Tag Archives | MonadLUG

Notes from MonadLUG, 9-July-2009, Charlie Farinella and OpenBSD

Seven people made it to the July meeting of the Monadnock Linux User Group, MonadLUG, held as usual on the second Thursday of the month at the SAU #1 offices in Peterborough. (Note that there will be no August meeting.) MonadLUG is one of the many chapters of the Greater New Hampshire Linux User Group; keep an eye on that web site (and the mailing lists linked off that page) for announcements and upcoming meetings.

Charlie talked about his job and the many uses they have for some legacy machines (older PowerPC Macs, Pentium-150 boxes) that could be useful as single-task machines running mail server, router, firewall or other similar tasks. CentOS or other modern distros are too complex and demand too many resources, especially for older machines or VMs within a machine. OpenBSD has low resource requirements, a strong reputation for security and ‘correctness,’ ease of use and configuration. He showed a couple of virtual machines (VMs) running inside of VirtualBox on his ArchLinux ThinkPad. Charlie walked us through a basic installation, using an .iso of OpenBSD that appears as a CD to a new VM. He talked about network configuration, package management, ports, pf configuration, runlevels, service configuration and more. There were slides; I’ll post a URL if Charlie’s willing to send them along. OpenBSD looks like an ideal, minimal OS for a dedicated-function machine.

Finishing a little early, Charlie talked about his company’s move to Zimbra and the kinds of collaboration they plan to do with it. Audience participation about other competing packages like eGroupware and LifeRay was quite interesting. A replacement for Exchange and/or Sharepoint is needed in a lot of companies, and this seems to be a popular FAQ.

Note there is no August meeting, as MonadLUG takes a summer break.

September 10th will have the MondaLUG host a presentation by Patrick Galbraith. Pat blew us away with his first presentation on MySQL. This is a not-to-be-missed meeting for anyone using MySQL.

Thanks to Charlie for the great presentation and to Ken and the SAU for the fine facilities.


Notes from MonadLUG, 14-May-2009, Tim Wessels and Kablink

Five people attended the May meeting of the Monadnock Linux User Group. Thanks to Charlie for scrambling at the last minute to secure the Peterborough Town Library for the meeting, as our regular venue was unavailable. Charlie made the iniital announcements – Ed Lawson presents Scribus in June, Charlie will show OpenBSD in July, no August meeting, and Patrick Galbraith returns for another (not-to-be-missed) meeting on MySQL in September.

Tim Wessels did the main presentation of the evening. Kablink is the Open Source version of Novell’s Teaming product, bought from SiteScape, Inc., a company that started in Clock Tower Place in Maynard, MA. The Open Source version had been known as ICECore previously. Source code can be downloaded from http://www.kablink.org and sourceforge. Tim discussed some of the history of the project, where and how it is being used, possible ways to configure it for workgroup and corporate enterprise use. and reviewed some of the challenges and tricks to installation and configuration. If you’re looking for an Open Source competitor to Microsoft’s Sharepoint, with the ability to create portals, finely-control roles and access, and scale to thousands of documents, Kablink is worth investigating.

Thanks to Tim for the presentation, Charlie for running the meeting, and all for attending!


Tonight, MonadLUG (new location): Tim Wessels, Kablink

If it’s Thursday, it’s LUG-Day. Tonight: Tim Wessels demos Kablink open collaboration at MonadLUG: http://mail.gnhlug.org/pipermail/gnhlug-announce/2009-May/000709.html – note unusual location.

Kablink looks promising: a synchronizing folder feature, document management, and conferencing software. It appears to be (or have been) the Open Source version of Novell’s SiteScape, at least a portion of which came from the 2008 acquisition of SiteScape, Inc., a company that traces its roots back to Clock Tower Place in Maynard, Massachusetts and the Alta Vista folks.

Looking forward to the presentation!


Notes from MonadLUG, 9-Oct-2008: Patrick Galbraith, MySQL Replication

Twelve attendees made it to the monthly meeting of the Monadnock Region Linux User Group, MonadLUG, at the SAU #1 offices in Peterborough. Our host, Ken, did a great job of finding us an alternate conference room within the building when another group bumped us from our usual spot.

Charlie Farinella called the meeting to order at 7 PM and we had a round of announcements and introductions. There were several new members as well as a few who hadn’t been seen in a while. Charlie announce that Philip Sbrogna had stepped forward to help Charlie run the meetings. Welcome aboard, Philip, and good wishes!

Our main presentation was from Patrick Galbraith. Patrick maintains a web site at http://patg.net , blogs at http://capttofu.livejournal.com/, is currently employed as a Principal Engineer at Lycos, Inc., and has some great stories to tell from past employment with Grazr, MySQL, VA/Linux, OSDN, Slashdot and others. He’s involved with a number of Open Source projects, including as maintainer of DBD::mysqld and libmemcached and others.

