Flock 2013

Flock came up fairly quickly and without much discussions as a replacement for FUDCon in NA.  I wasn’t quite sure what to expect and from my own experiences and talking to others, it so far hasn’t turned out to be much different from FUDCon’s in the past.  There are a few differences worth mentioning however

* Sessions were recorded, slides were posted consistently and transcriptions are available for most talks. I would like have preferred the recordings to be professionally but this is much better than before.

*  Way too many parallel sessions and many sessions had very few people attending which was a real disappointment personally.

*  Handing out a food card was a nice touch and allowed more flexibility and combined with a place with a lot of different restaurants, it was a great deal.

* There were a number of interesting sessions including the future of Fedora ones by a few different people but I would preferred a more curated level of content.

* Social events turned to be the real highlight allowing people to have many relevant ad-hoc conversations. 

Thanks to all the different sponsors including Red Hat for taking care of all the expenses including my travel and stay.

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RHEL 7 will default to GNOME classic mode

According to this interview,  Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 will default to classic mode in GNOME.  That makes a lot of sense considering the conservative nature of the distribution.  There are other bits of interesting info including XFS becoming the default filesystem and an official upgrade tool (probably based on fedup).   Well worth the read

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Free and open source support for RAR archives in Fedora

RAR is somewhat of a legacy format in terms of compression ability but RAR remains popular in many places especially for its split archive feature.  Current Fedora users are used to installing unrar command line utility from RPM Fusion to get the ability to extract RAR files and unrar is supported by the GNOME (File Roller) and Ark (KDE) archive managers however it is a proprietary utility and unavailable for other architectures like ARM which are getting popular in Fedora as well.

Free software support for RAR files was considered a high priority FSF project which announced that it has been completed a while back.  It took sometime for the support to become more solid and I have built a package for Fedora. In Fedora 19 or newer,  users can use unar from the Fedora repository. unar is the free and open source command line utility for RAR archive extraction from the Unarchiver project.  All the RAR features including encrypted archives are fully supported by this utility.  unar is supported as an alternative to unrar by File Roller however Ark support is still under review.  I pushed a update of File Roller that automatically pulled in unar but this was reverted due to lack of space in the live image however if you do install it, File Roller will use it.   I have filed a bug report against unrar in RPM Fusion to consider automatically replacing it with unar and we will have to figure out when it is suitable to do so.   I highly recommend users try unar if you need to extract RAR files and use the open XZ format with better compression for creating new archives.

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AssaultCube for Fedora!

AssaultCube is a multi-player game based on the free and open source cube engine but some of the media assets are non-free and hence the game is available in the RPM Fusion non-free repository for Rawhide and Fedora 19 (updates-testing repo for now).



This was my first RPM Fusion package and it was a smooth ride since much of RPM Fusion infrastructure resembles Fedora Extras including the plague buildsystem, cvsextras branch and so on.  Thanks to folks reviewing the package and setting up cvs and other things necessary to complete this task.  I have another package, subtitleripper already waiting on review and I hope to contribute more as time permits. 

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status of dnf – experimental fork of yum

dnf, the experimental fork of yum was introduced in Fedora 18.  Under the hood, dnf uses the libsolv library from openSUSE (also used by Zypper) and aims for near 100% compatibility with yum.  Nearly all command line options are the same and instead of /etc/yum.conf, it uses /etc/dnf.conf but the configuration options are not changed. dnf is parallel installable along side yum (yum install dnf) and the plan (30:05) is to make it the new yum only by Fedora 22 so you have ample time to participate.

I have setup a bash alias (alias yum=’sudo dnf’ in ~.bashrc and source ~/.bashrc) in my system that pretends that dnf is yum so that I don’t have to throw away my muscle memory.  In the course of the last several months, I have filed over a dozen  bug reports and new feature requests (mostly to bring dnf in line with what yum already supports) and the core dnf (especially in Fedora 19) is usable (with the exception of one weird bug) and  the performance is much better compared to yum.  There are quite a few nice features missing however.  This includes support for Delta RPMhistory undo, parallel downloadsauto-remove, bash completion and several group commands.

Try it out and report any bugs.

