Video: LCA 2017 - Package Managers All the Way Down

Submitted by Scott Dowdle on Tue, 02/07/2017 - 14:28

Anyone who has been using Linux for a while is familiar with package managers and package management.  Being a Fedora user, I have noticed a few projects that Fedora has in the works to augment package management.  For example, Fedora Atomic does not the traditional package manager (dnf) but uses rpm-ostree instead.  Why would Fedora be working on additional packaging systems?  What is wrong with existing package managers?  I have been asking myself those questions for some time now.

Kristoffer Grönlund provides answers to those questions in a talk entitled, "Package Manages all the way down".  Enjoy.

FedBerry 25 on the Raspberry Pi 3

Submitted by Scott Dowdle on Sat, 01/21/2017 - 19:24

FebBerry LogoI've been running FedBerry 24 on my Rasperry Pi 3 for some time now.  It has been hooked up to the HDTV in the back bedroom.  While I don't use it on a daily basis, I do try to login to it once a week or so and keep it updated... and reboot whenever there is a kernel update. Given the rate of Fedora updates and frequent FedBerry kernel updates, the project is fairly active.

What is FedBerry?  FedBerry is a Fedora-remix made by three guys who have built glue packages for Fedora's ARM release and produced a few different images for the RPi 2 and Pi 3.  Download the .tar.xz, decompress and write it to a microSD card, insert card into Raspberry Pi... and snap... you have Fedora.  They started with Fedora 23, are on Fedora 24 now, and fairly recently released packages for Fedora 25... although no images for Fedora 25 yet.

As I write this, I'm in the middle of upgrading my F24 system to F25.  The number of packages the FedBerry folks have to produce is pretty small.  They are mostly related to the kernel and various branding packages.  It really isn't that far away from Fedora's ARM build.  Fedora has said that they are working on getting a release to run on the Raspberry Pi but historically there have been a few roadblocks that over time have been dissolving.  The main ones were with kernel support that wasn't in mainline and/or proprietary and the use of the FAT filesystem for the boot partition... or something like that.  I read a few blog posts on it a couple of months ago but don't remember the exact details.

Anyhoo, I run XFCE and a host of other common desktop software on the RPi3 and it works great.  While it is no speed demon, all of the hardware works including the wifi.  I can ssh into it and even connect to it via x2go for a remote XFCE session.  Overall, I'm very impressed with FedBerry.

I will update this post with info on how the upgrade went.  The FedBerry devs didn't announce their F25 packages, or at least not that I saw, but I noticed a 25 directory on their repo site and thought I'd stick my neck out.  If it fails on me, it would really be my fault for being a earlier-than-early adopter... but so far it seems to be working.

Update: The upgrade went fine.  Rebooted and had a 4.9.2 Linux kernel. FB24 had 4.4.41.  All the hardware continues to work fine.  Thanks FedBerry!

The method I used was: dnf system-upgrade download --nogpgcheck --releasever=25 followed by dnf system-upgrade reboot

Video: What's Next for Containers?

Submitted by Scott Dowdle on Wed, 11/02/2016 - 09:50

Red Hat's Vincent Batts gives a  presentation at systemd.conf 2016 conference entitled, "What's next for containers?".  It is a good overview of where the various container projects are (with no mention of OpenVZ however) and what work needs to be done.  I enjoyed his assessment that the first thing that is next is, "Get Past the Hype," and to, "Make Containers Boring."  Vincent goes over several of the userland tools as well as covers the areas where Linux native containers still need work.  Enjoy.

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!


OpenSourceSecurityPodcast-010-20161024.opus

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.

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.