Tag Archives | Linux

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 x.org 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 (http://www.heidistrohl.com) 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 gnhlug.org 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.

openSUSE News » Thesis on openSUSE Published

openSUSE News » Thesis on openSUSE Published

A year’s research on Novell and the openSUSE project is now published as a master’s thesis at the University of Oslo. “Managing Firm-Sponsored Open Source Communities” details the collaboration between Novell and the openSUSE community. Community members and employees in Novell have participated in the study.

It’s cool seeing some serious study of how for-profit companies can work successfully with for-merit software development efforts like OpenSuse, Ubuntu or Fedora and make it a win-win situation for both. There’s a mercifully short executive summary for those who want the highlights, and the full 130+ page thesis available online.
(via LXer.com)

CentraLUG, 2-June-2008, Hopkinton, NH: Open Source Advocacy

The monthly meeting of CentraLUG, the Concord/Central NH GNHLUG chapter, happens the first Monday of most months. On June 2nd, we’ll be meeting at the Hopkinton Public Library from 7 PM to 9 PM. (Directions and maps here. [Edit: updated to current link 2014, too late for you to make the meeting, sorry.]) Open to the public. Free admission. Tell your friends. At this meeting, Mark Boyajian, Bill Sconce and other special guests will discuss “Open Source Advocacy.” I hope this spurs some discussions on how we can duplicate their success and avoid problems they can experienced.

About the presentation: Mark and Bill have been working with the Pepperell (MA) Lawrence Library to raise awareness of Open Source software solutions. They kicked-off this effort with a presentation last October in support of Software Freedom Day. The enthusiasm of library director Debra Spratt resulted in the Lawrence Library Tech Talk series: a monthly presentation on Open Source software and issues. Additionally, Debra has facilitated the creation of an Open Source information kiosk as well as a Linux-based computer in the reference library for use by the public!

The Tech Talk series formally launched in February and has consistently drawn a good audience. The kiosk and computer have been up and accessible since March. The experiences of working with this rich environment has surprised, challenged, and taught us many things we never expected. We are all working and adapting to better understand the [technical] needs and interests of the community and how the library can support them.

About Mark and Bill: Mark is an IT consultant (Simple Solutions) specializing in curriculum development and training, database development, and information management using Open Source solutions wherever possible. Mark “started life” as a music teacher, spent 20 years as an environmental field scientist specializing in wetlands and data management, and launched Simple Solutions as a full-time endeavor in 2001 built on Open Source solutions.

Bill Sconce is the proprietor of In-Spec, Inc., a Milford, NH-based consulting company. Bill is an activist with the Greater New Hampshire Linux Group, Secretary to the Board of Directors and coordinator of the Python Special Interest Group. He’s presented to most of the chapters and advocates for Open Source software at many other venues, including the McAuliffe and the NELS/FOSSEd conferences.

Future Meetings: Stay tuned for details on the upcoming bbq/picnic all-hands meeting in July, and for the location of the August meeting, still TBD. As always, meetings are subject to change. You are encouraged to join the low-traffic announcement list at http://mail.gnhlug.org/mailman/listinfo/gnhlug-announce to get announcement and cancellation information.

Meeting promotions: I’ve posted this meeting at lots of locations: FindEventsFast, Eventful, zVents, Upcoming, the GNHLUG announcement list, NHPR, the Concord Monitor. I’d be interested in hearing about where you learned of the event to better tune the meeting promotions.

Notes from CentraLUG, 5-May-2008, Ben Scott, The Linux Server That Could

Nineteen people made May 5th’s CentraLUG meeting the second best attended of any LUG meeting so far this year, and the most populous CentraLUG meeting in over two years!

The meeting starting with a rag-tag band of Linux enthusiasts wandering around the campus looking for a room to meet. It’s finals week at NHTI and we’d been bumped from our regular spot. From the Library to the Crocker building to the Little Building we moved as more and more and more attendees arrived and we outgrew our first and second choices of rooms. Thanks to all for patience and multiple moves, and apologies for any folks we lost along the way.

