September 25, 2009 5:33 PM
Posted by: Leah Rosin
, Linux desktop
, Linux events
LinuxCon 2009 wrapped up on Wednesday evening with an Intel-sponsored party at McCormick and Schmick’s in Portland, Ore. This was the final, and flashiest of three evening events that occurred during the course of the event. Monday night featured “Bowling for Penguins” at Grand Central Bowling, a fundraiser for Defenders of Wildlife that raised $3,000. Tuesday night featured a Linux Fund hosted dance party sponsored by SourceForge and iXsystems, and in possibly the most hero-worship twist (or is it twisted hero-worship?) of the conference, live streaming of Linus Torvalds playing billiards was broadcast via Linux Pro Magazine.
All agreed that these events were good fun. The VooDoo Doughnuts and local wine/beer/vodka/sake tasting was also a smash hit for those attending. For those unable to attend, the livestreaming of keynotes offered by Linux Pro Magazine was appreciated. The recorded kernel panel discussion is now available for on-demand viewing.
Nonprofits using Linux to stay competitive
Beyond the kernel roundtable, the most popular keynote was given by the vice president of information services at Sesame Workshop, Noah Broadwater. If you’re unfamiliar with hearing about Sesame Workshop in tech circles, think Elmo. The group won an Emmy for New Approaches in the Children’s Daytime television category for their associated websites, Web casts and interactivity. Broadwater explained how his organization reuses older Solaris boxes as a testing environment and open source software in the development itself. Using this approach, the nonprofit’s Emmy-winning website came in under budget at less than $3 million. The Sesame Workshop holds onto their new development advances for a two-year period and then contributes them back to the community, in an effort to protect their work from big-budget competitors.
The future of Linux on the desktop
One of the broad themes that was touched on at the conference was Linux on the desktop. Multiple speakers discussed the topic, giving predictions for its success and advice to the larger community about how this might be realized. IBM’s vice president of open source and Linux, Bob Sutor talked about the options – the desktop goes away as people begin to expand their use of mobile devices or the Linux desktop could eventually gain parity with Windows and Mac. Perhaps, as Windows declines in popularity with each more complex release, we could see a rise in Linux desktop popularity. Joe “Zonker” Brockmeier, openSUSE community manager talked about the lack of marketing and suggested that shipping Linux pre-installed on more laptops would be one way to make it accessible to more users. Then there was the entire Moblin track at the conference, presenting the “future” of Linux on the desktop. Finally, Mark Shuttleworth, the founder of the most popular Linux desktop flavor, Ubuntu, spoke at the conference. He advocated having a shared cadence and coordination between projects and distributions, as well as improving quality and design.
“We definitely shouldn’t give up the desktop,” Shuttleworth said. “This is one of the most exciting years for the desktop in living memory.”
More on Shuttleworth’s talk can be read in an article by Sean Michael Kerner at internetnews.com: Shuttleworth: Don’t give up on the desktop.
Diversity in the Linux community
Another broad theme was that of diversity in the Linux community. Carla Schroder wrote on Monday afternoon that the Linux “community” didn’t look very diverse. And the topic of the involvement of women in the community was brought up more than once. Starting with Linux Foundation President Jim Zemlin’s keynote in which he pointed out that there is a 100:1 ratio between men and women in the Linux community. But the incident that got the most attention was Shuttleworth’s gaffe during his keynote. ( Full disclosure: I was not present at the time of Shuttleworth’s presentation, and therefore cannot speak to the specific wording or context, but others were.) His statement of women not understanding Linux was enough to get a quickly drafted letter from “Geek Feminism” blog author, Kirrily Robert.
I can’t begin to cover all the things that went on at the inaugural LinuxCon. Most agreed it was a good time and well done. For some other perspectives, here are some other attendees opinions and blogs following the show. I will update it or you can add new links to blogs in the comments below.
