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GLIBC Fork

I recently read about Debian changing from the GNU C Library (GLIBC) library to the new Embedded GLIBC (EGLIBC) library. This may be the beginning of a sweeping change similar to the GCC vs. EGCS or XFree86 vs. Xorg changes in the past.

The source of the change is the controversial  nature of the lead maintainer, but the story is as old as FOSS itself. The ability to fork a project exists to protect the users of software from having their rights hijacked by the developers. This is one of the most important advantages of FOSS over most other development philosophies. The user should never have to beg for bugs to be fixed, especially when there are large groups of users doing the begging.

 I do wonder how Red Hat will handle this. I know that Red Hat is still considered the most commercially viable Linux, but one of their employee (or at least someone with a redhat.com email address) has created enough problems that a large, generally conservative and GNU-friendly  project like Debian is willing to risk a fork of a core GNU library.

 

What do i need as an admin to run Linux in an enterprise setting?

I have played with Linux for a very long time now. I think it was about 1996 i started using it fulltime as my home desktop. 2001 i got a job as an admin managing about 400 users on 70 old desktops against various Linux servers.

Now i manage about 600 computers and 1400 users with mostly Linux on the backend and windows on the desktops. This is my wishlist as and admin after having worked with K12ltsp, SUSE, RedHat, Ubuntu desktops, servers and Windows.

 This is my personal wishlist:

 Profil/policy handling in Linux is really pretty straight forward. What i feel a lack for is more work on Sabayon which from my viewpoint is much better than anything else on the market right now.  Simpler use of Sabayon and more work on getting it setup correctly for getting profiles from a remote server would make policy handling in Linux much easier than in other OS. 

A better simpler way of sharing files between a linux server and a linux client.  Right now all work seems to be on making it easier to connect to a Windows world and nothing at all in making it easier to use Linux.  This is a big drawback that makes it much less interesting running Linux desktops. 

 More work on integrating those stuff with LDAP would go miles for making a Linux desktop very compelling in a bigger network. 

Alltogether i feel most companies concentrate on managing Windows boxes from Linux  instead of making the combination of Linux servers and desktops compelling.  I think thats a big mistake of both RedHat and Novell. Admins like me already have a really tight schedule but often pretty good influence on the spending budget. If im a pure Windows admin and my boss asks me to trial Linux on the desktop i will go bonkers from trying to setup NFS, LDAP, /etc/skel and whatnot. I can make this happen by myself but im very sure most admins cant and dont want to either.

Some commercial products exists but the ones i have tried has been buggy or only supports one single Linux distribution etc.

 Dont know if i make any sense whatsoever here but there you got it. Its a pretty short list compared to the one i have for the Windows boxes i manage, that list is a mile long.

 

 

Gary McKinnon

Well actually he's not that old, 43 to be precise, but he is in a very poor situation currently. Here's a little background info. Gary hacked into the US governments computers in April 2001, including the US Navy, Army, Air Force, Department of Defence, and NASA. He wasn't caught until September 2001, after the 9/11 incident when the computers went down causing the government to suspect a terrorist attack. Gary even went so far as to write on one of the PC's:

US foreign policy is akin to government-sponsored terrorism these days... It was not a mistake that there was a huge security stand-down on September 11 last year... I am SOLO. I will continue to disrupt at the highest levels.

Now he is facing a possible 70 years in US prison. He has the support of 80 MP's, as well as musicians such as David Gilmour (Pink Floyd), The Rolling Stones, U2 and David Bowie all vouching for him not to be extradited to the US. The US claims he cost them approximately $700 000(474 000GBP, 836 000CDN) to find the culprit. Now that you have the background of this...

 

In my honest opinion, I think that Gary should be charged, however not in the way the US wants. Should he be tried by the US? Yes, but it should be in the UK, where the crime was commited and his homeland. There's no way the US would extradite one of their own to Japan if Japan layed chargeson an American. So, what do you think. Should he be extradited? Charged in the UK? All charges dropped?

 

What does "Unstable" mean?

Quite often distros, kernels, drivers and applications are defined as "unstable". Yet, in most cases when using technology tagged as "unstable"  it works fine and with no reason for concern whatsoever.

3 basic reasons for the use of "unstable"?

