First beta release of Vacation

Vacation beta1 is the first beta for the first bug fix only release in the 1.2.7 branch.

It contains only two bug fixes, firstly adding the Auto-Submitted: header as required by RFC 3834 and secondly stopping vacation munging the GECOS information of the user and instead just passing it in a quoted form for the MTA to deal with.

Both of these patches are from Dr Tilmann Bubeck who is the packager of Vacation for the Fedora project. I’m very grateful to him for his time and patience in submitting these!

Please grab this beta release and test it and report any problems!

Vacation Migrated to Git at SourceForge

After a long hiatus I’ve restarted work on Vacation and have kicked off proceedings by migrating from SVN to Git (which SourceForge started offering about 18 months ago) (( I ended up using the svn2git Ruby Gem to do this as the usual “git svn clone” didn’t seem to work that well. )). This means you can now clone the Git repo to do work with and have the complete history of the project available to you, even if you’re not connected to the Internet at the time.

You can find more information on using Git with SVN here:

I’ve realised from this that a lot of the bug fixes that had been done on the 1.2.7 branch had not been merged back into trunk whilst working in SVN, so I’ve now made those changes to the ‘master’ (what Git calls SVN’s trunk) and pushed those back to SourceForge.

I’m hoping to roll a release in the near future to pick up a few changes on the 1.2.7 branch that should really be out there.

Making Meaning – Exhibition of Photography

Making Meaning is an exhibition of figurative, abstract and photographic works by my lovely wife Donna Williams and myself, Chris Samuel. We spent about 4 hours today at The Bakery, part of the 1812 Theatre in Upper Ferntree Gully in Melbourne setting it up whilst the crew of the 1812 finished off creating a set for their next production and distracting me with coffee and cake. ๐Ÿ™‚

Our exhibition runs from the 5th August to the 4th September on theatre time, which is (as our flyer says):

Wed-Sat: 8.30รขโ‚ฌโ€œ11pm,
Sun: 4รขโ‚ฌโ€œ6.30pm then 8.30-11pm (except 22nd Aug)

As a sneak preview here is the layout of my photography:

Exhibition setup at 1812 Theatre - my photos Exhibition setup at 1812 Theatre - more of my photos

and the layout of Donna’s paintings:

Exhibition setup at 1812 Theatre - Donna's paintings Exhibition setup at 1812 Theatre - more of Donna's paintings

Thanks again to the 1812 crew for making us feel welcome and at home and even feeding us lunch!

Soliciting Australian Signatories to an Open Letter Against Software Patents to Minister Kim Carr

The Melbourne Free Software Interest Group (a group of Melbourne computer folks with an interest in software freedom) have put together an open letter to Senator the Hon Kim Carr, the Minister for Innovation, to request that software be excluded from patenting as part of the Australian governments review of patents in general.

We are currently collecting signatures to the letter and if you are in Australia and of a like mind we would really appreciate it if you would contribute your signature too! Just click on the link, read the letter and the form to sign it is at the bottom of the page. Please also pass this on to others you know who may be interested.

VLSCI: Systems Administrator – High Performance Computing, Storage & Infrastructure

Please note: enquiry and application information at the URL below, no agencies please!

Executive summary

Want to work with hundreds of TB of storage, HPC clusters and a Blue Gene supercomputer and have an aptitude for storage and data ?


To give you an idea of what this job relates to, VLSCI currently has in production:

  • 136 node, 1088 core SGI cluster (Intel Nehalem CPUs)
  • ~110TB usable of Panasas storage

Shortly arriving (< 1 month away):

  • 2048 node, 8192 core IBM Blue Gene/P supercomputer
  • 80 node, 640 core IBM iDataplex cluster (Intel Nehalem CPUs)
  • ~300TB usable of IBM GPFS storage plus tape libraries
  • 2012 – more! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Both Intel clusters are CentOS 5, the front end and service nodes for the Blue Gene are SuSE SLES 10. The GPFS servers are RHEL5. Panasas runs FreeBSD under the covers.
    Continue reading

VLSCI Mid Year Call for Applications from Victorian Life Science Researchers

A quick work related blog..

Today VLSCI announced its mid-year Call For Applications for use of the Peak Computing Facility at the University of Melbourne by life science researchers in Victoria. This includes time on our forthcoming IBM Blue Gene/P HPC system as well as the existing SGI Altix XE HPC cluster and a forthcoming IBM iDataPlex HPC cluster (both Intel Nehalem systems).

Pass it on!

Moving from VPAC to VLSCI

After almost six and a half years working at VPAC it’s time to move on, in January I’ll be taking up the position of Senior Systems Administrator in the University of Melbourne for the Victorian Life Sciences Computational Initiative (VLSCI). For those who’ve not come across the VLSCI it describes itself thus:

Under the Victorian Life Sciences Computation Initiative, The University of Melbourne will host a $100 million supercomputing program and facility, with $50 million provided by the State Government. The goal of the initiative is for Victoria to retain its standing and enhance its leadership in world life sciences. This will lead to major improvements in public health outcomes in the areas such as cancer, cardiovascular and neurological disease, chronic inflammatory diseases, bone diseases and diabetes.

Their ambitions aren’t what you could call small, they want to be a supercomputing facility ranking in the top 5 in life sciences world-wide. It’s going to be a fun ride and a lot more than just going from a 4 letter acronym to a 5 letter one. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I’ve really enjoyed my time at VPAC over the years and I’m really going to miss the people there, but it’s gotten to the point where I want to be able to focus on running large HPC systems without distraction and the opportunity at VLSCI was too good to ignore!

VPAC is looking for an Operations Manager

Don’t panic, this isn’t about me.. ๐Ÿ˜‰ No agencies please!

The Victorian Partnership for Advanced Computing (VPAC) is looking for an Operations Manager:

We are looking for a dynamic leader with excellent IT knowledge to lead and manage our High Performance Computing (HPC) team based at VPAC (housed at RMIT University in Carlton).

Your ideal background would include management of similar teams and the provision of strong hands-on experience, coupled with full responsibility for technical infrastructure. The Operations Manager will build and maintain strategic relationships with key stakeholders such as Victorian Universities and national initiatives such as ARCS, NCI and ANDS.

Reporting to the Chief Executive Officer you will be a key member of the VPAC Management Team and lead a growing team of around 15 Systems Administrators and Developers. As VPAC is aiming for industry best practice and holds ISO accreditation it will be expected that you will have worked in similar environments that provide a process based approach to IT service management.

A senior level remuneration package will be negotiated with the successful applicant. To obtain a copy of the position description and/or to apply for this exciting opportunity please email

There is also a copy of the PD on the VPAC employment positions web page.

As ever please contact VPAC recruitment, not me, about this position..