Q3 2014 Changes

Changes made to the system

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drgrussell
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Q3 2014 Changes

Postby drgrussell » Thu Aug 07, 2014 1:00 pm

It has been a while since I posted any changes to the public.
I should say that the site has continued to evolve since the last post, but I thought it would be nice to post some stuff again...

Changes happening in Q3-Q4 2014:

Stage 1 (completed 19 Aug 2015)
  • Main site is being upgraded from fedora 15 to centos 7.
    Painful experience. Apache has changed considerably and its "security" blocked me in a range of ways.
    mod_reqtimeout sounds good, but when you use apache for vnc sessions a timeout of 30 seconds is painful.
    mod_rewrite also silently blocks URLs it things are iffy, and you need to disable that checking for the stuff we do with HTTP CONNECT.
  • Switch from SELINUX permissive to targeted protection on the servers.
    I do like SELINUX. It can be tricky to know you have solved everything, and so I will keep an eye on the logs for the near future.
  • Main database being upgraded from Oracle 11g to 12c.
    Usually Oracle crashes on a query or two when upgrade. Not this time (yet).
  • Oracle databases are being converted to container databases.
    The containers look quite nice. A great idea that I think I will make some use of.
  • Primary servers converted from RAID 0 to RAID 10, with storage increase from 600GB to 4TB each.
    Had to update the BIOS on the servers to get the drives to work. 3ware rejected a drive almost straight away.
    But no problems after the first 5 minutes so fingers crossed it was just a glitch.
Additional Completed Goals
  • Centos 7 and Caine 5.0 are now virtual targets, ready for the teaching year. Tutorials are being updated.
  • Beta of novnc javascript VNC is now available. I this is beta, so may be problematic. I have added this in as Java 8, which i recently upgraded to, completely breaks tightvnc by blocking sockets in the sandbox. I really MUST migrate from Java before my sanity is lost...
    First try at this did not support ie10. This is now fixed.
Upcoming Changes:

  • Secondary servers are being upgraded to Fedora 20 from Fedora 15, plus storage space increases.
    Two servers have been updated so far and it seems stable.
  • Backend software has been rewritten to use network namespaces, and to support multiple machines (up to 4) through a per-user CLI interface.
  • Frontend software has been changed to use a simpler queue management scheme with users allocated based on server load rather than total number of virtual machines.
  • Update to latest version of Kali.
  • Reimage backup mirror with centos 7 as per primary machine.
  • Moving from per user cookies towards session cookies.


As part of these changes, which will happen during August 2014, the system may be unstable at times.
Right now the backup mirror is being rebuild, and I will do a switch at some point and test the new server live.
Announcements on the front page will show any updates.

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