July 9, 2019
by dhoytt

Pictures Tell the Story of Backyard Garden Improvements

After coming back from overseas abruptly for personal reasons came back to an overgrown vegetable garden with ruined sprinklers. First I pulled the big weeds, then, repaired the drip system in the backyard, then watered a while used a semi-operational rototiller and a light weight tiller then raked weeds and roots that filled my green waste bin.

I then laid out some mature vegetables with a little top soil under and around the vegetables to form a top soil moat to allow the roots to grow and take hold quickly. Then placed the drips in more permanent positions.

During testing of the drip system that’s was damaged by people who were supposed to be taking care of my yard I noticed a leak spring up and became a mini-geyser I had no choice but to fix right away.

To get to the actual leak I went down about 2.5 feet deep and 3.5 feet wide plus 2 feet across. The soil was hard clay and roots some almost the diameter of pvc pipe then some like heavy wire every inch. A lot of roots were wrapped around the sprinkler pipes and valves so I had to use hand tools scrape away dirt, then make sure it wasn’t pipe or wiring from the sprinkler control unit. I even had to strategically cut roots as they had tension pulling every way on the pipes so if I cut one side the pipes or valves may get pulled and caused damage going the other way. Was slow going but got to the main issue in several hours.

Diagnosing the leak I found that I needed to replace some threaded 90 degree pvc joint leading to the sprinkler valve for my vegetable gardens. I have a total of 4 separate sprinkler zones one for drips in the front yard that came with the house I added to, my vegetable gardens in the backyard, grass strips in the backyard and one for potted/hanging plants in the backyard I have capped currently.

During this replacement of the piping I decided to replace the sprinkler valves with one that was easier to test with that had a handle you could get leverage on. The local big box hardware stores all had the same brands with small handles that over time and hard water make you place stress when testing. Plus they seem to not handle back flow well but they worked. I also decided to use a pipe union joint on both pipes in flow and out flow.

To avoid having to dig through clay soil and roots again I looked into a sprinkler valve box so I could leave the dirt out from around the sprinkler valves and pipes so they are easier to update or fix next time. Traditional valve covers didn’t work so finally got the idea to put a fake rock valve cover over the sprinkler valves. I then noticed my front sprinkler pipes were leaking badly before I could put execute my plan.

I then had to dig some more and then upon testing found the pipe adhesive on the angle pipes on the out flow had failed. These were done by the builder. I knocked off the old solvent, sanded by hand pipe and corner joint resealed.

I picked up some root block from a professional lawn care store I had found the traditional lawn valve covers that didn’t work for my situation.

Well the root blocks weren’t going to work either. So I just filled the bottom of the space of pipes with river rocks. Then to provide a base for my imitation granite rock sprinkler valve cover I inserted a 2 deep layer of concrete edge stones you would use for raised gardens to form a root block as well!

Now with work and other commitments this has taken parts of the last month. I basically finished this part of my project this weekend and vacation day from Wednesday to Monday by pulling weeds from vegetable gardens that newly popped up plus thorny weeds wit pick from my grass I had hired someone else to take care of while I was gone and power washing my concrete a second time from the dirt all this work produces.

All this time my 11kw solar system was also being worked on. Well the project is complete to get my sprinklers and yard into my normal acceptable range. Still work to do and the ever present maintenance. Plus some nice accents and finishing touches for later in the week. I have so much that needed to be done I’m sure I left out major steps.

That sums up only the outside around the house projects I of course have a bunch of other things going but wanted to document this.

Now pictures:

July 5, 2019
by dhoytt

Curio Shopping Gaming Chair and C7000 BladeSystem Buying

Went looking for a corner curio almost bought it ended up with a gaming chair, HP C7000 Blade Chassis a couple of C7000 VC 10 GB modules and oh yeah an irrigation granite rock imitation valve cover!

Had 4 people help put the C7000 Chassis on my truck but only myself to take off my truck into the house and up a flight of stairs.

That’s right hundreds of pounds up the stairs by myself in pieces! Still the two main pieces were no joke and I walked the main chassis up one stair at a time after muscling it inside to the stairwell.

Here are the pics and I will start testing and playing with it soon!

June 14, 2019
by dhoytt

Apache not Reading php.ini Changes Configuring Fedora 30 During New Zoneminder Install

I wanted to setup some quick testing of Zoneminder on different platforms last night and started the basic configurations. Installed Fedora 30 , installed RpmFusion repository, installed mysql community database mariadb, Apache installed, install Zoneminder rpms using “dnf” etc..

Went through the initial steps with Zoneminder configurations opened up firewall ports then navigated to the initial web page and got the message:

ZoneMinder is not installed properly: php’s date.timezone is not set to a valid timezone”

Should be simple go into “/etc/php.ini” set date.timezone restart Apache/HTTPD and get past that message then get in and do the initial configurations within Zoneminder but that’s not what happened.

