Last week the gang up in Hershey turned me on to Failblog. Surprisingly, I immediately came across two good examples and thought I’d share.

The first is a picture a friend of mine took at Grand Central Station in New York City:

The second is from an eBay Motors ad. I was looking for a new truck and while I’m always interested in knowing why a person is selling a vehicle, this guy’s reason was unique.

Fedora on XO: Step 3

I finally have a somewhat working XO with Fedora running on it.

I owe much of this to Josh Bressers, who pointed out how to turn off enough stuff so that it would load and work within the memory limitations of the laptop.

So while I can use it for awhile, it is still very slow and often just locks for no apparent reason. There is a new image to try so I hope to get around to testing it soon.

Your Head Asplode

Last week I finished up the second week of an Enterprise Greenlight project with a client in Hershey, PA.

It was a lot of fun, and one of the better Greenlights of which I’ve been a part.

We were busy replacing HP’s OpenView with OpenNMS, and one of the reasons I like Greenlight projects is that we really get to show off the power of the OpenNMS platform. OpenNMS is designed to be a tool as much as an application, and so there are numerous things you can do with it that aren’t immediately obvious or (gulp) documented. Having a week or two on-site working on deploying OpenNMS to fit tightly within the existing network environment is highly satisfying. The money quote was “In three weeks we’ve accomplished more with OpenNMS than in three years with OpenView”.

At times, though, I think I was dumping too much information on them. The depth of the product has grown considerably in the last few years and sometimes I get excited with all the options I have available when trying to solve a particular problem, and it can be overwhelming.

All in all it was a great trip. We were managing about 1500 devices, which is pretty average for our commercial clients, and at US$30K for an Enterprise Greenlight (2 weeks on-site and a year of Enterprise support) they found it extremely affordable. The server should be able to support at least 100% growth over the next year or so, and due to the automated nature of OpenNMS discovery it should require very few changes to the configuration.

Plus, they fed me. Sheesh. We ate out at a number of good places and I must have gained ten unwanted pounds.

One place that stood out was the Lancaster Brewing Company, which had a restaurant just down the road from my hotel. They had a tasting flight of all nine of their current beers for US$8. This was 45 oz., nearly three pints, of artisan beer on the cheap.


Beautiful Music at OpenNMS

I’ve always been amazed at the talented people who work on OpenNMS. Not only can they work on software, most have other talents as well. One of those is Ben Reed, who in addition to being more adept with computers than anyone else I know is also a musician. I’ve been listening to his work for over seven years now.

Recently he managed to finally get an album released named, quite aptly, Finally. This week he received two rather impressive pieces of news concerning his work.

The first is that one of his songs, Pointillize, will be the featured track of the week on GarageBand. I guess at the next party we’ll have to see if he can actually play it.

If that wasn’t impressive enough, Music Reviews gave his album four (out of five) “notes” with one song getting a perfect five:

This brings us to what I consider the strongest song on the album, “Perfect Paranoia”; Raccoon Fink now holds the record for being the first independent artist to obtain a rating of 5 on a track.

So if you like music you should check out his stuff. I only hope I can keep him working on OpenNMS when he becomes a big star. (grin)

Fedora on XO: Step 2

My XO showed up yesterday. I spent most of the night downloading the latest firmware image which took about 4 hours over the hotel’s crappy Internet (it was only 250MB).

OLPC Unboxing

Following the instructions I based the box, installed the new firmware and then got it connected to the Internet for a “Software Update”. That took another couple of hours, but I didn’t want to go to bed until I had managed to get the developer key that would let me boot into Fedora. Then I went to bed.

This morning I got up and worked on getting the LiveCD of Fedora 10 working on the USB stick. This was a little tricky on my Mac so I ended up booting into a Fedora 9 VM I had with me, and once I figured out how to set the disk label to something other than “loop” I got the image loaded.

Unfortunately, it hasn’t gone very smoothly since then. When I boot into Fedora I get a kernel failure message on the desktop:

but can’t find anything useful in the logs. Then the load average starts hanging out above 10 and the machine is not responsive at all. But, hey, this is what testing is for.

