Tools/Utils


I recently had someone ask me about converting from Outlook Express (I nearly fainted, it’s been so long since someone admitted to using OE in front of me) to something more open source (great way to keep from getting a bunch of spam and viruses), and in my research I found a great couple of articles about converting to Open Source mail packages.

The first deals directly with converting from Outlook Express to either Thunderbird or Evolution (which worked great, they told me) and the next is for those converting from that beast from the land of insufficient light, Microsoft Outlook, Converting All Your MS Outlook PST Files To Maildir Format.

Personally, it’s been over 10 years since I was based on Windows email programs, and that only for work. Here’s to all of us who “survived” all those many years on pine and mutt.

Enjoy,

RossB

SUSE Linux Enterprise is designed for the enterprise. Part of what it means to be “Enterprise-ready” is to have “rock solid” components in the distribution which have been fully tested and can be supported. Unstable and unsupportable components/packages just won’t do. BUT… Every now and then, it’s necessary to run “the latest” version of a component of the distribution. Perhaps you have a new application which requires the latest java, or a new development library, etc. So you don’t want to have to wait until that “latest version” of the package gets fully tested and “officially supported”. You’ve got to have that new version now!

You could go to the source and compile your own package for SUSE Linux Enterprise – and while not difficult, it is still kind of a pain – and certainly a turn-off for many a new Linux user. A much better option is to simply visit the openSUSE Build Service and see if your desired package is already being built for SUSE Linux Enterprise. You’ll find builds for SUSE Linux Enterprise, openSUSE, -plus- several other Linux distributions as well… Fedora, Debian, Ubuntu, … So save some time, and check to see if the package you need has already been built by looking here.

Want more info on the openSUSE Build Service, check out this good overview article and this blog entry. and of course the project site which includes other great info.

From the article:

When it comes to file systems, Linux® is the Swiss Army knife of operating systems. Linux supports a large number of file systems, from journaling to clustering to cryptographic. Linux is a wonderful platform for using standard and more exotic file systems and also for developing file systems. This article explores the virtual file system (VFS)—sometimes called the virtual filesystem switch—in the Linux kernel and then reviews some of the major structures that tie file systems together.

More here.

While Intel and Atheros are doing a great job writing wireless drivers for linux, there are still other wireless cards, specifically Broadcom, who do not have linux drivers or who do not have good linux drivers.

The purpose of this article is to explain how to configure ndiswrapper in SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 SP1. On my end I am using an old dell c640 (with the embedded wireless card turned off in BIOS) and a Linksys wusb54gc usb wireless device.

1: Go into Yast and install ndiswrapper and the appropriate ndiswrapper kernel module.
- hit alt+f2 enter yast2.
- open the software management module.
- search for ndiswrapper
- determine which version of the kernel you are running(bigsmp, default, smp) by opening a terminal and entering uname -r
- check off the “ndiswrapper” package as well as “ndiswrapper-kmp-<kernel version>” in yast and click accept to install.

2. Setup ndiswrapper
-Determine which chipset your wireless device is using. To do this enter:
hwinfo
or
lspci
or
lsusb
You can grep the results for wireless ex. hwinfo | grep -i wireless or just manually scroll through the output and search for something that looks like your wireless device.

In the case of my Linksys device it uses a Ralink chipset. I found the windows driver (rt73.inf) on the cd that came with the device. Find the .inf file for your card on your manufacturer’s website and download it. (Often times you will have to unzip the .exe driver installer to find the .inf).

-enter the following commands:
ndiswrapper -i /path/to/driver.inf #to install the driver
modprobe ndiswrapper #to load the module
ndiswrapper -m #To ensure that ndiswrapper will always use the same network interface name

3. Configure the wireless device in yast
- You should already have yast open from when you installed the ndiswrapper packages
- This time go into the “network card” module
- Verify that “NetworkManager” is selected and click next
- Click “Add”
- For Device Type choose “wireless”
- Configuration Name “0″
- Moduel Name “ndiswrapper”
- Click next then finish etc. to finish.

