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Since I cannot seem to find any comments about this anywhere else on the internet I thought I would throw up a quick post. I’m running Redhat 6.5 on my desktop. Since I have certain things I need to do under windows I prefer to have a VM of windows running as opposed to a completely different system. Just makes life easier to have one keyboard, mouse, etc.

Anyhow. I’m running a

  • Dell Optiplex 790 with an i7 Intel processor and 16GB of ram.
  • Dual ATI Radeon HD 6450 video cards
  • 3 Dell 22xx monitors
  • 2 physical Network cards with the second set up in a bridged configuration.
  • Redhat 6.5 (Santiago)
  • Kernel 2.6.32-431.3.1.el6.x86_64
  • VMware-Workstation-Full-10.0.1-1379776.x86_64.bundle

Understand that everything worked just fine under an older version of the Redhat kernel. When I boot the old vmlinuz-2.6.32-358.18.1.el6.x86_64 things works fine. After trying Windows 2008, windows 7×64, windows 8×32 and windows 8×64 and becoming very frustrated I discovered a similarity. Things only lock up AFTER I install vmware tools. I didn’t catch this at first because the problem started after I upgrade the Redhat Kernel and my existing VM of Win2008x64 was already built and running.

So. The symptom. Everything is good to go. I fire up the VM and everything starts just fine. I get to the login screen for windows, log in, and about 10-15 seconds later the Redhat system freezes. We’re talking a physical power off and back on to get it to release. All networking stops also. I tried pinging and ssh to no avail.

So. That’s it. I don’t have a solution, only the problem. I uninstalled VMware player, reinstalled, updated to the very latest, tried 3 different windows operating systems, etc. Tried a known, older, VM, copied VM’s, scratch built VM’s, etc. Every time vmtools installs, WHAM!, freezes.


The ladies at SFO waiting for our flight to Denver.

Well. I am sitting in a nice little draft house style pub in Denver Colorado drinking an IPA called “Oscar the Grouch”. It’s a bit hoppy but good.

Molly, Nora, and I have come to Denver for the annual supercomputing conference. I think this will be my 7th time attending.

Oops. Gotta go. A coworker just showed. Time to visit and smooze.


I was invited to give another talk this week. This time it was at the Dell executive briefing center in Santa Clara, CA. It was a one day HPC workshop entitled “Enabling Discovery and Product Innovation with Dell HPC Solutions!

It turned out to be a pretty decent workshop. I attended the HPC Advisory Council workshop at Stanford a month or so ago and it was pretty dry. Most of the talks were technically overdone and filled with way to much detail. Not all of the talks mind you, some were really good, but a lot were snoozers. So, with that in mind I figured, heck, the talk I gave a Supercomputing and also at the DellXL consortium get together would go over pretty good.

Well, the first two talks at the Dell workshop were excellent. The first was about creating a gene sequencing cluster that fit in a single rack. The purpose was to make a  sequencing process easier and more efficient. A really interesting talk. The second talk was by a gentleman by the name of Brad at California State University San Francisco. His talk was about their two year project sequencing 100,000+ people with the help of Kaiser medical. Very very interesting stuff.

Thank goodness the next talk was fairly dry and technical. Otherwise I would have been screwed. (-:

My talk, “Mission Critical Global Weather Modeling” (not too exciting I know) went over pretty well. It sounds like they are going to make our talks available online (they didn’t video the talks this time, so it’ll just be the powerpoint), so I might make a link when they do put them up. Link to agenda.

It’s interesting giving talks in front of peers. Even when some of those peers are professors from Lawrence Berkley National Labs, Stanford, Lawrence Livermore National labs, etc. No stress. (-:

Anyhow, that’s what I did yesterday. It was a good time, I learned a lot and now have more contacts of people doing what I do.

Well, it’s been a busy time lately. In the last month and a half I’ve spent 3 days at the DellXL consortium, a week in Vegas enjoying the SEMA conference, three days down at Los Alamos National Labs, and then a week in Salt Lake City at the Supercomputing 2012 conference. I’ve been gone more than I’ve been home. Thankfully I got home in time for Thanksgiving.

In that time I’ve given 2 talks about FNMOC to various HPC groups. One at DellXL and one at Supercomputing. I enjoy talking about FNMOC because not many people know what we do. Sure, we do weather modeling for the Navy. We also do SAR, Search And Rescue models, submarine weather, flight and ship routing for fuel and safety, etc etc. A lot of pointy end of the stick  stuff.

What was fun was that Megan went to Supercomputing with me. This is her second SC conference. I told her she had to dress conservatively, so she did, with blue hair (it’s a wig). She got a lot of comments about it. A lot of folks thought it was pretty cool. In the picture she’s sporting BSD horns that someone at the conference gave her.


I’ve made my reservations for Supercomputing 2012, also known as in my household as Nerdfest 2012.

I’m also going to be taking Megan again this year. This will be her second year of attendance. I’m afraid it might turn into something of an annual trip for us. 🙂

A friend of a friend who works for Altair is hooking Meg up with an exhibitor pass for free (Normally $100) to save us a bit. We chatted about getting her the Technical Program pass ($150 for students) but none of the talks really jumped out at her. I don’t blame her. I didn’t get the tech pass either. I don’t find PhD wanna be’s spouting theoretical garbage interesting any more. Which, sadly the tech program has become. It’s pretty useless for people who actually build and maintain the systems, and at a cost of $575 it’s really not worth it. Oh well.

So, we’re flying out on Saturday from Monterey. No driving 85 miles to San Jose, or 110 to Oakland. Nope, 10 miles is all we need to worry about. Woot!! And, it only cost an extra $40 to fly out locally. Save that just on gas by not needing to drive to San Jose and back.

