MCITP:EA, Completed! – Passed the Microsoft 070-680 Windows 7, Configuration exam today

I just completed my Microsoft Certified Information Technology Professional: Enterprise Administrator certification (the highest level professional certification for Windows Server 2008 – sort of like MCSE was for 2003 or 2000.  Note that there is “no such thing” as MCSA or MCSE for 2008, they were replaced by MCITP: SA and MCITP: EA.)

This was my fifth and final exam for MCITP: EA.  This one covers Windows 7 configuration.  It was pretty straight forward, after all of the other Windows tests I’ve been passing, this one was pretty easy.  I studied for 2 weeks.

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Loaded Rocks 5.3 today on ravel.csc.calpoly.edu

If you run Rocks, you really should register your cluster.  Really.

If you run Rocks, you really should register your cluster. Really.

Rocks is a modified CentOS Linux distribution specifically made for high performance cluster computing from San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC). I don’t know of a good reason *NOT* to run Rocks if you have a cluster.  Your tax dollars pay the Rocks people to build and maintain the Rocks cluster Linux software distribution.  They do a good job.  Most common cluster tools and software packages come already included.  You can literally get a multinode cluster completely loaded and online in a couple of hours.

It was time for ravel.csc.calpoly.edu to get a facelift.  It was running an older version of Rocks, and has been getting cranky recently.  I loaded the latest stable Rocks 5.3 on it.  No real issues, like usual, Rocks is easy to load.  The only issue I had is that the built in DHCP service tried to assign the IP address of the interconnect switch to a compute node.  That was my fault, because I didn’t tell Rocks that the switch was using that address like the install doc told me to.

The Rocks Avalanche scalable installer uses peer to peer technology to help load compute nodes, so the more nodes you have, the faster they load.  Really.  Nodes that have already started their loads help out new nodes, unburdening the head node from sole loading duty.  It takes maybe thirty minutes to load all of my compute nodes.  Even if I had hundreds or thousands, reloading them all from scratch would just take a couple of hours.

MCITP:EA – Passed the Microsoft 070-647 Windows Server 2008, Enterprise Administrator exam today

I’m working on getting the Microsoft Certified Information Technology Professional: Enterprise Administrator certification (the highest level professional certification for Windows Server 2008 – sort of like MCSE was for 2003 or 2000.  Note that there is “no such thing” as MCSA or MCSE for 2008, they were replaced by MCITP: SA and MCITP: EA.)

I’ve now passed the 3 required core Windows Server 2008 tests and this test.  The last remaining test before I get MCITP: EA is a “client OS” test.  (I’m going to take the Windows 7 client test 070-680.)

This test covers a broad range of topics, pretty much a review of the 3 core tests.  It’s recommended that you pass the three core tests first, and then take this test.  I should have listened.  I didn’t do it that way.  I’ve taken this twice before, once at the beginning of April 2010, and again about a month later.  If you want to know what this test is like, read those posts.

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Who you daddy?

I use the common Linux command who all the time, have for years.  When I’m logged in as various users on various systems, sometimes I forget who I logged in as.  I typically use ‘who am i’ to remind me.

Turns out that who, at least on Linux will respond to ‘who yo daddy’ or ‘who yo mama’ the same way, just as ‘who am i’ or ‘who -m’.

There’s your amusing easter egg for today.

[glporter@maroon ~]$ whoami
glporter
[glporter@maroon ~]$ who am i
glporter pts/1        2010-09-08 08:53 (:0.0)
[glporter@maroon ~]$ who -m
glporter pts/1        2010-09-08 08:53 (:0.0)
[glporter@maroon ~]$ who yo
[glporter@maroon ~]$ who yo daddy
glporter pts/1        2010-09-08 08:53 (:0.0)
[glporter@maroon ~]$ who yo mama
glporter pts/1        2010-09-08 08:53 (:0.0)
[glporter@maroon ~]$ who yo pretty_much_any_string
glporter pts/1        2010-09-08 08:53 (:0.0)

Will a cheap solid state disk make your old laptop faster? Yes.

I have an older HP Compaq tc4200 Tablet PC.  I like it.  If you’ve never used a tablet before, where you can opt to use a pen for input, you should try one.  It’s great for applications that are primarily mouse click driven, like browsing the Intertubes or doing practice exams.

I recently reloaded mine with Windows 7, which was ridiculously easy.  Windows 7 runs no slower on it, and perhaps a bit faster.  Windows 7 natively loads all required drivers, so you won’t spend hours looking for the NIC driver or whatever for this model.  I like Windows 7.

Still as an older machine, it’s a bit slow.  The hard drive seems to thrash.  People say that replacing the internal hard drive with an inexpensive solid state drive (SSD) helps.  Will it make any real difference?  Yes.  I did it, and I’m glad I did.

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MCITP:EA – Passed the Microsoft 070-640 Windows Server 2008 Active Directory, Configuring exam today

I’m glad to have passed 070-640 the first time.  I spent two months on this one.  I read the book.  I actually did all the labs in the book using virtual machines.  I did additional practice on real machines at work.  I took 2 practice exams a day, pretty much every day, for over a month, like probably 80? total practice exam attempts.  (I have MeasureUp exams that came with the book, and I bought Kaplan SelfTest exams as well.  I’d say that if you are like me, that 2 months per exam is about what it takes, and that’s studying an hour or two a day, most days of the week.

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AMAX GPU Workstation, AKA “cluster in a box”

Recently a faculty member got a grant to buy a small GPU based computing cluster.  He wound up buying a ServMax PSC-2n from AMAX.  It came loaded with Debian.  It has four NVIDIA Tesla 2050 GPU cards in it.  That’s four times 448 cores per card = 1792 GPU cores in a workstation form factor.

Here’s a screenshot of it in action:

PSC-2n Desktop

High Performance Computing Clusters in the Computer Science Department, Cal Poly, SLO

Cal Poly, SLO, where I work is a teaching university.  We don’t do a lot of research and historically, there hasn’t been a lot of high performance computing on campus.  A number of years ago, Information Technology Services (ITS, the central campus computing people) got a grant and set up a small cluster for general use.  Users of this cluster that I’ve talked to weren’t very happy with it.  It wan’t particularly big, and it wasn’t particularly easy to use.  Since then, various faculty with research projects have gotten their own clusters which their departments operated, not ITS.  The first cluster I’m aware of like this was ravel.csc.calpoly.edu, which I helped spec out, buy, rack up, and loaded the operating system on.

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Beginner’s guide to iometer – real world disk benchmark

“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and benchmarks statistics.” I often get asked about disk performance.  I often use iometer — a well known disk benchmark.  I usually use it on Windows.  It’s pretty easy to set up, although it does have a lot of configuration options.  I wrote up a quick guide to using iometer.  Gentlemen, start your disk controllers.

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MCITP:EA – Passed the Microsoft 070-643 Windows Server 2008 Applications Infrastructure, Configuring exam today

This was my second try at 070-643, and I passed!  Yay!  I was beginning to doubt my super-powers.

What was different?  I went slower.  Read the book again.  Took the practice tests over and over again until I was blue in the face.  Actually fiddled with some of the technology on my own.  Not much different, actually.

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