Proxmox VE - Upgrade from 6.4 to 7.0

Submitted by Scott Dowdle on Tue, 08/10/2021 - 09:31

A while ago I decided to take the plunge by upgrading the 5-node Proxmox VE cluster at work from the 6.4 version (based on Debian 10) to the new 7.x version (based on Debian 11).  Debian hasn't made a GA release of 11 yet so some thought it curious that Proxmox would release PVE 7.4 to GA.

How was the upgrade process?  Proxmox VE is a very light-weight system and doesn't use a whole lot of packages so it was a very easy upgrade process.  Historically, Debian is one of the most pain-free upgrades among the Linux distributions.  PVE does have some advanced features but I'm not using any of them...  no ZFS, no Ceph distributed storage, etc.  All of my VMs use a qcow2 disk image file stored on an standard partition formatted with XFS.   I'm not currently using a lot of containers (mostly VMs) so the switch from cgroups v1 to v2 didn't impact me.  They do have good documentation on the upgrade process as well as a software tool named pve6to7.  I ran pve6to7 and it found no issues.  I backed up all of my VMs and upgraded the first host without incident and then did all of the other hosts one-by-one until they were all complete.  I haven't noticed any issues post upgrade.  There have been quite a number of updates since the upgrade but I'm guessing that is fairly normal as Debian 11 approaches GA release.

What's new in 7.x?  Not a whole lot... at least not in this, the initial release.  The big change is the move to a newer version of Debian... which I imagine was quite some work.  I'd expect them to add more new substancial features in future 7.x releases.  I do post a video below from them showing the main new features in 7.x so far.  Enjoy!

Video: AlmaLinux 8.4 installable Live XFCE Media

Submitted by Scott Dowdle on Fri, 06/04/2021 - 14:05

I've been wanting and trying to create live media for EL8 since the initial 8.0 release of CentOS.  The main problem I ran into is that RHEL has decided that their customers aren't interested in live media and they didn't produce any... and CentOS hasn't either.  I've been using livecd-creator from the livecd-tools package for years for making personal remixes of Fedora and CentOS 7.  In EL8, livecd-creator comes from EPEL and it has had various issues since the initial 8.0 release... and I've only been able to produce broken .iso media if I could get it to build at all.  Luckily one or more Fedora developers have taken pity on me and been updating / fixing livecd-creator in EPEL recently.

Another problem is that RHEL also decided that since they don't have live media anymore, the RHEL Anaconda installer no longer needs to support live media installs, and they have removed the anaconda-live package from their stock repositories... although I did learn today that it is built by CentOS but just not placed in the public repositories... but if you look for it hard enough, it can be found in their newly opened up build servers.

I've been working with AlmaLinux a bit lately and they provide the anaconda-live package in their off-by-default (and shouldn't really be used for production systems) devel repository.

With the updated livecd-creator and the newly found source(s) for anaconda-live... I've renewed my efforts and finally was able to produce an AlmaLinux 8.4 installable XFCE live media.  I did run into some qwerks that are explained in the screencast below that shows me booting the media in a KVM virtual machine, doing and install, and then showing a little bit of the post-install desktop system.  The .iso includes a /root/livecd-creator directory that has all of the files I used to build the media with and the system has all of the needed packages pre-installed for building.  Anyone who might want to make their own remix can do some minor editing (updating the repository URLs as they currently point to a local mirror I'm using... as well as customizing the package list as desired) of the included files and build their own.  Enjoy!

If anyone wants a copy of the .iso, just email me (see web page footer for contact info) asking for a download link and I'll reply back... as I do not publicly promote MontanaLinux as it is primarily a personal remix.

UPDATE: Anyone who wants to build their own media needs to be aware that there are currently two bugs in livecd-creator... one already fixed in the livecd-tools package currently in epel-updates-testing, and one that needs to be manually patched.   The manual patch is easy though, just edit /usr/lib/python-3.6/site-packages/imgcreate/live.py and add a new after line 239 (Line 239: # XXX-BCL; does this need --label?).  Put in the following:
            makedirs(isodir + "/images")
So make sure you are using livecd-tools-28.1-1 from epel-updates-testing with the given 0ne-line patch and you should be able to build working media.

UPDATE 2:  I fixed the XFCE media so now it uses SDDM rather than GDM and the live media automatically logs into XFCE.  I have also added media for KDE Plasma and GNOME (aka WORK).  They all seem to be working well but I haven't tested them on UEFI.

UPDATE3: I believe I'm missing one or more packages needed to install the bootloader on UEFI systems.  All of my (working) testing has been on Legacy BIOS-based VMs.  I'll get it fixed ASAP.

UPDATE4: It should work on both Legacy BIOS and UEFI (including secure boot enabled) now.  It was an issue with livecd-creator that has gotten fixed.

