Linux – Lotus and fine Wine


Wine 1.3.4 adds ARM architecture support – The H Open Source: News and Features.

some of you might have read my post regarding how to get the Lotus Notes Admin and Developer client to run “natively” in Linux: what means without having to run a virtual Windows cleint. I use WINE for that purpose and it looks like the guys from Wine finally tool the version 1.3.4 out of the BETA stage and into production . . .

Guess what I am updating on my machine tonight??

PS: next to running my admin and developer client I hope the new 1.3.4 will make Civilization V run better on my machine … I have an empire to build after all!

Ridding myself of Windows – Google Desktop for Lotus Notes and Linux


Again, research, research – I came across this technote today:

IBM – Selecting Actions – Google Desktop for Lotus Notes yields error for Google Desktop plugin on Windows 7.

That reminded me of my current struggle of eliminating Windows from my laptop. Quick reminder – I don’t hate Windows, not do I knock is in personal or professional conversations at all – I just prefer Linux (currently Ubuntu 10.04, will upgrade to 10.10 S O O N) and I prefer not to pay allot of money for a first rate OS and all the software I want to use. I have another Windows Desktop at home, several servers and run Windows as a VM on my Linux machine when I need it.

Google Desktop:

First off let me say that I do applaud IBM for adding technotes about a product like Google Desktop that they don’t produce themselves – that is a great thing that I I hope they keep up.

I started using Google Desktop a few years ago and fell in love with it instantly. The native Windows search-your-desktop product regularly crashed my machine, and after I switched – I never looked back. I also Love the fact that IN WINDOWS it has a plug-in so that you can include your Lotus Notes based email in any search you are conducting. Brilliant! However, the Linux Google Desktop does not support this … sadly.

As to the why? Well, many reasons probably but the major one being the low number of Linux desktops that are used by real end-users out there and not just IT professionals.  For Google to put in the effort they are probably hoping for IBM to put more effort into that field.

David Gewirtz wrote a very interesting article in the Dominopower online magazine recently regarding this very topic. He made a very good point that the latest version of Lotus notes 8.5.2 is only certified to run on three distros: Red Hat, SUSE and Ubuntu. When it comes to Ubuntu – the most vibrant distro for desktops – the supported version is literally 2 years old. I have it running on the latest version (10.04) but I would never implement this in a customer environment as the desktop configuration would be unsupported by IBM.

Clearly, there is some room for more effort on IBM’s behalf to put some more resources into the Linux portion. I will even stop my griping about the lack of native Admin and Designer clients on Linux (note: my work-around tip is here)  and happily skip-and-jump down the yellow brick road for them. I will have to admit though there is a bit of a chicken and egg situation here: because there is not allot of pull by the market and free-bee extras (like Google Desktop Notes Mail integration) out there IBM is not pushing Linux nearly as hard as they could (or as I would wish them to – different matter I guess)  which in turn does not inspire other companies to put allot of effort into developing Linux variants of their products. Catch 22, viscous cycle, etc.

But clearly IBM is the one who would be able to make more waves in this field if they at least added more Linux distros to the supported list and – especially for Ubuntu – made sure they were not 2 versions behind. Or – novel idea – put out a time-line, schedule (or whatever) that shows where they intend to go with supported Linux versions, distros etc. AND they would have to put it someplace where it can actually be found … I searched but found nada. Just a few posts by TEB alone don’t make a compelling Linux argument. If you don’t have your information someplace where a Google search (or any other search provider) does not show it on page one or two of the results – it does not count. (note: I was searching for a good 30 minutes, that is longer than the average customer would be willing to spend time on a search)

** End of Linux-Griping for the day **

IBM Technote – How DAOS functions with mail quotas


How DAOS functions with mail quotas

via IBM – How DAOS functions with mail quotas.

I found this one in the Domino support feed this morning and it is rather informative. I read all new and updated technotes every day (or at least glance over them) and as DAOS is getting more and more of an implementation base I thought I would bring this one to everybody’s attention.

It deals with how DAOS impacts mail quota behavior when adding a document or extending the file size. Rather interesting. It also has a link to another technote for 8.5 (no “x”) regarding a bug that displays the actual files size incorrectly in iNotes when DAOS is enabled.

Domino on Linux: Lotus Notes and Fine Wine


Fine Wine .. I am always reminded of Billy Joel’s song “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant”

A bottle of white, a bottle of red
Perhaps a bottle of rose instead . . .

