Red Hat

Taking SPICE for a Spin

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I finally figured out how to get SPICE working on Fedora 14.

What is SPICE? - It stands for "Simple Protocol for Independent Computing Environments". What does that mean exactly? SPICE is a remote display protocol designed specifically for use with the Linux kernel's built-in virtualization hypervisor KVM. SPICE is similar to terminal services but rather than multiple users sharing a single, remote physical machine, SPICE allows you to graphically connect to and use a local or a remote KVM virtual machine.

For those who want to just watch a video, here it is. Please note that I kept bumping the tripod by accident and autofocus can be annoying in some spots... and it isn't the highest quality... BUT it does give you a good idea of how well SPICE works.

If you can't see it, your browser probably doesn't support the WEBM video format yet. Right-click on any of the links below (webm and ogv) and download. Then play the file you downloaded in a recent version of VLC.

Why is Red Hat promoting Flash video content?

One thing I find annoying is that all of the videos from the KVM Forum 2010 event have been posted to Vimeo... and seem only available in streaming Flash format.

This leads me to wonder if they are intentionally keeping people from downloading these videos and remixing them? If so, that is really strange because they typically use a Creative Commons license for most of their media. Why don't they use or some other service that offers in multiple formats with download capabilities? Why are they promoting Flash?

I assume it is someone from Red Hat on behalf of the company because the name of the account posting the videos is Red Hat Video and they are using the Red Hat logo.

I do want to thank the person(s) who took the time to record the videos and processed them so that they could be shared online... I'd just like to see them more freely available.

My Linux Experience

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In the vein of recent posts, I thought I might take a second to explain how I came to use Ubuntu. My first Linux experience was with Red Hat 5 or 6 I believe. I got CD out of the back of one of those Teach your Linux books. I was probably 16 at the time, and I knew a fair bit about computers but nothing serious. But I could whip up a little Turbo Pascal and QBasic :) Anyhow, I was of the mindset that "Hacking" was cool, and Linux popped up a lot in 2600 and Phrack magazines. I remember it took me the better part of a whole weekend to install it to the point where I could finally bring up an X server with the tiled background and big black X. Getting it to use the dial up modem and connect to my ISP took several more hours. I played around with it for about a week I think, concluding "this is neat, but I'm not really sure what to do with it."

Ubuntu is Just All Right with Me

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If you know me, you know I'm a Red Hat / Fedora fanboy. I have written a blog post that explain why I'm fond of them and when someone asks me, I refer to it.

Recently a GNOME survey (aka the Neary report) came out that showed who contributes to GNOME and at what levels. Not so oddly enough the results of it turned out similarly to periodic Linux kernel surveys done by LWN and Greg KH. The results being that Red Hat is the top named contributor.

It just so happens that Canonical (the sponsor of Ubuntu) typically does not fair so well on such surveys and as a result they are often criticized for their perceived lack of upstream contributions.

Video: Red Hat Summit, Jim Whitehurst


I really enjoyed this video so I'm sharing it.

Func: Fedora Unified Network Controller


I recently started using a tool that I find very handy. It is named func and it is a remote api for management, configuration, and monitoring of systems. What does that mean exactly? I'll get into that but first a little background.

In my day job I manage a number of Linux systems. Some are servers and more are desktop machines in labs used by students. All of the lab machines are triple-boot (Windows XP Pro, CentOS 5.4, and Fedora 12). Fedora has a lot of updates... and it is hard to keep up with them. Typically I have to ssh into each machine to work on it but most of what I do is the same thing over and over again. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to manage multiple machines at once with one command line? That is what func does for you. func allows you to manage remote machines with one command line in parallel.

func was written by Fedora developers mainly to help them manage the server infrastructure that makes up the Fedora distribution's online public servers and build systems. They have an active mailing list that you are encouraged to participate in if you are interested in asking questions and helping to shape the future development of func.

func is written in Python and comes with a number of modules that are custom built for certain tasks. If there is an existing module for your task(s), use the existing module. If not, you can use the command module which basically allows you to run whatever command(s) you want on your remote machines.

Opinion: RHEL 5 turns 3, Suggestions for Red Hat

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Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 (Tikanga) was released on March 14, 2007 and yesterday was RHEL 5's 3rd birthday. Since then we have gotten 4 update releases.

Given the fact that Red Hat's original plan was to have a new RHEL release every 18 - 24 months, one has to wonder where RHEL 6 is and why it is so late. My best guess is that RHEL 6 (which so far has had a non-public alpha release within Red Hat as witnessed in some Bugzilla reports) will come out sometime this summer... possibly in time for the Red Hat Summit in Boston (June 22-25, 2010). For that to happen I would expect a public beta for RHEL 6 to be released in the not too distant future. We'll see how that pans out.

While we are waiting, how about some idle discussion?

Video: KVM Architecture Overview

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I downloaded all of the videos offered from the Red Hat Virtual Experience 2009. They made them available as Ogg Theora .ogv files so I didn't even have to convert them. They are of moderate to low quality especially with regards to audio... so they can be a little annoying but the presentation material is generally top notch.

In this video, Andrew Cathrow of Red Hat spends about 23 minute explaining what KVM.

Video: RHEV Presentation

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The Red Hat RHEV presentation lasted for about an hour and forty-five minutes and I video taped it. I can only relase the first 23 minutes of the presentation which is where the slides ended. The demo after the slides contained details about the upcoming (and currently in beta) RHEV for Desktops product which can't be shared because it is subject to change between now and the GA release.

As an attachment to this article you will find the PDF of Tom's slides.

The video should work in Firefox 3.5 and above... or any browser that supports the HTML 5 video tag and Ogg Theora video. In-browser playback isn't always perfect so if desired, right-click on the video and select "Save Video As..." to download and play locally. The videos is approximately 105MB.

If your video player can't handle Ogg Theora then I recommend you check out VLC media player.

Initial Reaction: Red Hat releases the SPICE protocol

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Red Hat actually opened up the SPICE protocol yesterday during their Virtual Experience 2009 event. Somehow I missed that. Have a look at the press release if you are interested... as well as their site to house the new open source project -

This seems to have caused some buzz in certain corners of the virtualization websphere (does anyone still use that word?) but so far no one has said what it could mean for us run-of-the-mill Linux users looking for a good, fast remote desktop protocol. I asked a couple of questions on the fedora-virt mailing list and received some informative replies. I haven't had a chance to actually check out the SPICE website in depth yet though. For those wanting technical documentation, I've attached their spice_for_newbies and spice_user_manual PDFs.

I did want to share with you my response to one of the articles about the SPICE release that I ran across. You can go there and see the context this came from but it is pretty self explanatory.

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