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Archive for July, 2008

LXer Article

In this week’s Roundup we have a Linux vs. Windows RAM test, Apple and Mark Shuttleworth make a plash at OSCON, SCO’s future is all dried up, the Washington Post asks for help in building a web tablet, 10 tricks for lazy Admins and our own Hans Kwint has a bad experience with LVM.

CherryPal Mini PC Makes Firefox the OS: PC users seeking an environmentally friendly desktop system can add the new CherryPal C100 desktop to the list of contenders. The machine, announced Monday, was designed by green computer maker CherryPal and contains no moving parts. With 80 percent fewer components, the minimalist system uses a scant 2 watts of power.

Face off: Windows vs Linux real world RAM and disk tests: Forget fear, uncertainty and doubt. How do Windows Vista and Linux really compare against each other? It’s one thing to talk about the familiar applications available to Windows users contrasted with the rich suite of free open source apps for Linux, but something totally different to actually compare the loads of the two operating systems as they perform functionally identical tasks.

IBM, Oracle, SAP Sued Over Server Software Patents: Implicit Networks Inc., based in Seattle, claims the three companies and Adobe Systems Inc. are violating two patents for computer-server software that performs faster security functions. The patents were issued from 1998 and 2001 applications. The complaint, filed July 15 in federal court in Seattle, targets IBM’s Websphere Application Server, Oracle’s Application Server and BEA WebLogic Server, SAP’s NetWeaver and Adobe’s JRun and ColdFusion products.

OSCON 2008: Microsoft Attends, But Apple Steals the Show: How’s this for ironic: Microsoft is actually spending some sponsorship dollars here at OSCON (Open Source Conference) 2008, but Apple is stealing the show without spending a dime. Here’s how, according to The VAR Guy.

SCO Group: Its future is all used up: The SCO Group got bad news in court last week. Not an unusual event for this company, but I wish the need for such events would finally go away for good. I’ve now been writing about SCO for five years — how time does fly when you have someone to despise. In my first column about SCO’s decision go into the lawsuit business rather than having to do all the hard work of making a product that someone might want to buy, I thought that someone would just buy the slime off. I was wrong — I guess there is some truth to the punch line of the old joke that “there are just some things a lawyer won’t do.” I guess IBM’s lawyers could not stomach the idea of rewarding such repulsive behavior.

Lazy Linux: 10 Essential Tricks for Admins: In this article, learn how to be a more productive Linux systems administrator. These 10 essential tricks will lead you on your way to being one powerful Linux systems administrator. Learn about SSH tunnels, VNC, password recovery, console spying, and more. Examples accompany each trick, so you can duplicate them on your own systems.

Linux is easier to install than XP: When you buy a new PC today, unless you hunt down a Linux system or you buy a Mac, you’re pretty much stuck with Vista. Sad, but true. So, when I had to get a new PC in a hurry, after one of my PCs went to the big bit-ranch in the sky with a fried motherboard, the one I bought, a Dell Inspiron 530S from my local Best Buy came pre-infected with Vista Home Premium. Big deal. It took me less than an hour to install Linux Mint 5 Elyssa R1 on it.

We Want A Dead Simple Web Tablet For$200. Help Us Build It.: I’m tired of waiting- I want a dead simple and dirt cheap touch screen web tablet to surf the web. Nothing fancy like the Dell latitude XT, which costs $2,500. Just a Macbook Air-thin touch screen machine that runs Firefox and possibly Skype on top of a Linux kernel. It doesn’t exist today, and as far as we can tell no one is creating one. So let’s design it, build a few and then open source the specs so anyone can create them.

Tutorial: Tip of the Trade: Linux Easter Egg Fun: For lo these many years here on ServerWatch’s Tip of the Trade, we have toiled to bring you useful tips and tricks to make your job a little easier, and to help you keep up with new applications and useful products. This week, in celebration of summer and the holiday week in United States, we decided to take a minibreak from the serious and bring you some Linux Easter Egg fun.