Practicality shines at LinuxCon 2009 by Phil Odence, Black Duck Software
LinuxCon Review: It’s all about community by Dawn Foster, Fast Wonder Consulting
LinuxCon Audio Diary 1 and LinuxCon Audio Diary 2 by Dan Lynch of Linux Outlaws
September 23, 2009 3:52 PM
Posted by: Leah Rosin
, Linux development
, Linux events
, Linux kernel
, Systems Management
I’ve been in Portland, Ore., this week attending the inaugural LinuxCon, hosted by the Linux Foundation. The event was a bigger draw than the organizers had anticipated, with about 600 attendees registered, making the WiFi in the rooms a bit spotty and the keynote hall a bit crowded, but all in all more interest in Linux is a good thing. The sessions have been a mix of big picture Linux evangelism to detailed technical sessions for developers with the weakest area being sessions that were designed to attract the systems administrator set.
Linux from the kernel to the big picture
Highlights so far have included a kernel maintainer panel discussion featuring Linux kernel founder Linus Torvalds, Jon Corbet of LWN.net, Chris Wright from Red Hat, IBM’s Ted Ts’o, Novell’s Greg Kroah-Hartmann and moderator James Bottomley. While many positive things were said about the panel discussion, one sentence uttered by Torvalds got the most attention.
“We’re getting bloated and huge, and yes it’s a problem,” said Torvalds in reference to the size of the kernel. “I would love to say that we had a plan. Our icache footprint is scary.”
September 16, 2009 3:44 PM
Posted by: ITKE
, Red Hat
, Red Hat Summit 2009
This post was contributed by Pam Derringer.
Some came to network. Others to learn. And one came to pick up a prize.
My very unscientific sampling of conference-goers turned up a mix of reasons that motivated people to attend the recent Red Hat Summit, which equaled or exceeded last year’s event, despite the economic downturn and competition from VMware.
But learning seemed to be the prime motivator. For one thing, the assistant of a workshop presenter observed that the company’s technical workshop was more crowded than the general one, which dovetailed with my experience at other sessions. So I’m guessing that attendees, as a whole, were after highly detailed information to help them do their jobs rather than more topical overviews.
And I’ve just got a hunch that KVM and the coming Red Hat Virtualization platform were a big draw. But you could learn something about this remotely, via Webcasts, news articles, or other outlets. So the real advantage to being there is the additional networking factor.
Two attendees whose primary purpose was networking included Steve Giovannetti, CTO of Hub City Media, and Michael Howard of the U.S. Navy’s Spaware System Center in Charleston, S.C. As a new Red Hat/JBoss Catalyst partner, Hub City Media’s main goal in attending (in addition to being an exhibitor) was “getting to know folks and connecting with customers,” Giovannetti said.
Giovannetti said Red Hat’s vision is “great,” and praised its decision to switch to the KVM hypervisor. Although KVM “has a long way to go,” it’s good that Red Hat will support both KVM and Xen in the interim. “Getting all the virtualization vendors to cooperative will be a challenge… but, ultimately, customers will demand portability,” he said.
Howard, one of three government IT staffers I met at the Summit (a remarkable percentage), also viewed the conference as a networking opportunity. Howard’s main task with the Navy the past four years has been to promote the use of open source in the government and offer user feedback to vendors like Red Hat.
“If I give the open source community our feedback, the taxpayers save millions and the government gets software development for free,” he said.
A Red Hat Enterprise Linux customer, the Navy also is using Red Hat’s JBoss Java application platform and is keenly interested in ensuring that JBoss continues in a strong direction, Howard said.
“JBoss has been great,” he said. “Three of the best JBoss developers in the world work for us.”
David Pullman, a systems administrator for the National Institute of Standards and Technology, said he wants to learn more about KVM because NIST is getting ready to expand its use of virtualization. NIST currently has a small virtualization project with Xen and uses a third-party vendor for high availability and live migration. KVM and Red Hat’s SPICE virtualized desktop both sound interesting, he said.
The lone prize-winner I met at the conference was Rick Gideon, chief operating officer of ecommerce.com. Gideon came to the Summit because his company won the JBoss Innovation award for outstanding architecture.
