Older blog entries for thom (starting at number 61)

Ian Murdock and Sun

This is what I just wrote on Mark’s blog about Ian’s move to Sun:

“To some extent I’m quite excited by what this might mean for OpenSolaris going forward, but Nexenta have been pushing the OS/Debian (or Ubuntu, more accurately) integration kick for some while without actually seeming to get any (public) traction within Sun…
I’ve also been disappointed by how little Ian seems to be in touch with how linux development works these days, but that’s mostly from what he’s been writing in public, rather than any particularly interaction with him, so hopefully that’s not a fair summary.
I really hope that Sun can actually make this work.”

I thought I’d expand on this a bit, especially in light of my past moaning about Solaris and the installer and package management in the installer specifically.
What I really, really want, is a modern OS, which has an easily extensible and controllable installer, with good visibility and debugging infrastructure, which is very easy to manage on a grand scale - by which I mean hundreds or thousands of machines up to date, secure and consistent. At present, Ubuntu comes closest:

  • d-i is a superb installer that is very easy to drive in an automated fashion – far easier than either kickstart or jumpstart in my opinion, even though both have been around far longer!
  • People say apt-get, but that rather misses the point – or rather, it’s the icing on the cake. As most Debian or Ubuntu developers will tell you, the real strength of packages on the platform is in the underlying metadata, and the well maintained and enforced packaging Policy.
  • Every packager is a specialist – more or less, if you’re packaging something in Ubuntu or Debian it’s because you use it, either professionally or personally, and have an interest in, and knowledge of, making it work as well as possible.
  • The FHS – until my $PATH on Solaris is shorter than the next Harry Potter tome, Ubuntu has this won hands down.

However, there are some definite areas where Ubuntu or Debian (or Linux in general) struggle compared to Solaris – the sheer engineering resources that Sun can throw at a problem, and the talent they have available to them do result in fantastic results when they correctly identify a problem space. They also “own” Solaris – there’s no need for them to try and build awareness of a problem, and the correct solution, over a number of disparate communities.
ZFS and DTrace are the hackneyed and obvious projects here, but from a sysadmin perspective I think FMA, while far less sexy, is one of the best things Solaris10 has. And this is what I mean when I say operating system visibility.
The integration of Zones is also far better than Zen on Linux can offer currently, although both Red Hat and skx are working hard to fix this.
I’m really looking forward to the day when I get an OS that solves all these problems…

Syndicated 2007-03-19 18:53:00 (Updated 2007-03-19 20:04:17) from Haecceity

Venice Project invites

As per Ugo, I’ve got some Venice invites kicking around. Conditions are more or less the same - drop thommay [at] gmail dot com a line, and blog about your experiences.
(Bribery may clinch deals in case of competition ;-) )

Syndicated 2007-01-14 11:31:00 (Updated 2007-01-14 11:34:24) from Haecceity

Holy bus shelter, batman!

Who knew that bus shelters could be so cool? Polar Inertia has some awesome photos of soviet era bus shelters…

Syndicated 2007-01-12 11:29:00 (Updated 2007-01-12 11:31:12) from Haecceity

Almost a Christmas present

The Project for the New American Century” has been reduced to a voice-mail box and a ghostly website. A single employee has been left to wrap things up.

A more glorious lead sentence has never been written about the Project, which basically created and nurtured the neo-con view of the world, and the policies of the current presidency - 8 signatories have been senior members of the administration.
The Project is apparently going the way of Republicans across America with some fantastic backstabbing…. Kenneth Adelman, one of the signatories of the Project (and considered to be a member of its pro-war faction - a pretty terrifying concept, given the hawkish tendencies of the Project in general) and a member of the Defense Policy Board, has gone from

“I believe demolishing Hussein’s military power and liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk.”


“I just presumed that what I considered to be the most competent national-security team since Truman was indeed going to be competent.
They turned out to be among the most incompetent teams in the post-war era. Not only did each of them, individually, have enormous flaws, but together they were deadly, dysfunctional.”

in just four years.
Sadly, this isn’t the death knell sounding for neo-conservatism - but it’s always nice to see its edifices crumbling, even just a little.
Merry Christmas!