Patrick started with slides from a presentation he recently gave at the O’Reilly MySQL 2008 Conference, to establish some basic definitions and terms. He discussed the various models of replication and the pros and cons of each, comparing replication to clustering. He highlighted the files and scripts which needed to be invoked for replication, and the means of running multiple instances of MySQL on a single machine.

Patrick then switched to a terminal window and we began reviewing the configurations of the MySQL instances on his machine. Using a sample database, he established a master-master-slave configuration. Due to the fact that his machine is in constant use as part of his job (and a book he is writing!), the databases were in an inconsistent state. This, imo, is the best part of the meeting, seeing a practitioner use his tools to troubleshoot a system, diagnose the state, and use sometimes obscure commands to return it to a consistent state. Patrick ran a non-stop commentary while debugging his three instances and pointing out metrics of interest and the significance of various debugging commands. When completed, he inserted records into each master and showed how they appeared correctly in each slave and showed off the binary logs used to make the transactions. Excellent illustrations of replication!

There were lots of related discussions and side conversations, too. An intriguing thread involved “blackhole” data storage engines, where the data actually never is written to disk, but the engine exists purely for posting log entries, which can then be replicated. Wow.

Patrick also took a few minutes to tell us about Sphinx, an independent project thats created an extremely fast and powerful full-text search data engine that’s compatible with MySQL. Very impressive. Patrick also mentioned (and customer Philip endorsed) his wireless ISP business, but I missed the name.

Thanks to Patrick for a great presentation, to Charlie and Philip for running the meeting, to Ken and the SAU#1 for the facilities and last minute Mac video cables and to all members for attending and participating!


Notes from MonadLUG: David Berube, Ruby on Rails

Eleven members attended the August 14th meeting of the MonadLUG, Monadnock Linux User Group, held as usual on the second Thursday of the month at the SAU1 offices in Peterborough. David Berube was the main presenter.

We had the usual announcements (check upcoming events at http://www.gnhlug.org) and also some time for Q&A while waiting for the main speaker and had the ceremonial struggling with the laptop and the projector. One fellow was looking for help understanding how to install drivers for a scanner not supported by SANE, another had questions on what the keyring was and how he could get it to stop demanding a password from him.

David’s been a fixture in the groups for some years. He served as Fearless Leader of GNHLUG for several years, and took a stint as coordinator of the CentraLUG group. He has written a number of magazine articles and authored or co-authored several books, the most recent, Practical Ruby Plugins, due out later this month.

David gave us a brief history of web development, focusing on the incremental improvements made from scripts to cgi-bin to modules to long-running processes in terms of responsiveness, latency and the ability to scale to larger and quicker demands. He briefly compared Ruby with Perl, Python and Lisp, and then dove into the demo.

David had an Ubuntu laptop that he hadn’t previously done Ruby on Rails development on before, so he showed us the basics of installing Ruby, using Ubuntu’s package manager, and cautioned us against using the OS package manager to install gems: The gem system is a package manager in its own right, and it does things in a somewhat different way than most of the OS package manager tools. Instead, he recommended using ruby to install gems. As is often the case, there were some glitches, so we had a small distraction while we worked through creating the /usr/bin links for rake and rails that somehow hadn’t been created automatically.

David then created a new project, and walked us through the directory structure and the significance of files in each folder. He created a model that defined the wiki example we were creating, a controller to answer requests from the web server, and a view that would render the response from our application. He used the built-in rails and rake scripts to create the example database (SQLite3 is built in and used by default if nothing is specified, new in RoR 2.1), showed how the rails console could be used interactively to create model objects (implicitly saving them to disk) and that the console could be used to add, edit, query and delete objects. He then ran the application, after explaining the logic of URLs constructed in a “RESTful” fashion as http://yourwebserver/controller/action/parameter addresses. David started the built-in Webrick webserver and navigated his browser to http://localhost:3000/page/show/bob to show us Bob’s wiki page entry. Whew!

There was some good Q&A during and following the presentation.

I asked some questions on how a team of developers could insure that they were maintaining the same versions of gems when developing, as the gems are usually installed globally and are not in the main application source code tree. David suggested either creating a local team gem repository, or hardcoding the exact versions you want to freeze the target application at, directly within the code.

Charlie had some questions on how to keep up. While he’d read through the “PickAx” book and the “Skateboard” book, those are already a version out of date. David booted up Pidgin and we chatted with a couple of his fellow authors on what they recommended. Here’s a few links I noted from the meeting:

David also mentioned he was running Gnome-Do, a QuickSilver-clone that lets you launch applications or perform functions with a keyboard shortcut and your keywords. And David also showed off the Vimperator, a Vim-like interface for the FireFox browser. David noted you might find some troubles with Javascript-intensive pages:

Thanks to Charlie Farinella for organizing and running the meeting, to Ken and the SAU for providing the fine facilities, to David for an informative presentation and to all for attending and participating!


