Tag Archive: Apple

I have been making a lot of changes the network recently so thought it was time to sketch it out:

The left hand stack is housed in the A/V rack/closet and the right stack is housed in the garage rack. To clarify a few points:

  • The two switches are linked using a 2 x 1 gigabit fibre trunk
  • The ESX servers and file servers are connected to the switch using 2 x 1 gigabit ethernet trunks
  • There ET9000, XBMC, Apple TV 2, HDMI Matrix and Sonos devices can all be controlled from smartphones, pcs etc
  • The ET9000 records to the file server
  • The Sonos Connect / ZonePlayer 90 is connected to the Onkyo Amp to allow Sonos to output to my home theatre
  • The Sonos Connect / ZonePlayer 90 is connected to the Apple TV to allow streaming from iTunes/iOS devices to all zones
  • I haven’t bothered to include my router, wireless access points, client pcs, smartphones, printers and various other devices in the diagram

The wireless sensor network provides:

  • Whole house power consumption currently using a CurrentCost EnviR
  • Individual appliance power consumption (currently monitoring 6 appliances using CurrentCost IAMs)
  • Environment information (temperature, light, humidity) using Jeelabs Jeenodes in multiple zones

This is a good reference point for where I’m headed (not much progress since I last listed but alas, still the way forward):

  • Further appliance monitoring and more importantly control (potentially through upcoming project/device: HexaBus – https://github.com/mysmartgrid/hexabus/wiki or plugwise – http://www.plugwise.com/idplugtype-g/)
  • Security cameras (and doorbell integration)
  • Environmental information (I have pulse counters for my gas meter and water/central heating system that need installing)
  • XBMC hardware replacement (once the Raspberry Pi – http://www.raspberrypi.org/ is available to buy I’d like to replace my Acer Revo)
  • Home Automation Hub replacement (once the Raspberry Pi is available to buy I’d like to try Domitiga – http://www.domotiga.nl/ or my own custom solution)
  • Web Interface (to bring all of the information together from the wireless sensor network, along with the state of all network devices (from bandwidth to free space etc) and most importantly allow central control- so instead of me having to use different methods to switch on the ET9000, change the channel on the HDMI matrix, power on the amp etc, I can do it all with one button)

As usual- I imagine I’ve missed a few bits out from the above but it hopefully provides a good overview of my network.


A few small updates

A few small updates as I have a ton of projects on the go at the moment.

FreeNas 8

After a friend visited earlier in the week I decided to give FreeNas / ZFS another shot- so I’ve installed the latest v8 on a spare HP Microserver N36L. The little cube has 4x 1.5TB Samsung disks in RAID-Z with a single 4GB stick of RAM. I have ordered another stick of RAM and a low profile, dual-port, gigabit pci-e network interface card (nic)- the HP NC360T (intel chipset) so I can setup load-balancing/link aggregation/LACP. I starting copying some data off of the current production Microserver (WHS2011):

Performance seems average. I’d expect to see a bit of an improvement when the gigabit HP / Intel nics arrive.

New Orders :)

I have put my Cisco SGE2000P 24-Port Gigabit managed PoE switch up on eBay as it’s a bit too big and loud for the small data/comms cabinet I bought recently. As a replacement I have ordered the D-Link DGS-1224TP which appears to offer the same feature set at half the size and half the weight (I think it may also be passively cooled and is touted as being "green" so hopefully help with the leccy bill :)

I also have a few Sonos S5 network wireless hifis on order (they were on special offer and I’ve been looking at whole house / multi-room audio distribution solutions for a while). I have a slight concern I may need to buy some Apple AirPort Express access points to enable AirPlay on them but I’ll cross that bridge as/when…

Apple Programming

I’m learning xcode / cocoa / objective-c / osx / iOS whatever they call it as I want to write a little app to control my 4×4 HDMI matrix. The device is on the network and supports simple commands using a telnet style socket connection, so I’m hoping it won’t be too tricky! Unfortunately I couldn’t find the old control software I had or documentation but eventually stumbled upon the pdf with a few pointers. So the reading begins… http://developer.apple.com/library/mac/#referencelibrary/GettingStarted/Learning_Objective-C_A_Primer/_index.html#//apple_ref/doc/uid/TP40007594


Mac OS X Lion on ESXi 5

After countless failed attempts I’ve finally managed to get Mac OS X Lion running in ESXi 5.

