and support more OS's than my exiting laptop allowed (max 4 partitions) which means a faster turnaround time for support.

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As I blogged previously about changing ISP, it has finally happened. The engineer who installed it was very friendly, polite and helpful whilst doing professional job. A credit to the company.

From 16/0.6mbs to 200/20mbs thanks to Virgin Media! OK, it's not quite 200 down, it's quite variable actually. So far, it's normally around 150mbs at peak times, compared to my old service which was rock steady. Probably because I was on low contention service so my max available was pretty much guaranteed. However, it's always 20+ up! And lets be fair, even 50mbs down is x3 better than what I had previosuly, but it's yet to dip under 120mbs. This will be awesome for work conference calls with video :)

Also, one unexpected feature of the Virgin Media SuperHub is the Modem mode (I turned off Router mode as my existing NetBSD router and Unifi wireless AP is better) is that it's not a PPP based modem. At least, not facing me. So I have to run dhcpcd on it to get my address, which makes me feel all warm and fuzzy as it's my personal software! A much easier setup than PPP as well as the MTU for routes can stay at 1500 and not be "adjusted" for PPPoE over PPPoA as is the norm in the UK.

Still, this is only day one, the service could go tits up, but so far the experice is very very nice :)

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My time with Goscomb Technologies as my ISP is coming to an end. It's partially their fault, but mainly BT OpenReach.

I'm FTTC connected and I get 14mbs down 0.2mbs up .... on a good day. When I took this service up 3 years ago it was sufficient .... but now it's now. So what's changed? Well, my site is getting more traffic (yay!) and I have more devices network connected. Also, my family is abusing the network more as well. I am also having been an Amazon Prime subscriber for a year now.

So BT can't improve it in 3 years. But I need something, so kaboosh, lets look elsewhere. Goscomb technical support while initially good is just simply shocking now they've been bought out by hSo group. They don't actually use their ticket tracker and when I phone up they say file a ticket. Explain patentiently I did ..... you get the idea. Coupled with the fact their IPv4 service has been exceptional, but their IPv6 service has been getting very spotty (and IPv6 was one of the sole reasons for using them) it's time to look elsewhere again. Also, I'm maxing my download cap and it's getting annoying and the next tier up is quite pricey....

So where to?

For better or for worse, I will be getting a Virgin Media Vivid Gamer 200 cable connection installed on Saturday. 200mbs down, 20mbs up, no traffic management. Wow! The up is better than my down ever was! Unlimited downloads sounds sexy too. The new deal is cheaper by £22 per month compared with the BT and Goscomb combo too boot. So what's the catch?

Well, I can't use the Virgin Media Business account. They can't get a static IP address working on their business modem in modem mode. At all. Also, there are reports of their static IP service being dog slow and when they change to dynamic the speed gets back up. Both of these are deal breaks for me .... I need it in modem mode as I run my own network. I'm moving to them for the speed, not the slowness and network dropouts. Apparently this is because the static IP is a GRE tunnel over the residential service.

So this means no more 100% self hosting .... I need a static IP address to send mail from. So my solution is to rent a VPS for £3 a month to act as my public nameserver and email gateway. This is now setup .... and in operation! It was fairly challenging, but the added bonus is that a lot more spam doesn't hit my homenetwork as it's blocked by spamhaus and postgrey. Even if it gets past that, it still has to defeat spamassassin on my mail mailserver, which is still hosted at home. It also means no more IPv6 .... but I will investigate a Hurricane Electric IPv6 Tunnel. I've used them before and it as good but slow ... hopefully it will be useable on the new cable! Virgin Media [claim to be rolling out IPv6 mid 2017]() but I'm not counting on that (but it would be nice).

Anyway, I think I've got everything ready to be upgraded now and I'm quite exited!

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So nice to have his naming day just after his Birthday :)

Abbey made the a lovely teddy bear cake with his name in building blocks ... seriously more tasty than any shop bought cake.

Ethan and Mummy Ethan's Cake

Loads of family and friends from both sides of the family made it a wonderful ceremony ..... and social afternoon party.

Marples and Friends Hunt and Friends

Well, the kids certainly had a party with a bouncy castle indoors!

Bouncy castle Bouncy castle

Thanks for coming everyone!

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My, how time has long. It doesn't seem too long ago since he arrived! He fell in love with his new panda right away, was unsure about the arrival of the Birthday cake but sure loved eating it ..... and the bath afterwards :)

Ethan with Panda Ethan with Cake Ethan eating Cake

Happy Birthday Son!

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