New Open Source DNS Server


BozemanLUG member David Eder sent the following to the BozemanLUG mailing list and I thought I'd share it here:

[BozemanLUG] Unnamed DNS Server released

After a month or so of not fiddling with it, I submitted it to, so it should be up tomorrow some time.

You can get it here:

For those not up to speed, Unnamed is a caching DNS server that can filter DNS. So for example, you like, but don't like their landing pages when you should have gotten an NXDOMAIN, you can now have your NXDOMAIN back. Or, you don't like ads, porn, etc. Easy and fast blocking. You want to host your own dns, easy. You want to filter mail based on an rbl that knows what country unresolvable ips are from, easy. Lots of features, easy to extend in C or Lua. And did I mention it's


Montana LinuxFest: Organizational reboot

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Larry (The Free Software Guy) Cafiero emailed the following today. As you may recall he is one of the organizers of SCALE who is helping us organize a Montana LinuxFest.

Hi, all --

After a discussion this afternoon on #ubuntu-montana, I proposed that we'd "reboot" the organizational side of Montana Linux Fest in order to get going again.

So this is it; the second "first" e-mail to get things rolling. Forgive me for letting any momentum we gained after Linux Fest Northwest slow down -- I take responsibility for this and hope we can get things rolling and keep it going until May.

But we're going to have to start from square one again, and please bear with me if these are pretty obvious questions and statements.

There was mention on the list of how this should be organized, and who should do what, etc. We'll get to that in a minute. What I need to know from those on this mailing -- and if you wish to put this on the Bozeman or Billings LUG lists, I'm OK with that -- is where we stand now.

When we left things, I think we had Billings in mind as a site. Is this still the case? If so, was there a particular facility in mind?

We are still looking at May, after Linux Fest Northwest and before Texas Linux Fest in June/July, correct?

As for an organizational set up, there should be committees (even if they are committees of 1 or 2) with responsibilities going forward: Technical committee, publicity committee, site committee, etc., each with responsibilities. For example, Tech would have responsibility for the networking and a/v aspect; publicity is fairly self explanatory, but could include assisting in getting folks invited to speak at the fest; site committee would be responsible for organizing the exhibit hall.

There are probably others, and I'm hoping Ilan, who has much more experience in this than I do, can jump in here and help out with what's needed, staff-wise.

In the meantime, I think we should have another organizational meeting soon -- Tuesdays seemed to be best last time. Would that work now? Or is there another day/time that works for everyone? With the exception of Friday mornings when I'm teaching Python or evenings between, say 9 and 10:30 Pacific Time (when I'm putting together the newspaper for which I work), I'm pretty flexible. Weekends are good for me, too.

I'd like to be able to meet sometime soon -- before next Tuesday -- and get things going again. So let's start by seeing what we have so far so we know what we need to do going forward.

Larry Cafiero

Videos: LFNW2012 XenClient and offline VDI

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Dr. Melanie Rieback's talk - XenClient: Client-side virtualization, and how to take VDI offline

XenClient is a client-side, Type-1 hypervisor which is quite a neat concept. Basically you know how server virtualization has been amazing for servers... with one of the strong points being that it abstracts the hardware and makes deploying new systems easy? Well imagine being able to do that for end-user computers... and doing it in such a way where you can take the VM with you even when you aren't connected to the Internet/LAN... and then being able to sync back when you able to touch base. Deploying a new desktop system could be just as easy as saying, download the VM image from the storage center and go with it. That is the promise of a client-side hypervisor... but since it is type 1 (rather than type 2 which is "hosted" on top of an OS) it is much more secure and performant. Melanie especially covers the dark art that is disk and data synchronization and the challenges they bring.

This video was recorded back in April but I had a technical snag and couldn't post it until now.

Direct link, right-click save as:
LFNW2012-XenClient-Melanie_Rieback.webm (416.4 MB)

OLPC XO-1.75 Arrives


Thank you Fedora Project! The One Laptop Per Child XO-1.75 unit arrived via FedEx today. It was sent to me by the Fedora Project as part of their Summer of Fun and Open Hardware contest. It didn't come in a traditional OLPC box but rather it was wrapped in bubble wrap and placed in a cardboard FedEx shipping container.

One thing that is cool about this unit is that it has a "high-school" keyboard on it which is made of hard plastic and much like a traditional netbook keyboard... rather than the standard soft rubber keyboard. I'm actually able to touch type on the keyboard without too much effort. There are a few keys that have been moved around to accomodate the cramped size but the vast majority of keys are fine. I never thought I'd be able to type very fast on an OLPC but this keyboard makes that very easy. In fact I typed this blog post on the OLPC.

The first thing I did was to update the software to the latest (Fedora 17-based) release. Sugar has some really nice software but if one desires, the GNOME 3 Fallback Mode desktop is also available.

One of the Sugar Activities I like a lot is "Get Books" which is a combination book catalog and reader. It ties into website which has plenty of public domain books to choose from in a number of genres. Most books are available in PDF and EPUB versions... both of which are readable inside the "Get Books" activity. The features provided by the program to adjust font sizes and jump around in the book work quite well. There is even a feature to have it read a selection aloud using a software-based mouth. I believe it uses the popular Festival text-to-speech system but I'm not positive. If one rotates the screen and flips it down, the navigation keys on the screen work well for scrolling, changing the font size, etc. The OLPC is a darn good eBook reader.

For more pictures see the OLPC gallery. Credits for some pictures go to Christoph Derndorfer and Mike Lee on Flickr.

Video: A Quick Tour of Open Source Creative Tools


Máirín Duffy from Red Hat / Fedora did a lightning talk about the creative tools available in Fedora 17. Please note that while she does mention Fedora, the same tools are avalable for most all Linux distributions... and many are also cross platform.

