Podcasting What Geeks Really Want To Hear

Friday, January 26, 2007

The Google Code MacFuse project has released a new version, along with an sshfs GUI (the main thing being a ‘recent servers’ list. The other release is Spotlight filesystem.

How does this work? Well, the simplest way is to run their SpotlightFS application, which creates the mountpoint, and then you create a directory in that mountpoint for doing a specific search. Their example:

$ mkdir /Volumes/SpotlightFS/Hasselhoff
$ ls -lrt /Volumes/SpotlightFS/Hasselhoff
[… output omitted to avoid embarrassment …]

Basically, it creates a Mac “smart folder”, with the results from Spotlight, instead of just the filesystem.

Also, if you’re big on python, you can try out this blog post on GmailFS for Mac (again, using FUSE).

posted by Nem W Schlecht at 13:00 in News    
Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Following our latest podcast where we mentioned Google’s Mac Blog, I figured I’d give FUSE (Filesystem in User Space) a shot. I downloaded the Mac installable page from here. A couple clicks and a reboot and I’m all set to go.

The Mac package from Google just contains sshfs, but it also contains all the FUSE libraries, so the other interfaces should compile fairly painlessly (I would hope). To mount a filesystem, a user just calls ‘sshfs’ with some mount-like arguments:

mkdir /path/to/mountpoint
sshfs username@somehost:/path/to/dir /path/to/mountpoint

To unmount, you use the OS provided ‘umount’:

umount /path/to/mountpoint

If you’re going for your home directory and have the same username, you can use the usual ‘ssh’ shortcut:

sshfs somehost: /path/to/mountpoint

If you run an ssh-agent and have your authorized_keys file set up on the remote host, it shouldn’t ask you for a password or anything. If not, you’ll get the usual SSH passphrase prompt.

There are a ton of options to sshfs. Half are ssh related, the other half are FUSE related. The only one that’s of practical interest is the ‘-C’ option, to turn on compression. If you like long arguments, you can use “-o compression=true”. This’ll be really helpful if you’re working with text files, but it’ll slow things down if you’re working with images/movies/MP3/etc.

The integration with OS X leaves a bit to be desired. The mount shows up in ‘df’, but the filesystem stats are set to a terabyte, with zero bytes used. The mount doesn’t place nice with the Desktop like other typical mounts, and there’s no integration (yet, I’m hoping) with the Finder “Connect to Server” (Cmd-K) interface. How doesn’t the mount play nice with the Desktop? Well, the mount didn’t show up on the Desktop, but it does if you open it via Finder (enter the command: “open /tmp/testsshfs” in a terminal window). Then it doesn’t go away, even when you unmount it. Later, it did go away when I mounted something new. Weird. Anyways, I wasn’t expecting it to work nice with the Desktop, although you can interact with a mounted volume via the Finder interface, just like any other directory.

I’m still experimenting, but I’ve been brainstorming a few uses:

  • Analyzing web log entries from our remote server on Dreamhost
  • Using the nice Mac Finder icon preview for my digital photos (on my Solaris box)
  • Accessing my large source repository remotely
  • Anything else I need, when I’m going to accessing and moving/copies files around a lot

— Nem

Update: Thursday, January 18th, 2006

There’s a hint today on MacOSXhints about FUSE. Of particular note are the options to the ‘sshfs’ command to get it working nicely with the Desktop (this should be entered on one line):

sshfs username@somehost:/path/to/dir /path/to/mount -o ping_diskarb,volname=SomeName

The ‘ping_diskrab’ command makes OS X recognize that a new volume has been mounted (and puts it on the Desktop). The ‘volname’ command just gives that volume a custom name, other than “FUSE Volume n“.

Works quite nicely nice, actually.

Of note, if you download the Google Code base mentioned here, it does not come with the ‘fusermount’ command. Just use ‘umount’ like I describe here.

posted by Nem W Schlecht at 22:33 in News    
Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Why do geeks have lust for ZFS? (zamwi.com)

Nice blog post that explains some of the “whys” of ZFS. Just how big is a 128-bit filesystem? Well, lets just say we’re not going to run into filesystem limitations anytime soon, since we’d have to convert all the Earth’s oceans into energy in order to store that much data. ZFS Wiki

Here’s the headline rundown:

  • 128-bit filesystem
  • Uses advanced hashing algorithms
  • Supports storage pools
  • Supports intelligent drive mirroring
  • Supports snapshots
  • Is fast!
posted by Nem W Schlecht at 21:33 in News    
Tuesday, January 9, 2007

So, after months of speculation, and many rumors sites pointing at the iPhone and Apple TV (formerly known as iTV) where you left out with a feeling of “…am I missing something?”

