19 February 2013

openSUSE 12.2 redemption

I feel like I have done something wrong. I feel like a bad boy. This will be a clarification post about an old post I wrote about openSUSE 12.2 back in September last year. In the time the post has been up it has been my most popular post thus far. Unfortunately, it wasn't seen as a positive post. To this point the post has been viewed 489 times of which 45 views came from a link in forosuse , a Spanish Speaking users forum. That is dangerously close to 10 percent of the views coming from a forum post that describes my openSUSE review as a negative one. Unfortunately it wasn't my intent to make it a hit peace against my favorite distro.

So what is really going on with 12.2? Nothing, it just works. I have been using openSUSE 12.2 on my home rig and on the office workstation. I also have a development server running it at work and a virtual development server at home. I am surrounded by lizards. And I wouldn't say that it has no issues, it has. But choosing a distro isn't as simple as finding one that doesn't have problems, they all have problems. And that isn't to say that all Linux distros are broken or problematic, if it were so we would all be using windows. We are not using windows. Linux is an OS that can do everything, windows can't do everything. And the few hiccups that you need to go through, to get an all powerful desktop or server or cluster is well worth it. So if we compare Linux to windows it is a question of technology. But if we compare one flavor of Linux to another it is a question of expertise and taste.

What is openSUSE? It is one of the easy distros, easy to setup and easy to use. It is not a new user distro and it's not a windows replacement. If you need a windows desktop replacement you use Ubuntu. openSUSE is a Linux for Linux users or a windows server replacement. When learning Linux administration you need to learn some simple principles. Install, enable and allow. Whatever the distro you use you do these steps for every service. A new web server needs Apache to be installed, then enabled as a service and the allowed through the firewall. This is traditionally done with the various config files, although most of the time there are tools to automate this. More often than not when you install something like samba or apache it sets itself up. The case with openSUSE is that it has YaST to help you with that stuff and it works with the .conf files and you can look at them and learn. But this is on the server side. On the desktop, openSUSE is not ideal for a new user. Linux is for everybody. Your grandmother can use Linux. For many years the push has been towards the desktop, and not all distros are there. But when we go for that evaluation we are making a grave error. When Linux comes into the house it comes as a downloaded ISO file. When Windows or OSX come into the house they are already installed. In order to gain equal footing Linux needs to be easier to install and to configure. And this is why I always hate heavily on little issues that prevent your grandmother from setting up the system. Thus the heavy review.

18 February 2013

Finally Fedora 18

Oh, my heart is so broken. Fedora broke my heart. Before I jumped into the Linux world I was only exposed to it because it was chosen by the network administrators to serve as everything needed for Internet service providing. We were an Internet service provider, and we had a Linux based boarder gateway and network routers and a billing system. And everything was Fedora. Then I decided that I wanted to learn PHP. And I tried XAMPP on windows, but it somehow didn't fit. I tried XAMPP on Fedora in VirtualBox on WindowsXP. It was then that I got hooked on Linux.

Soon after I was running Fedora 13 at work and 14 at home. It was the first Linux distro I ever used so naturally there is a special spot in my heart reserved for it.

Unfortunately it sort of lost it's appeal when Gnome 3 arrived. Or at least that's what people said, I wasn't there because I had already switched to Linux Mint. Today I had a run in with Fedora 18. The task was simple. An under-powered netbook running Windows7 was too under-powered for Windows7. The netbook manufacturers don't believe in choice so they don't supply WindowsXP drivers. And just out of curiosity, how exactly am I supposed to install a legit WindowsXP on a system if they don't sell the bloody thing. So after some brainstorming I decide that this system would be best suited for Fedora, and I was wrong. Or maybe I was just wrong when I decided to install the standard gnome-shell-fedora, but more on that later. Fedora has changed a lot since the last time I was here, but the retarded stuff is still the same. Fedora is sort of a technology proving ground for RHEL, if you are a red hat guy then you are going to keep an eye on it. And a red-hat guy would be comfortable with SELinux, but our netbook doesn't need SELinux. I would guess that nobody believes that it is an enterprise OS, otherwise there wouldn't be a need for CentOS, and even if you are taking workstations into consideration their install base is much smaller that the desktop so leaving SELinux off by default would give you at least better press(if nothing else). A non-pro user's interaction with SELinux is mainly through the troubleshooter, and this illustrates my point perfectly. Your computer is just notifying you that SELinux is at it again. The troubleshooter comes up informing you that this thing is making trouble again, we have a new feature that breaks all other features and then it just sneers at you pointing a finger and sticking its tongue out. Everybody turns it off as soon as the system loads for the first time. The netbook worked with windows until we decided to install counterpath's x-lite softphone software. So when we switched to Linux we installed Linphone, and all was good. But man can't live on softphone alone. Firefox doesn't like flash, but when it tries to automatically get the plugin it always fails. And it has been this way forever. I tried the yum package from the adobe website and it doesn't work. I don't care why and it can go to hell, I installed chrome. And why isn't chromium in the default repo. VLC comes from fusion rpm. Oh, and by the way. The default video player has also never worked, it says you need gstreamer and then tells you you can't have it. I'm using opensuse 12.2 with the gnome 3 desktop, and it is awesome. Gnome 3 on Fedora sucks, the are trying to make it more android like than it needs to be. If the desktop locks up you usually move or press something and then enter your password. But now you have to click with the mouse and drag. How does that work with a touch pad? Very badly. Then again it isn't as bad as the windows not having the X in the corner. One last question. How is it that Linux doesn't run faster than windows??? How is Linux not faster than windows???