Based in Columbus, Ohio, Gideon’s firm hosts 500,000 websites and collaborated with EnterpriseDB, Hyperic, Zimbra and others to build an intelligent platform for websites that can be provisioned automatically and dynamically, shifting services as needed based on business rules, he said. The platform runs on Red Hat and JBoss.
“We’re looking to begin partnerships, “ Gideon said. “We’ll be building and deploying [the new system] this year.”
September 11, 2009 9:17 PM
Posted by: ITKE
, Red Hat
, Red Hat Certification
, Red Hat Summit 2009
This post was contributed by Pam Derringer.
Red Hat pulled off quite a coup with its annual Summit, equaling or slightly topping last year’s 1,200 attendees despite the slow economy, and the conflict with VMworld. Not to mention the disadvantage of running right up to Labor Day weekend. What were they thinking? But the Chicago weather definitely was a plus, with blue skies and temps in the mid-70s.
For me, the highlight of the Summit was the Thursday keynote by CTO Brian Stevens, who went far beyond the platitudes everyone in the audience already knows and spelled out Red Hat’s vision for boosting adoption of virtualization and cloud computing, the former by making virtualization ubiquitous with KVM and the latter by heading up research to make cloud computing portable and more widespread. Two projects singled out for brief video clips were Hail which is developing an open networking protocols and Delta Cloud, a project focused on developing a universal cloud interface. The keynote had energy and drive that is not always seen, surely meant to encourage and excite customers.
Another cool innovation: the Summit allowed attendees to network in advance with EventVue, a Facebook-type venue where attendees could post their photos and interests and email other attendees they wished to meet ahead of the event. This sounds like an idea that will become standard conferencing fare for the future, if it hasn’t already.
Now for the downside: Never in my long career of covering conferences have I ever been kicked out of a workshop. So I was completely stunned to find myself persona non-grata at Randy Russell’s talk on Red Hat certification, which was supposed to be a group discussion, giving attendees an opportunity to provide Red Hat with feedback on certification trends and practices, according to the abstract. But Russell apparently wanted to discuss specific questions on the test, which he did not want public, so he ejected me from the session, then complained that he had expected a much bigger audience. “Not my fault,” I said with a grin, while leaving. Red Hat PR staff scrambled to schedule a phone interview for me the following week but this is the sort of worst foot forward that should never happen. If, in fact, the discussion proceeded as Russell said, I wouldn’t have had much to write anyway and would have left of my own accord.
Secondy, in my opinion the agenda would have been much better organized if it had a separate listing by times with both keynotes and workshops listed, in addition to the listing by topic. Sure, anyone could look vertically across the schedule to compare workshop times, but it would have been nice to have two complete, separate agendas, one by topic, the other by time, and also including other events like lunch and keynotes. But it was nice that the agendas fit in the plastic holders with our IDs. Very handy. Not that I always remembered to keep mine there.
Thirdly, the food was a disaster. To think I was worried about gaining weight; I probably lost. I had been salivating for a repeat of last year’s feast at Boston, with a full breakfast and lots of yummy cookies, with a strong emphasis on chocolate. This year, those of us who arrived early enough to actually get food for breakfast had to stand up, Manhattan style, juggling juice, coffee and muffins along with our laptops. Not only was this not very satisfying but attendees lost an opportunity to network with others over an actual meal. Just to rub it in, I happened by an upper floor meeting room where Red Hat was treating government guests to eggs and bacon, presumably a sit-down affair with a talk. I felt like a starving airline passenger in the first row of coach, smelling the delicious food being enjoyed by first class passengers a few feet away. And it wasn’t just the quality of the meals, but there seemed to be fewer coffee pots and cookies available. Whatever the reason, I wonder if Red Hat pared down everything this year to lower expenses, anticipating a much smaller crowd? And made us eat in the vendor exhibit area to boost eyeballs for the exhibitor booths? Whatever the rationale, Red Hat should scratch the Chicago 2009 food planning and go more upscale next year.
