Video: A Different Linus talks about an Open CPU

Submitted by Scott Dowdle on Wed, 08/29/2018 - 09:37

We have had a few discussions about the RISC-V development (at the BozemanLUG meetings).  Some Fedora folks have gotten Linux working on some of the RISC-V development boards.  There appear to be several layers to the overall design from the low-end moving up.  Can RISC-V ever become a viable, mainstream alternative?  Time will tell... but at the very least, seeing such developments gives me some hope.  Here's a somewhat mainstream "youtuber" talking about RISC-V and given the number of views so far, maybe the word / information will break through.

Video: Raspberry Pi 3B+ on Pi Day

Submitted by Scott Dowdle on Thu, 03/15/2018 - 08:29

I'm sure everyone has already heard this from yesterday... but yes after believing there wouldn't be a new Raspberry Pi release for 2018 because nothing was announced at the end of Feb., the Raspberry Pi foundation pulled a fast one on Pi Day by announcing a new revision of the Raspberry Pi 3B.  They added a + to the end of it: Raspberry Pi 3B+.

What's new?  They improved power regulation and cooling of the CPU enabling a default clockrate 200MHz faster than the previous Pi (1.4GHz).  They totally refreshed the radio components (with a nice RPi logo stamped on the cover of it) bumping the wifi to dual-band 802.11ac and Blutooth 4.2.   They also improved ethernet performance making it "faster ethernet" but just under 1GBit along with 4 new pins for Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) capabilities with an add-on HAT.  Overall it is a cleaner design and the best Raspberry Pi to date.

While some had hoped for a doubling of the RAM (still only 1GB) that just wasn't in the cards as RAM prices have been significantly increasing over the last year and it is very important to the Raspberry Pi Foundation to keep the price point at $35.

Quite a few reviewers got a hold of the new model early and were able to post informative videos on YouTube including some benchmarks.  Retailers don't quite have them in stock yet but will RSN.  I already put in my order with Newark and it should be shipping in about 10 days.  I hope to get FedBerry going on mine for a desktop Fedora system.  I'll post about that when the time comes.  In the meantime, enjoy the following brief video mentioning what's new in the Raspberry Pi 3B+.

Update: My Rpi3B+ arrived on Monday, March 19th.  Wow, that was fast.  I couldn't find the case I had so I haven't had time to play with it yet.  For some reason, it seems smaller than previous models.

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.

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.

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.

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".

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)