Ignition Coil

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Tags: DIY

Last weekend, I replaced the ignition coil on my wife’s van. It was a lot like replacing the motherboard on a laptop.

  • There are a lot of things in odd places only a contortionist could reach.
  • Invariably, the thing you need to replace is in the hardest place to get to.
  • The hardest part of the whole process is keeping up with all the screws and remembering where they go when you’re done.

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Windows 8.1 Pro Preview BSOD

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I just got my first Blue Screen of Death from Windows 8.1 Pro Preview… and it only took me 3 hours.


I think it would look better if it had the fish from the start screen floating on top, upside down, and bloated. Here is the original fish startup screen:


Here is my mock-up of what I think the blue screen should look like:



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Setting Up Your First LXC container (to clone from)

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Q: Why should I? Why not use a lxc template instead?

A: Because you’ll have to download the base packages every time. Then you’ll have to install other packages that aren’t in the base template (like wget and git).

Q: Why install puppet after I have the new container running?

A: Because puppet makes life better.

Q: Can’t you just modify the lxc template to do this instead of cloning a container all the time?

A: Yes, you could modify the lxc template to do some or all of these things. But that requires modifying the template and the templates come from the upstream vendor (Ubuntu), so I don’t want to fiddle with them.

Step 1: Install LXC

Use my Uninspiring and Un-Parameterized LXC puppet class to install LXC, set up DNS, and install lxc-templates… Or do it by hand.

Note: The puppet class assumes you *already* have a directory owned by root named ‘/home/lxc’. It’s in the README.md in the repo. Someday, I might parameterize it. But not today.

Step 2: Create the New Container

I’m using the name “ubuntu1204-template.” It will take a while to download all the base packages.

sudo lxc-create -n ubuntu1204-template -t ubuntu

Step 3: Install missing software

Start the thing and connect to it. If you used my uninspiring puppet module to install lxc for you, just ssh to it. Otherwise, use lxc-console -d ubuntu1204-template to connect to it.

sudo lxc-start -n ubuntu1204-template
ssh ubuntu1204-template.lxc

Install wget, git, and puppet.

sudo apt-get install wget
sudo apt-get install git

If you prefer the puppet that’s packaged with Ubuntu, just use apt-get install puppet. Last time I checked, it was puppet 2.7. Personally, I prefer puppet 3.2 from puppet labs:

wget http://apt.puppetlabs.com/puppetlabs-release-precise.deb
sudo dpkg -i puppetlabs-release-precise.deb
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install puppet

Step 4: Setup User Access & Puppet

Set up your user. If you’re like me, you’ll quickly get annoyed logging in as ubuntu on your lxc systems.

  1. Add your new user.
  2. Give him sudo access.
  3. Change the password for the ubuntu user to something better or delete the user altogether.

Yes, you could do this step with puppet. Just git clone your puppet repo (you do have a puppet repo, right?) and set up the node just like you would any other.

Step 5: Enjoy

Enjoy your new cloneable lxc template machine. Get it up to your personal “baseline”, but don’t use it for actual work or anything. Keep it shut down. Just clone it whenever you need a new system, but you don’t want to star from scratch.

sudo lxc-clone -o ubuntu1204-template -n new-system-name

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Happy Sysadmin Day

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To all my fellow sysadmins out there, Happy Sysadmin Day!

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Ubuntu Edge + Chromecast Might be a Game Changer

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If you are able to use an Ubuntu Edge phone with a Chromecast, it might be a game changer (then again, it might not). For one thing, you wouldn’t need any clunky peripherals like the Motorolla Atrix, which flopped. But if done well, I would love to have one. To have access to 128G of data without a network connection would be great. I could work on things while out and about. All I would need is a bluetooth mouse & keyboard (and there are some stowaway keyboards available).

Then, if you’re at a hotel or something, you could just plug in the Chromecast, set it to cast the whole desktop, and away you go. You can do presentations on any screen with an HDMI port, work on spreadsheets or play games, vpn in to your work PC, or ssh to a server you have out in the cloud.

You could do anything you can from home – anywhere. Not just the “apps” that are packaged for phones dumbed down so you can’t get real work done. You would have the full thing. It’s what I’ve been asking for since before the iPhone came out. Back then, I had owned several palm pilots and a couple Handspring Visors and even a Blackberry. What I really wanted was a Linux machine in my pocket that I could use anywhere and it still had all my working data on it.

Maybe my dreams will come true. Maybe I’ll have to build it myself.

My biggest problem with the Ubuntu Edge is they’re going for gold in the specs. I don’t really need it to be that powerful (or expensive). It would be a laptop replacement, but not a server replacement.

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