  • It's indeed not yet suitable for production environments
  • It's a label used by the project to idemnify themselves
  • It's used to demote the value and importance of a project
What's the definition of "unstable"?
  • Meltdown and complete reinstallation of your system?
  • Loosing everything on your system (Aka "eats your hamster)?
  • X crashes and you have to restart?
  • Unable to log in using X and GUI/DE?
  • The Desktop Environment freezes?
  • Application crashes and you loose unsaved work/settings?

 Are there "unstable" mainstream distros?

 The mainstream and widely used distros have different focuses. Fedora expresses themselves as experimental, Ubuntu are for everyone, Debian is rock solid and Arch are first with the latest. 

Arch 2.6.29:

At present I'm mainly using Arch with Kernel 2.6.29.x, Ext4, Xorg 1.6, Nvidia 180.44, KDE 4.2.2 (built for Qt 4.4.x and compiled with Qt 4.5) with Qt 4.5.1.  I've just added Qt Creator 1.1.

I would believe it's fair to state that this is a rather "early adaptor" setup. Yet I do not have trouble with it. It doesn't eat my hamster, X doesn't crash, it's fast, lean and runs well.

I have one issue though:

Not all plasmoid that are developed for KDE 4.1 and Qt 4.4.x.works fine with the KDE 4.2.2 / Qt 4.5 and Qt 4.5.1 combo. Does that mean "unstable"? I don't think so. It's simply me - using packages that are labeled experimental and testing. I just have to be a bit more careful when selecting plasmoids, that's all. But "unstable"? Don't think so...

 Kubuntu 9.04:

 It runs indeed well. No issues has been experienced so far.

OpenSuse 11 and 11.1:

I installed those and used them extensivly from day 1, without having any difficulties.

Gnome 2.26:

Used it with Ubuntu 9.04 beta without any difficulties.

KDE 4.x

Used it as main DE since  4.0.85 (KDE 4.1 Alpha/Beta). No trouble since KDE 4.0.9x.

Where are the unstable distros and desktop environments?

My experience is that the term "unstable" is somewhat abused within the context of "desktop distros". Debian, CentOS desktop and SLES 10/11 must indeed be very very good to be classified as more stable than a standard setup of a standard, mainstream distribution.

That's my opinion anyway ;)

 

Doing something useful for someone else.

Im no coder by any means possible and that nags me from time to time. In my work as a system admin i often get tremendous help from various open source tools and applications. I have tried to go into some ptojects and start coding but i frankly just dont got the nack for it no matter how hard i try. My brain just isnt wired the right way for the type of logic involved in coding.

 But, that doesnt mean i cant help or that other users cant even if they are terrible at coding. There are numerous projects that can benefit greatly from non-programmers help. Graphics, layout, testing, triaging and much more are things we users can help out with. 

 I have found my thing now, translating. Even if its pretty tedius, boring and repetitive i still find it challenging. Best of all for me is if someone have use from my work because if someone can have use from one of my hobbies i do for fun, then its a double reward.

 

Thoughts on the Linux.com beta site

Well, things look to be shaping up quite nicely around here. Good articles (such as Brian Proffitt's Linux is Everywhere), slick design, and decent member services (like this blog).

The DistributionsCentral section, though, could be better. The news and blog feeds are good for those of us who already know about the distribution scene, but there's not much there for someone who is just coming into the world of Linux and wants to know what distro to use. My solution: let's find out what distributions the members of Linux.com use, and why, and include this info on the entries in the distro listing. I've put this idea up on ideaforge here.

Similarly, the directory is a good idea but it reminds me a little too much of the old web directories that you used to see before google came along: lots of categories and items, but few cues to let you make sense of it all. Let's make this thing more social, say something along the lines of the idea proposed by voxel.

 

Closed-door design vs. the open-source ecosystem

A while back, my father (knowing I'm interested in these things) sent me a link to this article, in which the author supplies a critique of the windows 7 user interface. Here's my response, which I thought I'd share:

Good article, the author raises some interesting points. I definitely agree with him where he says that interface design seems to be stuck in the '80s. One thing I disagree with, though, is his optimism about Microsoft's ability to resolve these issues.

The problem is, you have a small group of 'specialists' trying to guess what people want, and come up with a single solution that is good for all -- power users and casual users, and perhaps more importantly, those who have invested a lot of time learning the old ways of doing things and those who are willing to experiment with new (and hopefully better) approaches.

