Discovering RedHat Enterprise Linux

I am a Windows guy so when it comes to Linux, I am a complete newbie although I’ve been exposed to a few RedHat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) version 5 x86_64 tasks related to Oracle database administration. I’ve played around with Ubuntu and Fedora but I find it hard to adapt since I’m so used to Windows environment. Earlier this month, I was invited to attend a free half a day RedHat Workshop conducted by ECS Pericomp. I’ve dealt a few software purchase with them and so far I’ve been satisfied with their level of service.

ECS Pericomp is located in Kota Damansara. I had to hustle the peak traffic jam, I am puzzled of why is it that during the fasting month of Ramadan, the road traffic are more congested than usual. Maybe I was driving on the wrong route. Anyway, I arrived there slightly late and the presentation started:

I must say that ECS ICT Berhad is quite big. They have a list of smaller companies within their own premises. My company is way smaller than them.

Mike Lai is the Technology Specialist at ECS Pericomp. I really admire his presentation style because I think he loves to share stuff instead of selling.

Some brief explanation about what Open Source is all about.

Some of the software development milestone related to RedHat.

Some of the tools and features of RHEL. Mike continued to share that a lot other organization clone the RedHat to become their own, one is example is the Oracle Linux where the OS are fine tune with Oracle products.

Now this is what the entire workshop is all about, “Virtualization”. I’ve been exposed to virtualization ever since the creation of Virtual PC. From there, I moved on to VirtualBox and read a little bit about VMWare. It is really an interesting topic to learn and implement. I have a couple of ideas I wanted to experiment since my company has its own small data center and the aging servers are really hard to manage. Now comes the best part, demo:

In the demo, Mike showed how he actually makes a live migration. The Virtual Machine (VM) used is Windows XP. He opened a text file and without saving it, created an exact copy of the VM and launches it. The exact opened text file appears sort of like a clone. Of course this is no surprise for people who have been familiar with Virtual PC such as myself. However, the web-based virtualization tool used reminded me of Amazon Elastic Cloud Compute EC2 I’ve been playing around 2 months ago.

As much as I marvel all this new cool technology, conveying the virtualization idea and practical issues is something to work on. Overall, this workshop benefited me well enough thanks to ECS.

Upgraded from TMNet Streamyx to TM UniFi

Last February 2011, 2 TM UniFi agent came to my house claiming that my area is within UniFi coverage. I checked on UniFi’s website earlier but my house address was no where to be found. Since the guy said that registration and the even the installation is free, I then agreed to sign up. 5 months later, after I signed up again online and confirmed that my house address was listed, I received an e-mail that my order was approved and the installation will be done in July 2011. Apparently, TM UniFi’s personnel called me up and inform me of an earlier installation date and I happily agreed to it.

Unfortunately, they broke their promise and didn’t show up on the date. I e-mailed them back and complain about it and received a reply from their customer support. The installation date was pushed to the following week. Here’s how the installation work was done:

There were 2 vans arrived at my house, one contractor is for the outdoor installation and the other is responsible for the indoor installation. Altogether there were 5 people.

I admired this guy who engaged me as the customer and did most of the work compared the other guys. Not only did he brought the barrel of fiber optics cable to the telekom pole, he drilled a hole in my living room.

He then drilled my kitchen wall to insert the fibre optic cables from the outside.

He pulled the fiber optic cables were pulled into my house living room.

The fiber optics cable barrel.

My cracked kitchen wall caused by the drilling. One of the contractor then masked the cracked wall with white plaster.

The guy then sets up the UniFi equipments in my living room.

He and another guys working on the UniFi’s connectivity.

My neighbourhood UniFi box connector. In some places, the UniFi connectivity is located underground.

My house TM UniFi equipment up and running.

The next step after installing UniFi is to terminate the TM Net Streamyx and telephone line. There were several issues I’ve encountered after the installation:

  1. I tried requesting for my house number to remain the same. Unfortunately the TM Point staff told me that I can’t have my old phone number to be replaced with the new UniFi telephone number. So there goes my old house number after using it for 14 years.
  2. The TM powered wireless router administration page is very opened. Even though I’ve disabled the remote access to the router, until now I can’t seem to change the password (current password is just blank).
  3. I spent 2 days configuring the TM powered wireless router to work on my laptop. Only my laptop couldn’t connect to the WiFi, the rest of laptop, PC and mobile devices in my house could connect to the internet without any problem. I tried configured everything I know on my laptop, installed and uninstalled several drivers and software but nothing seems to work. In the end, I hooked up my old wireless router back and my laptop automatically connects to the internet.
  4. After consuming gigabytes of data (I am a heavy downloader once in a while), I think one the UniFi devices crashed and both the HyppTV and the internet is not available anymore. This had occur twice already. The solution is to reset the whole boxes (Consist of the UniFi modem, Wireless router and HypTV box; Switch off for a few seconds and switch back on after that) and the UniFi services will be back to normal. Don’t bother tinkering into the admin page or call the customer service unless if you really need to.

