Frank Groeneveld's blog

Remote Installation of OpenBSD From Linux

Using a trick documented here, I switched this server from Linux to OpenBSD, without a support installation method for OpenBSD from my ISP. In the original article, the author created a VM disk image and installed OpenBSD in it. The server was then rebooted into rescue mode (from a LiveCD) and the VM was uploaded and written to disk using dd. I modified the documented method a bit to speed up the process.

Basic Concepts of High Availability Linux

When considering to build a high availability cluster based on Linux, it’s easy to find all kinds of how-to’s explaining the basic tooling and configuration. Most of them forget to explain some of the basic concepts of high availability. In this post I’ll try to explain them.

No Need for RVM or Rbenv on OpenBSD

A lot of Ruby on Rails developers install Ruby by using RVM or rbenv. Most of the time this is because their operating system of choice comes without an up-to-date Ruby version. For example, Debian 7 ships Ruby 1.9.3 and Mac OS 10.8 shipped with 1.8.7. Tools like RVM or rbenv can be used to install a newer version in the users own home-directory. These tools use shims to “trick” gem and bundle into using the users own version instead of the system version. I’ve always found this to be a rather messy solution and luckily you don’t need it on OpenBSD.

A Good BSD Versus Linux Explanation

The following link is a good written article about some of the differences between the BSDs (mostly FreeBSD) and Linux. I especially liked this explanation:

It’s been my impression that the BSD communit{y,ies}, in general, understand Linux far better than the Linux communit{y,ies} understand BSD.

» BSD vs Linux

Switched to a Different Google Reader Alternative: Feedbin

Last december I switched to Feed a Fever for RSS reading. I really enjoyed it, but after I while I got fed up with the fact that it didn’t work that well in Firefox on Android and in Internet Explorer on Windows Phone. After some searching I found Feedbin. A hosted RSS reader build by Ben Ubois, which looks just great. I signed up right away and tried it for three days (after that, your credit card will be charged). It didn’t take me the full three days to convince me: it works a lot better than Feed a Fever and I don’t need to host it myself.

Screenshot from 2013-06-23 10:57:36

There is a mobile interface as well, which works great on FIrefox for Android and pretty good on Internet Explorer for Windows Phone. The most annoying problem is the fact that Microsoft decided @font-face was not worth implementing on Windows Phone, which means the icon font that is used for all the icons shows just blank squares. After using Feedbin for an hour, you’ll know all these by heart though.

Switching From Google Reader to Feed a Fever

In my opinion Google Reader has become a lot less nice to work with by completely removing the share functionality and modifying the interface in a way I didn’t like it. I recently found Feed a Fever, a self hosted, one time purchase RSS reader ($30). I bought and configured it and so far I really like it. The interface looks nice and is very fast compared to Google Reader. Feed a Fever is also able to detect duplicate posts and important articles (in the “Hot” section), meaning I will save time by being able to focus more on the important things.

Another Step in the Migration Away From Google Services

Last year I switched from Gmail to Fastmail. I did this because I got fed up with the changes Google made to Gmail and because their IMAP service and the webmail client only became slower.

Well, a few weeks ago Google anounced another bitch-slap for their users: deprecating Exchange Active Sync. This basically means anybody with an Apple iOS device will need to use the Google apps in order to have push mail support and syncing contacts and calendars becomes a lot more difficult as well. To make things worse, Windows Phone users will not be able to sync their contacts or calendars at all.

I own a Windows Phone device, so I started to search for a better alternative to Fastmail (they don’t have calendars and don’t have a sync mechanism for contacts). I finally found hosted Zimbra to be a viable alternative. I opened up an account at XXL Webhosting for only € 4 a month! As an added benefit none of my email, calendar or contact information is stored in the US anymore, because this is a company based in the Netherlands.