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Oracle Linux Administration Notes

News Red Hat Administration Notes Recommended Books Recommended Links Licensing issues Registration Oracle Linux Documentation Certification Program
Installation Oracle Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel Networking NTP configuration Sendmail LVM Xinetd How to change IP address
RPM YUM Anaconda Kickstart Cron Wheel Group PAM Mini distributions
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Configuring serial console Screen vim Log rotation in RHEL/CENTOS rsync Sendmail on RHEL VNC/VINO Midnight Commander
Tuning Virtualization Xen Fedora

Differences with Solaris

Tips Humor Etc

Oracle Linux (formerly called Oracle Enterprise Linux, which was released in 2006) is a Red Hat clone available under GPL. It also provides its own kernel for those who are interested in great stability with Oracle products. Currently it represents the best platform for Oracle database and related application among commercial Linuxes.  Licensing issues are pretty convoluted and covered elsewhere. Three levels of support are available:

Cost of patches (network support) is dramatically lower with Oracle linux ($119 per year), which is the lowest price for which you can get patches for commercial linux distribution. Cost of Basic support is $499, on par with Suse and twice lower then for Red Hat. Red Hat is priced, per year, at $349 for a basic support plan, $799 for a standard support plan and $1,299 for a premium support plan.

 Oracle support program includes both Red Hat and Oracle Enterprise Linux which permits the switch for existing servers without reinstallation. Oracle has large internal deployment of Linux servers so there is a synergy in supporting it instead of paying for support to Red Hat.   Support the Oracle provides is more Spartan then in case of Red Hat and it is more difficult to get to real human even for high priority tickets but generally it is OK.

Being the only commercial clone of Red Hat, Oracle Linux offers two Linux kernels to choose from: The Red Hat Compatible Kernel and The new Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel. The latter is availble only for 64-bit version of Linux. Available since Sept. 19, 2010, this kernel that is optimized for Oracle software and hardware (and that means for Sun Intel servers).  Oracle recommends it for use with not only Oracle software for all enterprise applications running on Linux. The current version is based on the version 2.6.32 of Linux kernel and includes optimizations from collaboration between Oracle’s Linux, Database, Middleware, and Hardware engineering teams. Oracle claims that Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel:

  1. Delivers more than 75 percent performance gain in OLTP performance tests over a Red Hat 5 Compatible Kernel; 200 percent speedup of Infiniband messaging; 137 percent faster solid state disk access;
  2. Optimized for large servers; improved power management and energy efficiency; fine grained CPU and memory resource control; derived from the stable 2.6.32 mainline Linux kernel
  3. Supports the Data Integrity Extensions and T10 Protection Information Model, improves application uptime
  4. Built and tested to run Oracle hardware, databases, and middleware

We can easily believe in (4); other claims still need to be verified  :-).  Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel is free upgrade available both for customers with support contract and without them:

  1. Those has purchased Linux support kernel is delivered via Unbreakable Linux Network (ULN), so that installation on top of Oracle Linux 5 or 6 is essentially automatic.
  2. Anyone can download the new kernel via Oracle’s Public Yum server. See the instructions on public-yum.oracle.com or read the Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel technical white paper.

Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel is based on Linux kernel 2.6.32 and can be deployed with Oracle Linux 5 without reinstalling the entire operating system. Third party applications run unchanged and the installation of Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel can be easily and safely undone without affecting the operating system. In case of Oracle Linux 5 you can take advantage of the 2.6.32 kernel without doing a complete re-install of the operating system and re-certification of your applications. In RHEL6, Red Hat has made thousands of changes on top of 2.6.32, none of which have been tested with Oracle software. RHEL6 implements a new set of system libraries, including glibc, demanding re-certification of all applications.


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[May 19, 2011] Ellison Oracle Enterprise Linux Coming to Sparc by James Niccolai

Dec 6, 2010 | PCWorld

Oracle will port its Enterprise Linux distribution to Sun's Sparc processor, a move that could help it compete better against IBM and Hewlett-Packard in the high-end server business.

CEO Larry Ellison made the disclosure in response to a question about Oracle's Linux strategy at the company's Sparc systems launch last Thursday.

"We think Sparc will become clearly the best chip for running Oracle software. At that point we'd be nuts not to move Oracle Enterprise Linux there. We're a ways away, but I think that's definitely going to happen," Ellison said.

It's likely to happen in "the T4, T5 timeframe," he said, referring to the next two versions of Sun's Sparc processor. Oracle just released the Sparc T3 in September and the T4 isn't expected for a year or so.

Customers who buy Oracle's x86 servers today can run both Solaris and Oracle Enterprise Linux, but for Oracle's Sparc systems, Solaris is the only supported OS.

"Some customers have run Linux on Sparc, but it's mostly in the high-performance computing market and it's not a supported environment," said IDC analyst Jean Bozman.

That puts Oracle at odds with IBM and HP, whose customers can run both Unix and Linux on those companies' high-end servers.

"You have both HP and IBM ... being able to offer their customers Linux and their proprietary Unix on the same hardware, and that gives them additional opportunities for customers running virtual environments," said Nathan Brookwood, principal analyst at Insight64.

IBM customers, for example, can take a single Power7 system and run Linux, AIX and IBM's System i software under a common hypervisor. "In the world of virtualized data centers, being able to run all your major OS environments on your major hardware platform gives end users a little bit more flexibility," Brookwood said.

Linux was Oracle's preferred OS before it acquired Sun. Ellison now calls Solaris "the leading OS on the planet," but he knows some customers want a choice. He wants that choice to be among Oracle products, however, not among different vendors.

"We want [customers] thinking, 'Should I go with Sparc or should I go with x86? Should I run it on Solaris or should I run it on Linux?' End of discussion," Ellison said. "We don't want them thinking, 'Should I move from Sparc to Power or Solaris to AIX.' We want to give them choice within our own family of products."

Ellison also introduced a new category of support, called Gold Standard Services, for customers who are willing to run their Oracle systems with exactly the configuration Oracle suggests.

Oracle will test each new software upgrade and big fix against the Gold configurations in its labs, Ellison said. That should allow it to guarantee higher levels of uptime for customers, he suggested.

The first "gold configurations" will be for the big integrated systems Oracle has announced recently -- the Exadata Database Machine, the Exalogic Elastic Cloud and the Sparc Supercluster.

It expects to include partner products too. "We're going to have IBM, Dell and Cisco join in and create those Gold Standard configurations," Ellison said. He didn't give any pricing information and Oracle didn't respond to a request for more details.

[Nov 14, 2010] Red Hat releases RHEL 6

RHEL 6 is pretty raw and in some area is a step back from RHEL 5.6 in administrative convenience and usability. It looks like Red Hat is going through a midage crisis. Not recommended until version 6.1 or even later. Same thinking is true for Oracle Linux 6 as it is a clone.

"Red Hat on Wednesday released version 6 of its Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) distribution. 'RHEL 6 is the culmination of 10 years of learning and partnering,' said Paul Cormier, Red Hat's president of products and technologies, in a webcast announcing the launch. Cormier positioned the OS both as a foundation for cloud deployments and a potential replacement for Windows Server. 'We want to drive Linux deeper into every single IT organization. It is a great product to erode the Microsoft Server ecosystem,' he said. Overall, RHEL 6 has more than 2,000 packages, and an 85 percent increase in the amount of code from the previous version, said Jim Totton, vice president of Red Hat's platform business unit. The company has added 1,800 features to the OS and resolved more than 14,000 bug issues."

[Apr 20, 2009] Sun goes to Oracle for $7.4B

Oracle+Sun has the power to seriously harm IBM. Solaris still has the highest market share among proprietary Unixes. And AIX is only third after HP-UX. Wonder if Solaris will become Oracle's main development platform again. Oracle is a top contributor to Linux and that might help to bridge the gap in shell and packaging. Telecommunications and database administrators always preferred Solaris over Linux.
Yahoo! Finance

Oracle Corp. snapped up computer server and software maker Sun Microsystems Inc. for $7.4 billion Monday, trumping rival IBM Corp.'s attempt to buy one of Silicon Valley's best known -- and most troubled -- companies.

... ... ...

Jonathan Schwartz, Sun's CEO, predicted the combination will create a "systems and software powerhouse" that "redefines the industry, redrawing the boundaries that have frustrated the industry's ability to solve." Among other things, he predicted Oracle will be able to offer its customers simpler computing solutions at less expensive prices by drawing upon Sun's technology.

