What distros have you installed lately?

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No, this isn't a repeat blog posting... as I continually download and install various distros. Since I'm very Red Hat centric, I'm all excited about the upcoming Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 release... that is coming out... maybe in March?!?
[Update: Looks like next week... March 14th.]

Fedora 7 Beta 2

Fedora 7 betaFedora 7 betaDownloaded and installed Fedora 7 Test 2. Notice that Core is no longer part of the name because Core and Extras are in the process of being merged. I downloaded the LiveCD and it worked great. I was very impressed by the artwork. I did an install from the LiveCD and it worked well... and seemed faster than the boot-install method. The only things broken that I noticed were some warning messages during shutdown after doing the install... about not being able to unmount something... but it was of no consequence... and a few of the desktop apps didn't work... like Abiword for example. Other than that, it recognized the onboard Intel video chipset of my wife's Gateway branded box and worked with accelerated video... rotating cube and all.

For the rest of the story, click on the read more link below...


BozemanLUG - After the meeting

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Just wanted to thank David Boreham again for the presentation he did on Fedora Directory Server. 15 people (including myself and David) attended the meeting... which is the highest turnout we have had in a very long time... although I believe we easily have the potential for 3 times that number. I *SHOULD* have brought a camera and taken a few pictures but I didn't.

Birth of LDAP

David started off the presentation by explaining that quite a bit of the most recent development work on FDS (aka Red Hat Directory Server) was actually done here in Montana... by David and people who work for him. It was incredibly interesting to have an actual developer give a presentation and David has a long history in the industry and was able to give us a first-hand introduction into the birth of the ITU's X.500 protocol and how it was later scaled down and adapted to work over TPC/IP as LDAP by Tim Howes of the University of Michigan.

David then explained what LDAP was good for and what it wasn't so good for.

History of Fedora Directory Server

Since FDS is the continuation of the product formerly known as Netscape Directory Server and was aquired by Red Hat on June 1, 2005, David went over some of the history of the product and where it stands today.

For the rest of the story, click on the read more link below...


Hauppauge MediaMVP - Billings LUG February 2007

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MediaMVPMediaMVPLately, I have had some fun with a Hauppauge MediaMVP 1000. It is a networked device that is able to receive video and audio steams and display them on your TV. It includes a remote control and once configured is very easy to use. What makes this device extra neat, is that it runs Linux with a few options available giving extra features. Be sure to attend this month's BillingsLUG meeting, when I give a demo of the MVP1000.

When it powers on, it actually loads its OS over the network. The fine people behind the MVP Media Center project have a quite nice replacement mini Linux Distro to get more out of the MVP 1000.

MVP Media Center supports a number of extras compared to the stock Haupauge offering. There is support to integrate the MVP to your ReplayTV and/or MythTV systems. MVPMC also supports streaming from everyone's favorite media player VLC in addition to audio streaming from a SlimServer.

For February's meeting, I will do a show and tell of this neat little device and we will go through the steps of setting up MVPMC and a Linux PC as a media server.


Fun with Remote Servers

1U Rack Mount1U Rack MountYou may or may not have noticed but this site was down some since late Sunday evening until right before I wrote this. I'm not exacly sure what happened but I have some sense of it so I thought I'd jot it down here. I also cover the hardware that runs this system as well as a little about the hosting company we are using. If you are interested, read the rest of the story.


mod_cband to the Rescue

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status pagestatus pageThe problem: A webserver with a lot of files that are to be public... and the public is downloading too much, too fast, too often... in what seems to be a malicious fashion... especially since everyone seems to be using multi-threaded download accelerators.

Solution: mod_cband

Read more for a better explanation of the problem and the steps needed to install mod_cband.


Taking QEMU for a Spin

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QEMU in actionQEMU in actionHave you tried QEMU? I must admit that I hadn't really tried it until recently... although I have used VMware and Parallels. Supposedly Xen and the new KVM both draw from QEMU code. What is QEMU? Obligatory quote from the QEMU wikipedia entry:

QEMU is free software written by Fabrice Bellard that implements a fast processor emulator, allowing a user to simulate a complete computer system within another one. It is similar to projects such as Bochs, VMware Workstation and PearPC, but has several features these lack, including increased speed on x86, and support for multiple architectures in-progress. By using dynamic translation it achieves a reasonable speed while being easy to port on new host CPUs.

