Video: A Quick Tour of Open Source Creative Tools

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Máirín Duffy from Red Hat / Fedora did a lightning talk about the creative tools available in Fedora 17. Please note that while she does mention Fedora, the same tools are avalable for most all Linux distributions... and many are also cross platform.

If I used the correct embed code from YouTube, it should use the webm format rather than that icky Flash.

In related news, if you are a GIMP user like me, you might also be interested in the new GIMP Magazine.

OLPC: Major Software Update

The OLPC folks sent out an announcement this morning that reads:

We're pleased to announce the release of OLPC OS 12.1.0 for XO-1, XO-1.5 and XO-1.75. Details of new features, known issues, and how to download/install/upgrade can all be found in the release notes:
http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Release_notes/12.1.0

Many thanks to all contributors, testers, upstreams, and those who have provided feedback of any kind.

For those who were following the release candidate process in the last few weeks: candidate build 21 is released as final with no changes.

Thanks and enjoy!

I have all three models and will be updating soon. I had tried the update on an OLPC XO-1.75 already and it is pretty sweet. Good job folks!

It is based on Fedora 17 and Suger 0.96

Screencast: OpenVZ Container Migration

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It seems I've had a lot of questions about OpenVZ container migration lately on the #openvz IRC channel on the Freenode IRC network. While I made a silent screencast on that topic a few years ago, I thought it was time for a refreshed one so here it is. Enjoy.

What is an OpenVZ container? It is a form of virtualization where you can create a type of a virtual machine called a container that is basically a strongly isolated chroot environment with device and resource management features.

What is migration? It is the ability to easily move a container from one physical OpenVZ host to another. Live / online migration allows for no downtime and maintains existing network connections. Offline migration stops the container on the original host and starts it up on the destination host and as a result the containers uptime is reset and existing network connections are dropped. Watch the screencast for all of this in action.

You can also download this directly if desired. right-click, save link as:
openvz-vzmigrate.webm (12.8 MB)

Fedora Summer of Open Hardware and Fun

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I submitted an application for the Fedora Summer of Open Hardware program. Haven't heard of that? Well, the Fedora folks had accumulated quite a bit of hardeware that they wanted to pass along to their community members. The hardware consisted of Aurdino, Raspberry Pi, and OLPC XO-1.75 units. Since I already have a Raspberry Pi that I bought myself... and I'm part of an OLPC Lending Library project that already has X0-1.0 and XO-1.5 units... I thought I'd go for an XO-1.75. I just got word today that I was approved and should get the laptop in a few weeks.

How does the XO-1.75 differ from previous models? Well the main difference is that it uses an ARM-based CPU rather than an Intel compatible. As a result the XO-1.75 supposedly has an improved battery life. All of the OLPC models so far use the same case so even though they may be vastly different inside, they all look the same on the outside. Another area where some of the models vary is in the keyboards they have. For example, the "HS" model stands for "high school" and it has a hard plastic keyboard like a traditional netbook rather than the rubber keyboard the non-HS models have. With the XO-1.75 it appears that the keyboard has changed again. While it is still a rubbery keyboard, it is mostly covered by a white, hard plastic cover that has holes that they keys stick out through. See the picture above. The laptop on the left is an XO-1.75 whereas the one on the right is a previous model with an HS keyboard.

Linux for Old People?

Have you heard about the Telikin computer? It is basically an MSi-based all-in-one computer with a touch screen... keyboard and mouse. What is different is that they are marketing it to older people who are generally perceived as computer novices. Of course you don't have to be a senior citizen to be their target audience... any novice will do. Why am I bringing up the Telikin? Because as you probably already guessed, it runs Linux underneath... and no, it isn't Android-based. The underlying system is supposedly a fork of Tiny Core Linux.

Telikin Touch ComputerTelikin Touch ComputerThe Telikin folks appear to have done a lot of work on a custom user interface where there is an applications menu on the left fifth of the screen and the applications appear on the right four-fifths. The menu never goes away. It is very reminiscent of a web site. They are selling the idea that their computer comes pre-loaded with all of the applications that a novice will ever need... and that the application launcher and all of the applications are easy to use yet fully functional. But where did these applications come from? They have the following listed on their site:

Home screen, Video chat, Photos, Email, Web Browsing, Calendar, Address Book, News, Weather, DVD player, CD player, Games, Write, Powerpoint, Tech Buddy, Video Help, Tools and Free Lifetime Updates.

I don't think Microsoft would be happy about them using the word "Powerpoint" when they aren't talking about Microsoft's application but rather the general class of presentation / slide deck software. I have to wonder if they have co-opted code from various free software projects or if they have completely written their own from scratch. I'm not suspicious or anything, I'm just curious. I mean, with the exception of the touch screen stuff, couldn't you just take their distro and load it on most any computer? Would they sell the software separately? So far as I can tell they are in the hardware market and the software is not available separately.