I am.

But I do realize the hours and hours that a product like iPhone could take to develop, after all it has like… many patents.

It is innovative. It is reinventing an industry.

Was it all we were expecting? certainly not after all the complaints and rants, and blogs and blogs about where was the Mac Pro, and the laptops, and Mac OS 10.5, and Vista, and the ZunePhone… oh wait, I am going over board.

Anyway, I am sure there is plenty to come this year.

And if you really think of all those patents on the iPhone, I just think that there is a future really amazing on Apple Inc.’s path. After they have developed the technology: Imagine new affordable keyboards that can be multi-touch and application sensitive just like the iPhone.

What about having a laptop that is all just a dynamic screen, talking about the ultimate tablet.

In any case, somebody knows of any good transparent polymer research firm? I need to invest on some clear coated screens :-)

posted by Ludvik at 22:49 in General    
Tuesday, January 2, 2007

So, one night this week in a (minor) flurry of activity, I decided to do something with the 17″ LCD that I’ve had laying around my apartment for 2 years. I got it free with a Dell workstation, but I’ve had my dual 20″ displays that I prefer for a long time now, so the 17″ screen just sat in my living room.

Quick background here, I usually have 4 machines running all the time: two Windows boxes (one for gaming and media) and the other for archival/storage and also for burning Lightscribe disks. Then I’ve got my primary workstation, a Solaris 10 for x86 box. Lastly, I’ve got my Mac Mini. The Windows & Solaris boxes all have a dual-head card in them, but of course, the Mini does not. All four machines are hooked into a four port dual-head KVM switch and life was good.

With one exception … the Mac Mini. Not that it hugely bothered me that the Mini only has a single-head connection. I had been thinking about getting a Matrox DualHead2Go box, but I’ve been having problems with the Mini running at 1600×1200, so I didn’t think it would play nice at all with 3200×1200. Anyways, I looked at that 17″ LCD display on the floor the other night, a few things clicked.

I remembered seeing an episode of Hak.5 (Season 2, Episode #1) where they talked about Synergy, which lets you share a keyboard & mouse across multiple machines. It didn’t interest me much at the time, because that’s what I use my KVM switch for (and on occasion, the second display with VNC to one of the other boxes). Anyways, I’ve set up Synergy servers on my two Windows boxes and my Solaris box. I’m also running three clients on my Mac Mini each one pointing to one of my other machines. Configuration of the server is fairly simple. Windows has a GUI that helps somewhat, but its very straightforward. Basically, you just need to say “machine A is to the left of machine B” and “machine B is to the right of machine A”. You need both rules to be able to transition to and then from the other machine. Luckily, the clients all seem to get along fine running on the same box yet pointing to different machines. I’m thinking it greatly helps that I’m always using just one of my other machines at a time.


In this image, my Mac Mini is on the left, and one of my Windows boxes is the middle & right displays. Yes, you can see a dock in my Windows machine, because I run Flyakite OSX on my Windows machines, to make it look and feel like a Mac. I’m running Wireshark in middle display and Firefox (with the Geek Muse blog) on the right. My MacBook is sitting way off the left (you can see a corner of it) with its RadTech keyboard cloth sitting on it.

I can now switch between either of my Windows boxes and/or my Solaris box, and I’ll always have my Mac to the left. Just a quick movement of the wrist, regardless of which machine I’m on. Also, I now have an open spot on my KVM switch, which means I need to go and do some shopping.

The only problem I have right now is with keyboard mapping. I typically set my Caps Lock key as another Control key, which in the end means I’ve got no Option key on my Mac. I just have to do a little creative remapping on the other machines and I’ll get it to work. Synergy allows for some of this, but not exactly what I need.

posted by Nem W Schlecht at 11:58 in General    
Monday, January 1, 2007

Happy New Year, everybody!

2007 looks to be an exciting year, with the release of Microsoft’s Windows Vista, Apple’s Leopard, a ton of ridiculous “iPhone” rumors, net neutrality, more and more Ajax integration into web sites and hopefully, another big year for podcasting.

Thanks to all of our listeners and we hope 2007 is a great year for you!

posted by Nem W Schlecht at 11:11 in News    

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