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December 1, 2008

FreeBSD 8.0-CURRENT Amd64 (200810 Snapshot) Virtual Appliance Now Available

Filed under: Operating Systems — Tags: , , — Greg Larkin @ 12:13 pm

Hi everyone,

Do you want to experience FreeBSD on the cutting edge without devoting a brand-new piece of hardware to it? You can test out the latest and greatest FreeBSD bits by downloading the FreeBSD 8.0 amd64 virtual appliance.

You’ll need a BitTorrent client, and once the download has completed, you’ll have a .ova file. This is a self-contained virtual appliance running FreeBSD 8.0-CURRENT amd64, and you can either import it directly into certain VMware products (e.g. VMware Workstation, VMware Player 2.x) or use VMware Converter to convert it into virtual machine format for use within VMware Server 1.x and other products that don’t read .ova files directly.

FreeBSD amd64 doesn’t actually require an AMD CPU to run as long as the specific Intel CPU is the correct architecture. Check for supported CPUs on the FreeBSD amd64 project page.

The virtual appliance’s root password is “password” and a minimal number of services and packages are installed. The virtual appliance is perfect for experimentation and testing, and please send any feedback or questions about it to


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Greg, LLC

Call me - Greg Larkin: error

November 26, 2008

Graphical Display of Subversion Repository Revision History in Trac

Filed under: Source Code Control — Tags: , , , — Greg Larkin @ 8:15 pm

Hi everyone,

Once again, I bring you another useful Subversion-related tool. This time, I recently discovered a Trac plugin named RevtreePlugin. If you want to display your Subversion branches and revisions graphically inside of Trac, this is the plugin for you!

As I’ve noted before, I’m a FreeBSD ports tree committer now, so I absolutely had to build a port for this plugin. You can find the details of the port in FreshPorts, and if you’re using FreeBSD (you are, aren’t you?), install it like so:

cd /usr/ports/www/trac-revtree && make install clean

You will be presented with some options to enable some display enhancers. Make sure to enable the mergeinfo enhancer, and you’ll see some interesting graphs if you’ve been merging a lot.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Greg, LLC

Call me - Greg Larkin: error

November 3, 2008

How To Dump a Remote Subversion Repository

Filed under: Source Code Control — Tags: — Greg Larkin @ 10:53 am

Hi folks,

I run across a lot of software utilities in my day job and as a FreeBSD ports tree committer. Recently, I wanted to generate a Subversion dump file from a repository, but I didn’t have access to the machine where it was housed. Since svnadmin dump requires direct access to the Subversion repository directory, I started looking around for another way.

After some online searching, I found rsvndump, and it works great! Here is an example use to fetch the first 10 revisions of the public TWiki Subversion repository:

[glarkin@fbsd70 ~]$ rsvndump –stop 10 > twiki.dump
* Dumped revision 0 (local 0).
* Dumped revision 1 (local 1).
* Dumped revision 2 (local 2).
* Dumped revision 3 (local 3).
* Dumped revision 4 (local 4).
* Dumped revision 5 (local 5).
* Dumped revision 6 (local 6).
* Dumped revision 7 (local 7).
* Dumped revision 8 (local 8).
* Dumped revision 9 (local 9).
* Dumped revision 10 (local 10).
[glarkin@fbsd70 ~]$ ls -l twiki.dump
-rw-r–r–  1 glarkin  glarkin  334658 Nov  3 09:43 twiki.dump

Once you have a dump file, you can easily create a local Subversion repository and use svnadmin load to populate the new repository.

Of course, I’m now honor-bound to create FreeBSD ports for useful utilities like this if they don’t already exist. If you’d like to install rsvndump on FreeBSD, just do the following:

cd /usr/ports/devel/rsvndump && make install clean
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Greg, LLC

Call me - Greg Larkin: error

October 28, 2008

FreeBSD And Amazon EC2 – Register Your Support!

Filed under: Operating Systems — Tags: , , , — Greg Larkin @ 3:49 pm

Hi everyone,

I caught a posting on Colin Percival’s (FreeBSD Security Officer) blog the other day: 

Like me, he wants to get FreeBSD running on Amazon EC2 and needs your help with funding and to register support for the project with Amazon.  Who knows, if enough people want to use FreeBSD on EC2, Amazon may decide it’s worth funding the development themselves!

If you want to help out with the project, contact Colin directly.

