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Archive → March, 2011

Are you stuck in Debian/MySQL/Charset/Collation hell?

So while Debian still hasn’t changed the MySQL default caracter set and collation to utf8, we all know that the first thing to do on a vanilla Debian MySQL installation is to add the following utf8.cnf file to /etc/mysql/conf.d/:


However, if for some reason you didn’t do that and have used software which hasn’t been consistently explicit about character sets and collations, you end up with a nice mess of character sets and collations.

There is a great post on serverfault which helps you out. It comes down to one command which will take some time based on the size of your database:

mysql -B -N --user=user --password=secret -e "SELECT DISTINCT \
TO CHARACTER SET utf8 COLLATE utf8_unicode_ci;' ) FROM \
information_schema.COLUMNS WHERE TABLE_SCHEMA != 'information_schema';" \
| mysql --user=user --password=secret


And of course you need to alter the defaults for existing databases as well:

mysql -B -N --user=user --password=secret -e "SELECT DISTINCT \
utf8_unicode_ci;' ) FROM information_schema.SCHEMATA where SCHEMA_NAME \
!= 'information_schema';" | mysql --user=user --password=secret

First steps with Chef

Today, Jens and I got to play with Chef which supposedly is the hot sh$&!t when it comes to infrastructure automation and such. Installing your own Chef server seems hard at first but will work in the end.

If you’re using Debian, the APT sources will save you some headaches. Just add

deb http://apt.opscode.com/ squeeze main

to your /etc/apt/sources.list and do something like

wget -qO - http://apt.opscode.com/packages@opscode.com.gpg.key | sudo apt-key add -
sudo apt-get update

to be sure to be getting what you asked for. Then, a little sudo apt-get install chef will do the trick to set up a client and sudo apt-get install chef-server will supercharge your node with a fully blown chef server, including but not limited to CouchDB, Solr, RabbitMQ and other fancy stuff. (You’ll want to do this on two different nodes, so use Virtual Box or something.)

After you’ve set up two nodes like that, try following the rest of the instructions in this tutorial and do the first cookbook example, then you’ll have come as far as we have today.

I will update this post as we dig deeper – hopefully later this week.


Today a release candidate for sparkleshare 0.2 came out. Thanks to @jan for making me notice this great software a few days ago. It’s kind of a dropbox or ubuntu one clone but completely open source. You can use it to store your local data on a public server, your own server, your intranet or wherever you trust to put our data. All you need is a git server, ssh and a certificate to access it. No matter if it’s your local data storage, github or plan.io.

Comparing it to dropbox of course there still are a lot of downsides given its early state. There is no sophisticated encryption, only the data transfer is encrypted using ssl certificates. There is no GUI for easy sharing of data: whoever has access to your git repository can access your data, but no one else. However there are already a few nice features working quite well. Among them the easy GUI-based setup, the automatic syncing and the nice way to access old versions o data: right-click on a file, choose a version and a new file appears with the old date in its file name.

There is the source code for linux and mac versions available, binaries and a windows version are expected at a later point of time. In case you are on Ubuntu or Debian I recommend the following steps for installation after getting and unpacking the source from hbons’ github:

# install dependencies for the build process
sudo apt-get install gtk-sharp2 mono-runtime mono-devel monodevelop \
libndesk-dbus1.0-cil-dev nant libnotify-cil-dev libgtk2.0-cil-dev \
libwebkit-cil-dev intltool libtool python-nautilus libndesk-dbus-glib1.0-cil-dev

# using the prefix you enable the nautilus extension
./configure --prefix=/usr

# compile

# use checkinstall instead of make install to install it as a clean debian package
# that can be easily uninstalled using your favorite package manager
sudo checkinstall

# start the service
sparkleshare start

# You possibly have to restart nautilus to enable the plugin
nautilus -q

So go try it out!