Video: systemd.conf 2016 - State of the Union / Portable Services

Submitted by Scott Dowdle on Wed, 11/02/2016 - 09:45

There have been a ton of conferences in the last couple of months... and luckily a lot of the presentations were recorded and have been posted.  Here is Lennart Poettering's presentation from the systemd.conf 2016 conference on, "State of the Union / Portable Services".  Enjoy.

Audio: Open Source Security Podcast, Episode 10

Submitted by Scott Dowdle on Tue, 10/25/2016 - 11:44

Everyone has been sweating the DirtyCOW bug that has been in the Linux kernel for over 9 years.  I recently discovered the Open Source Security Podcast and their most recent episode covers DirtyCOW some in a way I found interesting so I thought I'd share.  Enjoy!

Notice that is in Opus format which should play in Firefox and Google Chrome just fine... and supposedly Microsoft's Edge. Apple's Safari? Not so much

CloudReady by neverware

Submitted by Putz3000 on Thu, 09/29/2016 - 23:31

I thought I would put together a quick “installation” review of a product called CloudReady by neverware. What is CloudReady? CloudReady is basically a project to bring Chromium OS to those who would like to convert traditional laptops into Chromebook-like devices. I stumbled on them several months ago and finally decided to see how hard it was to install Chromium OS and how functional it actually was as a Chromebook-like device. I have a few low end (netbook-like) devices and I have been trying to figure out how I could make them functional for my boys, I thought this might be the solution.

neverware offers two solutions, one is via paid support that I believe is largely aimed at school districts but I would assume is available to anyone wanting to buy support. The other offering is free for home users and this is the option I took. There is a certified hardware list in the form of a PDF but that does not mean CloudReady can’t be installed on a device not on the hardware list. It just means neverware has not certified against that hardware. neverware also offers a fairly simple set of installation instructions. Possibly too simple as it took me two attempts because I did not read the instructions close enough the first time.

Initially I did not look at the certified hardware list as I was just “dinking” around with both CloudReady as well as a little HP Mini 5102. I approached this project as it would either run or not run and just plowed into this headfirst with a “no guts, no glory” mind set. I would recommend looking at the certified hardware list to see if your device is on the list. If so look closely at the information provided. Some hardware may need to be updated to a certain BIOS version before working. If you want the easy way to create a bootable USB drive you will need to use a Windows computer or Mac computer. I do not know why a company like Google, who is very much linked to Linux through Android as well as workstations used within the company as well as their Chromebook OS refuses to offer much in the line of Linux support, but it’s no different here. I believe there might be instructions on the neverware website for building the bootable USB installer using Linux but the simpler method is to use a Chrome extension under Windows or Mac OS to create the needed USB bootable installer. Once you have created the bootable USB drive you will want to boot your device from it. When the boot wizard displays a window that allows you to connect to a network you will want to click in the lower right task bar to bring up a menu that allows you to install CloudReady on your devices local hardware. You do not need a network connection for the installation. After selecting the option to install CloudReady you will be asked if you want a “stand alone installation” or a “dual boot installation.” neverware cautions that the dual boot option may not work on all hardware. I cannot comment on dual booting CloudReady as I have not attempted a dual boot installation with any of the installations I have done. After selecting the type of installation (stand alone or dual boot) the installer takes over and approximately 20 minutes later your device will power off indicating the installation is complete.

Now that the installation is over, remove the USB installer and power on your device. You will be offered the opportunity to install an Adobe Flash module which you can allow or decline. After that you will be prompted for your Google hosted account (Gmail or personal domain hosted with Google). It is at this stage that you must have a connection to the Internet either by Ethernet or WiFi. Once logged in you are good to go. There are some differences that will require some extra effort and possibly the installation of Chrome extensions. Off hand it would appear to me to be centered around DRM type content situations such as streaming multi-media like Netflix. You can find information on the neverware forums if this is an issue you want to tackle.

