Smoothwall Firewall project

Tuesday 28 April 2009

Playing with Firefox 3.5 beta 5 , which wasn't meant to be

I have been installing the latest alpha and beta builds of firefox 3.1/3.5 since they became available , mainly for testing for eeebuntu, but also to see what is coming down the pipe and looking for speed improvements for on the Linux platform. Well , it has been faster since the early nightly builds, and has been showing improvements from each new installation, even with the version of Ubuntu being upgraded underneath it.

Well I was under the impression from all the development feeds that there was not going to a beta 5 , and it would be an RC after beta 4, but this post is coming from a nightly build of 3.5 beta 5.

Firefox 3.5 beta5 pre

The developers must have found a few more major bugs, although as yet after much testing I have yet to find any show stoppers, the only thing I find is that it does not shut down properly, and you have to force the quit. This is certainly not a big issue for me, as I very rarely shut down the browser, and always suspenf my lappy these days.

I have also been following the latest alpha builds of Chromium, but have noticed that it has not been building for the last few days, so it is obviously under going a considerably amount of development at the moment. I can't wait until it goes alpha, so I can start testing it properly.

Friday 24 April 2009

Centos 5 is an excellent Xen virtualization enterprise distribution

I had need to set up a Xen virtual server recently , and wanted to use the Redhat Enterprise 5 series to do some testing. Unfortunately these days, you only get 30 days update trial support so I decide to use a binary compatible distro instead and I picked on Centos. There are a few, but I have always had the best success with Centos, so why change a winning combination.

This has been around for a while now, and has been working hard to stay with the Redhat releases, and are only a month or two behind them when released. This is really a none issue for business users, as being at the cutting edge is exactly where they don't want to be.

I installed it on an AMD dual core X2 powered server, with 6GB of RAM and 5TB of disk space, which acts as my virtual testing server. As a virtual server it is not that large these days, but it allows me to run several virtual machines with ease.

The anaconda install process detected everything, and the for those people who are used to Fedora or Redhat , the process is identical (not surprising), with just a change of art work. It is a real credit here to Redhat for being a real community player and putting their source code out there for other projects to do this, and the Centos team for taking the time and effort to implement it. Just make sure you select the virtualize section when picking which applications to install on the server.
The new tools for managing both para-virtualized and full virtualized machines with Centos, using libvirt, worked without a single hitch, and I had an Ubuntu test virtual server up and running in literally minutes. The new GUI virtualization management tool works well. It is most definitely not a VMware virtual center or the Citrix Xen Enterprise management tools, but then it is free and for a simple virtual setup works well.

The performance was very good on this test server, and the Xen implementation - 3.0.3 - in the 5.2 release worked flawlessly.

If you are looking to build a virtual server for home or the office, then this distribution should be on your short list as it offers full functionality without the costs. You of course don't get the great technical support that Redhat offers, but the Centos community forums I looked at were full of quality answers, and anyone with a good background in IT infrastructure should not have any issues, unless you are a paper MCSE of course ;-)

Thursday 23 April 2009

Firefox 3.5 is edging closer to its final release

I have been installing the nightly builds for a long while now on Ubuntu 9.04, but the Mozilla boys have now uploaded an official build of Firefox 3.5 beta 4, which is where this post is coming from.

The beta pre-release versions have been stable for a long time, and I know that this build was only waiting on few bugs to be squashed. There doesn't appear to be any major changes from the pre-release versions, as I would expect, but there are obviously massive differences from version 3.0.

Get it while it's hot.

Firefox 3.5 beta 4

What a week on the IT merry-go-round. Anyone for an IBMphone?

Being something of an old timer in the world of IT I thought I had seen pretty much all there was to see in the sometimes strange company interplays that are stuff of this industry. However, I was to be proved wrong, and I hadn't seen it all.

At the start of the week we have Oracle buying Sun for a cut down fee, and to put it mildly this opens up a can of worms with a lot of the technology that they have just acquired. Java, Solaris, ZFS, MySQL and of course all that marvellous new ZFS backed open source storage technology. I think this will take several months until anyone can have a clear picture of how all this shakes out, and just how much Larry Ellison has managed to annoy IBM.

Then we have the news today that Microsoft are really beginning to feel the full force of the Open Source revolution and the Netbook generation eating into their once great monopoly. I have posted often on all the causes for this change, which is unstoppable, and while part of their current problems are the disaster that is Vista and the economic downturn, there is way more to this story than that. Why did Redhat Linux and Apple Mac not suffer the same affects, given the exact same economic landscape? Having to bribe people with XP Home on netbooks at minimal mark-up, with zero chance of up-selling them any other products is a disastrous business strategy.

We also have the great news that Ubuntu have launched Jaunty today (version 9.04), and I'm happily upgrading from the Beta version to the full version as I type this post. Try doing that while doing an XP to Windows 7 upgrade ;) The beta has been rock solid and this is yet another fine release. All of my machines now boot/suspend quicker and once I have started to implement EXT4 everywhere, I expect to see even greater performance improvements.

We also had Ubuntu launch their updated operating system for the ARM processor, which is all part of the plan for the next generation of netbooks, which will basically completely exclude Microsoft from the market, as they can't compete on price, and they don't even have a version that will run on this processor.

After all these momentous happenings, lets hope that IBM don't start talking about buying a certain player in the MP3 and mobile phone market, anyone for the IBMphone or the IBMpod , with what has happened this week, anything is possible.

