::You must have ninja focus to complete your mission::NinjaFocus::




What Kieran Whitbread Has Been Up To

This is mostly work related otherwise it's all but completely career or IT related.

Thinking about a new chapter.

July 2015: Three week social and educational interlude: Don't try and book flights before a school holiday. This.


03 July 2015.

One more thing decommissioned.

Broadcast message from root@kieranw 

This sysadm is going DOWN now for power off NOW!
INIT: Switching to runlevel: 0
INIT: Sending processes the TERM Signal
[ ok ] Stopping oracle listener...done
[ ok ] Unsubscribing from mailing lists...done
[ ok ] Releasing keys...done
[ ok ] Flushing task lists...done
[ ok ] Stopping task warrior: disarming...done
[ ok ] Stopping deferred execution scheduler: atd...done
[ ok ] Purging local data caches...done
[ ok ] Disabling mail registration...done
[ ok ] Locking accounts...done
[ ok ] Removing credentials...done
[ ok ] Stopping saned: saned...done
[ ok ] Stopping enhanced syslogd: ksyslogd...done
[ ok ] Stopping rpcbind daemon...done
[ ok ] Asking all remaining processes to terminate...done
[ ok ] Deactivating swap...done
[ ok ] Scrubbing disks...done
[ ok ] Deconfiguring network interfaces...done
[info] Saving the system clock.
[info] Hardware clock updated to Fri Jul  3 16:10 UTC 2015
console lost connection

Packaging exim. Packaging squid. SSP, execshield, aslr/pic/pie. Service Design Documents. Architecture. Bastion Hosts. SELinux. auditd. sshd, rsyslogd. Projects. Writing. Socialising. Saying goodbye. Leaving.

Powering Down. Taking a holiday. Being one team. Recruiting. Resigning. Cleaning. Looking for logs. Still wondering when we're going to stop using openssl in favour of gnutls. syncing ldap directories. figuring out subbinds.

Recruiting. Designing, building, migrating. New Shibboleth IDPs. New tomcats. GTMs. Fun with idcheck development. Explaining, teaching, training, negotiating. Patching. Wondering when we're going to stop using openssl in favour of gnutls. Certificates. Procedures.

Rebuilding. Recovering. Repairing. Scanning. Auditing. Investigating. Recruiting. Managing. Communicating. Hardening. Breaking down. Developing.

Saying goodbye.

Packaging exim and deploying. openssl s_client R Q insanity. gnutls-cli. Pondering apache, (pro|vs)ftpd, samba, sans and vmware.

Wondering why it's necessary to package php 5.3 for Fedora Core 9. Swearing at PHP's configure scripts. Wondering how Redhat lost the php-pear source rpm and how they package pear and pecl php packages. Perl scripts, evil perl scripts. Enjoying seeing CSS 2 and 3 working in all the current browsers so it only takes minutes instead of days to style a web site. Using advanced CSS Selectors in css and not in javascript. Playing with openssl, mysqld, apache, php, bash, spec files, rpmbuild, vim, openldap, sympa, mnogosearch, squid. Attempting to build android and running out of disk space. Deciding to get the LPIC3 and avoiding the work.

Learning advanced sed and deciding it's no use, learning advanced awk. Being thrown in the deep end. Getting a taste of management and going crazy. Dealing with massive work loads and having to rapidly keep re-prioritising. Wondering what to study next, GTD (again), PRINCE2, Red Hat Enterprise SELinux Policy Administration Expertise, LPIC3 (no!). More more C, Python, Linux, computer architecture and operating system internals as alway. Perl, reluctantly. Networking. Suggestions welcome please.

Pondering Tomcat 6, Idcheck and shibboleth. Debugging Java. Memory consumption, databases perl and openldap authentication directories.

Realising I've gone too far with bash and should just get on and learn perl properly. More fun with cyrus, openldap, the Freedom of Information Act, Data Protection Act, Human Rights Act, Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, Misuse of Telecommunications Act and the Telecommunications Act. Wondering why I haven't played with linux 3.0 or apache httpd 2.4 yet. Recruitment. Change Management. Linked In. Optimising web sites. Training and coaching. Finding myself completely unable to give up my nokia communicator and symbian. Google Calendars.

Commuting. Dealing with horrid people. Dealing with idiots and blaggards.

Masses and masses of spam. Phising.

Becoming a RHCE and Novell CLA. Change Management. Updating my CV. Testing and debugging. Trying to find time to update stuff. Treading water. Cookie laws. Android. PKI & SSL fun. Shortlisting.

