Updating Ubuntu cloud images

One approach to updating (and making PCI DSS-compliant…) Ubuntu cloud images would be to start a stock instance with an unmodified image, customise this VM, and then either snapshot or save and convert the resulting filesystem. The two drawbacks of this methodology are that the resulting image isn’t necessarily pristine – the commands run to migrate its state and and temporary files will still be present – and the image will be much larger than the original compressed/deduplicated source. This latter aspect is important when there is a need to spin-up a large number of VMs quickly, and the smaller the source image the faster this can occur.


Setting user passwords on Ubuntu cloud instances

I’ve recently been working on upgrading the stock Ubuntu cloud image(*) to meet the requirements for PCI DSS compliance – and a hugely non-obvious issue I ran into went as follows:

# passwd newuser
passwd: Module is unknown
passwd: password unchanged

Unmounting stuck Linux filesystems…

It’s not uncommon, especially when using chroot() gaols, to find that “modern” systemd-equipped Linux distributions seem to get a bit possessive when it comes to mounting filesystems such as devtmpfs on /dev or tmpfs on /run, and when you want to remove the gaol this filesystems can show as still in use – although lsof/fuser -m output suggests that everything using root-dev and nothing respectively are actually using these mount-points.


HP Virtual Rooms on Linux

HP Virtual Rooms supports Windows (primarily), Mac OS, and Linux.

Getting things working on Linux, however, takes a bit of elbow grease…

Internet Work

Gentoo Linux ebuild for SilverStripe 2.2.3

We’ve recently been working on remodelling our corporate website, and the decision has been made to make use of the SilverStripe CMS.

Hardware Technology Work

Fix problems with Vodafone 3G USB modems on Sony laptops

At work we have several Sony laptops and have recently upgraded to the latest Vodafone-branded Huawei 3G/HSDPA modems… and on all laptops we’ve experienced intermittent connectivity and constant errors.

Internet Technology Work

Vodafone illegally intercepting 3G-users’ email?

Some of the guys at work have been reporting for several days that they haven’t been able to send email when working off-site and connecting to the internet by their Vodafone 3G dongles.

Specifically, Thunderbird was saying that it received an invalid server response of “421 too many connections”.

Thoughts Work

Silent and deadly

It looks as if the roadworks at the top-end of Milton Road are finally complete… the net result seeming to be that where previously there was a lane for traffic headed for Cowley Road, the Business Park, and the Park and Ride and a lane for heading into town, there is instead now but a single lane for all of this traffic. The dual-carriageway to the Science Park seems as unused as ever (I’ve never seen more than three vehicles between both lanes) – but now the queues down that single lane which carry all of the other traffic are enormous. By 10am each day, the queues go right back to the roundabout, so goodness only knows how bad it must be at 9am.

More to the point, it’s downright dangerous: this insane road layout encourages, almost ensures, that people will drive straight down the (empty) left-most Science Park lane, and then try to cut back into the traffic stream between two sets of lights. I guarantee that this will cause an accident sooner rather than later.

Humour Work

spásh∂l lít'∂r-∂-sé

There’s a great website at Spatial Literacy where such things as the distribution of surnames or internet usage by postcode can be looked-up.


(And take a guess at how many people, out of an office of 11 working in the High-Tech industry, were able to spell this URL right first time…


… and guess how many different variations of the word “spatial” there were :))

Humour Music Work

Usability guidelines

Carole: “Those headphones can be a pain in the arse!”
Richard: “If they’re a pain in the arse, Carole, you’re probably not wearing them in the right place

Carole: “Glasses can be a pain in the arse too…”
Richard: “I refer you to my previous comment about headphones!

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