Archive | Computers

Installing Minio as a Service on CentOS 7.3+


This document outlines the procedures to install Minio as a Service on a new CentOS 7.3 Minimal server. It provides a little more detail to the procedures in the references at the bottom of this article.

My Test Environment

I’m using VirtualBox on a Windows 10 Workstation, with a fresh install of CentOS 7.3 Minimal. Also installed is a copy of Git Bash for Windows.

The reason I use Git Bash is because I can copy/paste text from the examples below into the Git Bash prompt.
Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

Cloudberry Backups to an SFTP server

Backing up your data to a Linux based SFTP server is an inexpensive method that separates network shares (which can be attacked by crypto viruses) from your backups. You can configure Cloudberry’s SFTP backups with either password based access or with a shared cryptographic key so that regular passwords aren’t used. This document provides steps on using both methods to access an SFTP server with Cloudberry Backup.

SFTP advantages:

  • Linux is easy to install.
  • Doesn’t require advanced hardware.
  • SFTP comes pre-configured with CentOS 7 server.
  • Can easily be run on a cloud server, such as Digital Ocean or Linode.
  • On systems with multiple mounted drives, you can specify the storage locations.

SFTP disadvantages:

  • Not as fast as some other protocols, such as Minio

Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

More Backups and Synchronization

I have spent rar too much time this past week reviewing and updating the backup procedures on my development workstation. In the past, I was:

  • Using Acronis to backup the files on drives C, D to drive Z.
  • Using Syncback to occasionally copy Videos, Music and Photos to an SMB share on a Synology DS209J.
  • Using the Synology DS209J as a media server.

The challenges I faced:

  • Acronis has failed in the past, so I need to either trust it again or dump it.
  • The Synology server is embarassingly slow. File copying is slow, and videos occasionally stutter.
  • I’m concerned about SMB shares being trashed by a possible Cryptowall virus.
  • Am a bit low on disk space in areas.

Hardware changes made:

  • Replace the Synology with a CentOS 7 VM running on an existing ESXi server, and install Plex on it.
  • Add a 4TB WD Red drive to the ESXi server, create a 4TB ext4 volume and attach it to the CentOS VM.
  • Replace an existing 10/100 ethernet switch with a 10/100/1000 ethernet switch.

Functionality to test:

  • Disk and file backups with incremental and block level support for extra large files.
  • Cataloging of the backups.
  • Directory/file synchronization.
  • Cloud and SFTP support.

Software tested:

  • Syncback (I have been using Syncback free)
  • Syncovery
  • Acronis Backup/Recovery (I already own this)
  • Acronis True Image
  • Cloudberry


A Realization

It slowly dawned on me that when performing occasional full backups with Syncback, what I really wanted to do was to perform file synchronization. In this case, I didn’t want incrementals or the ability to restore an old version. I just wanted a source and destination synchronization of my media directories. It also turns out that dedicated backup software such as Acronis or Cloudberry don’t really support that functionality. So, let’s look at each of the packages I tried.



There are several versions of this product, and Syncback free has allowed me to backup across SMB shares without any problems in the past.

It does not support block level backups, which I felt were important with the number of Virtual Machines I’m using.

In order to Synchronize to the CentOS server via the more secure SFTP, I needed to purchase Syncback Pro (and not SE).

Being about same price, the block level support of Syncovery put it ahead of Syncback Pro.


This product costs about the same as Syncback Pro, but does support block level backups, as well as file/directory synchronization.

I ended up buying a copy of this to use strictly for synchronization with the new media server. Maybe I’ll use it for full backups down the road once it gains my trust. I’m not there yet.

Acronis Backup/Recovery

I already own this product, so I spent time determining if I wanted to continue using it or replace it with an alternate. After significant testing, I decided to update it and use it for backups. One of the main reasons was that using the catalog for file recovery was easier to use than the alternatives.

Acronis True Image

This package had great reviews, however the simplistic interface was not for me. I ditched it early on.