... ... ...

Yet Oracle says it can run Sun more efficiently. It expects the purchase to add at least 15 cents per share to its adjusted earnings in the first year after the deal closes. The company estimated Santa Clara, Calif.-based Sun will contribute more than $1.5 billion to Oracle's adjusted profit in the first year and more than $2 billion in the second year.

If Oracle can hit those targets, Sun would yield more profit than the combined contributions of three other major acquisitions -- PeopleSoft Inc., Siebel Systems Inc. and BEA Systems -- that cost Oracle a total of more than $25 billion.

A deal with Oracle might not be plagued by the same antitrust issues that could have loomed over IBM and Sun, since there is significantly less overlap between the two companies. Still, Oracle could be able to use Sun's products to enhance its own software.

Oracle's main business is database software. Sun's Solaris operating system is a leading platform for that software. The company also makes "middleware," which allows business computing applications to work together. Oracle's middleware is built on Sun's Java language and software.

Calling Java the "single most important software asset we have ever acquired," Ellison predicted it would eventually help make Oracle's middleware products generate as much revenue as its database line does.

Sun's takeover is a reminder that a few missteps and bad timing can cause a star to come crashing down.

Sun was founded in 1982 by men who would become legendary Silicon Valley figures: Andy Bechtolsheim, a graduate student whose computer "workstation" for the Stanford University Network (SUN) led to the company's first product; Bill Joy, whose work formed the basis for Sun's computer operating system; and Stanford MBAs Vinod Khosla and Scott McNealy.

Sun was a pioneer in the concept of networked computing, the idea that computers could do more when lots of them were linked together. Sun's computers took off at universities and in the government, and became part of the backbone of the early Internet. Then the 1990s boom made Sun a star. It claimed to put "the dot in dot-com," considered buying a struggling Apple Computer Inc. and saw its market value peak around $200 billion.

[Apr 17, 2009] Adobe Reader 9 released - Linux and Solaris x86 by Ashutosh Sharma

Tabbed viewing was added
Adobe Reader 9.1 for Linux and Solaris x86 has been released today. Solaris x86 support was one of the most requested feature by users. As per the Reader team's announcement, this release includes the following major features:

- Support for Tabbed Viewing (preview)
- Super fast launch, and better performance than previous releases
- Integration with Acrobat.com
- IPv6 support
- Enhanced support for PDF portfolios (preview)

The complete list is available here.

Adobe Reader 9.1 is now available for download and works on OpenSolaris, Solaris 10 and most modern Linux distributions such as Ubuntu 8.04, PCLinuxOS, Mandriva 2009, SLED 10, Mint Linux 6 and Fedora 10.

See also Sneak Preview of the Tabbed Viewing interface in Adobe Reader 9.x (on Ubuntu)

[Feb 22, 2009] 10 shortcuts to master bash - Program - Linux - Builder AU By Guest Contributor, TechRepublic | 2007/06/25 18:30:02

If you've ever typed a command at the Linux shell prompt, you've probably already used bash -- after all, it's the default command shell on most modern GNU/Linux distributions.

The bash shell is the primary interface to the Linux operating system -- it accepts, interprets and executes your commands, and provides you with the building blocks for shell scripting and automated task execution.

Bash's unassuming exterior hides some very powerful tools and shortcuts. If you're a heavy user of the command line, these can save you a fair bit of typing. This document outlines 10 of the most useful tools:

  1. Easily recall previous commands

    Bash keeps track of the commands you execute in a history buffer, and allows you to recall previous commands by cycling through them with the Up and Down cursor keys. For even faster recall, "speed search" previously-executed commands by typing the first few letters of the command followed by the key combination Ctrl-R; bash will then scan the command history for matching commands and display them on the console. Type Ctrl-R repeatedly to cycle through the entire list of matching commands.

  2. Use command aliases

    If you always run a command with the same set of options, you can have bash create an alias for it. This alias will incorporate the required options, so that you don't need to remember them or manually type them every time. For example, if you always run ls with the -l option to obtain a detailed directory listing, you can use this command:

    bash> alias ls='ls -l' 

    To create an alias that automatically includes the -l option. Once this alias has been created, typing ls at the bash prompt will invoke the alias and produce the ls -l output.

    You can obtain a list of available aliases by invoking alias without any arguments, and you can delete an alias with unalias.

  3. Use filename auto-completion

    Bash supports filename auto-completion at the command prompt. To use this feature, type the first few letters of the file name, followed by Tab. bash will scan the current directory, as well as all other directories in the search path, for matches to that name. If a single match is found, bash will automatically complete the filename for you. If multiple matches are found, you will be prompted to choose one.

  4. Use key shortcuts to efficiently edit the command line

    Bash supports a number of keyboard shortcuts for command-line navigation and editing. The Ctrl-A key shortcut moves the cursor to the beginning of the command line, while the Ctrl-E shortcut moves the cursor to the end of the command line. The Ctrl-W shortcut deletes the word immediately before the cursor, while the Ctrl-K shortcut deletes everything immediately after the cursor. You can undo a deletion with Ctrl-Y.

  5. Get automatic notification of new mail

    You can configure bash to automatically notify you of new mail, by setting the $MAILPATH variable to point to your local mail spool. For example, the command:

    bash> MAILPATH='/var/spool/mail/john'
    bash> export MAILPATH 

    Causes bash to print a notification on john's console every time a new message is appended to John's mail spool.

  6. Run tasks in the background

    Bash lets you run one or more tasks in the background, and selectively suspend or resume any of the current tasks (or "jobs"). To run a task in the background, add an ampersand (&) to the end of its command line. Here's an example:

    bash> tail -f /var/log/messages &
    [1] 614

    Each task backgrounded in this manner is assigned a job ID, which is printed to the console. A task can be brought back to the foreground with the command fg jobnumber, where jobnumber is the job ID of the task you wish to bring to the foreground. Here's an example:

    bash> fg 1

    A list of active jobs can be obtained at any time by typing jobs at the bash prompt.

  7. Quickly jump to frequently-used directories

    You probably already know that the $PATH variable lists bash's "search path" -- the directories it will search when it can't find the requested file in the current directory. However, bash also supports the $CDPATH variable, which lists the directories the cd command will look in when attempting to change directories. To use this feature, assign a directory list to the $CDPATH variable, as shown in the example below:

    bash> CDPATH='.:~:/usr/local/apache/htdocs:/disk1/backups'
    bash> export CDPATH

    Now, whenever you use the cd command, bash will check all the directories in the $CDPATH list for matches to the directory name.

  8. Perform calculations

    Bash can perform simple arithmetic operations at the command prompt. To use this feature, simply type in the arithmetic expression you wish to evaluate at the prompt within double parentheses, as illustrated below. Bash will attempt to perform the calculation and return the answer.

    bash> echo $((16/2))
    8
  9. Customise the shell prompt

    You can customise the bash shell prompt to display -- among other things -- the current username and host name, the current time, the load average and/or the current working directory. To do this, alter the $PS1 variable, as below:

    bash> PS1='\u@\h:\w \@> '
    
    bash> export PS1
    root@medusa:/tmp 03:01 PM>

    This will display the name of the currently logged-in user, the host name, the current working directory and the current time at the shell prompt. You can obtain a list of symbols understood by bash from its manual page.

  10. Get context-specific help

    Bash comes with help for all built-in commands. To see a list of all built-in commands, type help. To obtain help on a specific command, type help command, where command is the command you need help on. Here's an example:

    bash> help alias
    ...some help text...

    Obviously, you can obtain detailed help on the bash shell by typing man bash at your command prompt at any time.