Linux and WINE

I have taken a giant leap in my ever on-going quest to rid myself of the necessity to use Windows for my daily work. Being mainly an administrator and architect when it comes to Domino I have been feeling the pain of being treated like a red-headed step child by IBM – all just because I am a Linux user. Discrimination, I say! Off with their heads! No taxation without representation! I guess you get the general sentiment.

Returning to the world of serious debate, today was a good day. I have to use a VMware image or a VirtualBox image to run Windows on my Ubuntu client to run the Notes Admin client. I use the Admin client allot and sometime I just need it for 1 minute … and I don’t want to have to run a VMWare session all the time just for that reason.

In steps the hero – Wine but I did have to fiddle a bit to get it done correctly, here the process for Ubuntu 10.04:

  1. Install either using Ubuntu Software Center or via the terminal using [sudo apt-get install wine1.2]
  2. Run the configuration interface via Application – Wine – Configure Wine I really set nothing here, but running it once sets the base configuration
  3. Run the WINDOWS install executable for Notes/Admin/Design client 8.5.2

This is where the issue happened. The installer went ALMOST all the way and then broke off. It did actually register the program so I have the links in the Wine program to start them but the installer could not populate the notes.ini – it was empty but for the first line. A Notes client cannot run that way so what I did was simple – I cheated:

  1. Copy content of existing notes.ini from my VMWare image
  2. Adjust the directory settings for the Notes executable and data folder
  3. Copy my Notes ID file
  4. Copy my names.nsf (was not created yet)

I then ran the client and it went through the Notes client setup procedure.

…. Drum roll ….

Now I have a fully working Admin client that i can use to connect to the Server. Oh, I forgot .. I also have a Developer client and another Notes client as well. I can now run TWO Notes clients at the same time without having to jump through hoops. And all of that on a Linux workstation … I can now almost forgive IBM for discriminating against us Linux Admins, because we are one step ahead of Mac users who also do not have a native Admin client either. though – I guess there has to be some Mac equivalent of Wine that can run the Windows client directly.  Does anybody have information on that? I don’t have a Mac.

How to crash a Linux Notes client ….


My main OS on my private machine is Linux and I love it. I have been workign with Linux for years now and still consider myself someplace int eh steep learning curve as there is a new thing I learn every week.

I also love the notes client on Linux because NOTHING “was” able to kill it – until I tried to create an update site and load in the language packs for German, French, Italian and Spanish for the new spell checker. These need to be integrated using an update site or can also be installed like a locally available widget.

Well, my linux client met it’s match. I run 8.5.1 FP4 on Red HAd workstation 5.5 …. it crashed on me every time. Made no difference if the update site was a local file or on the server.

Has anyone else out there run into this scenario? Ideas and input please.

I have not had the chance to look though all the crash information or turn on debug parameters to get to the root cause – but after I am done with the Webcast I am preparing for the Consultant In Your Pocket series run by Chris Miller  I will go and nail this one down and figure out what caused it. I can never rule out stupid user error, but I like to don my Teflon suite and make sure nothing sticks and I can blame somebody else ….

LotusLive – some questions not asked …


LotusLive – IBM’s entry into the whole cloud computing and SAAS field. Arguably Domino has had this technical capability to work in “a” or “the” cloud for years though there were no buzz words attached to it and – IMHO – the market would not have been ready for the whole thought process. Though there are a few hosting companies (IBM among them, or Connectria, Promenic, …) that have made a good living servicing this need before Google and Microsoft came along and claimed the patent on it.

I assume that most readers of this blog will also – at least occasionally – listen to Lotus technology related podcasts. Two of my favorite Lotus related podcasts are This Week in Lotus and the Taking Notes podcasts. Both are well by their organizers, have dubious side-kicks(*) that assist the grand pod-masters and cover some really interesting technology and trends in great detail.

I listen to podcasts allot on my way to work and back in the subway or, if they are longer (both of these go about an hour) in the car on the weekend driving back-and-forth between home and DC. so this weekend I got a double whammo of listening to TEB (The Ed Brill) twice in the span of two days as he was on both of these casts going into more detail of the latest LotusLive announcements, especially LotusLive Notes.

