Not too long ago, I had stumbled across a post on the Ubuntu Forums in the System76 support section. But first, perhaps I had better back up a bit.
System76 is a computer hardware company located in Denver, Colorado. They are particularly unique because they offer Ubuntu Linux across their entire hardware line. All of their hardware is tested to be Linux-compatible, and there are numerous reviews from users that love their machines. To use a cliche here, It Just Works. For beginners and people that are new to the GNU/Linux world, this is the go-to for getting a machine that works out of the box with Linux. Heck, it's great for seasoned users as well!
However, there is a small problem that plagues System76 machines. For everyday Average Joes, this isn't much of an issue. But, to Free Software enthusiasts, it's a glaring problem. Their BIOS are proprietary.
Well, that doesn't sound so bad, you say. But think about it. BIOS is the system software that runs on the motherboard. It is the system firmware on most desktop and laptop computers. For years, various middleware companies such as American Megatrends have peddled their own BIOS offerings onto machines. These BIOS often rarely get updates for years on end, and actually hamper capabilities of the machine itself. In this sense, BIOS can be restrictive.
However, a project exists called Coreboot. It was started in late 1999 to provide an alternative to proprietary BIOS, using a lightweight Linux kernel (or other boot extensions) to configure a system. It is capable now of running GNU/Linux, FreeBSD, and even Windows versions all the way up to Windows7 (No word on running MacOSX, of course).
The fact of the matter is, Coreboot is extremely flexible. It is also supported on a plethora of hardware currently, and herein lies the problem: although it supports quite a range of hardware, Coreboot is not officially supported on any laptops. A few netbooks support it, such as the Lemote Yeeloong. But there aren't really any laptops that ship exclusively with this Free Software BIOS alternative. I think System76 has a great chance to step up and support Free Software by adopting Coreboot.
And this is where we come in. I have started a petition to System76 to voice our opinions about Coreboot on their machines. I would love for everyone to take a moment to sign the petition and spread word throughout the Free Software community. This is a chance to have a hardware manufacturer truly support Free Software in North America with laptops, desktops, and servers for consumers. This is our chance to prove to the world that Free Software is profitable by voting with our money.
I have started the petition here, be sure to sign it and pass it along to anyone that might be interested!
I've some servers with VMWare 2 installed on linux machines, my latest v2 was installed on a debian x64 (AMD64) host, as you can read from my previous posts I've done some mods and I'm quite happy about it, see:
HOWTO: VMWare Server 2, Disable Web Server Interface
Install VMWare Server 2 on a Debian Lenny AMD64
Access VMWare Server 2 remote virtual machine with VMWare Player
And so on...
I've used VMWare server for a while and I'm quite happy about this product and its wonderful "bare metal emulation", I only need bare metal emulation and this is the product I want. If you need to run a big business you obviously go with ESX (now vSphere) but if you'd like to run your private net without too much hassles or you're just using virtualization in a small company like mine ESX/vSphere is not so cheap.
Many of us are still using VMWare Server because is a reliable and stable solution, it was the first solution here and it's still here to stay, few thoughts recently make me angry about it, nothing strange, just the most common disappointments for a normal linux user:
- Webserver, service and WebInterface sounds cool but it's not. If you like the Keep It Simple Stupid approach (KISS) and you only want services you really need in you machine (despite of its compute power) you're probably against this new "feature" installed with VMWare Server 2.0. Web interface relies on Tomcat webserver but it's ugly, slow and impossible to use for heavy duty machines
- Virtual Interface Client (VIC) was the way to go to access your Linux VMWare Server installation, it's not so well documented and features for accessing VMServer are quite hidden but it was working fast and it's nice to have it but...
- Again next trouble: VIC is available only on Windows platforms. It could be a problem if you've a linux only environment (or plan to have it), yeah you can run it with WINE on linux but I don't wanna mess with WINE libs on my machine and as many of you I prefer a REAL linux client. VMWare promised a lot of time ago a Linux version is "planned" but nobody has already seen it here. Time passed by and we're still waiting (grr...)
- At the time if you don't like WINE libs in your linux workstation the only way is to have VIC installed on a Windows Machine (Apple "cousins" have the same problem)
- New vSphere architecture sounds promising and a challenging world but OpenSource doesn't seems to be planned there... VMWare Server is nice but no new updates and neither the expected VIC client
- Virtual Infrastructure Client (VIC) is now vSphere Client (the new VIC), guess what ? Windows only... and still worse... if you need it running these are its requirements: .NET 3.x framework needed and J# redistributable package. I Hope they're planning a totally new client even for linux, but it doesn't seem they're planning a new port from this product. They need to build a totally new one if they wanna get a rid of .NET framework and J# (this is not a portable project !)
