Xen and LVM vrs UML and File system images

A couple of years ago we started looking at UML as a new technology we could make some products from. So we went about to find a system to build and automate the creation of them. I sat down and made up prices, specs and billing schedules so our sales people could market the new product. At the time it was really cool and we sold a load of them in the first couple of months. However the guy we had doing the work left shortly after. I didn’t have time to look after that stuff anymore so we let it fall by the way side.

Having taken on a heap of new staff in 2006 we found that we had time to spend testing new technologies. Xen was one of them. I’d played a bit and hadn’t thought much about it. However Niall was given the task of moving certain services off of our main web server for company related hosting. So we got in some nice HP servers and off he went at the task. We decided it made a _lot_ more sense to use raid on the under lying file system (resilient raid as apposed to raid 0 that we used on the UML service) and to use LVM to create the FS for the Xen virtual private servers. The speed difference is incredible. The old UML boxes were slow and cumbersome and the VPS on them were unresponsive a lot of the time.

I’ll do a more detailed post in the future with versions of bits n bobs that we used for the new hosts. We’ve migrated all UML customers from the old boxes (and old network) to the new boxes and our shiny new network (which is almost a year old!!)

Blacknights RBL mirror goes crazy

In Blacknight we believe in giving back to those whom we take from. In November we got access to the spamhaus zones. As a result we’ve given them another public mirror for them to add to their round robin dns setup. We initially saw very little traffic, I think the aggregate was in the 10s of thousands of queries per 5 minute period.

That was of course till spamhaus turned us on, which all of a sudden kicked in may I add 🙂 – it was uber cool to see the stats ramp us as they did. On Tuesday 16th of Jan 2007 we hit an all time high which was mostly due to the spamhaus zones we mirror. Approx 1.114m queries in a single 5 minute statistics reporting window. Wow. The crazy thing is that the hardware its on is nothing special. There is no load on the server at all despite it serving over 200k dns queries a minute.

Aggregate dns queries

The above is a 5 minute average from the graphs we generate on the mirror box. The green is positive hits on the traffic coming in vrs what is in the zones. The blue is total number of queries and the orange is a percentage of hits vrs total mail.

The next biggest hitter is surbl, or more accurately multi.surbl.org – its top hitting day was also the same day as above with 105K queries in a 5 minute window.

multi.surbl.org 5 minute average

The legend for the above is the same as the aggregate one above. The main reason for this post is to highlight that we used to ship all of our own queries onto public mirrors for both spamhaus and surbl. We mirrored surbl for quite a while but it was on the DEG mesh and not on our own Mesh network. The above stats are from a box hosted on our own network. The box is shipping between 3Mbit/s and 4.5Mbit/s during peak times. That is a silly amount of DNS queries, but none the less it helps the performance of our own kit and also provides a valuable resource to our neighbouring networks and other companies in Ireland and the EU that use these mirrors.

We get queries from all over the place to these mirrors. I’ll get Niall to dig out some country stats tomorrow and I’ll post that to another blog post.

Another doctor related post sort of

I get a text the other day from my mother. As usual it was a little crazy. No punctuation at all, bless her. She is like 60+ years old so I guess having her use her mobile to text with is kinda cool :-). Anyway the text says “Niall has the pocks”. I laugh out loud, but it dawns on me. A 33 year old person with chicken pocks is not a good thing, the poor bastard. His daughter got them from pre-school or what ever the cool kids call it.

Then on Monday of this week I get another text from my mum. “Fiona has the pocks, not as bad as Nialls though”. Again I laugh out loud. She is 36! I duno what the hell those two were at as kids to not get it. I got it a few years ago in UNI, scared the crap out of me so it did.

General Practioners in Ireland must make a mint

Not a fan of going to the doctor. There are a few reasons, the one that bugs me the most though and probably every other person (bar medical card holders) is paying 50 euro for 3 minutes. What is worse is that I had to make the appointment 3 days before hand and I still had to wait. Like I’m giving you 50 fucking euro, can you at least not over book and see me at my appointment time/date.

The other thing I hate is that they look at you like you have 3 heads when you’ve not been to see them for years. The GP I went to today I’ve been to at least 3 times before. They “lost” all records of me being there before. Thats just annoying.

Anyway long story short, they make stupid amounts of cash. They do very little. Fair play to them though. I can still complain about them despite the fact that I have to admire them for their cash making stylee.

I’ve got flu so I’m at home, bored. Mostly working from my bed as a result of being bored. On meds, cortazone and some antibiotic or other. As a result of my blocked sinus, I’ve an infection in my inner ear that is what the antibiotic is for.

WordPress upgrade, piece of cake or not?

Apparently it is a piece of cake. I’m very supprised, freaked out but happy none the less. Mostly because my experience with other apps in the past hasn’t been that particularly great. e.g. phpBB things just used to break, randomly. Odd.

So aswell as going to the crazy bleedin edge version of wordpress I’ve also picked a new theme. Not sure about it yet. However it is growing on me.

Blacknight overtake Novara!

Yesterday I got a report from webhosting.info about our weekly domain stats. As usual I clicked on the link and low and behold I was amazed. I had looked at it late last year and saw we were about 800 domains off of Novara. I calculated that we’d overtake them in the space of about 6 months, judging by current growth patterns according to independant analyst John McCormac‘s monthly statistics that we subscribe to.

However to my supprise we were 106 domains ahead of them. Huzza I thought! This is really good news, as we are now the second largest hosting company in Ireland. To be honest these figures don’t mean a lot, but in terms of perception it puts us at the forefront of the Irish hosting industry. I was really proud, I almost shed a tear (hahaha, yeah right), but seriously its bloody great news. Especially considering we just took on a new Sales Manager. This is a great boost for morale and a good start to 2007.


After much “putting it off” Jimmy organised a game of soccer tonight on the all weather pitches in Graigcullen. There were 11 of us plus one. The “plus one” was podges missus Tara whom watched from the side lines as we all huffed and puffed.

Felt pretty good to do all that running, right now my back is super stiff and I might be needing an ambulance to get me into work in the morning.

We’ve booked it for next Wednesday again, so we’ll see how things go after the second and third visit 🙂

Telecoms Woes?

It would appear that yesterday evening Eircom withdrew voice services to Smart Telecoms CPS customers. The announcement was made on rte.ie last night and it was also on the 9 o’clock news which for some poor customers was the first they heard of it.

Today we hear that smart owe eircom 4m euro, 1.7m euro of which is owed from previous months, however the exact details are not clear.

Despite the above, there are now circa 50k Irish households without phone services, some of which didn’t move their line rental can still make calls by adding a prefix to all outgoing calls. Somewhere in the region of 150k people are likely to be affected by this.

And we are still waiting to see what other creditors are going to do, of which there are several. The next few days are going to be interesting.

While all the above is bad and all, Smart going out of business is not a good thing for Ireland. It would be best for competition if they were bailed out. But it might already be too late.

Sexiest women on earth?

Esquire have a bit of a mystery game going on, on their website. 52% of people think it is Scarlett Johansson, I was one of the people who choose her. She has to be one of the most beautifull women on earth. I’m currently sporting several different images on my desktop pc at home. Most of my linux terminals have her transparently displayed behind the text. Bit like 1990s and all that, but she is stunning. Absolutely stunning.