Overheard at the Water Cooler

icecubedHeard at the water cooler recently in my almost all Windows workplace was something that took me by surprise.  We have a couple of highly trained individuals here in Networking.  We’re a Cisco shop, so if you know how confusing that can be, you know that not everyone can just jump right into one of those networks and know what they’re doing.  These individuals were having a conversation outside of my cube so I didn’t inject myself into the conversation.  But, I did ask myself, is this what Linux and Open Source is up against?  If so, we still have a long way to go.

It seems an external site was attempting VPN access into our corporate network.  The problem the external site was hitting was that they couldn’t initiate a session FROM their network…but someone from our location could initiate a connection TO their network.  They used a Linux box to provide them VPN, Firewall, and proxy services.  Now, any Linux admin worth his or her salt would have immediately known that being able to VPN back into a site but not VPN out of a site means that the firewall doesn’t have the right ports open and/or forwarded.  This should have been an easy fix…but the guys at this external location evidently didn’t posses this knowledge.

Instead of blame falling on the improper configuration, open source was blamed as a whole.  My colleagues stated that those “free tools people use never stack up to paid ones” and that “you get what you pay for…and if you don’t pay for it you don’t get it”.  So according to these guys:

  • Free = poorly designed, less than good software
  • Paid = better designed, wicked awesome software

Which of course, you and I know is a bunch of hooey.  And this is what some of the smartest guys I’ve had a chance to work with state about Linux and open source.  Makes me really wonder if they know their Cisco stuff is often times Linux and open source as well.  I guess maybe I should tell them sometime.  Either way, Linux still has a long way to go to garner the acceptance it should have.

rPath Documentation Status Update

There are many changes on the horizon for rPath Documentation.

One of the things that team docs here has known for a while is that the rPath wiki is a fantastic tool to leverage for documentation. It’s quick. It’s easy. It allows engineers to contribute directly to the wiki. It allows community members to contribute to to the wiki.

We’ve also known for a while that this tool has a major caveat…and that is that versioned documentation is costly. For example, if we had say version 1.0 documentation of a project at wiki.rpath.com/v1/productname and version 2.0 came out, we’d have to maintain 2 separate documents with the same information in two different URI’s and 2 different name spaces. With each addition of namespace and project version, updates would be more costly and time consuming.

It’s also a bad thing that a user can search the wiki…and have the possibility of getting results from versions that they are not using…possibly information and behavior of products that no longer applies.

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Foresight Linux and Conary Part I

People flat out do not understand anything about Conary. What I hear the most:

Why another package manger? Isn’t there already too many of these out there? Why use Conary when I can apt-get? Apt-get is soooo much better. Dpkg gives you sooooo much more than anything could possibly give you. Conary is still beta quality…rpm and deb are much more developed mature.

If the person(s) asking the questions above actually understood what Conary is and CAN do…they would see this is a very limited view of Conary. Not only is conary a package management system vis-a-vis a system that manages EVERY single package of software on your system…it is also a powerful version control system for software packages and packaging. It’s an enabling mechanism for packaging software quickly and easily.

I’d like to go over some of the things I think are great about Conary…clear up some of the “why is this needed” speak by showing how Conary actually gets things right and the common problems experienced by other package managers that it solves.

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Foresight KDE Alpha-Alpha-Pre-Alpha-Pre Screenshot

Is that Foresight Linux running a pre-pre-pre-alpha-alpha-alpha build of KDE 3.5.9 I see? ;)

Those of you interested in helping us develop, package, or use KDE are welcome to join us in IRC #foresight-kde freenode.  Plans are to build a 3.5.9 Stable version and wait until 4.1 is released to push out a 4.1 version.  Of course, we’ll have 4.0.X builds available for testing and fun all the while :)  Please, lend us a hand and file those bug reports!

Thunderbird and Lightning .8

I saw that Lightning .8, a calendar extension for thunderbird, had been released and my heart jumped.  Had they fixed the memory leak that forced me to abandon it in version .7?

I used to use Lightning for my google calendar in versions before .7…

When .7 came out, it caused Thunderbird to rocket memory usage above 80% which brought my computer to a screeching halt.  I figured I’d not use it until next version (and submitted a bug report as well).

Today I downloaded .8 in hopes it would work better.  It doesn’t.  Memory usage still skyrockets when attempting use the google calendar (provider addon) and the remember mismatched domains add on with it (otherwise you’re unable to connect or get a popup every time you view).

Is it one of these plugins causing it?  Is it Lightning?  I’m leaning toward the latter…even when uninstalling the extensions, I still get memory usage skyrocketing.  Either way, syncing your google calendar with Lightning isn’t a very smooth thing to do if it causes your Linux desktop to screech to a halt.

I guess there is always evolution with built in google calendar support.  Anyone else getting these problems?

At work, we use Zimbra for emailing.  I use Thunderbird with IMAP as my desktop client.  I’ve also seen that as of Zimbra 5.0 RC2, they will have the ability to sync with Lightning.  Good news!  Now if Lightning would stop leaking!

Foresight Users and Developer Conference 2008

Are you interested in Foresight Linux or the Conary package management system? Are you located in or near North Carolina…specifically Raleigh? If so, join us April 18th through the 20th for the Foresight Users and Developer Conference!

Even if you’re not a Foresight User and are just curious about the Conary System Manager, Software Appliances, or software packaging…it would be a great boon to understanding how these things give Foresight an edge over most distros.

Signup on the wiki page (add your name) to attend and we’ll see you there ;)