Interop


It’s been a whole year since the ground-breaking Novell-Microsoft Collaboration Agreement was signed and announced. The one-stop shop for official info is here: http://www.moreinterop.com So far, despite the noise in the press, MANY customers have decided to take advantage of the many benefits that the agreement brings to the table. Here’s a list of all 46 of the customers who are allowing us to mention them publicly. They include some of the largest and most recognizable organizations in the world – Wal-Mart, BMW, Costco, HSBC, Nationwide, Siemens and Southwest Airlines just to name a few…

  • 1blu
  • Abraxas Informatik AG
  • ADIF
  • AFG IT Consulting
  • Arsys
  • Arsys Internet S.L.
  • Baker Hughes
  • BATS Trading Inc.
  • BMW AG
  • State of California, Department of Fish and Game
  • State of California Department of Technology Services
  • Cash Converters International Ltd.
  • CHRISTUS Health
  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
  • City of Los Angeles
  • CompuCom Systems Inc.
  • Conductor Tecnologia S.A.
  • Costco Wholesale Corp.
  • Flagstar Bank
  • Fujitsu Services Oy
  • Gordon Food Service
  • Gulfstream Aerospace Corp.
  • hi5 Networks Inc.
  • Host Europe
  • HSBC
  • iLoop Mobile Inc.
  • Leicester City Council
  • Kent County, Mich.
  • Mercury Insurance
  • Nationwide
  • Pioneer Corp.
  • PRISACOM SA
  • Reed Elsevier
  • Riverside County, Calif.
  • Save Mart Supermarkets
  • Siemens Corp.
  • South Carolina Department of Probation, Pardon and Parole Services
  • Southwest Airlines Co.
  • Swiss Post
  • Synovus Financial Corp.
  • TDC Hosting
  • T-Systems Enterprise Services GmbH
  • Wal-Mart
  • Washington State Department of Information Services
  • Westmont College
  • Zabka Polska S.A.
  • Links here, here and here

On top of all these customers, several other developments in the relationship have occurred during the first year. Novell and Microsoft have completed building out and are now doing real engineering work and interoperability testing in the Microsoft and Novell Interoperability Lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts. More info on the lab is in the recent press release. Dell signed on as a partner for the agreement as well, working to help Linux customers with SUSE Linux Enterprise Server.

And most recently, Novell and Microsoft extended the agreement by agreeing to work together to make it easier for all software developers to develop applications for users with disabilities, such as blindness. From the press release:

Microsoft will make available its User Interface Automation (UIA) specification, an advanced accessibility framework that simplifies the development of assistive technology products for people with one or more disabilities, and pledge not to assert any Microsoft patents necessary to implement the specification against anyone, regardless of platform, in the open source and proprietary software communities. In concert, to promote interoperability between leading accessibility frameworks in the market, Novell will develop and deliver an adapter that allows the UIA framework to work well with existing Linux accessibility projects and complement the investments made by IBM Corp. and others. Novell’s work will be open source and will make the UIA framework cross-platform while enabling UIA to interoperate with the Linux Accessibility Toolkit (ATK), which ships with SUSE Linux Enterprise, Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Ubuntu Linux. The UIA solution will ensure interoperability of nonvisual access to the next generation of software applications.

“Microsoft’s commitment to make the specification for UIA freely available to others to implement, coupled with Novell’s plans to develop and deliver an adapter that allows Linux accessibility projects to work well with the UIA framework, are tremendous examples of how industry can come together to tackle interoperability problems for blind persons,” said Dr. Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind. “The NFB challenges the entire IT industry to continue to look for creative opportunities such as this to solve longstanding interoperability challenges and reduce development barriers to accessibility.”

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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.

According to a Silicon.com article… Speaking to an audience at the Gartner Symposium/IT Expo last week, Dell’s CEO Michael Dell said that Linux server sales are increasing faster than Windows server sales. You can view the webcast of the keynote here. I think that helps to validate what many of us have intuitively known for years… that Linux is the fastest growing operating system in the IT market. It’s also worth pointing out that Dell is validating the observation we’ve had for some time that more and more organizations are “trusting” Linux A LOT more and deciding to put more “critical applications” on Linux than in the past.

He said: “On the server side Linux continues to grow nicely, a bit faster than Windows. We’re seeing a move to Linux in critical applications, and Linux migration has not slowed down.”

