Enterprise Linux Log


June 30, 2010  5:18 PM

RHEL 6 Beta 2 released



Posted by: Leah Rosin
Linux, Linux distributions, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, RHEL 6, RHEL 6 beta 2, Samba

Days after the Red Hat Summit in Boston, the company has released the second beta version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.

The official company press release says that Beta 2 includes “an updated installer, additional new technologies and resolutions to many of the issues that were reported in the initial Beta.”

There are still many known issues with the Beta 2 version, and it’s hard to quickly ascertain in the release notes what new improvements have been made.

One thing that caught my attention was the improved Samba support.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 Beta provides the following significant enhancements to Samba:

  • Internet Protocol version 6 support (IPv6)
  • Support for Windows 2008 (R2) trust relationships.
  • Support for Windows 7 domain members.
  • Support for Active Directory LDAP signing/sealing policy.
  • Improvements for libsmbclient
  • Better support for Windows management tools (mmc and User Manager)
  • Automatic machine password changes as domain member
  • New registry based configuration layer
  • Encrypted SMB transport between Samba client and server
  • Full support for Windows cross-forest, transitive trusts and one-way domain trusts
  • New NetApi remote management and winbind client C libraries
  • A new graphical user interface for joining Windows Domains

If you’ve been playing with the RHEL 6 beta, what are your favorite new features and what do you wish was there?

June 23, 2010  4:50 PM

Red Hat against customer lock-in, except where Cisco is concerned



Posted by: ITKE
Cisco UCS, Linux, open source, Red Hat Summit

Blog post written by Bridget Botelho, Senior News Writer

At the Red Hat Summit 2010 in Boston Wednesday, Paul Cormier, executive VP and President of Red Hat products and technologies took the stage and made it his order of business to bash Oracle Corp.’s strategy of delivering a full stack, including hardware with the recent Sun Microsystems acquisition.
Cormier said Oracle’s strategy is retro 1980’s, and not in a good way; that was a time when vendors unabashedley delivered hardware, OSes, middleware and applications that weren’t interoperable to lock customers in. Of course, Red Hat’s whole story is about openness, cross-platform support and giving customers choice and they sell their anti-lock-in model to customers who loathe the idea of being strapped to a single vendor.

Oddly enough though, in the next breath Cormier introduced Ed Bugnion, VP and CTO of Cisco Systems’ server and virtualization access division. Bugnion used his 30 minutes on the soap box to pitch the value of Cisco’s Unified Computing System (UCS), a box that contains Cisco hardware and networking gear and is a frequent target of lock-in complaints.

The transition from Red Hat executives championing openness to Cisco selling users on a system that epitomizes lock-in was, in the kindest of terms, ironic. Some might even spell hypocritical R-E-D-H-A-T.

From what I could tell, the attendees who Red Hat “locked-in” to Cisco’s sales pitch were just as confused as I was. People were fidgeting and looking at one another for help. People stood up and left. One attendee who wished not to be named said he tuned out the entire Cisco portion of the keynote because he didn’t attend the Red Hat Summit, which is traditionally a user-centric show, to listen to vendor bias.

Another attendee, Paul Hall, a Linux server administrator said “I sat through the keynote shaking my head. Too many sales goons. Feels like no techie stuff.”

Of course, Red Hat needs to appease its partners and let them do their thing, it’s good business sense, but open source users look to Linux and Red Hat to spare them from commercialism. Apparently, there is no escaping it anymore.


April 26, 2010  5:53 PM

Huge page handling and CFS with tickless kernel highlights of RHEL 6 beta



Posted by: Leah Rosin
Completely fair scheduler, huge pages, Intel Nehalem-EX, Linux, open source, Red Hat, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, RHEL 6, Virtualization

Last week, Red Hat released the beta version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 to the public, moving the next major release of their popular server operating system into the testing and hardening phase.

I spoke with Tim Burke, Vice President of Linux Engineering at Red Hat, and he filled me in on some of the details. Red Hat also has posted a blog with extensive product specs for RHEL 6 on their website.