I have based this article off of the documentation that can be found in /usr/share/doc/packages/ndiswrapper/README.SUSE after installing ndiswraper

Save a screenshotThere are plenty of instances when it would be handy to take a quick screenshot… maybe you’re working on some technical documentation, or maybe you’re trying to troubleshoot a problem, or maybe you just want to prove to your buddies you got the “high score”…  Whatever the reason, here are some quick tips on how to create a screenshot in Linux — well, SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop with GNOME desktop at least…

(1) Entire Screen – Press the [Print Screen] button to take a snapshot of the entire screen. You can also add to your desktop panel this little icon  (Screenshot icon) for “Take a screenshot of your desktop”, or you can find it in the Applications menu under System (in GNOME), or maybe right-click the icon in your Apps menu to add it to your Favorites.  Either way, one click of the icon and it’ll take a screenshot… go figure.

Example screenshot:  Screenshot - full screen

(2) Current Window - Press [ALT] + [Print Screen] to take a snapshot of the currently chosen window.

Example screenshot:  Screenshot - window only

(3) Random Area Selection – Press the [Windows key] (aka, the “super” key) + click-and-drag yourself an area using the left mouse button.   I didn’t know this method even existed until this afternoon when I ran across it by chance.  How cool is that?!?

Example screenshot:  Screenshow - random area

From the “About” page for VirtualBox:

innotek VirtualBox is a general-purpose full virtualizer for x86 hardware. Targeted at server, desktop and embedded use, it is now the only professional-quality virtualization solution that is also Open Source Software.

Some of the features of VirtualBox are:

  • Modularity. VirtualBox has an extremely modular design with well-defined internal programming interfaces and a client/server design. This makes it easy to control it from several interfaces at once: for example, you can start a virtual machine in a typical virtual machine GUI and then control that machine from the command line, or possibly remotely. VirtualBox also comes with a full Software Development Kit: even though it is Open Source Software, you don’t have to hack the source to write a new interface for VirtualBox.
  • Virtual machine descriptions in XML. The configuration settings of virtual machines are stored entirely in XML and are independent of the local machines. Virtual machine definitions can therefore easily be ported to other computers.
  • Guest Additions for Windows and Linux. VirtualBox has special software that can be installed inside Windows and Linux virtual machines to improve performance and make integration much more seamless. Among the features provided by these Guest Additions are mouse pointer integration and arbitrary screen solutions (e.g. by resizing the guest window).
  • Shared folders. Like many other virtualization solutions, for easy data exchange between hosts and guests, VirtualBox allows for declaring certain host directories as “shared folders”, which can then be accessed from within virtual machines.

VirtualBox is now included as a virtualization option in the openSUSE 10.3 release, available here. If you’re on another version of Linux, you can get more information about VirtualBox here, and download the binary and source versions here.

Enjoy,

RossB

What is DOS? I don’t know; I’ve never used it before… until today!

Recently I’ve been working on getting SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop working on a really really old piece of hardware. As one of the troubleshooting steps I had to update the BIOS to the latest version. In order to do this the vendor told me that I had to boot into DOS and run an executable that would update the BIOS.

As I said, I’ve never used DOS before, so I had to reach out to Peter Bowen for help. Here are the steps he walked me through to create a Virtual FreeDOS Floppy disk image on your hard drive that you can boot from.

Make sure the following are installed: dosbootdisk, syslinux. Dosbootdisk is a program that lets you create a FreeDOS boot disk. Syslinux is a boot loader for Linux which operates off an MS-DOS or Windows FAT file system.