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Greg, LLC

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October 16, 2008

VMware ESX 3i Running Inside VMware Workstation 6.5

Filed under: Operating Systems — Tags: , — Greg Larkin @ 4:01 pm

Hi everyone,

I was excited to see VMware release the free ESX 3i software over the summer and had grand plans to install it on a spare SFF PC with a mini-ITX motherboard that I have laying around. I downloaded the installation bits and burned an ISO, salivating over the thought of a free ESX development box about the size of a large dictionary.

Whoa, nelly – not so fast! The ESX installer started up, chugged for a bit, and then told me that my CPU is not compatible. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised, since it’s an EPIA Nehemiah M10000. I had to find another solution that didn’t include plunking down $$$ for a dedicated ESX host.

VMware Workstation to the rescue! If your PC has enough horsepower, you can install Workstation on it, create a VM for ESX3i inside of it, and then create your target VMs inside of ESX3i. It sounds crazy, but it works.

I started with Workstation 6.0.5 at the end of the summer and got everything working. After the evaluation ran out on the software, I decided to purchase it and eventually installed Workstation 6.5. As soon as I tried to start up my previously-working ESX3i VM, it kept hanging during boot-up, as seen here:

Virtualized ESX3i Hang in VMware Workstation

Originally, the following directives had to be added to the ESX3i .vmx file to get it to boot inside of Workstation 6.0.5:

monitor_control.restrict_backdoor = "true"
monitor_control.vt32 = "TRUE"

After some sleuthing around on the Internets, one more directive added to the .vmx file gets ESX3i booting under Workstation 6.5:

monitor.virtual_exec = "hardware"

Now you can even provision some interesting configurations using FreeNAS or OpenFiler to manage the disk space available to the VMs inside ESX3i. This makes it so much easier to develop a whole architecture on your desktop and deploy it right to a production ESX host.

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Greg, LLC

Call me - Greg Larkin: error

August 4, 2008

Host CPU Frequency Control And Too-Fast Guest Clocks

Filed under: Operating Systems — Tags: , , — Greg Larkin @ 5:23 pm

Hi everyone,

Every now and again, a strange problem crops up with VMware Server. In this case, the VMs on one host began running with a very fast clock, even though the .vmx files contained the following line:

tools.syncTime = "TRUE"

Apparently, this setting helps keep the VM clock from slowing down too much, but it doesn’t do much when it’s going 1.5x faster than it should – whoa, Nelly! Running ntpdate every few seconds showed the clock resetting backwards 5-10 seconds each time. That’s going to play havoc with everything – log file messages, email timestamps, Makefiles and many other things.

I searched around Google for solutions, and 99% of the posts say “set kern.hz=100 in your /boot/loader.conf for a FreeBSD guest OS“. That’s great if your clock is slow, but it doesn’t fix this problem. A quick check showed that I had already added that setting a long time ago.

After more and more in-depth searching, a solution emerged. The host OS is RHEL4, and it enables CPU frequency scaling by default with the cpuspeed service. The idea behind this service is great, as it saves power, but it just wrecks the VMware timekeeping accuracy. Disabling the service fixes the problem for good:

# /etc/rc.d/init.d/cpuspeed stop
# cd /etc/rc.d/init.d/
# /sbin/chkconfig --del cpuspeed


One final problem – the VM clock still runs fast until you reboot the host and the VMs on it. To get around the problem temporarily if you are running a high-availability service, add the following lines to your VM /etc/crontab file:

*/5 * * * * root /usr/sbin/ntpdate -s

I hope this posting makes the solution easier for someone else to find in the future!

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Greg, LLC

Call me - Greg Larkin: error

July 18, 2008

Committer Jitters Aren’t Too Bad!

Filed under: Operating Systems — Tags: , — Greg Larkin @ 5:09 pm

I just committed my first big changes to the FreeBSD ports tree. The
Earth still seems to be rotating, so that’s encouraging!


-------- Original Message --------
Subject: cvs commit: ports/devel/cvs-syncmail Makefile
ports/devel/cvsbook         Makefile ports/devel/cvschangelogbuilder
Makefile         ports/devel/cvsstat Makefile ports/devel/cvstrac
Makefile         ports/devel/eventxx Makefile ports/devel/gittrac
Makefile ...
Date: Fri, 18 Jul 2008 21:05:20 +0000 (UTC)
From: Greg Larkin

