I am a freelance Linux consultant by trade, a sysadmin by vocation and an Open Source developer by conviction. Welcome to my soapbox !

RHEL 5.5 released today !

Today another update release of RHEL5 was born.

These (minor) update releases typically provide feature enhancements, bugfixes and new hardware support. And as such come as a set of new installation media (CDs and DVD). We already discussed the RHEL 5.5 Beta release not so long ago, and apart from stabilizing the product, a lot of what was known from that Beta is true for the real RHEL 5.5 release.

Names for subversion repositories

When I have to set up a subversion repository I like to give them special names. Especially when multiple subversion repositories are deployed inside organizations, it make sense to remove any confusion to name them something other than "subversion" or "svn".

I often prefer the name "shelf" for the repository that holds most of the technical information for a sysadmin team. This repository typically would hold directories like: docs/ rpms/ scripts/ tools/ per operating system or technology domain.

Removing all 32bit RPM packages

If you happen to come across a pure 64bit system that was installed the default way and includes lots of 32bit stuff. And you know for a fact all the 32bit functionality is not needed, just proceed to:

[root@system ~]# rpm -qa --qf '%{name}.%{arch}\n' | grep 'i[36]86$' | xargs rpm -e

Clean and simple...

Belgian post certified mail hell

My insurance company has sent me a certified letter (aangetekende brief) with valuable information, something they told me in advance. This weekend I wanted to collect the letter at my local post-office branch (which is housed in a grocery store). But they refused to give me the letter, which addresses my company, as I did not have any proof that I was in fact authorized to accept mail for my company. Fair enough, no problem, I should have known.

RHEL 5.5 beta released

As expected Red Hat released Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.5 Beta. The Release Notes and Technical notes are included in the above link.

This beta update includes:

  • New hardware driver support (pmcraid, ibmvfs, bfa, be2iscsi)
  • Updated hardware support (too many to list)
  • Kickstart improvements to logging post-install
  • Run-time memory allocation for KVM guests (memory ballooning)
  • PCI passthrough improvements (hotswapping PCI devices, 1:1 performance improvements)
  • Detecting kernel tasks stuck in the uninterruptible sleep state (D-state)
  • Improved CFQ I/O scheduler performance
  • Kernel CIFS updates
  • Software updates (openoffice, metacity, samba, freeradius)

Getting rid of =3D in svnmailer

svnmailer is a tool to distribute (by mail) changes to a subversion repository. It's a basic tool to allow a small team of people to track changes to documentation or tools. The configuration allows a lot of flexibility for the simple and complex cases and easily integrates with subversion as a post-commit hook.

With the latest svnmailer (1.08) I noticed that the equal sign (=) in URLs were replaced by =3D. A simple way to avoid this is to add to the defaults section:

mail_transfer_encoding = 8bit

Transcribing system administration tasks for documentation

I always forget this command and it takes a while to search for it, but if you ever start doing administration work on systems and you want to keep track of what you have been doing for documentation, always remember the script command.

I am referencing it here, so I will never forget !

KVM and libvirt best practices

Setting up my first environment using KVM on RHEL, I am disappointed about the lack of best practices and standardization regarding KVM on GFS clustering. First thing that should be obvious when sharing a complex and flexible piece of software online for production use, don't allow too many things without proper best practices. Otherwise people will do things differently and possibly for the wrong reasons.

Weird SMS messages from unknown numbers

Since as far as I can remember owning Nokia phones I get strange text messages from unknown numbers that look like this:

From: +79196575267
Time: 11/11/2009 14:48
1257950895 1 912.867409663487


From: +79198163461
Time: 23/11/2009 15:23
1258989829 1 795.947321834859


From: +79195518714
Time: 23/11/2009 16:52
1258995167 1 590.061261517537

Today I got two of these within 30 minutes.

A Nobel peace prize to Open Source

I was amused by the idea to propose Linus Torvalds for a Nobel peace prize. But it does make sense to honor the Open Source community in general for the collaboration across many boundaries. Open Source levels the playing field for anyone to innovate and improve, it is an extension of what is known in the academic world applied to Information Technology on a global scale, facilitated by the Internet.

The original link lists a few projects for the common good, but to me it's not so much the individual projects that make a difference, but rather the global mindset it created among peers for the better good without discrimination. And there are many more examples to proof this than looking at specific projects. It would harm our efforts if we would only look at specific initiatives, rather than our collective collaboration.

New Dstat developments

With the opportunity to talk at the first Japan Linux Symposium came renewed interest to look at what improvements I could make to Dstat that would be worthwhile to get more people involved.

Dstat doesn't lack users, it lacks system engineers writing interesting plugins for cases they have encountered. In a desperate ploy to get more contributors, I simplified some of the internals (functions, variables and object methods). So the upcoming Dstat 0.7.0 release will ship with a (not so) different plugin API that I hope is easier.

Moblin 2.1 on a Thinkpad X200s

This is marvelous !

While during the 1st Japan Linux Symposium Moblin wouldn't work on my X200s laptop, this weeks Moblin 2.1 release booted fine (unlike 2.0) and didn't freeze during initial usage (unlike the late October development releases) !

And I like what I experienced, in fact I was already convinced when I saw Greg KH use it for his presentation. A clean and concise interface, simple and convenient for those tasks that most people use computers for.

So, CentOS 5.4 has been released to mirrors

So, CentOS 5.4 has been released to mirrors and will be available soon as updates to your existing systems. This ends about 6 weeks of suspended security fixes, although some security fixes were released in the CentOS 5.3 repository before the actual 5.4 release was ready.

Most of what is new can be found from my earlier RHEL5.4 release blog post.


Fingerprinting the Intercity train from Antwerp to Ghent

Using GPRS on a train is not very useful for interactive use, but for reading the occasional website or downloading some (not-too-big) files it works well enough (after considerable tweaking).

When I start my link, I always run My traceroute to my ISP's DNS to see how my link is doing in real-time. Which helps to understand what is happening, here is a screenshot of a typical train-ride from Antwerp to Ghent.

Why wouldn't you want a Microsoft party in your livingroom ?

I have dozens of reasons :-)

So Microsoft expects a grassroot fanbase to promote their new Windows 7 product among family and friends in every house around the world. And this will be a natural thing because everybody really wants to do this. It simply makes a lot of sense. sarcasm