Squid bugs. Mundane work. Training. Legal matters. Wondering how you can get away with so much just using bash. Shibboleth bugs, apache bugs, idcheck bugs, wetware bugs.

Finally took LPIC2 exam (and yes I passed it). RHCE next.

Scientific Linux 6 and Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6. Clamav updates. Squid updates. Old perl administration scripts. Old Oracle databases. Old Solaris boxes. Old php 4 web sites.

Building a Shibboleth-IDP. Becoming Acting Postmaster all the time. Becoming Acting Listmaster all the time. Becoming Acting Dirmaster.

Web Help Desk.

ITIL v3 Foundation in Service Management.

Further insights in to bacula. Reacquainting myself with tomcat. Picking through jpackage and rebuilding tomcat and sun/oracle java packages. Dealing with arrogant people. Dealing with massive change and uncertanty. Becoming a Customer Experience Champion. Being tested. Having fun with kvm and setting up a hypervisor for developement VMs. More kickstart. Realising I should update this page more often and actually get round to writing up some new pages. More sympa. More facls. More clamav and SpamAssassin. Weighing up how much I want to stop some spam verus how little I want to write an SA plugin in perl. Getting great satisfaction giving references for excellent people. Reading cacti source code and getting it with out side effects. Apache, exim and PHP drudgery. Further insights in to building rpms, dependencies and wondering how yum prioritises when resolving them. man pages. Lots of man pages. More respect for RedHat, even if I'd take arch over fedora. Getting curious about Scientific Linux and RHEL6 (but still loving CentOS). Studying Communication (human) and Architecture (mirco). Planning to take my first LPI exams after first mentioning them about 7 years ago.

Amazed at how little I take away each time I look at the gcc manual. Finding even more respect for RedHat. Wondering about security and whether you could cover everything even if you specialised.

Setting up Arch Linux and Fedora 14 on some Samsung N220 Netbooks and Fedora 14 on a HP desktop of some description. Upgrading a very large squid server to the 3.1.9 release, plus patches. Trying to determine acceptable rate limits for exim. Mirgrating a large (~90k datasource) cacti server to a new host. Attempting to build a shibboleth IDP cluster. Upgrading clamd servers. Realising just how many more facilities linux builds in for monitoring and reporting than Windows. Appreciating time allowed for large projects.

Researching "managed desktops"

Setting up a Shibboleth Service Provider and getting to grips with shibd, mod_shib2, log4shib, IDPs, SPs, WAYFs, federations, metadata, SAML, ExLibris PDS and Metalib. Making progress with Solaris: building DBD::Pg and PHP, poking at slices, finding /usr/sfw.Restoring bacups from bacula.

Cyrus cyradm, acls and sieve scripts. Sympa list configurations, and more fun with SQL in PostgreSQL. Simple scripts to collect login times from slapd logs and squid performance stats.

Finding out what you can get away with using SQLite. Trying to cope with the shear volume of IO caused by a Cacti server with ~90K data-sources. Getting/setting facls on Solaris and Linux (yes, I've never done this on those operating systems before). Becoming an OpenLdap beginner. Upgrading two mail relays, built from the excellent work of my colleagues. Seeing a big project complete smoothly. Appreciating what 'high volume' means and putting it in to context. Ditto Collegiality. Ditto Politics in the Workplace. Insights in to bacula. Scripting nagios.

Python programming and attempting generate Cacti data and graph templates automatically.

Packaging SpamAssassin, ClamAV, re2c and Exim. Wondering why I've only just started using rpmbuild. Setting up an Exim server. More Cacti.

Setting up two SpamAssassin servers, with MySQL, pyzor, caching BIND dns server.

Adding services to Nagios and writing checks. Getting used to Bacula

Learning how to make RPMs and learning how not to get bitten by bash.

Writing plsql functions in PostgreSQL.

Returning to ArchLinux after 3 years and being very happy again. Fiddling with DBUS and LCD Backlights and controlling my laptops volume using the function keys.

Trying to give back: Cacti Spine snmp clientaddr support; patch unchecked pointer in squid htcp.

Creating (or replacing) scripts and templates for Cacti to graph iostats, squid, cpu usage, Dell OSM data, IPMI sensor data, APC UPS statistics and plenty of other bits and pieces.

Daemonising iostat.

Getting over farcebook . If you've had enough you need this link: http://www.facebook.com/help/contact.php?show_form=delete_account - update: after a month I find that my account is still there and facebook didn't delete it. My life is over.

