* Posts by CCD

7 posts • joined 7 Sep 2011

Canonical adds ZFS on root as experimental install option in Ubuntu


Running ZFS on Linux and Mac for years without problems

We've happily based our data storage (but not root filesystems) on ZFS since 2016, although we don't have a huge amount of data. We're not religious about any aspect of software licensing, just endeavour to get our jobs done while staying on the right side of the law.

Our main server is a 12 year old Dell with 12GB RAM (only a fraction of which is needed) running CentOS + ZFS on Linux, with 2 x 4TB RAID-1 on decent spinning disks (ZFS does the RAID for us). We have an identical backup server to which we zfs send/receive hourly over Gigabit Ethernet and this usually takes a few seconds. With cron we create hourly, daily, weekly and monthly snapshots, with jobs to prune these so we always have access to daily ones for last 10 days, weekly for the last 6 weeks, and monthly ever since we created the pool. We quite often make use of files in historical snapshots. I've managed pairs of NetApp filers, but our current needs are met at a fraction of the cost.

30 miles away, we have a live offsite server for DR. It's a Raspberry Pi with 1GB RAM running Raspbian Stretch with cheap 2.5" external HD storage to hold the ZFS pool. It gets sent the same hourly streams via OpenVPN over the public Internet, with each sync usually taking just a few minutes, but when it's longer that doesn't matter. If our main office is burnt down, we shouldn't have lost more than an hour's saved work (assuming we get out alive).

All 3 servers scrub their pool weekly. I've never had a bad block on the main 2 servers, and only had to rebuild the Pi pool a couple of times (bringing it back to the office to sync, which then takes a day or so). On CentOS, with kmod flavour of ZFS modules we don't have to rebuild these for every kernel update - on the Pi rebuild is a bit more tedious, but not required very often.

Several of our laptops have internal or external ZFS storage, on HD or SSD, using ZFS on Linux or OpenZFS on OSX on macOS (yes, they're compatible if you know what you're doing). These can be re-synced when onsite typically in just a few minutes, even if they're several days out of date. My own laptop runs ZFS on Linux on Debian Stretch.

My biggest wish is to see CentOS and Debian provide ZFS as standard packages, but I'm not holding my breath. The other area of improvement I'd like is getting the maintainers of the Linux and macOS forks of ZFS to make it easier to create pools without platform-specific additional features that make them non-portable.

Pushed around and kicked around, always a lonely boy: Run Huawei, Google Play, turns away, from Huawei... turns away


Retaliation, Escalation...

Perhaps the Chinese government could ban all imports of US-branded phones? That wouldn't help the bottom line in Cupertino...

A computer file system shouldn't lose data, right? Tell that to Apple


Give up on APFS, just use ZFS, it works

We run a mixed Linux / Mac environment, having (happily at the time) migrated from Windows to MacOS in 2003. For the last 15 months we've been storing all data that matters on ZFS filesystems - not just the Linux servers but also on 2nd internal hard disks fitted to our Mac Book Pros and Mac minis (purchased before Apple removed this facility and replaced screws by glue). APFS is very incomplete in comparison with ZFS, and ZFS is incredibly robust and portable.

We're now looking at migrating back from macOS to Windows 10 for some of our applications, primarily because Apple appears to have no concept of (or is that interest in) backward compatibility at the source-code or binary level, and we're fed up with so many things breaking at each major new version of macOS. I have commercial software for Windows that I purchased 15 years ago, that runs perfectly on Windows 10. On macOS I feel lucky if something works for 12 months, and we now defer upgrading to major versions of macOS for around 10 months after they come out, so as to avoid having to do unpaid alpha-testing for Cupertino. Plus Apple keeps trying to force me to change the way I work, by pulling the plug on features and facilities I've relied on for years, no longer offering a 17" laptop, and removing most of the ports that other devices I have would actually connect to, and deliberately slowing down older hardware running newer software.

I accept that if I use Google or Facebook, I'm the product not the customer. But as I pay Apple considerable sums to purchase its hardware, I'd like to ask Tim Cook focus on making what his customers want, rather than endeavouring to make its customers want whatever it has made.

Not app-y with VAT: Apple bumps up prices in Blighty, Europe, Canada


It's the way Apple handled it

Apple emailed us just before midnight UK time Wednesday, saying prices would change "within the next 36 hours", and that "we will simultaneously update the Pricing Matrix". Ok, so we knew the prices were changing, but not by how much or when. Thanks Apple, really helpful.