In “/etc/php.ini I set date.timezone to America/Los_Angeles restarted Apache with systemctl and no changes. Checked for typos and invisible characters in “/etc/php.ini” restarted and nothing changed again. I started checking permissions on web files, started looking through “/etc/http/conf.d/php.conf” check Zonemindr config files everything looks solid but I still get the “ZoneMinder is not installed properly: php’s date.timezone is not set to a valid timezone” message.

This is a minimal install and I’m very sure I only have one version of php and Apache. To confirm I run:

#php -i | grep timezone
Default timezone => America/Los_Angeles
date.timezone => America/Los_Angeles => America/Los_Angeles

This shows I have set my timezone parameters properly yet I still get the message “ZoneMinder is not installed properly: php’s date.timezone is not set to a valid timezone”

# php -i | grep -i config
Configuration File (php.ini) Path => /etc
Configuration File => /etc/php.ini
Openssl default
config => /etc/pki/tls/openssl.cnf

Once again looks good and proves I’m editing the only and correct php.ini file but this isn’t translating to Zoneminder I looked for overriding parameters not finding any.

I found many workarounds in forums like providing the date.timezone value in “/etc/http/conf.d/php.conf” or going into “/usr/share/zoneminder/www/index.php” and commenting out the code checking date.timezone for the Zoneminder application. I don’t want edits and hacks all over in non-default files because when updating or changing things these things may cause issues.

Finally I created a phpinfo web page navigate to it and date.timezone value is blank!! Doing “php -i” shows properly still!

#php -i | grep timezone
Default timezone => America/Los_Angeles
date.timezone => America/Los_Angeles => America/Los_Angeles

Ok so obviously php.ini isn’t passing the date.timezone parameter to Apache for some reason even though the phpinfo web page shows it’s using the “/etc/php.ini” configuration file for php!

I checked the current Zoneminder system and they are setup with Apache and PHP identically except the OS versions Fedora 28 versus Fedora 30 so I started searching for difference in the versions and found what I needed in the Fedora forums. FastCGI is now a required dependency for Apache/httpd via the “php-fpm” service.

#systemctl status php-fpm

php-fpm.service – The PHP FastCGI Process Manager

I noticedphp-fpm has not been restarted since I made my changes in “/etc/php.ini” so now I decide to restart “php-fpm” and the “ZoneMinder is not installed properly: php’s date.timezone is not set to a valid timezone” message is gone so now I can actually configure Zoneminder with my cameras!

Basically this is what’s needed to make sure your changes you make in /etc/php.ini are passed on to Apache in Fedora 30 and possibly other versions starting at Fedora 27 though I didn’t have this issue with Fedora 28 or I didn’t notice it for some reason:

#vi /etc/php-fpm.conf

Make this change:

date.timezone = America/Los_Angeles

# systemctl restart httpd

# systemctl restart php-fpm

Verify by creating a pphpinfo file and navigating to it

Contents of phpinfo.php:

<?php phpinfo(); ?>


#cat /var/www/html/phpinfo.php
<?php phpinfo(); ?>


Fedora forum posts that pointed me in the right direction:

https://forums.fedoraforum.org/showthread.php?317215-Apache-PHP-Configuration which referenced:


May 4, 2019
by dhoytt

Site Network Rework

Moving site back to ASUS RT-N66U old router after going to the Linksys 3200ACM router that failed on me each time I went out of town leaving my sites, smart devices, cameras and other items unreachable through the network route through the Linksys. I worked with Linksys support up to 3rd level and the only solutions they had for any issues was to delete my config and start over which I couldn’t do remotely and of course is not a long term solution and they hadn’t updated or implemented fixes since January 2018 and yes I could go DD-WRT which was a plan but I decided not on this Belkin product ,which bought out the Linksys name in 2013, I found out. This was the second time the Linksys router failed on me as this current router is an RMA brand new product for the prior router with same model that failed totally losing it’s configuration before!

Luckily I did have some remote capabilities through other routers and I was able to hop on to my servers via that route and switched over my dhoytt.com site and music server and point my DNS to another static IP about a month ago.

I then to alter routes on my W2012 media streaming server, my Linux Centos 7 music IceCast music relay server that also monitors many of my systems to properly get my music streams out. I had to open up ports through another router via my LAN once in to the static ip address I pointed my music streams and websites to. I then added a static route on the Linksys that had stopped communicating over the WAN but still had LAN connectivity to go through my security camera server as it was straddling all my networks and was able to communicate to most of my smart devices.

I did have to take down temporarily my hoytt.biz site. I walked a friend of mine through connecting a network cable to a third NIC I had on my Zoneminder physical server I had setup to my camera network.