San Francisco’s mayor gets back keys to the network: San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom met with jailed IT administrator Terry Childs Monday, convincing him to hand over the administrative passwords to the city’s multimillion dollar wide area network.

The Mess That is Linux Volume Management: The GNU/Linux operating system is blessed to have sound partition management tools like GParted which are very easy to use. However, when it comes to the management of ‘virtual partitions’ known as volumes, things are quite different. There is Linx Volume Management, or LVM for short, however it can only really be used from the command line. Also, it doesn’t integrate software RAID – except for striping. I was quite optimistic when I started using volume management some four years ago, but not anymore. Let me explain why I’m disappointed.

Shuttleworth: Microsoft Does Not Want War: Mark Shuttleworth said he doubts Microsoft would file suit against a free software developer unless the software giant wants “war.” At the end of a session at the O’Reilly Open Source Convention, where Shuttleworth discussed the emerging practice of mixing agile development methods in with community development efforts, Shuttleworth responded to a question about the possibility of Microsoft making patent claims against open source code by saying: “I don’t believe Microsoft will file suit against free software developers. It would be tantamount to declaring nuclear war… And I can afford it.”

60 percent skipping Vista, so Ballmer looks to Apple: A new survey by KACE, a systems management appliance company, suggests that 60 percent of those surveyed have no plans to deploy Microsoft Windows Vista, a 10 percent rise over a similar survey administered by KACE in November 2007. A full 42 percent of these are actively exploring Vista alternatives, with 11 percent having made the leap to alternative platforms like Mac OS X or Linux.

Cloud Computing: When Computers Really Do Rule: In the nightmare scenario of Luddites everywhere, The Computers have been entrusted with mankind’s accumulated knowledge. All is well until that fateful day when the machines band together, creating a mammoth, all-powerful, living network that thinks, grows and takes over the Earth. Think”The Terminator” or”Colossus: The Forbin Project.”

Foxconn deliberately sabotaging their BIOS to destroy Linux ACPI: I disassembled my BIOS to have a look around, and while I won’t post the results here,I’ll tell you what I did find. They have several different tables, a group for Windws XP and Vista, a group for 2000, a group for NT, Me, 95, 98, etc. that just errors out, and one for LINUX.

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LXer Article

In this weeks Roundup, the judge in the SCO v. Novell suit finally hands down a ruling, a member of the Brazilian group that analyzed the OpenXML standard speaks out, debunking the Linux virus myth, a review of 12 web browsers for Linux, finding the fastest filesystem, a test drive of OpenOffice.org 3.0 and what Linus Torvalds thinks about BSD developers. On the lighter side, we end with a review of the Linux Hater’s Blog by Steven Rosenberg and Unix and Linux humor – know your SysAdmin.

Linux in schools: a teacher speaks: Catching them young is a popular slogan and one that yields dividends too, no matter whether one applies it to the adoption of software or the learning of a language. And with a small window seemingly open for Australia’s FOSS community to push for the use of free and open source software in schools, the question arises – how does one go about making the first inroads?

Mandriva Linux 2009.0 First Impressions: A first impression of Mandriva Linux 2009.0, and a bit of a retraction of some of the things I’ve said about KDE4.

Finding the Fastest Filesystem: Part of my “economic stimulus check” went to a 500GB SATA drive. My original intention was to buy two of them, so I could claim, “over a terabyte of disk space!”. Alas, I got a little ahead of myself; my system had only one open hard drive bay. With a slightly bruised ego, I returned the unopened second hard drive and began to ponder how to exploit my super-roomy disk space. I quickly settled on one goal: find the fastest journaling filesystem (FS) for my SLAMD64 dual-core computer, with 2G of memory. My testing focused on three main areas: filesystem, disk I/O scheduler, and CPU speed. Frankly, the final results stunned me.