Completely fair scheduler
A couple of weaknesses in Linux that were discussed with the Linux kernel panel at the recent Linux Collaboration Summit are addressed by RHEL 6. At the top of the list is the completely fair scheduler (CFS), with better “awareness” of the hardware topology, which Burke said is increasingly important in today’s systems.

“For systems like Intel’s Nehalem-EX, different pieces of memory are closely associated with different cores,” said Burke. “The cost of memory access is not uniform. [With CFS] I/O devices can be more efficiently accessed by the processor most local to it. It is better able to assign workloads to the optimal set of processors.”

This improved scheduler has been shared upstream, and is now part of the Linux development tree.

“We continue to perform work on improving latency in I/O stack,” said Burke. “We will drive that innovation upstream.”

Huge pages
Transparent huge pages are one of the virtualization improvements in RHEL 6 beta. The huge pages are a way of more efficiently mapping large regions of memory that can be used by applications, said Burke, who said that they have produced up to 20% performance enhancement in some systems.

“Virtual management registers page table entries and maps to a block of memory (4,096),” said Burke. “Memory that is mapping a virtualized guest could easily be 256 GB, so to manage that in 4,096 KB pages can be inefficient. But when you use huge pages, each page table can map up to 2 GB of physical memory.”

Huge pages themselves aren’t new, but in RHEL 5, the system administrator would have to reserve chunks of memory to use huge pages, said Burke.

“In RHEL 6 is ability to automatically manage huge pages, without the system admin having to reserve memory,” said Burke. “It automatically allocates large memory pages for any app that requests large memory allocation. It obviates having to alter application.”

To download the beta and begin testing it out, you can visit the RHEL 6 beta page on Red Hat’s website.


April 26, 2010  4:40 PM

Linux T-Shirt design contest: Community voting



Posted by: Leah Rosin
Linux, Linux Foundation, LinuxCon, T-shirt contest

Today the Linux Foundation announced the six finalists for the T-Shirt design contest. Linux community members are encouraged to check them out and vote for their favorite. There are some really creative and fun designs in the running, and the committee had to narrow the selection down to the six finalists out of more than 100 submissions.

According to Jennifer Cloer, Director of Communications and Community at the Linux Foundation, “the community favorite will win a trip to Boston to attend LinuxCon as well as the fame and fortune garnered by having their design displayed on Linux.com Store merchandise worn around the globe.”


April 20, 2010  8:54 PM

Collaboration Summit: Linux mature in 2010



Posted by: Leah Rosin
Collaboration Summit, IBM, Linux, Linux Foundation, open source, Red Hat

Last week at the Hotel Kabuki in Japantown in San Francisco, Calif., Linux developers gathered for the Linux Collaboration Summit. The first day was a series of “keynotes” given by various parties interested and involved in areas of Linux, and days two and three consisted of focused workshops on subtopics within Linux.

Linux Foundation President Jim Zemlin, kicked off Wednesday’s keynotes with an optimistic view of Linux’s role in the current operating system market. He compared the competing demands of “free and open” with “fabulous” – specifically calling out Steve Jobs’ pitch of the iPad in a humorous clipped video that isolated the adjectives used to describe the new gadget. Zemlin said that Linux can be both free and fabulous, and because of that, will be well-suited to compete in this economy.

To summarize everything that occurred would take too long, but I’d like to highlight three keynote talks that were of particular interest to me.

IBM says get involved in Linux: early
Dan Frye, IBM’s Vice President of Open Systems Development, shared the 10+ years of IBM’s history and experience with Linux. He dished out advice to other companies that might be curious or worried about how they should or could contribute to Linux.

One piece of advice Frye gave was that the Linux developers from your company need to be from, or know how to work within the Linux community. Using contractors to do this work is not advised, said Frye, as the relationship with the Linux community over time is valuable to your company in terms of getting development projects through the process.

“You need to manage your open source developers, but you can’t manage their maintainers,” said Frye. “You have to understand open source and the communities the developers work in. The only thing that matters is the results. The thing you want is ‘influence.’ You can’t have control.”

