Scott Dowdle's blog

Opinion: Fedora Lacks an Update Policy

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I periodically check out Fedora Planet and today I noticed a big post by Josh Boyer entitled, "Why Fedora needs an Updates Policy". I left a medium-sized comment there that I decided to post here as well.

It is working pretty well without a policy... but that isn't to say that a policy isn't needed, because it would be good to have an update policy. I however like the rapid pace of updates and version churn in Fedora and I think the codification of an update policy would be slanted to always favor more conservative updates.

I like that Fedora updates KDE every time there is a new release from the KDE project. I like how I can get newer versions of things as they appear... and yes it will sometimes lead to breakage, but that was one of the charms of Fedora. On the other hand it seems that some packages are constantly updated, like every other week. That may be an exaggeration but sometimes it feels like that.

Ideally there would be a conservative updates repo and a newest-stuff repo... but I'm sure that would be more work than your already overworked group of Red Hat employees and Fedora volunteers would want to take on... and I don't blame them.

Given the rapid 6 month development cycle of Fedora and the limited lifespan of any given release... the better answer, if stability is the considern, would be to lengthen the development release cycle... but no one wants to do that, right? Another solution would be to have stated LTS releases every couple of releases, but again... that idea has been batted around several times and dismissed.

It seems many wish something would fall between the rapid development cycle of Fedora and the slow development cycle of RHEL. I don't see how that is going to happen.

Not having an update policy and the recent complaints about it will be something that is heavily criticized by those from other distros and the Linux press... but it doesn't mean that the system you have been working with and the decisions you have been making haven't been working well enough. Package makers are supposed to submit their stuff to testing, people are supposed to test and provide feedback, and only when a package is deemed sufficiently ready should it be considered. I think it is better to leave it up to the package maintainers themselves on what version of a piece of software they want to release... unless of course is an underlying package that disrupts things above it... and you have tried to address that by identifying core/critical packages and putting more rules on their being updated.

I would hope any update policy Fedora comes up with would retain the current flavor of Fedora with rapid and constant updates... rather than being stuck with older releases of things when upstream has fixed a lot of bugs and released newer versions with additional features. If you don't retain that quality then it will just encourage the development of yet more third-party repositories with newer software and just make an even bigger mess. This gets back to the seeming constant desire for Fedora to define itself and who it is targeting... and then potentially limiting itself to those more strictly defined goals. I for one like it fast and loose... but I'm just a user. :)


Opinion: "Confessions of an Ubuntu Fanboy" Response

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Just got done reading, "Confessions of an Ubuntu Fanboy". While I'm glad the author has decided to be more practical in his promotion of Linux and Ubuntu, I strongly disagree with some of his conclusions and I'll cover them below.

I have been using Linux for about 15 years now and over the course of that time I've helped more people than I care to count with Linux installs, removals and everything in-between. I've seen people try Linux out for a few days and give up on it. I've seen people tough it out and become valued members of our local Linux community. Linux isn't for everyone and choice is good. I no longer advocate Linux for someone who isn't willing to learn new things. I quit trying to push it on people and now I'm somewhat selective in helping people the second they say they want to try Linux. I state up front that there is a learning curve and that they will need to expect it. If I sense that they don't have patience to learn new things, I don't even bother.

The problem with the article in question is that the author seems to want to try to make Linux for everyone and in doing so, he advocates violating some important tenants. He primarily focuses on Windows users but it could be any proprietary OS or applications.


Video: Virtualization and Multi-Level Security

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Another presentation from RHVE 2009. This one is entitled, "Virtualization and Multi-Level Security" by James Labocki and Greg Pryzby of Red Hat.

Video: Building Your Own Cloud with RHEV

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Another presentation from RHVE 2009. This one is entitled, "The Sky is the Limit: Building your Own Cloud Infrastructure using Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization" by Hugh Brock and Jan Mark Holzer of Red Hat.

Video: Secure Virtualization using SELinux

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Another presentation from RHVE 2009. This one is entitled, "Secure Virtualization using SELinux" by Dan Walsh of Red Hat.

Video: Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization

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Another presentation from RHVE 2009. This one is entitled, "Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization" by Navin Thadani who is a big wig at Red Hat. It is from the business track and higher level view.

Video: RHEV Breaking Performance and Scalability Barriers

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Another presentation from RHVE 2009. This one is entitled, "Red Hat Virtualization: Breaking Performance and Scalability Barriers" by John Shaksober and Vijay Tehran of Red Hat.

Video: KVM Architecture Overview

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I downloaded all of the videos offered from the Red Hat Virtual Experience 2009. They made them available as Ogg Theora .ogv files so I didn't even have to convert them. They are of moderate to low quality especially with regards to audio... so they can be a little annoying but the presentation material is generally top notch.

In this video, Andrew Cathrow of Red Hat spends about 23 minute explaining what KVM.

Video: RHEV Presentation

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The Red Hat RHEV presentation lasted for about an hour and forty-five minutes and I video taped it. I can only relase the first 23 minutes of the presentation which is where the slides ended. The demo after the slides contained details about the upcoming (and currently in beta) RHEV for Desktops product which can't be shared because it is subject to change between now and the GA release.

As an attachment to this article you will find the PDF of Tom's slides.

The video should work in Firefox 3.5 and above... or any browser that supports the HTML 5 video tag and Ogg Theora video. In-browser playback isn't always perfect so if desired, right-click on the video and select "Save Video As..." to download and play locally. The videos is approximately 105MB.

If your video player can't handle Ogg Theora then I recommend you check out VLC media player.

Opinion: Apple iPad - I Perceive Ample Defects

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Ok, the dust has had time to settle after Apple's announcement last week of their upcoming iPad device. There has been plenty of praise for the new device and even some criticism. Given the title of this entry, it is clear that I'm here to criticize it.

A New Form Factor?

During his presentation Steve Jobs railed against the Netbook form factor and said they were just cheap, slow laptops. While that might have been true for the first generation of Netbooks, the second generation (with 1.6GHz Atom H/T CPUs) have been quite usable. In fact, I wrote this on one. Intel has followed up with an even more capable Atom processor that is just starting to appear in newer Netbook models. It appears more generations of netbooks are coming: those with the newer Atom CPUs, and those with ARM CPUs. One will speed up the Netbook, and the other will reduce its capabilities and make it cheaper.

I suspect the iPad is what it is because Apple decided it couldn't compete on features and price against the Netbook... so they decided to change the game. I think several of the major PC makers wish the Netbook would be declared a fad and just go away. Why, because there isn't a lot of mark-up on Netbooks and the competition is fierce. Apple wanted a device that would be inexpensive to manufacture yet something in a category where they could do what they always do... price it with a large profit margin. Amazon has done quite well with the Kindle and Apple has done quite well with the iPhone / iPod Touch so why not combine the two?

The sad thing is that Apple has basically delivered a Netbook but by chopping off the keyboard (and all of the I/O ports), giving it a touch screen, and crippling it significantly in several ways, they have everyone convinced that it is a new form factor. This is aided by the fact that it is reminiscent of devices from the Star Trek universe. In writing this article, I hope to expose the iPad for what it really is and stay out of Steve Job's reality distortion field.

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