Thursday, November 26, 2009

Download Red Hat VirtIO drivers for Windows

Heh. I've been on the CC list for #489376 for quite some time. Actually, I had all but completely forgotten about it. I stumbled into it today, when browsing through Red Hat's bugzilla, searching for information about some other problems, and I clicked on a link that I had clicked a thousand times. It was a link to the Red Hat 5.4 KVM documentation. And whaddayaknow: even though the bug report is still marked as RELEASE_PENDING and even though the WHQL page at linux-kvm.org still lists a couple of zip-files, the drivers are already in what is called the Windows Server Catalog. So, what are you waiting for? Go test them!

Problem is, I have no idea whatsoever, on how to download them :-) Maybe I should touch a Windows box every now and then.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The fglrx debacle, or: the future of proprietary drivers in Linux

First of all, let me state here once and for all that I appreciate ATI's and AMD's effort in bringing the Catalyst drivers to Linux, how meager the quality of the driver might be: if it wasn't for ATI and AMD, we would have nothing at all. And you have got to applaud AMD's releasing of documentation to the radeonhd project.

Now, to the point. It has taken the fglrx guys almost 6 months to bring 2.6.29 support and now that they did bring it, it does not work on the one distro that uses a 2.6.29 kernel: Fedora 11.

Apart from that, it seems to be pretty hard to code the fglrx driver towards the new X architecture in F11. I'm in a bit of a rush now, but to me it seems that this proves the days of the proprietary driver and coming to an end. The pace with which open source software develops will in the end too fast for most hardware manufacturers. The only thing that remains then is to depend on open source projects to provide drivers, like radeonhd. If AMD would put a bit more effort in supporting the radeonhd project, even with coders possibly, I feel radeonhd would be up to par in a relatively short time. And that would mean a more stable, more portable, more rapidly developing, more open driver for ATI graphics cards. Now, who would not want that?ra

Friday, July 31, 2009

Brein succeeds in blocking TPB in the Netherlands

Brein just scored a major win against The Pirate Bay, as a Dutch court ruled that TPB had to block Dutch users from the website. (Linked sites mostly in Dutch; Brein is the Netherlands' equivalent of the RIAA, mixed with the MPAA and then some.)

I am not amused. Not only is Brein's move utterly futile, it will further alienate users, it is censorship and it is showing again that the entertainment industry refuses to enter the 21st century.

Let me explain myself.

First of all, Brein's move in having TPB blocked is futile in their grand scheme of things. Why? Because TPB is only one of such sites. And there are not a few of them, there's dozens of them and with each one that goes down and two new ones will pop up. Thus what Brein is doing, is showing it's overlords that it is doing it's job. No more, no less. Futile.

What is Brein's job anyway? It is to protect the rights of the entertainment industry. Let's see how much protection they already have and how much they actually need. To start with, consumers in the Netherlands pay a levy on most digital and analogue media to Stichting Thuiskopie. With prices of about €0.60, currently the largest part of the price of an empty DVD, is Thuiskopie's levy. Thuiskopie is supposed to compensate artists for the fact that is actually legal in the Netherlands to make a copy of original media for personal use. Good idea? Well, partly. Biggest problem is that Thuiskopie doesn't actually function that well. As Thuiskopie receives money from consumers like you and me, it has proved to be unable to pay out the compensation moneys to artists.

Making a copy of an original work for personal use - the so-called 'thuiskopie' - is considered fair use and the entertainment industry is properly compensated for it. Or at least, it could be, if it's Stichting Thuiskopie would be able to do half a decent job. But it isn't and that really is not my problem.

Now for how much protection the entertainment industry actually needs or should get. First of all, let me put forward that I think that the artists are the ones who should receive my cash if I decide to buy music. If we take a look at how we tended to spend our money on entertainment products in 2008, we'll see that the music industry's profits over 2008 are actually up! So much for the sad stories about how profits decline and artists are left without income due to piracy. But wait, there is more: we actually spent less on recorded music and more on live performances. That is really interesting, because most artists get the better part of their income from the concerts they give and much less so from selling CD's. Our money actually landed where it is supposed to over 2008! Good news!

Not for record companies of course. They are the ones who reap the profits of CD sales. But still, the music industry as a whole was up last year, so I'd say there is protection enough.