[Feb 22, 2009] Installation Guide for RHEL 5

2. Steps to Get You Started
2.1. Upgrade or Install?
2.2. Is Your Hardware Compatible?
2.3. Do You Have Enough Disk Space?
2.4. Can You Install Using the CD-ROM or DVD?
2.4.1. Alternative Boot Methods
2.4.2. Making an Installation Boot CD-ROM
2.5. Preparing for a Network Installation
2.5.1. Preparing for FTP and HTTP installation
2.5.2. Preparing for an NFS install
2.6. Preparing for a Hard Drive Installation
3. System Specifications List
4. Installing on Intel® and AMD Systems
4.1. The Graphical Installation Program User Interface
4.1.1. A Note about Virtual Consoles
4.2. The Text Mode Installation Program User Interface
4.2.1. Using the Keyboard to Navigate
4.3. Starting the Installation Program
4.3.1. Booting the Installation Program on x86, AMD64, and Intel® 64 Systems
4.3.2. Booting the Installation Program on Itanium Systems
4.3.3. Additional Boot Options
4.4. Selecting an Installation Method
4.5. Installing from DVD/CD-ROM
4.5.1. What If the IDE CD-ROM Was Not Found?
4.6. Installing from a Hard Drive
4.7. Performing a Network Installation
4.8. Installing via NFS
4.9. Installing via FTP
4.10. Installing via HTTP
4.11. Welcome to Red Hat Enterprise Linux
4.12. Language Selection
4.13. Keyboard Configuration
4.14. Enter the Installation Number
4.15. Disk Partitioning Setup
4.16. Advanced Storage Options
4.17. Create Default Layout
4.18. Partitioning Your System
4.18.1. Graphical Display of Hard Drive(s)
4.18.2. Disk Druid's Buttons
4.18.3. Partition Fields
4.18.4. Recommended Partitioning Scheme
4.18.5. Adding Partitions
4.18.6. Editing Partitions
4.18.7. Deleting a Partition
4.19. x86, AMD64, and Intel® 64 Boot Loader Configuration
4.19.1. Advanced Boot Loader Configuration
4.19.2. Rescue Mode
4.19.3. Alternative Boot Loaders
4.19.4. SMP Motherboards and GRUB
4.20. Network Configuration
4.21. Time Zone Configuration
4.22. Set Root Password
4.23. Package Group Selection
4.24. Preparing to Install
4.24.1. Prepare to Install
4.25. Installing Packages
4.26. Installation Complete
4.27. Itanium Systems - Booting Your Machine and Post-Installation Setup
4.27.1. Post-Installation Boot Loader Options
4.27.2. Booting Red Hat Enterprise Linux Automatically
5. Removing Red Hat Enterprise Linux
6. Troubleshooting Installation on an Intel® or AMD System
6.1. You are Unable to Boot Red Hat Enterprise Linux
6.1.1. Are You Unable to Boot With Your RAID Card?
6.1.2. Is Your System Displaying Signal 11 Errors?
6.2. Trouble Beginning the Installation
6.2.1. Problems with Booting into the Graphical Installation
6.3. Trouble During the Installation
6.3.1. No devices found to install Red Hat Enterprise Linux Error Message
6.3.2. Saving Traceback Messages Without a Diskette Drive
6.3.3. Trouble with Partition Tables
6.3.4. Using Remaining Space
6.3.5. Other Partitioning Problems
6.3.6. Other Partitioning Problems for Itanium System Users
6.3.7. Are You Seeing Python Errors?
6.4. Problems After Installation
6.4.1. Trouble With the Graphical GRUB Screen on an x86-based System?
6.4.2. Booting into a Graphical Environment
6.4.3. Problems with the X Window System (GUI)
6.4.4. Problems with the X Server Crashing and Non-Root Users
6.4.5. Problems When You Try to Log In
6.4.6. Is Your RAM Not Being Recognized?
6.4.7. Your Printer Does Not Work
6.4.8. Problems with Sound Configuration
6.4.9. Apache-based httpd service/Sendmail Hangs During Startup
7. Driver Media for Intel® and AMD Systems
7.1. Why Do I Need Driver Media?
7.2. So What Is Driver Media Anyway?
7.3. How Do I Obtain Driver Media?
7.3.1. Creating a Driver Diskette from an Image File
7.4. Using a Driver Image During Installation
8. Additional Boot Options for Intel® and AMD Systems
9. The GRUB Boot Loader
9.1. Boot Loaders and System Architecture
9.2. GRUB
9.2.1. GRUB and the x86 Boot Process
9.2.2. Features of GRUB
9.3. Installing GRUB
9.4. GRUB Terminology
9.4.1. Device Names
9.4.2. File Names and Blocklists
9.4.3. The Root File System and GRUB
9.5. GRUB Interfaces
9.5.1. Interfaces Load Order
9.6. GRUB Commands
9.7. GRUB Menu Configuration File
9.7.1. Configuration File Structure
9.7.2. Configuration File Directives
9.8. Changing Runlevels at Boot Time
9.9. Additional Resources
9.9.1. Installed Documentation
9.9.2. Useful Websites
9.9.3. Related Books
10. Additional Resources about Itanium and Linux
IV. Common Tasks
23. Upgrading Your Current System
23.1. Determining Whether to Upgrade or Re-Install
23.2. Upgrading Your System
24. Activate Your Subscription
24.1. RHN Registration
24.1.1. Provide a Red Hat Login
24.1.2. Provide Your Installation Number
24.1.3. Connect Your System
25. An Introduction to Disk Partitions
25.1. Hard Disk Basic Concepts
25.1.1. It is Not What You Write, it is How You Write It
25.1.2. Partitions: Turning One Drive Into Many
25.1.3. Partitions within Partitions - An Overview of Extended Partitions
25.1.4. Making Room For Red Hat Enterprise Linux
25.1.5. Partition Naming Scheme
25.1.6. Disk Partitions and Other Operating Systems
25.1.7. Disk Partitions and Mount Points
25.1.8. How Many Partitions?
V. Basic System Recovery
26. Basic System Recovery
26.1. Common Problems
26.1.1. Unable to Boot into Red Hat Enterprise Linux
26.1.2. Hardware/Software Problems
26.1.3. Root Password
26.2. Booting into Rescue Mode
26.2.1. Reinstalling the Boot Loader
26.3. Booting into Single-User Mode
26.4. Booting into Emergency Mode
27. Rescue Mode on POWER Systems
27.1. Special Considerations for Accessing the SCSI Utilities from Rescue Mode
VI. Advanced Installation and Deployment
28. Kickstart Installations
28.1. What are Kickstart Installations?
28.2. How Do You Perform a Kickstart Installation?
28.3. Creating the Kickstart File
28.4. Kickstart Options
28.4.1. Advanced Partitioning Example
28.5. Package Selection
28.6. Pre-installation Script
28.6.1. Example
28.7. Post-installation Script
28.7.1. Examples
28.8. Making the Kickstart File Available
28.8.1. Creating Kickstart Boot Media
28.8.2. Making the Kickstart File Available on the Network
28.9. Making the Installation Tree Available
28.10. Starting a Kickstart Installation
29. Kickstart Configurator
29.1. Basic Configuration
29.2. Installation Method
29.3. Boot Loader Options
29.4. Partition Information
29.4.1. Creating Partitions
29.5. Network Configuration
29.6. Authentication
29.7. Firewall Configuration
29.7.1. SELinux Configuration
29.8. Display Configuration
29.8.1. General
29.8.2. Video Card
29.8.3. Monitor
29.9. Package Selection
29.10. Pre-Installation Script
29.11. Post-Installation Script
29.11.1. Chroot Environment
29.11.2. Use an Interpreter
29.12. Saving the File
30. Boot Process, Init, and Shutdown
30.1. The Boot Process
30.2. A Detailed Look at the Boot Process
30.2.1. The BIOS
30.2.2. The Boot Loader
30.2.3. The Kernel
30.2.4. The /sbin/init Program
30.3. Running Additional Programs at Boot Time
30.4. SysV Init Runlevels
30.4.1. Runlevels
30.4.2. Runlevel Utilities
30.5. Shutting Down
31. PXE Network Installations
31.1. Setting up the Network Server
31.2. PXE Boot Configuration
31.2.1. Command Line Configuration
31.3. Adding PXE Hosts
31.3.1. Command Line Configuration
31.4. TFTPD
31.4.1. Starting the tftp Server
31.5. Configuring the DHCP Server
31.6. Adding a Custom Boot Message
31.7. Performing the PXE Installation

[Feb 18, 2009] Oracle Management Pack For Linux

Available exclusively for Oracle Unbreakable Linux Basic and Premier support customers, the Oracle Management Pack for Linux provides an integrated and cost-effective solution for complete Linux server lifecycle management. Based on Oracle Enterprise Manager 10g, the Oracle Management Pack for Linux delivers comprehensive provisioning, patching, monitoring and administration capabilities via a single, web-based user interface-the Enterprise Manager Console, significantly reducing the complexity and cost associated with managing Linux operating system environments.