If you want to read a full detail story of what happened before the installation, you can read it on my Malay blog here, that is if you can understand Malay language.

Overall, I am satisfied with TM UniFi services. There are moments when the internet line was really slow, I guess not all of the servers can cater for the high speed connection. The only significant improvement I’ve noticed is when watching YouTube where you don’t have to wait for the buffering video anymore. The HyppTV/IPTV is crystal clear and at the moment I’m enjoying all of the HyppTV channel free for a month (1-31 August 2011). That’s all for now. Do leave a comment if you would like to ask me anything.

Cheers.

A Preview of The Oracle Database Firewall

Last year I went to Oracle HQ at The Garden Mid Valley City for a presentation of Oracle Enterprise Single Sign On (ESSO). This year or specifically 18th of May last month, I attended an Oracle DBA Round Table – Database Firewall.

Same as last time, the presentation was done at Langkawi Room located at level 23, The Garden North Tower, Mid Valley City.


The Training Room

The Presenter was Niel Pandya which I believe is from the UK.


The Oracle presenter/trainer of the day


How is Data Compromised?


Why is understanding SQL critical?


Attendees present


Oracle Database Firewall Basic Components


Diagram of Basic Data Center Environment

Now comes the best part, FOOD! The food was prepared by Restoran Rebung (Chef Ismail). Chef Ismail is one of the prominent chef in Malaysia so of course his food is superb.


Lunch! One of the best tasting training lunch I've ever tasted

After lunch was over, it’s time for some action.


The Hands-on training server's IP addresses strip sheet

Each participant was given this strip sheet with 3 IP addresses. The IP addresses was unique for each participants so no participant was connecting to the same server.


Trying to set up server connection on my laptop

At first, I was astounded by how the training was setup. Upon further investigation, I found out that the organizer used Amazon Web Services and setup more than (30 x 3) Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instance for each participants. Now this is new to me.


Instruction on The Hands-on training server's using the IP addresses strip sheet

After setting up the “virtual lab”, its time to test the oracle Database Firewall setup.


Applying the Swingbench Application

If you are accustomed to dashboard style web-based console, you’ll definitely have no problem exploring all its features.


A view of the Oracle Database Firewall Administration Console

The class ended at 3.30pm, the instructor told us that the server can still be accessed up until 6pm before it’ll be shut down. Unfortunately when I got home, the server were inaccessible anymore.


Class ended

This class has been an eye opener for me since I like trying out stuff instead of just listening or reading it. I believe this type of presentation and hands-on training is more meaningful rather than just a talk. In my opinion, the Oracle Database Firewall product is useful in an environment where things has been out of control where developers and system administrator experienced some sort of a battle cracking down each other. Basically it depends on which industry the product is applied in. If it involves financial, this product will become top of the line security add-on. However, with the alarming numbers of breaches, malware, spyware, SQL injections and network security ignorance by the IT people themselves, prevention is better than cure right?


Posing in front of Oracle HQ Malaysia

If you need more information regarding Oracle Database Firewall, here’s two links you can download the product information:

Seagate BlackArmor NAS 110 Centralised Network Storage

I recently read about Seagate buying over Samsung division for its hard disk drive business. I have used several Seagate hard disks so far to store all of my digital stuff. Over the recent years, I only back up all my digital stuff on a portable 160GB hard disk drive. The 160GB was insufficient for me, therefore I had to burn all those stuff using a DVD writer and store it some place else. It was inconvenient and time consuming. I consider myself lucky since I never had any data loss even though my My Compaq Presario V3751AU Laptop ceased to operate anymore. My data back up practice is pretty bad. If for some reason my laptop got stolen or something bad happen, I’ll definitely be screwed.

Therefore I made a decision to search for a back up device. I went for a short trip to Low Yat Plaza, after a few hours surveying numerous back-up solutions, I decided on purchasing this Seagate BlackArmor NAS 110 1 TB Network Attached Storage ST310005MNA10G-RK
device:


Seagate BlackArmor NAS 110 Centralised Network Storage


Seagate BlackArmor NAS 110 Centralised Network Storage

Well 1TB is too large for me. My data accumulated over the years are only half of the size. So far, I’ve only used 26% of what this NAS storage has to offer. There is a few drawback using a NAS, if you are on a wireless network, the data transfer speed rate can only go up to what your wireless device can take. Like mine, I could only transfer 6GB in one hour. That is of course if the signal reception is consistent or when I’m not doing anything on the computer. Other than that, unlike the Buffalo Technology LinkStation Live 1.0TB Shared Network Attached Storage LS-CH1.0TL(Black), this device doesn’t have Bittorrent client to automatically download digital stuff I like.

Well at RM299 price, I consider this cheap for a 1TB personal storage solutions. Don’t you think so?

*Need more information about Seagate BlackArmor NAS 110 1 TB Network Attached Storage ST310005MNA10G-RK you can check it out at this site.

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