Follow these steps to boot into a DOS partition:

  • zcat /usr/share/dosbootdisk/floppy.gz /boot/floppy.img
  • mount -o loop /boot/floppy.img /mnt
  • Copy the appropriate files needed for updating the BIOS into /mnt(remember this is DOS so make sure that the file names are no larger than 8 characters and the file extension is no more than 3 characters
  • I had to remove the the following line from my config.sys file in order for the system to boot DOS=UMB,HIGH
  • umount /mnt (remember that you can’t unmount if have have if it is your current working directory ie. if you have cd’ed into it)
  • cp /usr/share/syslinux/memdisk /boot
  • Next we need to setup Grub so that you can boot into your virtual floppy disk.
  • Edit /boot/grub/menu.lst so that it looks something like this:
  • ###DOS Floppy###
    title DOS
    root (hd0,0) #you may need to change this depending on what partition /boot is installed on. Because this system is so old it requires that /boot have it's own partition that is the first partition.

    kernel /memdisk
    initrd /floppy.img

    At this point you should be able to reboot your machine, choose the DOS option and flash your BIOS.

Want to investigate moving to OpenOffice.org? Have a massive load of Word and other documents that are holding you back?

Take heart, there are various options that you can pursue, not the least of which is setting your OpenOffice.org defaults to read and write the appropriate format of Microsoft file types.

While in OpenOffice.org, just click on the Tools menu -> Options, click on the + sign next to Load/Save and choose the General item. On the General dialogue, the lower third is where you find the Default file format configuration selections. Here you can choose the default type of document to open (slideshow, spreadsheet, etc.) and all importantly the Always save as option, where you can choose from various formats, including:

  • Microsoft Word 2003 XML
  • Microsoft Word 6.0
  • Microsoft Word 95
  • Microsoft 97/2000/XP

By choosing a mutually compatible load/save file format that reflects the majority of your documents, you can save a lot of time and energy and not have to convert all of your documents just to try out or move over to OpenOffice.org.

I also recommend reading a posting by Serdar Yegulalp over at SearchEnterpriseLinux.com about mass-migrating Word documents, some good advice and linkage in it.

Enjoy,

RossB

Starting off our new series called Vendor Spotlight is a company that I think is doing some very cool things, ThinFusion Inc. The interview was conducted by phone and included Brandon and Rick Vancleeve

What is ThinFusion?

ThinFusion is the combination of a Linux OS platform running in a thin client environment, while providing access to the majority of Windows-based applications. ThinFusion uses either a thin client OS local, paired to a session on a ThinFusion server, or alternatively allows the use of cross-platform client software to provide secure and very speedy access to the ThinFusion Server session literally from anywhere.

ThinFusion provides a single access point to all the Linux and Windows applications that a user needs. The administrative interface allows for simple drag and drop granting and revoking, in realtime, of access to applications on a group or individual level.

What applications can I run on ThinFusion?

This part is easy…
Since it accesses a Windows Terminal Server for Windows apps you can go to Microsoft’s site and find every supported program out there. You don’t have to go through a giant bug list of “quirks” when running Windows apps in a Linux shell. If it runs in a Terminal Server environment, it runs on ThinFusion.

On the Linux side, since you are in essence just accessing a Linux Desktop you can run all your Linux applications.

Who is ThinFusion Inc?

ThinFusion Inc, is a small company in the Mountains of Montana that have developed ThinFusion to meet the needs of K-12 Schools, Higher Ed, and Small to Medium Businesses. ThinFusion mission statement: Access your classroom from anyplace anytime.

What is a typical customer for ThinFusion?

The typical customer would be a school or business that has a need to control access to applications, reduce administrative and technical support costs and increase the quality of service for its users while maintaining the necessary security and controls.

What is a sample use case of ThinFusion?

A school district with a Laptop lab is an excellent use case for ThinFusion. Typically in this environment the Laptops would be running Windows with most applications installed locally. Often the students are issued the laptops and are responsible for physical security and transport, often including off school property and for all purposes becoming the students main machine for home and school. Such an environment has multiple risks and costs associated with it, including re-imaging regularly due to misconfigurations, virus and spy-ware issues and either malicious or inadvertent deletions and changes to the software.

Particularly if the laptops are issued and kept by the students does the risk of virus infection or inadvertent misconfiguration crop up, the possibility of infection and transport of the viruses and spyware becomes a virtual certainty, with some school environments literally being taken down for periods of time from such infections.