Now I came back home due to a family issue and during this time I’m also correcting my router remote access issues. First I of course removed the Linksys 3200ACM and purchased a new ASUS AC86U which pretty much worked well except had interference issues with my other routers and routes in the areas over wireless so after almost a week I took it back and I’m back on my old but reliable ASUS RT-N66U.

I moved all my routing on my servers back to the original networks and pointed my DNS for dhoytt.com to my prior static ip.address and brought back up hoytt.biz. All of my music server streams are as they originally were and connecting my smart devices back where they belong. This is why I go for dependability and not flash look at all this work I had to do, and I truly understated the amount of effort it took to do this remotely from a slow internet connection I had that would stall where I was half a world away.

So if you noticed any minor glitches this morning that was me switching things over to the way its been for the most part for many years concept wise save my constant upgrading and changing the underlying technologies. I also updated several of my servers OS. As DNS propagates there may be some minor connectivity but if you use FQDN instead of actual hard coded ip.addesses you should reach my sites just fine. There may be a few things I have missed but not bad for an hour or so of actual work. I may also still get a new route but still holding out for the best ROI.

February 21, 2019
by dhoytt

Newly Built Systems Come Back Quickly After Power Outage

After a power outage just a few moments ago I think this is the fastest one of my virtual and NAS environments has ever recovered after booting up! No curruption to speak of and XCP-ng and FreeNAS recovered effortlessly!

Hopefully in the future my UPS can carry me a few moments more after I spread the loads out and continue to get get more efficient systems plus tune some systems for low power usage if possible. My Linux work station survives every power shutdown under 2 hours without powering off.

February 16, 2019
by dhoytt

New Virtual Environment Almost Set

My new XCP-ng environment is just about completely set I just need one more 8tb SAS drive with the same geometry to put into one of the pools on my FreeNAS server. One of the prior 8tb drives was a Sun\Oracle brand and its LFF geometry was slightly off of the other 8tb same model Hitachi drives so I will move that 8tb SAS to a workstation and new one into the pool for VM’s.

I needed to make sure my new XCP-ng Hypervisors hardware was updated to the newest firmware levels after testing initial functionality with XCP-ng with the Dell r710’s I picked up for the Hypervisors. Initially trying to update the r710’s via iDrac produced all types of failures uploading the packages into iDrac. Then trying to update the r710’s via the cli of XCP-ng didn’t have all the software libraries needed for the firmware scripts from Dell to work. I tried Openmanage as well.

Here’s a list of errors I received:

  • “The firmware image file is not valid for iDRAC firmware update”,
  • the file copied to the partition did not match the original file
  • Trying to update through iDrac after extracting the iDrac firmware file.

Well you get the picture so what I ultimately decided to do was take one of my spare hard drives I have put it in a hot swap tray for the r710 migrate all of the VM’s to the other XCP-ng server,take out the boot drive and other drives in the r710 and install Centos 7 to the drive and then run the firmware update scripts from Dell from Centos 7. This worked very well without the errors except to install the needed libraries via yum.

I then just moved all of the VM’s to the other XCP-ng hypervisor and then updated the other r710 from a minimal Centos7 OS install as well.

The big deal about updating my firmware was to make sure that whatever IPMI platform (iDrac from Dell, ILO from HP or IPMI Supermicro) I used was fully updated and useful for when I’m out of town. I chose Dell servers with iDrac because that’s what has the best price point at this time in the surplus market. For some reason there are very little HP servers though I prefer their ILO over Dell’s iDrac.

Now that firmware and bios updates of the hardware are handled onward to make further improvements and other projects!

February 3, 2019
by dhoytt

Taught a Valuable Lesson Super Bowl Day

With my Rams, a team I have followed since I was in elementary school in the Super Bowl I was debating going to my normal Super Bowl party. I then decide I’m going and will take some pulled pork and maybe some prime rib made all the rubs and sauces, cleaned my Traeger then brine and injected the pork butt and got ready to throw the meat on the grill in the early morning then go back to bed. Well my Trager controller didn’t power up at all and the I had to start the troubleshooting @ 3:30 AM.

I grabbed my lantern and hand held spot light I use for fishing. The GFI wasn’t popped, electric outlet was powering other devices I plugged in, took the controller loose fuse wasn’t blown and everything was connected.

Called Traeger support a few hours later and they went over my troubleshooting steps and mentioned something I thought I checked but hadn’t fully checked which was to make sure that my pellets I had left in weren’t wet. I had dug my hand in and all pellets were dry to feel and didn’t feel wet.

I went to Emigh Ace hardware and picked up a controller a place I normally get my pellets. I had been there yesterday and talked to them about upgrading my controller to one with wireless but my model I couldn’t updated to wireless. I didn’t know yesterday my controller was out when I was there.

