Presto, We Have No Gallery!

Fedora / Linux stuff:

For those users of my package set, you can now use yum-presto to grab deltarpms of my packages for Fedora 10 and 11. This should make your life easier – I know my upstream link isn’t always fast so the less traffic over it the better for you guys – it’s a good thing I don’t do 120+mb packages like Danger From The Deep anymore eh? :-). Feedback welcomed as always.

The last push of Fedora updates hit my local mirror and mostly played nice, except Gallery2 which leads me to:

General Non-Linux-Specific Stuff:

… the gallery, which has borked itself. Oh Gallery2, why do you mock me?

I used to keep a bunch of old photos – taken or just collected, under /gallery.

As some were of an ex-acquaintance of mine, Tina Wallmann, they proved quite popular and widely linked to (she’s a bikini model and has large *ahem* tracts of land :-))

But they’re old, we’ve long since parted company (have not seen her in a couple of years and she seems disinterested in old friends back here in Brisbane, having moved on to a different crowd in Sydney) and it tends to detract from more interesting content on the site, I’ve decided to let ’em go. I’ll get less page impressions, but it’s quality not quantity I’d prefer. Gentlemen will just have to look elsewhere for their “evening private entertainment”.

The remnants I’ve pushed up to Flickr and integrated into my WordPress install via Fidgetr. It’s a decent compromise I think.

Some updates, and a little “open sermon”

  • I’m in the unusual position of being inside, yet rugged up with a jacket and scarf with what feels like a cold. I can’t say I’m happy about it.
  • Upgraded WordPress here to 2.7.1 (Fedora 11 RPM rebuilt for F10) without too many hassles. It kept retrying the database upgrade(!) but disabling the plugins and a little bit of tinkering (clean cookies, rebuild config, even restarted memcached / set SELinux to Permissive) got it working. I suspect clearing memcached was the trick.
  • Sorry to my Planet readers for some cruft in the RSS, the Related Posts plugin needed to be *ahem* disciplined. It should be fixed now.
  • Loving the Leonidas release – the adventure during upgrade (died partway, restarted, left behind most of F10 for some reason) seems to have cleared out a lot of stuff I didn’t need or use and the rest is a definite improvement. Well done to all concerned!
  • Disappointed that our local news sources are running the front pages with soft non-news pap, when there’s rioting and apparent vote fraud in Iran. Their people are suffering and getting shafted, and you’re running crap about actresses doing nude scenes to get ahead…

To our dear Fedora users:  Please don’t attribute  malicious intent where it’s not warranted. I’ve had one comment here and just responded to a thread on fedora-list from users making some frankly melodramatic claims around how / why decisions are made and features disabled/changed/not kept up to date.

A large chunk of us are not on the Red Hat payroll,  we’re volunteers. Why do we do this? Because we enjoy what we do and are passionate about it. These users should remember that we use it too (“eating our own dogfood”) and want to deliver a top quality distribution.

However you can’t please all of the people all of the time – but just because a feature / change doesn’t suit you, doesn’t mean that the developer / packager  is out to get you

The distinct advantage of an open community is just that: it’s an open community.

If you don’t like a feature, suggest/contribute changes and/or send a patch. If the documentation is lacking, why not write up a how-to and publish it, help update the wiki or the distro documentation? Likewise if the art isn’t to your taste,  I’m sure the Art team welcome volunteers. If you’re fairly knowledgeable, share it with other users on the lists / IRC / forums.

A “This is broken, you guys suck and out to get us” attitude is not helpful, please let such attitudes die off.

Cheers,

A user, packager, infrastructure hacker and occasional developer (since Red Hat 5.1)

Result may be fit, social with an open messaging standard on top.

Techie Happenings:

I’ve been tinkering with more XMPP (Jabber to you oldies) messaging in general, as it happens. I’ve had a look at the python Yahoo transport and found it a little lacking – it’s config is a little too different to the python MSN / ICQ / AIM transports than I’d personally like, which I’m already packaging and running plus it tends to die/misbehave at unusual times. It has been worth a look though and if enough people would want it, I’ll make the RPM available – but be warned it’s not really to my usual standard.

Speaking of which, there’s a persistent room for chatting around the packages generally – just as an experiment and because I can – at thatfleminggent-rpm@conference.thatfleminggent.com.

I’m still tinkering / debugging my publish-subscribe nodes for thatfleminggent.com (Ejabberd for those interested). I’m sure I’ve configured it right with PEP (Personal Eventing) but I wonder how strong support is client side? Gajim does some PEP (Mood/Activity/Tune for instance) but it updates sporadically if at all.