CentOS announces reduced lifecycle on CentOS 8 and Stream Focus

Submitted by Scott Dowdle on Tue, 12/08/2020 - 13:49

Regarding CentOS Project shifts focus to CentOS Stream:

My following statements will pigeon-hole both Fedora and CentOS as being a-certain-thing when they are really nuanced and multi-faceted. Fedora is way ahead of RHEL... and RHEL was usually freezing on a version of Fedora and then building on it for a year to a year and a half before it became RHEL and by that time, Fedora had kept on moving with 3 more releases. So while Fedora is (again in a single aspect) the proving ground for new technologies... it led by alot.

CentOS has always been a lagging follower of RHEL... as it rebuilt from RHEL sources and it usually took them time to figure out the build requirements to get as close as possible... as again... RHEL building a distro over 12+ months... different packages had different build requirements because they were made at different periods of time... and figuring those out, in a few cases, can be difficult.

So Red Hat has had a dilemma (from my perspective, I'm not sure if they acknowledge this as being an issue or something by-design) over the last couple of releases.... they have taken longer and longer to have a new major release. I think part of that is because of the large number of changes that happen in Fedora so quickly.

By creating CentOS Stream, RHEL wants to shift from being based on Fedora to being based on CentOS which puts CentOS in-front of RHEL rather than behind... but not very far in front. Fedora still plays a role in being where all of the new stuff gets developed and battle-tested before being integrated into CentOS Stream and then being integrated into RHEL.

My guess is that CentOS Stream 8 won't be that radical and that it will serve the needs of most folks who would like to run RHEL but don't want to pay for it... so realistically, I don't think much is going to change from a user's perspective.

There has ALWAYS been the feeling that RHEL and clones were just too old to run once it was several years into its lifecycle. I mean, out of the gate, it is a 1.5+ year old Fedora release (loosely).  There has always been a significant number of people who wanted fresher stuff in EL and with CentOS Stream 8  they should (maybe) actually be happier... although RH has addressed quite a bit of that issue with AppStreams (aka "modularity").

I also got the perception, although I can't really point to any specific data to support it, that CentOS was overtaxed trying to support BOTH CentOS 8 and CentOS 8 Stream.  Another perception was that EL8 just hasn't had the uptake of previous new releases... and more folks are sticking with EL7 for longer, again without any real data to prove that... but I think it is a fairly common perception on the #centos channel on their Freenode IRC channel.

SL (Scientific Linux) decided NOT to do EL8 because they said CentOS was doing such a good job that they didn't need to duplicate the effort. This announcement changes that, so maybe SL will change its mind. If they don't there is also Oracle EL, which they give away for free, and you only have to pay for it if you want support... although I haven't looked at their terms. If no existing related EL clone picks up the slack, surely one or more communities will spring up to do so. It will be routed around if needed.

Red Hat has also discovered it quite hard to explain the relationship between Fedora, CentOS and RHEL (a Penrose Triangle?)... and I think this change actually alters the relationships in such a way that makes it much more understandable.

Of course there are those who are crying foul... often folks who have called many fouls in the past, many of which have turned out to be inconsequential.  We'll have to see how this pans out, but I'm actually optimistic and think the change can potentially lead to a few unanticipated benefits.  Will I have to eat my words?

For now though, a big THANK YOU to Red Hat and the members of the CentOS community for all of the hard work they have put in in the past and what they'll be doing in the future.  I often tell people I run Red Hat-based distros and some tell me they do not... and I'll take the opportunity to comment on how Red Hat contributes so much to the mainline Linux kernel every release cycle (~9-12% or so) as well as sponsors dozens and dozens of core FOSS projects that are used by everyone... that (almost) everyone who runs Linux, is using Red Hat... just perhaps indirectly.

Video: podman systemd-based system containers with GUI Desktop

Submitted by Scott Dowdle on Sun, 11/01/2020 - 17:24

In this screencast I show how to build a podman image using the Fedora 33 base image to include httpd, mariadb, openssh-server as well the XFCE desktop environment with a sampling of desktop applications.  I then make and run a container with the image and show you how to connect to it with ssh, http, and X2Go.  Oh, and I do all of it as a regular user... as a rootless container.  The POWER of podman.  Obviously watch it in full-screen or download. Enjoy!

For information on how to convert a podman container into a systemd service flle that can be managed with systemctl... even as a user service... see this fine video: Managing Containers in podman with systemd Unit Files

Here's a fine article by the master (Dan Walsh) that discusses rootless containers for anyone who might want more info.

Video: CentOS 8 XFCE / zram swap screencast

Submitted by Scott Dowdle on Mon, 10/12/2020 - 16:50

CentOS 8 only provides the GNOME Desktop.  What if you want XFCE?  EPEL has it.  What if you want to access it remotely?  x2goserver is your friend.  What if you are on a Digital Ocean Droplet and don't have any swap?  Use zram swap.  Enjoy.

BTW, the same recipe works with Fedora... just using stock repos. zram-swap is going to be on by default in Fedora 33... but probably not in the Digital Ocean Droplet image.