Archive for February, 2012

OpenNMS User Conference – May 2012

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Registration is now open for the OpenNMS User Conference in Europe this May

This is one of my favorite events of the year, and this year we are making available two days of training – “bootcamp-style” accelerated lectures that are the fastest way to come up to speed on OpenNMS.

Hope to see you there,

Get In Touch

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Is it me or does the Ubuntu “Get In Touch” logo remind you of something?

Look at it closely. And remember – once you see it, you can never un-see it.

(hat tip to Linux Outlaws)

Ubuntu FTW

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

Okay, I’m both tired and hoarse. I’m hoarse from teaching class all day, and I’m tired because I didn’t get to bed until 1am last night.

The last part was due to my inability to get Fedora to run on our classroom machines.

Usually, it is quite simple. I do a fresh install of Fedora, yum upgrade, add the repos for rpmfusion, install the drivers for the ATI cards and the Broadcom wireless interface and I’m good to go.

Starting at about 11am on Sunday, I downloaded Fedora 16 and installed it. This time it complained about the need of a 1-2 MB “BIOS” partition – something about how Fedora is handling GPT partitioned disks. Anyway, that didn’t seem to work since every time I tried to boot it ended up booting from the wrong partition (into Windows).

I decided to punt on Fedora 16 and went back to Fedora 15. That seemed to work okay, but after the couple of hours it took to install and upgrade, it turns out that the rpmfusion packages have, once again, not been updated to match the current kernel. It also seems impossible to set it up so that the correct kernel can be installed. As I mentioned above, usually the kmod packages “just work” so I was stuck trying the akmod packages which, in my experience, never work.

By now it’s time for supper, and when we got back I decided to try Ubuntu (I had five students showing up Monday morning and I needed something). I used to use Ubuntu years ago as the training distro, but Canonical made a questionable hiring decision and I ripped it out. That person flamed out pretty spectacularly, and since I’ve been using Ubuntu over the last nine months or so off and on I was curious as to how easy it would be to install.

Piece of pie. Easy as cake.

With the exception of having to add the “nomodeset” option to the initial kernel boot, it “just worked”, but it took us several hours to finish all six machines.


So, it’s another win for Ubuntu – my new default distro for training.

As far as the class goes, we have a great group. We have two people who are somewhat local coming up from Lumberton, NC. We also have one guy from Chicago who works for Sears (a commercial support customer) and two people all the way from Mellerud, Sweden – one of whom was a FIFA referee for five years. I keep threatening to hand out red cards.

It should be a fun week. Jeff is team teaching this with me, so I believe my voice will hold out.

I’m not sure if the class is rooting for that, however.

Back to Ubuntu

Sunday, February 26th, 2012

Just a quick update on my #noapple efforts. Except for one lapse I’ve not been regularly using OS X since last summer. For the last several months my desktop of choice has been Gnome 3 on Debian testing (wheezy).

Due to the tight integration with the rest of the desktop and its ability to integrate well with our middleware solution (SOGo) I was using Evolution mail. I had heard it could be buggy, but for weeks I had no problems, plus I liked the fact that it was easy to play sound files in-line without launching another app (which I have to do with Thunderbird). Our Asterisk PBX sends voicemails as attachments.

But something happened after the last update and Evolution kept crashing. It was sporadic at first, but then it happened so often I’d launch it via the Gnome debugger. Surprisingly, when I did that it was stable, but after awhile it would die even in the debugger. I did a search on the error and found out that it had been reported as a bug, but it didn’t seem to have any activity on a fix.

Since I can’t live without e-mail, I needed something else. I’d seen some interesting things about Ubuntu 12.04 so I thought I might give that a shot. Of course, there must be something wrong we me, as the businessman wants something stable that just works and the geek wants the new shiny, and here I was willing to run another testing desktop.

Lucky for the businessman, the 12.04 Alpha 2 installer kept dying on me.

The reason I left 11.10 was that SOGo did not have a frontend for the version of Thunderbird that came with it. However, that has now changed, so I went back.

I missed Ubuntu.

If you have been a longtime OS X user, Ubuntu with Unity is about the closest you can get to that experience (pre-Lion of course since Lion sucks). I had everything up and running in about an hour, and over the weekend I based my other two machines and put 11.10 on them (still didn’t fix my line-in audio problem on my iMac, however).

So I’m back to drinking the Ubuntu Kool-aid, which is cool. What I love about open source is the plethora of choices.

Chatham Park

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

I really do enjoy where I live here in Chatham County, just outside of Pittsboro, North Carolina. It’s a beautiful and beautifully rural area, but it is also very close to the Research Triangle Park. I’m able to live on a farm where I can’t see my neighbors, but I am an easy ride away from several cool cities as well as the airport.

This came in handy last night.

Back in 2006 we got an order for a Greenlight project from Brigham Young University. I was the lucky one to take the call, since the on-site work was scheduled for their Hawaii campus and I got first shot at the trip. I had an amazing time and still have fond memories of both Hawaii and the customer.

It turns out that the main person I worked with there has taken a job with IBM and happened to be in town. We were able to get together for dinner, and we spent a couple of hours catching up.

This morning I got a note from another friend, someone I’ve known for over 20 years but haven’t seen in almost ten, and she’s coming to the area soon as well. She lives in Australia, so it’s not just a “stopping by” kind of trip.

Suddenly, it seems like this area is a hotbed for business travel.

One of the anchors of tech in the area is SAS Institute in Cary. It’s founder, Jim Goodnight, is also real estate developer through his Preston company. For the last ten years he has been buying up land in Chatham County – lots of land. No one was really sure what his plans were.

Many years ago in another life I did a two week OpenView install at SAS. It’s a really cool place to work. I even had lunch with Goodnight. Well, I was on the balcony upstairs in the dining room and he was downstairs, but it was lunch time and we were both eating in the same room, so it counts (grin).

Yesterday, David sent me a link to this video which details the impressive goals of “Chatham Park”.

CHATHAM PARK from Preston Dev on Vimeo.

I have mixed feelings about this. While I’d love for Google to come and snatch up 800 acres for a new campus, I’m certain that would bring huge changes to the area. Plus, we as a community can barely provide services for the people here now – there would need to be major upgrades to the infrastructure, especially water and water treatment. I get my water out of the ground, and it is amazingly clean and tasty, and I would hate for development to stress the aquifer (or any of the proposed fracking projects to gain momentum).

Finally, my understanding of the developments done by Preston in the past they’ve been very focused on housing, golf courses and shopping – not business. I definitely do not want Chatham to become another bedroom community for RTP, and the focus on location in the video seems to imply that housing will be a larger selling point than trying to land a large technology campus.

But I’ll withhold judgment until I see how it plays out. In this economy things will move slowly enough, but I do care what happens here – more so than any other place I’ve lived – so I am hoping for the best.