LXC: Ubuntu Working to Improve Containers

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I'm not familiar enough with Ubuntu Development to know just how far this might go but at the very least it appears that some Ubuntu developers have identified as a goal to make LXC usable for production stuff and to put it on par with KVM.

How to make LXC ready for production?

The linux container tools (http://lxc.sourceforge.net) raised some interest for the community but there are crucial functionalities which are missing. The purpose of the session is to identify these missing functionalities and prioritize them in order to have a ready for production component for the Natty server delivery.


Make the use of containers for service segregation on par with KVM in terms of functionality and transparancy.
Joe is a system administrator who wants to start a temporary image to run postfix. To save on resources he runs it using a container. He wants to be able to update the image without fear of updates un-doing hacks needed for containers.

Jane is a system administrator who wants to be able to mix containers with KVM VMs through libvirt. She wants libvirt to auto-start containers, and virt-manager to cleanly shut down the containers.

So far I see identification of problems and need for various features... and a LOT of "todo" lists. I hope they get a significant chunk of that accomplished... so that it can filter back upstream and be used by other distros too.

HOWTO: CentOS 5 Medialess Remote Install Over VNC

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There have been a few occasions where I have wanted to install CentOS on a remote machine that already had a working flavor of Linux on it. Luckily RHEL / CentOS has a way to do this.

Basic Steps

  1. Download the PXE CentOS kernel and initrd image
  2. Configure the bootloader to boot the CentOS kernel by default
  3. Configure the bootloader with extra parameters for networking and remote VNC
  4. Reboot the machine
  5. Run the vncviewer in listen mode with port 5500 accessible

Taking SPICE for a Spin

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I finally figured out how to get SPICE working on Fedora 14.

What is SPICE? - It stands for "Simple Protocol for Independent Computing Environments". What does that mean exactly? SPICE is a remote display protocol designed specifically for use with the Linux kernel's built-in virtualization hypervisor KVM. SPICE is similar to terminal services but rather than multiple users sharing a single, remote physical machine, SPICE allows you to graphically connect to and use a local or a remote KVM virtual machine.

For those who want to just watch a video, here it is. Please note that I kept bumping the tripod by accident and autofocus can be annoying in some spots... and it isn't the highest quality... BUT it does give you a good idea of how well SPICE works.

If you can't see it, your browser probably doesn't support the WEBM video format yet. Right-click on any of the links below (webm and ogv) and download. Then play the file you downloaded in a recent version of VLC.


Fedora 14: Who is Reviewing the Reviewers?

I like to write reviews. I have written quite a few of them over the years... even back in my Atari days for a few print magazines. I mention this because while I'd like to write a review of the Fedora 14 release I feel like too much of an insider to be objective and I'd have trouble being as critical as a non-biased observer would be.

The Anti-Review

Yesterday I ran across a link on Fedora Planet for a video review on the Linux Action Show. I have watched a few of the LAS episodes before but am not a regular viewer... but since the topic of the episode was listed as "Fedora 14 Review" I decided to give it a viewing. About 33 minutes into it they get to the Fedora review... although it is hard for me to call it a review. It is unfortunate but they started with the Fedora 14 Release Announcement and used that as a basis for their review. Historically release announcements are very brief documents that give only spartan details but include links to other sources of more complete information, like the Fedora 14 Release Notes for example. Given the fact that the release announcement only states two new features for desktop users (libjpeg-turbo and Spice) it seems they assumed that was all there was to the release, given the fact that their main focus is desktop usage. As a result they spent most of their review time in ridicule mode... divided in two... with both an attempt at humor and at a "wake up call" style denouncement of everything Fedora. They even included an original conspiracy theory.

I think everyone who knows me understands I have a pretty healthy sense of humor that can sometimes go to the dark side... but I found almost nothing about their show funny. I'm guessing some people find their show hilarious... but me... and this episode... I'd say frustration was my reaction.

I did get on the Linux Action Show IRC channel (the only form of contact on their contact page that I use) for a few minutes and discuss with someone (probably not them) that it was unfortunate that Bryan and Chris had chosen the very brief release announcement as the authoritative source of "what's new in Fedora 14" rather than the release notes... but I do concede that the release announcement could have been much better than it was.

BozemanLUG: Embedded Systems Resources

Derek HildrethDerek HildrethHere are some links to the resources I used in the meeting this month...

Technologic Systems Homepage:

The product I used for the demo:

The "all-in-one" counterpart for the TS-7500:

The latest and greatest from Technologic Systems:

The board running the Technologic Systems website:

The kernel compile guide that was used:

TS-7500TS-7500The PDF version of Embedded Linux Primer: A Practical Real-World Approach:

Best Regards,
Derek Hildreth

Fedora 14 Coming Soon


Fedora 14 WallpaperFedora 14 WallpaperThe Fedora 14 RC1 build passed QA and it is a go. Fedora 14 will be released on schedule on Tuesday, Nov. 2nd, which many of us know as "voting day".