ThinFusion in this environment would remove most or all of the issues discussed. Two choices are possible:

1. Install a very slim Desktop Linux with NX Client software on the student laptop, all application access requires dialup or better Internet access to the ThinFusion Server, thus all applications are run in a very secure and less virus-prone environment.
2. Install Windows or keep the current Desktop OS, adding lockdown software and the NX Client software, requiring dialup or better Internet acccess to the ThinFusion Server etc.

Both of the above examples allow students and staff to securely access their school network just as if they were sitting at a desk in class, from anywhere/anytime. It extends the learning environment beyond the walls of the school, and it allows for collaboration beyond the bus bell. This is the mode that we see businesses transitioning to at record pace, as we see more and more workers using home offices and accessing data through secure remote scenarios.

This environment is effective for students and teachers, with teachers mostly falling into the category of # 2, they having the most need to run 3rd party applications that are typically Windows-based.

What are the support options?

A ThinFusion subscription comes with a full support, training and installation package. Higher levels of support packages are available.

What should you not use ThinFusion for?

ThinFusion is not a great solution for high end multimedia, neither for creation nor viewing. A class of 50 users running a very graphically oriented courseware would be fairly choppy.

How do I learn more about ThinFusion?
Please visit their website (www.thinfusion.com), to experience demonstrations, tutorials, case studies and more. You can also reach them by phone at 1-800-432-0346.

==========

If you can think of an example of a vendor that is going something you can really appreciate and is good for the community, put a comment in or email me: rbrunson[at]novell.com

Enjoy,

RossB

Why Worry About It?

Backups are essential, and so is the reducing the time needed to perform those backups. Many’s the time I have sat waiting for a backup to complete only to remember that I had a link to a large set of files, or a bunch of ISO files in the ./download directory, and had to migrate those over to somewhere else and restart the backup.

If you are like me, data = “files that contain data of original or irreplaceable content”. I don’t want to backup ISO files, large sets of files that can be gotten from an install DVD or things that are easy to download from a site somewhere.

I use a simple (yeah, it really is), script before every backup to find all the files over a particular size, which I then can so anything I want with. If I find anything that’s too large and expendable, I either use an -exclude statement (usually in the case of all ISO’s) or even move the files elsewhere quickly by re-running the script and tacking on a -exec statement.

The Script

Here is the script I use, it’s from a bunch of different sources, and uses a couple of useful tools to do it’s work:

#!/bin/bash

echo "Enter the fully-qualified start path"
read start_path
echo "Enter the lower size limit in Megabytes"
read lower_size
find $start_path \( -size +"$lower_size"M -fprintf ~/Desktop/bigfiles.txt '%kk %p\n' \)

Fables of the Deconstruction

#!/bin/bash

The first line is where you declare what shell you want to run this script with. This string is known as the “shebang”, not absolutely necessary since it defaults to the bash shell anyway, but it’s certainly good form.

echo "Enter the fully-qualified start path"
read start_path

Lines 3 and 4 work together, prompting you to enter the fully-qualified start path and then storing what you enter in the newly-created variable named start_path. This is expanded in Line 7 by referring to it’s name $start_path.

echo "Enter the lower size limit in Megabytes"
read lower_size

The same arrangement occurs with lines 5 and 6, you’re prompted to enter the smallest size in Megabytes you want to report on, which stores that in the newly-created variable named lower_size. This too is expanded in Line 7 with the name $lower_size.

All Together Now

Line 7 is where all the fun stuff happens. First you are using the find command, not the easiest thing for newcomers, but well worth, ahem, “finding” out more about. Find requires several things, shown below:

find (path) (-option) (expression)

We’re using the start_path variable as the (path), then we include a function (sort of a macro) that looks for files of a size that is at least the value of the lower_size variable we set and populated earlier. Then when it finds each file over that size, it will print out the file size in 1K blocks, followed by the LETTER k, so it’s obvious, and then the full path and name of the file that has been found. This will all then be output to a file named bigfiles.txt in the current user’s Desktop folder.

