Bits and Chaos


Between bits and chaos, a sysadmin stands.

How to be dishonest and live happy

It’s simple, write something like this.

The bottom line is: Debian is far more secure than RHEL and Fedora, not due to technical reasons but for their development model. When Debian’s openssl was compromised, they immediately issued a warning, told their users what to do, whilst Red Hat and Fedora were obscure, pointless and corporate-minded.

Dude, you are forgetting that it’s entirely possible that the Debian’s openssl security bug could have been the patient zero, and actual compromise of Red Hat’s server could have been happened starting from a stolen passkey. Also, you are forgetting that, being Red Hat a corporate with some billions cash (of course, they have so much money because it’s plenty of stupid people like me that pay them for their services) they were forced to work closely with law enforcement agencies such an intrusion could occur, and when FBI reaches the crime scene they are not primarily interested in sending an e-mail message on the mailing lists to tell them “ehy, we are here to save the day!”.

Filed under: oss, rhel, , , , ,

Red Hat Open Source Day in Rome

“You can try to avoid open source, but it’s probably easier to get out of the IT business altogether. By 2011, at least 80% of commercial software will contain significant amount of open source code” (Mark Driver – VP Partner Group)

“Service is largely a service industry operating under the persistent but unfounded delusion that is a manufacturing industry” (Eric Raymond, The Magic Cauldron)

“In spite of the rise of Microsoft and other giant producers, software remains in large part a craft industry” (Freeman Dyson, “Science as a craft industry”)

These are some of the most remarkable quotes that are part of the presentation that Gianugo Rebellino, CEO of Sourcesense, made at the Red Hat Open Source Day, held in Roma on June the 10. If a good presentation is one that gives the audience something unique, something that you can’t find along the slides, the one made by Gianugo Rebellino was simply stellar, I consider myself lucky to have attended it.

Many thanks to Red Hat people that have organized the meeting, a nice way to keep in touch with the people that does open source in Italy.

Filed under: oss, ,

Why Sun acquired MySQL AB

ACM Queue, Vol. 5. No. 6 Sep/Oct 2007, “A Conversation with Jeff Bonwick and Bill Moore“:

“If you have a database sitting on top of a transactional file system, the database is sitting up there being very careful about ordering its writes to the log and being clear about saying when it wants to know this stuff is flushed out. Then beneath it, you’ve got this transactional file system creating transaction groups, putting in a bunch of changes, and then committing those out to disk atomically.
Why not have a blending of the layers where basically the whole back end o the database – the part that isn’t parsing the SQL – participates directly in the transaction groups that ZFS provides, so that consistency is no longer a problem the database has to solve? It can be handled entirely by the storage software below”.
So, Sun has acquired MySQL AB to spreads the adoption of its ZFS file system. Interestingly enough, MySQL has a plugin based architecture, so it’s possible do define more than one data-engine to deal with your data. Saying that we’ll soon see a plugin for MySQL that leverages on ZFS it’s even too easy.
Now that this acquisition is done, I could write some more. About one year ago I heard rumors that Red Hat was considering to buy MySQL AB, and that they stopped at the very last time as they prefer not to put their relationship with Oracle at risk. It’s entirely possibile (but it’s a my own speculation) that Oracle Enterprise Linux came out as a stop signal for Red Hat, which got the message.
Now, some key pieces of a modern Linux installation (Java stack, MySQL database) that Red Hat supports and offers to its customer, are owned by Sun, which became a key player in the Linux market. Another speculation is that, in a one-two years time, Solaris will be the best choice for a “LAMP” architecture, to rename it “SAMP”.
Yes, you can use Ruby on Rails if you want to depart from PHP and avoid Java, but recall to your mind who is behind JRuby, and you got the picture.

Filed under: mysql, oss, , ,

Why open source is a superior development tool: the Zmanda backup tool for MySQL

Free and Open Source is a lot more than a bunch of licenses: it’s a development model, a culture and an ecosystem, that every day and in many different and sometimes unexpected ways shows its inherent superiority. Plus, it’s free, and we’re happy when someone decides to embrace it and surfing the wave to build the next great system.

This story started some time ago, when I searched for a MySQL backup system, and I found Zmanda MySQL Backup.

I have used it for almost one year now, and I’m completely satisfied: it take minutes to configure, I’m using 10% of its features and it already does everything I need. During this year, I restored from a backup several times, retrieving a single database or the entire collection, and Zmanda did its job perfectly. It’s the kind of software you put in production and forgot it because it works.

So long this one would be the typical open source story, where an open source tool is the primary choice in a OSS environment: if you don’t put your money in the database, probably you won’t pay for a database backup system, which is somehow a second line system. The story goes interesting when I encounter a bug in Zmanda, which is a conflict with the required version of Perl.

Now take look at the last messages from the thread: I filed the bug and 3:09 am (I live in Italy and the message time are US-based, I’m not a fanatical bug hunter), and a fixed release was out at 10:09.

It takes 7 hour from bug filling to package release.

It’s a open source tool, we are not paying customers, but we get from the nice and caring people of Zmanda a fixed release for a not critical bug in less than one working day. You won’t get the same level of service from a corporate multibillion software vendor, granted.

This is way OSS is superior: it put the good people working together to build and fix. Everyone adds a small part, but this endless process finally result in a masterpiece.

Filed under: mysql, oss, , , , ,