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Video: LFNW2011 - Bradley Kuhn, Software as a Service

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This was my personal favorite presentation that I attended / recorded. Bradley Kuhn did four different presentations at LFNW but this is the only one I attended. The title of the talk was: With Software As A Service, Is Only The Network Luddite Free? Bradley basically talks about how Software as a Service (SaaS) is actually a step backward for freedom and a move away from Free Software to proprietary... and what we can do to fix that. There are some interesting discussions in the Q&A section in the later part. Questioners include Jesse Keating from Red Hat and Joe "Zonker" Brockmeier.

If it doesn't play in your browser it is probable that your browser doesn't support HTML 5 video and/or webm yet. Feel free to download the webm file and play it locally with your preferred media player. I recommend VLC.

SaaS_Problems.webm (144.4 MB)

The video is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.

BozemanLUG: April Meeting Report

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Jordan SchatzJordan SchatzMy report is a little late because I spent about 13 hours today driving from Bozeman to Bellingham, WA for the LinuxFest Northwest 2011... but more on that later.

In attendance were:
Gary Bummer
Rob Potter
David Eder
Jordan Schatz
Sheldon Ross
Casey
Scott Dowdle

The weather was terrible (rain turned to snow) so I'm happy we had such a good turnout considering.

Sheldon moved to Helena some time ago but obviously he is back in Bozeman now. I'm not sure when he moved back. Casey is a friend of Jordan's and I didn't catch Casey's last name. Gary helped set up the projector for Jordan and helped put it away too.

Jordan Schatz introduced us to GIT. After he had spent some time explaining the various concepts, we all logged into a lab machine and did some git exercises as directed by Jordan to get some hands on. We used git from the command line as well as gitk and git gui. As usual, David had to see how much he could push git to try and make it break. 9GB of files later, and I think it was still working fine. Here are Jordan's presentation notes and links:
http://noionlabs.com/bozeman-lug/git/

Jordan volunteered to do another presentation next month... but we didn't decide on which one it would be so we'll have to figure that before the next meeting. A big THANK YOU to Jordan for the presentation!

I booted two of the lab machines with the new Ubuntu 11.04 LiveCDs... one 32-bit and the other 64-bit. Rob and Gary used them for their GIT exercises as they were able to install git and use it from the LiveCD.

David showed his homebrew Fedora 14 LiveUSB. It differs from other Fedora Live media because it mounts its filesystem read/write rather than using the typical overlay. As a result, updates do not eventually fill up the drive because they take up about as much space as the original packages did. David's preference was a fairly light-weight system with XFCE as the default desktop environment.

The meeting ended about 9:30 PM.

Video: Programming - Why Javascript Matters

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I recorded this 1 hour and 16 minute video on Wednesday, April 20th at Montana State University Bozeman. It is a presentation entitled Why Javascript Matters by Douglas Crockford.

The video is in webm format and embedded above. If you can't see it, perhaps your browser doesn't like webm. You can download the video directly (right-click, Save link as...) and play it locally with any recent version of VLC.
Why_Javascript_Matters-Douglas_Crockford.webm (248.6MB)

Opinion: How is Linux doing?

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Our friend Ed Dunnigan wrote saying:

It is my impression the Linux users and Distros are sitting on our hands. We seem to have arrived.

I wonder how many new Linux users are out there now? I pull down three Linux Users Groups and it has been a long long time since I saw a new user asking questions. I have been using Linux since about '95 or so, and with my aging problem (memory loss) I always learned a lot at users group meetings. Now it seems to me the recent presentations I have noted are very specialised. Not the general subject about Linux.

Have we, The Linux Community, given up trying for new users?

I'll give my response and I encourage everyone to reply with theirs too.


Video: A tablet done right

Some time ago I wrote a critical blog post of the iPad. As you know, Apple came out with the iPad 2 not long ago... and it STILL SUCKS... for a number of reasons... not the least of which is that it is a completely closed device.

Here's an example of what I think is a fantastic tablet design. Unfortunately it runs Android rather than a stock Linux distro. I'm not against Android but anything that can run full HD video and offers enough ports and a netbook-ish docking station should be capable of running a full Linux distro, right? Oh, I know you were wondering... but no... it hasn't been released in the US yet. I've seen a few Brits post unboxing videos on YouTube already.

I would have preferred posting this video in either the webm or ogv formats, but it comes from YouTube so I didn't have much choice. Sorry.

Update - Android Central has a review of the device that is interesting reading. There is definitely room for improvement. I'd like to see an ethernet port, and a headphones and microphone jack on the docking station.

Fedora: virt-manager with SPICE support coming in Fedora 15

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virt-managervirt-managerI've been keeping up with the virtualization related developments in the upcoming Fedora 15... but even if I weren't... Fedora offers a fedora-virt-preview repository that makes it easy to ckeck out the new stuff on Fedora 14.