I think knowledge of the above is bound to drive consumers away from the traditional record companies as most consumers will view it as unfair to first pay a compensation levy and then hear over and over that what you do is wrong. I even think that the levy is regarded as having paid for the right to copy and download digital works. Even though I understand that's not quite what the levy was intended for, I do understand the reasoning.

Finally, and I consider this to be the worst part of the outcome Brein's successful campaign, blocking a website is morally wrong. It is censorship. For the benefit on a few companies, who failed to update their business model for too long, we are tampering with freedom of speech! Freedom of speech, people, is sacred. That is why we try not to interpret it too much. Freedom of speech is as absolute and broad as is, well, as is possible.

Their are a few exceptions and even over those exceptions there has been (and still is) a lot of debate. Things that are utterly criminal, like outings of child abuse or enticement to terrorist activity are part of those exceptions and thus illegal, and -imho- justly so. But even attempts to outright insult another person (or organisation, or religion, or whatever) have to be pretty harsh to not be covered by the freedom of speech. Which, too, is good, imho.

What we see happening now, is that for the profitability of a few companies with nearly obsolete business models, we start accepting censorship of the internet. Profitability can never, ever come in the way of free speech.

I know a lot of people will now object with 'but showing links to download copyrighted material is not covered by the freedom of speech'. Ah, but it is. At least, according to article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which goes above most law in European countries. Needless to say, that most constitutions of western countries implement the freedom of speech as well.

Reading that text, it seems that the freedom of speech and the freedom to express oneself are (almost) absolute. The ECHR does allow for some restrictions, but those restrictions should always be '[...] necessary in a democratic society'.

Now ask yourself: who is society?

Disclaimer: I hold the opinion that censoring is almost always morally wrong. However, I do not refuse to pay for music, video or other forms of digital entertainment. I do refuse to have large corporations dictate law and allow censorship of the internet on their behalf. Yes, the internet is an anarchy. Let's keep it that way as much as possible, because that was the root of it's success. Spend your money on concerts instead of CD's. Bring it to the ones that actually make the music.

Monday, July 6, 2009

vmware-any-any-patches: the one list, part two

Trying to get VMware Workstation 6.5 and / or VMware Player to work in Fedora 11? I hear this thread on the VMware forums will help you out.

I switched to KVM months ago myself. Consider this a courtesy update to my 'one list' for vmware-any-any patches ;-)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Prism on Fedora

Finally: a new version of Prism.

I have been doubting whether to make rpm's for prism for my Fedora install or waiting for the Prism team to release a version of the extension that works on the Firefox 3.5 beta's.

I'm glad the team released the extension before I got to deciding to build the application myself. Saves me from a lot of work and it *finally* gives me the option of having a gmail menu option in Fedora :)

Edit: you might want to have a link to go with this post

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Linux pro trying out an Windows 7RC installation

In a previous life, I worked for a huge Dutch IT consulting corporation. This was back when I started in IT (well not really, but at least I didn't have any certifications), so they required me to go on MCSA training. I completed all the courses and exams successfully, so apart from being pretty well qualified on Linux, I am actually an MCSA on Windows 2003, too. Don't tell anyone, I'd really like this to remain a secret between us.

So anyway, they see to keep your friends close, but enemies closer. Therefore I decided to give the RC for Windows 7 a spin. Not really, of course, but in a KVM virtual machine on my laptop running Fedora 11 to my full satisfaction.

I downloaded the ISO, got me a serial and read the requirements. The first thing I noticed, was the fact that the system requirements aren't all that steep. I'm not sure what that means for the performance inside a VM (and actually performance in general, remembering the Vista class action suit), but then again, I'm only test driving it.

What did stand out in the requirements was the fact that I had to have 16GB (what??) available in free disk space. Now, I do have space. Lots of it. But 16GB? What the heck does an OS without any extras (like Office applications, photo editing software, etc.) need 16GB for?

Then, whence installing, I noticed the installer partitioning my disk with a 100MB partition of the "System"-type and the rest as the "primary" partition. I'm pretty sure from my endeavors with fdisk, that there is not such thing as a partition of the "System"-type. I'm downloading a Knoppix image right now to find out what Windows thinks is a partition of the "System"-type. Maybe it's /boot? ;-)

There is no 'Use whole disk' or 'Do this automatically for me' button, but the 'New' button functions more or less as one of those.