Note: The use of the tilde (technical name: squiggle 8-> ) character in a command means to expand the current user’s $HOME variable from the executing shell, so the full path of the bigfiles.txt file if rossb is running the script is:

/home/rossb/Desktop/bigfiles.txt

Running the Script

Executing scripts that aren’t in your path (the variable, not the physical directory) is different on Linux/Unix, either you’ll use this script as a parameter to the bash shell:

# /bin/bash findbigfiles.sh

Or you’ll use the following command to set the script to be executable:

# chmod +x findbigfiles.sh

Then when it’s set to executable, you’ll either need to put it in your path, (try /usr/local/bin) or execute it by preceding it with the characters “./”, which is necessary to execute something in the local directory if it’s not in the path:

# ./findbigfiles.sh

Summary

There are so many other things you can do with find, such as tack on a -exec statement and execute a command on each and every file found, or find and act on files that meet a particular permission set, the possibilities are nearly endless.

Of particular help in my work over the years with the find command has been the find man page, with it’s useful examples and Chapter 14 “Finding Files with Find” of the Unix Power Tools 2nd Edition from O’Reilly and Associates. (I know the 2nd Edition is out of print, but I don’t care much for the 3rd Edition’s updates).

Let us know in the comments what cool find scripts you have come up with, the randomly drawn winner will get a very cool Novell-Candy-Apple-Red 9 LED flashlight. (Sorry, Continental U.S. only).

Enjoy,

RossB

Laura over at the awesome VirtualHosting.com blog has 12 great tips for pre-hacking your own machine.

Your wifi is encrypted and a trial version of McAfee came with that new HP the kid at Best Buy sold you, so no need to worry about computer security, right? Unfortunately, security is a whole lot more complex than your average computer user might imagine.

There are literally hundreds of ways that malware and hackers can compromise your system security, most of which you’ve never heard of. Thankfully, however, there are a number of online tools available which will help you identify (and sometimes fix) the vulnerabilities in your system. In this article we’ve selected 12 basic tests you can run on your machine to identify its weaknesses.

More from the article.

The excellent Wine Review blog has an article about Photoshop running on Linux using WINE (WIne is NOT an Emulator), recommended read for the graphics artists in the audience.

From the article:

Mixed-media professionals such as photographers, Web designers, and graphic designers will not be disappointed in Adobe’s latest incarnation of Photoshop. In this release, Adobe aims hard at addressing the issues of file management, easy photo retouching, and smarter output for the Web. While Adobe manages to successfully address these issues, it also remains true to its photo editing roots.

More from the article.

RossB

P.S.  Skip, don’t even think about using Photoshop on SLED, it’s the GIMP for you…

Adobe Flex is a platform for creating rich internet applications – and an alpha version of Adobe Flex Builder for Linux is now available to the public and runs on SUSE Linux Enterprise. Adobe has traditionally been staunch supporters of Windows and Mac – with a much more limited amount of attention paid to Linux.  Adobe PhotoShop was even named as one of the most requested applications for Linux in a customer survey Novell held last year.  Perhaps Adobe is starting to change their attitude towards Linux — perhaps…

Thanks to this ZDnet blog entry, which points to this Adobe Flex developer’s blog, which points to the official Adobe page.

If you’re starting to look at Adobe Flex, and starting to build some applications, check out this alpha code and be sure to give Adobe your feedback!

Imagine if You Will…

You’re in the server room, listening to the sound of a babbling brook, when suddenly the sound of a fish splashing back in the water causes you to look at your network monitor application, where you see a traffic spike that needs your attention.

Some sort of weird Ridley Scott remake of Hackers? No, one of several system monitoring tools that lets you use your hearing senses to determine what’s going on with your systems and network. The visual side of things has been done to death, it makes sense to use your other senses to relay and receive information.

We already use our sense of smell to monitor equipment, right? I mean, who doesn’t know the smell of toasted motherboard, burned wiring and overheated circuitry? What is more horrifying than walking into the server room and smelling something burned?

