I.Use[Markdown] to write formatted plain text … and TheJournalist debugging

markdown_mark.pngTL;DR

Using markdown to write plain text … such a brilliant idea! The main advantage of markdown is powerful text formatting while being free of application container lock-in : portability!

So when you choose an editor for writing in markdown, be carefull to not lock yourself with this shiny new text editor … That was exactly what happened to me with “The Journalist” app. This blog post is both a markdown introduction (why switching?) and a step-by-step guide to rescue your files after an application crash.


Context : what is Markdown?

I am currently exploring some new tools to optimize my workflow, and this led me among other things, to markdown. I am really not on the bleeding edge, this language is out there since 2004. You can find plenty of articles explaining why markdown is awesome, and how it has revolutionized the workflow of everyone using it.

Shortly, Markdown is a plain text formatting syntax that help you to:

  • write in plain text with your favorite text editor,
  • keep focus on writing, and being less tempted to procrastinating,
  • It’s really easy, and simpler than HTML ou WIKI syntax.

You are not bound on any file format (docx, odt, etc), it’s just plain text. It will hardly break or become corrupted … if you stick with plain a text editor (see below on this part).

Then, when the file is processed by a “markdown aware” viewer, the magic works a you get a nicely formatted text.

My first enhanced Markdown Editor : The Journalist, Crash & Restore …

So I started taking notes with textwrangler, and soon I felt the need for :

  • A preview of the text rendered, as I type,
  • an easy way to manage all theses files.

As I was just starting to explore Markdown, I looked for a free app to start with. A quick search on the Mac App Store led me to the application “The Journalist”.

The application looks pretty and my two former requirements seemed to be fulfilled. But after a day of notes, The Journalist crashed badly and my content was gone! It seems like something got finally corrupted…

Useless to explain how I was scared … I started digging to find where the application actually stored his data, without success… An email to the application developer, and a couple of hours later I got a kind answer! The folder to look for was the following ( and I would never guess it alone …) :

~/Library/Containers/com.mimietpaul.journalistmac

Rescue the data!

Basically, The Journalist store data in a sqlite database. I figured it trying to open files with a basic text editor. So all I need, is to open this database file and query it!

Here are the steps to follow in order to recover your “precious” content:

  1. copy the sqlite file:
    ~/Library/Containers/com.mimietpaul.journalistmac/Data/Library/Application Support/TheJournalist
    
  2. rename thejournalist.data to .sqlite extension,
  3. Open the database using a sqlite editor (1)
  4. query the table “ZJNOTE” to list all the notes
    SELECT * FROM ZJONOTE
    
  5. query on “ZBODY” field obtain to actual content : your notes!
  6. copy/paste in your favorite text editor,
  7. you are free!

(1) The Firefox extension SQLite Manager is a perfect fit for this simple need.

Conclusion

This misadventure has allowed me to learn a little more about the specifications for my note-taking tool:

  • The potential markdown application must generate raw text files! (Natively or via export function),
  • If the application is enhancing the writing experience (adding metadata, pictures, etc …) : metadata must be kept separately from files.

Be sure that I will check twice before storing my data into an application …

Ressources

Links

Here is some useful references and stories about Markdown:

Apps and Tools

Some useful tools for Markdown on OSX

  • Textwrangler, the free edition of the great BBEdit. It recognize markdown syntax (*.md extension),
  • QLMarkdown is a OSX plugin for Quicklook. It enable the rendering of markdown files (*.md extension) right in the finder and A how-to guide to assist you installing it.

I am currently evaluating Ulysse III as my main editor and text file repository. Later on this as I continue digging about it.

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CLI memo #1 : creating a Vlan with Brocade NOS

Here is a quick memo of some CLI commands I use. Just a quick reminder for the few commands I may need on my daily operations.

Today’s task is just creating a vlan on a Brocade network switchs, running NOS (Network OS).

conf t
interface vlan <vlan id>
description <your vlan description>

end

Update : 2015-06
Yes, you silly Cisco-Admin, you read it right : @Brocade NOS, with this command you don’t create an SVI, but just a vlan 🙂

A quick extract from the Admin Guide:

On Brocade VDX hardware, VLANs are treated as interfaces from a configuration point of view. By default all the DCB ports are assigned to VLAN 1 (VLAN ID equals 1).