My first installation was not without troubleshooting issues. The first issue I faced was because I did not read the instructions close enough. I missed the step to actually select installing CloudReady to the devices local hard drive and instead logged in with a Google account basically converting my USB installer into a CloudReady boot disk. After reading the instructions a little closer I started over and actually selected the option to install CloudReady to the HP mini’s hard drive. After the HP mini 5102 powered off I thought for sure everything was good to go and hit the power button expecting a “Chromebook” like boot experience. I was a bit disappointed and confused when I received a “non system disk” boot error. This confused me a bit because booting from a USB stick worked fine which would indicate the only hardware problem of note would be hard drive vs USB. It was at this point that I eventually decided to look at the certified hardware list and saw that the HP mini 5102 was not on the list...but the 5103 model was. Thinking that there might not be much difference between the models I decided to take a look at the information for the 5103 and ended up noticing a BIOS firmware version requirement. I checked HP’s website and found that the 5102’s BIOS was pretty far out of date so I figured it wouldn’t hurt to update. After updating the BIOS on the 5102, I restarted and was presented with the CloudReady logo and login opportunity. I will say that after briefly playing with CloudReady, it would seem to me that you will be much happier using devices with reasonable computing resources but if you have ever looked into official Chromebooks you will know that is the recommendations for actual Chromebooks as well. All in all, CloudReady seems to deliver a Chrome OS experience just like I had expected. If you decide to try CloudReady out please leave a comment and tell me about your experience.I thought I would put together a quick “installation” review of a product called CloudReady by neverware (https://www.neverware.com/). What is CloudReady? CloudReady is basically a project to bring Chromium OS to those who would like to convert traditional laptops into Chromebook-like devices. I stumbled on them several months ago and finally decided to see how hard it was to install Chromium OS and how functional it actually was as a Chromebook-like device. I have a few low end (netbook-like) devices and I have been trying to figure out how I could make them functional for my boys, I thought this might be the solution.

neverware offers two solutions, one is via paid support that I believe is largely aimed at school districts but I would assume is available to anyone wanting to buy support. The other offering is free for home users and this is the option I took. There is a certified hardware list in the form of a PDF but that does not mean CloudReady can’t be installed on a device not on the hardware list. It just means neverware has not certified against that hardware. neverware also offers a fairly simple set of installation instructions. Possibly too simple as it took me two attempts because I did not read the instructions close enough the first time.neverware offers two solutions, one is via paid support that I believe is largely aimed at school districts but I would assume is available to anyone wanting to buy support. The other offering is free for home users and this is the option I took. There is a certified hardware list in the form of a PDF but that does not mean CloudReady can’t be installed on a device not on the hardware list. It just means neverware has not certified against that hardware. neverware also offers a fairly simple set of installation instructions. Possibly too simple as it took me two attempts because I did not read the instructions close enough the first time.

Initially I did not look at the certified hardware list as I was just “dinking” around with both CloudReady as well as a little HP Mini 5102. I approached this project as it would either run or not run and just plowed into this headfirst with a “no guts, no glory” mind set. I would recommend looking at the certified hardware list to see if your device is on the list. If so look closely at the information provided. Some hardware may need to be updated to a certain BIOS version before working. If you want the easy way to create a bootable USB drive you will need to use a Windows computer or Mac computer. I do not know why a company like Google, who is very much linked to Linux through Android as well as workstations used within the company as well as their Chromebook OS refuses to offer much in the line of Linux support, but it’s no different here. I believe there might be instructions on the neverware website for building the bootable USB installer using Linux but the simpler method is to use a Chrome extension under Windows or Mac OS to create the needed USB bootable installer. Once you have created the bootable USB drive you will want to boot your device from it. When the boot wizard displays a window that allows you to connect to a network you will want to click in the lower right task bar to bring up a menu that allows you to install CloudReady on your devices local hardware. You do not need a network connection for the installation. After selecting the option to install CloudReady you will be asked if you want a “stand alone installation” or a “dual boot installation.” neverware cautions that the dual boot option may not work on all hardware. I cannot comment on dual booting CloudReady as I have not attempted a dual boot installation with any of the installations I have done. After selecting the type of installation (stand alone or dual boot) the installer takes over and approximately 20 minutes later your device will power off indicating the installation is complete.

Now that the installation is over, remove the USB installer and power on your device. You will be offered the opportunity to install an Adobe Flash module which you can allow or decline. After that you will be prompted for your Google hosted account (Gmail or personal domain hosted with Google). It is at this stage that you must have a connection to the Internet either by Ethernet or WiFi. Once logged in you are good to go. There are some differences that will require some extra effort and possibly the installation of Chrome extensions. Off hand it would appear to me to be centered around DRM type content situations such as streaming multi-media like Netflix. You can find information on the neverware forums if this is an issue you want to tackle.