Adding SPICE support to virt-manager is one of the upcoming features in Fedora 15 and as of 2011-03-28 it appears to be 100% done. I decided to use the fedora-virt-preview repository to check it out on my Fedora 14 workstation.

virt-manager

If you aren't familiar with virt-manager, it is the default GUI-based management application for virtual machines on Fedora and Red Hat Enterprise Linux... as well as a few other distros. virt-manager uses libvirt so it can support a number of virtual machine types but it is primarily used for KVM and Xen. I use it with KVM and KVM is the only virtualization product that offers SPICE support currently.

QXL videoQXL videoTo try out the added SPICE support I took an existing Fedora 14 virtual machine and edited its configuration with virt-manager. In the Video device I changed the Model from "cirrus" to "qxl".

Then I deleted the existing VNC-based Graphics device and added a SPICE server. There are a number of different SPICE related options... what port to run it on... whether only the local machine can access it or if it is accessible remotely... use a password or not. There is a setting for SSL port but I'm not sure if that is actually operational... as I have not figured out the SSL stuff yet.

In virt-manager's preferences they have added a toggle for the default graphic device, either VNC or SPICE. Of course you can always delete one and add the other if the default isn't what you wanted.

Adding SPICEAdding SPICEDoing some testing I verified that everything worked. If I picked local access only, you had to be on the same machine to access the VM with SPICE. If you allowed remote access, that worked.

OpenVZ: Notes on Scientific Linux 6 x86 OS Template Contribution

I posted a contributed OpenVZ OS Template today. The contributed OS Template is Scientific Linux 6 32 bit and it was contributed by Vic from powerpbx.org (canuck15@hotmail.com).

I asked him to share information about he created it and this is what he replied back with via email:

I have no plans to create a x86_64 version or provide regular updates to the x86 version at this time. The only reason I created the x86 version is because I needed a RHEL (or clone) v6 template for my own use. It is easy enough to update/modify/copy by someone else now that this version is out there.

I created it using this procedure and rsync from VMWARE to OpenVZ. Then I manually went through all the installed packages and took out as much as I could to get the size down. When in doubt I compared to the installed packages in a CentOS 5 template.

Yum would not remove kernel so I had to do a "rpm -e --nodeps kernel"

In the newly rsync'ed OpenVZ container I create a file called "vz.repo" in /etc/yum.repos.d with the following text:

[vz-base]
name=vz-base
mirrorlist=http://vzdownload.swsoft.com/download/mirrors/centos-5
gpgcheck=0

[vz-updates]
name=vz-updates
mirrorlist=http://vzdownload.swsoft.com/download/mirrors/updates-released-ce5
gpgcheck=0

then "yum install vzdev vzdummy-apache vzdummy-jre-el5 vzdummy-kernel-el5"

Could not get "vzdummy-glibc" to work. It caused the template to not load on reboot. Someone smarter than me will have to figure that one out. Perhaps vzdummy-glibc needs to be updated for RHEL 6.

Additional things I ran into that appear to be RHEL v6 specific are as follows.

You must comment out "console" in /etc/init/rc.conf and /etc/init/rcS.conf

You must also delete or rename tty.conf and start-ttys.conf.


BozemanLUG: March Meeting Report

Turnout for the meeting tonight was great. There were two new people, the regulars, and a few lost sheep that returned. Let's see if I can remember them all... without some last names.

Bruce Stucker(sp?) (new)
Paul (new)
Rob Potter (semi-regular... almost back to regular)
David Eder (regular)
Gary Bummer (regular)
Matt (has attended a few meetings)
Jordan Schatz (fairly new, presenter)
Scott Dowdle (me)

Did I miss anybody? Darn it... I forgot to bring my digital camera so I didn't get any pictures. Please someone next month reply to my meeting announcement with a "Hey Scott.. don't forget your camera!", ok? :)

Jordan's presentation on NoSQL was very technical and in-depth. He crammed a lot of information into it... lots of concepts... went over a large number of existing NoSQL projects... why they exist... what environments they come from... how they differ... strengths and weaknesses. We learned about shards as well as various replication styles. We learned about Amazon's paper on Dynamo. We learned about the CAP theorem and ACID. I found the concepts to be very helpful. We learned a little bit about ERLANG. He talked about JSON. He talked about the Thrift and Protocol Buffer protocols... and the fact that many of the NoSQL databases speak HTTP and can in some cases eliminate the need for a webserver. There were lots of acronyms but Jordan explained all that we asked about. Jordan said he would share with us all of his presentations materials. I look forward to that and will post them on the website... because I plan on going through them... following many of the links and doing some reading.

Update: Here are Jordan's links and notes from his presentation:
http://www.noionlabs.com/no-sql/

Then Jordan was asked (I believe by Rob) what development tools he uses in his web development career? EMACS is a big part of almost everything Jordan does as it provides a usable interface to virtually everything. His favorite distro is Debian stable. He likes PHP, especially the enhancements they have made in the 5.3.x series. He prefers git for source control. He likes the CakePHP framework. He likes JQuery. He uses VirtualBox when he has to fire up other OSes to verify browser compatibility. His preferred NoSQL database is Riak.

