BozemanLUG: Recent Picture

Here's a picture taken from the January BozemanLUG meeting. Jeff Sharkey was visiting and took the picture with his smartphone. There be handsome devils.

BozemanLUG: January 2014 MeetingBozemanLUG: January 2014 Meeting

Legend starting from the left: Kevin Locke, Scott Dowdle, David Eder, Gary Bummer, and Jeff Sharkey

Kevin was also in town for the holidays as he moved to Missoula for work a while back.

Programming Class Forming


BozemanLUG member Jordan Schatz posted the following recently to the mailing list so I thought I'd share it here:

[BozemanLUG] Programming Class

So I think being able to obtain the source for software is very important, but just as important is having the skill to modify that source... so in that vein I've been asked by a few people "how do I learn to program?". I love writing code and learning about or teaching computer science so I thought see if there was enough interest do put together a class. I think I'd need 10-20 people to make it worthwhile. The class would be aimed at adults or highschool juniors / seniors that know how to use a computer and are interested in learning how to code but have little or no prior programming experience.

I want to try a 6 hr (or there about) intensive class on a Saturday and then see what people want from there, but I would consider other formats too.

If you are interested or know someone who is, drop me an email: preferably with "Programming Class" in the subject line, if there is enough interest then I'll find a place we can have the class and email
out a date and time.

- Jordan

New Open Source DNS Server


BozemanLUG member David Eder sent the following to the BozemanLUG mailing list and I thought I'd share it here:

[BozemanLUG] Unnamed DNS Server released

After a month or so of not fiddling with it, I submitted it to, so it should be up tomorrow some time.

You can get it here:

For those not up to speed, Unnamed is a caching DNS server that can filter DNS. So for example, you like, but don't like their landing pages when you should have gotten an NXDOMAIN, you can now have your NXDOMAIN back. Or, you don't like ads, porn, etc. Easy and fast blocking. You want to host your own dns, easy. You want to filter mail based on an rbl that knows what country unresolvable ips are from, easy. Lots of features, easy to extend in C or Lua. And did I mention it's


Montana LinuxFest: Organizational reboot

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Larry (The Free Software Guy) Cafiero emailed the following today. As you may recall he is one of the organizers of SCALE who is helping us organize a Montana LinuxFest.

Hi, all --

After a discussion this afternoon on #ubuntu-montana, I proposed that we'd "reboot" the organizational side of Montana Linux Fest in order to get going again.

So this is it; the second "first" e-mail to get things rolling. Forgive me for letting any momentum we gained after Linux Fest Northwest slow down -- I take responsibility for this and hope we can get things rolling and keep it going until May.

But we're going to have to start from square one again, and please bear with me if these are pretty obvious questions and statements.

There was mention on the list of how this should be organized, and who should do what, etc. We'll get to that in a minute. What I need to know from those on this mailing -- and if you wish to put this on the Bozeman or Billings LUG lists, I'm OK with that -- is where we stand now.

When we left things, I think we had Billings in mind as a site. Is this still the case? If so, was there a particular facility in mind?

We are still looking at May, after Linux Fest Northwest and before Texas Linux Fest in June/July, correct?

As for an organizational set up, there should be committees (even if they are committees of 1 or 2) with responsibilities going forward: Technical committee, publicity committee, site committee, etc., each with responsibilities. For example, Tech would have responsibility for the networking and a/v aspect; publicity is fairly self explanatory, but could include assisting in getting folks invited to speak at the fest; site committee would be responsible for organizing the exhibit hall.

There are probably others, and I'm hoping Ilan, who has much more experience in this than I do, can jump in here and help out with what's needed, staff-wise.

In the meantime, I think we should have another organizational meeting soon -- Tuesdays seemed to be best last time. Would that work now? Or is there another day/time that works for everyone? With the exception of Friday mornings when I'm teaching Python or evenings between, say 9 and 10:30 Pacific Time (when I'm putting together the newspaper for which I work), I'm pretty flexible. Weekends are good for me, too.

I'd like to be able to meet sometime soon -- before next Tuesday -- and get things going again. So let's start by seeing what we have so far so we know what we need to do going forward.

Larry Cafiero

BozemanLUG: April Meeting Report


Fedora Logo?Fedora Logo?The April meeting went pretty well. Attendance was better because Andrew N. and Warren Sanders were visiting from the BillingsLUG. Besides me, Andrew and Warren were regulars David Eder and Gary Bummer. A new guy showed up from Belgrade named Jethro. Unfortunately I didn't catch Jethro's last name nor get a picture of him but he participated quite a bit so I'm hoping he will make it to some future meetings. He has EMT training and is currently working on a motorcycle with a blown up engine.