Notes from MonadLUG, 10-April-2008: Guy Pardoe and Joomla

Sixteen people were present for the April Meeting of MonadLUG, the Monadnock Area Linux User Group meeting, held as usual on the second Thursday of the month at the School Administrative Unit #1 main office off Hancock Road in Peterborough.

As is usual with most LUG meetings, we spent the standard ten minutes wrestling with monitor settings for the cool new projector. We couldn’t do better than 640 x 480 so Guy was a trooper and persevered through the presentation at teeny resolution. Ouch. We’ll have to do some research to figure out how to get this new projector system to rock and roll.

Guy reminisced about his last presentation, (February last year) where he had talked about the new version of Joomla, which was due Real Soon Now and how he had promised to be back when it was released. In April of 2008, he was back to report that 1.5 is released, and the wait was worthwhile. In fact, version 1.5.2 is out now.

There was a discussion of the many new content management systems – Drupal is another one that’s received a lot of attention. Guy had also heard another one – ModX (http://modxcms.com/) that he hears all the cool kids are playing with.

Guy talked about how the web grew up in a table driven layout just to get positioning right, and that as css came along, that was prefered. Joomla templates are nearly always 100% CSS and valid HTML with few or no tables, and how there’s a lot of advantages from better accessibility, easier localization, better search engine optimization and fewer cavities.

As part of his presentation, Guy downloaded the .zip from the web site www.joomla.org, un-zipped the package, copied to an install directory, ran the installation (a pre-flight check, verified versions, etc.) and he was up and running (Joomla reminded to remove installation). Members noted that Guy showed them things about file management using the GNOME file manager that no one had bothered to try, since they would have all done it from a shell. Guy didn’t apologize for being a Windows refugee. There’s more than one way…

Guy talked about the first presentation of Joomla we saw, from Barrie North on 7 September 2006 at DLSLUG. Barrie has recently published a book, which Guy had with him and praised.

Guy gave us tour of the interface, both the public presentation and the administrative interface. Built-in default templates are pretty slick. The setup wizard was quite graceful. And addons and replacement templates seem to be available in huge quantities (Ted: downloading code off the internet and installing it to run on your computers without inspecting and understanding the code is a Bad Idea. Use only trustworthy sites and review what you get.)

Finally, Guy showed off a site he is developing for a client at Bristol Elder Care and talked about what was involved in getting the site up and running.

Thanks to Guy for a great presentation, to Charlie for organizing the meeting, to Ken and the SAU for the great facilities.


MonadLUG notes, 13-March-2008, Philip Sbrogna on WINE

Twelve people attended the March meeting of the Monadnock Region Linux User Group, MonadLUG, held as usual on the second Thursday of the month at the SAU 1 offices on Hancock Road in Peterborough.

Charlie called the meeting to order at 7 PM and we had the usual round of announcements. One member offered an HP LaserJet 4L and a new cartridge to anyone interested. There’s problems with the paper feeding, likely the rollers, and he didn’t have the inclination to fix it himself and went out and bought a new duplexing laser. If anyone’s interested, we can try to get you in touch with him.

Philip Sbrogna was the main presenter, speaking on Wine. Philip works as sysadmin for a local company, and has past experience as a game software developer (as well as a nuclear power
operator, a past profession we share) and is very interested in getting games working well under Linux. Wine Is Not an Emulator, but a API layer that provides the resources Windows executables need to run under Linux. The main page is at http://www.winehq.org and there’s a lot of information available there. Philip was running OpenSuse 10.x and demonstrated how easy it was to use the built-in YAST tool to locate, download and install a current and stable Wine release, version 0.9.42. Despite having practiced it several times, things don’t work the same during a presentation, and Philip was great about rolling with the punches and showing us how to configure, troubleshoot and tweak on Wine. We talked about the commercial alternatives, CrossOver Office from CodeWeavers and Cedega’s work with getting high-end games working, the Application Database at WineHQ where you can examine the list of programs known to work or known to have limitations and pick up suggestions on how to tune the application to your needs.

Ken got a chance to show off the new facilities of the meeting room. A new hi-tech podium’s in place that supports two projector screens, one of which is a touch-screen, dry-erase screen. The project supports computer video, TV tuner, DVD, videotape and a color video camera that can scan and preserve on memory cards,a 21st century opaque projector. Beautiful equipment! It may take us a while to learn the magic X configuration to get it working, so be prepared for a little struggling at the beginning of the meetings.