The hassle was worthwhile, as Ben put on a great presentation on “The Linux Server That Could: Setting up a Small Office Server.” Over the years, both as part of his work and his hobbies, Ben has set up many multi-purpose computer servers: a single machine to serve a small workgroup with mail, files, printing, centralized DNS, DHCP. Ben had some slides to introduce the concepts and frame the problems his scripts solves, and then he dove into how to set up and configure the services. Providing a running commentary while he showed us configuration files, he offered a number of Best Practices tips for configuring, naming your intranet ‘domain,’ how CentOS/Red Hat family distros work, the differences in different flavors of Linux distros, editing configuration files, viewing error logs and more. It was a content-filled hour!

Slides and sample scripts and configuration files can be found on the GNHLUG web site here. Thanks to Ben for a great presentation, to Bruce Dawson for last-minute projector duty, to Bill Sconce for helping with the raffle, to the NHTI staff for helping us find facilities, and to all who attended and participated!

Koolu hacking

Found a couple of good leads on setting up the Koolu as a MythTV front-end, through persistent searching in specific forums, like the Ubuntu support forums and the MythTV mailing lists. A couple quick clues:

1. Hit DEL on startup to get into the BIOS, use the BIOS options to expand the memory dedicated to the video card. Options are: 32M, 64 M, 128 M. Not sure how much of an effect it will have.

2. Hit Shift-F10 early in the startup (prompt only appears for a second) to disable the RealTek attempt to launch the machine from a network boot image via PXE. This saves 10 or 20 seconds on every boot.

3. The /etc/fstab had an entry for a swap partition, but the UUID was incorrect. Just reassigning the device to hda5 rather than the UUID was enough to get the swap to come up.

4. I’m convinced there’s a way to get a lot more performance from the video, but need to dig in more. The AMD LX800 driver should support buffering, just need to find the trick to turn it on.

5. There’s an error in the Xorg.0.log file that indicates the kernel doesn’t support MTRR and should be recompiled to do that.

MerriLUG Notes, 17-April-2008: Dan Walsh & SELinux

Eleven people attended the April meeting of MerriLUG, the Merrimack Valley chapter of the Greater New Hampshire Linux User Group. Heather called the meeting to order at 7:30 PM, noted the that attendees were pretty much The Usual Suspects, and dispensed with the long-winded announcements for new members. http://www.gnhlug.org will tell you all you want to know.

Dan Walsh was the main presenter tonight. Dan had a very special visit from the Demo Gods, just before he was to start. His hard drive decided that his boot partition wasn’t. Never heard of ext3. Ouch. Ever the good showman, he borrowed my laptop, downloaded his presentations from the web, and put on a great show.

Dan mentioned that he’d lost his previous laptop during his recent tour in Europe when it was stolen and that maintaining your home directory encrypted was a Good Idea.

Dan reviewed the history of SELinux and the iterations we saw in Fedora 3 though 8 and RHEL 3 through 5 and what to expect in 9. He talked about the evolution of the policies, the different feature sets available, how the SELinux architecture can meet the stringent requirements of DoD level organizations (with bullet points like: “RHEL5: MSP Policy: EAL4+, LSPP, RBAC” – who wouldn’t be impressed?) to the Significant Others at home who really just want a machine to use the browser on.

Dan showed off the new kiosk policy, xguest, which was essentially a minimal-permissions user (no setuid, no executables in the home directory, no installation abilities, etc.) extended to run FireFox. Perfect when someone wants to borrow your machine for a second! In the default settings (installable in F8 or 9 with sudo yum install xguest), it creates a fairly ‘safe’ user that can’t do a lot of harm and whose directories are temporary RAM-based and vanish when the user logs out. (You can modify it to keep a persistent home to store cookies and bookmarks.) Ideal for a library or public kiosk situations. Yes, the evil minded boys in the room could come up with some work-around exploits, but this is a promising start!

Thanks to Dan for a great presentation under trying circumstances, to Heather and Jim for managing and promoting the meetings, to Martha’s Exchange for providing the facilities, and to all who attended and participated.