I talked about and showed GIMP 2.8 RC1 (as found in the Fedora 17 pre-release). I tried my best to highlight a few of the new features including of course the new Single Window mode. I briefly talked about the tentative roadmap GIMP has for the next two or three releases and mentioned the recent code sprint done by two GIMP developers that got ~ 90% of the work the project wanted to get accomplished for the next two releases (that usually take years) done in three weeks. GIMP is really a great program for editing and refining pre-existing images and I have been using it for more than 10 years... but it is obvious that GIMP still needs a number of long-time lingering feature deficiencies resolved before advanced users will be satisfied with it. They look well on the way to getting their in the next release or two.


Then I showed Calligra Krita 2.4 (again as found in Fedora 17 pre-release). I had a USB touch tablet input device (is that what you call them?) hooked up and showed off some of Krita's fancy paint brush stuff. I'm really new to Krita so I don't know what I'm doing yet... but it is so obvious how good of a program it is and I want to learn more. Just by doing some goofing around with the touch tablet it was clear that the quality of what you can create with Krita closely approximates what you can do with real paper, pencils, paints, etc. If I were had more artistic talents I think I'd be spending hours and hours with Krita just experimenting.

For about 10 years of my youth I collected comicbooks (Marvel, DC, and many independents like Cerebus) and one of Krita's use cases is in comicbook creation. Krita really excells in creating new artwork as opposed to working with pre-existing images and to help raise funds for future development one of the Krita developers has put together a series of 1080p webm videos on data DVD that show the creation of a color comicbook from start to finish. I hope to purchase that DVD (all content under a Creative Commons license) in the near future. I don't know if I'll actually get into creating a comicbook of my own but I can dream, can't I?

Fedora Artwork?

Speaking of art, some fine folks at the Fedora Project answered my plea for old Fedora branded install media and shipped me 19 lbs of old CDs/DVDs. Why would I want those? I like to decorate the walls at work (Computer Science Department at Montana State University Bozeman) with discs. With the help of everyone at the meeting, we used the optical media to create a new "artwork" for a previously blank and boring strech of wall in the main undergraduate computer lab (EPS 254). We did it very quickly and it still needs a little fine tuning, but the end result doesn't look too bad. We got a quick picture (thanks Andrew) but I'll probably post some better pictures when I get it fine tuned. I think the letter a at the end needs to be skooted to the left a little. Darn kerning.

Thanks for the help guys and hope to see some of you next month!

BozemanLUG: October Meeting Report

David BorehamDavid BorehamThe October 2011 BozemanLUG meeting was last night. David Boreham from NuevaSync talked about the design, specification and features he came up with for the new servers they're deploying next month as part of a major service capacity upgrade project.

He only had a handful of presentation slides but spent quite a bit of time talking in depth about the current servers he is replacing, the problems he was trying to solve, and why he chose the various parts he did. Here are links to the parts he used:

Drives: Intel 710 Series 100GB and 200GB 2.5" SATA II eMLC Enterprise Solid State Disks
CPU: AMD Opteron 6128 Magny-Cours 2.0GHz 8 x 512KB L2 Cache 12MB L3 Cache Socket G34 115W 8-Core Processor
Motherboard: SUPERMICRO MBD-H8SGL-F-O ATX Server Motherboard Socket G34 AMD
RAM: Kingston 8GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM ECC (quantity 8)
Case: SUPERMICRO CSE-512F-350B Black 1U Rackmount Server Chassis 350W AC power supply

The case is 1U high and wide, but only half deep... so two can fit back-to-back in a standard rack if desired... although finding rails may take some effort.

He had quite a lot to say about Solid State Drives, the voodoo that they do, and how most of them suck except for the Intel models he chose (100 GB and 200 GB). He had a bit of a challenge with various SATA cables (there are two types of right-angles) and ended up having to flip the SSD drives upside down in the case and attaching them with velcro.

Then came the hands-on portion of the presentation.

Two servers and a switchDavid brought three of his servers to the meeting as well as a switch and a laptop. They were all connected together via the switch and David was able to show us the web interface for IPMI-based out-of-band remote management system included in the SuperMICRO motherboard. He used a Java-based applet in his browser to do a graphical, media-less install of CentOS 6.0 x86_64 on the third server. The CentOS .iso disk image for the install was on his laptop.

David then connected to all of the servers via ssh to show us various performance metrics for the hardware.

