How’s your PAL?


I find the PAL (Performance Analysis of Logs) tool quite useful in my day-to-day work.  One of the latest updates to the tool makes it even cooler:  it supports multi-threaded operations.  I used to spend quite a bit of time waiting to crunch through even a days worth of Perfmon data in the single threaded mode… of course maybe it was just me watching the pot boil?

In any case, make sure you have the latest version of PAL (2.3.2 at time of writing) and then pay attention to the “Number of processing threads” option on the Execute Screen.

PAL Wizard Processing Thread Selection

For one point of reference, to process an 80MB perfmon log with 1104 counter instances using SQL Server PAL template running on a 16-core HP DL580 (without Hyper-threading), the duration results for comparison are below, just for fun and to give a little reference:

  • 16 Threads:  6 minutes, 27 seconds
  • 15 Threads: 6 minutes, 29 seconds
  • 8 Threads: 6 minutes, 29 seconds
  • 4 Threads:  12 min, 35 seconds
  • 1 Thread: 3 hours, 43 minutes, 55 seconds

(Note:  I did not rigorously determine that nothing else was running on the server at the times of PAL execution, these are just for relative comparison).

So, if you have the cores, up the thread count, and taste the speed, pal.




Being the proud new owner of an OCZ Vertex 4 SSD (256GB), I thought I’d go about cloning my OS image over to it from my 500GB HDD.  Thankfully I hadn’t filled up my HDD with various and sundry files that I’d never cleanup unless forced to by my Jedi Master, which made things easier.

How will it go? I wondered myself, and was hopeful.

Here’s how it went, with one skipped heartbeat. For explanation of anything italics, see my note at the end.

  1. Full backup of Windows 7 system to an eSATA drive [or USB, preferably USB3]
  2. Did you do step #1?  Just checking.
  3. Download and burn a 32-bit Ubuntu Live CD from ISO image here
    1. Could potentially have used a bootable USB stick too, if you don’t have a 3rd media bay (to have 2 hard drives and a CD/DVD drive)
  4. Power off machine
  5. Insert SSD drive in tray (they tray having already purchased for about $10) and then into the expansion bay in docking station
  6. Boot In Windows 7
  7. Create an NTFS partition on the SSD
  8. On the HDD, do a “Defrag Monthly” and “Consolidate Free Space” using
    1. I wanted to make sure all the data was as close to the front of the partition as possible, allowing me to more easily re-size it. (may not have needed to do this – more below)
  9. Reboot into a 32-bit Ubuntu Live CD
  10. Start gparted (graphical partition editor)
  11. Check the size of the NTFS partition on the SSD – in my case
    1. Use the pull down to select the SSD (in my case /dev/sdb)
    2. In my case it was 244196MB [there was 1.34MB left free, but I wanted to stay with the partition that Windows had created, and not change it, so I left it.]
  12. Re-size the partition on the HDD to match the size of the target SSD.
    1. (may not have needed to do this – see note below)
  13. Add a “boot” flag to the SSD
    1. Easy to do with gparted – right click on the partition and adding flags is one of the options.
  14. Reboot into Windows 7 – to allow disk to check itself (similar screenshots can be found here )
    1. Instead of the I got a blue screen… and temporarily panicked. However, as I’ve been coached, trained, and mentored, when there is a problem, especially corruption, DON’T PANIC… thanks to Douglas Adams, Paul Randal, and Gail Shaw, to name a few.
    2. I actually had to do a repair here, for some reason, booting into repair console ( the screenshots linked above did not show for me).  Thankfully I had the full backup if I would have needed it [see Steps #1 and #2]
  15. Copy the MBR from HDD to SSD
    1. Since I already set the partitions, I didn’t want to over-write the partition table, so just want the first 446 bytes (if I wanted the partition table too, I’d have copied first 512 bytes)
    2. Use this dd command, where if (input file) is the HDD – dev/sda – and of (output file) is /dev/sdb – the SSD.

           sudo dd if=/dev/sda of=/dev/sdb bs=446 count=1

  16. Use nftsclone to copy the partition
    1. WARNING: be sure you get the order of parameters right here [or you’ll need the backup you made in step #1… you did make one, right?]. Best to look at the manual page for ntfsclone. (aside, regarding parameter order, I had a bad flashback to copying files in CP/M… rusty dusty memories)
    2. Overwrite the contents of /dev/sdb1 (first partition on disk 2 – SSD) with /dev/sda1 (first partition on disk 1 – HDD).

             sudo ntfsclone –overwrite /dev/sdb1 /dev/sda1                

                (Wait patiently… took about 25 minutes.)

  1. Following laptop maintenance manual instructions
    1. Prepare light, preferably not a candle, and screwdriver, and mix up a little bit of patience
    2. Pull main HDD out of laptop & remove from caddy
    3. Put SSD in caddy and replace in laptop
  2. Power-on
  3. Success!

