Archive | March, 2007

DLSLUG: April 5th: Todd Underwood: ZFS

Bill McGonigle announces the April meeting of the Dartmouth – Lake Sunapee Linux User Group. The main presentation will be “ZFS: The Last Word in Filesystems, ” presented by Todd Underwood, VP of Operations and Professional Services, Renesys Corporation. Here’s the pitch:

ZFS is the most original work in storage management in years. It offers a revolutionary, integrated approach to block device, raid, volume management and filesystem technology. We’ll take a high-level look at what makes ZFS so different from previous storage technologies and look at efforts to port ZFS to free operating systems (ZFS is available for FreeBSD and in a userland port to Linux, but the path will not be easy).

Todd has with more than 10 years experience in architecting, building, and supporting large-scale distributed systems. Before Renesys, Todd was senior vice president and chief technology officer at Oso Grande Technologies, the largest Internet service provider in New Mexico, where he was the lead consultant in the security practice. Before that, Todd was chief technology officer at Lightdart Managed Data Centers, a co-location and hosting start-up built in partnership with Public Service Company of New Mexico. As a graduate student, Todd led the effort studying high-speed networking for large-scale computer clusters at the University of New Mexico. Todd holds a B.A. from Columbia College, Columbia University and an M.S. in computer science from the University of New Mexico.

Looking forward to the meeting. Hope to see you there!

InfoWorld to cease print version, complete move to the Web

Steve Fox, Editor-in-Chief of InfoWorld, reports the demise of the print version of the magazine:

“Yes, the rumors are true. As of April 2, 2007, InfoWorld is discontinuing its print component. No more printing on dead trees, no more glossy covers, no more supporting the US Post Office in its rush to get thousands of inky copies on subscribers’ desks by Monday morning (or thereabouts). The issue that many of you will receive in your physical mailbox next week — vol. 29, issue 14 — will be the last one in InfoWorld’s storied 29-year history.”

I’ll miss the print version. As Steve said, bookmarking a web page just isn’t the same as dogearring the page of a article you want to return to.

PySIG, 22-March-2007: Project Night

An even dozen people showed up for the Python Special Interest Groups March meeting, held as usual at the Amoskeag Business Incubator in Manchester, NH.

Bill Sconce called us to order promptly at 7 PM and we proceeded through the printed agenda. It was duly noted the Ben Scott deserved heckling despite his absence. We ran through announcements of a couple of upcoming meetings, plugging the MythTV installfest beta and pointing out Jarod’s book. We mentioned meetings upcoming for the LUGs, including ZFS at DLSLUG, LVM at CentraLUG and the new Ruby group.

Kent’s Korner: Kent S. Johnson presented his month talk, this month on list comprehensions. Kent had a great handout, and has collected his past couple of handouts in one place. Starting with simple examples and building in complexity, Kent lead us through what can be an intimidating topic in a way most couple follow. Some great discussions, on-topic and off-, regarding assignment and Python idioms, always make this a fun part of the meeting.

There was some discussion of Python 3000 and its expected schedule. Bill Sconce had a video of Guido practicing his Py3K presentation in front of an audience at Google, which he went on to present at PyCon.

For the Gotcha of the month, Bill Freeman offered up an “Un-Gotcha:” a=b=4 works, but not for the reason you might think. Assignments of this style in C have a different underlying meaning, and perhaps in some circumstances, different side effects. A key to understanding the single = assignment in Python is to understand that it is a STATEMENT. There is no value associated with the statement and “chained” assignments in Python like the above are specially-coded as an exception case. This lead to yet another great discussion.

Ric Werme showed off the web pages that result from his Python software that collects and forwards weather data from his weather station. His current conditions page, has links to everything else. Ric bought the weather station in part to have an excuse to write more Python code, and his current code runs the gamut from implementing the weather station protocol through and the serial port to CGI scripts that take data requests, fetches the data from MySQL, creates gnuplot data files that create .gif files, and returns a HTML page to display the results. His description of the software is at .

Ric also demonstrated a Python cgi script for collecting data for a weather observers group that Todd Gross created while he was WHDH. It’s customizable, so people can create a form preloaded with their location that offer just the data they collect, and the submission code adds it to a MySQL database and recreates a web page of members reports over the previous day.

Shawn O’Shea showed off Python running in the Win32 and COM environments. Shawn does a lot of work administering and automating Windows configurations, and the COM set of interfaces can allow a lot of internal manipulation of the major applications, a big step up from the VBScripts supplied by Microsoft with some of the tools. Shawn demonstrated the canonical Hello, World with Microsoft Word, but then dug into a couple more concrete and practical examples with querying the Registry and spelunking in the IIS metabase.

Lots of interesting stuff coming up at future meetings: Martin Ledoux offered to show something on the work he’s done with amateur book-binding with pytut/pyref books. Kent has promised an update soon on his real-life experiences with Django. Ray Côté may be able to show off the new web site he used as an excuse to miss the meeting. And I’ll bet Bill will wheedle some more cookies from Janet.

Thanks to Bill Sconce for organizing, Alex Hewitt for getting the networking working, the Amoskeag Business Incubator for providing the great facilities, Janet for the awesome cookies, Kent for his great Korner, Bill Freeman for the csv module and those strange blinking white blocks, Ric Werme for demoing his weather projects, Shawn for the Win32-COM-Automation and everyone for attending and participating.

P.S. Anyone got python running on a WRT54G?