Using these rich Linux management features along with the complete Oracle Enterprise Manager product set, customers can take advantage of enterprise-scale service level management, automated change and configuration management, and comprehensive system and application performance management. Key Features

[Dec 24, 2008] Alan Cox and the End of an Era

ComputerworldUK

And now, it seems, after ten years at the company, Cox is leaving Red Hat:

I will be departing Red Hat mid January having handed in my notice. I'm not going to be spending more time with the family, gardening or other such wonderous things. I'm leaving on good terms and strongly supporting the work Red Hat is doing.

I've been at Red Hat for ten years as contractor and employee and now have an opportunity to get even closer to the low level stuff that interests me most. Barring last minute glitches I shall be relocating to Intel (logically at least, physically I'm not going anywhere) and still be working on Linux and free software stuff.

I know some people will wonder what it means for Red Hat engineering. Red Hat has a solid, world class, engineering team and my departure will have no effect on their ability to deliver.

[Sep 11, 2008] The LXF Guide 10 tips for lazy sysadmins

Linux Format

A lazy sysadmin is a good sysadmin. Time spent in finding more-efficient shortcuts is time saved later on for that ongoing project of "reading the whole of the internet", so try Juliet Kemp's 10 handy tips to make your admin life easier...

  1. Cache your password with ssh-agent
  2. Speed up logins using Kerberos
  3. screen: detach to avoid repeat logins
  4. screen: connect multiple users
  5. Expand Bash's tab completion
  6. Automate your installations
  7. Roll out changes to multiple systems
  8. Automate Debian updates
  9. Sanely reboot a locked-up box
  10. Send commands to several PCs

[Sep 9, 2008] The Fedora-Red Hat Crisis by Bruce Byfield

September 9, 2008 | http://itmanagement.earthweb.com

A few weeks ago, when I wrote that, "forced to choose, the average FOSS-based business is going to choose business interests over FOSS [free and open source software] every time," many people, including Mathew Aslett and Matt Assay, politely accused me of being too cynical. Unhappily, you only have to look at the relations between Red Hat and Fedora, the distribution Red Hat sponsors, during the recent security crisis for evidence that I might be all too accurate.

That this evidence should come from Red Hat and Fedora is particularly dismaying. Until last month, most observers would have described the Red Hat-Fedora relationship as a model of how corporate and community interests could work together for mutual benefit.

Although Fedora was initially dismissed as Red Hat's beta release when it was first founded in 2003, in the last few years, it had developed laudatory open processes and become increasingly independent of Red Hat. As Max Spevack, the former chair of the Fedora Board, said in 2006, the Red Hat-Fedora relationship seemed a "good example of how to have a project that serves the interests of a company that also is valuable and gives value to community members."

Yet it seems that, faced with a problem, Red Hat moved to protect its corporate interests at the expense of Fedora's interests and expectations as a community -- and that Fedora leaders were as surprised by the response as the general community.

Outline of a crisis

What happened last month is still unclear. My request a couple of weeks ago to discuss events with Paul W. Frields, the current Fedora Chair, was answered by a Red Hat publicist, who told me that the official statements on the crisis were all that any one at Red Hat or Fedora was prepared to say in public -- a response so stereotypically corporate in its caution that it only emphasizes the conflict of interests.

However, the Fedora announcements mailing list gave the essentials. On August 14, Frields sent out a notice that Fedora was "currently investigating an issue in the infrastructure systems." He warned that the entire Fedora site might become temporarily unavailable and warned that users should "not download or update any additional packages on your Fedora systems." As might be expected, the cryptic nature of this corporate-sounding announcement caused considerable curiosity, both within and without Fedora, with most people wanting to know more.

A day later, Frield's name was on another notice, saying that the situation was continuing, and pleading for Fedora users to be patient. A third notice followed on August 19, announcing that some Fedora services were now available, and providing the first real clue to what was happening when a new SSH fingerprint was released.

It was only on August 22 that Frields was permitted to announce that, "Last week we discovered that some Fedora servers were illegally accessed. The intrusion into the servers was quickly discovered, and the servers were taken offline . . . .One of the compromised Fedora servers was a system used for signing Fedora packages. However, based on our efforts, we have high confidence that the intruder was not able to capture the passphrase used to secure the Fedora package signing key."

Since then, plans for changing security keys have been announced. However, as of September 8, the crisis continues, with Fedora users still unable to get security updates or bug-fixes. Three weeks without these services might seem trivial to Windows users, but for Fedora users, like those of other GNU/Linux distribution, many of whom are used to daily updates to their system, the crisis amounts to a major disruption of service.

A conflict of cultures

From a corporate viewpoint, Red Hat's close-lipped reaction to the crisis is understandable. Like any company based on free and open source software, Red Hat derives its income from delivering services to customers, and obviously its ability to deliver services is handicapped (if not completely curtailed) when its servers are compromised. Under these circumstances, the company's wish to proceed cautiously and with as little publicity as possible is perfectly natural.

The problem is that, in moving to defend its own credibility, Red Hat has neglected Fedora's. While secrecy about the crisis may be second nature to Red Hat's legal counsel, the FOSS community expects openness.

In this respect, Red Hat's handling of the crisis could not contrast more strongly with the reaction of the community-based Debian distribution when a major security flaw was discovered in its openssl package last May. In keeping with Debian's policy of openness, the first public announcement followed hard on the discovery, and included an explanation of the scope, what users could do, and the sites where users could find tools and instructions for protecting themselves.

[Aug 23, 2008] OpenSSH blacklist script

That's sad -- RHN was compromised due and some troyanised OpenSSH packages were uploaded.
August 22, 2008, redhat.com

Last week Red Hat detected an intrusion on certain of its computer systems and took immediate action. While the investigation into the intrusion is on-going, our initial focus was to review and test the distribution channel we use with our customers, Red Hat Network (RHN) and its associated security measures. Based on these efforts, we remain highly confident that our systems and processes prevented the intrusion from compromising RHN or the content distributed via RHN and accordingly believe that customers who keep their systems updated using Red Hat Network are not at risk. We are issuing this alert primarily for those who may obtain Red Hat binary packages via channels other than those of official Red Hat subscribers.

In connection with the incident, the intruder was able to get a small number of OpenSSH packages relating only to Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 (i386 and x86_64 architectures only) and Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 (x86_64 architecture only) signed. As a precautionary measure, we are releasing an updated version of these packages and have published a list of the tampered packages and how to detect them.

To reiterate, our processes and efforts to date indicate that packages obtained by Red Hat Enterprise Linux subscribers via Red Hat Network are not at risk.

We have provided a shell script which lists the affected packages and can verify that none of them are installed on a system:

The script has a detached GPG signature from the Red Hat Security Response Team (key) so you can verify its integrity:

This script can be executed either as a non-root user or as root. To execute the script after downloading it and saving it to your system, run the command:

   bash ./openssh-blacklist-1.0.sh

If the script output includes any lines beginning with "ALERT" then a tampered package has been installed on the system. Otherwise, if no tampered packages were found, the script should produce only a single line of output beginning with the word "PASS", as shown below:

   bash ./openssh-blacklist-1.0.sh
   PASS: no suspect packages were found on this system

The script can also check a set of packages by passing it a list of source or binary RPM filenames. In this mode, a "PASS" or "ALERT" line will be printed for each filename passed; for example:

   bash ./openssh-blacklist-1.0.sh openssh-4.3p2-16.el5.i386.rpm
   PASS: signature of package "openssh-4.3p2-16.el5.i386.rpm" not on blacklist

Red Hat customers who discover any tampered packages, need help with running this script, or have any questions should log into the Red Hat support website and file a support ticket, call their local support center, or contact their Technical Account Manager.

[Aug 7, 2008] rsyslog 2.0.6 (v2 Stable) by Rainer Gerhards

This is new syslog daemon used by RHEL.

About: Rsyslog is an enhanced multi-threaded syslogd. Among others, it offers support for on-demand disk buffering, reliable syslog over TCP, SSL, TLS, and RELP, writing to databases (MySQL, PostgreSQL, Oracle, and many more), email alerting, fully configurable output formats (including high-precision timestamps), the ability to filter on any part of the syslog message, on-the-wire message compression, and the ability to convert text files to syslog. It is a drop-in replacement for stock syslogd and able to work with the same configuration file syntax.