How Cool is This?

Around 2000, a project called Peep set out the following goals:

Administering a network means keeping track of copious amounts of information. Today’s network monitoring tools are “log-based”; they produce large logs of information through which the system administrator is expected to sift and discover problems.

The PEEP approach is to eliminate the need to search through large amounts of text by representing network information in real-time. PEEP uses sound to represent the vast amount of available information about network status.

With PEEP, a system administrator can tell what activity is occurring in his network in real-time and isolate where the problem lies.

Peep is pretty old and nothing much has happened with it for quite a while, but I found an article that takes a different approach to all of this using a package called FluidSynth. A continuation of the work done with Peep, there’s a set of programs and scripts comprised of:

  • Fluidsynth
  • Sound font packages
  • Perl
  • Chordstats

All of this isn’t hard to get running and pretty soon I had the sound of hammered dulcimers plinking away in my office. The program monitors vmstat in it’s simplest configuration, the output of which contains a lot of constantly changing stats about your processes, swap, cache and buffers, input/output, interrupts etc.

When you get this running there is a constant backbeat of a particular note, metronomically binging along, and when something changes on your machine other notes are inserted from different octaves and ranges to make a counterpoint to the backbeat.

But Can You Get it in Blue?

Oh boy, can you have fun with the different system tasks and configuring the noises they trigger!  I found that by twirling the 3D desktop cube, scp’ing a file from the machine and using Bittorrent I could make a noise that sounded like someone dropped the entire minstrel section from a Renaissance Festival from a great height onto a grand piano.

Note: You will want to experiment with these tools either A) when everyone else is gone B) Only the cleaning staff is there vacuuming. Regardless, you will rapidly have people leaning in your office door and using interrogative expletives (“What the ____ are you doing?”, “What is that bombastic blast?”, and my favorite “Who’s torturing a ____’ing piano in here?”).

There is a great article on the IBM Developerworks site about chordstats, with lots of resources to get other chord packages and some good explanations of what other commands you can monitor the output of (strace is another favorite of mine), and don’t forget to look at the Sourceforge site for Peep, and read the original presentation, it’s fascinating.

Enjoy, (I know I did, and now I know that my dog can howl in High C).

RossB

I have a bunch of single-use Gmail accounts for the usual things, like account registrations, site administration, newsletter subscriptions and the like. If you have this same situation, you know that (unless you possess unusual patience) it’s not easy to serially open up multiple Gmail accounts if you have saved the login information for an auto-login. Oh, and forget trying to have multiple parallel Gmail accounts signed in, it’s one-by-one or nothing. Well, until now, that is.

I recently found Gmail Manager for FireFox, an extension that displays your Gmail accounts names, unread message count and various other items in a single right-click interface window at the bottom right status bar of your Firefox browser window. Once you install it and restart FireFox (sigh, it’s just like Windows sometimes…) you get something like the below icon on your statusbar:

gmail_mgr_01_icon.png

Now, just right-click the icon to begin to configure accounts, I have 5 already and more are possible, you can have each, all or none of the accounts be logged into my default. Of course you’ll want to have it remember your password, it’s a single-click to get that account open if you do.

gmail_mgr_03_newacct.png

With your various accounts configured, you now right-click the icon to select which account will be the one displayed in the status bar, where it’ll show like mine below:

monkeyboyscrnshot01.png

Left-clicking on that account’s name in the status bar will open up a new tab for that Gmail account, signed in an ready to read email. I find myself never visiting Gmail.com unless I’m on some other machine that doesn’t have this tool installed. Go ahead and select another account and open a tab for it, and another, it’s a blessing to have multiple tabbed Gmail accounts open and usable.

gmail_mgr_02_tabs.png

By right-clicking on the status bar icon you get the ability to configure general and per-account settings. There are a wealth of different options for each account, including notification sounds, how often to check mail for that account, how it’s displayed and such.

gmail_mgr_04_prefs.png

Another great feature that makes me like this extension is the ability to export and import account and preference settings, so I can quickly get the same accounts setup and configured properly on either a new machine or between accounts on the same machine. This also works cross-platform, such as between Windows, Linux and OS X, say.