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Mute in awe

I remember the good old days when I had to struggle with Red Hat Linux 7.2 just to get my Ethernet card working.  Getting X to start was a entirely different ballgame.  These days, having Fedora working out of the box on pretty much any hardware I boot it on is just routine but the expectations have risen and little niggles that I wouldn’t consider a problem before bother me now.  One of those trivial items was the mute button in my office ThinkPad X200 not working in Fedora 14.  I talked to Matthew Garett on #fedora-desktop in gimpnet and he requested me to file a bug report and assign it to him but it turned out this problem was already reported upstream.   This is a long standing problem and has even been noted in the RHEL 6 technical notes.  I searched and found a boot option but it has a undesirable side effect of increasing power consumption in the laptop.  The trade off wasn’t worth it and I moved on.

I have been running Rawhide and more recently the Fedora 15 development branch for quite sometime and recently noticed that the mute button works!   Apparently a kernel update fixes this problem due to a series of patches merged upstream.    I have no more hardware issues to complain about.  Muted

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A lesson in persistency

Matt Domsch from Dell has recently introduced a new change in Rawhide bringing consistent network device naming to Linux.    Devices in Linux have been called eth0, eth1 etc forever but the names were not always consistent or predictable and this has lead to several problems for Linux administrators who are looking for a consistent device naming.   There has been some attempts to solve this problem before.   In Fedora 14,  on my system,

$ cat /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-eth0

# Intel Corporation 82567LM Gigabit Network Connection

(values changed to protect the innocent)

The hardware MAC address is used by udev to rename the devices when necessary to preserve consistency and udev uses the file /etc/udev/rules.d/70-persistent-net.rules to accomplish this.   The relevant line on my system looks like

# PCI device 0x8086:0x10f5 (e1000e)
SUBSYSTEM==”net”, ACTION==”add”, DRIVERS==”?*”, ATTR{address}==”00:23:2A:F7:CB:F6″, ATTR{dev_id}==”0x0″, ATTR{type}==”1″, KERNEL==”eth*”, NAME=”eth0″

According to the feature description,  this is racy and error prone and we have now a alternative method that picks up names using the BIOS with a udev helper to accomplish the same task in a better way.    Quoting from the description:

“Starting in Fedora 15, Ethernet ports on servers will have a new naming scheme corresponding to physical locations, rather than ethX. Ethernet ports embedded on server motherboards will be named em<port_number>, while ports on PCI cards will be named pci<slot_number>#<port_number>, corresponding to the chassis labels. Additionally, if the network device is an SR-IOV Virtual Function, the name will have a suffix of _<virtual_instance>.

By changing the naming convention, system administrators will no longer have to guess at the ethX to physical port mapping, or invoke workarounds on each system to rename them into some “sane” order.”

Similar to the Btrfs effort in Fedora, this has also been a project involving many people over the last several years.    Again, let’s look at the overall timeline:

*  Matt Domsch from Dell announces a project called biosdevname back in August 2007. biosdevname review request filed for Fedora soon after.   He worked with Harald Hoyer (Red Hat udev maintainer) and Kay Sievers (Novell and upstream udev developer) via this review request to enhance software and fix bugs.   biosdevname becomes part of Fedora 8 and things went fairly quiet in Fedora land although work continued elsewhere

* After consensus is reached,  we had a quick announcement that this feature was coming up as part of the Fedora 15 discussions.    This was followed up at a later point with more details as a new version of biosdevname hit rawhide.    The rules are getting into upstream udev.   Anaconda,  kickstart and dracut is getting enhanced to use biosdevname and it will also be installed by default in the Fedora 15 release.

Anaconda will use this feature by default and so far there isn’t a way to disable it during a fresh installation.   Upgrades will preserve the same behaviour as before since /etc/udev/rules.d/70-persistent-net.rules will retain the names.   As indicated earlier,  this is of interest to system administrators managing server class hardware.  Systems which feature a SMBIOS 2.6 version or above and have multiple ethernet ports will notice a difference in the network device names on a fresh installation to provide consistent names matching how the network ports are physically located.

Welcome to a new era.  After 18+ years of history in Linux of having ethX as device names for ethernet ports and we are seeing a change now.  We lived through a change of /dev/hd* to /dev/sd* and we can deal with this as well as the benefits are going to be good for system administrators and desktop users and others are not affected typically. Kudos to the developers involved in this effort. A persistent effort to bring persistent device names is finally paying off.

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