However, for those customers who might be concerned about whether Microsoft’s claims of patent violation could result in legal action, Dell added that there were “certainly mechanisms if customers are concerned about patents”.

One of those mechanisms he’s referring to is Novell’s own Novell Technology Assurance Program (NTAP). Whether or not you believe MS’s position on IP, there are surely CxO’s within your organization who prefer to minimize all risks for the organization. NTAP can certainly help give those CxO’s the piece-of-mind necessary, and help remove roadblocks for you to dramatically increase the amount of Linux in your shop — (assuming you like secure, reliable, and low cost operating systems… like SLE) 🙂

Find the Silicon.com article here and checkout Michael Dell’s keynote here (Linux comments ~29:30).

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…

In my palatial estate in scenic Waltham, Massachusetts, aka my apartment, I have several computers. My two favorite computers to use are my Lenovo X60 (running SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 SP1) and my Apple Macbook Pro running OS X (10.4.10). I also have a whitebox machine from Intel that I use as my server running SLES 10 SP1.

The thought came across my mind the other day that I would like a central way to store and access my music. This way I can save room on my laptop hard drive for “business” items and utilize the larger disk on my server to store higher bit rate songs. (true audiophiles will really appreciate this)

To achieve this I scp’d all of my music files from my my Mac over to my SLES server using OS X’s terminal application located in /Applications/Utilities/terminal. In this example the ip address of my server is 192.168.2.5.

scp -r /Users/username/music 192.168.2.5:/music
The ‘-r’ stands for recursive and allows me to copy over a directory.

Next I setup a NFS server on my SLES machine. NFS is a network file system protocol that allows a user on a client computer to access files over a network as easily as if the network devices were attached to its local disks. This is perfect for our purposes.

To setup a NFS server:

  • Open up YaST: Alt+f2, enter yast2
  • Filter for “nfs server”
  • Check off “Start” under the NFS server section
  • Check off “open port in firewall” if you have a local firewall enabled
  • Hit next
  • Go to “Add directory”
  • Enter the path to your music folder.

Next you need to mount the NFS volume on your local machine

  • On Linux enter (in a terminal as root): mount 192.168.5:/Music /music
  • On OS X enter (in a terminal): sudo /sbin/mount_nfs -P linux:/install /music
  • I had to use the ‘-P’ option to get around an error that said something to the effect of “mount_nfs: Operation not permitted”

At this point you need to configure your desired music players to point to the appropriate directories.

On SLED 10 if you are using Banshee:

  • Open up Banshee
  • Go to Edit>Preferences
  • Make sure that “copy files to music folder when importing” is unchecked
  • Go to Music>Import Music
  • Choose Local folder and navigate to where you mounted the NFS share. (in this example in /music)

On OS X, if you are using iTunes:

  • Open up iTunes
  • Go to iTunes>Preferences
  • Go to the “Advanced” tab.
  • Make sure that the “Copy files to iTunes Music folder when adding to library” option is unchecked
  • Go to File>Import and browse to the location of your NFS mount (in this example /music).

In this example I do not set the machines to automatically mount the NFS share. Each time you reboot you will have to remount the NFS volume, but you shouldn’t have to re-import the music.

From the article:

September 26, 2007 (Computerworld)Novell Inc.‘s Linux business has soared 243% since last November, when the company signed its controversial deal with Microsoft Corp.

“The affect on sales year over year, for Novell’s first three quarters of our fiscal year, which ends Oct. 31 — our Linux business was up 243%,” said Justin Steinman, director of marketing at Novell, who, along with executives from both companies, spoke at a program hosted by the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council.

And, that growth doesn’t seem to be short-lived.

“We’re continuing to see above market growth year [over] year and that clearly has resulted in the 243% Justin alluded to,” said Susan Heystee, general manager of global strategic alliance at Novell.

More here.

According to ITPro – UK-based online retailer I Want One of Those (IWOOT) has been implementing a open-source strategy and has chosen SUSE Linux Enterprise Server and Desktop for its “ERP system, desktop productivity apps [including Novell GroupWise] and website servers” to take advantage of the Novell/Microsoft interoperability agreement signed last year.

The implementation of SUSE Linux Enterprise is helping IWOOT by giving them a single platform on which to run these apps – which used to be on various OS’s (including Windows).

Read more in this ITPro article

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