As for those projects, it’s OK to scratch your own itch, says Frye. If you’re unsure about how to contribute to the kernel, get your developers to work on things that are of interest to your company.

“Initiate early – don’t spends months behind closed doors – approach the community,” said Frye. “If you’re going to make large contributions in an area, you can’t throw code and run.”

Frye also shared that Linux is now just as predictable to IBM as any other operating system, noting the maturity of the OS.

Open source = open cloud?
The cloud buzzword made it to the Collaboration Summit, with a blue-ribbon panel of clouderati including James Urquhart, product marketing manager for Cloud Computing and Virtualized Data Centers at Cisco, David Lutterkort, software engineer and Deltacloud Architect at Red Hat, Sam Ramji, vice president of Strategy at Sonoa and President of the CodePlex Foundation, and Doug Tidwell, IBM evangelist for Cloud Computing and SCA.

The panel examined the potential for cloud computing in the open source model. While open source is the technology behind a lot of cloud enablement (Linux is the operating system on servers running Amazon EC2 instances, etc.) because of the cost structure, having open source infrastructure beneath platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings may be impossible.

“The situation we’re in right now is that the market has to determine if having infrastructure openness is an important thing,” said Urquhart. Eucalyptus is the closest effort in this vein, but no major cloud providers are yet using Eucalyptus, keeping the open source community from tweaking the cloud systems to suit their needs.

The conversation further delved into data openness and the constraints placed on that by laws and regulations.

“I think in the next one to three years we’ll see a meaningful standard for data ownership,” said Ramji. “It will become accepted and normalized.”

As with any new technology, the panel discussion concluded without any real resolution, but there will be plenty more discussion on the respective panel members’ blogs and Twitter feeds if you want to keep up with it.

Your life may depend on Linux
Yes. Linux can be that serious.

In a real sign of the maturity of Linux, the head of the DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH (German Air Navigation Services) data center, Alexander Schanz, gave a presentation on how the agency is transitioning their entire data center from Unix to Linux. Still a work in progress (very methodical progress), the agency plans to port 1,500 systems from Unix to Linux. They are on their way to migrate primary systems to Linux, and all new ATC systems will be on Linux (both SUSE and Red Hat).

“With the appropriate skills and planning, Linux is stable enough to use in air traffic control,” said Schanz.

To deal with the learning curve of their administrators and operators, the agency has developed a special training program for their staff to learn Linux.

“Linux is not free,” said Schanz. “We have to employ people who know Linux, and they are not cheap.”

But still the agency is finding that it can save quite a bit of money with the platform that it makes all these investments worthwhile. I plan to follow up with Schanz and share more of the DFS story here in a future article. If you have any questions you would like me to ask Schanz, leave your comments here.

But all these great, inspiring, informative talks aside, the highlight of the event for many attendees may have been the best schwag giveaway ever: a new Nexus One phone (full disclosure: I didn’t take one). To get a visual of the event, some great photos were captured by Kenny Moy.


April 7, 2010  7:46 PM

Open source cloud monitoring tool in beta



Posted by: Leah Rosin
Cloud computing, Eucalyptus Systems, GroundWork Open Source, Linux, monitoring tools, Open source applications

Today, open source monitoring provider GroundWork Open Source, and cloud computing enabler Eucalyptus Systems announced their partnership on development and promotion of a monitoring tool for the Eucalyptus private cloud environment.

GroundWork CEO Peter Jackson explained that the monitoring tool should help data center admins who are wary of the cloud feel better.

“The insecurity that any IT decision-maker has today, with Cloud is that they are going to lose control, said Jackson. “We can assure them that they will not lose control.”

The monitoring tool can be used on Amazon EC2 cloud or in the traditional data center.

“We think supporting both use cases is important,” said Simon Bennett, Sr. Director of Product Management at GroundWork. “We don’t think it makes sense to have multiple configuration systems any more than it makes sense to have multiple monitoring systems.”