Of course, the solution to this would be to have a selection of different interfaces designed for different types of user, but I don't see Microsoft adopting this approach anytime soon. On the other hand, this is exactly how the Linux world works, and is actually one of the main reasons I'm into Linux. For a start, you have the two main desktop environments, KDE and GNOME, both of which offer fairly conventional user interfaces, but tailored for slightly different sets of users. Then there are some less common environments, like Mezzo and Etoile, which have their own ideas about the user interface.

The great thing about this system is that it works on the 'survival of the fittest' principle -- the success of a given project depends on how well they serve the purposes of their users. If too many projects exist in a given niche, the weaker ones will die out, and if there is a niche that is not being addressed, projects will spring up to fill it. In fact, this applies across all applications in the free/open source world, not just desktop environments (remember how Firefox supplanted the Mozilla suite?).

 

Ubuntu 9.04 -- "Jaunty Jackalope" Review

Well, currently I just installed Jaunty, and it seems to be okay. I'll start off with the installation.

It was rather straightforward. I used the install option rather than booting to the LiveCD desktop. First thing you'll notice is the installer is full screen. As well, they also fixed the partitioner. It now shows the disk properly, and the more partitions you make it works correctly, rather than going off screen. I chose Ext4 as the default FS, and it's okay, but more on that. It took a grand total of 15 minutes to install, the fastest I've ever seen it yet.

The first boot was fast, as are all the subsequent boots. My 1.6Ghz, 512Mb Ram craptop boots in 30 seconds flat now. The login screen is very nice too, revamped and more modern.

I started by moving my backups onto my drive -- 115GB of video, music, and games. It worked fine. I installed a list of applications that I find standard -- mplayer, smplayer, gcc, build-essential, and of course, armagetron. They plus 300+ other MB of download files installed correctly.

The menus are snappier, gnome notification is much more professional, and everything is generally more responsive. After I added all the repos and did 'sudo apt-get update', then ran hardware drivers, it picked up my broadcom just fine. Everything just works.

However, there is a problem. Ext4. Don't install this if you want a stable computer. Removing things to your trash is safe, but don't be doing anything essential if you're emptying it. Deleting files can hard-lock your pc. Even "<ctl><alt>REISUB" doesn't work. It requires a hard boot. Stick with Ext3, but if you were unlucky enough to install 4, there will be a patch in about a month, so it's not forever.

The update manager went through some changes. Only once a week it will notify you about an update for files, and it will notify you immediatly if it's security related. However, if you close it when it's security related, it comes back right away -- very annoying. This is changeable, but I haven't gotten around to it.

 Overall, besides Ext4 and the UpdateManager, I haven't many complaints about 9.04. Installs quick, apps just work, and everything seems to be nice and dandy. I recommend it to anyone. Good job Canonical.

 

Apple & Linux

Not a lot is really ever said about Apple and Linux. Sure, and I heartily agree, Apple stole from BSD to make a profit (Maybe now they'll change their licensing scheme?), but that in the end helps Linux users. There are some pros and cons to this though. I'll start with the pros.

First off, if Apple does succede Microsoft as number one dog in the computing industry, making ports for applications should be easy. There will be little excuse not to provide a Linux build, as directories are layed out similarily enough, along with having similar applications, all available to each other. Also, if people get used to the Mac filesystem layout, it will be easier for those who come from the Windows layout to see how the filesystem works. But there are more cons I suppose than pros.

 Well, judging Apple simply by their current marketing scheme, it's easy to see that they'd not be a kind competitor. Lockouts would be most definate, and most PC marketers would be out out business, as Apple refuses to let anyone else make hardware other than them. So, this would mean you'd be forced to use Mac hardware, and it would no doubt you uncommon features to make it difficult to install anything but OSX on.

Overall though, I think it would do the Linux community good it Apple only had 30% of the market share. This would give developers excuse to make things for Mac's, and when it's made for a Mac, it's easy to build for Linux. This would allow the Linux market share to grown, and  it would then have it's own set of developers wanting to produce. 

 

Microsoft's New Approach To Security - An Interview With Douglas Leland

In a recent interview with Douglas Leland, general manager of Microsoft Corp.'s Identity and Security Business Group, we are told that MS is concerned about both the security and the price of IT costs.