For benchmarking the drives David used a tool that he wrote some time ago (diskspeed) that does a series of write and fsync operations. He ran diskspeed several times while using hdparm to turn on and off write-caching. For those who are interested, I hope to get the C source code from David for diskspeed and post it as an attachment to this post in the near future.

The hdparm commands he used were:

hdparm -W 0 /dev/sda (write-cache off)
hdparm -W 1 /dev/sda (write-cache on)
hdparm -W /dev/sda (show write-cache status)

David also used a local build of the smartmontools package to show many of the advanced parameters related to the SSD drive. He ended up working with one of its developers to create a patch that added additional support for the Intel 710 Series SSD. The smartctl command he used was:

smartctl -A /dev/sda

For benchmarking database performance he used a fairly large (~16GB) PostgreSQL database he had and the stock PostgreSQL benchmarking tool. He showed the performance differences between two systems... one with a traditional hard disk and the other with the SSD. The command line he used was:

pgbench -T 60 -j 8 -c 64

October 2011 BozemanLUG attendeesWhile the meeting turnout (presenter and 5 attendees) was somewhat disappointing, the attendees had a LOT OF QUESTIONS for David and we all learned a lot. David is well known for his highly technical presentations having given a number of them to the BozemanLUG in the past including: 1) How he designed and built his wireless business in the valley [about 10 years ago], 2) How his company worked on Red Hat Directory Server and solidified replication [about 7 years ago], and 3) How his company built the software for NuevaSync which included a lot of hairy troubleshooting [last year].

The wealth provided in this presentation wasn't necessarily in the specifics David chose for this project but with his explanation of the process he went through.

A big thank you goes to David and we hope we can get another presentation from him in the not-too-distant future!

Server insidesServer insides

BozemanLUG: April Meeting Report


Jordan SchatzJordan SchatzMy report is a little late because I spent about 13 hours today driving from Bozeman to Bellingham, WA for the LinuxFest Northwest 2011... but more on that later.

In attendance were:
Gary Bummer
Rob Potter
David Eder
Jordan Schatz
Sheldon Ross
Scott Dowdle

The weather was terrible (rain turned to snow) so I'm happy we had such a good turnout considering.

Sheldon moved to Helena some time ago but obviously he is back in Bozeman now. I'm not sure when he moved back. Casey is a friend of Jordan's and I didn't catch Casey's last name. Gary helped set up the projector for Jordan and helped put it away too.

Jordan Schatz introduced us to GIT. After he had spent some time explaining the various concepts, we all logged into a lab machine and did some git exercises as directed by Jordan to get some hands on. We used git from the command line as well as gitk and git gui. As usual, David had to see how much he could push git to try and make it break. 9GB of files later, and I think it was still working fine. Here are Jordan's presentation notes and links:

Jordan volunteered to do another presentation next month... but we didn't decide on which one it would be so we'll have to figure that before the next meeting. A big THANK YOU to Jordan for the presentation!

I booted two of the lab machines with the new Ubuntu 11.04 LiveCDs... one 32-bit and the other 64-bit. Rob and Gary used them for their GIT exercises as they were able to install git and use it from the LiveCD.

David showed his homebrew Fedora 14 LiveUSB. It differs from other Fedora Live media because it mounts its filesystem read/write rather than using the typical overlay. As a result, updates do not eventually fill up the drive because they take up about as much space as the original packages did. David's preference was a fairly light-weight system with XFCE as the default desktop environment.

The meeting ended about 9:30 PM.

BozemanLUG: March Meeting Report

Turnout for the meeting tonight was great. There were two new people, the regulars, and a few lost sheep that returned. Let's see if I can remember them all... without some last names.

Bruce Stucker(sp?) (new)
Paul (new)
Rob Potter (semi-regular... almost back to regular)
David Eder (regular)
Gary Bummer (regular)
Matt (has attended a few meetings)
Jordan Schatz (fairly new, presenter)
Scott Dowdle (me)

Did I miss anybody? Darn it... I forgot to bring my digital camera so I didn't get any pictures. Please someone next month reply to my meeting announcement with a "Hey Scott.. don't forget your camera!", ok? :)

Jordan's presentation on NoSQL was very technical and in-depth. He crammed a lot of information into it... lots of concepts... went over a large number of existing NoSQL projects... why they exist... what environments they come from... how they differ... strengths and weaknesses. We learned about shards as well as various replication styles. We learned about Amazon's paper on Dynamo. We learned about the CAP theorem and ACID. I found the concepts to be very helpful. We learned a little bit about ERLANG. He talked about JSON. He talked about the Thrift and Protocol Buffer protocols... and the fact that many of the NoSQL databases speak HTTP and can in some cases eliminate the need for a webserver. There were lots of acronyms but Jordan explained all that we asked about. Jordan said he would share with us all of his presentations materials. I look forward to that and will post them on the website... because I plan on going through them... following many of the links and doing some reading.

