Wednesday, June 22, 2011

KVM Switch fun.Anciet custom software headaches. Migrating Winusers to Puppy Linux

Down Under Camp Resort has an ancient reservation book based on Excel Macros around Windows 98 vintage. The person who wrote it has even forgotten much of his coding as it was barely commented. That's a lesson in why commenting and documentation is a Very Good Thing. If the program were my only nemesis, we'd be not too bad off by comparison. The primary users of the program are appliance operators with a dislike for learning new things.

So, the "Book" was on Win98 till last year. Health problems etc delayed me from reworking the program/hardware till the present. One issue of pragmatics weighing against paranoia in both directions centers around both XP and 98 having file sharing and printer sharing linked. That plus concerns about virus/malware issues made the boss demand the "Book" be only on isolated hardware networked only to the 2 or three terminals/Server and Air Gapped from the world. And I'm alleged to be the paranoid one? Ah well, I've been married to her 20 years by honoring such requests wherever possible even if the practical is a pain.

At present- Gnumeric on Lucid Puppy seems damned stable. Setting up shares or a NAS drive is still a work in progress. The plan so far is one P2-300 box in the house as a terminal, and a P3-500 in the store as both terminal and server. With KVM switches in both house and store so the same KVM can be used for the Internet computer and the "Book" system. That's what made me decide to EOL Win98. The ancient hardware's BIOS/Win hurdles to use a USB KVM switch became just made of pure stupid. The awesome power of Lucid Puppy's operational methods totally ignored the USB KVM drama, and just plain WORKS. Having the Data Loss Risk Reduction of journaled filesystems=ext3 just makes sense for applications like a reservation book.

The remaining steps- establish ethernet path between house and store is a "tomorrow" project, the two computers are both burned in and HD installed Puppy chosen mostly for the "appliance operator" factors of having connect parameters etc pre-stored and of no demand on wifey/her staff.

We might not mind Puppy pfix=copy and a few other steps on a reboot, but some folks will just scream about how they did not need to do that with 98..So the trade-off of a HD install seems worth doing. I am planning on also following my often preached LOUDLY architecture of OS and Data being on separate drives. That way, OS updates are painless if ever needed, and swapping oh-flash drives etc to make archives becomes more so painless.

I still need to suss out the best methods of having Gnumeric's timed backup do incremental saves instead of overwrites, but overwrites is perhaps "Good Enough" for our needs? Scripting a cron process to timed save the timed saves from Gnumeric seems a fugly kludge but? If the write target is a flash drive or a DVD burner, it's one more graceful fall back if SHTF so she won't lose reservation data.

The last KVM issue is LAG on transfer. Even defeating screen saver etc, there's still a few moments of "wake up" delay upon toggling between the book and the Internet computers that frustrates us all. But since both Belkin switches cost me <$10 for the pair, I'm not complaining.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home