- Again... when installing new vSphere Client and trying to connect to a VMWare Server installation... it doesn't work ! if you read their official specs (here) it not even supported, this makes me really upset. After reading a lot of forums and threads (like this one from their community forum) I'm totally disappointed by their politics (but read the good news below)
By now I still continue to keep their product running in my opensource+vmware environment but I'm really watching around and making experiments with VirtualBox / KVM / XEN / ... and I'm really planning effects of moving away from them.
What I actually need is bare metal emulation and VMWare it's still the best but I'm looking other competitors as well
NOTE: At the end of this blog finally a good news. vSphere Client is "not supported" by VMWare Server but "not compatible" is wrong, in fact I've it running (still on a Windows machine grr...) and connected to VMWare Server
with a little trick check my next blog here:
Accessing VMWare Server with vSphere (the unsupported way)
Andrea (Ben) Benini
I've always been a big fan of the PowerPC architecture, and I was really bummed out when Apple decided to go with Intel. But new POWER7 is a MONSTER! It's got 4 , 6, or 8 cores, and each core can handle 4 thread simultaneously ... Mmmmm 32 simultaneous threads per processor. Only 1.2 Billion transistors in the 8 core chip, too. Beats the pants of Intel's Tukwilla.
Now, if I only had roughly $34,000 so I could get a machine form IBM just to play with.
Here's some more info:
After spending most of my professional career taking care of Windows-biased systems (don't get me wrong, Windows has given me a good life financially and technically), but in the last part of my time before heading out, I finally get to see the introduction of mass UNIX -- in the form of Linux distros -- desktops to the once impregnable fortress of Windows.
Windows has many strengths as well a many weaknesses, but with its overwhelming popularity it was the system of choice in which to build and run a successful 20+ year consulting/training business. However, the progress of Linux distros with the likes of Ubuntu 9.10, freeBSD, openSUSE, etc into very usable desktop environments that do not require, remember these "the UNIX install parties," such hand holding, give my next few years some very "coming home" type feelings.
I have several contracts where I am going to introduce a small set of Linux-biased desktops to clients that are fed-up with the Redmond mindset of control, proprietary bent, and endless patches -- not unlike the Macintosh world. Linux can free users from both those tyrannies.
Frequently as the experience pile up, I will come back and post the more interesting stories as my clients walk with me into this new, but not new, experiences of sans-Windows.
Back later on.
Open source is a lovely thing. Getting open source software running, configured, backed up and functioning can be considerably less lovely. I hear some of you saying, "If only there was a company that could just configure the software for me so that I could use the program instead of spending my time installing it and resolving dependencies, I'd do cartwheels in the parking lot." Well, start stretching, because it's cartwheel time. Jumpbox is a company that specializes in making pre-configured application-specific open source software virtual machines that can be easily deployed in Windows, Linux, or Macs using virtualization technologies. JumpBox was founded in 2006 by Kimbro Staken and Sean Tierney. For a quick explanation on how Jumpboxes work, there is a 90 second introductory video available on their website, as well as a tour of the basic structure of each Jumpbox.
is a free, powerful, and versatile virtualization program which is available for Linux, Mac, and Windows hosts, and can virtualize many different Operating Systems. VirtualBox was originally developed by innotek, but was purchased by Sun and renamed Sun xVM VirtualBox. There are several versions of the program, but I use the free closed-source version, since it has more features than Virtualbox OSE.
is a great Linux note-taking tool. I chose it because I don’t need the multi-platform or networked aspects of Jarnal
, and appears to have more useful features than Gournal
though NoteLab looks like it could hold its own weight, depending on the intended use.
There are several paper types available, such as notebook paper or graph paper, but because this tool can also be used to annotate PDF files, you could also print out many assorted sizes and styles of graph paper here,then annotate them inside of Xournal. NoteLab lacks this feature, which looks like a deal-breaker to me. Xournal very well with my Thinkpad X41 tablet PC, and allows me to keep digital copies of notes that I previously would have put on paper. I can see this program being very useful when I do my sysadmin work on site, especially when sketching out preliminary network topologies and other notes.
Useful features in Xournal include freehand pen input, forced straight-line pen input, shape recognition, multiple layer input, text entry, highlighting, erasing, selecting and moving text, as well as different pen and paper shapes and colors.
I also like the “undo” feature, as it saves me from the typical scribbling that I do with a regular pen.
If you're interested, give it a try!
Go to zootlinux.blogspot.com for more tech news and cool stuff!