LotusLive:

Great feature set, good marketing, excellent price … wait, price – costs – there is something missing here. Timing of the release of these two podcasts made me first listen to Bruce and Julian (Taking Notes) talk to TEB and after it was done something was nagging me .. there were some questions missing that I had in the back of my mind ever since I heard the “official” announcements TEB had for us at IamLUG. Some of the blog entries Chris Miller wrote about Connectria already being in this hosting/SAAS/Cloud computing space for years were also racing around in my mind but it was close to midnight and I was trying not to get killed on the Jersey Turnpike so I just put those thoughts aside.

The Unanswered questions:

Sunday night I drive back south to DC and listen to Stuart (main man) and Darren (side-kick) 😉 talk to TEB and this time it came to me. Or maybe waiting in traffic after crossing the Delaware bridge to go through the toll booths (why does not EVERYBODY have an EZPass??????? make it mandatory!!!) jogged somethin in my mind – in any case, the thing that was nagging now became clear: everybody was touting the $5.00/user/month rate for clients and the minimum of 25 users per company for LotusLive Notes. Great cost, easy to deal with … yeah, until the words “integration”, “competitive offers” and “Client provisioning” came up and the fact that TEB mentioned that bringing a client on takes some provisioning work on the back-end.

Well, integration – that is what I do for a living and have done for many years. The process of bringing an existing Domino/Notes infrastructure into LotusLive Notes – along with all the history and garbage that probably exists: older version clients, inconsistent client configuration, specialized mail routing, existing internet mail access for clients, VPNs, users that are VEHEMENTLY against local replicas (I love local replicas, unfortunately allot of clients don’t understand why this is considered “BEST PRACTICE”) and lack of experienced IT staff – or just a lack of enough qualified IT staff, etc., etc., etc. …..

Integrating an existing environment takes time and effort – time and effort directly translate into $money$. Everybody was always talking about how Google sold their product with the slogan “$50/user will take all your probelms away” until clients had to go through the actual process to get all of their users into the cloud … just look at the city of Los Angeles. Other questions such as how long such a move can take (on average, every client is different) and what kind of architectural changes (more details, I only heard something about OUs) are going to be necessary would have been great. But then again – I am a technical guy who very well might find myself on a project moving a customer to LotusLive Notes someday and am naturally interested in these details.

What nobody was asking was what the average project to bring clients “into the LotusLive Cloud” was REALLY costing – either as an average per user or per project. Nor was anybody asking about what kind of contract clients will need to sign in terms of length of contract. Just like phone companies give you that phone at a reduced price but require you to sign a minimum 2 yr contract to recoup the expense I assume that IBM needs to look at something similar – or can you just take your 25 people and leave after 4 months if it just ain’t what you had expected?

The reason I am asking this is that this creates a per user cost that has to be taken into consideration by the client … when does the break-even point arrive? How are my licenses that I had up until now going to impact my costs? TEB eluded briefly to the fact that IBM will take a clients contribution to licensing into consideration … but what if that move to the cloud now takes license sales away from business partners? Is there something in the deal for them or does IBM just poach clients and tell the business partners to go and look for some new business … I assume not but then again this topic was not covered.

Another question I had was whether IBM will just take those integration services, hand them to ISSL and that be it or will a business partner that sells LotusLive seats OR the business partner that was servicing this client for years and did all their licensing also have the opportunity to do the integration work and benefit from the existing expertise and experience of IBM in this field and maybe make this kind of work into a major part of their business? If IBM takes business on one side, they will have to give something else in return or they are likely to loose partners down the road.

In all fairness – Stuart did put something out on his Facebook page and asked for people to contribute questions for the podcast and I did not .. I only wrote a half-witty answer to something my favorite little Scottsman of HADSL fame wrote so I can’t blame anyone but myself on this one. Also, the podcast is only one hour long and you can’ ask EVERYTHING in one hour, even if you talk as fast as I do – and most people don’t.

So, why am I nagging?

So, why am I writing this? Well, there are some more pod casts put there and TEB still has breath left to talk (I think) so somebody please get him on their show and ask some more technical and monetary questions. Or, I also assume there are some white papers, technical documentation that might already be out there which covers this but nobody has been able to easily find on IBM’s website (a common issue, but then again I did not put allot of effort into searching for them prior to writing this either).

Or, we can get TEB to fire up his iPad and add a few posts to his blog where he either goes into this detail or points into the direction of information where the answers to these questions and more could be found?

Details? Thoughts? Dementis? Opinions? – Anyone got something for me?