Changes: IPv6 addresses could not be specified in forwarding actions, because they contain colons and the colon character was already used for some other purpose. IPv6 addresses can now be specified inside of square brackets. This is a recommended update for all v2-stable branch users.

[Mar 26, 2008] Oracle Expands Its Linux Base by Sean Michael Kerner

InternetNews

Oracle claims that it continues to pick up users for its Linux offering and now is set to add new clustering capabilities to the mix.

So how is Oracle doing with its Oracle Unbreakable Linux? Pretty well. According to Monica Kumar, senior director Linux and open source product marketing at Oracle, there are now 2,000 customers for Oracle's Linux. Those customers will now be getting a bonus from Oracle: free clustering software.

Oracle's Clusterware software previously had only been available to Oracle's Real Application Clusters (RAC) customers, but now will also be part of the Unbreakable Linux support offering at no additional cost.

Clusterware is the core Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL) software offering that enables the grouping of individual servers together into a cluster system. Kumar explained to InternetNews.com that the full RAC offering provides additional components beyond just Clusterware that are useful for managing and deploying Oracle databases on clusters.

The new offering for Linux users, however, does not necessarily replace the need for RAC.

"We're not saying that this [Clusterware] replaces RAC," Kumar noted. "We are taking it out of RAC for other general purpose uses as well. Clusterware is general purpose software that is part of RAC but that isn't the full solution."

The Clusterware addition to the Oracle Unbreakable Linux support offering is expected by Kumar to add further impetus for users to adopt Oracle's Linux support program.

Oracle Unbreakable Linux was first announced in October 2006 and takes Red Hat's Enterprise Linux as a base. To date, Red Hat has steadfastly denied on its quarterly investor calls that Oracle's Linux offering has had any tangible impact on its customer base.

In 2007, Oracle and Red Hat both publicly traded barbs over Yahoo, which apparently is a customer of both Oracle's Unbreakable Linux as well as Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

"We can't comment on them [Red Hat] and what they're saying," Kumar said. "I can tell you that we're seeing a large number of Oracle customers who were running on Linux before coming to Unbreakable Linux. It's difficult to say if they're moving all of their Linux servers to Oracle or not."

That said, Kumar added that Linux customers are coming to Oracle for more than just running Oracle on Linux, they're also coming with other application loads as well.

"Since there are no migration issues we do see a lot of RHEL [Red Hat Enterprise Linux] customers because it's easy for them to transition," Kumar claimed.

Ever since Oracle's Linux first appeared, Oracle has claimed that it was fully compatible with RHEL and it's a claim that Kumar reiterated.

"In the beginning, people had questions about how does compatibility work, but we have been able to address all those questions," Kumar said. "In the least 15 months, Oracle has proved that we're fully compatible and that we're not here to fork Linux but to make it stronger."

[Feb 26, 2008] Role-based access control in SELinux

Learn how to work with RBAC in SELinux, and see how the SELinux policy, kernel, and userspace work together to enforce the RBAC and tie users to a type enforcement policy.

[Jan 24, 2008] freshmeat.net Project details for cgipaf

The package also contain Solaris binary of chpasswd clone, which is extremely useful for mass changes of passwords in mixed corporate environments which along with Linux and AIX (both have native chpasswd implementation) include Solaris or other Unixes that does not have chpasswd utility (HP-UX is another example in this category). Version 1.3.2 now includes Solaris binary of chpasswd which works on Solaris 9 and 10.

cgipaf is a combination of three CGI programs.

All programs use PAM for user authentication. It is possible to run a script to update SAMBA passwords or NIS configuration when a password is changed. mailcfg.cgi creates a .procmailrc in the user's home directory. A user with too many invalid logins can be locked. The minimum and maximum UID can be set in the configuration file, so you can specify a range of UIDs that are allowed to use cgipaf.

[Dec 21, 2007] LXER interview with John Hull - the manager of the Dell Linux engineering team

The original sales estimates for Ubuntu computers was around 1% of the total sales, or about 20,000 systems annually. Have the expectations been met so far? Will Dell ever release sales figures for Ubuntu systems?

The program so far is meeting expectations. Customers are certainly showing their interest and buying systems preloaded with Ubuntu, but it certainly won't overtake Microsoft Windows anytime soon. Dell has a policy not to release sales numbers, so I don't expect us to make Ubuntu sales figures available publicly.

[Dec 21, 2007] Red Hat to get new CEO from Delta Air Lines Underexposed - CNET News.com

"When you take them out of the big buildings, without the imprimatur of Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Oracle, or HP around them, they just didn't hold up."

Szulik, who took over as CEO from Bob Young in 1999 just a few months after its initial public offering, said he's stepping down because of family health issues.

"For the last nine months, I've struggled with health issues in my family," and that priority couldn't be balanced with work, Szulik said in an interview. "This job requires a 7x24, 110 percent commitment."

Szulik, who remains chairman of the board, praised Whitehurst in a statement, saying he's a "hands-on guy who will be a strong cultural fit at Red Hat" and "a talented executive who has successfully led a global technology-focused organization at Delta."

On a conference call, Szulik said Whitehurst stood "head and shoulders" above other candidates interviewed in a recruiting process. He was a programmer earlier in his career and runs four versions of Linux at home, he said.

Moreover, Szulik said he wasn't satisfied with more traditional tech executives who were interviewed.

"What we encountered was in many cases was a lack of understanding of open-source software development and of our model," he said. During the interview, he added about the tech industry candidates, "When you take them out of the big buildings, without the imprimatur of Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Oracle, or HP around them, they just didn't hold up."

The surprise move was announced as the leading Linux seller announced results for its third quarter of fiscal 2008. Its revenue increased 28 percent to $135.4 million and net income went up 12 percent to $20.3 million, or 10 cents per share. The company also raised estimates for full-year results to revenue of $521 million to $523 million and earnings of about 70 cents per share.

[Oct 29, 2007] Oracle's Linux Unbreakable Or Just A Necessary Adjustment - Open Source Blog - InformationWeek

.. In fact, Coekaerts has to say this often because Oracle is widely viewed as an opportunistic supporter of Linux, taking Red Hat's product, stripping out its trademarks, and offering it as its own. Coekaerts says what's more important is that Oracle is a contributor to Linux. It contributed the cluster file system and hasn't really generated a competing distribution.

Yet, in some cases, there is an Oracle distribution. Most customers Coekaerts deals with get their Linux from Red Hat and then ask for Oracle's technical support in connection with the Oracle database. But Oracle has been asked often enough to supply Linux with its applications or database that it makes available a version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, with the Red Hat logos and labels stripped out. Oracle's version of Linux has a "cute" penguin inserted and is optimized to work with Oracle database applications. It may also have a few Oracle-added "bug fixes," Coekaerts says.

The bug fixes, however, lead to confusion about Coekaert's relatively simple formulation of Oracle enterprise support, not an Oracle fork. And that confusion stems from Oracle CEO Larry Ellison's attention-getting way of introducing Unbreakable Linux at the October 2006 Oracle OpenWorld.

When enterprise customers call with a problem, Oracle's technical support finds the problem and supplies a fix. If it's a change in the Linux kernel, the customer would normally have to wait for the fix to be submitted to kernel maintainers for review, get merged into the kernel, and then get included in an updated version of an enterprise edition from Red Hat or Novell. Such a process can take up to two years, observers inside and outside the kernel process say.

The pace of bug fixes "is the most serious problem facing the Linux community today," Ellison explained during an Oracle OpenWorld keynote a year ago.

When Oracle's Linux technical support team has a fix, it gives that fix to the customer without waiting for Red Hat's uptake or the kernel process itself, Ellison said.

Red Hat's Berman argues that when it comes to the size of the problem, Oracle makes too much of too little.

When Red Hat learns of bugs, it retrofits the fixes into its current and older versions of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. That's one of Red Hat's main engineering investments in Linux, Berman said in an interview.

Coekaerts responds, "There are disagreements on what is considered critical by the distribution vendors and us or our customers."

Berman acknowledges that several judgment calls are involved. Some bugs affect only a few enterprise customers. They may apply to an old RHEL version. "Three or four times a year" a proposed fix may not be deemed important enough to undergo this retrofit, he says.