Test drive OpenOffice.org 3.0: OpenOffice.org 3.0, the next major release of the open source office suite, is scheduled to be released in September. Which means that it is pretty much guaranteed to be included in the next release of Ubuntu 8.10, Mandriva 2009 and Fedora 10, all of which are due out in October. Until then it is easy enough to test out the beta releases of OpenOffice 3.0 without removing your existing 2x OpenOffice installation. Installing OpenOffice 3.0 beta also means you can test out Sun�?�¢??s PDF import extension which is also still in development.

One Down…Three To Go: Take one small town, one small group of dedicated Linux Geeks and what do you get? You get a town that is destined to run Linux on their computers. The first session of Lindependence 2008 set sail for the history books yesterday and there were some surprises for those who put on this event…and even more for some of those who attended.

Benchmarking hardware RAID vs. Linux kernel software RAID: Want to get an idea of what speed advantage adding an expensive hardware RAID card to your new server is likely to give you? You can benchmark the performance difference between running a RAID using the Linux kernel software RAID and a hardware RAID card. My own tests of the two alternatives yielded some interesting results.

What went wrong with the KDE 4 release?: When KDE 4.0 was released in January, it was supposed to be the foundation for a new era of desktop development. But as 4.x versions began finding their way into distributions, negative reactions began to obscure other ones. With the upcoming 4.1 release due at the end of this month, it’s hard to avoid wondering: what happened? To a degree, the answer seems to implicate everybody involved, from KDE and the distributions that ship it to the free software media and users.

12 Web Browsers for Linux – Review: Review of 12 web browsers for Linux, graphical and for command line. The article includes Firefox, Konqueror, Opera, Kazehakase, Dillo, Epiphany, Galeon, lynx, elinks, links, links2 and w3m.

Judge Kimball Rules at Last!: Judge Kimball rules in SCO v. Novell! Here it is [PDF] at last! I haven’t read it yet myself, just quickly skimmed it enough to see that SCO owes Novell some money ($2,547,817 plus interest probably — SCO can oppose — from the Sun agreement) and it had no right to enter into the Sun agreement, but it did have the right to enter into the Microsoft and other SCOsource agreements. Requests for attorneys fees are separate, and that part comes next. Then appeals.

Debunking the Linux Virus Myth: Linux and UNIX-like operating systems in general are regarded as being more secure for the common user, in contrast with operating systems that have “Windows” as part of their name. Why is that? When entering a dispute on the subject with a Windows user, the most common argument he tries to feed me is that Windows is more widespread, and therefore, more vulnerable. Apart from amusing myths like “Linux is only for servers” or “does it have a word processor?”, the issue of Linux desktop security is still seriously misunderstood.

What Linus Torvalds thinks about BSD: Linus Torvalds – the creator of Linus and its current maintainer – is by all account a brilliant human being. He can also be incredibly crass and rude. Case in point is a post he made to the Linux Kernel mailing list (LKML) yesterday, where he offered his opinion on security research and specifically the OpenBSD operating system (which is security centric). It’s soo rude that it’s ‘funny’ – that is if you’re not an OpenBSD developer or have a particular affection for monkeys.’

Will hypervisors make Ubuntu and other Linux operating systems obsolete?: Computing is on the verge of a major paradigm shift with the modern rise in prominence of virtualisation. Fuelled by big corporates interested in the consolidation and energy saving potentials, improvements in virtualisation have hit the point where Linux could be a casualty.

OpenXML: Finally the hidden agenda is emerging: Since I participate in the Brazilian group that analyzed the OpenXML, I have the distinct impression that a hidden agenda have guided the decisions of the JTC1 and more recently the SC34 at ISO. Not so long ago, the major evidence for me was the number of countries that changed their votes in the last days OpenXML voting, signaling a major political agreement for the approval of standard, but now, a few months later more strange thing is happening.

Linux Hater’s Blog actually well worth reading: Whatever your feelings are about Linux (or Windows, or OS X , or …) you really should check out the Linux Hater’s Blog. It’s actually farther from all-out-flaming than you’d think and basically challenges the Linux community to do better.