(Which leads me to wonder how widespread support for that and Service Discovery protocol are client-side, as aside Gajim/PSI it seems sparse and many XMPP goodies are unseen without it. I’d be keen to know more from those in the know)

I’ve signed up on identi.ca (as “thatfleminggent“) and liking it – there’s less noise and spambot followers than Twitter and some very nice XMPP/OpenID integration too.

Better support from the Windows clients would be nice (twhirl does but it’s in the minority, and I’ve preferred TweetDeck or TwitterFox when on a Win desktop) but the Linux clients have been fabulous, especially the current Gwibber version in Fedora.

While there’s been a few “oh no, a slip!” comments being bandied around the tubes regarding the Leonidas release, it’s being done for good reasons. Your august poster here has seen his share of *ahem* “Gold” releases from commercial vendors (no, not just Microsoft but I’ve seen lots of theirs over the years) that many FOSS devs would regard as paper-bag. There’s nothing worse than that corner case bug that inevitably bites us (because Murphy loves a systems tech) so it’s good to delay and get it right than get it out quick and brace for a mess.

Oh, and a protip for those converting local shell accounts to LDAP (or similar) – be prepared to get some uid/gid mismatches unless you’ve been REALLY careful :-). I just did and thought I had consistent ID’s before, but no such luck. It’s trivial to reorganize though.

Life In General:

My girlfriend, bless her heart is a fitness buff and that means that of course yours truly will be convinced to give her current “hey here’s an idea to improve our health” ideas a go.

Thursday’s “let’s go for a good walk” turned out to be a marathon, possibly literally. I’m not sure if I covered a complete 25miles (~42km for those of us on the metric system) on Thursday but it felt like it. This was followed by Friday’s “just a bit of a jog up some stairs” – a 30 degree incline and a 200m stretch! (colloquially known as “The Hill” at Teneriffe in Brisbane) a half dozen times with minimal rest..

Of course I can’t feel anything but lactic acid from the knees down now (I’m not in possession of a runner’s build – I was a weightlifter / shotputter in my youth)

My better half is of course as good as gold 😀

Went to see Angels and Demons (the inner UNIX geek keeps wanting to write it as “Daemons”) on Wednesday night. Not as good as The DaVinci Code, but still better than a lot of the fluff in my local cinemas at the moment. It also helps my local cinema is licensed; a bottle of wine helps get through some poorly chosen movies..

I’m headed back to the office on Monday – feeling better after a break, knowing nothing’s gone amiss in my absence, with a few ideas on how to improve things (equals “make my job easier”) in the back of my mind 🙂

Can sanity prevail? Here’s hoping.

Christian lobby upset about Australian government backtracking on Internet Censorship

I’ve one word to say about this: good. The whole sorry mess that is the Australian net censorship debate has become an international embarrassment. It is not or will be feasible technically (something the august members of SAGE-AU have pointed out many, many times – and they should know) is wide open to abuse and scope creep – and has never been about “protecting children”, ever (let’s be honest here!).

There’s already “parental responsbility” and personal filtering software (for those that want it) to police kids’ online usage. Nationwide national filters are massive overkill for this – unless that wasn’t the *real* reason 😛

(I found the “if you’re against the filter you don’t care about the children/have something to hide” troll from the likes of Child Wise personally offensive, being an adult and a knowledgeable professional. “Don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining” – Anon)

I’m also pleased to see that seperation of church and state still means something here (and did the pro-filtering  lobby really expect not to be cast aside by politicians when convenient for the latter? They’re pollies – CYA is their mantra and measure time in periods between polls!)

On other matters: I’ve spent a little bit of time getting the (thankfully few) bugs in my packages cleaned up (pyicq-t will appear for Enterprise Linux really soon, I promise you – CVS branches are pending), signed up for identi.ca (as “thatfleminggent” – I’m impressed with the XMPP/OpenID integration so far) and tinkered with a few projects that took my fancy – integrating FDS/”389″ into my local network, setting up Asterisk, continued learning some search engine voodoo for the GF’s website.

There will be a “thatfleminggent” package set for Leonidas, as usual I’m not 100% sure what form it will take and what will be retired / added.

Looking over Planet Fedora, I should probably learn a language or two as I think I’m missing some good non-English content 🙂

This is why I’m not a “webmaster”

In an effort to help my girlfriends website generate a bit of traffic  – and some business for her 🙂 – I’ve spent a bit of time (probably a little too much for a holidaying techie, but it’s a “love job”) trying to get my head around more indepth search engine optimisation and Google Analytics / Webmaster tools in particular.

In summary I still think a lot of it is voodoo 😀 .