I’m sure there are others out there, but since MailPlane only runs on OS X so far, this and other extensions like it are the best hope for multiple Gmail accounts on Linux. Be sure to contribute any that you have found or like in the comments, I’ll credit you and add it to the mix.

Enjoy,

RossB

There’s a great new site called LessWatts.org, whose goal is to help Linux users use less power through a variety of means. The mission statement is pretty straightforward:

Saving power is a hot topic across the computer industry. For some, saving power means getting a longer battery life on their mobile devices, be it laptops or handhelds. For others, saving power means reducing costs and increasing efficiency in their data centers. For all of us its about reducing the impact of computing on our planet.

The site is surprisingly engaging in light of it’s laser focus, you’ll find:

As an example of the great tools you can get from this site, PowerTop is a version of the /bin/top utility that monitors power consumption on a process by process basis.

PowerTop has 4 basic goals:

  • Show how well your system is using the various hardware power-saving features
  • Show you the culprit software components that are preventing optimal usage of your hardware power savings
  • Help Linux developers test their application and achieve optimal behavior
  • Provide you with tuning suggestions to achieve low power consumption

It’s easy to use and install, and very quick to download. Take a look at the site, see what tools you can use and definitely read the documentation and FAQ section, it’s got some very useful information.

Enjoy,

RossB

Jono Bacon, he of Lugradio fame and GNOME developer legend has a nice treatise on why Mono is great for applications on Linux at his blog.

Stop by the Lugradio site, subscribe to the podcasts and visit the forums.  Some of the shows are incredibly funny and somewhat NSFW, so beware and use some headphones.

RossB

You all know I am a proponent of technology, many of you have seen or heard me speak, when something is exciting and new and I think others can benefit, it’s almost impossible to shut me up. And like many of you, I have had situations where someone who is a block for a project, proposal or something else that needs to move quickly is avoiding answering or moving the approval process along.

Well, with that prequel, I’ll tell you about a tool that I pickup very infrequently but with a chuckle when I do: Trumpia. Basically you can become the human version of Operation Rolling Thunder, contacting simultaneously on all available and possible methods the person you have gotten disgusted with and put your sight reticle on.

Misuse of Trumpia can and very likely will drive all your friends off en mass, immediately. You can configure the various SMS, email and IM accounts of the people you wish to drive to complete and utter distraction. You then send out a BLAST (nice and descriptive name, that) to all of them, effectively realtime spamming them on all the possible channels that you have for them.

So, use this one properly, and don’t misuse it. I have realtime-blacklisted Trumpia for my sites and phones, this could be the most irritating thing since sand in your trunks.

RossB

When you register SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop or SUSE Linux Enterprise Server you automatically set nu.novell.com as an update source. Many enterprise customers prefer to setup their own local update servers which mirror nu.novell.com. The utility available to do this is called YUP, Yum Update Proxy.

YUP is not included in SUSE Linux Enterprise and can be downloaded from here (you must use the newest version of YUP if you want to mirror SP1 updates):

http://software.opensuse.org/download/home:/mge1512/SLE_10/noarch/

After installation, the configuration file resides in /etc/sysconfig/yup. You can either edit this file by hand or use the /etc/sysconfig YaST module.

Let’s take a look at some of the important parameters.