My first installation was not without troubleshooting issues. The first issue I faced was because I did not read the instructions close enough. I missed the step to actually select installing CloudReady to the devices local hard drive and instead logged in with a Google account basically converting my USB installer into a CloudReady boot disk. After reading the instructions a little closer I started over and actually selected the option to install CloudReady to the HP mini’s hard drive. After the HP mini 5102 powered off I thought for sure everything was good to go and hit the power button expecting a “Chromebook” like boot experience. I was a bit disappointed and confused when I received a “non system disk” boot error. This confused me a bit because booting from a USB stick worked fine which would indicate the only hardware problem of note would be hard drive vs USB. It was at this point that I eventually decided to look at the certified hardware list and saw that the HP mini 5102 was not on the list...but the 5103 model was. Thinking that there might not be much difference between the models I decided to take a look at the information for the 5103 and ended up noticing a BIOS firmware version requirement. I checked HP’s website and found that the 5102’s BIOS was pretty far out of date so I figured it wouldn’t hurt to update. After updating the BIOS on the 5102, I restarted and was presented with the CloudReady logo and login opportunity. I will say that after briefly playing with CloudReady, it would seem to me that you will be much happier using devices with reasonable computing resources but if you have ever looked into official Chromebooks you will know that is the recommendations for actual Chromebooks as well. All in all, CloudReady seems to deliver a Chrome OS experience just like I had expected. If you decide to try CloudReady out please leave a comment and tell me about your experience.  

Movie Review: Snowden (2016)

Submitted by Scott Dowdle on Thu, 09/15/2016 - 06:42

Snowden PosterLast night Gary Bummer (fellow BozemanLUG member) and I went to a special event at our local move theater.  It was a showing (2 days early) of Oliver Stone's "Snowden" film (trailer) about... did you guess it?... Edward Snowden.  This showing was dubbed, "Snowden Live" because after the film there was to be a live satellite feed of a discussion with five people, one via webcam from Russia.  The ticket price was a bit higher than a normal movie ($15 vs. $10.45) but still very reasonable.

Prelude
Before I write about the film I'll  mention that I already knew a lot about Edward Snowden and his story.  I've watched the "Citizenfour" documentary (trailer, it's on YouTube?) several times as well as seen about a half dozen TV specials and read many web articles and of course, like most everyone else, lived through it as an American citizen with all of the national media reports.  I wasn't expecting much new, substantial information in the film.

The Film
What "Snowden" does is put a human face on Mr. Snowden (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and his girlfriend Lindsay Mills (played by Shailene Woodley).  It also does a good job of peering into their lives and presenting what it might be like working deep inside the intelligence community of the United States post-911.  As you would expect from an Oliver Stone film, it is beautiful, fluid, and entertaining.  It is also definitely a work of art... and by that I mean, it has several attributes added in to be more interesting (like a totally unnecessary sex scene with partial nudity), and some artistic license taken.  The film makes quite an effort to elevate Snowden's stature within the various agencies and contracting companies at which he worked... by making it seem as if Edward was a near-genius who worked on major projects.  I don't know how accurate all of the details in the film were... but many of those details simply weren't that important anyway.

In a nutshell, the film makes a case that whatever laws Edward Snowden broke were morally right for him to break on at least three levels: 1) Constitutionally (what the government was doing was illegal), 2) Ethically (at least three bigger wigs within the government agencies had tried various legal ways and failed horribly) and 3) Personally (they were spying on him and his girlfriend).  The film also implies that the later was really the last straw for Snowden.  It was also made clear that Snowden made a concerted effort not to "leak" like Wikileaks, but instead to give the secret documents to journalists that he had hand picked to do-the-right-thing in the most responsible manner possible.  Snowden was very aware of the sacrifices he would potentially have to make.

As I'm guessing you can guess, the film makes him out to be a hero.  I did cringe a little whenever I noticed the little bits of obvious "hollywoodness", but overall it was a very personal and emotional film that didn't waste a lot of time digging into all of the techie stuff.  While it did cover some computery topics it did so in such a way as not to confuse or over-complicate the story and it was completely digestible by non-techies.