What's the difference between a novice and a professional? One word summation...training. There is a classic line that I love in the Denzel Washington movie Man on Fire when he is training Dakota Fanning's character on improving her swimming times:
"There is no such thing as tough. There is trained and untrained. Now which are you?"
It is a good statement and an excellent question. Which are you in the world of Linux? Training is defined by Webster's as:
- the act, process, or method of one that trains.
- the skill, knowledge, or experience acquired by one that trains.
- the state of being trained.
The other day I wrote about Linux certifications. In that article I gave my opinion that although a certification was not a necessity nor requirement, it was not a bad idea for someone who wanted to gain a good foundation in what Linux was all about. However, my primary point was that "Linux affords you the level of "certification" you desire to achieve just by being Linux. You essentially gain your certification by being involved with Linux and using it".
The keyword is involved. Without being involved and actively using Linux you will never gain any aptitude. You are left being untrained. I watch forums and read questions from people who's only desire is to have someone do their work for them. They are not gaining any useful skills or knowledge because they just click and configure based on someone else who spoon fed them the answer. In a sense they are stuck in "Windows" mode, meaning they just want to double click and have the machine install and be done. There is not anything wrong with that per se, but training in Linux means doing. The act of doing equates to experience. One cannot be hesitant to try things and fail in Linux. If doing leads to experience, then the experience will lead to judgment, which will make you a more effective system administrator, engineer or developer. Putting it another way, good judgment comes from experience and experience comes from bad judgement. But ultimately that experience comes from you training yourself.
Gaining the experience takes time in training. You have to consistently be willing to explore the file system and do things over and over. There is a saying in the Army that was drilled into us that slow is smooth and smooth is fast. What that means is if you put the time in your training to do it right, to learn from your actions and your failures, your experience grows and makes you ultimately faster. Developers don't just learn C and write out the next latest and greatest kernel overnight. They hone and sharpen their skills by doing and gaining the experience. They train in their art of C.
Just remember, training never stops. I learn new things and techniques almost daily. My advice to those new to Linux is never be afraid to fail. It takes time and effort to train, but remember that the penguin rewards your training. There is nothing more satisfying than installing and configuring a system that is reliable, flexible and rock solid...and knowing that it was your experience and training that made it possible.
If you are serious about the Linux craft here are some great links that will help you train yourself (the links will open in a new browser, check your pop-up blocker if it does not work):
- Easiest Linux Guide You'll Ever Read / htttp://www.linux-books.us/suse_0002.php / Designed especially for those who are in an early transition from Windows to Linux. Specifically written from the SUSE distribution use.
- Linux Professional Institute LPI 101 and 102 course instruction materials / http://www.ledge.co.za/software/lpinotes / Licensed under the GNU documentation license, these are professionally developed study guides that are distribution neutral. They were developed for those wishing to sit for the LPI entry level certification and an excellent reference.
- The Cathedral and the Bazaar / http://www.catb.org/~esr/writings/cathedral-bazaar/ / If you want to understand what open source is all about and what Linux means from the open source perspective this is a must read. There are multiple translations if English is not your mother tongue.
- Linux Device Drivers / http://lwn.net/Kernel/LDD3/ / Are you a developer and want to know everything about Linux Device Drivers and such? This is an excellent starting point.
- Loads of Linux Links / http://loll.sourceforge.net/linux/links/ / A central repository of over 5000 links that are specifically related to Linux and all the aspects of the environment (system administration, engineering, developing, security, magazines etc).
So the challenge question to you is which are you...trained or untrained? I challenge you to keep training and don't get discouraged about how quickly you might or might not pick things up. Remember...slow is smooth and smooth is fast.
Cheers - Kryptikos
Cacti is a GPL-licensed, scalable, RRDtool-based monitoring program with flexible graphing options. This article describes the process of installing and configuring Cacti on CentOS 5.2.
Useful links to this installation were BXtra and TechDB.
Per the Cacti documentation, Cacti requires:
RRDTool 1.0.49 or 1.2.x or greaterI'd also recommend installing vim, net-snmp, net-snmp-utils, php-snmp, initscripts, perl-rrdtool, and any dependencies.
MySQL 4.1.x or 5.x or greater
PHP 4.3.6 or greater, 5.x greater highly recommended for advanced features
A Web Server e.g. Apache or IIS
To perform this install, I am logged into Gnome as a normal user, and opened a terminal that is switched to the root user using the su command. I had already installed apache, mysql, and PHP during the original install process of CentOS 5.2.
I added a new repository to facilitate this install. To do this, I created a file
(/etc/yum.repos.d/dag.repo) containing Dag Wiers repository, which contains rrdtool, among other things.