The vlan_ID value can be 1 through 3963. VLAN IDs 3964 through 4090 are internally-reserved VLAN IDs.
However, the reserved-vlan command can modify this range. VLANs above 4090 are not configurable. Refer to the Network OS Command Reference.

Here are some links to deep dive in Brocade Network OS, as usual you have to RTFM to become a master:

There is some other basic command I may cover later like VCS, port-channels, etc …

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Links collection #1

Here is a collection of some interesting articles & papers I stumbled upon last week.
This list is mainly for my own record and allow me to not keep a web browser with more than 20 tabs opened over one month. 🙂

Sure “cloud bookmarks” solutions are great. There is plenty of them out there, and I use them.
But the drawbacks are the following :
– it’s quicker for me to write down that link rather than struggling with folder and tags,
– I would need my credentials or an agent to access my bookmarks,
– it could be lengthy to find back that link 2 years later,
– that link is maybe only needed on a temporary basis or particular context, and do not deserve a bookmark.

Finally, I think it’s easier to share with others over a blog (no need to affiliate on a profile, etc …).
So, after this long introduction, here is “Link Collection #1”.

EMC VPLEX

  1. RecoverPoint Comes Clean with VPLEX (clearpathsg)
  2. Interesting use cases for VPLEX (vijay swami)
  3. A Deeper Look at VPLEX (Scott Lowe)

vMSC (vSphere Metro Streched Cluster)

  1. vSphere Metro Stretched Cluster with vSphere 5.5 and PDL AutoRemove (longwhiteclouds)

VMFS & VMDK

  1. Support for virtual machine disks larger than 2 TB in vSphere 5.5 (2058287) (vmware)
  2. vsphere 5.5 Jumbo VMDK Deep dive (longwhiteclouds)

vSphere, vCenter & vCloud Director 5.5

  1. VMware vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) 5.5 deployment tips and tricks (ivobeerens)
  2. Top 10 things you must read about vSphere 5.5 (vsphere land)
  3. Comparison of vCloud Director Maximums 1.5 / 5.1 / 5.5 (virtualizationexpress)

  4. Comparison of vSphere Maximums 5.1 / 5.5 (vsphere land)

  5. vCenter, vSphere & vCloud Director 5.5 configuration maximums (vmware)
  6. vCloud Director 5.1 Configuration Maximums (2036392) (vmware)
  7. vSphere 5.1 configuration maximums (vmware)

Open Source Clouds

  1. Beyond Chef and Puppet: Ten essential DevOps tools (TechTarget)
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vCD, Redhat, and the network : common pitfalls

This post could have been named “the good, the bad and the ugly”, you are free to choose which one you map with : vCD, Red Hat and the network … 😀

The purpose here, is to sum up common pitfalls when setting up a vCloud Director environment. As you will see, most of them are not related to vCloud, but rather to linux.

What do you need for a vCloud cell?

Before starting, let’s do a quick refresh on what you need for a vCloud Cell:

  • a VM with minimum hardware requirement and a supported guest OS (see installation guides),
  • a minimum of two nics : one for the web portal, one for VM consoles (VMRC proxy).

According to the installation guides, for all versions prior to 5.5 you will need:

  • 2GB of RAM,
  • ~1GB of disk space to install vCD binaries,
  • an RHEL 5.x or 6.x depending on the version of vCD (no CentOS support).

Starting with vCD 5.5, you will need 4GB of RAM and a little more disk space (1350MB).
Note: version 5.5 officially support CentOS 6.4.

There is no recommandation/requirement explicitly stated by VMware for cpu count. However, any decent vCD design should include a dedicated management cluster, and the cpu ressource will not be a bottleneck on this cluster. So I tend to setup vCD cells with 2 vCPUs.

Here, I am digressing from the original matter of this post. Let the design advices for another post, and focus on configuration errors.