London Town: 23 to 25 October

I’m sitting in my hotel room on a slow internet connection waiting for my OLPC firmware to download (nearly 2 hours for 250MB), so I thought I’d post an update on the upcoming Linux Live show in London.

Photo by Alexander Finger

The picture above is of two ladies who were representing Rackspace at the first London Linux show where we had a booth in the .org Village. Rackspace is one of our oldest customers, and these two are pretty representative of their helpdesk staff.

That would have been back in 2005. We did the 2005 and 2006 shows, but the 2007 show was cancelled. We’re back in 2008, so if you like OpenNMS and are in the London area be sure to stop by and say “hi”. We’re planning some sort of gathering on Friday night the 24th. Drop me a note if you are interested or visit the UK mailing list.

Chocolate Town Redux

I’m back in Hershey, PA this week. The last time I was here I saw the “Kiss Kar”,

so I thought it was ironic that while driving down the road last week in my small town of Pittsboro, NC I came across the Oscar Mayer “Wienermobile“.

Are there any cars like this that I’m missing? The Antique Automobile Club of America is having their Fall Meet this week so I’m sure to see some interesting rides before I leave.

In OpenNMS news, we are one coding bug away from 1.5.97, the 1.6.0 release candidate. We should be releasing next week so that 1.6.0 is still on target for the end of October. w00t.

Is Apple Evil? Will Fedora Save OLPC?

Many readers of this blog will know that I like Apple products. I bought a 12″ Powerbook back in 2003 when it was announced and I haven’t looked back.

However, I did have some issues with my purchase and had to return it for service. I mentioned this on a Slashdot comment and got slammed by the fanboys. Yeah, I did use the inflammatory “I’m a sucker” line, but that was all I could think of on short notice that was close to “switcher”. The fanboys were not amused.

At the moment I’m on my third Apple laptop. I run a lot of FOSS on it, but I like the machine and the OS quite a bit. It let’s me get things done.

But I’m not happy with Apple’s management of the iPhone/iPod Touch App Store. They have been denying certain applications pretty randomly. Some are denied on the basis that they compete with built in software (built in Apple software, there are something like 12 calculators out there), and they have also been very vague on what the rules are. I can understand things like “no tethering apps” since the Apple/AT&T business model is built on preventing that, but some of the denials are quite arbitrary.

Think about it. As much as those of us in open source dislike Microsoft, Microsoft never actively prohibited anyone from installing software on Windows. Heck, some would say Microsoft makes it easy for darn near everyone to install software on your copy of Windows, most of the time without you knowing it.

Now the iPhone is not OSX, but if this model works for Apple, there is little preventing it from extending it to the OS. Can you imagine OS 11 where one could only download software from the App Store?

Might happen.

Now most of this is a lot of FUD, but as someone who cares and thinks about the freedom aspect of free software a lot, it has me worried. And with Linux desktops getting better and better, I’m seriously thinking my next laptop will be running Linux as the host O/S.

So for all the Apple fanboys out there about to yell at me: Apple is just making this decision easier, that’s all I’m sayin’.

Now it turns out that I’m going to get some first hand experience with a modern Linux distro on a laptop. Fedora is working on a project to insure that Fedora 10 runs on the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) XO computer.

I really like the idea behind OLPC, especially when it comes to FOSS. However it seemed the project hit a roadblock after last year’s debut when people complained about the software that shipped on it and requested Windows. I think it would be great if a full featured Linux distro was also available as an option, and so I’m going to help test Fedora 10 on OLPC hardware, and in the meantime see how much of my daily laptop needs can be met with Fedora. Most of the time I just need an editor, spell checker, browser, e-mail client and terminal app. While I don’t seriously expect the XO to be my next work laptop, it will let me experiment a bit, and, I hope, contribute something back as well.

Oh, on a side note, I’m curious about the hardware of choice for those who do run a Linux desktop as their main machine. Prior to “switching” I always liked Thinkpads, but I was wondering which vendor produced the most Linux-friendly hardware.