GroundWork is recruiting participants for the GroundWork Monitor Enterprise Cloud beta program. The monitoring program allows data center admins to correlate and visualize application availability and performance info simultaneously across the in-house datacenter, a Eucalyptus private cloud, and Amazon EC2. Interested parties must go through a screening process for acceptance into the program, and a participant-oriented webcast preview will be held on April 13.

The beta program offers:

  • GroundWork Monitor Enterprise Cloud usage to cover on-premise, public or private cloud hosted applications and infrastructure
  • Access to Eucalyptus EE, including VMware support to implement private clouds in existing environments.
  • The opportunity to provide direct feedback to the engineering and product teams, helping define the future of IT operations in the cloud.
  • Engineering and technical assistance for the duration of the beta program.

Beta participants will be able to:

  • Quickly and easily build and monitor private and hybrid clouds with your existing environment and other public clouds
  • Run Amazon Machine Image (AMI) instances on VMware-based hypervisors within your Eucalyptus private cloud
  • Seamlessly manage environments with multiple hypervisors (Xen, KVM, vSphere, ESX™ and ESXi™) under one management console and transition applications without any modifications
  • Manage service performance and availability based on IT monitoring insight trend and usage reports across environments.


April 1, 2010  10:03 PM

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.5 includes new hardware support



Posted by: Leah Rosin
AMD Opteron, IBM Power7, Intel Nehalem-EX, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, RHEL 5.5, Virtualization

Red Hat’s fifth iteration of RHEL 5 was released on March 29, 2010, and features support for Intel Nehalem EX, AMD Opteron (TM) 6000 Series (formerly codenamed “Magny Cours”) and IBM Power 7. This will enable customers to take advantage of more efficient hardware as quickly as possible. Intel just released Nehalem EX on Tuesday as well. The AMD 12-core x86 Opteron and IBM eight-core Power7 processors were released in February.

The RHEL 5.5 update provides a number of virtualization enhancements, and the support for new servers with large memory systems allows a larger number of virtual machines to be deployed on each physical server. Huge page support is now automatic and extended to virtual guests, improving the performance of memory-intensive applications. Support for Single Root I/O Virtualization (SR-IOV) offers virtual guests an improved ability to share PCI hardware resources and more efficient access I/O devices, and according to Red Hat, further I/O optimizations can help improve flexibility when migrating virtual guests across physical systems.

Tim Burke, vice president of platform engineering at Red Hat, shared some of the update specifics with The Register. Burke said that in RHEL 5.5 the operating system is more aware of the system topology and instruction streams and data are now physically close because of the memory allocation and job scheduling changes. More work is also placed on as few cores as possible due to kernel changes, which allows servers to conserve power.

RHEL 6 availability will be announced in June, and a beta of RHEL 6 should be available later in April according to a statement by Burke.


March 10, 2010  4:11 PM

Get your geek on: Linux Foundation opens store



Posted by: Leah Rosin
Linux, Linux Foundation, Linux.com, LinuxCon, T-shirt contest

From the Fork You t-shirt to blue Tux onsie to FSCK the Establishment mug, the Linux foundation has the goods to allow you to display your geek cred. Linux.com opened its storefront today, featuring geek garb and accessories “designed to invoke feelings of geek pride, freedom, fun, eccentricity, and originality.” Fork You T-Shirt

But, if you’re thinking that you could do better, the Linux Foundation recognizes the power of the open source community, and thus is launching the T-Shirt Design Contest. The Foundation will provide a forum in which community designs can be shared, rated and ultimately made available on store merchandise, giving anyone the opportunity to help with fundraising for Linux Foundation activities.

Design submissions are due by April 11, 2010. The top five designs will be available for community vote through June 6, 2010. The winning design will be included on T-shirts available for purchase in the store and the designer will be awarded with travel to Boston, Mass., to attend LinuxCon in August.


March 3, 2010  7:13 PM

What does Novell buyout offer mean for open source?