So this morning replaced my controller which didn’t take long but kept my pellets in that seemed dry but the controller kept stopping and giving errors. So I scooped up all my pellets and there was very minimal wet dust on the auger bit deep down that takes the pellets into the place the pellets burn that was a bit hardened. I got my Wet Vac and vacuumed that out put back in a few pellets and everything started working correctly!

The lesson learned is empty your Traeger pellets when its wet outside even without a direct hit from rain as the dust will absorb the moisture in the air and cause your Traeger issues. I was unable to attend my Super Bowl party because I wanted to be awake to watch my favorite team in the Super Bowl and cook my prepped meat, plus had to buy a new controlled because I didn’t take my pellets out of the Traeger in between my grill usages.


February 2, 2019
by dhoytt

Moving FreeNAS and XCP-ng into Position Migrating VM’s to XCP-ng

Well I moved my new FreeNAS along with one of my new XCP-ng hypervisors into the racks to start taking over my environment for storage and my new virtualization. I’ll detail the technical aspect later. I hooked both up to my storage networks and copied and migrated some little used test VM’s from my Xenserver 7.1 environment without any issues using XCP-ng Center win Windows 10. Both were migrated cross pool to new storage so that was nice. I really didn’t add anything to an SR connected to my FreeNAS system . I need to create some iSCSI targets and though that doesn’t take long I didn’t feel like it since I was sneezing non-stop after getting behind my dusty racks (another part of this whole project I need to tackle) and was sneezing hard enough I didn’t want to be near a wall for fear of hitting my head and needed to make a store run to pick up medicine.

I basically just transferred from local storage f my XenServer 7.1 pool to the local pool of my XCP-ng pool.

Next steps will be to migrate a live VM to the new XCP-ng environment and then retiring my old Xenserver hypervisor and the old physical hardware. I also have some old VM’s in a VMWare 5.5 ESXi environment I need to export over.

Well time for bed and I am still cramming projects in but some will not get work done since my Rams are in the Super Bowl and will be ready to watch them Saturday. I decided my projects and time spent on my computer room, solar install, cameras setup with Zoneminder, smart home, landscaping was better used here than for Super Bowl tickets and that whole weekend. Just a timing issue but go RAMS Sunday is yours!

January 29, 2019
by dhoytt
1 Comment

Switching to XCP-ng Hypervisor

I had started testing and working stoppng and going with oVirt for the past month or so as my new hardware has started coming in but I’ve now switched my attention to XCP-ng. I have gotten so much further in one late evening with XCP-ng than a month plus with oVirt. I’m now ready to move my NAS running FreeNAS in place once I get another drive as someone sent an 8TB SAS drive without any shock padding so I have to return that back and get from another source.

Testing with oVirt I had issues just getting the management Host Engine VM to stay up or even install. With XCP-ng install went fine to my new server, NICS came up (I had to login and manually start the NIC’s for Ovirt via CLI).

Yes I’m familar with XCP-ng as I had been working with Xen, XCP and Xenserver. XCP-ng is the latest commnity version restart its seems of XCP since Citrix removed so many features suddenly from the community version last year.

Its great so far in a few hours I have already setup the hypervisor shared out iSCSI paths from FreeNAS, started using Xen Orchestra wed UI and then discovered XCP-ng Center for windows that mirrors Xen Center. Looked around quite a bit on the CLI mostly looking at NFS options. Created VM’s and they are installing very fast using my NFS library OS ISO’s going to my iSCSI SR’s.

I also discovered that I could import my current XenServer enviornment into this XCP-ng community Center as well as use the Xen Orchestra premium web UI for a brief time that seems to have some cool VM ipmort features I may be able to use to import my VM’s from my old enviornment I hope.

I really had no idea they had been doing so much with this XCP-ng and it looks like they have a very active community!

Wow its really late and I need to go to bed I have a ton of projects and things I need to do other than this but this is huge as well.

More later on this XCP-ng!

January 27, 2019
by dhoytt

UPS Battery Update

Updated one of my Liebert GTX UPS and the extension cabinet. Did this earlier than I wanted since the UPS went into total failure as it seems all the batteries have reached end of life obviously as evidenced by the visual swelling this is not one of the UPS that I had replaced the batteries on after buying from someone who had bought out a decommissioned data center.

I’m still updating other aspects of my infrastructure like NAS that’s running FreeNAS, hypervisors (testing Ovirt), rebuilding Zoneminder server, installing additional cameras for security, updating my network backbone, and building a smart environment the Open Source way. So this UPS going out was not in the plans until later. The effectiveness of the UPS wasn’t at peak so the batteries conditions explain the bad uptime for small outages it should withstand.

Here’s some after and before pictures of the UPS batteries and systems I have in place currently.