The more common problems are the following:

  1. Hang on reboot of the vCD cell,
  2. Being unable to ping the 2nd nic,
  3. Unable to access the vCloud web portal.

1. Hang on reboot of the vCD cell

It’s mainly related to vSphere 5.1 and RHEL/CentOS 6.x. The problem have been widely discussed on VMware community forums, here are some links:

With these informations, you should be able to get rid of this nasty reboot hang …

2. Unable to ping the 2nd nic

If you choosed RHEL6 for your vCD cell guest OS and your nics are on the same vlan, you should have some problems to ping the second nic. This is due to RHEL’s default setting regarding “reverse path filtering”.

Basicly, RHEL drop packets when the route for outbound traffic differs from the route of incoming traffic. It’s a new “default behavior” with RHEL 6.
More details could be found on the subject following this link to the related Red Hat KB.

3. Unable to access the vCloud web portal

Even if you have dodged all these traps, you could still be frustrated when trying to launch the vCloud web portal for first configuration. And it’s mainly because of the default security parameters of RHEL: The iptable firewall is running.

Based on your security context, you could just disable the firewall or a better approach, configure it …
By default RHEL is not listening on port 443, so you have no chance to execute the first install wizard.

Fast spoiler : add the following rule and restart your firewall

iptables -A INPUT -p tcp -m state --state NEW -m tcp --dport 443 -j ACCEPT
service iptables save
service iptables restart

Obviously you will need to open other ports to get a fully functional vCD, but we are here focussing on what you need to get access to the main portal.

Kendrick Coleman wrote an exhaustive article about how to setup the RHEL firewall for the vCD cell. I strongly encourage you to read it if you decide to not completely turn off iptables.

And finally, the yoda quote:
“To be an iptables jedi, only one way there is luke : rtfm of netfilter/iptables

More links to help you configure your vCD cell right, on the first try:

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Fusion and keyboard layouts for Windows/Linux/OSX guest VM

Anyone using VMs hosted by a Mac have struggled one day or another with the keyboard layout of the guest VMs. Any special character you have to deal with (enter our beloved : ‘@’, ‘#’, ‘\’, ‘|’) could be the challenge of the day, specially with a non En-US keyboard. Then if you dare to get access to a remote system by iLO/iDRAC/IPMI/etc … well, you have to be Rain Man to type your password 😀

I don’t know if it’s a new feature of Fusion 6 (nor I remember having seen it before), or if I was blind for so long time, but today I have a really simple combination of settings which make the keyboard working like a charm, even with a nasty use case like this one : installing an ESXi through UCSM KVM via an RDP session from your windows VM (uh! inception-like), and trying to send F2, F12, or special characters for the root password …

On the virtual machine settings, under “keyboard and mouse”, you just have to choose the profile “mac”… no tinkering needed with the keymap on the Windows Guest OS.

If your guest OS is Mavericks, there is a little trick : be sure to select on the OS X settings the keyboard “PC” for  your language …

This works on Linux too (tested with a CentOS 6.4 only), except characters that are not directly accessible on a mac keyboard : like backslash and pipe. To access them on the Linux VM, simply the standard PC keyboard combination, with the right option key (alt) playing the role of Alt-GR. Yes on this last one, you still have to know your PC keyboard layout.

Example : to type a pipe on your windows/linux guest OS, type “right alt” + “§” on your mac keyboard.

As a reminder, backslash and pipe on the OS X host OS are accessible with the following combination : option + shift + (slash for backslash, and l for pipe).

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Kral2.fr, reboot … as vKraL

Hello,

This is the first post on my personal blog, at least in his new formula.

First things first, those of you who was following me before (a very tiny circle of close friends) noticed I’m publishing in English : I will try to do that at least for all technical stuff, as it will be easier this way than using hilarious translations … Bear with my english, I’m more used to read it than to write it 🙂

For other personal hobbies, or when I am not in the mood, I still keep the option to freely switch in one of my native tongues 🙂

So, why vKral?
Because like everyone, there is “many me” : we are all playing a different role along the day, based on time and context.

Relativity is still king in 2k …

Instead of creating separate blog for each addiction area of interest, I decided to consolidate all of them into one blog, all running in his own context : you can call it blog virtualization 😉

What to expect?
I aim to primarily write about technical stuff, specially virtualization and the adjacent.
Time to time, I may be writing about my personal hobbies, under their own categories.

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