UPDATE: Dan’s posted an article to Red Hat Magazine, “Confining the user with SELinux” that covers a lot of material in the presentation, with more detail than my notes and links for further study.

CentraLUG notes, 7-April-2008: Coleman Kane and FOSS development for Windows

Eight people attended the April meeting of the Central New Hampshire Linux User Group, held as usual at the New Hampshire Technical Institute Library, Room 146, on the first Monday of the month (see below, we’re evicted until fall).

Coleman Kane was the main presenter, showing us how the MinGW and GNU binutils packages could be used to create a cross-compiling environment to create Windows-compatible binaries on Linux (or actually, starting from BSD in Coleman’s case). He had a great slide deck and example source and was able to push through 55 slides in 75 minutes in a comprehensible fashion. The pace was fast and furious as he covered all of the highlights, took questions from the audience, edited and compiled code, and switched the projector between his BSD box and a Windows machine to show the code running. Whew! Well done and very informative!

CentraLUG’s meetings will be on the road for the summer. The library will be closed for evenings during finals week (!) and the summer hours have the library closing at 6 PM until fall semester begins. “See you in … October!” We’ll be announcing the location for upcoming meetings Real Soon Now. You’ll want to see Ben Scott’s May presentation on “The Linux Server That Could: Setting up a Small Office Server.”

Thanks to Colman for his great presentation, to Bill Sconce for providing the nice projector, to the NHTI for providing the facilities, and to all who attended for their attention and participation.

MerriLUG Notes, 20-March-2008

Nine people make it to Thursday’s MerriLUG meeting, held on the very last night of astronomical winter, in this case the third Thursday of March, at Martha’s Exchange in Nashua. As was announced, the meeting was unstructured, informal, social and general conversations. A good time was had by all.

Matt mentioned that he’d recently received the designation of Red Hat Certified Architect, currently the top-tier of RH certification, requiring quite a bit of studying and passing some difficult exams. Congratulations, Matt!

Heather talked about some of the issues with calendaring using Evolution and Mozilla Thunderbird/Lightning, and that lead to a general conversation on the disaster that mankind has made of time zones, daylight savings time, expensive telephone systems that can’t cope, countries that change their minds, and so forth.

Ben was heckled in person, as he showed up. He brought a recent Dell lightweight laptop which he obligingly took apart for us to examine the various peripherals. An attempt at installing 2 Gb of Live Ubuntu onto a 1 Gb memory stick was unsurprisingly unsuccessful. He’s also been trying to get a USB wireless widget to work with Ubuntu. Matt plugged it in and showed it would work with Fedora 8, but then Matt’s an RHCA :).

This lead to a discussion of Network Manager, its strengths and
weaknesses, new features coming soon.

Conversation roamed all over the placing, including:

  • Proper grounding of data center racks.
  • Sprinkler systems.
  • EPO (Emergency Power Off) switches.
  • 50 Hz equipment is not a bargain in 60 Hz countries.
  • Proper lacing of cables.
  • MythTV, HDHomeRuns, TiV0, podcasts
  • the upcoming spam conference at MIT

One fellow, whose name I did not catch (he mentioned he was not good with names; me, neither!) brought along an OLPC and we talked about its engineering genius quite a bit. We didn’t talk much about its retail disaster, thankfully. Beautiful machines!

Kenta and Kevin and Mike also attended and contributed and participated.

Thanks to all for coming and participating, to Jim for arranging and announcing the meeting, to Heather for running the group and to Martha’s for providing the food and beer and facilities. Next month, we hope to have a very exciting meeting, but it’s not yet ready for announcement. Stay tuned, as Heather gave us some hints last night and it sounds very worthwhile!

OLPC: How do we gauge success?

Larry Dignan asks, “OLPC: How do we gauge success? Will 490,000 units do?… So what’s success here? My take is Negroponte’s project is a success simply because it brought an issue to the forefront and got tech giants on board.”

I believe Negroponte’s goal was to put tools in the hands of children eager to learn to use them. Let’s hope that success continues; there’s a lot more need than the initial half-million OLPCs.

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