[dag] name=Dag RPM Repository for Red Hat Enterprise Linux baseurl=http://apt.sw.be/redhat/el5/en/i386/dag gpgcheck=1 gpgkey=http://dag.wieers.com/rpm/packages/RPM-GPG-KEY.dag.txt enabled=1
You can create this file by typing vim /etc/yum.repos.d/dag.repo and copying and pasting the above information into the file. Be warned that the above text containing the repository is version and architecture-specific.
I then typed yum update to update CentOS and the repository list before installing additional software.
I installed everything but cacti through yum. You can verify that you have the packages in question (or the version numbers of installed packages) by attempting to install them, as yum will remind you that you already have the latest version installed, as well as the version status of the packages, like shown here:
# yum install php httpd mysql mysql-server php-mysql vim-enhanced net-snmp net-snmp-utils php-snmp initscripts perl-rrdtool rrdtool initscripts
Loaded plugins: fastestmirror, priorities
Loading mirror speeds from cached hostfile
* base: pubmirrors.reflected.net
* updates: mirror.fdcservers.net
* addons: chi-10g-1-mirror.fastsoft.net
* extras: mirror.fdcservers.net
Setting up Install Process
Parsing package install arguments
Package php-5.1.6-23.2.el5_3.i386 already installed and latest version
Package httpd-2.2.3-22.el5.centos.1.i386 already installed and latest version
Package mysql-5.0.45-7.el5.i386 already installed and latest version
Package mysql-server-5.0.45-7.el5.i386 already installed and latest version
Package php-mysql-5.1.6-23.2.el5_3.i386 already installed and latest version
Package 2:vim-enhanced-7.0.109-4.el5_2.4z.i386 already installed and latest version
Package 1:net-snmp-22.214.171.124-5.el5_3.1.i386 already installed and latest version
Package 1:net-snmp-utils-126.96.36.199-5.el5_3.1.i386 already installed and latest version
Package php-snmp-5.1.6-23.2.el5_3.i386 already installed and latest version
Package initscripts-8.45.25-1.el5.centos.i386 already installed and latest version
Package perl-rrdtool-1.3.7-1.el5.rf.i386 already installed and latest version
Package rrdtool-1.3.7-1.el5.rf.i386 already installed and latest version
Package initscripts-8.45.25-1.el5.centos.i386 already installed and latest version
Nothing to do
Download the latest version of Cacti (0.8.7e, as of the writing of this article) from here. I downloaded it to my desktop and unzipped it by right clicking it and selecting "Extract here". I also renamed the cacti-0.8.7e directory by right clicking and selecting "Rename". You could do this in the command line, if you wanted to:
[your root shell] # tar xzvf cacti-0.8.7e.tar.gz Move the entire cacti directory to /var/www/html/ :
[your root shell] # mv cacti-0.8.7e cacti
[your root shell] # mv cacti /var/www/htmlI chose to create a 'cactiuser' user (and cacti group) to run cacti commands and to have ownership of the relavent cacti files. It was here that I noticed that my install did not have any of the /sbin directories in its $PATH , so I simply typed the absolute path:
[your root shell] # /usr/sbin/groupadd cacti
[your root shell] # /usr/sbin/useradd -g cacti cactiuser
[your root shell] # passwd cactiuserChange the ownership of the /var/www/html/cacti/rra/ and /var/www/html/cacti/log/ directories to the cactiuser we just created:
[your root shell] # cd /var/www/html/cacti
[your root shell] # chown -R cactiuser rra/ log/
Create a mysql root password, if you haven't already (password in this example is samplepass:
[your root shell] # /usr/bin/mysqladmin -u root password samplepass
Create a MySQL database for cacti:
[your root shell] # mysqladmin --user=root --password=samplepass create cacti
Change directories to the cacti directory, and use the cacti.sql file to create tables for your database:
[your root shell] # cd /var/www/html/cacti
[your root shell- cacti] # mysql --user=root --password=samplepass cacti < cacti.sql
I also created a MySQL username and password for Cacti:
[your root shell] # mysql --user=root --password=samplepass
Welcome to the MySQL monitor. Commands end with ; or g.