Generating the sitemap etc. is easy, as is submitting it (except Yahoo, too many hoops, FIXME) but the resulting information can be just a tad opaque – bounce rates for example (mine seems high at over 70%, maybe because of the package downloads) plus GoogleBot’s view of my site seems rather different to mine (or what awstats tell me about visitors) – I suspect the poor old META tag doesn’t get the importance it did in times past, and this old curmudgeon is still in the tech-bubble era regarding search visibility.

But I’m learning again – there seems to be some positive results already and it’s another string to my bow.

An impressive practical use of Google Maps (and Twitter to get the word out) during the flooding here in Brisbane:

Google Map of the affected areas and road closures

Fortunately I’m in the inner city and a floor up in an apartment, so wasn’t affected, unlike far too many (including a close friend who arrived home from the pub to a flooded front lounge and no electricity 🙁 )

I also attempted to split my IPv6 allocation (a mere /64) over 2 physical links – bad idea and an epic failure on my part. It was worth a shot I guess.

All of my revision controlled code has been switched from bzr to git – I don’t know why I didn’t do this sooner – it’s been a breeze, and the learning curve hasn’t been steep at all – or perhaps my needs aren’t too complex? (I’ve been primarily a bzr/cvs/Subversion user). The “tailor” package from the main Fedora repository was also helpful – it’s not the easiest to use, but the results were excellent.

I’m converting my rather venerable Samba domain controller to an LDAP backend (it’s currently tdbsam and a pain to manage) – using Fedora Directory Server (ahem “389” now – admittedly good vendor-neutral branding there folks) has been fairly painless, barring my unfamiliarity regarding how it manages ACLs (or perhaps that’s just the management console not doing what I think it is)

Speaking of which – I’ve had a dreadful experience with LDAP management apps – both gq and lat crash on me badly and while I don’t mind phpldapadmin (and use it at work) it’s not particularly fast. I welcome suggestions for alternatives 🙂

I’m currently hand-editing via ldapvi and feeling rather old-school.  A little Perl CGI app called “pluma” has piqued my interest – I’ll package it up if it turns out to be worthwhile.

Murphy is my co-pilot.

After moving what seems to be several mountains at the workplace over the last few weeks, I’m finally on holiday. Additionally, my girlfriend is back from interstate, which makes me even happier.

Alas, nature doesn’t like us and lo, as soon as she stepped off the plane it started raining – and it hasn’t stopped. It knows when I’m trying to chill, I tell you, it’s some sort of celestial conspiracy.

Aside from pottering about my apartment while it pours and she rests I’ve whipped up a couple of quick packages for the WordPresss user: WP-Syntax and an updated WP-Supercache (the latter is a bit experimental) – they’re in the repositories for all versions / arches I support. I’m using the former here so you should be able to put code snippets in comments (and I in posts) now.

(Fedora contribs: These plugins are very easy to package; I’m happy to contribute a spec template to rpmdev or even submit them for review if there’s sufficient interest)

I’m also having a crack at gluster – It builds on Fedora OK sans Apache/Lighttpd module support, merely needs a bit of init-script massaging. I’m happy to provide an eat-your-brane build for the keen/brave.

De-stressing

Hey Yaakov, make that four users once I’ve set it up, I certainly do like the looks of it. A good tool that makes any job easier is a winner in my book, and that looks like a good one indeed.

This weekend was a long one in my neck of the woods, being the Labour Day holiday.

Saturday was mostly a relax-around-the-house day, with a fairly quick and painless upgrade of my old doorstop-server (an old PII 233 that graced an ex-employer’s datacentre as it’s first backup server) – I’ve had mainly good experiences doing a  “yum upgrade” between Fedora releases (9 to 10 in this case) and this was even cleaner than last time (just remember to relabel if using SELinux per my last post, mkay? :-P)

The Drupal update for dotprofileconsulting.com went very smoothly too – but some attempts to streamline WordPress for thatfleminggent.com weren’t quite so grand, some of the themes I’d tried didn’t seem to like the 2.6.5 install (any chance of 2.7 for F9/F10?) so I stuck with the tried-and-true, even if it is a little “busy”

It was also the Buddha’s Birthday celebration here, so a stroll down to South Brisbane to see the sangha and what was on offer was in order. I admit not getting to the Zen talks this year but took in the opportunity for some zazen (sitting meditation), some much needed kinhin (walking meditation) as the old legs were a bit too stiff for the full lotus and even a bit of tai-chi (which I’m unused to as part of my practice but can certainly see the benefits of)

It’s a practice worth considering if you’re in a high-stress position (developers and systems people, I’m looking at you..) – even just sitting quietly, counting the breath and letting whatever thoughts come and go is a good start – and not complicated; you “just sit”. Sit often enough and the rest takes care of itself. 🙂

My friends and colleagues are still a bit mystified by a “taught to walk by a bald nun” (the kinhin practice mentioned above) Facebook update but I’ll let them ponder a bit more 🙂

A Poutpourri and the GFC.