September 11, 2009 5:20 PM
Posted by: Leah Rosin
, Red Hat
, RHEL 5.4
, Satellite 5.3
To pay homage to the many schoolchildren around the country in the process of relaying what they did on their summer vacation, I thought I’d share what I did last week at the Red Hat Summit with you.
To start with, you can watch most of the Red Hat Summit keynotes and some of the sessions via the video page from Red Hat. This will give you a taste of the large ballroom sessions, and what angle Red Hat’s executives and guest speakers were promoting. Sadly, DreamWork’s Derek Chan’s presentation on how the animation giant is using Linux and Red Hat to render massive 3-D movies isn’t available. The big themes overall were the power of collaboration through open source, interoperability, cloud computing, and meeting business needs faster.
RHEL 5.4 and Satellite 5.3 released, but where is RHEV?
The big news at the Summit was the open availability of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 5.4. But what was missing was the package of virtualization management tools, referred to as Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV) for servers and for desktops that are slated to be released “later this year.” The release of Red Hat Satellite 5.3 was also announced, and how the new RHEV tools and Satellite will play together remains to be seen. Brian Stevens, CTO and Vice President of Engineering, said that the two are largely complementary and Red Hat will focus on integrating functionality going forward, providing a seamless experience for the end-user. We’ll look forward to seeing all the features of the RHEV release, which Naveen Thadani, Red Hat’s Senior Director of Virtualization explained would be best suited for those who want turn-key virtualization management.
Red Hat Catalyst Partners
The Red Hat Catalyst partner program was launched on the first day of the event, and was seen by some as an effort to appease the unhappy ISV’s who along with some VARs have complained that Red Hat doesn’t “get” partner programs. But at the show the vendors I talked to relayed their satisfaction and enthusiasm for the new program and the promise it offers for codevelopment and packaging of ISV offerings. Some shared with me that in the meeting with partners, when complaints were aired, Red Hat execs pointed to the Catalyst program in their response. It is clear that the company is hoping this initiative will resolve some of the woes of the past – and the partners can do nothing more than be hopeful as well.
The exhibit hall featured many partners displaying their products and I got one to provide a quick demo of their software. Trusted Computer Solutions has created Security Blanket a Linux security product that locks down the operating system and automatically configures it to meet industry standard and customized security requirements. Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 and 5 are supported (as well as CentOS 4 and 5, Oracle Enterprise Linux 4 and 5, Fedora 10 and Solaris 10).
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/F0rJVWUjZK8" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
Performance tuning and other lessons from the sessions
After a hectic day of press conferences and appointments with various representatives of companies in attendance, I had the chance on Thursday to sit down and listen to some of the session presentations. Red Hat has made some of the session slides available online, including the slides for the back-to-back performance tuning session.
With 131 slides, it is safe the say that Red Hat engineers John Shakshober and Larry Woodman were a bit ambitious, and they didn’t quite get through their deck in the session. But if you are really interested in learning more they provided a lot of good example tools and on slide 128 they provide a list of good resources to check out to learn more about performance tuning. I asked some attendees if they got out of the session what they had wanted. They said that unfortunately, for their high performance computing application that it wasn’t all that relevant, but they had learned some new information and tools that might be helpful. I asked if they couldn’t get Red Hat support to help them with their HPC performance questions and they told me that honestly, they “hadn’t had much luck with that.” I was a bit confused: if you pay for the support, yet you don’t get good help with the support, what’s the point? “Compliance.” So just curious – readers, have you had similar issues? Why do you pay for support licenses on your servers when Fedora is available with no fees?
I also sat in on “Unmatched Security is Manageable” by Spencer Shimko, senior security engineer, Tresys Technology, about using open source system management tools to configure, monitor, and update the security configuration of Linux systems. He covered the open vulnerability assessment language (OVAL), and OVALDI (OVAL + interpreter). I won’t go into too much detail, but we should have a tip on using the language in SearchEnterpriseLinux.com soon.