  • YUP_DEST_DIR=”/path/to/directory”
    • Specify the directory on your server where you want to save the updates.
    • Make sure you have a fair amount of disk space.
    • Yup will automatically setup the directory structure underneath this for all the different architectures and products you’re mirroring.
    • Configure your server to share these directories to clients. I use the “installation server” module to setup an http share.
  • YUP_ID=”blablabla1234″ and YUP_PASS=”password”
    • Your ID and Password can be found in 2 places:
      • Novell Customer Center. (This is the preferred method) In the Novell Customer Center (http://www.novell.com/center) click on the “Products and Subscriptions” tab, then select a relevant subscription (SLED or SLES), next double click on a subscription (you may have several). You’ll see a link to generate mirror credentials down at the bottom of the new page. This page will create credentials that you can use to access any and all catalogs that you own a subscription for.
      • /etz/zmd/secret and deviceid on a machine that has been registered with the Novell Customer Center. If you use userid/secret from /etc/zmd you can only download updates for the architecture you registered with.
  • YUP_SERVER=”nu.novell.com”
    • “nu.novell.com” is the new name of the update server at novell.
  • YUP_ID_SLED=””, YUP_ID_SLES=””,YUP_PASS_SLED=””,YUP_PASS_SLES=””
    • I just copy the ID and Password that we discussed above
  • YUP_ARCH=”i586″
    • Pick the architecture(s) that you want to mirror.
    • Multiple architectures are delimited by a spaces
    • Valid options: i586,ppc,s390x,ia64,x86_64
  • YUP_PRODUCTS=”SLES10″
    • Pick whether you want to mirror SLES or SLED
    • Multiple architectures are delimited by a spaces
    • Valid options SLES10 and/or SLED10
  • YUP_SUBVERSIONS=”SP1″
    • Pick the subversion(s) you want to mirror
    • Multiple architectures are delimited by a spaces
    • Valid options: “GA”,”SP1″

Once you have finished configuring, simply run the command “YUP” to pull down the updates. This process can take a long time depending on the speed of your connection and the number of products and architectures you want to pull down. You can create a cron job to update your mirror. After it is run once, yup will only pull down updates that you don’t already have.

After setting up the YUP server you have to configure clients to point to your server for updates.

From the command line use the rug command:

#assuming you’re using http, use this command to add the service.
rug sa --type=YUM http://ipaddress/install/sledyup/i586 repodata
#subscribe to the service
rug sub -a
# update your server
rug up

You can also use the ZMD applet

  • Right click on the ZMD applet
  • Choose configure
  • Add service
  • Choose ZYPP
  • Enter the URI and Service Name (repodata is the default name)

Yes, it’s time for another installment of my very popular “Ross gets this question a lot lately, time for a blog post!” type of posting.

Who’s Asking?

Let’s put this into perspective, why would current Novell and prospective customers be asking us all of a sudden in large numbers what applications/services run on SLES? I’ve asked and the majority are not current SLES customers, they are a mix of traditional Novell (Red) customers (about 40%) and new to SUSE prospective customers (about 50%) and the rest (10%) won’t come out with why, they’re just looking around, thank you very much…

I’ve sent out the links to and shown the following site and it’s children a lot lately, so I wanted to get everyone used to how to find what applications/partners/services etc. are available for SLE 10.  The vast majority of what I am talking about are application services like Oracle and Websphere, not OpenOffice.org.  I just love having someone ask me a complex question and to know we’ve already documented it and I can show them quickly by using the blog posting!

The Goods

The Novell Product Partner Guide is the main landing page for all these solutions, it has options for you to browse the available apps by:

  • product
  • hardware
  • software
  • industry
  • architecture

There’s also an alphabetical list of Partners you can quickly look through, such as if you want to know what Oracle apps or IBM hardware and apps are certified and with what version/patch level of SLES.

The Market Start program is a way to get small to medium businesses quickly into an application service that solves specific needs. There are a number of these, including Alfresco, BlackDuck and Pentaho.

Another very popular section of the site is the Yes Bulletin Search page, either by the bulletin number (which I never know, so it’s not useful to me) and the Yes Bulletin Advanced Search, which lets you search by any keyword you can remember, even if you haven’t had enough coffee this morning…

Yes, it’s even possible to request a Linux Application to be certified, or to let the program managers know of something that you think we should be looking at or someone to be partnering with, we get a number of these, and they are very helpful. Submit away!

Summary

All in all, that ought to keep everyone busy for a while, if you have questions or suggestions, please put them in a comment and we’ll get right on it!

Enjoy,

RossB

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