virtuals and containers

I have been using qemu and, increasingly, virtualbox to run various OS experiments.  I also run the OEM XP that came on my workstation in a virtualbox instance on that same workstation;  a demotion of sorts I suppose.  I run R/C aircraft training simulators on XP as it is much cheaper to hit RESTART than to rebuild aircraft.

In the last couple of years I’ve been hearing more about containers as a potentially lighter-weight solution to problems that might have been solved using virtualization before.

Still getting my head wrapped around the container model, but I started a couple of small test containers for running some CLI utilities (screen and mosh, as it happens).  I was reassured to see that adding a 2nd and 3rd Debian-based container required only a few bits of data pulled down to support the new utilities.  I think this is supposed to be a major feature but it’s always good to see something for oneself.


< hello, whale >
                    ##        .            
              ## ## ##       ==            
           ## ## ## ##      ===            
       /""""""""""""""""___/ ===        
  ~~~ {~~ ~~~~ ~~~ ~~~~ ~~ ~ /  ===- ~~~   
       \______ o          __/            
        \    \        __/             


Newegg resolution

I am impressed by Newegg’s handling of my bug report.   Most of the time I stop to report a site error there is no indication that anyone reads it at all.

In this case Newegg followed up multiple times, asking pertinent questions.  Here is the final resolution:

Thank you for your patience. I was able to relay that information to our Website Team and they were unable to duplicate the issue you encountered. I understand you already made the purchase through another retailer, however I’d like to honor the [promo] on a future purchase from us…

The offer to replace the promo in kind was a nice touch, but I am happier that they actually listened and did some digging.



Lite-On failure –> NewEgg fail

Lite-On has a great reputation for quality and performance in optical media burners.  I’ve used them (among others) since the 90s and have never experienced a failure.

But recently the CD head of my Lite-On 24X SATA Internal DVD+/-RW Drive Optical Drive IHAS124-14 fell over after 7 months of very light use.  Maybe 10 burns total?   😦  I started a warranty replacement inquiry with the Amazon seller but figured I’d get a new one on the way.  I’ll use the replacement, if any, as a spare.

So I find the best price for a new one is on NewEgg, $19.99 – $6 promo as listed on their own page.

Screenshot at 2016-05-25 13:01:58


Coolio.  Total price (free slow shipping) = $13.99.  So I add it and check out.

The promo goes in fine and subtracts $6 as designed.  I’m happy.

Screenshot at 2016-05-25 12:48:10

I choose paypal payment and do that.  Return to NewEgg for finalization:

Screenshot at 2016-05-25 12:47:46

Umm, what?

I bailed and bought it from Amazon after all.   I’ll send a copy of this blog entry to NewEgg.

Update:  NewEgg responded and is checking it out, asking the right questions.  Props to them.  Hopefully it will help the next guy.



rtorrent v. aria2c

I have more ability than I have money, so one of the ways I’ve contributed to open source projects like Linux distros is by seeding linux ISO torrents.

In the past I chose rtorrent because of its small footprint and terminal UI.  But development seems to have hit a wall and folks are sniffing around for a lightweight replacement.  That’s how I heard about Aria2.

I was immediately skeptical but have found it useful for short-term seeding and for downloading entire torrents.  It also allows you to automatically add additional trackers in the config, which I haven’t found in rTorrent.  It also handles other protocols like ftp, http, etc.

rTorrent remains the winner in my book for longer-term seeding and downloading selected files in torrents.

Here is a sample of what a browser-based frontend for aria2 looks like, with downloads in various stages of completion:



That one is YAAW;  very clean and light.  I’ve also used webui-aria2 but it consumes more CPU cycles with needless animation.

x11vnc v. x0vncserver

I use a VNC server to access the GUI when an SSH terminal session doesn’t suffice.

Under Debian I’d been using x11vnc but it has been unstable under Arch.  Frequent buffer crashes, particularly when the whole screen changes or I right- or middle-click the mouse.  Annoying, and I hadn’t had any luck fixing it.

I have some interest in playing with FreeNX/NoMachine, but I haven’t found a portable Win* binary.

So I went back and took another pass at tigervnc, a tightvnc fork,  whose server binary on *nix is called x0vncserver.  The command line args are a bit different so I had to (gasp) read the man pages.

It was worth it.  the TigerVNC server is significantly faster than x11vnc.  I don’t have to run the blotchy 64-color palette to have decent response over my slow upload “broadband” ssh tunnel.  And no crashes no matter how I stress test it.