On Wednesday I sat in on a session on using iSNS to simplify iSCSI management presented by Shyam Iyer, a development engineer senior analyst from Dell and Mike Christie a software engineer at Red Hat. In the manage and secure “What’s Next” track, this presentation discussed how storage management can be simplified with a plug-and-play environment for iSCSI SANs. Iyer discussed the new features being built into the open source storage name service. He also answered a couple questions from attendees regarding how iSNS and iSCSI will fit in a virtualized environment and the differences between it and DNS. The iSCSI network will fit on virtualized guests the same as it would on a hardware environment, explained Iyer. And in the same way that you can have a primary and secondary DNS, you can have a primary and secondary iSNS.
Overall, the summit provided a great opportunity to see and hear about what businesses are doing with RHEL, and learn more about what the future will bring. Our news contributor, Pam Derringer, has written specifically about some of the examples and case studies that we hope you find interesting and useful. If you feel like you missed out this year, next year’s summit will be in Boston, Mass., and perhaps it won’t be scheduled opposite VMworld.
August 5, 2009 5:33 PM
Posted by: ITKE
, Linux kernel
, Thunderbird supercomputing cluster
In a feat of Linux strength, computer scientists at Sandia National Laboratories in Livermore, Calif., announced that they had run more than a million Linux kernels as virtual machines. Previously, researchers had only been able to run up to 20,000 kernels concurrently. The scientists used virtual machine (VM) technology and its Thunderbird supercomputing cluster for the demonstration.
The aim of the project is to model malicious botnets, which are often difficult to analyze because they are geographically spread all over the world, explains Sandia’s Ron Minnich. The more kernels that can be run at once, said Minnich, the more effective cyber security professionals can be in combating the global botnet problem. “Eventually, we would like to be able to emulate the computer network of a small nation, or even one as large as the United States, in order to virtualize and monitor a cyber attack,” he said.
Running a high volume of VMs on one supercomputer — at a similar scale as a botnet — would allow researchers to see how botnets work and explore ways to stop them in their tracks. “We can get control at a level we never had before,” said Minnich.
July 22, 2009 5:13 PM
Posted by: Leah Rosin
, open source
, OSCON 2009
Today, in conjunction with the O’Reilly Open Source Conference (OSCON) in San Jose, Calif., more than 70 companies, academic institutions, communities, related groups and individuals announced the formation of Open Source for America, an organization that will serve as a unified voice for the promotion of open source software in the U.S. Federal Government arena.
The mission of Open Source for America:
… is to educate decision makers in the U.S. Federal government about the advantages of using free and open source software; to encourage the Federal agencies to give equal priority to procuring free and open source software in all of their procurement decisions; and generally provide an effective voice to the U.S. Federal government on behalf of the open source software community, private industry, academia, and other non-profits.
Tim O’Reilly, Founder and CEO, O’Reilly Media presented the program during his keynote at OSCON on Wednesday morning, calling it an unprecedented opportunity for people to get involved with their government. He also tried to dispel the misunderstanding that exists that Gov 2.0 is all about social media. He explained that Gov 2.0 is also about transparency, rapid application development and procurement processes that allow approval of free software for agencies without getting mired in the usual DC bureaucracy.
O’Reilly pointed out that one of President Obama’s first steps in the White House was to issue an open government directive. Gartner has estimated that by 2011 more than 25% of government vertical, domain-specific applications will either be open source, contain open source application components or be developed as community source.
As O’Reilly spoke, he contrasted the old model of government, by the people, for the people to today’s version of government that seems to resemble a vending machine – taxes in, services out. Instead, he encouraged the open source community to view the government as a platform that can provide the tools and services so that we, the people, can do what needs to be done ourselves. He encouraged open source coders to get involved in the Open Source for America project – will you?
For more coverage of OSCON, view the crowdsourced news coverage page.
July 9, 2009 3:14 PM
Posted by: Leah Rosin
, Google Chrome OS
, Hannah Montana Linux
, Linux distributions
, Linux kernel
, open source
I try to use Twitter to stay on top of breaking Linux and IT news, but sometimes I run across a gem like this that isn’t necessarily newsworthy, but is quite humorous (or RFLMAO-worthy). Today, following on the heels of the big announcement about Google Chrome, we learned about Hannah Montana Linux (or HML).
