Last week, lots of IT guys from New York’s biggest banks and stock brokerages took a day off to attend the sixth annual Linux/Open Source on Wall Street conference at the Roosevelt Hotel in the heart of Manhattan.
All ears they were, but suddenly attendees turned shy when the lectures ended and they were asked to share their own views on Linux. Surely, the firms’ PR police or legal watchdogs would find them out and ruin their prospects for career advancement. Promised a mask of anonymity, however, a few attendees opined on the show, and here are their thoughts.
Lack of management tools cited. “I’m a strong Linux advocate,” said one enthusiastic IT manager. “It’s free, open and secure. And if we find issues, we’re able to fix them.”
Five or six years ago, his firm was one of the first in financial services to introduce Linux servers to data centers. Now about 30% or 40% of its machines run on Linux, with most of the remainder running Windows. The firm’s direction, he said, is definitely off Unix and Solaris and onto Linux.
And he couldn’t be more pleased that Red Hat Inc., in turn, incorporated his team’s enhancements, such as changing storage allocations without a reboot into future versions of the operating system. This way, all Red Hat customers benefit and his staff doesn’t have to maintain the improvement separately with every future fix or upgrade.
He is also concerned about improving data center energy efficiency and has explored various options, to reduce energy consumption, including CPUs, memory and lower wattage.
He has also researched the stateless, single-image data center that can be booted up all at once. “Management would be much better,” he said. “We’d only have one operating system image to manage.”
What is Linux’ most telling shortcoming? “Enterprise-class management tools,” he answered, not unpredictably. “But the good news is: Linux is getting there.”
Rising support costs lamented. Another anonymous big-gun attendee said that for about six years his firm has used Linux — mainly Red Hat — on everything from mainframes to blades and servers.
“Linux is getting a faster, better infrastructure,” he said. “But if these vendors want to remain a viable solution, they need to remain competitive with other data center providers. They’re getting like everyone else, adding more middleware and getting more expensive. It’s getting so that the support and maintenance are costing more than the servers themselves. We need to drive competitiveness back.”
More third-party software urged. A third attendee said the main problem with Linux is the lack of third-party software and inadequate vendor support. For five or six years, he has used Linux to run Web applications and noted that the third-party software shortage is less severe for Web apps than for migrations off AIX or Solaris, for example, simply because of higher volume.
The good news is, he said, that vendor support is on the upswing, citing the presence of Oracle and IBM at the trade show.
“The demand for Linux is there but the growth of third-party software products is slower,” he said. “But we will start to see this [third-party software] materialize more and more.”]]>
First, I will say that I was impressed with the turnout and the overall presentation as put together by SUN. Clearly, SUN is trying to help the OpenSolaris community in a big way. Truthfully, I’m a little jealous of this, as I’m the group leader of the NY Metro POWERAIX/Linux users-group and I’ve yet to see a similar commitment on behalf of IBM to draw interest to our group.
Back to the meeting. There certainly was a lot of information presented and SUN clearly had hoped to articulate a vision of what their new world would like like. Unfortunately, most of their innovative vision was borrowed from Red Hat. The overall underlying message that most heard was, ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’. What they want to do is essentially copy Red-Hat’s two-system model; Enterprise and Fedora (one for pay, the other community supported), using that model for Solaris. Further, instead of trying to compete with Microsoft, they continue to be preoccupied with Linux and showing why they are better then them. This strategy did not work with Unix, as Sun clearly has not dethroned AIX or even HP-UX for that matter and we’re not certain why they think their new OpenSolaris model will dethrone Linux, or why they even feel they need to for that matter.
If I were SUN, I would just let the technology speak for itself, rather then try to reinvent other models.]]>
What’s new (in brief):
Improved hardware support, including:
- New USB client controller support:
- Support for the USB client functionality in the pxaudc(4) driver on the Zaurus.
- New usbf(4) midlayer for USB Client controllers.
- New cdcef(4) driver for providing a CDCE function on USB client controllers.
- New cas(4) driver for Sun Cassini 10/100/Gigabit Ethernet devices.
- New uow(4) driver for Maxim/Dallas DS2490 USB 1-Wire devices.
- New owsbm(4) driver for 1-Wire smart battery monitor devices.