More Unix and Linux Humor – Know Your SysAdmin: Someone once said (and then a million people, like myself, have been repeating it ever since 😉 that laughter is the best medicine. After this week of crazy debate on this blog, I think a little humor is called for. I’ve got tons of it on my computer and I’m always surprised at the places I find old stuff that I figured wouldn’t even be available online anymore.

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LXer Article

In this week’s Roundup we have a slew of Microsoft related articles ranging from more MS-Yahoo! fallout to keeping a report in the UK from going public. A OpenSUSE 11.0 review, VMware Ousts CEO Diane Greene, The Swiss Army Distro, Xandros buys Linspire – What does it mean for Linux? and on a sad note longtime Linux evangelist Joe Barr passes away.

Looming IT talent shortage sidesteps FOSS folks: A Gartner study from earlier this year suggests that a skills shortage will leave companies scrambling in vain to find qualified help. However, open source developers say there’s an adequate supply of potential employees with the skills they have. “The difficulty is not so much if they exist. It’s finding the right people,” says Jon Masters, a Red Hat Linux kernel engineer who also works on the real-time kernel team and helps support third-party drivers on Enterprise Linux distributions. He says that the supply of competent Linux and open source software types will be enough to meet the demand.

The Swiss Army Distro – Might Someone Finally Be Getting It?: One of the things that’s bothered me to no end for quite a while is the ridiculously huge number of Linux distributions out there. 350+ active or semi-active and nearly 200 dead distros is rather pathetic in my opinion. I understand that some of this comes from the open source mentality of “if they won’t change, then we’ll fork the code and do it ourselves.” That’s where we got Gnome and KDE from, Compiz and Beryl, Debian and all of its derivatives, Xorg and XFree86, and many other forks and splits within the FOSS community.

VMware Ousts CEO Diane Greene: VMware ended a long-running battle over its strategic direction on July 8, ousting co-founder and CEO Diane Greene and installing Microsoft veteran Paul Maritz in her place. Investors pounded VMware’s once high-flying stock on the shakeup and a warnings on sales growth. Still, Maritz’s ascent could be just the tonic investors have sought as the company squares for a fight with the new CEO’s former employer and grabs turf in the emerging cloud-computing market.

Approximately 800 vulnerabilities discovered in antivirus products: Not Linux, but pertinent, I think….In what appears to be either a common scenario of “when the security solution ends up the security problem itself” or a Vulnerabilities Antivirus Software 2005/2007 product launch basing its strategy on outlining the increasing number of critical vulnerabilities found in competing antivirus products.

Pictures And Details Of Ubuntu Being Sold At Best Buy: Best Buy is now selling a boxed version of Ubuntu in stores. Though the placement could be better, the marketing on the box is really good.

Microsoft gags UK schools: The threat of reprisals from Microsoft lawyers has stopped Becta, the UK’s technology quango for schools, from publishing the details of the three-year megadeal it agreed with Microsoft in April. Microsoft already forbids Becta from saying how much money UK schools spend on its software. The US multinational has also forbidden the British people from knowing how much it is charging their schools for its software.

Linux examined: OpenSUSE 11.0: A few weeks ago, the OpenSUSE Project announced the release of OpenSUSE 11.0, the “community” edition of SUSE Linux, Novell’s commercial Linux distribution. Like most recent distributions, OpenSUSE is made up of the usual suspects, including GNOME and KDE-based desktops, Live CD and full DVD installation options, and an online repository of software that can be installed using a GUI tool.

Lotus Symphony: Big Blue Got It Right This Time: It’s arguably the prettiest alternative to Microsoft Office, with a clean interface in a soothing IBM blue. Oddly, the once-biggest name in computing christened it”Lotus Symphony,” after a spectacular and expensive failure that dates back to the days of DOS. But this new IBM Lotus Symphony seems poised for success.

Microsoft Crosses a Line: Until today I’ve largely been a big supporter of Microsoft’s efforts to acquire Yahoo. A couple of days before Microsoft placed its initial $44.6 billion bid for the company, I told Fox Business Channel that a Microsoft merger had to happen to save Yahoo (and I certainly wasn’t the first to say this, I just had magnificent timing). Throughout the ups and downs and stupendous drama of the negotiations, I held firm that a deal was in the best interests of both companies. Not because I’m a huge Microsoft fan, but because the health of the Internet requires a competitive search market. Google controls too much market share and too much related search revenue. A counterbalancing force is needed to keep the system healthy. And Microsoft or Yahoo standing alone cannot counter Google.