But Coekaerts told InformationWeek: "Oracle customers encounter this problem more than three or four times a year. I cannot give a number, it tends to vary. But it does happen rather frequently."

Berman counters that when Oracle changes Red Hat's tested code with its own bug fixes, it breaks the certification that Red Hat offers on its distribution, so it's no longer guaranteed to work with other software. "Oracle claims they will patch things for a customer. That's a fork," he says.

What Red Hat calls a fork is what Oracle calls a "one-off fix to customers at the time of the problem. … If the customer runs version 5 but Red Hat is at version 8, and the customer runs into a bug, does he want to go into [the next release with a fix] version 9? Likely not. He wants to minimize the amount of change. Oracle will fix the customer's problem in version 5…" Coekaerts says.

I think it's fair to characterize what Oracle does as technical support, not a fork. There's no attempt to sustain the aberration through a succession of Linux kernels offered to the general public as an alternative to the mainstream kernel.

But the Oracle/Red Hat debate defines a gray area in a fast-moving kernel development process. Bugs that affect many users get addressed through the kernel process or the Red Hat and Novell (NSDQ: NOVL) retrofits. That still may not always cover a problem for an individual user or a set of users sitting on a particular piece of aging hardware or caught in a specific hardware/software configuration.

If Oracle fixes some of these problems, I say more power to it.

But if they are problems that are isolated in nature or limited in scope, as I suspect they are, that makes them something less than Ellison's "most serious problem facing the Linux community today."

Ellison needed air cover to take Red Hat's product and do what he wanted with it. In the long run, he's probably increasing the use of Linux in the enterprise and keeping Red Hat on its toes as a support organization. That's less benefit than claimed, but still something.

[Oct 23, 2007] Yast (Yet Another Setup Tool) part of its distribution.

Oracle Enterprise Linux became more compatible with Suse

Yet Another Setup Tool. Yast helps make system administration easier by providing a single utility for configuring and maintaining Linux systems. The version of Yast available here is modified to work with all Enterprise Linux distributions including Enterprise Linux and SuSE.

Special note to Oracle Management Pack for Linux users:

[Oct 23, 2007] UK Unix group newsletter

Oracle hasn't "talked about how our Linux is better than anyone else's Linux. Oracle has not forked and has no desire to fork Red Hat Enterprise Linux and maintain its own version. We don't differentiate on the distribution because we use source code provided by Red Hat to produce Oracle Enterprise Linux and errata. We don't care whether you run Red Hat Enterprise Linux or Enterprise Linux from Oracle and we'll support you in either case because the two are fully binary- and source-compatible. Instead, we focus on the nature and the quality of our support and the way we test Linux using real-world test cases and workloads."

zfs_linux

data=writeback While the writeback option provides lower data consistency guarantees than the journal or ordered modes, some applications show very significant speed improvement when it is used. For example, speed improvements can be seen when heavy synchronous writes are performed, or when applications create and delete large volumes of small files, such as delivering a large flow of short email messages. The results of the testing effort described in Chapter 3 illustrate this topic.

When the writeback option is used, data consistency is similar to that provided by the ext2 file system. However, file system integrity is maintained continuously during normal operation in the ext3 file system.

In the event of a power failure or system crash, the file system may not be recoverable if a significant portion of data was held only in system memory and not on permanent storage. In this case, the filesystem must be recreated from backups. Often, changes made since the file system was last backed up are inevitably lost.

[Aug 7, 2007] Linux Replacing atime

August 7, 2007 | KernelTrap

Submitted by Jeremy on August 7, 2007 - 9:26am.

In a recent lkml thread, Linus Torvalds was involved in a discussion about mounting filesystems with the noatime option for better performance, "'noatime,data=writeback' will quite likely be *quite* noticeable (with different effects for different loads), but almost nobody actually runs that way."

He noted that he set O_NOATIME when writing git, "and it was an absolutely huge time-saver for the case of not having 'noatime' in the mount options. Certainly more than your estimated 10% under some loads."

The discussion then looked at using the relatime mount option to improve the situation, "relative atime only updates the atime if the previous atime is older than the mtime or ctime. Like noatime, but useful for applications like mutt that need to know when a file has been read since it was last modified."

Ingo Molnar stressed the significance of fixing this performance issue, "I cannot over-emphasize how much of a deal it is in practice. Atime updates are by far the biggest IO performance deficiency that Linux has today. Getting rid of atime updates would give us more everyday Linux performance than all the pagecache speedups of the past 10 years, _combined_." He submitted some patches to improve relatime, and noted about atime:

"It's also perhaps the most stupid Unix design idea of all times. Unix is really nice and well done, but think about this a bit: 'For every file that is read from the disk, lets do a ... write to the disk! And, for every file that is already cached and which we read from the cache ... do a write to the disk!'"

[Aug 7, 2007] Expect plays a crucial role in network management by Cameron Laird

31 Jul 2007 | www.ibm.com/developerworks

If you manage systems and networks, you need Expect.

More precisely, why would you want to be without Expect? It saves hours common tasks otherwise demand. Even if you already depend on Expect, though, you might not be aware of the capabilities described below.

Expect automates command-line interactions

You don't have to understand all of Expect to begin profiting from the tool; let's start with a concrete example of how Expect can simplify your work on AIX® or other operating systems:

Suppose you have logins on several UNIX® or UNIX-like hosts and you need to change the passwords of these accounts, but the accounts are not synchronized by Network Information Service (NIS), Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP), or some other mechanism that recognizes you're the same person logging in on each machine. Logging in to a specific host and running the appropriate passwd command doesn't take long-probably only a minute, in most cases. And you must log in "by hand," right, because there's no way to script your password?

Wrong. In fact, the standard Expect distribution (full distribution) includes a command-line tool (and a manual page describing its use!) that precisely takes over this chore. passmass (see Resources) is a short script written in Expect that makes it as easy to change passwords on twenty machines as on one. Rather than retyping the same password over and over, you can launch passmass once and let your desktop computer take care of updating each individual host. You save yourself enough time to get a bit of fresh air, and multiple opportunities for the frustration of mistyping something you've already entered.

The limits of Expect

This passmass application is an excellent model-it illustrates many of Expect's general properties:

You probably know enough already to begin to write or modify your own Expect tools. As it turns out, the passmass distribution actually includes code to log in by means of ssh, but omits the command-line parsing to reach that code. Here's one way you might modify the distribution source to put ssh on the same footing as telnet and the other protocols:
Listing 1. Modified passmass fragment that accepts the -ssh argument

...
} "-rlogin" {
set login "rlogin"
continue
} "-slogin" {
set login "slogin"
continue
} "-ssh" {
set login "ssh"
continue
} "-telnet" {
set login "telnet"
continue
...

In my own code, I actually factor out more of this "boilerplate." For now, though, this cascade of tests, in the vicinity of line #100 of passmass, gives a good idea of Expect's readability. There's no deep programming here-no need for object-orientation, monadic application, co-routines, or other subtleties. You just ask the computer to take over typing you usually do for yourself. As it happens, this small step represents many minutes or hours of human effort saved.

[Jul 30, 2007] Due to problems on high loads in Linux 2.6.23 kernel the Linux kernel process scheduler has been completely ripped out and replaced with a completely new one called Completely Fair Scheduler (CFS) modeled after Solaris 10 scheduler.

This is will not affect the current Linux distributions (Suse 9, 10 and RHEL 4.x) as they forked the kernel and essentially develop it as a separate tree.

But it will affect any future Red Hat or Suse distribution (Suse 11 and RHEL 6 respectively).

How it will fair in comparison with Solaris 10 remains to be seen:

The main idea of CFS's design can be summed up in a single sentence: CFS basically models an "ideal, precise multi-tasking CPU" on real hardware.

Ideal multi-tasking CPU" is a (non-existent) CPU that has 100% physical power and which can run each task at precise equal speed, in parallel, each at 1/n running speed. For example: if there are 2 tasks running then it runs each at exactly 50% speed.

[Apr 10, 2007] Here come the RHEL 5 clones

Of course if you go with a cloned RHEL, while you get the code goodies, you don't get Red Hat's support. Various Red Hat clone distributions, such StartCom AS-5, CentOS, and White Box Enterprise Linux, are built from Red Hat's source code, which is freely available at the Raleigh, NC company's FTP site. The "cloned" versions alter or otherwise remove non-free packages within the RHEL distribution, or non-redistributable bits such as the Red Hat logo.