The actual "Installing Windows" screen shows a couple of steps, which take a while to go through but nothing extreme. There is something listed called 'Installing features', though, which made me wonder what the other 'Install' items were doing.

Then there is a reboot, and 'Setup is updating registry settings' and 'Setup is starting services' screens.

After that, we're back in the "Installing Windows" screen, where 'Completing installation' is highlighted. Processor is at 100%, screen flickers a bit, hardware detection going on.

After another reboot, 'Setup is preparing my computer for first use' and I am asked for my username and a password (and a password hint? what?) in a second screen. In the next screen we enter the serial. Apparently, MS still has an Activation scheme going on, because Windows 7 wants to 'activate' itself when I'm online. Mmh. I don't really like that stuff. So let's not, for now.

I like the fact that an update scheme is presented to the user, which makes security a more prominent issue in Windows. Timezone picking is next, followed by a computer location selection screen. I wasn't familiar with this. I am supposed to pick from 'Home network', 'Work network' and 'Public network'. I imagine this affects default firewall settings and stuff, but a bit more detailed description of the three options would have been nice for people that have a clue and would like to know what happens under the hood. What is good, is that 'Public network' (and thus high secutiry, I think) is recommended. I select 'Home network'.

After this, setup goes on 'Preparing my desktop' and there we are. Notice there is no last reboot in between. The desktop instantly made me think 'hey, this looks like KDE4'. It has a broad taskbar and huge icons, just like default KDE4.

IE asks me what search provider I want to use, which is good. It then start babbling about 'accelerators' and 'web slices'. I am clueless about what those are, so I turn them off. CTRL-L still acts retarded on Windows, sadly.

The layout of the control panel looks cluttered, but there is a search option, so I finally got to see what this UAC thing is, everybody was so mad about.

At this point, I started to loose interest. I tried a reboot to check boot speed and I must say, Windows 7 boots pretty quick. It lost my network settings though, again asking me the 'Home network', 'Work network' etc. question.

Final remarks: the KVM soundcard, that works fine in Windows XP, doesn't seem to work. The actual amount of disk space Windows 7 takes is well over 7GB. I don't know what the 16GB requirement was for then. Otoh, 7GB? For an operating system without office applications and such? What? That's insane! There's the system32 directory holding almost 2GB, but the big whopper is the winsxs directory with almost 4GB. I read this directory has something to do with compatibility and resolving problems with dll hell, so it probably has its uses, but 7GB for an OS? Wow.

I rebooted once more into the Knoppix Live environment. The 'System'-type partition is just a normal type '7' HPFS/NTFS filesystem, just like the main partition. The difference is that the 'System'-partition is bootable, which actually *does* make it a bit like a /boot partition. Oh well, copying is a form of flattery.

Ok, enough played. I'm shutting down the VM and going to do some actual work here.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Monoless Fedora? UPDATED

Mono, mono, mono. If there has been one project to divide the free software community over the past couple of years, it is Mono. By itself, Mono is just an implementation of C#, the CLR and some more programs making up the .Net toolchain. C# and the CLR are not much different from Java in concept. Both provide a cross-platform programming language and runtime environment, both are licensed under an open source license. No problems so far.

The trouble starts where Mono actually attempts to provide compatibility between Windows and other operating systems. A pure Mono application like Tomboy is unlikely to be harmed by this. The problematic part arises from the fact that Microsoft hasn't submitted all parts of the .Net stack to ECMA. So attempting actual compatibility can become dangerous. Microsoft doesn't exactly have a clean track record on the field of fair competition, so one has to wonder whether it is likely for Microsoft to use its patents to stop the Mono project when it becomes too successful.

Remember, in this context, that Microsoft has promised not to sue Novell and its customers for infringement with regard to Mono. According to Miguel de Icaza, this promise extends to Novell, its customers and its developers. When we read this the other way around, it does *not* extend to Mono users who are not affiliated to Novell. This scares me. You'll have to decide for yourself in howfar this scares you.

Now imagine Mono-based software is pushed into the popular distributions on a larger scale. It would be possible to replace a pretty large amount of readily available programs with Mono-based counterparts. Think Banshee, Beagle, Gnome Do, F-Spot, Tomboy, Muine, just to name a few.