To me, security officers and IT leaders are the unsung heroes in their organization. They accomplish amazing things by integrating multiple solutions and securing their environments. But vendors generally haven't done enough to make this easier. Tight budgets in the current economic environment exacerbate this tension, though security remains a top area of investment. Forrester predicts that companies will devote 12.6 percent of IT budgets to security in 2009, up from 7.2 percent in 2007.*

Indeed, I will agree about the IT leaders being the unsung heroes in organizations. He is also correct, that vendors do sell their software, not for cheap. But on the other hand, Microsoft doesn't sell theirs cheap either do they?

Security managers are telling us they want to be more responsive to the needs of their business. They want the solutions and guidance to protect their organizations and manage compliance, but also to empower their information workers. Perhaps most important, they want to make the most of their current IT investments and the infrastructure they have today. All of this signals the need for a shift to what we think of as "Business Ready Security."

Companies do want to make the most of their current IT investments, but how many of them really want to have to pay fees in order to be up to date with the software that is available. While it may cost a little (or lots) to move to OSS, it's worth it in the end as licensing becomes a non-issue, and updates are free.

For example, today we are introducing Forefront Online Security for Exchange, a Microsoft Online Service, which protects e-mail from spam and malware. This is the first of our Forefront Online services to complement our software-based Forefront offerings. Note that we have expanded the Forefront brand to cover our portfolio of identity and security solutions. For example, our Identity Lifecycle Manager product is now officially named Forefront Identity Manager. We see the Forefront brand as synonymous with Business Ready Security.

Another important solution in this area is Microsoft code-named "Geneva," a new set of technologies that make it dramatically easier for customers to build security-enhanced access into software and hosted services.

Well, this one's easy. With a switch to Gmail, most spam will also become not an issue. No need to pay more fees yet to keep your email accounts clean. As for project "Geneva", would it not just be easier to use Linux, as the security is pretty good to begin with. Not to mention how much it costs to use this technology, and how restrictive the licenses are going to be in how you may use the software and distribute the end result.

Three, we want to help customers extend security across the entirety of their enterprises. That means continuing to build security features into Windows and our IT software solutions. It also means interoperating with non-Windows environments through partnerships and open standards.

Security will always be an issue for an Microsoft. They designed Windows from the ground up as a one man, no internet OS. The multiple users running as admin and having internet capabilities tacked on will always result in security issues for them. And as for their partnership with open standards, we know that they aren't friendly when it suits them best.

Well, you can read the rest of the interview at this page, as it is just Leland claiming that it's cheaper to use MS products, and he gives a couple examples of companies using MS technology where security and price counts.

 

Drifting past Microsoft, EU and Linux

Just read the report from ECIS (European Community for Interoperable Systems) which I found through Groklaw. The report adresses the Microsoft history of anticompetitive behaviour throughout IThistory and it's indeed intriguing.

I believe Groklaw does a better job than me in making the points - it just confirms my standing conserning Microsoft.

Openly admitting that I'm occationally reads "Boycott Novell" one could argue that I'm somewhat biased. The fun is that the credit for making me a 100% Linuxuser must be granted to Microsoft. I do quite a bit of filtering before accepting "Boycott Novell" material as solid.

 Trouble is, that whenever I find something that attracts my attention, I'm more often than not in line. Often it matches information obtained elsewhere, and the pieces matches holes in the puzzle I try to solve.

 I'm increasingly concerned about Mono and the .net implications, and after a coupple of discussions arising out of the C++ version of Tomboy - Gnote, I'm a bit concerned about the Novell influence over Gnome  as well. Somehow my thoughts regarding Mono and the Gnome 3.0 projects are not positive. At all. 

 I suspect (and the rumors are) that Microsoft will drop the forthcoming Windows7 trial version into the wild just after the release of Ubuntu 9.04.

Strategicly smart, but what everybody are adressing at the moment is the 3 application limit on Windows 7 for NetBooks. I do not believe it's a market strategy. More likely it's due to the demanding Vista 6.1 kernel. It doesn't seem to have changed much, and the applications are as demanding as ever. So Windows 7 will probably run smoothly on NetBooks - if you don't do anything that is.......

 

 
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