If I used the correct embed code from YouTube, it should use the webm format rather than that icky Flash.

In related news, if you are a GIMP user like me, you might also be interested in the new GIMP Magazine.

OLPC: Major Software Update

The OLPC folks sent out an announcement this morning that reads:

We're pleased to announce the release of OLPC OS 12.1.0 for XO-1, XO-1.5 and XO-1.75. Details of new features, known issues, and how to download/install/upgrade can all be found in the release notes:

Many thanks to all contributors, testers, upstreams, and those who have provided feedback of any kind.

For those who were following the release candidate process in the last few weeks: candidate build 21 is released as final with no changes.

Thanks and enjoy!

I have all three models and will be updating soon. I had tried the update on an OLPC XO-1.75 already and it is pretty sweet. Good job folks!

It is based on Fedora 17 and Suger 0.96

Screencast: OpenVZ Container Migration


It seems I've had a lot of questions about OpenVZ container migration lately on the #openvz IRC channel on the Freenode IRC network. While I made a silent screencast on that topic a few years ago, I thought it was time for a refreshed one so here it is. Enjoy.

What is an OpenVZ container? It is a form of virtualization where you can create a type of a virtual machine called a container that is basically a strongly isolated chroot environment with device and resource management features.

What is migration? It is the ability to easily move a container from one physical OpenVZ host to another. Live / online migration allows for no downtime and maintains existing network connections. Offline migration stops the container on the original host and starts it up on the destination host and as a result the containers uptime is reset and existing network connections are dropped. Watch the screencast for all of this in action.

You can also download this directly if desired. right-click, save link as:
openvz-vzmigrate.webm (12.8 MB)

Fedora Summer of Open Hardware and Fun


I submitted an application for the Fedora Summer of Open Hardware program. Haven't heard of that? Well, the Fedora folks had accumulated quite a bit of hardeware that they wanted to pass along to their community members. The hardware consisted of Aurdino, Raspberry Pi, and OLPC XO-1.75 units. Since I already have a Raspberry Pi that I bought myself... and I'm part of an OLPC Lending Library project that already has X0-1.0 and XO-1.5 units... I thought I'd go for an XO-1.75. I just got word today that I was approved and should get the laptop in a few weeks.

How does the XO-1.75 differ from previous models? Well the main difference is that it uses an ARM-based CPU rather than an Intel compatible. As a result the XO-1.75 supposedly has an improved battery life. All of the OLPC models so far use the same case so even though they may be vastly different inside, they all look the same on the outside. Another area where some of the models vary is in the keyboards they have. For example, the "HS" model stands for "high school" and it has a hard plastic keyboard like a traditional netbook rather than the rubber keyboard the non-HS models have. With the XO-1.75 it appears that the keyboard has changed again. While it is still a rubbery keyboard, it is mostly covered by a white, hard plastic cover that has holes that they keys stick out through. See the picture above. The laptop on the left is an XO-1.75 whereas the one on the right is a previous model with an HS keyboard.

Linux for Old People?

Have you heard about the Telikin computer? It is basically an MSi-based all-in-one computer with a touch screen... keyboard and mouse. What is different is that they are marketing it to older people who are generally perceived as computer novices. Of course you don't have to be a senior citizen to be their target audience... any novice will do. Why am I bringing up the Telikin? Because as you probably already guessed, it runs Linux underneath... and no, it isn't Android-based. The underlying system is supposedly a fork of Tiny Core Linux.

Telikin Touch ComputerTelikin Touch ComputerThe Telikin folks appear to have done a lot of work on a custom user interface where there is an applications menu on the left fifth of the screen and the applications appear on the right four-fifths. The menu never goes away. It is very reminiscent of a web site. They are selling the idea that their computer comes pre-loaded with all of the applications that a novice will ever need... and that the application launcher and all of the applications are easy to use yet fully functional. But where did these applications come from? They have the following listed on their site:

Home screen, Video chat, Photos, Email, Web Browsing, Calendar, Address Book, News, Weather, DVD player, CD player, Games, Write, Powerpoint, Tech Buddy, Video Help, Tools and Free Lifetime Updates.

I don't think Microsoft would be happy about them using the word "Powerpoint" when they aren't talking about Microsoft's application but rather the general class of presentation / slide deck software. I have to wonder if they have co-opted code from various free software projects or if they have completely written their own from scratch. I'm not suspicious or anything, I'm just curious. I mean, with the exception of the touch screen stuff, couldn't you just take their distro and load it on most any computer? Would they sell the software separately? So far as I can tell they are in the hardware market and the software is not available separately.

They also seem to be spending a bit on marketing because they have various videos where they were featured on programs like Rachael Ray, ABC News, various local news programs, etc.

Anyway, I just thought that it was interesting that a company was promoting a system for novices based on Linux. Who would have thunk?

Update: Looks like they do offer the sources for what they have to but that the vast majority of the UI is proprietary. See: Looking at the directories they have (, it appears they use LibreOffice code among other things.

Playing with a budget 7" Android Tablet


Nextbook 2Nextbook 2I'm visiting my parents in the city of my youth... and it just so happens that my mother has a 7" Android tablet. She has had it for a while but hasn't used it. It was given to her by my younger brother. My mother is 74 and as you would expect, not very good with technology... so she has asked me to figure out how to use it and to write her up some instructions. Ok, I'll give it a try.

To some degree, I too have been written off by the current generation as too old and set in my ways. In August I'll be turning 48 and I have to admit, and as anyone who knows me can attest, I have been somewhat unfriendly to much of the newer technology in the last few years. Should this really be a surprise? I mean, I use Linux, right? I don't have a smart phone... I don't regularly carry a cell phone... and I'm not fond of tablet computing. I have written a little bit about tablets in the past and to me they are primarily freedom restrictive devices.