I've been following the development and building my MontanaLinux remix every so often, usually after a bunch of updates. All in all, I'm pretty impressed with the release.

Getting It

If you know where to find the RC1 release, which is freely available, that is the final release (to the best of my knowledge). So if you want Fedora 14 early, download that. I did, although I'm mainly using my remix.

Death of the Desktop Take III - A Post-PC World?

Someone at work passed around the parting memo of a Microsoft technology leader... to spark a discussion on what we see as future trends in technology. I made a long reply so I thought I'd duplicate it here.

Video: Nicholas Negroponte on The Colbert Report


I've been watching The Colbert Report since episode one from five years ago... and I see sites like crooksandliars posting videos from TCR and The Daily Show all the time... so I assume it is ok to post... but if someone from Viacom says otherwise, I'll gladly take it down.

Anyway, Nicholas Negroponte was a guest and although there isn't much real content for us Linux / OLPC knowledgeable folks, it is still fun to watch. Embedded is the webm version.

If inline playback isn't available, feel free to download the Ogg Theora flavor.

New Tee-Shirts for LUG Members?

Design 1Design 1It has been a while since we released any new "Cool Gear". I decided to work with some images from one of my favorite Flash animation videos. If you have ever been to a BozemanLUG or a BillingsLUG meeting in the past 5 years, you'll probably be familiar with it since we often play it at meetings: Switch to Linux.

A Little History

I'm not exactly sure when Chris Hill first created ubergeek.tv but he posted the "Switch to Linux" video in 2003. What is this switch to Linux stuff? Well, at the time Apple was running a bunch of "Switcher" ads. Of course Apple was doing back then what they do today with iPhone and iPod ads... they spend tens of millions of dollars for media buys and run their ads over and over until you just want to scream. Thank goodness for TiVo and other DVRs that let you skip the commercials! I believe if we did the same with Linux oriented stuff, we'd get just as much market saturation as Apple is, but that's another topic.

Anyway, Chris created the "Switch to Linux" video as a sort of parody of the Apple Switcher ads. Of course, since that was 7 or more years ago, the young folks of today have no idea what it's about. Chris has a number of entertaining creations at his website so be sure to check them out if you haven't already.

Design 2Design 2Chris Said Yes

I emailed Chris Hill and asked him if he would consider allowing me to use images from his flash animation for some tee-shirts for our LUGs. He agreed and said I didn't even need to include a blurb giving him credit... although now that I think about it, I should add it anyway. I'm attaching the images to this post for anyone who wants to alter them.

How They Were Made

Basically, I was on a computer with a fairly high resolution (1680x1050) and I had my browser window maximized. Then I used ksnapshot to take some screenshots while the video was playing. Then I cropped the images and did some cleanup and combining of multiple images (for those images that pan across the screen during the video) with GIMP. Then I imported the images into Inkscape (v 0.48 which includes the ability to embed the bitmaps) and did some additional editing until I had the final result... which I saved as both an .svg file and a .png file.

I tried using the "Path -> Trace Bitmap..." feature in Inkscape but decided that I liked the bitmaps better than the vector traces. One thing I don't like about bitmap traces in Inkscape is that they end up being a group of layered objects, each a different color. They look fairly good but I have yet to figure out a way to merge the layers together and sometimes I accidentally ungroup the object which tends to make a mess.

Get Some!

Anyone who has the desire can take the images that are attached and use them, or capture their own... and then make their own tee-shirts, etc. Or if you don't want to put in any effort and just want to order a tee-shirt, you can do so here:

MontanaLinux Remix Update


Since the Fedora Remix build process on Fedora 13 broke some time ago after some package upgrades and they were dragging their feet about fixing it, I switched to Fedora 14 devel for my MontanaLinux Remix effort. It sure is fun. Luckily the RPM Fusion folks have devel packages for Fedora 14 so I'm not missing anything.

The only problem I've run into is with adding the Google Chrome Browser to my package set. For some reason, if I install Google Chrome as part of the build, I run into a issue with a failure to umount a loopback interface that causes the building of the iso to fail. Removing Google Chrome from the package list makes the issue go away. I guess that's actually a good thing because I'm not sure how Google would feel with me pre-installing their browser and distributing it. If I had picked Chromium, I'm sure there wouldn't be a distribution issue.

Anyway, the switch to Fedora 14 devel seems to have worked out quite well and it is actually in pretty good shape. There is one minor bug that I find annoying and hope they get fixed before the final release. Also the devel kernel has a lot of debugging options turned on that makes it a bit slower than usual, and I do have an occasional issue with sound after resuming from sleep on my Acer netbook... but I'm guessing that will get fixed in the release kernel. The switch has gotten me more involved with testing and reporting bugs and that is good.

If anyone wants to give it a try, email me and I'll give you a URL to download the .iso. 32-bit and 64-bit versions are available.