This product performs backups to various local and Cloud services and worked very well. I have a client that uses it and it’s a good product. In order for me to purchase Cloudberry, Acronis Backup/Recovery had to fail in some significant fashion and the only weakness I could see with Acronis (other than the fact that it’s huge), was that the version of Acronis I own does not support Cloud Services. Fortunately for me, that was not a requirement and as a result, Cloudberry was off the table.


Current Status

Acronis now performs custom daily/weekly backups of drive C and drive D to drive Z as well as to the CentOS server via SFTP. One of the advantages of the custom configuration is that I can tell it to purge old backups when the destination drive gets full. At 4TB, that should take a while.

Syncovery synchronizes the Photo, Music and Video directories to the CentOS server via SFTP for use by the Plex media server. It also does so at a MUCH faster clip with the new gigabit switch.

Oh, and I’m also running Crashplan as a backup of last resort. When it comes to backups, you can never have too many.



Continue Reading

Finding the Right OS

Quite often, I use the Pareto principle of spending 20% of the effort to get 80% of the results. On other occasions, I spend far too much time to get something just right.

From DOS 1.0 in 1981 to Windows 8 and Linux today, I’ve installed dozens of micro and minicomputer operating systems over the years. To me, an OS needs to fit like a glove, which is why I’ve spent considerable time looking for a version of Linux that will complement my Windows 7 desktop environment. Being on a tight budget, I use Oracle’s VirtualBox instead of VMWare Player as it includes a Snapshot facility.
Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

Site Backups


If you have ever experienced the horror of losing files or a database, then you’ll understand the importance of implementing and TESTING your backups and site recovery capabilities.

I’ve developed some scripts that run on my local Debian server, which backs up my Hostgator sites and associated databases on a daily as well as a weekly basis.

Note: Unless you have a pre-existing arrangement in place, do not assume that your web host provider has adequate backup/recovery protection for your web sites. You’ve been warned.

Continue Reading →

Continue Reading

ASUS TF700T Tablet Review

I have to admit that when the iPad3 came out, I was mighty impressed with its’ Retina display and was surprised that no other competitor that I was aware of even came close. Kudos to Apple and their suppliers for pulling off that amazing feat. As for myself, I’m not a fan of iTunes and have been looking for a tablet, but on an alternate platform. Being the owner of an Android phone, an Android based tablet seemed a good fit.

My needs are:

  • Ability to display portrait or landscape via tilt
  • Touchscreen navigation
  • Wi-Fi
  • Must be close or equal to iPad3 resolution and screen size (1920×1200 minimum)
  • Able to plug in MicroUSB or SD card
  • Can plug into my desktop/laptop and appear as an external hard drive
  • Has a Gmail email/contacts/scheduling client (and syncs across my various devices)
  • Can display my techie PDF files clearly and without the need to magnify/scroll around every single page
  • Runs media consumption applications, ie Newsreaders, browser, Youtube
  • To comfortably use the device in bed
  • Watch movies

My needs are NOT:

  • Creation or updating of documents/spreadsheets
  • Running the latest/greatest games
  • To replace a laptop or desktop

Ultimately, the TF700T serves as a fancy bookreader for me. Expensive? Yes. Quick? Yes. Crystal clear? At 10″ and 1920×1200 pixel resolution, most definitely.

One the negative side, I wasn’t impressed with the non-standard charging port on the ASUS. It reminded me of the one in use on the Apple products and I would have much preferred an industry standard Micro USB port.

Oh, and I plugged a mouse into the USB port of the keyboard and it worked just fine – but I normally don’t use it. I also disabled the touchpad on the keyboard as I found it got in the way of typing.

Do I feel what I paid was worth it? Compared to the iPad and currently available Android tablets, very much so.

I’m very happy with the TF700T and add-on keyboard. I don’t expect it to match the content creation capabilities of a laptop or desktop, but then I already had an Android phone and was aware of the capabilities of the platform.

Would I take the tablet on the subway or bus? In that case, I would probably have preferred a 7″ tablet, like the Nexus. That seems to be a much more ‘on the go’ device than the 10″ based TF700T.