And now image Microsoft legally pulling the plug on (parts of) the Mono project, taking the whole Mono eco-system with it, just when people got used to Mono-based programs. Ouch.

I'm not saying that that problem would be insurmountable. Au contraire: it'll probably create a huge drive in creating non-Mono alternatives. But it will hurt us. And it is unnecessary: we have C, C++, Java, and Python-programs right now.

Personally, I don't really like the whole Mono thing. I think the whole interoperability business is bogus. I think we do not need Mono. In fact, I think the whole Mono project is redundant and that it should be looked upon with great suspicion. I may be overstating it a bit, but having been in this business for quite some time, I know that old dogs never learn new tricks. To quote admiral Ackbar: "It's a trap!"

Let's not put any more Mono-software in Gnome. And yes, let's support initiatives like gnote that provide alternatives to already established Mono-programs.

Anyway, if you want to rid you Fedora box of Mono, this aught to do it:

# rpm -e mono-web monodoc mono-addins mono-winforms mono-data-sqlite mono-data mono-extras f-spot tomboy mono-core gnome-sharp gnome-desktop-sharp gtk-sharp2 ndesk-dbus ndesk-dbus-glib gtk-sharp2-devel


Just install gnote as a Tomboy replacement, move .tomboy to .gnote and you're done.

UPDATE: It seems the guys at Fedora are on the same track and are pondering the replacement of Tomboy with gnote. And personally, I love them for it.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

RHCDS certified!

I just received word that I passed the RH436 exam (Clustering & Storage) last Friday. Pretty happy with the score again :-)

RH436 was the last exam I needed for my "Red Hat Certified Datacenter Specialist" title, so as of today, I am a RHCDS!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Bye bye Last.fm, Hello Deezer.com!

In a couple of days, Last.fm will be starting to charge users outside the US, UK and Germany for on-demand radio on their website. I used to be a Last.fm subscriber, but I'm dropping their service like a hot potato for this.

It's not that I think that you shouldn't be paying for a webservice. It's just that I don't like being the one paying to make something free for someone else. Especially is the other person is not of the needy kind. That is what this feels like.

Someone on /. posted a comment refering to deezer.com. Hadn't heard of it, checked it out, saw it was cool, dropped last.fm like it had an STD.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Weave: your bookmarks in the cloud

In the past, I have used del.icio.us, Google Bookmarks and a host of other service to sync my bookmarks between installations of Firefox. In the end, I always quit using them pretty quickly (well, for synchronization at least, I'm still using Google Bookmarks for other stuff). I usually quit them because in the end, they didn't work. For example, del.icio.us (and Google Bookmarks) use tags to order your bookmarks. By itself pretty cool and very 21st century. Firefox however doesn't have a very useful interface for using a lot of tags. I have nearly 200 tags registered in my Google Bookmarks account. No problem for a web-based service like Google Bookmarks, but not very useful when you have a single column bookmarks menu in Firefox. I now tend to use Google Bookmarks for sites I need to be able to find again or sites that are an interesting read for later on. I still use the bookmarks menu in Firefox as my default bookmarking service.

Enter Weave. Weave is a Firefox extension / service from Mozilla Labs that lets you sync bookmarks, history etc. between Firefox installations. It needs Firefox 3.1b3 at the moment, so it's pretty bleeding edge. Nice feature is the fact that your stuff is stored encrypted by a passphrase you to supply when registering.

Now, imagine you have a Fennec installation on a small form-factor device. Fennec has Weave too, so I can use my main Firefox bookmarks, history, yes even tabs on the Fennec browser on my N800. I know Opera also has a feature like this, but I've never felt comfortable with Opera, so that just won't do. Besides, there is no Opera for my N800 :-)

So, to make a long story short: keep your eyes open for Weave.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

I hacked my Vaio!

Yessiree! With a little help of some tools made by some great mind, I managed to flash the BIOS of my Vaio with some bytes changed. I readily admit it was *very* scary, but in the end it worked and now I have Intel VT working on my VGN-FW21E.

No thanks to Sony support, of course. I have had several email conversations with them, but in the end they always said: 'look, we don't support this and therefore we do not know how to turn it on'. With that they conveniently forgot they were the ones to build the stupid and broken BIOS image in the first place...