glarkin     2008-07-18 21:05:20 UTC

FreeBSD ports repository

Modified files:
devel/cvs-syncmail   Makefile
devel/cvsbook        Makefile
devel/cvschangelogbuilder Makefile
devel/cvsstat        Makefile
devel/cvstrac        Makefile
devel/eventxx        Makefile
devel/gittrac        Makefile
devel/p5-SVN-Access  Makefile
devel/p5-SVN-Hook    Makefile
devel/p5-SVN-Notify-Config Makefile
devel/p5-SVN-Notify-Filter-Markdown Makefile
devel/p5-SVN-Notify-Filter-Watchers Makefile
devel/p5-SVN-Notify-Mirror Makefile
devel/p5-SVN-Notify-Snapshot Makefile
devel/patch          Makefile
devel/pear-VersionControl_SVN Makefile
devel/ruby-cvs       Makefile
devel/svntrac        Makefile
graphics/GraphicsMagick Makefile
mail/smtptrapd       Makefile
math/pecl-bitset     Makefile
net/p5-Amazon-SQS-Simple Makefile
net/p5-Net-Amazon-EC2 Makefile
net/p5-Net-Amazon-MechanicalTurk Makefile
net/p5-Net-Amazon-Signature Makefile
net/p5-Net-Amazon-Thumbnail Makefile
net/rubygem-rightaws Makefile
net/rubygem-righthttpconnection Makefile
print/pdftk          Makefile
security/phpdeadlock Makefile
textproc/fileshuffle Makefile
www/cakephp          Makefile pkg-descr
www/cakephp-devel    Makefile pkg-descr
www/codeigniter      Makefile pkg-descr
www/dojo             Makefile
www/dojo-shrinksafe  Makefile
www/p5-Template-GD   Makefile
www/prado            Makefile pkg-descr
www/trac-customfieldadmin Makefile
www/trac-wysiwyg     Makefile
www/webcalendar      Makefile pkg-descr
www/webcalendar-devel Makefile
www/yahoo-ui         Makefile
www/zend-framework   Makefile pkg-descr
Changed my MAINTAINER address to

Approved by:    beech (mentor)

Revision  Changes    Path
1.2       +2 -2      ports/devel/cvs-syncmail/Makefile
1.14      +1 -1      ports/devel/cvsbook/Makefile
1.8       +1 -1      ports/devel/cvschangelogbuilder/Makefile
1.11      +1 -1      ports/devel/cvsstat/Makefile
1.13      +1 -1      ports/devel/cvstrac/Makefile
1.12      +1 -1      ports/devel/eventxx/Makefile
1.2       +1 -1      ports/devel/gittrac/Makefile
1.6       +2 -2      ports/devel/p5-SVN-Access/Makefile
1.2       +2 -2      ports/devel/p5-SVN-Hook/Makefile
1.6       +2 -2      ports/devel/p5-SVN-Notify-Config/Makefile
1.3       +2 -2      ports/devel/p5-SVN-Notify-Filter-Markdown/Makefile
1.6       +2 -2      ports/devel/p5-SVN-Notify-Filter-Watchers/Makefile
1.4       +2 -2      ports/devel/p5-SVN-Notify-Mirror/Makefile
1.2       +2 -2      ports/devel/p5-SVN-Notify-Snapshot/Makefile
1.16      +1 -1      ports/devel/patch/Makefile
1.2       +2 -2      ports/devel/pear-VersionControl_SVN/Makefile
1.13      +1 -1      ports/devel/ruby-cvs/Makefile
1.4       +1 -1      ports/devel/svntrac/Makefile
1.22      +1 -1      ports/graphics/GraphicsMagick/Makefile
1.10      +1 -1      ports/mail/smtptrapd/Makefile
1.2       +2 -2      ports/math/pecl-bitset/Makefile
1.3       +2 -2      ports/net/p5-Amazon-SQS-Simple/Makefile
1.5       +2 -2      ports/net/p5-Net-Amazon-EC2/Makefile
1.2       +2 -2      ports/net/p5-Net-Amazon-MechanicalTurk/Makefile
1.2       +2 -2      ports/net/p5-Net-Amazon-Signature/Makefile
1.2       +2 -2      ports/net/p5-Net-Amazon-Thumbnail/Makefile
1.2       +2 -2      ports/net/rubygem-rightaws/Makefile
1.2       +2 -2      ports/net/rubygem-righthttpconnection/Makefile
1.23      +1 -1      ports/print/pdftk/Makefile
1.2       +2 -2      ports/security/phpdeadlock/Makefile
1.2       +2 -2      ports/textproc/fileshuffle/Makefile
1.12      +2 -2      ports/www/cakephp-devel/Makefile
1.3       +0 -2      ports/www/cakephp-devel/pkg-descr
1.11      +2 -2      ports/www/cakephp/Makefile
1.2       +0 -2      ports/www/cakephp/pkg-descr
1.8       +2 -2      ports/www/codeigniter/Makefile
1.3       +0 -2      ports/www/codeigniter/pkg-descr
1.4       +2 -2      ports/www/dojo-shrinksafe/Makefile
1.4       +2 -2      ports/www/dojo/Makefile
1.4       +2 -2      ports/www/p5-Template-GD/Makefile
1.3       +2 -2      ports/www/prado/Makefile
1.2       +0 -2      ports/www/prado/pkg-descr
1.5       +2 -2      ports/www/trac-customfieldadmin/Makefile
1.7       +2 -2      ports/www/trac-wysiwyg/Makefile
1.3       +1 -1      ports/www/webcalendar-devel/Makefile
1.13      +1 -1      ports/www/webcalendar/Makefile
1.3       +0 -2      ports/www/webcalendar/pkg-descr
1.6       +2 -2      ports/www/yahoo-ui/Makefile
1.17      +2 -2      ports/www/zend-framework/Makefile
1.2       +0 -2      ports/www/zend-framework/pkg-descr