- New zyd(4) driver for ZyDAS ZD1211/ZD1211B USB IEEE 802.11b/g wireless network devices.
- New moscom(4) driver for MosChip Semiconductor MCS7703 based USB serial adapters.
- New glxsb(4) driver for hardware random numbers and AES acceleration on the AMD Geode LX processor.
- New vic(4) driver for VMware VMXnet Virtual Interface Controllers.
More after the fold…
* New malo(4) driver for Marvell Libertas IEEE 802.11b/g wireless network devices.
* New pwdog(4) driver for Quancom PWDOG1 watchdog timer devices.
* New uberry(4) driver for Research In Motion Blackberry devices.
* New mbg(4) driver for Meinberg Funkuhren radio clocks.
* New mesh(4) driver for the on-board SCSI controller of old world Apple Power Macintosh systems.
* New mc(4) driver for the on-board Ethernet of many old world Apple Power Macintosh systems
* Improved msk(4) driver now supports many more Marvell Yukon-2 variants including dual port cards and fiber cards.
* The gem(4) driver now supports fiber cards.
* The OpenBSD/amd64 platform now has more accurate and robust time keeping.
* The OpenBSD/i386 boot(8) program now works properly on Intel-based Macs.
* The pciide(4) driver has had support added for newer chipsets, including:
o AMD CS5536 IDE;
o Intel i31244;
o NVIDIA MCP67 PATA, MCP67 SATA.
* The com(4) driver now supports ST16C654 devices.
* The adt(4) driver supports some newer chipsets, such as the ADT7475.
* The OpenBSD/macppc platform now automatically turns the machine back on following an unexpected loss of power.
* boot.mac an XCOFF formated boot loader for OpenBSD/macppc capable of booting on many old world macs.
# New tools:
* BSD-licensed pkg-config(1), a complete rewrite of the GNU tool of the same name, significantly smaller and more maintainable.
* hoststated(8), a layer 3 and layer 7 server load balancing daemon with host monitoring capacities.
* new BSD-licensed ripd(8).
* bgplg(8), a CGI looking glass for OpenBGPD, is now available for use with the system httpd.
* bgplgsh(8), a looking glass shell for OpenBGPD, is now available for use as a restricted read-only command line interface.
# New functionality:
* syslogd(8) can now pipe logs directly to other programs, making real-time log analysis easier.
* The IP_RECVTTL ip(4) socket option allows programs to receive the incoming ttl on raw and udp sockets.
* The IP_MINTTL ip(4) socket option allows programs to ask the kernel to discard any packets with a ttl smaller than the given one, for implementing the IP TTL security hack aka the Generalized TTL Security Mechanism specified in RFC 3682.
* Multiple, independent routing tables, with pf(4) acting as selector. route(8) can be told which table to work with now, and routing daemons have been modified to cope as well.
* The pflog(4) interface is now clonable. pf(4) can log to multiple pflog interfaces now, each rule can specify which pflog interface to log to. pflogd(8) and spamlogd(8) can now be told which pflog interface to work with.
* The pfsync(4) interface is now clonable as well, thus only there when actually needed.
* pfctl(8) can now expire table entries.
* keep state is now the default for pf.conf(5) rules, as is the flags S/SA option on TCP connections. no state and flags any can be used to disable stateful filtering or TCP flags checking.
* The pfctl(8) ruleset optimiser can be enabled in pf.conf(5).
* pf(4) anchors can now be loaded inline in the main pf.conf(5) and can be printed recursively.
* Allow pf(4) rules inside anchors to have their counters reset, and make counter read & reset an atomic operation.
* sensorsd(8) dampens status changes now, thus not alerting for a single wrong sensor read, since many sensors lie once in a while.
* spamd(8) and spamlogd(8) now support synchronisation of the greylist database across multiple hosts. The greytrapping mechanism now allows for whole domain traps, and noticing out of order MX use.
* spamd(8) database format has changed from DB_BTREE to DB_HASH for much better performance on large installations with big databases.
* The bridge(4) driver and the brconfig(8) tool now support the Rapid Spanning Tree Protocol (RSTP). The new RSTP mode is now used by default when enabled with the stp option.