They also seem to be spending a bit on marketing because they have various videos where they were featured on programs like Rachael Ray, ABC News, various local news programs, etc.

Anyway, I just thought that it was interesting that a company was promoting a system for novices based on Linux. Who would have thunk?

Update: Looks like they do offer the sources for what they have to but that the vast majority of the UI is proprietary. See: http://www.telikin.com/open_source.php. Looking at the directories they have (http://repo.telikin.com/source/misc/), it appears they use LibreOffice code among other things.

Playing with a budget 7" Android Tablet

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Nextbook 2Nextbook 2I'm visiting my parents in the city of my youth... and it just so happens that my mother has a 7" Android tablet. She has had it for a while but hasn't used it. It was given to her by my younger brother. My mother is 74 and as you would expect, not very good with technology... so she has asked me to figure out how to use it and to write her up some instructions. Ok, I'll give it a try.

To some degree, I too have been written off by the current generation as too old and set in my ways. In August I'll be turning 48 and I have to admit, and as anyone who knows me can attest, I have been somewhat unfriendly to much of the newer technology in the last few years. Should this really be a surprise? I mean, I use Linux, right? I don't have a smart phone... I don't regularly carry a cell phone... and I'm not fond of tablet computing. I have written a little bit about tablets in the past and to me they are primarily freedom restrictive devices.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.3 is out

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Just noticed I have a ton of updates for a few RHEL 6 boxes... and to me that indicates there is a new update release. So I logged into Red Hat Network and sure enough RHEL 6.3 has been released. I like finding out about it early in the morning and downloading it before everyone else has noticed.

With CentOS and Scientific Linux both pretty adept in rebuilding 6 now, I'd expect new releases from both within 6 weeks or less. Scientific Linux might be at a disadvantage because they lost one of their main guys but they have replaced him. CentOS on the other hand recently announced that some company was sponsoring two CentOS developers so they could work full-time on CentOS. Who will win?

I haven't had a chance to check out the release notes yet but I will soon. I'm hoping a lot of the KVM, libvirt, and virt-manager stuff that has been in Fedora for a while will have filtered back to this update.

Update: July 9th, 2012 - CentOS 6.3 is syncing to the mirrors today so it has won.


Opinion: Red Hat and Fedora pay to secure boot?

I've seen a few articles today railing against Red Hat for their support of Fedora buying a key from Microsoft / Verisign so that in the future, Fedora will be able to boot on hardware certified for Windows 8 without having to dig into the BIOS to turn off secure boot. Some of them were just unhappy that an executive from Red Hat spoke about the situation in a somewhat positive fashion rather than being all pissed. Others are unhappy at the very idea that somehow their freedoms have been trampled on.

The issue isn't whether or not secure booting is the silver bullet for security issues... of course it isn't. Security is a multi-layer thing... and generally speaking, the more layers, the better.

The issue isn't that the key thingies cost a fortune, they don't. If I understand correctly, it's about $99 per Fedora release. That's $198 a year.

The issue is that everyone is pissed because this involves Microsoft... and Red Hat is seen as somehow giving in to Microsoft. Red Hat isn't giving in to Microsoft any more than they gave in to Akamai Technologies Inc when they bought an SSL certificate for www.redhat.com... or when they gave in to GeoTrust when they bought an SSL cert for the fedoraproject.org website. In each case a work around is available but they are just trying to spare users and customers a little bit of hassle. That's all.

Of course I'm a Red Hat fan boi, so what do you expect from me? Any questions?


Bozeman area Job Opening - Associate Linux Systems Administrator

Job Description (PDF). The positions are full-time so it would likely be geared more toward individuals whom have already received their BS or will be the near future. Ideally we are looking for individuals comfortable within the Linux command line, with strong troubleshooting skills utilizing programming abilities within Python and Bash. In addition, familiarity of a web hosting environment would be a great attribute to have.

Interested individuals may email Pat Lindeman (Senior Manager Cloud Operations) directly. Patrick would be more than happy to talk more depth about the positions.


Bozeman area Job Opening - Software Engineer

Resonon, Inc. of Bozeman, MT seeks a full-time software engineer who is self- motivated and a disciplined learner. A minimum of 3 years experience with C/C++ and Python is required, as well as some experience with Linux. Experience with NumPy, matplotlib, wxPython, SWIG (or similar), camera interfacing, and image processing is a plus.

The position offers interesting software challenges, from embedded systems aboard unmanned aerial vehicles to interfacing scientific optical instrumentation. Salary is competitive with opportunity for advancement. The position is at Resonon's office in beautiful Bozeman, Montana, which offers a wide variety of recreational opportunities and superb quality of life.

Please submit cover letter and resume to inquiry@resonon.com.