Syndicated 2006-12-23 22:19:00 (Updated 2006-12-23 23:03:12) from Haecceity

Rising from the Murky Depths

In a watery contrast to the real Venice, The Venice Project surfaced from stealth mode recently (and I just fixed my blog, so I figured I’d get caught up). Our blog has some more official news and buzz, too.
People who know me at this point will be wondering why I’m involved in a TV project when I hardly ever watch TV, but we’re actually aiming to solve much of my irritation. Colm writes about what TVP solves for him, and I agree that the social aspect is one the fundamental points to our work. We’re seeing - via MMORPGs, blogging communities, etc - the attraction that connectedness has and the importance people are beginning to attach to sharing and aggregating data effectively.
Leo has written about some of the underlying technologies that parts of the project are using, although unfortunately he somewhat takes the reasoning behind the choices for granted.
My other major problem with TV is timing. This one is pretty obvious, but being able to build channels with content that I want to watch, and watch them when I want to is pretty compelling.
And I’m looking forward to combining these two…
So what am I doing? I’m broadly doing operations, with - unsurprisingly - a Linux bent… But more about that later.

Syndicated 2006-12-09 18:38:00 (Updated 2006-12-14 19:58:20) from Haecceity

Apache 2.2 finally hits debian

Yup, the long wait is finally over and thanks to a cast of thousands 2.2.3 is now in experimental.

I’d like to extend thanks to Mark and Canonical for sponsoring much of the original work, and also the sprint at the start of this year that got most of the remaining work done.

What we really need now is lots of upgrade reports so we can figure out how much automated help a 2.0->2.2 upgrade can reliably provide, and also where. I’ve been running these packages in production for some time so I’m not that concerned about overall stability, but I’ve not been using some of the weirder modules. We also need to get third-party module packages to stage updated packages into experimental built against 2.2

Syndicated 2006-08-15 20:13:00 (Updated 2006-12-09 17:03:16) from Haecceity


Both of these come via Newshog; the first is a very interesting article from NBC talking about the ”unprecedented cooperation and coordinationbetween US and UK officials; unprecedented in this case appears to mean ”arguing all the way to the police station”, but this is just according to one unnamed UK official, so possibly a pinch of salt required. The article goes on to mention in passing the arrest of the ringleader, Rashid Rauf, in Pakistan, apparently causing another disagreement between the US and the UK over choice of jurisdiction - which some are linking to the possibility of torture.

There are some fantastic quotes in the NBC article, regarding the timing and actual preparedness of the “attack”, especially that ”the suspects in Britain had obtained at least some of the materials for the explosive but had not yet actually prepared or mixed it.” and that ”the suspects had not yet purchased any airline tickets. In fact, some did not even have passports.”. All this added up begins to bring serious doubt as to the actual danger represented by the terrorists, and also raises the question of what a more “hands-off” - not arresting the suspects, but allowing them to continue their preparations longer - approach to monitoring and intelligence gathering would have resulted in.

The second is interesting in its own right - Max Hastings - friend of Lady Thatcher, dyed in the wool Conservatist - writing for the Guardian - left/liberal and proud of the fact - leads his article with “George Bush sometimes sounds more like the Mahdi, preaching jihad against infidels, than the leader of a western democracy”

(edited to link to Wikipedia’s conservative party page.)

Syndicated 2006-08-14 10:01:00 (Updated 2006-12-09 18:21:50) from Haecceity

Note to self

One Self - Bluebird is the track on the Nextmen mix cd that I hadn’t worked out.

Syndicated 2006-08-11 15:56:00 (Updated 2006-12-09 16:51:23) from Haecceity

System attack or just stupid terrorists?

The “foiled” terrorist attack looks suspiciously like an attack on the underlying system, rather than an actual attempt to blow planes up - it’s almost laughable that terrorists in this day and age could hope to get explosive devices onto planes in hand luggage.

If we decide that the terrorists aren’t stupid, the attack begins to look decidedly different. They’ve succeeded in causing absolute chaos in one of the busiest weekends in the british airline calendar, the effects of which will probably drag on for a few days. If you wanted to be really nasty, they’ve also caused a large number of people to be trapped in one place, and extremely vulnerable to attack. The BBC report says Heathrow Terminal 1 is “jam packed”.

I suspect that a terrorist organisation will look at something like this as relatively cheap, too - 18 peons arrested, sure, but we know they can afford the manpower and they’ve once again demonstrated that the air travel infrastructure our society is so reliant on is extremely fragile and vulnerable.

Syndicated 2006-08-10 08:03:00 (Updated 2006-12-09 18:22:31) from Haecceity

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