Jordan told us how busy with work he has been lately and how he stayed up until 3AM last night working on a critical project that isn't finished yet... and that he will probably be up until 3AM again tonight. We decided to give him a break and end the meeting relatively early (9:20ish) so he could get back to work... and thanked him. I gave him a copy of the three-part PBS series from 1997 entitled Triumph of the Nerds as a gift for presenting... although I don't know when he is going to have time to watch it.

For next month Jordan has volunteered to do another presentation. The potential topics are:

  1. An Introduction to LISP programming with Racket
  2. Doing everything with EMACS
  3. An Introduction to source code management with GIT

Any of those sound good to me. Does anyone have a preference?


Update on Fedora 15 Development - GNOME 3 Shell Updates

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GNOME 3 ShellGNOME 3 ShellI've been keeping up with Fedora 15 development. I installed a nightly build on my wife's dual-boot computer. I setup a Fedora 15 KVM virtual machine in preparation for my remix compose... which isn't quite there yet.

Anyway, I've noticed a few changes that came with some updates yesterday that I wanted to share:

  1. Fedora 15 appears to have incorporated all of the upstream GNOME 3 changes. The experience is exactly like that from the GNOME 3 live beta based on OpenSUSE
  2. They added a way in the GNOME 3 Shell System Settings to switch back to the GNOME 2 style desktop
  3. The GNOME 2 style desktop has been polished up some
  4. Fedora has added some additional artwork for non-GNOME desktops

Fallback DesktopFallback DesktopThe GNOME 2 style fallback desktop in GNOME 3 isn't exactly like the previous GNOME 2.32 desktop but it is fairly close. There are some elements from GNOME Shell present... such as the window styling and decorations (although you DO get the minimize and maximize buttons back). You can place application buttons on the top panel but none are there by default. There isn't a right-click desktop menu and the System Settings are from GNOME 3. Although the fallback desktop mode is a bit different than the older GNOME 2.32 desktop, the changes they have made should go a long way to make GNOME 2 diehards a little happier.

I've been using the GNOME 3 Shell more and I really like the changes they've made since the Fedora 15 Alpha release. These changes include larger icons in the Applications list and auto-managed virtual desktops. Some people call this a "dumbing down" of the interface but I prefer to call it streamlining. If you have a lot of previous GNOME 2.x experience you might perceive it to be counter-intuitive... but give it a little while. The streamlining really makes the new environment easy to learn and use. It is elegant, and as one blogger put it... "it looks expensive".

The GNOME developers have frozen the development for this development cycle and only bugfixes will be accepted. GNOME 3 Shell is finished and I like it. As a long-time KDE user, I'm not sure I'm ready to switch to GNOME 3 exclusively but really have enjoyed testing it out. I still expect there to be quite a bit of backlash against GNOME 3 Shell when it becomes the default desktop in Fedora 15 and probably also in the next major releases of other GNOME-based distros... but I think a lot of people are going to like it too. When you get a chance, give it a try.

System Settings Fallback OFF Fallback ON

When does Linux turn 20?

2011 marks the 20th anniversary of the creation of the Linux kernel. But when exactly was it created? One of the first milestones we have was the original comp.os.minix newsgroup posting that Linus wrote announcing his unnamed new OS. Here's a recreation of that posting:

Newsgroups: comp.os.minix
From: torvalds@klaava.Helsinki.FI (Linus Benedict Torvalds)
Date: 25 Aug 91 20:57:08 GMT
Subject: What would you like to see most in minix?

Hello everybody out there using minix - I'm doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won't be big and professional like gnu) for 386(486) AT clones. This has been brewing since april, and is starting to get ready. I'd like any feedback on things people like/dislike in minix, as my OS resembles it somewhat (same physical layout of the file-system (due to practical reasons) among other things).

I've currently ported bash(1.08) and gcc(1.40), and things seem to work. This implies that I'll get something practical within a few months, and I'd like to know what features most people would want. Any suggestions are welcome, but I won't promise I'll implement them :-)

Linus (torvalds@kruuna.helsinki.fi)

PS. Yes - it's free of any minix code, and it has a multi-threaded fs. It is NOT protable (uses 386 task switching etc), and it probably never will support anything other than AT-harddisks, as that's all I have :-(.

So that post was sent out on August 25 but it is obvious that Linux has been around for a while... since April... but when was it started? I'm sure a better history is documented somewhere. I guess I'll break out one of my copies of Just for Fun and see if I can find it.

I'm not even sure at what point working name was changed from Freax to Linux. Note that in Linus' post, he doesn't give it a name. I welcome comments from others on what they remember! I started using Linux a little late myself... in January of 1995.

Oh... and it sounds like a good reason to have a party... but when and where? Anyone?

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