It’s going to be nice seeing some of my friends and co-workers I haven’t seen in ages. Some of whom have scattered to the far reaches of the world. Guy Robinson is in Perth Australia now working on the Square Kilometer Array pathfinder project. Cool project that. John’s in Texas, Christine’s in Mississippi, not sure who’s coming down from Alaska, but can’t wait to see them. Hoping Hank makes it over from DC. It’s going to be a gathering of nerds from all over the place.

Megan and I will be staying just a block or so away from the Convention Center at a place called The Peery Hotel. Looks like an interesting place to stay.

Well, I’m going through the process of bringing the Bright Cluster Manager provisioning/management tool online with one of our test and developement clusters when I ran across a problem trying to create VMware instances. The solution is stupidly simple, once you know what it is. The problem was that during the Bright provisioning the hard drive wasn’t being properly seen, so the install would fail.

So, the scenario is this. We have multiple Dell R710 ESXi 5 servers that I need to add vm’s to using Bright Cluster Manager 6.0. I created the VM instances using vcenter like I would normally, set up the hard disk as a 140GB thin provision drive, created dual network adapters with the first being an e1000 (I’m paranoid about needing VMware tools installed on the first adaper). I grabbed the MAC address off of this and put it in bright as a new node with the other misc information. Kicked off the boot process and everything looked good up until the point where the drive should have been partitioned. At this point it barfed with a “Cannot find hda, sda, xxx” error. Scratched my head, tried multiple options without any luck.

Then Justin checked the SCSI controller options on the VM settings, and voila! The default is VMware Paravirtual. Which just wouldn’t work. Changed that single setting to LSI Logic SAS and like magic everything worked like a champ.

So, note to all you out there (like maybe 3 people in the world) trying to use Bright to create VM instances. Set the SCSI adapter to LSI Logic SAS.

Last week Justin, Cameron, and I went up to the annual PBS Users Group meeting in San Jose and Justin gave an overview of what we do at FNMOC. So, if anyone is interested in what we do, here’s a video of some of it.



Why not. Sometimes it’s just time. Only fate can foretell the future.

We had a person start work where I am and I was forwarded this persons resume. 8 pages without cover letter. 8 pages? Really? I have always kept mine down to under 2 pages by deleting 80% of my experiences and training. If it’s not relevant or current why have it?

I’m one of the most fortunate underachievers in the history of mankind. I’m a college drop out with a bit of military experience. So why am I so fortunate? Here’s a brief list of the toys I’ve been allowed to build, maintain, and play with.

Arctic Region Supercomputing Center. ARSC

  • Icehawk –  117 fastest computer in the world and my first HPC toy.
  • Iceflyer – The first customer installed IBM p690 system in the country
  • Iceberg – 56th Fastest in the world when built and the biggest IBM p655 system ever built from scratch at a customer location. Also biggest Federation system ever built at the time we did it.

Naval Oceanographic Office. NAVO

  • Habu – another IBM SP system. Started at 7th fastest in the world but was down to mid 300’s when I began working on it.
  • Marcellus – IBM p690 system Started 11th fastest before I worked on it.
  • Kraken – IBM p655 system. 9th fastest in the world. Kept this baby up as Katrina went over our heads.

University of Edinburgh Advanced Computing Facility – EPCC

  • HECToR –  High End Computing Terascale Resource.  Second fastest computer in Europe when I started.  17th Fastest in the world.
  • HECToR – X2 Vector system. Only publicly accessible X2 in the world.

Temp assignment – Oak Ridge National Labs – ORNL

  • Jaguar – 7th fastest in the world at the time I worked on it. Updated to the fastest in the world.

FNMOC – Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center

  • Classified and unclassified clusters used for weather modelling and oceanographic modelling.

So, I’ve been pretty darn lucky. I always wanted to play with computers and i’ve been allowed to play with some really neat ones.  Told ya I was lucky.

For Christmas Roberta and the girls got me a set of Bose Quiet Comfort 15 headphones with noise cancellation.

Bose Quiet Comfort Headphones

Due to very low tolerance of people who are all talk and no work, my office has been in the data center for the last year or so. I actually share an office with about 500-550 or so pizza box style servers. Needless to say, it’s a bit loud at times. WHAT DID YOU SAY?? I CAN’T HEAR YOU!

Here is a view taken from my desk that shows some of the systems near me.

From Monterey Living

Anyhow, Roberta is getting tired of my always saying “What?” whenever she asks a question.

I had a cheap pair of ~$20 noise cancelling headphones that only took out the low-frequency sounds (like the rumble of an airplane). Unfortunately the Dell servers have high-pitched fans that make a heck of a lot of higher frequency noise and the cheap headphones only toned it down a bit. Maybe 25% or so. I would have to set my iPod on about 3/4 volume to listen to my music and be able to hear it decently when I was working on systems.

Well, today was the first day I took the Bose QC15 headphones in to work with me.  When you first turn them on it almost feels like your ears pop, like with altitude. But the volume of sound from the servers drops by about 75% or so. I was standing between two rows of servers for about 5 hours total today (300-350 servers within 20 feet of me) and was comfortably listening to my music on the iPod at 1/3 volume. It wasn’t until I took the headphones off to try to speak with someone who walked in that I noticed how loud it was where I was standing. LIKE REALLY LOUD!  We actually had to go to a different section of the room to chat.

So far I’m pretty happy with the Bose headphones. I might actually have some hearing left in a year. My impression so far is that these are by far the best noise cancelling headphones I’ve tried for data center frequency noise. Definitely worth the steep $300 asking price, if they last a couple of years.

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