It’s felt like a long week so far but I must admit I’m faring better than some – I’m looking over resumes for friends at the moment ( I think I’ve seen more skill matrices than shell prompts today!) who’ve lost work over the past few weeks due to the GFC – redundancies and in one case a business owner who took it as an opportunity to sell up and give his entire staff a week’s notice! If the financial crisis has left you out of work, keep your chin up and don’t lose hope.

I feel that between Bacula’s rotation and volume management keeping me on my toes (tip to the new – RTFM twice, then it makes perfect sense), slavery involving OpenLDAP and MySQL (I should consider Fedora Directory Server and DRBD for master-master replication, but first things first..) and Puppet configuration management (manna from heaven for an admin’s sanity especially if you have more than a handful of servers) I’ve achieved something so far this week. 🙂

Regarding the latter package I’ll put up any useful facts/recipes I write up that work – you have my word. Reductivelabs have a number, but there’s a few omissions that I and perhaps some of you may find handy.

Building some Ruby gems has not been so successful, and if anyone has been successful in rebuilding RPMs of hpricot / json gems on Red Hat Enterprise Linux I’d be interested in your tale.

I’ve mitigated (fixed is the wrong word) my Koji issues, but not in the way I’d like. 🙁 At least I have more information  to work with and things are running in the meantime.

Dan Walsh’s post on confining services through SELinux is definitely getting printed and stuck on my workmates’ noticeboard. I’ve seen a lot of instances where SELinux is switched off instead of thought through and used correctly, which is unfortunate so anything that encourages changes in that behaviour that is a plus :-). It’s not voodoo and it won’t eat your brane, so especially if you have services is sensitive / “wild side” areas the time taken to learn it will be well spent.

Now to sort out those WSGI socket AVC’s of mine… 🙂

A Koan

A novice once came to a systems software roshi seeking wisdom:

“I am troubled. My project has become large and I am having trouble reproducing the environment across test servers. I have all my sources and I’ve installed them from source in the ways our forefathers have, but some behave in strange ways and clash with other software at odd times. What can I do?”

The older  asked “Find your dependencies and bring them here.”

The novice searched for days amongst his tarballs and local installations, but could only come back with sources, some parchments containing approximate versions, notes and some ldd output.

The master took the notes and the sources, put them in a box, and put the box on the novice’s head.

“In future use these, perhaps build your own – it is not hard. They will manage your installed software better and ease your suffering if you use them wisely and diligently.”

On hearing this the novice was struck with awe.

Where to from here?

I seem to have found myself at a crossroads. Not a personal one (well, not really) but hobby / professional. Make of that what you will.

Firstly, I’ve been doing IT support and systems administration for a living for nigh on nine years now. I’d been a Linux tinkerer well before then (I got into mail systems first due to spam fighting; Sendmail and UNIX / Linux with Slackware back in 1997). I did a long stint doing Windows Server systems admin – which is actually fairly interesting tech sometimes, even if it can be clunky and buggy – and do Red Hat for a living again now.

But it can get old. Over the years IT has become something of a “regular” service, the support staff and admin like janitors and there’s no glamour in the job. Depending on the area and your businesses’ line of work there’s fewer interesting “toys” to tinker with. This describes my situation well.

In short I think I need a good project to sink my teeth into. DotProfile is doing things I’ve already done to death (XMPP and messaging  / DNS) and I’m not really a programmer per se. I’ve done OpenID, as you can see here. Ditto IPv6, also on show here. My infrastructure does DKIM, GeoIP, SPF, greylisting, XMPP. I’ve even had a disasterous run as a Tor exit node.

I’ve been asked if I’d do webhosting – no thanks; there are far too many kids (in the literal and figurative sense) overselling their little VPS to small business for a razor-thin profit. I don’t want to get in amongst that shit, I take pride in quality servers and reliability.

Even the package repository for Fedora feels thin. There’s only so much out there in the way of interesting software to package, and even new packages in Fedora proper are getting a little obscure. I suspect most of my users are here for Courier IMAP anyway 😉

I do memcached at work (and I’m building libmemcached in the background here, just because) but I personally have little use for it. Do I go back to my usenet roots and run INN? (Am I that much of a masochist? I remember cyclic overview rebuilds even now, they weren’t fun). I suck at art so design is out, and I just can’t consider being a bigger blogger / pundit or SEO hack without laughing at the thought. Cloud computing? Yes please – but how / who will bankroll? 🙂

I’m a systems architect at heart. /me needs a challenge, fast.

(Or I end up getting ITIL / PRINCE2 qualifications, sell out and become management ;-))