Squid log analysis with calamaris, squid-snmp, transcoding with ffmpeg and mencoder, playing with SpamAssassin

IPMI Thermal Sensors

Web caching with squid, graphing with Cacti and Net SNMP, virus scanning with ClamAV and generally mucking around with CentOS 5 (e.g. Kickstart.

09 September 2009

The Hum Days

Creating accessible, progressive Javascript Tabs and stopping spam with ReCaptcha

Writing lots of javascript, including animate things (which I hate). Lots of mad, mad css. Building the god site with eZ Publish.

Blocking brute force attacks with fail2ban

AWstats, Disk images and mount points for OS X

Virtual Box virtualisation from Sun, very nice, free, a lot like VMWare and has a powerful API and commandline interface you can use too. I've been using it to run Linux and Windows on Mac - plus I've moved all of my windows test machines over to it. So far so good.

The latest toys are Redmine and Ruby on Rails on apache/Linux, I need better project management and tracking. (I've been loosing a lot of hair). My new favourite project tool is TaskJuggler - it's very powerful, just unfortunately doesn't let people collaborate that easily.

There's also some stuff about VSFTPD, which I hope to expand on soon.

Other small things include setting up a DNS zone with Maradns - it's only for a development network and not for public use. Maradns did a nice job and is really quick and easy to set up.

I'm still documenting my Linux based Virtual Domains & Virtual Users Email Server with anti-spam, anti-virus, database backed accounts and web mail. I think you'll like it, if you're in to that sort of thing ;). I set up an Email Gateway last year, and so the new system was just the next phase of evolution.

I'm also playing with Cacti and always doing lots of things with web servers -- I need write up some more of my apache recipes.


Kieran is a Systems Administrator / Developer for Queen Mary College www.qmul.ac.uk where he tries to draw pretty pictures and play with spiders and other bugs. He works on the Central Servers team, part of IT Services http://www.its.qmul.ac.uk/facilities.html.

While learning more than he ever did studying with the OU, Kieran contributes in varying degrees to central web hosting, user management, email systems, monitoring/reporting, the data centre and many other services provided by the Central Servers team.

Before that, he worked as a Developer and System Administrator for Hum Interactive (www.huminteractive.com) building web sites and taking care of hosting.

Some examples of Kieran's web work (hosting, programming, custom framework and cms, markup, css, flash, database, hosting, javascript. i.e. everything except graphic design):

It has been some time since I've had any involvement in any of these sites I'm not going to check if these sites are still the same or hosted on servers that I set up.

  • www.orionbooks.co.uk (not involved in completion)
  • www.foodforfriends.com
  • www.mindcombat.co.uk
  • www.huminteractive.com
  • www.otehallfarm.co.uk
  • www.beerpiper.co.uk
  • www.lewescarvaleting.co.uk
  • www.overheard.huminteractive.com
  • www.greenescapes.co.uk

He used to work for Varndean College, it's where he cut his teeth. Five years on a large academic network will do that to you. At Varndean, he brought about the linux revolution and touched everything from front line support to networks, hosting, infrastructure, authentication and god knows what. If he wasn't developing an application, building a server, administering a service or putting in a new firewall then he was crawling under someone's desk looking for a loose network cable.


(likes to think he is good, but probably a novice, at...)

At the moment Kieran likes to work on Mac and Linux but can be convinced to use Windows with MS Services for Unix, Xming, Putty and VMWare/Virtual Box.

Before you start to think of him as a Microsoft hater, Kieran Whitbread has done some Clever Stuff with Windows.

Kieran really loves to bring it all together with tools like WAMP, UnixODBC and FreeTDS so you can have the best of both worlds.


There's not been any pretending about the OU for a long time. Kieran is not a student any more but he wants to go back and study these:

In the meantime he's learning plenty from man pages, experiences, C How to Program, the LPI track and many many web sites including online manuals and books.

Proud holder of an ITILv3 Service Management Foundation certificate. 2011.

Kieran Whitbread and This wiki

Kieran started this wiki off in something like 2005 at Varndean as documentation tool for the IT department. It soon filled up with all kinds of notes. Some of the content won't really make sense out of context and he's working his way through deleting all of that stuff. What remains should be useful technical references for anyone, although the real purpose of this wiki is to be a "Brain Share" for the old Varndean IT staff.

You can see his contributions but please note anything from 23 June 2008 to 30 June 2008 was administration work, Kieran may or may not have created those pages originally


(this old photo is by Green Haddock)

Main Menu

Personal tools