Archive for November, 2010 Email is Shutting Down… it’s a good time to move to a vanity domain.

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

I was mildly surprised when a relative mentioned to me that her free email address was being shut down.  She’s had that email address for years – though, I know she hasn’t been using it for day-to-day email for most of that time.

For those individuals who are actively using their email addresses still, here are a few suggestions from us at Perceptus:

  • Do NOT move to the email provided by your internet service provider.  Choose one of the major webmail providers such as, or – these services are all well run, and more importantly, they will probably be around for a long, long time.  Of these three, I recommend Google’s service.  I’ve written about this in a previous post: Picking an Email Address – Don’t use a Free Account from your ISP.
  • This is a great excuse to move to a vanity domain.  It’s cheap.  You can buy the rights to a .com domain for <$10 per year and have Google host the email for you.  If you have a few family members or friends, you can share a domain.  We use Google’s Apps for Domains  for all email to – it’s excellent.
  • You do not have to lose your saved email.  Read their own migration instructions here.  You can move your email to Google’s Gmail service easily.  These instructions can be adapted for all other major web email providers, and also, to download your email using POP3 to your own computer to software like Outlook or Thunderbird.
  • Remember to update all of your 3rd party logins.  eBay,, Amazon, everything.  You will not have an easy time getting access to your accounts once webmail goes offline.
  • Do this ASAP. really did a disservice to their users by providing such a small amount of notice.

I wonder if the email being shut down is related to the recent change in ownership of the site’s publisher, Postmedia Network Inc.  Seriously, couldn’t they find a way to make a buck on this by partnering with a 3rd party webmail provider and sharing ad revenue, rather than shutting it down?

Comments are encouraged.

Harry Potter Bingo Cards

Friday, November 19th, 2010

We finally decided to create a Harry Potter word list for our Harry Potter themed Bingo cards for  Check it out now!  You can play your customized bingo game while you wait in line to see the movie!

Entry level access to our web based bingo card generator is free!  An upgrade of $10 will get you a few extra features.

Turkey Bingo Time!

Friday, November 19th, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving to our American viewers. We hope that your turkey is especially tasty this year!

If you are looking for a way to spend some family time before or after the turkey has been served, we suggest Thanksgiving themed bingo cards. You’ll find that Thanksgiving word list, and many more,  at  Basic use our site is free – including customizing the cards!

Of course, for a small upgrade cost of $10, you get access to a few more features.  If you’ve used our site in the past, and are debating an upgrade – we strongly suggest that you do it soon.  We will be raising the price to $12 within a few months.



Troubleshooting “server-manager” in SME Server

Friday, November 19th, 2010

Originally this post was going to document my troubleshooting of my login problem with the web based administrative interface of SME Server 7 after my bare (virtual) metal restore. In the end, I gave up fixing the problem, and did the upgrade via CD to SME Server 8 beta 6.  This didn’t turn out to be an easy fix, and I also had my eye on some nice benefits to upgrading to SME8, such as PHP5 and MySQL5 (finally!)

The following now serves as a review of how I think the “server-manager” interface is delivered in SME’s architecture.  It’s elegant, but complex.

The exact error was:

You don’t have permission to access /server-manager on this server.
Additionally, a 403 Forbidden error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.

Unfortunately, I just didn’t know how to troubleshoot this error.  A lot of the problem was that SME is more complex than your normal web server do to  security precautions.

This is how I think the “server-manager” GUI is hosted:

  • You normally go to (or whatever your server’s local IP is)
  • The web server, “httpd”, which runs as user www and group www (which I assume has minimal permissions) then reverse proxies to a second httpd process, httpd-admin
  • The second Apache server, httpd-admin, runs on port 980, and runs as user admin and group admin.
  • The 2nd web server has it’s own configuration files.
  • The web scripts are in this folder: /etc/e-smith/web/panels/manager/
  • On a fresh install, the Linux admin user is group id 101, and the admin group is id 101 (my restored server had a different group id)

Increasing the Drive Space of an SME Server – a crash course in LVM

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

My adventurous rebuild of my home server continues.