StartCom Enterprise Linux AS-5 is specifically positioned as a low-cost, server alternative to RHEL 5. This is typical of the RHEL clones.

These distributions, which usually don't offer support options, are meant for expert Linux users who want Red Hat's Linux distribution, but don't feel the need for Red Hat's support.

[Apr 10, 2007] Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 Some Assembly Required

With RHEL 5, Red Hat has shuffled its SKUs around a bit-what had previously been the entry-level ES server version is now just called Red Hat Enterprise Linux. This version is limited to two CPU sockets, and is priced, per year, at $349 for a basic support plan, $799 for a standard support plan and $1,299 for a premium support plan.

This version comes with an allowance for running up to four guest instances of RHEL. You can run more than that, as well as other operating systems, but only four get updates from, and may be managed through, RHN (Red Hat Network). We thought it was interesting how RHN recognized the difference between guests and hosts on its own and tracked our entitlements accordingly.

What had been the higher-end, AS version of RHEL is now called Red Hat Enterprise Linux Advanced Platform. This version lacks arbitrary hardware limitations and allows for an unlimited number of RHEL guest instances per host. RHEL's Advanced Platform edition is priced, per year, at $1,499 with a standard support plan and $2,499 with a premium plan.

[Mar 23, 2007] Using YUM in RHEL5 for RPM systems

There is more to Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 (RHEL5) than Xen. I, for one, think people will develop a real taste for YUM (Yellow dog Updater Modified), an automatic update and package installer/remover for RPM systems.

YUM has already been used in the last few Fedora Core releases, but RHEL4 uses the up2date package manager. RHEL5 will use YUM 3.0. Up2date is used as a wrapper around YUM in RHEL5. Third-party code repositories, prepared directories or websites that contain software packages and index files, will also make use of the Anaconda-YUM combination.

... ... ...

Using YUM makes it much easier to maintain groups of machines without having to manually update each one using RPM. Some of its features include:

RHEL5 moves the entire stack of tools which install and update software to YUM. This includes everything from the initial install (through Anaconda) to host-based software management tools, like system-config-packages, to even the updating of your system via Red Hat Network (RHN). New functionality will include the ability to use a YUM repository to supplement the packages provided with your in-house software, as well as plugins to provide additional behavior tweaks.

YUM automatically locates and obtains the correct RPM packages from repositories. It frees you from having to manually find and install new applications or updates. You can use one single command to update all system software, or search for new software by specifying criteria.

[Dec 7, 2006] Survey Finds Red Hat Customers Willing To Stay With Company if it Cuts Prices

SeekingAlpha

Eric Savitz submits: Red Hat customers are mulling their options. But they can be bought.

That's one of the takeaways from a fascinating report today from Pacific Crest's Brendan Barnicle based on a survey he did of 118 enterprise operating system buyers, including 86 Red Hat support customers. The goal of the survey was to see how Linux users are responding to the new offerings from Oracle (ORCL) and the Microsoft (MSFT)/Novell (NOVL) partnership.

Reading the results of the study, you reach several conclusions. One, most customers are seriously considering the new offerings. Two, Red Hat can hold on to most of them, if they are willing to cut prices far enough. And three, customers seem a little more interested in the Microsoft/Novell offerings than those from Oracle.

Here are a few details:

[Dec 1, 2006] Red Hat From 'Cuddly Penguin' to Public Enemy No. 1

We have suffered from that image in the past. And some of our competitors have played up the fact that the JBoss guys are behaving like a sect. When, in fact, if you look at the composition of our community, we have an order of magnitude more committers than our direct open-source competitors.

But the perception is still there. Bull even said something about that perception. And we'd been thinking about opening up the governance. So when Bull provided us with a great study case, we decided to put the pedal to the metal. But make no mistake this is not going to be a free-for-all. We care a lot about the quality of what gets committed. We invest very heavily in all our projects. We're serious about this so we expect the same level of seriousness from our collaborators.

There is going to be a hybrid model where there is an opening up of the governance. In terms of code contributions it's always been there. But now it's been made explicit instead of implicit and open to attacks of "closedness." JBoss has always been an open community, but we've hired most of our primary committers.

Well, you seem more willing to compromise and evolve your stance on things. Like SCA [Service Component Architecture]-initially you were against it, but it seems like you've changed your mind.

Well, yeah, the specific SCA stance today is there is no reason for us to be for or against it. If it plays out in the market, we'll support it. And I think Mark Little [a JBoss core developer] said it very well that the ESB implementations usually outlive standards.

So what you're seeing from us is mostly due to Mark Little's influence. Mark has been around in the standards arena and has seen all these standards come and go. So it's not about the standards, it's about our implementation in support of all these standards. And it's not our place to be waging a standards war. It's our place to implement and let the market decide and we'll follow the market.

So where I'll agree with you is that it's less of a dogmatic position in terms of perceived competition and more focus on what we do well, which is implementations.

Another thing is JBoss four years ago was very much Marc Fleury and the competitive stance against Sun and things like that. Today I don't do anything. In fact, I actively stay out in terms of not getting in the way of my guys.

So it's both a sign of maturity and of a more diverse organization. I'm representing more than leading the technical direction these days. And that's a very good thing.

You said you approached David Heinemeier Hansson, the creator of Ruby on Rails, to work at JBoss. What other types of developers are you interested in hiring?

Yeah, we did approach him. There is a lot of talent around the Web framework. One of the problems is it's a very fragmented community at a personal level. You have one guy and his framework. Though, this is not the case with Ruby on Rails. But there's a lot of innovation that's going on that would benefit from unification under a bigger distribution umbrella and bigger R&D umbrella. And I think JBoss/Red Hat is in a position to offer that. So we're always talking about new guys.

One of the things I like to do is talk to the core developers and say, "Where are you in terms of recruitment?" And we're talking to scripting guys. I think scripting is the next frontier as [Ruby on Rails] has showed. We have a unique opportunity of bringing under one big branded umbrella a diverse group of folks that today are doing excellent work, be it the scripting crowd, REST, Web framework, or the Faces, or the guys integrating with Seam. All of the work we're doing is going to take more people and we're always on the lookout for the right talent and the right fit.

IBM Redbooks Linux Client Migration Cookbook A Practical Planning and Implementation Guide for Migrating to Desktop Linux

The goal of this IBM Redbook is to provide a technical planning reference for IT organizations large or small that are now considering a migration to Linux-based personal computers. For Linux, there is a tremendous amount of "how to" information available online that addresses specific and very technical operating system configuration issues, platform-specific installation methods, user interface customizations, etc. This book includes some technical "how to" as well, but the overall focus of the content in this book is to walk the reader through some of the important considerations and planning issues you could encounter during a migration project. Within the context of a pre-existing Microsoft Windows-based environment, we attempt to present a more holistic, end-to-end view of the technical challenges and methods necessary to complete a successful migration to Linux-based clients.

[Jun 24, 2004] Open Source Blog: Open Sourcery by Blane Warrene

I recently spent some time speaking with a popular Yankee Group analyst who covers the enterprise sector in the US, focusing in on open source and where the movement may go in the next few years.

Just to be clear, I differentiate, as most industry watchers do, between Linux and open source. While Linux is open source, the primary Linux distributors have caught on to how they need to position themselves for success and are starting to run their businesses just as any proprietary software company does.

Red Hat and SUSE make prime examples, realizing the path to long term success and revenue streams resided in proving themselves enterprise worthy to larger businesses and institutions, have shifted business models or been acquired by organizations with roots in the enterprise.

Her views, while not always popular in the open source community. are right on point if open source seeks widespread adoption and a permanent seat at the table for longer term financial success.

There are a few obstacles open source proponents need to accept and move forward on:

  1. It will be more costly for a company to migrate away from Windows to Linux, even in light of slightly reduced ongoing maintenance and improved security and uptime. While I have not always agreed that the costs are higher, having migrated corporate systems to Linux in the past, their research showed it to be true in many cases -- especially when migrating beyond standard web hosting and email systems. The costs are higher when factoring in re-certifying drivers, application integrity and training.
  2. To truly become entrenched as a viable financially-rewarding option (meaning open source companies make money and create jobs), a shift toward commercial software models is necessary. This does not mean forgoing open source, however, what it does mean is developing a structure for development, distribution, patching and support that passes muster with corporate IT managers who could be investing substantial amounts of money in open source.