(*) My stab at the “Dubious Side-Kicks” was totally UNCALLED for – they do a better job than I would at their tiny, insignificant roles – but I just could not resist .. I beg forgiveness gentlemen!

Disclaimer:

I am writing this at 1:30 AM and no animals were harmed in the process of mangling the English language,  nor am I on the take of Google though I do like their Reader software and use Google Voice. I also must mention that I like cupcakes – though not at 1:30 AM

Linux for the Lotus Notes Admin – The DD command


I have decided to start a new series – Linux for the Lotus Notes Admin. I will be sharing some tips and tricks for how to deal with issues of both the Domino server and the Notes client (Sametime as well) on Linux.
I myself am a big Linux user, my desktop has been Linux (I use Red Hat) for quite some time but I also run VMWare workstation and have a Windows install there to be able to take advantage of Windows and the products that are available. My accounting package only exists in Windows but more important still, there is no Lotus Notes Admin or Developer client for Linux.

What are we setting out to do?
The other day I ordered some new drives for my laptop (I have two drives installed) and I did not want to have to do a re-install. I have some older tools that I have used previously to move or clone partitions from/to other drives and have used them successfully. I wanted to give native Linux tools a chance though so I decided to clone my drive using the [dd] command. Another good tool is [partimage] but I wanted to go real OLD SCHOOL as dd has been around since the early 70’s.

The [DD] command

Note: It goes without saying that you should be doing this either as root or have sudo rights on your Linux machine. That eliminates all possible issues you might run into as far as they are related to rights.

My drives were both the same size (500 GB) and as it was the boot drive with lilo on it, I just wanted a straight clone so the command to use was

dd if=/dev/sda of=/dev/hda

The command takes the whole SDA drive (all partitions of the boot drive) and clones them to the drive currently connected as the [/dev/hda] drive. You can partition the new drive first and create a partition table, but it does not need formatting as you will be overwriting everything anyway. I just created a plain vanilla primary partition t make sure the drive was OK and had no drive errors.

As expected (I had not used dd for quite some time) it worked flawlessly … however, it also took 26hrs 37 min! I did it over a weekend and was actually able to use the PC during the process (some browsing, nothing else) and when I switched the drive out the laptop started up without a hitch – it was as if nothing had changed, other than the improvement in speed!

What did I gain?

Next to proving I could still do native Linux commands and had the patience to just wait the process out, the main reason I went through this was to swap out my old drives for new hybrid drives that are ALLOT faster. Darren Duke had blogged about them a while back and I went out and bought them – what a difference in speed!

Other Resources on Linux

There are quite a few other people who specialize in Linux and Lotus Notes Domino, I am by far not the only one and definitely not the most knowledgeable on either. But, if you are really interested in Linux and how the Lotus products work on them, you should go and listen to Bill Malchisky’s presentation “Lotus on Linux Report” that he is giving at IamLUG this year. I have heard it previously and for anybody serious about Linux it is a must hear presentation.

Upgrading Domino 32 bit to 64 bit


After all the talk of how to decide on what version (32 vs 64 bit) of Domino you want to choose on Windows, I want to blog briefly on some good strategies to migrate a server from 32 to 64 bit.

My Assumptions for this article:

As discussed previously, 64 bit Domino requires a 64 bit OS and for this hypothetical case I am assuming that I am staying with the same OS type and only switching the version (32 -> 64 bit) so I do not have to take any change in disk format into account that is likely if you move from let’s say Windows to AIX.I am also assuming that I am not going to do any major upgrade of the Domino version – that would be a major change and require allot of planning and testing beyond what I want to go into in this short blog post.

Scenario 1: Switch the server

This one is easy – it is basically the same as if you are going to switch out the hardware (in-place upgrade). I would install the new server on a new piece of hardware, bring the old server down, move the data directory to the new server, rename the server, switch IP addresses (or IP reservations, whichever one it is your network does) and then bring the new server up with the original data.

The point in this switch/upgrade is that you have new hardware that you can install at your leisure, burn in and prepare. The only time-sensitive part is when you bring all the servers down, move the data and re-configure the new hardware. Hopefully the data is on a SANS and all you have to do is detach and re-attach the drives. I greatly prefer that to having to copy data from the old server to the server as that can add untold hours to a deployment schedule.