When they changed (some time overnight Thursday-Friday), we were left surveying the damage: need to reverse rises, or we'll lose sales (we're a non-profit selling apps for disabled kids). Unlike on Goole Play, we can't set our own prices per-country: Apple only allows us to set the "tier" for each app, applied globally. Prices are based on US$, 1 cent less than tier number, so tier 9 is $8.99. Yesterday that was £5.99 and €7.99, today it's £6.99 and €8.99. To reverse the rises in UK and Europe, we've dropped to tier 8, but now we'll get 11% less for every sale in the US. Thanks again Apple. Too bad for anyone who downloaded while the price was raised.

Apps aren't a globally-tradable commodity like oil, and if Google can handle developers setting and controlling their own prices in each currency, one would have hoped Apple could manage that too.

No one wants iOS 8 because it's for NERDS - dev


Apple have lost the plot

As a developer and an end user I think Apple has a number of things fundamentally wrong in its development and release methodology:

1. Releasing sub-alpha quality versions of iOS to developers and calling them beta.

2. Releasing sub-beta versions to end users and pretending they're finished and polished.

3. Having scant regard for binary or source backwards compatibility.

4. Pushing full updates to devices disregarding whether users want them or their data costs.

5. Assuming everybody has a superfast broadband or 4G wireless connection.

6. Being pre-occupied with silly new features nobody is interested in and calling them awesome.

Presumably 1 and 2 are their idea of agile development. 3 causes many developers to have to waste 2 or 3 months every year fiddling with the internals of their apps just to stand still. 4 and 5 shows how out of touch they are with people in the real world with < 4Mbps broadband and 2G telephony only outside their house or office and only under particular weather conditions.

Maybe they need a new head of software engineering, with experience of the world outside of Cupertino.

iPads in education: Not actually evil, but pretty close


What about evidence?

It's probably too much to ask, but don't you think use of technology in education should be based on objective evidence, rather than like or dislike of a large US corporation, or religious arguments about open and closed source? For instance, there's a growing body of proof that the iPad is helping to deliver better educational outcomes for children with learning disabilities, like ASD, cerebral palsy and Down syndrome. Let's face it: using a conventional computer with its screen, keyboard and mouse has more in common with driving a car than with other everyday activities, and we wouldn't expect these kids to drive cars. I frequently see first-hand how children who don't have the hand-eye co-ordination to use a PC or Mac, or the fine motor control to pick up and move paper cards, can succeed using suitably designed apps on an iPad, and there's data to show their resulting progress in literacy and numeracy.

As for the Apple vs Android debate, I've had enough experience developing for both to know that in many cases what we can do easily on iOS is much harder to accomplish robustly on Android, and that whereas Apple acknowledges bug reports and often fixes the problems, reporting Android bugs and limitations is a rather more fruitless exercise (especially as any fix will never make it on to most existing devices). Android also poses usability issues for the children we work with, because the on screen navigation bar gets poked (accidentally or deliberately) and neither it nor the physical buttons on an Android device can be disabled effectively. Apple's "Guided Access" feature that locks the user into a single app is invaluable and has no Android equivalent.

How Apple's Lion won't let you trash documents

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Autosave without versions - a disaster

On an network where just about all folders are NFS-mounted from a central server to Mac and Linux systems, and shared via Samba to Windows, Apple's implementation of autosave without versioning is a nightmare. If my cat walks over the keyboard while I'm briefly out of the room, Lion has kindly saved gibberish to my documents without my knowledge or permission, and without saving the previous good version. I can't recall ever losing a document because I forgot to explicitly save it, but I make changes to documents that I end up not wanting to save at all on a daily basis, e.g. just to see how changes to a web page might look, or to experiment with a graphical image, only to change my mind.

I can see the advantages of autosave + versioning in a 1-computer consumer environment, but those of us who work in IT, and have to use a mixture of Mac, Windows and Linux systems, what Apple have done with Lion is more than a minor annoyance, and the fact that we can't disable autosave feels like Apple is insulting our intelligence.

With Snow Leopard, we were close to making OS X our main desktop platform, but having tried working with Lion, we are retreating back to Linux and Windows. Sad, because we are big Apple fans, and think iOS is brilliant, especially on the iPad. But a desktop PC for serious use is not just a giant smartphone.


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