Community Enterprise OS

CentOS wiki updates

I have been updating my proposal for the new CentOS wiki frontpage. The aim is to reduce the number of links a new visitor sees, so it is easier to remember later or memorize the structure of the wiki.

A wiki is essentially unstructured and it requires determination and effort to put structure into a wiki so people can remember the structure subconsciously. That is the hard part with wikis and the part I dislike most.

Dstat 0.6.8 release

I just released a new Dstat. I finally spend some time doing the boring release-dance:

  • Verifying all changes since 0.6.7
  • Backporting changes to python 1.5 version
  • Creating the release archive without all pending patches and experimental stuff
  • Verifying ChangeLog and documentation
  • Testing on all Red Hat and CentOS/RHEL versions

Conferences and conferences

The past week was a very busy one. While the Olympic games were held in Bejing I was breaking my personal records for number of presentations at a conference in one day (3), number of presentations in a week (5) and number of conferences in a week (3).

Because JRSL in Buenos Aires was just before FrOSCon, and there was also a Debian Days in Buenos Aires. I flew to Buenos Aires on Friday afternoon, arrived on Saturday morning, I went to DebianDays on Monday, JRSL on Wednesday where I gave 3 talks (CentOS, RPM packaging and Dstat), flew back on Thursday morning to arrive on Friday at noon in Zaventem to be in Bonn on Friday evening to present a duo-presentation about Proxytunnel (Punching holes in the corporate firewall) on Saturday and a duo-presentation about giving presentation with the wiimote on Sunday.

And on Monday back to work in Antwerp...

mrepo now with fuseiso and unionfs support (0.8.5 ready soon ?)

I am planning to do an mrepo 0.8.5 release very soon. For those new to mrepo, mrepo is a python tool that can download RPMs from repositories, but also from Red Hat Network and Yast Online Update (or CentOS or OpenSUSE for that matter), mount ISO images if needed, and create repositories out of it.

For the people that have heard of Red Hat Satellite, consider it a (free) light version that only covers downloading the updates and making it available.

Dag Wieers intelligent swipe at Ubuntu

Remember when I wrote an opinion piece about Ubuntu LTS titled Ubuntu's need to catch a wave ?

That night someone, nicknamed mapnjd, submitted the article to Slashdot with the above title (Dag Wieers intelligent swipe at Ubuntu) but I guess the Slashdot editors thought it would be a better headline if they phrased it Dag Wieers Scoffs at Coordinated Linux Release Proposal ... and overnight I became an Ubuntu-hater ...

How I stumbled into Linux

Today I had an interesting conversation with a colleague about the Linux provisioning (how I dislike that word) deployment system we are developing at a customer. And in the midst of things he brought up how he started with Linux.

Apparently we share the same story, and I wondered how many other people were driven to Linux by frustration over some unexplained Windows bug at the time.

My story goes back to 1995, involved Windows 95 and an expensive CD burner I bought. I was already using Linux on a 80386, but that one was slower and did not have an internet connection.

Undeleting an open file by inode

At a customer today I was confronted with a situation where VMware ESX processes had log-files open that were already deleted. This can happen when logrotate was incorrectly configured, or when operational staff removed big files to clean up diskspace quickly.

However when the file is still open, you can remove the file-entry (link) to the inode, but the diskspace will not become available until all kernel references to the inode are gone (and a process having the file open counts as a reference too).

Killing the VMware processes that had the file open was not an option since we just wanted to truncate the file without impacting the guests.

CentOS 4.7 close to release

On the heels of the CentOS 5.2 release last month, the first spin of CentOS 4.7 went out to the QA team yesterday and if there are not too many hurdles in the QA process CentOS 4.7 might be out soon.

As a teaser, here is the upstream announcement as well as the release notes.

CentOS very much a-live

It did not get the media attention that it deserved, even though Linux Weekly News did pick it up: the new CentOS 5.2 Live CD has been released.

The CentOS Live CD is one of the important sub-projects of the CentOS project as it gives people the opportunity to test out CentOS' hardware support without the need to install it.

Stop software "piracy", support Open Source !

De Standaard is once again helping the BSA and Microsoft with their scare tactics, so let me give some counter-weight...

My rationale for the Nokia E71

Last week I bought a Nokia E71, a few days before the iPhone 3G was available in stores. You may think I must be crazy for not giving into Apple, but I have my reasons.

I had the following list of requirements:

  • Full keyboard (and not an on-screen keyboard)
  • OS that I could develop for (Symbian ?)
  • Not based on Windows
  • Needed Wifi, GPRS, UMTS
  • Wanted an SSH client (preferably putty)
  • USB connection and bluetooth
  • Small enough to fit well in my pocket

Package manager vulnerability study flawed ?

A study from the University of Arizona (recently posted on slashdot) looked at weaknesses in package managers (and mirror setup). By becoming an official mirror and delaying or stalling a mirror's updates they tried to lower the security of servers using that mirror and increasing the window of opportunity for a successful attack.

In itself it is very useful to make people aware of weaknesses in technology or abuse of trust, but in this case (and certainly for CentOS) I think they overstated the impact or at least ignored mechanisms used to prevent possible security risks.

RHEL backported one additional year

At the 2008 Red Hat summit in Boston, Red Hat outlined to support Red Hat Enterprise Linux for new hardware and installation media one year longer than it did in the past.

This is a major event. In the past Red Hat offered new hardware support, bugfixes and feature enhancements (dubbed full support) for 3 years after the initial release. But now that will be for 4 years after initial release. New installation media will be release up to 5 years after initial release !

Using apt in an RPM world

Everytime I am surprised that people don't know that apt-get works on RPM-based distributions and works much better than the alternatives. Especially in a CentOS/RHEL environment where you have various distribution releases running, apt-rpm allows you to use the same apt version and the same apt features across CentOS/RHEL 2.1, 3, 4 and 5.

In an attempt to persuade you to try out apt, let me denounce some myths about the current apt-rpm:

RHEL Beta-test SIG ?

I have been playing with (and talking about) this before, so why not take it to the next level and share it with the larger CentOS and RHEL community ?

The CentOS community is pretty limited in what we can do to the core OS. Since our mantra is "aiming to be 100% compatible with Red Hat Enterprise Linux" we cannot fix bugs or improve the CentOS core without waiting for RHEL to make those modifications first. We have limited leverage and a 6-month release cycle against us.