Archive | June, 2008

OpenDisc 08.07 released!

Chris Gray posts: “We’re pleased to release 08.07, the latest version of OpenDisc, with no less than twenty five updates, including Firefox 3 and the latest milestone versions of, FileZilla, Seamonkey and many more.” Grab the .iso or join the torrent at

The Open Disc has been a huge benefit in getting clients to see the power of Open Source. On a single disc they can install on all of their Windows machines, share with their friends, make a copy to take home, and it includes a complete office package ( 2.4), a PDF driver (PDFCreator), diagramming tools (dia, InksScape), desktop publishing software (Scribus) and lots more. It’s a bargain at twice the price!

Catching up…

It’s been busy, busy month, and blogging was one of many things put off. Now, it’s time to start catching up.

I had an awesome month of June. Working on my main client project, we released yet another update on 12 June. After that, I took two weeks “off” — at least away from billing — to do some professional upkeep.

I spent a few days studying and then took the two MySQL 5.0 Developer certification exams on Tuesday the 17th. I went to the Blended Solutions facility in the Mall of New Hampshire, adjoining the PSNH building on Elm Street in Manchester, NH, and took the two exams, back-to-back. The first exam was the simpler of the two. Reviewing all the questions a couple times, I was still done in under an hour. The second exam, though, was a bear! The material was the more advanced stuff, some of the questions were trickier, some of the topics were material I had only book knowledge on. I marked a bunch of questions for review, went back and filled in all the answers, reviewed and debated and over-thought a bunch of questions and then, with three minutes left, decided any answers I changed in a panic were more likely wrong than right, and stopped. I passed both exams with acceptable scores, but nothing I’d brag about. “What do they call the man who graduates at the bottom of his class in med school?” “Doctor.” So, I’m pleased to have the opportunity to establish my level of knowledge, flag a couple of areas I need to learn more about, earn a logo I can display as part of my marketing and gain a listing as a MySQL Enterprise Ready Partner.

Wednesday the 18th of June was the first day of the Red Hat Summit in Boston. I attended all three days, commuting from Contoocook to the Anderson Rail Center in Wilmington and taking public transportation from there. While it made for a lot of hours on the road, the savings over staying in town were significant (total parking and rail for the week: $84 for 6 days), and sleeping at home in my own bed very much appreciated. The Red Hat Summit was a fascinating event. I wasn’t that familiar with the corporate structure or the market focus of Red Hat and I got much better insights into who they are and what they do. Here’s a slew of links on what went on, Red Hat announcements, and links to presentations.

Parallel to the Red Hat Summit was the Fedora Users and Developers Conference, FUDCon10 for short, that shared the Hynes Auditorium facilities on Thursday and Friday, and met at the Photonics Center at Boston University on Saturday. Even though many Fedora participants are Red Hat employees, the tone and structures of the groups are dissimilar. I missed a lot of the last-minute organizational notes the FUDCon’ners put together to organize their HackFest, so I tended to attend the Red Hat sessions instead. In the future, I’m more likely to put more effort into the HackFest side of things. Saturday was a BarCamp, a one-day self-organized conference. As I noted at last year’s conference, the means of pitching sessions, voting, scheduling and running the show are put together on the fly, and the results are startlingly good. Having pretty much had my brain filled of tech at the Red Hat Summit, I chose instead to focus more on process sessions, and learned about bug triaging, web site usability issues, and Fedora structure. A great use of a day, and a great chance to attach faces to the name and shake a few hands.

Sunday was a day of rest for me, and a day of washing laundry for Laura. Thank you!

Monday found me back on the Commuter Rail, this time attending An Event Apart just across the street from the Prudential Center where the Summit had been. Two long days of sessions were focused on the web, primarily design and usability, very different aspects from the two previous conferences. Like the Red Hat Summit, this conference was a little outside my comfort zone, in this case, designers rather than developers. Jeffrey Zeldman puts on an incredible show; facilities were superb, speakers knowledgeable, swag cool. Eric Meyer is the authority in the field of CSS, and it was his sessions I got the most practical tools from, but all of the sessions were well-presented, informative and thought-provoking. Jared Spool of User Interface Engineering had a very funny and very insightful session on analyzing clickstreams for success that will have me restructuring some of my client’s web sites. All of the speakers had great observations on the state of the art and future directions. Great stuff! Several other people took great notes I can share with you.

