WordPress.org Here We Come

Time for a fresh start. We’re gonna bite the bullet and upgrade this ole tome to a shiny LAMP wordpress blog. I’ve got a few days off work, so I’ll use it wisely and get busy building our new home. hd420.co.uk is bought and paid for. Just sorting out changing package with 1and1 and we’re good to go. See you soon in our new home.
Arnie n Lefty

Killer New Skin – Welo

I bet like me, you too live in a minimalist enviroment. I don’t doubt for a second that your sofa is a soft white leather. The shag pile in your carpet is so deep that Errol Brown from Hot Chocolate could get lost while lovin’ a lady. Yeah me too.

Lefty showed me a new skin in alpha testing called welo. It only works on pre-eden and is missing some functionality but overall it is well on its way.

Hmmm. As you can see I’ve not got most of XBMC setup there but you get the drift. I’d like to see more views, especially for TV. Maybe a set of colour schemes to suit my mimimalist living space. But thats what you get with a work in progress.

If you wanna check it out for yourself be sure to check the thread @ XBMC here. You’ll need to download liquidskin76’s repo here as it isn’t in the repo installer…..yet. Usual drill, install from zip orextract to your addons folder

Extra Fanart Downloader Update

Those lads have been at it again. Extra Fanart Downloader just gets better. Machine-Sanctum is claiming “A small extra” in the recent update but I beg to differ. The welcome addition of Extrathumbs capability makes the world of difference. Extrathumbs are the little screenshots on some skin library views

This may not seem like much but until now we’ve been periodically running the library through ember media manager. A job that can now be done from the comfort of the the arm chair. Excellent

Extra Fanart Downloader is now on version Dharma 0.2.1 and eden 0.4.1 and is available from official repo near you

FreeNAS 0.7.2

The latest addition to our home entertainment system is a freeNAS box. It’s actually an old Acer Power F6 from work. Which is where this project is born from as I’ve promised to provide an alternative to our current backup system (Removable USB drives). The plan is to have two freeNAS’s one in the server room and the other down at another site away from the servers but still on the gig backbone. Use one box to take the backups and one to receive snapshots. Well thats all pie in the sky as our store of 2tb drives has somewhat dwindled and the cost of new ones has quadrupled.

Freenas 0.7.2 WTF! dont you know 0.8.2 is out? well yes but the bastard thing doesn’t detect the Acer’s SATA controller so when its all up and running there are no disks in the system. Took me a day to figure this out. Well half the day was spent dicking around trying to make a penstick that worked. At one point I was booting up a VM box and installing it to a penstick then using that. Eventually found a way to get the image to boot properly.

In the end win32diskimager-RELEASE-0.3-r27-binary did the trick. It took a while to figure this out so I’ll jot it down here for reference.

The download packages for freeNAS have changed. It seems that Until version 0.8.x you had a choose between .iso and .img but after that there are various flavours.

Version 0.7.x

  1. Download and extract win32diskimager-RELEASE-0.3-r27-binary or the latest version and extract somewhere sensible.
  2. Download either the 32 or 64bit feeNAS.img file from here (you defiantly want the .img and not the .iso)
  3. Extract the .img file to the win32diskimager folder (winrar works fine for this)
  4. The file we have extracted doesnt have an extension so give an .img one
  5. launch win32diskimager as “Administrator”
  6. Select the image file and the destination then just click write

Version 8.0.2

  1. Download and extract win32diskimager-RELEASE-0.3-r27-binary or the latest version and extract somewhere sensible.
  2. Download either the 32 or 64bit Full_Install.xz freeNAS file from here
  3. Download and install 7zip
  4. extract the .xz file using 7zip to the win32diskimager folder
  5. continue from step 4 of version 0.7 guide

That’s it. pop the USB stick in and away she flies. Well it didn’t until I tried v0.7.2, then it flew.

One problem I did encounter was was in the management part of the ZFS configuration. Every time changes were applied it failed and returned an error code 1. What turns out to be a generic error code. Isn’t it always?

A quick check of the logs reviels that it was complining about a drive size mis-match. This can easily be fixed by adding your array then clicking the “apply changes” button. Doing this will return the error 1 code. Now goto the log (under the diagnostics tab) and checking the last two entries

What we need to do is copy the command (first) line, add the -f (force) switch and execute it. We can do this by bring up the command prompt via the Advanced tab

Add the -f switch and click execute. That should bring your zpool online.

So the whole point of this is to have an expandable RAIDz. On a production system this could be many drives but on the Acer this can either be done with three or four. However you can’t start off with a 3 drive array and then add a 4th. I suggest a bit of planning. And this is where my plan falls over. Currently I have a 2tb drive in the popcorn. this drive has 1.5tb of data sitting on it that I dont want to destroy. Then I have another 2tb, 2x1tb and a 10,000rpm 160gb veloceraptor.

It very basically works like this. Your RAID will only be multiples of your smallest drive less one drive for redundancy. In my case its a very fast but somewhat pissy 160gb screwing the lot. when I add the 4 drives together it gives roughly half a terrabyte. Not nearly enough to transfer the data from the popcorn and install its drive to replace the 160gb. I’d really like to keep the 4 drive pool to future proof. My other option is to have a 3 drive array, eliminating the 160gb. 2x1tb & 1x2tb. That gives me 1.7tb which I could then use to copy the data from the popcorn and finally install the popcorn drive which would give 2x2tb & 1x1tb it would not immediately improve the storage capacity but would leave the system waiting for a single 2tb upgrade

So thats wheres it’s at. A fully working freeNAS but a storage conundrum :-)

Installing Pre-Eden XBMC Live

As Lionel Ritchie would say. “Well my friends the time has come…….. Let’s raise the roof and have some fun”

We’re gonna install the latest nightly build of XBMC so it would be prudent to install it to a USB stick and make sure everything you need from XBMC is working before committing and wiping that lovely install of 10.1 we’ve been working on for months. In my case it’s the wiimote. Installing pre-eden then the event client does nothing but uninstall pre-eden. Not good and is the only thing stopping us installing pre-eden in the lounge.

Ok start off by installing 10.1 (xbmcfreak v1 if your using ION). Once done don’t bother with anything else. Putty in from your PC and update python

sudo apt-get install python-software-properties -y

Now add the unstable PPA to your repositories. This will tell XBMC to look at the unstable branch for updates

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:team-xbmc/unstable

Excellent. Now lets update the repo

sudo apt-get update

And install our shiny new xbmc

sudo apt-get install xbmc

Your SSH session should go a bit mental as it downloads and installs everything
Now we need to get our new install to autostart

sudo nano /etc/init/xbmc.conf

This should bring up an empty xbmc.conf file ready for editing. Just cut and paste the next lines.

Load up this from pastebin and paste it in


Then ctrl+x then hit enter to exit hitting enter to save :-)Once saved you can reboot to a shiny, if not completly working pre-eden install of XBMC


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