Proposal for Fedora@Home

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I saw this first mentioned on LWN... but an employee from Red Hat named Bryan Che... who just happens to be the Red Hat product manager for a new Red Hat product, Red Hat Enterprise MRG... has made a request to the Fedora Project Board. The proposal is quite interesting... and given the last couple of sentences, perhaps you have figured it out already.

Turning LiveCDs into LiveUSBs

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I use the SystemRescueCD a lot at work. My work study scoffed at me for actually running it from CD rather than a USB stick... because the USB stick is much faster. I bought a three pack of SanDisk Cruzer Micro 2GB USB thumb drives from CostCo for about $50. I followed the SystemRescueCD instructions and bingo it worked. Ok, it boots up a lot faster now.

So, now to apply it to Fedora and CentOS. Luckily Fedora has instructions. Following those instructions, I could boot Fedora 8 from USB.

I applied the Fedora method to the recently released CentOS 5.1 LiveCD and that worked too. I guess the same principle would apply to any LiveCD .iso you'd want to throw at it... including regular distro install media. They even have a program for Windows users.

Indamixx, Mobile Linux DJ?


Trinity Audio Group seems to have a really neat product on their hands called Indamixx. The hardware appears to be built by Samsung. Indamixx is a fairly small, mobile device that runs Linux and includes a nice suite of free audio programs for mobile live audio streaming.

February BozemanLUG Meeting Announcement

Rusty Conover volunteered to give a presentation this month.Here's the title and description he provided:

Using Linux-based Cloud Computing to achieve scalable web hosting

Web sites are becoming bigger users of bandwidth every day so its getting harder to build an infrastructure that is scalable enough to handle serving thousands of visitors in parallel, especially when they all want to stream your videos on their high-bandwidth cable modems.

To do this you're probably going to pay a lot of money for a large internet connection that will sit idle most of the time along with all of the servers you'll need to fill that pipe. It would sure be great to have that infrastructure without having to pay for it, physically build it and then run it. The great thing is you don't have to anymore.

I will explain how I have solved this scaling problem using Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) to allow InfoGears to have bandwidth on demand and achieve needed scalability for our applications and client websites without a large effort in a extremely cost effective manner.

I'll explain how to use Apache 2.2, BIND and some Perl to make everything work together and result in a solution that is simple to use, scalable and reliable. So if your interested in how to lower your hosting costs, decrease the load on your web servers or just how to prepare to handle things when your videos go viral this will be a presentation for you.

Wow, that sounds very interesting. Please pass this along to anyone outside of the BozemanLUG who you think might be interested.

Dell Promotes Linux on the Desktop


Want to know why Dell is offering Linux on desktops and laptops for home and small business? They've made a video.

I like how they say that Linux is easier to use in some cases than MacOS and Windows... and in some cases not. They don't do too bad of a job.

Kernel 2.6.17 - 2.6.24 Security Flaw


Just so you are aware... two days ago a bug was announced in Linux kernels 2.6.17 and above... that will give a local user root access. Here's info with the exploit code:

I have verified that the exploit compiles and works. I was able to get root on stock Fedora, RHEL and CentOS machines running the 2.6.18 or above kernels. Supposedly all distros running a 2.6.17 or later kernel are affected... even those running with the grsecurity patches.

I was unable to get root on an OpenVZ patched kernel but the exploit did cause a kernel panic that locked the machine I tried it on. I didn't want to crash any more machines so I didn't try any more. I've heard (but have not verified) that Linux-Vserver is affected on both the host node and inside of containers although exploits done within containers only get root of the container and are still trapped inside of it. Your milage may vary. Kernels prior to 2.6.17 are not affected. I hope vendors have fixes for this RSN... although I have heard that the current fix is not complete.

Update: The bug got fixed upstream late Sunday... and has found its way into a number of distro updates including Debian, rPath, Fedora, and PCLinuxOS. Red Hat, after the QA process, just released this morning (Tuesday). It seems that distros or kernel releases based on distro release updates will take a bit longer... CentOS and OpenVZ for example.

Update: 02/13/08 CentOS has released updated kernel packages.