Posted by: Leah Rosin
Linux, Microsoft, Novell, open source, SUSE/Novell

Hedge Fund Elliott Associates LP, which holds an 8.5% stake in Novell, offered to buy the rest of the company for about $1.8 billion on Tuesday, March 2, 2010. This follows the Q1 financial report that showed year-over-year revenues were down. However, the company’s Linux business broke even for the first time in seven years.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the share price of Novell surged on Wednesday, to $5.97, beating out the offer price from Elliott by $0.22/share.

Novell just celebrated the third anniversary of its controversial deal with Microsoft, and we noted that while the deal helped interoperability, it didn’t gain Novell many fans in the open source community.

So what does the struggle of Novell mean to the larger open source community? Does it represent a problem with the open source business model, or a failed attempt to prop up a company using a Linux business acquisition?

One self-described “ambassador sysadmin,” Andy, said on Twitter: “SUSE Linux to get bought by disinterested party for the second time? (First was Novell). It’s Red Hat’s stock that should be going up.”

Canonical COO, Matt Asay, blogged that this move provides a good opportunity for a company like Oracle to get their hands on a bigger Linux portfolio.

To me, it doesn’t seem as if the potential consumption of Novell means anything more than what the open source community has been saying for a while: Novell didn’t understand Linux, and the SUSE acquisition didn’t help the company, and the company didn’t really help SUSE.

What do you think?

To see updated information on this or any other breaking Linux news, follow us at LinuxTT on Twitter.


February 25, 2010  4:51 PM

Microsoft includes Linux patents in licensing deal with Amazon



Posted by: Leah Rosin
Amazon, Intellectual Property, Linux, Microsoft, patents

So, Microsoft again is showing the world that it “owns” Linux. At least that’s how it seems to anyone looking at the details of the recent cross-licensing patent deal that Amazon and Microsoft have entered.

According to Microsoft’s press release:

The agreement provides each company with access to the other’s patent portfolio and covers a broad range of products and technology, including coverage for Amazon’s popular e-reading device, Kindle™, which employs both open source and Amazon’s proprietary software components, and Amazon’s use of Linux-based servers.

You probably noticed the words “open source” and “Linux” in there. So, while President of the Linux Foundation, Jim Zemlin, has essentially said in his blog “it’s interesting, but don’t fret,” others are much more hot under the collar.

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, self-described “Cyber Cynic,” came out swinging, pointing out that “Microsoft has never actually been able to prove that its patents cover anything to do with Linux,” calling Amazon a “fool company,” for buying the claims (with cash), and signing the agreement. Vaughan-Nichols received over 50 comments to his blog post, which ranged from attacks on his journalistic cred to notes declaring the discontinued use of Amazon’s services.

On Twitter, a few people posted some comments about their thoughts on the deal. Rodger Cooley said, “#Microsoft doing the “patent violation” #FUD again. When will they furnish proof?” And Almond Mendoza said “Damn, Amazon is stupid. They pay Microsoft for the Linux they used. US has a stupid patent system.”

Meanwhile, Matt Asay has urged Microsoft to sue Google. He points out that “if anyone should be paying Microsoft for Linux, and if anyone has everything to lose from a lawsuit, it’s Google.”

Ok, so Zemlin says it’s unusual behavior to disclose any of the information involved in a cross-patent deal but it’s just another deal; Vaughan-Nichols points out that Microsoft doesn’t have any proof of their claims to Linux, and is outraged that they’re parading this tired idea around again; and Asay essentially tells Microsoft to get off the pot and do something already, or drop it.

What do you think? Is this another wound to Linux, Microsoft’s way of building up a larger case over time by assembling more and more patent deals and claims to back up their ownership of technologies involved in Linux? Will Linux die the death of 1,000 cuts? Should the Linux faithful just ignore this and get back to coding, like Zemlin suggests?

I personally find it curious that Microsoft would specify the Linux and open source portions of the agreement in their press release. It was certainly a jab at Linux. But what it means in the big picture, I don’t know. Without any real legs to stand on, it just makes Microsoft the Darth Vader of IT, and further strengthens the open source community’s resolve to fight them. If the Linux troops were feeling uninspired, this should get them motivated.


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