* cd(4) now supports reading from region protected DVDs.
* Detect MS-DOS filesystems and spoof disklabel partitions for them even when there is no MBR, e.g. on some newer iPods.
# Assorted improvements and code cleanup:
* The fsck_ffs(8) command has been improved to be more robust to various forms of inode and superblock corruption.
* The top(1) command got some new ways of filtering the display.
* pthreads(3) file descriptor handling has been improved to eliminate several race and deadlock conditions and improve performance.
* The MS-DOS filesystem has had a potential corruption issue fixed, and is more reliable when given a corrupted filesystem to mount.
* The MS-DOS filesystem and the fdisk(8) command have been enhanced to work on devices with 2048 byte sectors, e.g. newer iPods.
* The OpenRCS tools are smarter at handling files, especially when dealing with binary files. GNU RCS compatibility has also been improved.
* The mg(1) editor now displays column numbers in the status bar. It has also received several improvements which make it more reliable: line numbers, file insertions, and search wrapping all now work as expected.
* The systat(1) command has a cleaner look, and a display was added for hardware sensors.
* The OpenBSD/alpha platform now uses gcc3.
* Improved support for usb attached cd drives and ever more odd umass(4) devices.
* Don’t treat NetBSD or FreeBSD MBR partitions as substitutes for an OpenBSD partition. i.e. don’t try to boot from them or use them to store OpenBSD disklabels.
# Install/Upgrade process changes:
* More reliable detection of disk and cd devices.
* More reliable installation from MSDOS FAT partitions.
* New sanity check in case sets for the wrong architecture are selected.
* No need to specify the filesystem types of source partitions during disk or cd installs.
* No need to select a source partition during disk or cd installs when there is only one to choose from.
# OpenBGPD 4.1:
* Fixes for sessions with tcp md5sig and ipsec. Now sessions can be migrated from and to any form of ipsec and tcpmd5 with just a simple bgpctl reload, and the session migrates the next time it gets established.
* Include file support in the config parser.
* Can now use the new IP_MINTTL socket option to implement the ttl security mechanism.
# OpenOSPFD 4.1:
* Reload support added. It is no longer needed to restart ospfd after a configuration change.
* Multiple networks per interface are now supported.
* It is now possible to specify the route metric and type for each redistribution rule.
# OpenNTPD 4.1:
* Greatly improved support for timedelta sensors.
* ntpd now uses a strictly monotonically increasing time (uptime, basically) for its internal timers, so setting the system clock doesn’t influence query rates, trust levels, etc. any more.
# OpenSSH 4.6:
* sshd now allows the enabling and disabling of authentication methods on a per user, group, host and network basis via the Match directive in sshd_config(5).
# Over 4200 ports, 4000 pre-built packages (for i386), minor robustness improvements in package tools. Some highlights:
* gstreamer-0.10 tools.
* OpenOffice.org package, available through ftp for size reasons.
* KDE 3.5.6 and koffice 1.6.2.
* a large (> 500) number of new/updated perl modules, from CPAN, including most of the catalyst web framework.
* NetBeans 5.5 Java IDE.
* updated Linux emulation support by using Fedora Core libraries.
* Mozilla Firefox 188.8.131.52 (with translations).
* PostgreSQL 8.2.3.
Here’s a recap of the news and tips from this week:
CentOS lures Red Hat Linux users with update service
CentOS is wooing former Red Hat Linux users that loved software upgrades from the Red Hat Network but could have done without the expensive service contracts.
Ubuntu Feisty Fawn launches with increased server focus
Canonical Ltd. is hoping server virtualization features in Ubuntu Feisty Fawn will encourage more server deployments of the Linux distribution.
TIP – An expert walks users through setting up printing between Unix and Linux using Linux’s LPR utility and Unix’s SMIT.
Printer sharing between Windows and Linux
TIP – Figure out how to connect your Windows machines to a shared printer as a network device from your Linux box in this tip.
Have a good weekend, everyone.]]>
Click the image above for an expanded, full size view of the Linux distribution timeline. On a related note, the image brings up an interesting point about fragmentation, doesn’t it? I’ll be digging into that topic a little bit deeper than with just an image later on, so stay tuned.]]>
Major changes in CentOS 5 compared to CentOS 4 include:
Standard features include:
I’ve been conversing via the blogosphere with an IT administrator based in the U.K. about Nagios and CentOS today, and I must say it’s been an experience.