BozemanLUG January 2008 Meeting Notes

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Wow, great meeting this evening. Jeffrey Sharkey and Justin Krohn gave a presentation on MythTV and the HDHomeRun networked HD tuner. Ten people turned out for the meeting.

First Jeff gave us the history of MythTV, a feature overview, and then he compared it to other DVR software packages that are available. He explained the frontend software and the backend software... and how they didn't have to be on the same machine. He also discussed the TV listing providers.

Justin showed MythTV in operation (both the fancy GUI frontend and the web-based version) and shared some of his recent recordings made using his HDHomeRun network tuner. He mainly uses his setup with broadcast HD and reviewed all of the sources of HD content available in the Bozeman area. I was surprised at the number and high quality of the broadcast channels available although it was pointed out that one needs a good antenna.

Justin gave a complete overview of the HDHomeRun device, how well it works with MythTV and other software and said that he was very happy with the device.

Justin gave a good overview of all of the related signal types and showed that broadcast HD includes a lot of information embedded within the signal. He had to wonder around the building with his laptop and the HDHomeRun device before he was able to find a good broadcast signal... as the EPS building is pretty good at blocking them. He was able to demonstrate broadcast HDTV on his laptop with VLC and it looked fantastic.

Fantastic job guys! Thanks!

Parallels Virtuozzo Containers 4.0 and more

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Did you hear? A while back SWsoft decided to change its name to that of its partner company, Parallels. Parallels makes a commercial product very similar to VMware Server... but it seems to be most popular on the Mac. With SWsoft's Virtuozzo and their sponsoring of the OpenVZ project, is it any wonder that there would be a hybrid product that tries to compete with VMware ESX?

I haven't had a chance to watch the full video yet, and although it is mostly of a commercial nature, it advances discussion about Virtualization so I'm sharing it. They had it as a Windows Media file on their site and I've converted it to Flash so Linux users will have an easier viewing time.

Is Red Hat still relevant? You bet.

I recently attended a Linux Installfest and the primary distribution recommended by those heading up the event was Ubuntu. That's all well and good but during their Linux dog-and-pony-show a statement was made regarding Red Hat that struck me. I don't recall the exact wording that was used but it was something along the lines of... Red Hat used to be very popular but not anymore. I wasn't really offended by the statement nor do I completely disagree with it... but a lot remains to be said about the importance of Red Hat within the Linux community. Red Hat is certainly king in the "Enterprise" space with Novell a respectable second... but many still seem to be unaware just how much Red Hat contributes to the development of many projects and the rapid progress of Linux.

Whenever I see any articles about Red Hat on any of the Linux community sites (think Slashdot), the comments will invariably mention a few things that I consider to be myths about Red Hat. They include:

  1. Red Hat is the "Microsoft of Linux"
  2. Red Hat abandoned the desktop/home user market
  3. Red Hat costs a fortune
  4. Red Hat created "rpm hell" and rpm based distributions suck

I do not want to even attempt to address each individual myth but I do want to make a few points about Red Hat in an effort to educate people to the fact that Red Hat does a lot for the Linux community and is a major (if not THE major) contributor.

A New Year, a New Zimbra

Zimbra Collaboration Suite 5.0 GA came out today or was it yesterday / last year? After reading the release notes(PDF) and doing a complete backup, I upgraded both my work and personal Zimbra servers. I have been using Zimbra for as my work and personal email server for... oh... something close to two years now. Over that time there have been a number of upgrades and they have always gone smoothly.

What's new with Zimbra 5.0?

Well, you could read the release notes to see, but I'll give a brief summary of some of the things that stand out in my mind:

  • Briefcase - A file storage area with a nice file manager
  • Tasks - Create to-do lists and manage tasks through to completion
  • Instant Messaging - Beta - User to user chat
  • More sharing - Mail folders can be shared, new HTTP calendar sharing, share Briefcase files
  • Documents - Now out of beta... online text and spreadsheet documents
  • Faster login - They split up the javascript into functional pieces so you don't have to load everything at login time
  • Little touches - folder summaries, public or private calendar entries, updated help system, email priorities, enhanced tagging, and automatic http to https redirection