Thursday 16 April 2009

Chromium Linux browser pre Alpha having issues with flash

The latest few builds are definitely getting more stable and offering new features like the clickable tabs and the ability to click delete them. I also noticed today that the about:plugins command works, but it appears that the ability to use the flash player has been disabled while they work on the plugins sub-system.

This makes it a little harder to test , as I used to use it for my google RSS reader, but this no longer works, but I'm sure this will be sorted in the next few weeks.

Here is a picture of the current state of the plugins output. A lot of the other about commands are not working , but then again this is still pre-alpha.

Monday 13 April 2009

Simply no issues with the latest brew of Ubuntu

As you will have noticed I have been using the alpha releases, and the beta releases of Ubuntu 9.04 since they have become available, mainly for testing for our next release of eeebuntu which will be based on this version.

There are a few issues that will require a new kernel from Adam for the netbooks, but on the mainline desktops and laptops I have been testing it on I have found no major issues at all, which is very impressive for the array of different types of equipment I use. Everything from fussy Sony laptops and tiny netbooks to quad core HP desktop power machines.

I simply could not imagine being able to take another operating system and put it on so many different machines without having to hunt down drivers or fiddle with settings. If I had an IBM z390 mainframe, I could even stick it on their ;-)

To give the machines just that little bit of extra hassle I'm also testing the latest browsers from Mozilla - Firefix 3.5 beta4 pre - and Chromium for Linux pre Alpha, and all of these are proving to work fine in this beta environment.

The boot and suspend/resume times are truly impressive, and amongst all the great application version uplifts, I think most people will be impressed by these speed improvements.

Tuesday 7 April 2009

Chromiums latest Linux build now has mouse clickable tabs

As you will know I'm following the latest builds of this new Browser on Ubuntu 9.04, and I give the latest release a run through every day.

I noticed this morning - 7th April - that the latest build of Chromium for Linux has mouse clickable tabs, as opposed to having to use the keyboard commands. In and of itself not a massive step forward for the world of IT, but this clearly shows the amount of development effort that is going on for this new browser, and this will hopefully bode well for a great new browser for the Linux platform when it is released.

It would also be good to see an official alpha release so that the community can look at the new browser and help with testing and reporting bugs, but this will happen in due course no doubt.

I'm looking for a release schedule for this , and when I find one I'll post it up.

Sunday 5 April 2009

Ubuntu 9.04 on my Dell XPS 1330 - A fine combination

I have been installing this version of Ubuntu from the early Alpha releases to help with testing on all the various machines that I use on a daily basis, including several virtual servers. I think some of the biggest changes in this release are on the server version, but I'm talking about the desktop release in this post.

My Asus Eeepc 1000 really likes this version, and I have been running that from an SD card for over a week now without any issues, so I thought it about time to upgrade my other laptop.

I decided to upgrade my Dell on the way into work the other morning, and the install was completely painless and without a single hitch. That in itself was interesting, I selected the "update-manager -d" approach , and once all the files were download onto the laptop, I just closed the lid and put it in my rucksack and headed to work. When I arrived in the office, I just opened the lid, and clicked on the question waiting for me. It then finished in a couple of minutes, very impressive and flexible.

As with many other versions of Ubuntu, it is evolution rather than revolution, and all the changes are welcome, and just work well together.

A new version of Open Office, that is faster to load and run, a new file system, Ext4, if you want to be really cutting edge with your performance. The new notification system is slick and looks impressive.and the Gnome team have added several nice new features to this version, look here for detailed release notes on that Gnome 2.26 release notes

The new kernel offers many improvements, especially with WiFi and inclusion of a testing version of btrfs file system, for those really adventurous. This new file system is the open source's response to Sun's ZFS, so it is worth keeping an eye on developments, and it is under heavy development.

The start up and shut down speed of the latest release is impressive on this laptop, and the suspend works perfectly. These are key features for a laptop operating system, so they are gratefully received.

I'm currently testing Firefox beta 3.1 r3 on this install, and that also runs without any hitch or issue, and I have just installed the latest version of VMware workstation 6.52, that supports Ubuntu 9.04 as a guest.

I was expecting the some issues, but I can report that putting this latest release, even in this beta form is so simple and straight forward, I would recommend the upgrade.

This is a fine release, and it works perfectly on this laptop, so I would get ready with either your CD burning software or your favourite upgrade tool for the 26th April, as you will want to get this installed as soon as it is released.

Saturday 4 April 2009

Using VMware workstation on Ubuntu to manage your ESX environment

The perceived wisdom in VMware circles is that the machine that handles your ESX server licenses and management virtual centre should be installed onto a normal server with a copy of a Microsoft OS installed.
In an effort to leverage ever last once out of my virtualized infrastructure , I decide the other day to install the network components of my ESX setup on a windows XP virtual image on my desktop. The installation went without a hitch, and once the license server was up and running I was able to log into the management software, via the virtual centre client without a hitch. Now this was on a quad core workstation, and I only used the built in SQL database for the management software instead of a full oracle or MSSQL database, but it is running extremely well with Ubuntu as the host operating system for VMware workstation.

I would not recommend this obviously for a large data centre implementation, but for testing or a small implementation this works a treat, and it also saves using another PC and Ubuntu is an excellent host for the setup.