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Lessons I’ve recently learned…

Posted by Preston on 2009-11-11

When I was at University, a philosophy lecturer remarked rather sagely that University is the last place people can go to learn for the sake of learning.

That’s sort of correct, but not always so. People can fumble through their jobs on a day to day basis learning what they have to, but they can also work along the basis of trying to soak up as much information as they can along the way. I’m not always a knowledge sponge – particularly if my caffeine quota is on the light side for the day, but I like to think I learn the odd thing here and there.

In the spirit of knowledge acquisition, here’s a few smaller things I’ve learned recently:

  • When simulating network connectivity problems, there’s a big difference between yanking the network cable and shutting down the network interface. (I was doing the interface shutdown, another person was doing the network cable unplug – and our results didn’t correlate.) Lesson: When escalating a case to vendor support, always spell out how you’re simulating the “comms failure” a customer is having.
  • The ‘bigasm’ utility starts to fall in a heap and becomes extremely unreliable once you exceed about 2100 GB of data generated for a single file. Lesson: When setting out to generate 2.3+ TB of backup data, create a bunch of files and have a bigasm directive to generate a smaller amount of data per file.
  • When setting up tests that will take a couple of days to run, always triple check what you’re about to do before you start it. Lesson: If you make a typo of 250 files at 100 GB each instead of 250 files at 10 GB each, bigasm/NetWorker won’t interpolate what you really meant.
  • There’s a hell of a difference between Solaris 10 AMD release 2 and release 8. Lesson: If wanting to get a Solaris 10 AMD 64-bit OS working in Parallels Desktop for Mac v5 with networking, go for release 8. It will save many forehead bruises.
  • ext3 is about as “modern” a filesystem as I am an elite sportsperson. Lesson: If wanting to achieve decent operational activities with backup to disk under Linux, use XFS instead of ext3.
  • All eSATA is not created equal. Lesson: When using an motherboard SATA -> eSATA converter, make sure the dual drive dock you order doesn’t work as a port multiplier.
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