17 February 2013

MOAR Movies

Have you seen Sucker Punch. No, what planet are you from. Go watch it, NOW! If you have watched it I have a question, did you love it? Because I loved it! Sucker Punch is an inspirational movie. It is a bit confusing, but not because of the story or the transitions between the real and the fantasy world, no. It is confusing because I don't catch the transition between being aroused and/or violent. I like the feeling I get when an action sequence is well thought out and the characters are operating the way I would. Just watching makes me want to play some high on violence first person shooter game, just to get the murder out of my system. On the other hand the movie isn't just a slaughter-fest, because it's five hot, gorgeous, sexy, pretty, barely dressed and hot again action packed girls are hot. This is the point where those who haven't seen the movie think that it is one of the easy to make pointless sex and murder BS Hollywood crap movies. No. The movie is structured in layers that separate its qualities in a unique way. You have a base set in the real world that is the lowest layer telling a heart breaking tragic story about a girl who sort of goes mad. On top of that you have a fantasy brothel alias for the mental institution. The two parts fit with an interesting dynamic where the abuse in the mental health clinic is translated into a sexual exploitation gangster story about sex slaves trying to regain their freedom. And the top layer is a dancing sequence action sequence showing the girls fighting. So the structure is Tragedy => SEX => Violence. But as the movie progresses the three distinct worlds get intertwined into one whole that has a solid story well told with a spectacular visual presentation and engaging action sequences.

Sometimes we watch a movie for the story, sometimes we watch it for the action. But there aren't many movies you watch for both.

Just to make sure that I piss off some self made know-it-all movie critic, let's compare Sucker Punch and Kill Bill. As good as Sucker Punch is, it still doesn't have the defining strong scenes. Kill Bill tells a story entirely in an underlined bold font. If you watch Kill Bill vol.1 and vol.2 back to back several times you become insensitive to the blood an the pain and the killing and you realize that it isn't a movie about revenge. Kill Bill is a tragic love story about a man(Bill) and a woman(Beatrix Kiddo), torn apart by their nature. Both merciless murderers, they end up murdering their love. And as Kill Bill tells the story of love patiently, Sucker Punch quickly goes through the tragic story and fills the gaps with action sequences that although tightly connected to the plot are mostly superfluous to character development. Another parallel between the two is the sexy factor. The protagonist/s in both movies are attractive, but Uma Thurman's character has a realistic feel to her that is easier to identify when compared to the idealized look of the Sucker Punch heroines.

Enough about those two. There is a genre of movies that is dead to me. And you guessed it, comedy. There is no point in the existence of comedy movies. If you want to laugh, watch a stand-up comedy show. Bye.

16 February 2013

Wait and Think and IPMI

Hi, me again. About a month without a post... Let's jump straight in.

I did a stupid thing at Job yesterday.  We have a client and he has a system in the data-center. And the system is a CentOS that has nothing on it. So far so good. Then, he decides that he wants to put something on it. And the reason he wants to put something on it is because one of his production systems has just died. And now this system will take over the work. And still, so far so good. Now for some back story. I made the CentOS system, and I deployed it. And he gave me the network settings for the system, but we are a bunch of retards so we don't have access to the backbone layer 2 switch in the data-center. So we put the system in a different network and later when the administrator of the network was available we moved it in the right network. But the client seems to have missed that so he was trying to access the wrong system. So he calls me asking for the password, and we both don't know that he actually needs the IP. So I tell him the password and no dice. So I open the system he is trying to access and find that the password really doesn't work. And it takes some time to realize that this is the wrong system. So I finally open the docs and see that the system has been moved to the network where it should be. I also notice that this system has an IPMI IP. Bravo. So we are in the system, and as the champagne is poured into glasses and cigars are passed around the client calls again. His sysadmin has changed the SSH port remotely and they have lost connection to the machine. "Did you set the new port in the firewall?" I asked. To which he replied that they don't put firewalls on their systems. If you remember earlier I mentioned that I installed the system, and I do put firewalls on systems. Every system I make gets a unique SSH port, just to keep the scripted attacks guessing. They decided that a port that is unofficially associated with SSH would be better for SSH (tell me in the comments what port I am talking about). On top of that the office is 20 min away from the data-center. And the client asked if I could go to the center and fix the issue, like an idiot I said yes. I was half way there when I remembered, IPMI. I called (while driving) and the moment I entered the data-center he called back to say everything is OK.

So what was the stupid thing. When a client calls don't panic. Tell him to wait, check for yourself what exactly is going on. You are not helping by wasting time on the phone with him, your kind words are not as valuable as a quick solution. I didn't have to do anything except to send him the docs on the system. Wasting 30 min. for something that should have taken the client 5 min. to resolve on his own.

Do you know what IPMI is? You can read the wikipedia article or you can hear it from me. Imagine a network adapter that allows you to remotely open a system, reboot it and change BIOS settings. Then you can mount an ISO image and install CentOS or whatever you want over the network. And imagine if you are dumb enough to change the SSH port on a system and not to open that port in the firewall. You can use IPMI to open the system and as if you are standing in front of it, you can recover from the mess you have made. IPMI is awesome.