About that "Live"
So, now on to the "Live" portion of the event.  Unfortunately our cinema had some technical difficulties and was about 30 minutes late in getting the movie started.  We were also given a 5 minute break after the movie ended.  As a result, the "live" event that came after was close to if not completely over with by the time we got to see it... but see it we did... as a recording.

Some interesting things that came from the Q&A ---  Joseph Gordon-Levitt got to meet Edward Snowden's parents, two grand-mothers, and his step-mother at the premiere of the film the previous night (perhaps not all at that one event?) and they said that they could actually see Edward within the performance and they definitely approved of the film (from JG-L's recollection).  Edward Snowden did not actually smuggle out a microSD card in a Rubik's Cube as shown in the film but he did buy a bunch of them and gave them away as gifts to various co-workers so they were all around one or more of the offices he worked in.  Privacy is still important and indeed is not dead.  The best way to take action (for any interested viewer) is to learn more about the issues, participate in public discussions, and get involved politically.  There were no real fluff questions and while it wasn't scripted I wouldn't be surprised if everyone had gotten a list of the questions before the event so they could prepare... as all of the answers were very well thought out and fairly concise... although in the case of Mr. Snowden, he has done quite a bit of webcam-based interviews, presentations and discussions from Russia over the last couple of years so I'm sure he could have easily spoken much more in depth if that had been the venue for it... which it was not.  The only awkward part of the whole thing was Oliver Stone getting his third birthday cake of the day and the obligatory singing of the "Happy Birthday".

Conclusion
As a Linux fan, one thing that dissapointed me was the use of way more Microsoft Windows and Mac OS in the computer screen shots... than Linux.  Sure there was a ton of command line windows and text streaming by... but usually with a Windows logo at the bottom left corner.  I don't think the word "Linux" was ever mentioned.  One thing that was highly featured in the film was the"Electronic Frontier Foundation" (EFF) sticker Edward had on the back of his laptop.  At times it almost felt like a commercial for the EFF... and that was a good thing.

I don't think I spoiled the movie too much and I highly recommend you go and see it.  By the way, since we got such a late start, the cinama folks gave each audience member a free ticket to see another movie.  That was awesome.  Thanks Regal Gallatin Valley Cinemas 11!

Social and Political Analysis
Is Edward Snowden a hero?  I think so.  Did he break some laws?  Definitely.  Should he be held accountable for the laws he broke?  Yes and no.  The problem is that since this is dealing with national intelligence and security, a lot of the penalties can be quite severe. There have been former government employees who have been executed for being spies and some believe Mr. Snowden falls into that category.  While I think there should be some penalties, death should be completely off the table.  Should he serve jail time?  Probably... but how long and how hard should that time be?  Ideally Edward Snowden should get a pardon from President Obama at the tail end of his term like is so often the case when Presidents are leaving office... but I think the political price of that for Obama would be great and I don't see it is very probable although I believe the ACLU is lobbying for it.  A more likely scenario is that there will be lots and lots of talk but nothing will change and  Mr. Snowden will have to remain outside of the United States and do his best to avoid getting captured and brought back to the United States otherwise... well, you get the picture, right?

How good of a job did the journalists (that Snowden hand picked) do at getting the secret information out in a conscientious way? Reasonably well in my estimation.  I don't think any mistakes the journalists might have made should be pinned on  Snowden.  Did people die as a result of the information that was released and because of any mistakes made in process? I'll leave that to the experts to debate and decide.

Video: KVM Forum 2016 - Painless Switch to KVM

Submitted by Scott Dowdle on Fri, 09/02/2016 - 16:46

Yep, I'm a big OpenVZ guy.  OpenVZ 7 just came out at the end of July.  It added KVM virtual machines in addition to OpenVZ containers.  That was a big change considering the commercial product OpenVZ came from (PCS  - Parallels Cloud Server v6) used a proprietary hypervisor.  Den Lunev, who has worked on this stuff for 15+ years (SWsoft, Parallels, and now Virtuozzo) spoke about everything that went into moving to KVM in Virtuozzo 7 / OpenVZ 7 at the KVM Forum last week.  Enjoy! (PDF Slide Deck)