Arriving back to work on Wednesday, there was no time to decompress; a day of meetings lead to a couple frantic days of shipping yet another release and picking up another couple of projects. Thirty billable hours later, my super-contractor did a high-five tag-team tag and was off on his own adventures, while I took over sheparding a release out the door on Friday with some new features, new team members, new procedures and new prototcols. Whew!

It’s been an exhausting three weeks, but an exhilarating time, too. Hope to blog more details as I catch up on all the other projects.

DLSLUG Notes, 5-June-2008: Bill Stearns, FUSE filesystems

Twenty-two people attended the June meeting of the Dartmouth-Lake Sunapee Linux User Group held as usual on the first Thursday of the month. We were fortunate once again to get room 041 in the lower-level of Haldeman, with power and ethernet jacks at each seat.

As seems required at each LUG meeting, persuading the projector to show X is always a challenge. Bill Stearns is a big believer in the “power on the projector first, then the laptop connected to the projector” theory, which I also like. Today, though, 800 x 600 was the best he could do, even with this work-around. There’s a good Summer of Code project in there somewhere, if not a PhD thesis. Video negotiations between machine and display start with bootup and BIOS code and run through X configuration and ends with xrandr or direct tweaking. (Update: I saw a new applet in the “What’s New in Nine” session at FUDCon where the configuration of video on the fly was a lot easier! Looking forward to trying it out!)

Bill McGonigle also recorded the audio from the event. Keep an eye out for an announcement on when the recording might be available. (With gas prices climbing, I’ll be attending more meetings virtually via podcast. Someone ought to do a meeting on… 🙂

Bill Stearn’s presentation was on FUSE filesystems, additional file systems over and above what’s needed to start your system. There are infinite possibilities on what you might want loaded as a block device and manipulated with the tools that know how to work with a filesystem: a compressed archive, a remote music source, a database, an encrypted volume, etc., and there’s a good chance someone’s already started writing a FUSE driver for it. The list of drivers under development is pretty impressive and some of them fairly innovative.

Bill started with a couple of slides to establish the basic terminology and to walk through the basic commands of setting up a couple of the FUSE filesystems. Soon abandoning the slideshow, Bill hopped into a shell and actually performed the operations, showing how an encrypted filesystem might work, how archives could be read as files (or grepped or wc’d or…) and how gluster, a cluster file system capable of managing petabytes, could be used. There was a lot of audience participation and “Yeah, but what if…” questions and a good time was had by all.

Roger Trussel is scheduled to present jUnit at the July meeting.

Thanks to Bill Stearns for his great presentation and handouts, Bill McGonigle for organizing, promoting and herding cats at the meeting, to Heidi Strohl ( for providing the refreshments (awesome cookies!) and to all for attending and participating.

Notes from CentraLUG, 2-June-2008: Mark Boyajian, Open Source Advocacy

Twelve folks attended the June meeting of the Central New Hampshire Linux User Group, held as usual on the first Monday of the month, but at the summer venue of the Hopkinton Public Library. Attendance was a delightful mix of regulars and new visitors.

As the crowd had some new members, I spent some time introducing the GNHLUG and its many chapters, its purpose and that upcoming events (there are many!) can be found on the web site. We had a round of announcements and introductions and got into the main presentation.

Mark Boyajian has been working with Bill Sconce to demonstrate and encourage the use of Open Source software at the Lawrence Library in Pepperell, MA, strongly encouraged by the Library Director Debra Spratt. Deb has been instrumental in getting equipment set up, encouraging them to establish an information kiosk where they could feature news and posters about Open Source, as well as setting up an older machine with Linux. Mark brought along some pictures to show their setup and talked about the good reception they’ve got from attendees and the interest generated. Mark had some success stories to share and some interesting stories of the misconceptions he tried to address.

Thanks to Mark for the presentation, to Bill Sconce for providing the projector, to the Hopkinton Public Library for use of the facilities, and to all for their attendance and participation.

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This work by Ted Roche is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States.