What it boils down to is that while open source has definitely revolutionized software, and it is found internationally in companies large and small, businesses still pick software because it provides a solution not just because it is open source.

The fact that it is cheaper or free simply means the user will save money, but this does not win the favor of those buyers who could be injecting millions into open source projects rather than proprietary software makers.

I would use Firebird as a model. In an interview with Helen Borrie, forthcoming in my July column on SitePoint, she noted that since many Fortune 500 companies are using an open source database like Firebird speaks volumes to the maturing of their project and open source at large.

The reason as I see it, is due to the treatment of Firebird like an enterprise scale proprietary software project. They have a well managed developer community and active support lists, commercial offerings for support through partnerships with several companies, and commercial development projects for corporate clients.

If more open source projects looked at Borrie's team model and discipline in development and support, we just might see more penetration that attracts longer and more profitable contracts and work for those like us in the SitePoint community.

(Post a comment)

Comments

It will be more costly for a company to migrate away from Windows to Linux, even in light of slightly reduced ongoing maintenance and improved security and uptime. You mean relative to staying with Windows? Does this include recurring costs of Windows licensing / upgrades?

The costs are higher when factoring in re-certifying drivers, application integrity and training.

On the drivers front, that assumes (if we're saying Linux cf. Windows) that systems need upgrades as frequently. There's generally less need to keep upgrading Linux, when used as a server.

Re application integrity, think thats very hard to research accurately - kind of a wooly comment that needs qualification.

On the training side, it's an interesting area where it's kind of like comparing Apples with Pears.

Windows generally hides administrators from much of what's really happening, so it's probably easier to train someone to the point where they're feeling confident but given serious problems, who do you turn to?

*Nix effectively exposes administrators to everything so more time is required to reach the point where sysadmins are confident. Once they reach that point though, they're typically capable of handling anything. The result is stable systems. I'd also argue that a single *Nix sysadmin is capable of maintaining a greater number of systems (scripts / automation etc.) although no figures to back that.

Firebird is an interesting example. The flip side of Firebirds way of doing things seems to be the Open Source "community" is largely unaware of it (compared to, say, MySQL).

Posted by: HarryF from phppatterns.com Jun 24th, 2004 @ 8:03 AM MDT

Comment

Yes - on costs - Linux was actually found to be more expensive in numerous cases compared to staying with Windows. This is unfortunate as I am a proponent of finding migration paths from Windows to Linux for stability and administration automation. However, the research did show the total cost of ownership eventually balances out, it simply is much more expensive at the outset than staying on a Windows upgrade path.

This survey (partially on site with staff and others via questionnaire) - 1000 companies with 5000 or more employees - found that they did have to certify drivers at the initial migration, certify all new disk images, provide training or certification to adhere to corporate policy, buy indemnification insurance, perform migrations, test, establish support contracts and finally, pay about a 15 percent premium when bringing in certified L:inux staff.

The benefit if the company decided to take the financial hit: over an extended period they experienced the benefits of Linux - uptime, experienced admins and flexibility of the platform.

Application integrity was ambiguous in the study - however - managers cited it constantly when trying to retire commercial Unix and move apps to Linux, needing certification that an entire applications runs exactly as before.

Perhaps it is time for the open source community to begin establishing central organizational points that act as clearinghouses - like Open Source Development labs does for Linux - to certify open source applications on a major scale.

Posted by: bwarrene from practicalapplications.net Jun 24th, 2004 @ 1:12 PM MDT

Comment

I beg to differ on Harry's view about Firebird. Firebird is not as popular as MySQL because 1) it's a newer project (project, not software) and 2) MySQL support comes built into PHP; no need for additional software. Firebird requires either recompilation or loading this DLL into the extension space.

Posted by: andrecruz Jun 24th, 2004 @ 9:37 PM MDT

Comment

It was nice to read about your chat with L... DiD... (why are we keeping her name secret?).

Second, I don't understand your distinction between Linux and Open Source. Maybe I'm slow or something, but what it seems to boil down to is:

"Open Source = unprofessional Proprietary = professional (unstated) Linux = open source, but starting to become professional despite itself by acting like proprietary."

Well I'll grant you there are a lot of unprofesssional Free Software projects out there; but the same is true of proprietary. Bad proprietary programs are slightly less likely to see the light of day, but there's still a bevy of them out there.

Now, on the assertion that Linux companies are succeeding by acting like proprietary companies: there's truth and non-truth to it. On the one hand, Red Hat and SuSE have no doubt learned a lot about management, marketing, and good business practices from established companies. On the other hand, an effective open source player does not act the same as an effective proprietary player: there are all kinds of issues with dealing with the developer community that are not an issue in the proprietary world: they bring plusses and minuses, but have to be dealt with rather than ignored.

And I will note that Red Hat, the most successful Linux distributor, is a pure-play Open Source vendor: they do not ship proprietary code. In fact, they devote a lot of developer time to a community distribution that they make no direct money on (but do get free testing from). Likewise, one of the first things Novell did after its so-far successful acquisition of SuSE was to GPL SuSE's proprietary installer. This suggests that while good management is indispensible in anythin, Open Source ventures should not be running off and trying to ape proprietary vendors blindly.

Finally, there's a big difference between the way mass-market shrinkwrapped proprietary software and the way big-iron stuff is. With big-iron stuff you often have consultants in the field, lots of direct customer feedback, maybe even code sharing under NDA with the client: in short, it works a lot like an Open Source project. And that's where Open Source has shined: *nix boxes, web servers, network infrastructure, compilers, developer tools, and increasingly RDMSes. With mass shrinkwrap you have to do much more seeking out of customer needs on your own and also be prepared to tell customers to shove it and wait for the next release. On stuff like this (desktop guis and apps) Open Source has been less successful.

At least one high-profile OSS desktop project (Mozilla) was a legendary quagmire for a long time and is only beginning to claw its way back. Many of the mistakes came from not being open to community input ("dammit, we don't need a whole platform, just a good browser") as any good project of any kind should be. Thing is, no one has a clear idea of how to be usefully open to community input on a mass-market OSS project yet: the twin dangers of adding every requested feature or my-way-or-the-highway-ism have been so far hard to avoid.

Personally, I think the question of the Open Source desktop is given too much importance. Windows server shipments still account for 60% of the market, so it's not like that area is all sewn up. A company that wants to avoid vendor lock-in would do best to migrate its server infrastructure first - that's gonna be least painful and probably highest long-term benefit. Then maybe desktop apps, the maybe desktop operating system.

On MySQL vs. Firebird: yes, MySQL is more widespread, but they're used for entirely different things.

Posted by: jmcginty Jun 25th, 2004 @ 12:34 PM MDT

Comment

I'm a bit confused to why you want to differentiate between Linux (eg. Red Hat) and Open Source.

Red Hat releases source packages and contributes largely to Open Source projects, both in resources as in code. Improvements by Red Hat are included in SuSE and vice versa. Everybody wins.

This ensures that Red Hat will have to be the best on its own merits. Competition will always be lurking around the corner to take over. Despite that, Red Hat is doing a good job.

You cannot compare this to proprietary vendors were your money goes into the big company bucket being used for the next version that you have to pay for again.

If I can choose I'd rather pay for services, if it guarantees that the money is used for Open Source development. If my Open Source vendor goes belly-up, its work is still available for anyone to use.

Paying for Open Source just guarantees you that you have freedom and are never tight to any vendor. Red Hat is just one example to show that the money is used for the good of the public.

And if you don't have deep pockets, there's still Fedora, CentOS, TaoLinux or Whitebox. Plenty of competition in the same vendor segment. Hard to beat IMO.

Posted by: Dag Wieers from dag.wieers.com Jun 26th, 2004 @ 3:57 AM MDT

Comment

One thing I notice that is never mentioned when talking about Windows vs. Linux TCO is virus & worm costs. Both the cost of AV s/w and clean-up after an infection sneaks into the corporate LAN. That *huge* expense will never be borne by a Linux shop.

Posted by: Ron Johnson Jun 26th, 2004 @ 7:56 AM MDT

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