I made a mistake when rebuilding my VMWare Server virtual machine, I used the default 8GB partition size, which is too small, even though it only holds work files for a couple of users.

I had most things back up and running, so it was time to fix my disk space error.  This turned into a crash course in Logical Volume Manager (LVM).

DISCLAIMER: I take no responsibility for any actions that you take on your own systems.  As I mentioned, this is all new to me, and it is very possible that I have made mistakes. Follow at your own risk. I’m not even sure that I have all the terminology correct.

The following are somewhat edited  notes that I took as I went along.

First, some terminology, mostly from:

  • LVM abstracts disk space as seen by the operating system from physical disks.
  • A Volume Group is the highest level abstraction used within the LVM. It gathers together a collection of Logical Volumes and Physical Volumes into one administrative unit. (This is an extra level of organization than you might be used to… you might put all SSDs in one VG and all HDDs in a separate one to make it easier to keep track.)
  • A physical volume is typically a hard disk, though it may well just be a device that ‘looks’ like a hard disk (eg. a software raid device).
  • LV = Equivalent of a disk partition in a non-LVM system. The LV is visible as a standard block device; as such the LV can contain a file system (eg. /home).

General overview:  Create disk space in VMWare (or add physical disk space in a non virtualized environment).  Create a new partition. Join that partition to a Logical Volume to make the Logical Volume larger. Expand the Linux partition to fill it’s now bigger Logical Volume.

The steps that I took:

  • Expand the VMWare virtual disk with the VMWare tool (Google for it).  The non-VM equivalent would be to clone an old, smaller drive onto a new, larger drive.
  • create a new disk partition on the VMWare “physical” disk.
    • /sbin/fdisk /dev/sda
    • n [new]
    • p [primary – I wonder if E would have been a better long term choice]
    • 3 [I think there are two already]
    • defaults for size
    • w [write]
    • /sbin/shutdown -r now
  • create the physical partition (LVM)
    • /sbin/pvcreate /dev/sda3
  • that worked:
— Physical volume —
PV Name               /dev/md2
VG Name               main
PV Size               7.90 GB / not usable 23.31 MB
Allocatable           yes (but full)
PE Size (KByte)       32768
Total PE              252
Free PE               0
Allocated PE          252
PV UUID               n2Qp6p-Afuc-CE2F-rtdi-7ypO-wnLw-rXtb0J
“/dev/sda3” is a new physical volume of “12.00 GB”
— NEW Physical volume —
PV Name               /dev/sda3
VG Name
PV Size               12.00 GB
Allocatable           NO
PE Size (KByte)       0
Total PE              0
Free PE               0
Allocated PE          0
PV UUID               nc37cI-D4hZ-sR8K-XB7r-Cxh4-N8vn-SecZIf
  • Now,  I add the physical volume to the Volume Group (this was helpful: I have a volume group “main” already. I have to add the physical partition to it.
# /usr/sbin/vgextend main /dev/sda3
Volume group “main” successfully extended
  • Now, add I have to extend the Logical Volume to use up all the new space in the Volume Group (see:
    • # /usr/sbin/lvresize -l +100%FREE main/root
Extending logical volume root to 19.34 GB
Logical volume root successfully resized
  • Ugh.  I still have to resize the EXT3 partition.
    • #/usr/sbin/ext2online -d -v /dev/main/root
  • Phew. It looks like I have a 20G root volume that works.
# df -h
Filesystem            Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
/dev/mapper/main-root20G  6.3G   12G  35% /
/dev/md1               99M   16M   78M  18% /bootnone                  125M     0  125M   0% /dev/shm
Wow, LVM sure adds a lot of extra steps.  But, in the end, it’s pretty powerful.  It probably cost me time for my simple home network, but someday, I’m sure that I’ll run into LVM again.