Based on my needs, I would give this tablet 9/10.


Want to replace your laptop with a Tablet? I would not recommend it.

Update: After owning this tablet for over a year, I find that the web browsing on it is very sub par. The score for this table has now dropped to 7/10.

Continue Reading

On Web Development Environments

I have to admit at times to an amount of ‘Mac envy’. Whenever I attend either a WordPress or Drupal conference, most of the delegates that brought a computer will be using a Mac of some form. The code sprint rooms are packed with Mac users. Myself, I have a 5 year old ASUS laptop, running Windows 7, as well as a 5 year old Windows 7 desktop at home. They were nicely spec’ed when I bought them, so performance is not really an issue. The challenge I have, is, creating a seamless web development environment to support my Drupal and WordPress sites. My requirements include:

  • To match my production environment as close as possible
  • To support Git and a host of Linux/Unix tools
  • To support Photoshop
  • To provide seamless support for developing and staging web sites
  • Can take it on the road with me
  • Can survive a hard disk crash without too much pain

It’s no exaggeration to say that, aside from purchasing a Mac, I’ve tried a LOT of variations and am currently using:

  • My desktop if my principal environment
  • Occasionally use my laptop
  • Oracle VirtualBox
  • KVM

Let me explain. . . .

First off, I’ve been developing with Linux Mint on Oracle VirtualBox hosted on my desktop for several months now. I’ve been looking to offload it from my desktop, as I don’t like putting all my eggs in one basket. Therefore, I setup KVM on a dedicated host so that I could implement several servers independently of my desktop, including my main development environment. Unbeknownst to me at the time, the obvious disadvantage here is that I can’t take that on the road with me. That is, unless I’m prepared to use a rather slow VNC connection.

Rather than offload my principal Linux box to KVM, I think I’ll continue to host my Linux on VirtualBox on my desktop and to copy that environment to my laptop for those times when I’m offsite, let’s say at a development meetup or client site. In the meantime, I’ll continue to use KVM to host various machines, such as my production backup server, test servers as well as a home media server.

In some respects, it’s not quite as seamless as a Mac, but my development environment is stored as an image and can move seamlessly between my desktop and laptop. I’ve also got file sharing and drive mappings setup so that it’s easy to access my Linux Machine from Windows. Furthermore, VirtualBox’s seamless mode looks pretty awesome.

I’m pretty happy with my development environment, and now just need a Haswell chip to run it on. In the meantime, I’ll back off on the Craigslist search for a used Macbook.

Update: Just bought a 4770K desktop with 32G of RAM. Lots of room for virtual servers.

Update2: That desktop rocks!

Continue Reading

On Text Editors

The first text editor I used after graduating university back in the day was Edlin . . . on DOS 1.0. That nasty old editor prompted an ongoing quest to find the ‘perfect’ text editor. I’ve used many over the years, and on several different operating systems but haven’t yet come across one that ‘just works’ for me. The main challenge is that I use several operating systems, each with their own editors.

On Linux, I’ve settled on vi, more out of history and habit than anything else and Notepad++ on Windows. Both editors worked fine, but I never really fell in love with them. I’ve tried the Netbeans IDE, and it has a lot of really cool features that I’d like to see in a lightweight package. I guess I want something that loads as fast as vi, works in a terminal, yet has the features of Netbeans.

The other day, I ran across Sublime Text. One of the cool things about it is that it has Linux, OSX as well as Windows 7 distributions. It’s also received a lot of rave reviews on the Internet. After a very short trial, I purchased a license that I can use on any of the systems I use. What a superb arrangement.

Out of the box, Sublime Text looks pretty cool. It works well with Linux, but not in a terminal. I think I’ll spend some time with it to see if it’s the text editor of my dreams.



I don’t do a huge amount of coding, but when I do, it’ll typically be with Sublime Text. Otherwise, for quick updates, I’ll either use Notepad++ (for printing in Windows) or vi in Linux. That multi-line edit capability in Sublime Text is pretty awesome.

Continue Reading