Newbie Question About System Update

Karl Denninger karl at
Fri Apr 22 07:22:23 PDT 2005

On Fri, Apr 22, 2005 at 10:09:09AM -0400, Bill Moran wrote:
> Matthias Buelow <mkb at> wrote:
> > Bill Moran <wmoran at> writes:
> > 
> > >Fact is, trying to update a running system could result in silent failures.
> > >The system can not replace programs that are in use, so there's always the
> > >chance that something or other won't get updated (cron would be an excellent
> > >example ... do you always shut cron off when you update?  How about syslogd?)
> > 
> > This is complete nonsense.
> Yes, and no.
> As was pointed out, the install process does not "cp", so it doesn't have
> to deal with this problem.  I was wrong.  However, it's still true that
> you can't copy over an executable in use, it's just easy to work around
> it.
> > >On a production system, you should have a serial terminal connected so you
> > >can go to single-user mode remotely to do updates.  There are fairly
> > >inexpensive serial terminal boxes available from a number of vendors, and
> > >if you have a spare machine available, you can always hook it up as a
> > >serial terminal.
> > 
> > I was talking about a colocation situation, where you most likely will
> > never see the machine.  Networked console boards are usually available
> > but may not always be cost effective.  I would agree that such a board
> > may be a necessity in a high profile production server but if you are a
> > small company, or use a machine privately, the extra cost often
> > outweighs the gain.  And a good colo hoster usually also has qualified
> > staff.
> Who are you using for colo?  I'd like to contact them.
> Unless your server is utterly unimportant, the last thing you want to
> have happen is an upgrade where the kernel doesn't boot and you have a
> dead system until someone can hook a console to it.
> Most colos I've seen charge you a premium to have someone hook a console
> up for you.  I asked one how much it would cost to hook up a serial console
> and give it an IP for one month, and their response was "we don't do that,
> you have to pay our tech $160/hour to sit on the phone with you and enter
> what you want."  While this seems to be a worst case scenerio, it doesn't
> seem to be an uncommon attitude.
> A lesson to all of you, when you choose a colo, don't just look at the
> cost of having your box sit there - estimate the cost of doing maintenance
> and handling problems, those are hidden costs where many colos will rape
> you.

Colocation that does not include serial console access is IMHO worthless.

The costs associated with having one of their people do anything other than
maintain/replace failed hardware (which is part of their job if you are
renting the hardware from them) is astronomical - both in terms of money and
time wasted.

Neither should be considered accepted - to anyone.

Most colo providers are worthless in this regard.  They just "don't get it".

Karl Denninger (karl at Internet Consultant & Kids Rights Activist	My home on the net - links to everything I do!		Your UNCENSORED place to talk about DIVING!		SPAM FREE mailboxes - FREE FOR A LIMITED TIME!	Musings Of A Sentient Mind

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