Scenario 2: In-place upgrade

This scenario basically only happens if you have no other piece of hardware that you could use and the in-place is the last straw of yours to try and get past some unspeakable evil from which you need to escape. Therefore I believe a disclaimer is in order:

Do not attempt this at home, don’t do it at the office either and if you are working for a client. Heck, if you value your sanity and don’t want to die from a heart attack don’t do this one at all! Only attempt this option if there is ABSOLUTELY no other way out.

The reason I say this is simple: garbage in = garbage out. Also, it is allot of changes on one physical machine so there is allot of opportunity to fail – two major changes on one physical machine and no good way to back out of the process if it does not work the way you are hoping for . Also, you are unlikely to be able to test this beforehand if something so you really can’t prepare for any eventuality. So again … avoid this one!

Now, if I absolutely had to do this – this is how I would do it: (rough draft)

Prepare:

  1. Have plenty of time available. If you think it will take 6 hours, triple the amount and add 10 hours for good measure. If it take long you will be tired and need rest. also, the server is unlikely to be new so is unlikely to be a fast process even if it goes well
  2. Make sure there is a GOOD, VALID backup and that the tapes are not old and that you can actually restore the server if you need to.
  3. If in any way possible, do a P2V into VMWare and test all of this first … it is insane and crazy, so testing is a must if there is any opportunity for it
  4. Keep a snapshot of that VMWare image around in case all hell breaks loose and it is the only thing you can offer your users to work with.
  5. Have enough free space on the Domino server for temp files, etc. Also make sure that the data partitions have at least 20% free space to accommodate size increases due to design changes

“ACTION!!!” – The upgrade itself

  • Shut down Domino and run a manual compact against all files
  • Run another back-up – just in case
  • Upgrade the OS … pray to whatever Gods you believe in and hope for the best
  • Run Domino, check if it runs and is accessible
  • Take another back-up
  • Pray, sleep, meditate and then … sacrifice a bucket of KFC chicken (like in the movie “Major League”). Also, prepare a bottle of Bourbon, crack it open and sacrifice one glass some alongside the chicken (it can only help)
  • Uninstall Domino – you cannot install 64 bit over 32 … it is a disaster waiting to happen. Save the notes.ini first, you might need it
  • Clean up the install directory, registry AND any temp folders etc. Reboot the server once
  • Install Domino 64 bit – prepare for another sacrificial chicken bucket .. this time extra crispy would be advisable
  • Attach/move/copy the data in and meditate, chant the mighty “OOOHHHMM” if that makes you feel better
  • Start Domino and prepare your sacrifice
  • ……… (waiting for all hell to break loose)

Let’s not go into details what to do if any one of these steps fail … there are too many to details to deal with. I am hoping that the numerous references to sacrifices (non-human) and heavy drink show you that this is more arcane magic than cool, logic guided technology. Again, I would not do this one unless there is absolutely no other way to deal with the issue.

Shameless Plug:

There are many more detailed steps and planning necessary for an upgrade. Hiring somebody who has done it previously would be advisable …. You can hire me or one of my many gifted consulting colleagues to do this scary stuff for you. We already have the gray hair (if we have hair) and our digestive tracts are tough and can take the stress.

Domino 32 bit vs 64 bit – how to decide


I my last post I talked about what the main advantage of going 64 bit Windows for Domino – shared addressable memory – but I really did not go into detail on whether 32 bit or 64 bit Domino is the better choice for an installation.

As I mentioned previously, the main advantage of going 64 bit Windows is that your Domino instance will not have 4 GB of addressable shared memory available. The kicker is that this holds true for both 32 bit and 64 bit Domino on 64 bit Windows. This fact came as quite a surprise to me when I found out, this is due to the way that the Domino memory system and the memory handles are currently designed.

So the question becomes, why would I choose 64 bit Domino if 32 bit does the same for me?

Personally, I believe the main deciding factor is whether you plan to run add-in tasks in your Domino instance or not. To run an add-in task on a 64 bit Domino server the add in task also needs to be 64 bit. To run an add-in task on a 32 bit Domino server the add-in task needs to be 32 bit as well.

The logical conclusion therefore is: if you plan to run ANY add-ins (e.g.: Anti Virus, etc.) on your 64 bit Domino server you need to determine if that program is available in 64 bit as well. If it is and any other products you might consider running are available in 64 bit as well – then you can go ahead (but test first anyway – of course!!) and install 64 bit Domino. If this is not the case your choice will need to be 32 bit Domino.

“Elementary, my dear Watson.”