P.P.S. Tom Mosco mentioned to me that the Chicago Python group had a very long presentation on Django by the creators and also a Ruby on Rails presentation by its author. Videos can be found at here and here

CentraLUG, 2 April 2007: Bill Stearns on Logical Volume Management

The monthly meeting of CentraLUG, the Concord/Central New Hampshire chapter of the Greater New Hampshire Linux Users Group, occurs on the first Monday of each month on the New Hampshire Institute Campus starting at 7 PM.

This month, we’ll be meeting in our usual location, Room 146 of the Library/Learning Center/Bookstore, , marked as “I” on that map. Directions and maps are available on the NHTI site at and on the GNHLUG site at The
main meeting starts at 7 PM, with Bill Stearns presenting LVM: Logical Volume Management. Open to the public. Free admission. Tell your friends.

Bill is an authority in the field of security, an instructor for the SANS Institute and an activist in several anti-spam efforts. Visit
http://www.stearns,org for a list of some of the interesting projects he’s been working on and packages he maintains. At April’s meeting, Bill will explain the infrastructure of LVM and how to work with it. LVM is a great technology that allows you to add disk space to running systems, manage the mapping of logical and physical volumes and manipulate disk usage. With the correct choice of hardware and file systems, much of the work can be done while the systems continue to run! Bill has some practical insights into how these systems work, and can talk about some of the subtleties of why you might choose LVM-atop-RAID vs. RAID-atop-LVM. Attendees are encouraged to bring laptops: using temporary space (no need to repartition), Bill will use some loopback tricks to let you create some devices and manipulate the LVM commands – a great hands-on experience!

More details at about this meeting and the group are available at and as I learn them!

In future meetings, we are looking forward to Ben Scott demoing OpenWRT (May) and Seth Cohn showing off Drupal (June) – dates and times not yet confirmed and in flux, so stay tuned. Hope to see you there!

Notes from MerriLUG, 15-March-2007, Matt Brodeur on PGP/GPG Encryption and key-signing

Nineteen attendees participated in the March meeting of the Merrimack Valley Linux User Group, MerriLUG, held as usual on the third Thursday of the month at Martha’s Exchange in Nashua, NH.

Matt Brodeur gave a presentation on GNU Privacy Guard, GPG, the Free/Open Source implementation of the Pretty Good Privacy algorithms and protocols. Matt pushed the presentation pretty quickly, as he wanted to ensure we had time for the keysigning, as well. Matt’s presentation is available from his website and that link, in turn is on the GNHLUG Wiki along with the announcements and instructions.

Following the presentation, Matt and Heather Brodeur organized the key-signing. Nearly a dozen of us had prepared and registered our PGP certificates in advance, and we read out-loud our identifying information, practicing our phonetic alphabet and confirming that I should have brought my reading glasses. Following that phase, we lined up in two queues and exchanged identification to confirm we had IDs that matched our names on the certificates. Heather was the caller for this slow-motion folk dance and kept us on task despite our urge to chat and socialize. An odd number of attendees and one additional volunteer made the sequence interesting, and we completed successfully.

Overall, I think the keysigning went quite well, by the number of signed keys I’ve received in the last week. I suspect we’ll have some feedback for Matt, too, on whether there might be some way we could make the follow-up key exchange easier. This was a lot of work, and I want to express my personal thanks to Matt and Heather for all the work. Thanks too, for all who attended and participated and asked questions, and thanks to Martha’s for providing the facilities.

FireFox gets a new update; FF 1.5 run nearly over news reports “Firefox and Firefox Security and Stability Update”

“As part of Mozilla Corporations ongoing stability and security update process, Firefox and Firefox are now available for Windows, Mac, and Linux for free download from… Due to the security fixes, we strongly recommend that all Firefox users upgrade to these latest releases… Note: Firefox 1.5.0.x will be maintained with security and stability updates until April 24, 2007. All users are encouraged to upgrade to Firefox 2. Firefox is available for download from”

So, there’s only about 5 weeks left of FF 1.5 support. Get testing your apps under 2.x. And get patching for the latest releases!

MonadLUG notes, 8-Mar-2007: tac and “Pitch Your Distro”

The second Thursday of the month is the usual meeting of the Monadnock Area Linux User Group, MonadLUG, at the SAU #1 offices on Hancock Road in Peterborough. This month, Ray Côté ran a discussion on “Pitch Your Distro” and Bill Sconce took on the “Man Page of the Month” on the command tac.

You won’t think you could make much of a presentation on tac, but that would be underestimating Bill Sconce 😉 Here’s the short form: tac is cat backwards. Longer form: tac lets concatenates files, but reverses the line ordering of the result, so you get last line first. There are only a couple switches, -s to specify a separator other than newline and -r to use a regex separator. Using this simple tool, Bill was able to present a wicked example that reversed not only line order by character order, and lead to a discussion about the use of regular expressions, piping, precedence, quoting and backticks. A good time was had by all.

The main discussion was a let’s-go-around-the-room discussion of what distros are in use and why and for what. With nine people present (and one of them a non-combatant), how many distros would you expect? We heard about: Debian, Slackware, OpenBSD, OS X, Fedora, RedHat, CentOS, SuSE, Mandrake, Ubuntu, Xubuntu, more RedHat, Knoppix, Gentoo, Libranet and some Knoppix war stories. Many aspects of the different distros were discussed: cost, support, lifespan, the difficulties of sound cards, and more.

Many thanks to Ray for running the meeting, Bill for tac and bringing a projector, and all for participating.

Next month’s meeting (April 12th) will have Seth Cohn presenting Drupal. Hope to see you there!

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