An Ubuntu PC From Canonical: Is it a good idea?: Just a few days ago, the news appeared that there was a boxed version of Ubuntu being sold at Best Buy stores. While I, and just about everyone else, was excited, there is a reality, as a WorksWithU article pointed out, that just having the software hidden away on some shelf is highly unlikely to attract new Ubuntu users. This made me wonder if it would be a smart move for Canonical to introduce an Ubuntu PC, probably a laptop?

In memoriam: Linux evangelist and Linux.com editor Joe Barr: Our colleague Joe Barr sometimes described himself as a doddering old geek. Many knew him as a Linux evangelist; others knew him from his ham radio activities. And those of us who worked with Joe knew him in all of his sometime irascible, often funny moods. Joe was always one of our favorite people, and we are devastated to report that he died at home, unexpectedly, last night.

Xandros buys Linspire – What does it mean for Linux?: Xandros bought Linspire the other day, and nobody really noticed. Neither Xandros nor Linspire has won the hearts and minds of Linux users or developers. Both are sold as Linux for the Windows user. Both sell versions of GNU/Linux that are easy to install and use, and both have tried, with varying success, to break into the business and consumer desktop market that is currently owned by Microsoft.

A Little Linux and Unix Humor – Error Messages: A list I found on the net of some hilarious error messages. Possibly for the Linux and Unix enthusiast only 😉

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LXer Article

The big news this week was Xandros buying Linspire with all the respective fallout included, a review of 11 video players for, Linux’s dirty little secret, Glyn Moody’s “Sir Bill and Sir Tim: A Tale of Two Knights”, Which Linux Distributions Are Dying?, Beyond the desktop with KDE4 and Carla Schroder’s Sidux review.

KDE: It’s time for a fork: OK, I’ve now tried KDE 4.1. I’d been assured that it would be better than KDE 4.0x. It is. That’s the good news. The bad news is that I still find KDE 4.1 to be inferior to KDE 3.5x. KDE’s developers believe that KDE 4.1 can fully replace KDE 3 for end users.?? I don’t see it.

Web Input – Securing Data, Hybrid Approach: In this installment, I will cite an example of automated email code designed for another purpose. Nonetheless, I see it is a critical step to confirm the validity of the form’s input. Moreover, unless and until I have received the expected human confirmation, that input is left in limbo [1.]. This is another means to prevent spurious, but uncaught data inputs. Thus, this limited human energy expenditure is a high return investment.

11 Video Players for Linux – Review: A review of 11 different video players that run on Linux.

Linux’s dirty little secret: OK, so over the past few months I’ve grown from being a Linux skeptic into being quite a Linux fan. I’ve still got lots to learn but its great having the ability to roll out a no-cost OS onto systems that don’t need to have Windows on them (I understand that not everyone reading this will need Linux, but I do…). That said, there are a few aspects of Linux that do annoy/frustrate/anger me/make me hulk out* (delete as overall mood dictates), and one of these aspects is so core to an OS that I’m surprised that it hasn’t been addressed already.

Sir Bill and Sir Tim: A Tale of Two Knights: There’s something strange going on. As Bill Gates steps down from active involvement in the day-to-day running of Microsoft, there’s a natural tendency to speak about the “end of an era”. That’s certainly true enough, but people are going beyond this factual statement to indulge in some serious revisionism.

The critics are wrong: KDE 4 doesn’t need a fork: After the recent release KDE 4.1 beta 2 and openSUSE 11 with KDE 4.0.4, some critics have been especially vocal in expressing their displeasure with the KDE 4 user interface paradigms. The debate has grown increasingly caustic as critics and supporters engage in a war of words over the technology. The controversy has escalated to the point where some users are now advocating a fork in order to move forward the old KDE 3.5 UI paradigms. As an observer who has closely studied each new release of KDE 4, I’m convinced that the fork rhetoric is an absurdly unproductive direction for this debate.