Note: I think I wouldn’t have had to bothered with defragmenting or re-sizing the partition on the 500GB drive when using ntfsclone – I believe it will handle the differences and fragmentation. I know if I had solely used the dd utility I would have had to. Next time I do something like this, I’ll use dd for the boot sector only, and then try ntfsclone – which would correspond roughly to following all the lines above that are in italics (though I wonder if this will setup the partition table correctly… will post if/when I do it again!)


Oh yeah, it’s a cluster

Man walks into a bar, asks for a beer.  The bartender says “I just rebooted my keg for a patch, it’ll be a few minutes.”  Man says “Is it a clustered keg?”  Bartender says “Oh, yeah, It’s a cluster, that’s for sure.  That means more reboots, I almost forgot.”  Man says, “Sorry about your bad luck.  I’ll take a scotch while I wait… or 3.”

Third guy listening at the bar thinks to himself, “They must still be using SQL Server 2000 with that cluster.  It’s a good draught, if tedious.”

Linux Howto: wipe a hard drive

I have an old Sun UltraSparc server (Blade 1000).  I am getting rid of it and wanted to wipe the two 80GB Fiber-Channel (FC) disk drives.

Quick and easy method:

  1. Download the System Rescue CD Sparc version, latest available here (if you’re on a more recent platform, go here to download )
  2. Power on the machine with the CD in the drive.  Alternately “Stop-A” and then type “boot cdrom”
  3. Let the SystemRescueCD boot
  4. Start the wiping with shred (man page should be on your Linux system; otherwise check here [ documentation site] ) by running this command:
    1. shred --verbose /dev/sda
  5. Ctrl-Alt-F2 to get a 2nd console; run this command
    1. shred --verbose /dev/sdb
  6. Wait patiently (I am, as I type this).  Default is 3 iterations of random data.

If this is helpful, let me know.

A Flu Haiku

The flu is yucky
A sinus infection drains
Tamiflu is cool

(Haiku in part expressing thanksgiving for in-progress recovery from the flu and a sinus infection)

Ubuntu Studio (9.10) Mods for FFADO and Ardour

Working on a friends system yesterday, to get Ardour and ffado (for Firewire Audio devices) running properly on Ubuntu Studio I found these helpful:

1. Edit file /etc/security/limits.conf and add two lines to the bottom:

@audio – memlock unlimited

@audio – nice -10

Note: Regarding memory, I noticed a warning running jackd when this is set to unlimited; jackd recommends a value to me which turns out to be 75% of available memory. Probably reasonable to limit Audio programs from any self-defeating attempt to take up all the RAM.

2. Add a udev rule for /dev/raw1394 so a user in the audio group can access it. There was not a ile in /etc/udev/rules.d/ so I created one called 50-raw1394.rules containing this line:

KERNEL==”raw1394″, GROUP=”audio”, MODE=”0664″

Note: just to test things out, can also temporarily give read/write access to /dev/raw1394 by the following command (it is a security risk, and will only work until the next reboot):

$ sudo chmod o+rw /dev/raw1394

Thanks to this page for assistance:


Linux related Audio Links

While making a search today for Linux related audio forums, I ran across this page at the Linux Journal [disclaimer:  I subscribe!]  A commenter to the LJ page links to his site here, focused on live production, and another commenter referred to which (and I quote from the comment) “aggregates posts to linux-audio-related blogs cherry-picked by the friendly LinuxMusicians community.”  I’ll add these to my links.


Gentoo Linux Doco re: Digital Audio Workstation

Today I saw this page on the Gentoo WIKI regarding a DAW.  It mostly a shell at this point, but I am excited to see more.  I used Gentoo several years ago for quite a while, and would consider going back to it at some point.


Ardour: Pitch Correction

I am excited to see how well this Autotalent pitch correction LADSPA plugin functions with Ardour.  I plan to do some recording on Saturday, and it will be interesting to see how it compares to the one in Adobe Audition which a friend uses.



Windows XP, fakeraid, and dual-boot with Linux – III

The saga completes, for the time being!

My friend upgraded his two 500GB drives in a RAID-1 (fakeraid) for Windows XP  to two 1TB drives using various tools; therefore the 500GB drives were empty and available for Ubuntu Studio.  I installed Ubuntu Studio 9.1 with software RAID-1 on the two 500GB using the link referenced below.

I ran into no issues.  Grub installed itself on the 500GB drives, and did not bother mess with with the fakeraid, which (per previous posts) it could not read anyway.  The system now boots successfully into both Windows XP and Ubuntu Studio; to switch between them, at present, he is using the BIOS boot menu.  Next time I work on it I plan to make it a little simpler by adding a Grub menu to handle this.

But for now, back to the MCSE –> Windows 2008 MCITP Upgrade course material I am studying this week.  Will hopefully work on testing my Edirol FA-66 on the system later next week.