I'm not sure why that says that QEMU is faster than VMware, because it isn't... but QEMU can emulate several different CPU families other than just x86. Read on if you want to hear about my experience installing Windows XP SP2 from an .iso file.


A Different Office Suite?

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I've been keeping my eye on SoftMaker (I've been on their mailing list for a couple of years now) and their products TextMaker (a word processor) and PlanMaker (a spreadsheet). I'm not usually a fan of closed source, proprietary, pay software but the reviews I have read of Textmaker and PlanMaker have said that they are extremely fast, lean, and offer the highest degree of compatibility with Microsoft Office .doc and .xls files. While OpenOffice.org has really progressed over the last few years, it still has a ways to go when it comes to bloat, speed, and Microsoft Office document compatibility.

On December 22nd, SoftMaker came out with new Linux and FreeBSD releases with the two products merged together and called SoftMaker Office. The MSRP is $69.95, which is fairly reasonable. The academic pricing is amazing... as most institutions can get can get a site license for $13 for the Linux version and $13 for the Windows version. It also includes compatibility with OpenDocument files, can export to PDF, and can be run from a USB stick.

So, I'm curious... What do you think? Should I consider the "dark side"? I would like anyone who answers to have actually downloaded the 23MB trial version (Linux, FreeBSD, or Windows) and given it a try.

Now if SoftMaker Office only included a presentation program and a GUI database, there would be more to consider.


What distros have you installed lately?

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In the quest for the perfect Linux distro, and to better familarize myself with others... I occationally download and install lots of distributions. Recently I gave Vector Linux and OpenSUSE a try.


KVM = Kernel-based Virtual Machine

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It seems that a sort of hypervisor is going to be added to the mainline Linux kernel. It has been dubbed KVM... as if KVM weren't already taken by "Keyboard, Video Mouse". In this case, KVM stands for Kernel-based Virtual Machine... and it only works in CPUs that have VT (Intel) or AMD-V/SVM (AMD) extensions via a module named kvm.ko... and will available upon the release of the 2.6.20 kernel.

How does it differ from other virtualization schemes? From the FAQ:

What is the difference between kvm and Xen?

Xen is an external hypervisor; it assumes control of the machine and divides resources among guests. On the other hand, kvm is part of Linux and uses the regular Linux scheduler and memory management. This means that kvm is much smaller and simpler to use.

On the other hand, Xen supports both full virtualization and a technique called paravirtualization, which allows better performance for modified guests. kvm does not at present support paravirtualization.

What is the difference between kvm and VMWare?

VMware is a proprietary product. kvm is Free Software released under the GPL.

What is the difference between kvm and QEMU?

Qemu uses emulation; kvm uses processor extensions for virtualization.

And now for the question everyone wants to ask:

What OSs can I run inside kvm VM?

We have tested Linux (32/64 bit) and Windows (32 bit). Others may or may not work. 64-bit Windows is known not to work. This will be fixed once qemu-0.8.3 is released and merged. Several Linux flavors are known to hang on Intel processors during startup. Workaround is to disable splashscreens in grub.

I wonder how long before this becomes part of all of the distributions... and how it might conflict with Xen???


What to do with an old server?

Front viewFront viewI have an old server at work. It hasn't been used since last Spring. It lasted a fair amount of time (4 years)... yet it is still a fairly capable machine: 1.1GHz Xeon CPU, 2GB of RAM, 1 IDE system disk, a 3ware ATA RAID controller with 8ea 80GB drives (RAID5) and redundant power. I believe it was purchased in late 2001.

One of the RAID drives died and I put in a replacement today. I didn't need to rebuild the existing RAID because I wanted to do a new install anyway... but it makes me wonder if I should even bother. Side viewSide viewI mean, the drives that are in it now are at least 4 years old. They are an accident waiting to happen. So, I have a few options... I can retire the machine and scrap it... or I could spend around $800 and buy some new ATA drives. I figure that the hard drives are the most vulnerable piece in the system... other than say... the fans... that I'll replace if they are showing some wear.

Back viewBack viewIs it worth the money to turn this machine into a backup server? ...or should I just retire it? Do you think the hardware will last a few more years? It would run Linux of course. It was previously.

Let comments be your answer!