Surprise Desktop Linux Move: Xandros Buys Linspire: In what seems like a battle of ants in a case full of lions, Practical Technology has learned that Xandros has bought Linspire. “In an announcement that was sent out today, June 30, to Linspire stockholders, CEO Larry Kettler wrote that the stockholders had decided to sell all of Linspire’s assets. This deal specifically includes Linspire, Freespire, and the company’s distribution agnostic CNR (Click ‘N Run) desktop installation platform.” Not everyone is very happy with this one, though.

Linspire + Xandros = Anything of value?: In math, two negatives make a positive. In the fledgling world of desktop Linux, unfortunately, this is unlikely to be the case. According to reports from OStatic and others, Xandros is buying Linspire. Who cares, you ask?

Linspire Chairman Frustrated By Futility Of Desktop Linux, Rebuts Carmony: Michael Robertson, chairman of Linspire, said the assets of his company were sold to Xandros after “years of frustration in trying to achieve the goal of desktop Linux.” Robertson couldn’t disclose the terms of the deal with Xandros, a rival Linux distributor, but said Linspire’s Click’N’Run download technology would fit in well with Xandros’ own bid to establish Linux on end-user machines. To date, its biggest success has been on the Asus Eee PC, a small notebook with long battery life and a low price tag from Taiwanese laptop maker Asustek Computer. It comes with either Xandros Linux or Windows XP.

Michael Robertson–Where’s the Cash?:
Linspire Shareholders, When I left Linspire there were lots of assets in the company (computers, furniture, servers, trademarks, employees, and millions in cash), and virtually no liablities. What happened to these assets and cash? I have been contacted by several Linspire employees and shareholders, asking me what the Linspire asset sale to Xandros means. I put together this short video using “buckets” to try and explain what happened in very simple terms, based on what information was provided in the 3-paragraph “memorandum.”

UnConfusing The Issue Of Disabling Root On Linux or Unix: A look at various ways to secure the root account against system users and some in-use methods that seem to cause more harm than good.

Which Linux Distributions Are Dying?: I just read Louis Gray’s post titled “On the Web, If You’re Not Growing, You’re Dying.” It gave me a chilling realization about web services. Like everything else, what goes up must come down. This must apply to Linux distributions too, right? So, what’s happening with Linux? Which distributions are growing? Like Louis Gray, I’m going to use data from Google Trends. People searching the name of Linux distributions on Google can be considered new users. After all, wouldn’t experienced Linux users already know where the websites of the big Linux distributions are?

Beyond the desktop with KDE4: Lately, there has been quite some bitching on the fringes of the KDE project about KDE4 and the direction it takes. Some people go as far as saying: “Give us back our old desktop!” I beg to differ. The old desktop has served us well for thirty-odd years since its invention by Xerox. It is beyond its due date by now. We need something new that meets the reality we are living in now.

Why Is So Hard for Windows Users to Understand That Linux Is Not Windows: This is just a rant (hopefully it will be regarded as pertinent and non-‘laming’) on why Windows users try Linux and return frustrated to Windows after several hours or days. I won’t praise Linux and the way it works, I won’t even compare and say ‘here Linux is easier because …’, instead I have a few questions for all of you who blame Linux for not being and behaving like Windows.

Sidux, a Great Alternative to Ubuntu: Sidux is a new Debian derivative that’s still just a baby, born in January 2007. Sidux announced a brand-new release on June 26, Sidux 2008-02, so we’re going to kick the tires and take it for a drive, and see what sets it apart from other children of Debian. Currently it offers a choice of the KDE or Fluxbox desktop, and it supports both 32-bit i686 and AMD64. There is also an XFCE variant. Before trying it out for yourself, be sure to read the Quick Start section in the excellent and exceptionally helpful Sidux manual before burning it to a CD.

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