Your MySQL connection id is 28
Server version: 5.0.45 Source distribution
Type 'help;' or 'h' for help. Type 'c' to clear the buffer.
mysql> GRANT ALL ON cacti.* TO cactiuser@localhost IDENTIFIED BY 'samplepass';
Query OK, 0 rows affected (0.00 sec)
mysql> flush privileges;
Query OK, 0 rows affected (0.00 sec)
Edit /var/www/html/cacti/include/config.php with your favorite editor, and update the information to reflect our cacti configuration (you can leave the other text in the file alone):
/* make sure these values refect your actual database/host/user/password */Create a cron job that polls for information for Cacti (I'm choosing to use /etc/crontab here):
$database_type = "mysql";
$database_default = "cacti";
$database_hostname = "localhost";
$database_username = "cactiuser";
$database_password = "samplepass";
$database_port = "3306";
[your root shell] # vim /etc/crontab
Add this line to your crontab:
*/5 * * * * cactiuser /usr/bin/php /var/www/html/cacti/poller.php > /dev/null 2>&1Edit your PHP config file at /etc/php.ini to allow more memory usage for Cacti. It is a relatively large text file- using vim, I search for "memory_limit" by typing /memory_limit in command mode.
[your root shell] # vim /etc/php.iniBefore I check to see if Cacti works, I want to check and see if mysqld and httpd
I changed memory_limit = 8M to memory_limit = 128M
are running using the service command.
[your root shell] # /sbin/service mysqld status
[your root shell] # /sbin/service httpd status
If mysqld and httpd are running, great. If not, type:
[your root shell] # /sbin/service mysqld start If you're an "I need to see what the output looks like" type, here is an example of the previous command:
[your root shell] # /sbin/service httpd start
[your root shell] # /sbin/service mysqld status
mysqld is stopped
[your root shell] # /sbin/service mysqld start
Initializing MySQL database: Installing MySQL system tables...
Filling help tables...
To start mysqld at boot time you have to copy
support-files/mysql.server to the right place for your system
PLEASE REMEMBER TO SET A PASSWORD FOR THE MySQL root USER !
To do so, start the server, then issue the following commands:
/usr/bin/mysqladmin -u root password 'new-password'
/usr/bin/mysqladmin -u root -h localhost.localdomain password 'new-password'
See the manual for more instructions.
You can start the MySQL daemon with:
cd /usr ; /usr/bin/mysqld_safe &
You can test the MySQL daemon with mysql-test-run.pl
cd mysql-test ; perl mysql-test-run.pl
Please report any problems with the /usr/bin/mysqlbug script!
The latest information about MySQL is available on the web at
Support MySQL by buying support/licenses at http://shop.mysql.com
[ OK ]
Starting MySQL: [ OK ]
You should now be able to access cacti at http://localhost/cacti from the local computer or from any computer within your LAN network at http://your.internal.IP.address/cacti .
There should be a Cacti Installation Guide window that shows up, giving licensing info and the like. Click "Next".
Select "New Installation", since this is a new installation.
The next window to pop up should tell you whether Cacti could find the paths to all of the elements that Cacti needs to run, such as RRDtool, PHP, snmp stuff, etc. If everything but Cacti was installed via yum, you should be good here. Click "Finish" to save the settings and bring up the login window.
Below is a screenshot of the login window. The default user name is admin. The default password is admin. It should prompt an automatic password change for the admin account when you log in the first time.
If you successfully log in, I'd recommend taking a break here. Depending on how fast you are, your cron job may not have had enough time to run the poller program and create data for your graphs. I'd suggest taking a deep breath, or brewing a cup of tea (or coffee) for yourself.
The localhost machine should have some graph templates that are already created, but you can click the "Create Additional Devices" link to add graphs for any other machines on your network. I added my FreeNAS box (tutorial for that to follow).
After having consumed your beverage of choice, press the "Graphs" button. Cacti should have a graph showing you a couple minutes of data for the machines you have added. The longer your machine is on, the more informational the graphs will be. Also, if you click on a particular graph, Cacti will Congratulations! You're now monitoring!
View the Cacti documentation page for more information on how to take advantages of Cacti.
Below are some graphs that were made using Cacti.
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It´s a real story. My mom don´t like Linux, because think it´s ugly. She don´t know nothing about design, programing, user experience or high resolution things. She simply don´t like what she sees.
She likes to use Windows 7, because it´s look, not because it´s resources. And her opinion it´s so important, because the greater part of computer users are like her, not like the developers. And, to make a OS to be sucessfull, it´s in this kind of user the developers must to be focused.
It´s simple: you have to adapt your product to satisfy the greater number of people.
Knowing what people want
I don´t have all the answers, but I can tell one thing: The resolution of the monitors are getting greater and greater. The HD era is a reality and, if you can´t see that, you can´t create a satisfactory product. The fonts, the icons, and other little things in Gnome and KDE, aren´t good enough for the new monitors, for high resolutions.
When you develop a product, you need to watch, not only your competitors... But you need to know how the consumers will use your products. And make it, thinking in the non-specialists users.
Unless you´re making oil drilling equipments!