Next month, Guy Pardoe will demonstrate Joomla 1.5, the newly-released (and significantly re-engineered) content management system written in PHP. There’s a book on Joomla 1.5, written by Barrie North, who’s spoken at the Dartmouth – Lake Sunapee Linux User Group. It’s published by Prentice Hall PTR, an imprint of Pearson Education. Attendees to the recent CentraLUG meeting may recall we had a copy raffled away.

Thanks to Philip for a great presentation, to Ken for providing the space and facilities, to Charlie Farinella for organizing, promoting and moderating the evening, and to all for attending and participating!


MonadLUG notes, 11-October-2007: Ben Scott and DNS

Late post: a great meeting Thursday night the 11th of October: thirteen people made it to the October meeting of the Monadnock Area Linux User Group, held as usual at the SAU #1 offices in Peterborough on the second Thursday at 7 PM. Thanks to Ken for sponsoring us at the offices, and dealing diplomatically with the double-booking of the space.

Ben had a little trouble finding the place, after a long, long drive from Dover. We forgot to mention in the driving directions which of the dozens of “Use other door” doors the meeting was held behind, so Ben had to find the Boy Scout meeting and the girls volleyball practices before finding us. Charlie promised to update the directions.

Nonplussed by all of this, Ben gave a great presentation on DNS, reprising his previous presentations. He’d replaced the MagicPoint presentation with S5, and had a few technical issues with getting it to behave, but persevered. I expect we’ll see an update to the slides on:


But the other files there (bind configuration files, sample inside and external zone files, etc.) should be relevant.

Ben gave a great overview of the Domain Name System and how it works from several client OSes, how the trail of DNS queries is processed, the structure of zone files, the structure of the BIND configuration files, and many of the common misconfigurations that lead to errors or just quiet failures.

It was a meeting well worth attending. Thanks to Ben for efforts above and beyond, to Charlie for hosting and managing the meeting, and to Ken and the SAU#1 offices for providing the facilities.


MonadLUG notes, 13-Sept-2007, Charlie Farinella on digitizing analog vinyl albums

Ten people attended the September meeting of the Monadnock Area Linux User Group, MonadLUG, one of the LUGs of the Greater New Hampshire Linux User Group, held as usual on the second Thursday of the month at the SAU 1 Administration offices on Hancock Road in Peterborough.

Charlie started off the meeting with a round of introductions, and we welcomed several new members and shared our interests and backgrounds. We covered a bit of news about upcoming events; I mentioned that we try to keep all upcoming meetings on gnhlug.org and plugged upcoming meetings by other LUGs as well as the Manchester Tech North conference, the GBC/ACM meeting with Guy Steele, and the SWaNH infoeXchange conference.

Charlie covered upcoming MonadLUG meetings, a record number of them:

  • October 11,. Ben Scott, DNS
  • November 8, Ted Roche, Cascading Style Sheets
  • December 13, Tim Wessels, Revolution OS
  • January 10, Ray Côté, something tbd
  • February 14, Tim Wessels, SuSE Linux Enterprise 10

On to the main presentation, Charlie talked about his project of digitizing his collection (he estimates 800) of vinyl records. (For those not familiar with Charlie’s background, he spent 30 years as a piano technician, and some of his favorite recordings include pianos that he had tuned.) Charlie was not focused on high-fidelity, high-fiddling recordings; rather, just burning CDs he could listen to in the car, so quick, efficient, simple and good quality was the focus. Charlie talked about how he hooked up a consumer-grade turntable and stereo receiver to the computer’s sound card line in (you need to go through the receiver because phono output needs pre-amplification and the signal has a specific profile). Folks in the audience offered that pre-amps were available as standalone units inexpensively on eBay.

Once the sound arrived at the sound card, it needed to be digitized. Charlie talked about how it worked on his Slackware machine, but he could never figure out how to un-mute the sound inputs in Ubuntu. Several folks offered sympathy and similar stories of getting tangled up in the various sound systems (OSS, ALSA) and not getting incoming sound to work well. This is a topic where a local expert could make a very popular meeting, I expect!

Having failed to get the sound mixers and Audacity to record directly, Charlie used the rec command line (from the sox package) to record instead. Charlie provided a handout (which I hope to post to the LUG wiki here) with the commands he used and some additional notes.

Once the sound was captured as a WAV file, he brought the sound into Audacity and used the filters and trimming facilities to amplify the sound to the full dynamic range, remove (or at least reduce) clicking, get rid of background noise, and split the recording into separate tracks. Charlie would save these separately and burn them all to an audio CD to play on the home or car stereo.

It was great to see someone actually use Audacity and understand what many of the buttons and options are used for. I was inspired to try to digitize some of my old fogey music.

Thanks to Charlie for organizing the meeting and doing the presentation.This is one I would encourage the other LUGs to consider asking Charlie to repeat.


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