Tounge-firmly-in-cheek, Liam Green-Hughes said, “Didn’t see this coming – but it is the top development in operating systems this year!”
While some were arguing about the timing and value of Google Chrome, few could argue about the value of HML. On Wednesday, some were complaining that Google made its announcement about Chrome without having a fully developed OS, or without having finished the Chrome browser for Linux and Mac OSX. But there were almost no complaints about HML today.
Regarding Google Chrome OS, Clay Shirky was wistful about the good old days when Google would finish a product before releasing it:
“Remember, Back In The Day, when Google used to build stuff, *then* announce it? I miss those days. *cough*Wave*cough*ChromeOS”
Shirky’s sentiment was popular enough to be “RT”ed (retweeted, or forwarded) multiple times on Wednesday by other Twitter users.
But not so with HML… Ok, well HML hasn’t been met in the Twittersphere with totally open arms. My recent Twitter Search found one “Eh,” two “WTF?”, a couple of “Eeeks”, some cries about kernel defilement, an apocalyptic warning, five “LMAO”‘s and quite a few retweets of Geek Brief TV’s Cali Lewis’s post:
“I am like TOTALLY installing Hannah Montana Linux on my Eee PC today!”
The most curious part of the HML announcement is the Web page, which one Twitterer pointed out was made in iWeb. The page includes the basic information about the distribution, in a strangely barely coherent format. Take for example this explanation of what it is:
So your Probably Wondering what`s the difference between Hannah Montana Linux and Windows and Mac OS X well here are some of the differences .
one : Hannah Montana Linux can`t get viruses so you could say its virus proof
two : Hannah Montana Linux is Free as in you do not have to pay for it and that you can change anything you don`t like the code is all open so its called open source
three : don`t you hate looking around the internet to find software like on Windows and Mac OS X
not on Hannah Montana Linux well you can do it like that if you wanted to…
I can look past the non-parallel list, but the utter lack of proper punctuation and leaps in logic make me wonder if this site was created by a non-English speaker, or a real, live Hannah Montana fan…
The second question I have was echoed by Clefmeister, “Isn’t that a bit of brand over-saturation?” In fact, isn’t Hannah Montana a brand controlled by one of the most powerful companies in the United States (Disney)? While it’s an open source distribution, I’m thinking the Disney lawyers may swiftly act to have it taken down. My advice is, download it quick if you want it, because I don’t think it will last long.
June 15, 2009 3:12 PM
Posted by: ITKE
, Red Hat
This post was written by News Contributor, Pam Derringer.
Sometimes writing or reading tech stories about entirely different products can uncover new trends and ideas. I was intrigued with the JBoss Open Choice Java Application story last week because Red Hat officials said its new framework would enable customers to add specific functionality like clustering, caching, messaging and security in “microcontainers” or do without it, according to their needs.
In addition, for the first time, JBoss customers would be able to choose between three levels of application complexity, and move from one to another within the same management framework. By offering customers choice, JBoss will create major disruption in the Java application world, according to Aaron Darcy, JBoss product line director. Darcy added that customers are moving away from the bloated, one-size-fits-all applications that must contain code capable of doing everything, and opting for slimmer versions more tailored to their needs.
Darcy’s words struck a chord because last fall and again more recently, I wrote about rPath, a startup birthed by former Red Hat staffers who saw scaling problems with large deployments first-hand, and decided to solve the problem by upending the traditional all-purpose horizontal stack, creating a vertical, app-centric Linux-based stack with only the elements that a customized application needs to run. Obviously, rPath-constructed applications, too, are a lot slimmer than all-purpose counterparts. They are also a lot easier to maintain and update, saving time for IT operations staffs say rPath folks.
Although their approaches are somewhat different, the two companies are both reacting, it seems to me, to similar needs for more choice and customization rather than a hefty one-size-fits-all, “that’s all we offer” approach. Is this a trend that will reshape the software industry as we know it? What do you think?