I used Donk’s ESXi 5 Mac OS X Unlocker: http://www.insanelymac.com/forum/index.php?s=&showtopic=267296&view=findpost&p=1745191

Unfortunately when you try and boot from the Lion installation DVD the Virtual Machine hangs on the apple logo. Pressing F8 or configuring the VM to force entry into the BIOS on next boot allows you to select EFI Internal Shell

And boot verbosely by issuing the command: boot –v

We now see the boot is hanging at the PCI configuration stage:

Issuing the command: boot –v npci=0x2000

Allows us to get past the PCI configuration step but now hangs looking for the installation media (still waiting for root device):

This appears to be because the IDE controller is unsupported. Attaching an external USB DVD ROM, enabling pass-through:

Then attaching the USB controller to the VM:

And voila- the Lion installation begins!

The next obstacle came when trying to select the target disk for the installation. The virtual disk wasn’t listed and attempting to partition/format the disk resulted in an error: Unable to write to the last block of the device

I found a few suggestions: https://discussions.apple.com/thread/3226425?start=0&tstart=0

Launching Terminal and issuing: diskutil list
Allowed me to identify the disk: /dev/disk0
And issue: diskutil eraseVolume jhfs+ "OSX" /dev/disk0
Which also failed but back in the disk utility I was now able to partition & format the disk ready for the installation!

Everything went smoothly from here. Installing VMWare tools v5.0.0: http://www.insanelymac.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=267339 went smoothly but after rebooting I couldn’t login to (the password seemed to be being rejected). I rebooted the VM in safe mode (hold the shift key whilst during boot) and was able to login.

Performance is pretty poor (I think this is due to the lack of graphics acceleration) so I went straight in and enabled remote management so I could now use Apple Remote Desktop to administer the server.

Good luck!


*EDIT* One important thing to note the VM cannot be powered on from vCenter (error: Failed to find a host for powering on the virtual machine. The following faults explain why the registered host is not compatible. The guest operating system ‘darwin10_64guest’ is not supported). Simply logging directly into the host allows you to power on the VM.

Recently I’ve been having a few issues with my new MacBook Pro- doh! There’s a lot of talk online linking it to overheating issues with the cpu/gpu but the suggested workarounds haven’t helped. Yesterday I booted OSX using the 32bit kernel instead of the 64bit kernel (holding the 3 & 2 keys whilst powering on the mbp) and, fingers crossed, no problems since!

I have been running some intensive apps: handbrake, vlc with external monitor connected via displayport/hdmi etc and stressing the laptop and everything seems AOK!

I’ve posted my findings in a long discussion thread on the apple forum: https://discussions.apple.com/thread/2768351?start=1290&tstart=0

Some of the ways in which the freezing / hanging / crashing has manifested itself:
-laptop refusing to wake from sleep
-coloured wheel appearing and being unable to do anything
-extremely loud beeping coming from the system speaker I think?

Keep you posted.


My New MacBook Pro

I resisted for a short while after the new MacBook Pro was released (feb 2011) but couldn’t resist when someone sent me a 15% off voucher for BestBuy. On top of this I already get 8% cashback through quidco and a further 1% through my egg credit card :)

I went for the 15″ core i7 2.2GHz (the 13″ is a bit small for some of the video/photo editing I do, but the 17″ is a little big for on the train etc). Unfortunately BestBuy don’t do the options (SSD, AntiGlare screen etc) but I ordered 8GB of ram direct from Crucial dirt cheap and a Kingston 128GB SSD from eBuyer which i’m going to put in place of the optical drive (I barely use cd/dvd these days- mostly blu-ray so i carry a slim USB external drive anyway).

I put my old 2008 MacBook Pro on eBay and dug the original receipt out- it’s dated almost exactly 3years ago (definitely the longest a computer has lasted me)- it sold for just over half the original price I paid (which went toward half of the new one :)

Anyway- so far, so good- and no doubt i’ll be blogging about the amazing performance boost I see when the SSD gets delivered.


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