As you may know already, we posted a short case study about some SNMP-related trouble one IT manager was having with Nagios, and why he eventually went with a third party out-of-box application from Hyperic for monitoring and systems management.
Across the pond, Kieron Williams (that IT manager I mentioned above) is in charge of a small pub company called Brunning and Price. If the beer stops flowing, he has a problem, he said, but it’s not so much the case if, say, an email is 30 minutes late. Nagios works just fine for him in that regard, but it appears this popular open source monitoring project is only helpful to a point in enterprise environments, no?
The reason this conversation has been so helpful to me is because Kieron is also dabbling with CentOS due to some Microsoft Windows-related licensing headaches (quick aside: I think I’ve written the phrase “Microsoft licensing headaches” a gazillion times over the past three years at SearchEnterpriseLinux).
It just so happens that I’m putting together a CentOS piece for SEL due out this week or next. So, if you have anything to offer up on why you’d choose CentOS in your enterprise environment — or any CentOS stories for that matter — drop me a line at Jack Loftus, News Writer or fire off a comment below.]]>
The Debian Project is pleased to announce the official release of Debian GNU/Linux version 4.0, codenamed etch, after 21 months of constant development. Debian GNU/Linux is a free operating system which supports a total of eleven processor architectures and includes the KDE, GNOME and Xfce desktop environments. It also features cryptographic software and compatibility with the FHS v2.3 and software developed for version 3.1 of the LSB.
It’s finally out, and not a moment too soon. With Ian Murlock calling the project a “process run amok” and Ubuntu gaining momentum everywhere but in the kitchen sink, things were getting a bit hectic.
UPDATE@10:35: Seems Debian also has a new leader as well. iTWire is reporting that Sam Hocevar, a French developer, who has been with the project since 2000, was elected as leader for 2007-08 on Sunday.]]>
OK, so I exaggerate just a bit, but in my defense this IS a blog. Oracle vice president of Embedded Technologies Mike Olson didn’t say anything of the sort today in his blog post defending Oracle’s Unbreakable Linux, but he did attempt to lay out a case as to why Oracle Enterprise Linux downloads (at 9,000 or so since launch) were the apple to Fedora’s oranges (24k per day).
“Counting downloads of Oracle Enterprise Linux is a waste of time,” Olson said, because Fedora downloads are typically people who have no intention of paying Red Hat for services or support anytime soon. On the other hand, Olson argues that those 9k or so Oracle Enterprise Linux downloads are customers — or “business buyers” — who are “willing to pay for support and bug fixes, and for ongoing access to pre-built, tested binary releases.”
For Olson, Oracle’s play wasn’t about getting RHEL out of the enterprise, it was about getting Oracle’s brand of Linux support in. The rest, if it ever happens, would be gravy.
Oracle is able to offer services to enterprise users who already have RHEL installed. This is crucial. The leading role of the RHEL distribution in the enterprise is exactly why Oracle chose to support it, and not some other distribution, in our Unbreakable Linux support offering. Enterprises running RHEL today can switch to Oracle’s services without downloading a new copy of the operating system. Naturally, any enterprise running production systems is reluctant to reinstall anything at all in order to switch vendors. It’s just too risky to change the tires while the car is moving.The effect is that Oracle is able to convert downloads to paying customers without requiring a download.
If you remember, this is something SearchEnterpriseLinux.com covered earlier in the week. Senior analyst Raven Zachary of the 451 Group said the movement on this issue going on today was early adopters only, but he expected that to change. Expect that change, if it does in fact occur, to arrive about the same time as Red Hat’s support renewal cycles.
And just one last note: I wonder how Olson’s tune would sound if it was Oracle Enterprise Linux that was enjoying 24,000 downloads a day, and not Fedora? I wonder…]]>
That’s great for Xandros that they’re expanding their application suite to encompass the new version of Windows, but a quick scan of the headlines today says no one is upgrading to Vista. Sure, people know about it, but making the upgrade isn’t in the cards just yet. Linux vendors must be licking their chops.]]>