Update: Here are Jordan's links and notes from his presentation:

Then Jordan was asked (I believe by Rob) what development tools he uses in his web development career? EMACS is a big part of almost everything Jordan does as it provides a usable interface to virtually everything. His favorite distro is Debian stable. He likes PHP, especially the enhancements they have made in the 5.3.x series. He prefers git for source control. He likes the CakePHP framework. He likes JQuery. He uses VirtualBox when he has to fire up other OSes to verify browser compatibility. His preferred NoSQL database is Riak.

Jordan told us how busy with work he has been lately and how he stayed up until 3AM last night working on a critical project that isn't finished yet... and that he will probably be up until 3AM again tonight. We decided to give him a break and end the meeting relatively early (9:20ish) so he could get back to work... and thanked him. I gave him a copy of the three-part PBS series from 1997 entitled Triumph of the Nerds as a gift for presenting... although I don't know when he is going to have time to watch it.

For next month Jordan has volunteered to do another presentation. The potential topics are:

  1. An Introduction to LISP programming with Racket
  2. Doing everything with EMACS
  3. An Introduction to source code management with GIT

Any of those sound good to me. Does anyone have a preference?

BozemanLUG: Feb 2011 Meeting Report

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The meeting went pretty well last night although the attendance could have been better... but hey... it was darn cold outside so the weather wasn't co-operating.

In attendance were: Anish Bharata, Scott Dowdle, David Eder, Srinivas Gumdelli, Walter Neary, Jordan Schatz

Srinivas gave a presentation on Web-based Desktops / OSes and briefly demoed EyeOS. He also showed a short (~15 minutes?) video of Richard Stallman talking at a recent conference. I don't recall the name of the conference and I can't seem to find a copy of the speech online so if someone could provide me a link to that, I'd appreciate it. I also loaned out the books Free as in Freedom and Just for Fun to Srinivas and Anish.

I (Scott) showed GNOME 3 Shell on Fedora 15 Alpha, and Unity on Ubuntu 11.04 Alpha 2. Walter helped out showing Unity. We discussed how the upcoming releases of Fedora and Ubuntu will have a radically different user interface replacing GNOME 2.x... and how users might react to the changes. We also talked a about the community response to the KDE project's transition from the KDE 3 series to the 4 series and how that might be some indicator of how the changes in GNOME might go.

I think this was Walter's first meeting but he is very active in the #ubuntu-montana channel on the Freenode IRC channel. It is hard for Walter to attend meetings because he usually works evenings.

Jordan was a first time visitor. He is an independent web developer who specializes in LAMP programming. He mentioned he is looking for an accomplished Java programmer for one or more upcoming projects... so if you know anyone, please speak up. I hope our group interested him enough to attend future meetings. I asked him if he had anything he might be interested in giving a presentation on and he said he would consider doing two if there was interest: 1) NoSQL databases, MongoDB as an example, and 2) The Lisp programming languages. I told him that I was interested in both of those topics so hopefully we can get him to present one or both of those over the next few meetings.

Below are some links to articles or videos that were mentioned during the meeting.

The eyeOS web desktop
First look at Ubuntu "Natty" and the state of Unity
Why is Ubuntu 11.04 switching to Unity?
Shuttleworth: Unity shell will be default desktop in Ubuntu 11.04
Revolution OS documentary (Flash video)

General Discussion - Topics that came up included...

Jordan passed around his current generation Amazon Kindle eBook reader so we could see the eInk display it has. I asked him if he had seen the OLPC's display (because it has a monochrome mode similar to an eInk display) and he had not. I was going to show him an OLPC but all of them were checked out.

We talked about the recent Apple laptop product announcements and the new I/O port technology from Intel that they are the first to introduce named Thunderbolt (formerly Light Peak) While Apple is the first to market, expect to see Thunderbolt from all other PC makers real soon now.

Walter showed us pictures of the computer system he pieced together and talked about his three HD displays.

BozemanLUG: Embedded Systems Resources

Derek HildrethDerek HildrethHere are some links to the resources I used in the meeting this month...

Technologic Systems Homepage:

The product I used for the demo:

The "all-in-one" counterpart for the TS-7500:

The latest and greatest from Technologic Systems:

The board running the Technologic Systems website:

The kernel compile guide that was used:

TS-7500TS-7500The PDF version of Embedded Linux Primer: A Practical Real-World Approach:

Best Regards,
Derek Hildreth

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