Greg Larkin – The Power To Serve

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Greg, LLC

Call me - Greg Larkin: error

July 17, 2008

FreeBSD, The Power To Serve And The Privilege To Commit

Filed under: Operating Systems — Tags: — Greg Larkin @ 5:43 pm

Hi readers,

I was recently received an invitation to become a FreeBSD committer in
the ports tree. Over the years, FreeBSD has become an integral part of
the infrastructure, and I have been gradually gaining
experience, adopting ports and submitting problem reports.

I plan to continue working on and expanding my knowledge of this great
operating system
, and if you haven’t given it a try yet or created your
first port, feel free to contact me!

The attached message is my introduction to the other developers. In the
next day or so, I will likely commit my first changes (subject to
approval, natch) to the ports repository, and with any luck the
Intertubes will continue to function correctly!


——– Original Message ——–
Subject: Introduction: Greg Larkin
Date: Thu, 17 Jul 2008 16:42:57 -0400
From: Greg Larkin
Organization: The FreeBSD Project

Greetings all,

I want to introduce myself as a new ports committer with xxxxx@ as my
mentor and yyyyy@ as co-mentor. I have been self-employed since 1996
and founded my current company,, LLC, in 2000. After
splitting my time between that company and freelance software
development work for a few years, I finally went full-time with the new
company in 2005.

I learned about FreeBSD from the folks at my former datacenter and liked
its simplicity and consistency after working with numerous Linux
distros. I created my first port (www/webcalendar – 3 years ago now!)
because I wanted to install the software and easily upgrade it with
future versions. Since then, I have created additional ports for
various PHP frameworks, CVS & SVN-related tools and Amazon AWS-related
modules. I’m very interested in the CVS->SVN transition for pcvs, and I
hope to assist in that effort.

I’m privileged to become a committer, and thanks very much to xxxxx,
yyyyy, zzzzz and everyone else for all of the advice and
support that brought me here!

Best regards,

Greg Larkin – The Power To Serve

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Greg, LLC

Call me - Greg Larkin: error

June 23, 2008

For Your Convenience – Pre-Formatted Virtual Disk Drives

Filed under: Operating Systems — Tags: , , , — Greg Larkin @ 4:01 pm

Hi everyone,

A while back, I made some blank VMware VMDK images available in various sizes. I am now making some pre-formatted VMDK images available that are even easier to use. Of course, these images are specific to the operating system you’re using, and as long as that’s FreeBSD, you’ll be fine. :)

I can make pretty much any size or operating-system-specific filesystem type, so what else would you like to see?

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Greg, LLC

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June 19, 2008

FreeBSD 7.0 + SCHED_ULE Virtual Machine Available

Filed under: Operating Systems — Tags: , — Greg Larkin @ 2:40 pm

Hi everyone,

I’m diving into some new work with virtual appliances, so I thought I would make a clean FreeBSD 7.0 VM available to you. This one has the following configuration:

  • SCHED_ULE scheduler has been selected instead of SCHED_4BSD
  • Other minor option tweaks in the new kernel config file vs. the GENERIC kernel config. The updated kernel config can be found here
  • Root password is “password”
  • LSI Logic SCSI virtual disks are used instead of IDE so the VM can be deployed to VMware ESX Server
  • /usr/src and /usr/ports filesystems are packaged as separate downloads
  • Two separate base systems are available – one for VMware Server 1.0 and one for VMware Player 1.0. Why these products use a slightly different VMX file format is beyond me!

I plan to use this vanilla VM as the base for future VM downloads, and by breaking /usr/src and /usr/ports into separate downloads, that will keep the overall size down.

All downloads are available from BitTorrent, and please consider seeding the files if you find them useful!

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Greg, LLC

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