Anyway, if you own an Vaio from the FW-series (or a few other types), you might want to read this thread on the forums of notebookreview.com. It fixed my problem!

I can *finally* run kvm on this things, which is the one thing I originally bought it for!

$ lsmod | grep kvm
kvm_intel 52944 1
kvm 137976 1 kvm_intel

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

VMworld Europe 2009 update

I had envisioned me posting regular updates about stuff I see here at VMworld, but my schedule is so busy (and WiFi coverage at the Palais so crappy), that I ended up doing this first post after almost two days in my room back at the hotel.

To start of with the good stuff: I have heard very interesting things today. VirtualCenter (now rebranded vCenter, apparently) is in the process of being ported to Linux. It's mainly the vCenter backend that's ported, not the VI Client, but this does allow for making vCenter an appliance and running it on a *solid* platform (e.g. not Windows). The demo was very convincing. So much so even, that some wondered out loud whether a Windows version of vCenter would even be needed anymore. And the best news is, that vCenter will eventually support MySQL and / or PostgreSQL as it's database. Can I hear a 'w00t!'?

100_1121
Notice VMware ported vCenter to Linux because of customer demand and because people are uncomfortable with running mission critical apps on Windows. All in all good news for us penguins!

Anyway, there was other news too. I went to a demonstration of SUSE Studio, which was actually pretty cool. I hope I get my account for the alpha version soon: I would love to try this out. SUSE Studio is a framework that lets you easily create apppliances based on either SLES or OpenSUSE. It features impressive things, like being able to set up a database with a prebuilt schema during this process, without having to actually configure the machine. It's all done for you.

100_1122

I've also heard VMware devs talk about paravirtualized SCSI drivers (and devices), VMkernel development, private VLAN's, IPv6 support for the whole VMware software stack (that includes the service console and the VMkernel ports, contrary to the current situation) and loads of performance enhancements for ESX.

Now if only they'd drop the idea that removing the service console is the right way to go...

Red Hat announced RHEV a couple of days ago. And even though I remember a recent Slashdot comment saying Red Hat was leagues behind the rest of the field, I think they are just getting started. RHEV looks *really* promising to me.

There have been some things that were a bit annoying here as well. As a a lot of money has been paid for me to be here, I would have expected to be able to attend every session I wanted to. Some of the more interesting sessions, however, were held in extremely cramped, small, awfully hot rooms. People were sent away because the rooms were full at more than one occasion. This was worse on Monday than on Tuesday, so let's assume the organization learned a bit overnight, but it still was pretty irritating.

The food's good though and so was the VMware Benelux party last night. Time to go take a shower and get ready for the VMworld party tonight :)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Major stride in becoming RHCA!

Hallelujah! I just passed the RH442 exam, which is my third one on my way to becoming a Red Hat Certified Architect. Three down, two to go!

And I'm pretty proud of my scores too :-)

Friday, January 30, 2009

New fglrx *finally* fixes flickering video playback

After what seems like ages, we, the users of ATI / AMD videochips, are finally able to watch video and use Compiz at the same time :-) Very happy about that.

Now, if only amdcccle wouldn't segfault...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

KDE4.2 is out (but still broken)!

Even though KDE4.2 looks nice and works pretty much ok, there are a lot of things that'll keep me from using it.

For exampe, the brightness keys on my laptop do not work, because Fn + KEY combination is apparently 'not supported by Qt'. Nice. I know Qt is the bomb and all, but functionality like controlling brightness of my screen should be implemented by using the correct key combinations. Too bad, because I like KDE4, but this is a show-stopper for me.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Migrating RHEL5 from SELinux Targeted to Strict

If you alter /etc/sysconfig/selinux and set SELinux strict mode instead of targeted, make sure you don't just reboot!

First, set strict and permissive (just to be sure we can reboot and login again).

Now, before you reboot, touch /.autorelabel. Your system will not successfully reboot if you do not do this! Reboot and watch your apply new system labels on files on the root filesystem.

Reboot again. You should see no more errors except for some .udev related crap. If all goes ok, change 'Permissive' to 'Enforcing' and you should be good to go! Your system is now running on SELinux in Strict mode (and now stuff gets *really* complicated ;-))