Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.


Some Linux Distros to Know

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Career Archive,Geek Work,Linux,Novell — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening or 6:40 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

There are a lot of Linux distributions.

No, really, I mean there are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of Linux distributions out there.
Frankly, it can get a little overwhelming sometimes.  But, I think about them and what they all are and what they do.  I think about them because it’s my job, and because I’m always thinking about what’s coming next in the IT industry.  So, what Linux installs do I think about?  Funny you should ask….
I think about Android.  Yeah, that’s right, the operating system that runs those Droid phones is a kind of Linux.  That’s kind of amazing to me, really, but there it is.  And, I think about it because Android seems to be on more and more devices these days.  Everything from phones to tablets to who knows what next in the consumer market.  But, I try to pay attention to Android because so many people at my office have Android based phones and they all expect me to help them figure their phones out.
I think about Fedora, which is the open source version of Red Hat, which enjoyed pretty good market penetration when they first got going.  They’ve got a lot more competition today, but, still it’s in an IT professional’s best interests to be at least familiar with Fedora.
That goes for openSUSE, too.  openSUSE was bought out by Novell some time ago, so there’s no telling where it’s going to end up with all the buying and selling around Novell’s bits and pieces these days, but it’s still a pretty heavily installed Linux distribution.  My brief experience with it was good, though, I have to admit, that was on older hardware for a personal project, not a corporate gig.
If you’re an Oracle shop, you’ll probably know about Oracle Linux, which is basically Red Hat Linux after Oracle has made modifications to it.  Oh, and jacked the price up.  Still, if you work with Oracle a lot, it’s probably worth looking into.
Eweek recently ran a slidwshow about these, and several other, versions of Linux under the title 10 Linux Distros Every IT Manager Should Know.  Obviously, I agree with some of their listing, but clearly not all.  And, I think they left some off.

For instance, what about the live CD editions?
Two I think anyone in IT should know are Ubuntu and Knoppix.  Knoppix has been around a longer, but Ubuntu has a slicker interface and, I think, is a little better at detecting hardware than Knoppix.  Also, you can install Ubuntu from the live CD media, if you would like, and plenty of people do run it as a desktop.  The real plus is that there’s a pretty healthy community around these two installations, especially Ubuntu.  So, if you need help with either one, there are a lot of resources on the internet to answer your questions.
I use these two all the time to recover data of damaged installs of Windows.  I even used one to build a PC imaging system before I started using Clonezilla, which is also, incidentally, based on Linux.

If you’re worried about security, Linux can help with that, too.
For quite some time, the National Security Agency has sponsored SELinux, which is a pretty secure, hardened version of Linux.  They designed it to be reasonably secure right as a default, since an insecure default install is usually where security problems start.  Of course, you may not trust the NSA.  And, while this is “sponsored” by them, it’s not actually an official US Government Linux install.
For that, you have to go to the US Airforce.  Their Lightweight Portable Security distro is the first official US Linux distribution.  I haven’t actually tried it myself, but ZDNet has a pretty good review of it.

So, as you can see, if you haven’t looked into Linux much before, there are a lot of things to investigate.  And, as a computer professional, I DO recommend that you check out at least some flavor of Linux.  It’s so prevalent and so flexible and handy to have that if you haven’t bumped into it yet, you will.  So before you need to know it, investigate it some on your own.  You’ll be glad you did.
(And, I’m sure every seasoned IT pro has their favorite distro, like Debian, but there are too many to list them all.  If you have opinions about any, please, leave comments!)

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"Pay no attention to the faults of others, things done or left undone by others. Consider only what by oneself is done or left undone."


SUN to buy Novell!?

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Geek Work,Linux,News and Current Events,Novell — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:25 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Well, that’s one rumor.

According to this article on ZDNet, Sun has been talking about acquiring Novell. Apparently, they’re after SuSE, in part because of IBM’s heavy involvement in that particular Linux distro. On the other hand, Sun was outbid by Novell when Novell bought SuSE last year. Hmm, interesting…
But, I don’t think it’s going to happen. First of all, why force a company to buy a company that you “want” just to turn around and pay more to get that same company that you were out-bid for? Not really logical, is it? Secondly, the article says that Sun chief operating officer Jonathan Schwartz was quoted as saying “…we’re considering all our options”. So, it may just be an “option”. You know, sort of like Oracle buying, oh, say, PeopleSoft was an “option”. An option that didn’t work out so well. At least, not yet.

Well, anyway, it sure is an interesting piece of news! I’ll be keeping an eye on this one.


MySQL Scalable!

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Geek Work,Linux,News and Current Events,Novell — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:27 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a First Quarter Moon

This might not seem like much…

But, this could be a really big deal to people tied to Oracle. According to this article on eWeek.com, MySQL is going after the enterprise with a SQL database that is scalable to clusters. Now, if you’re not a database geek, that might not mean much, but, take my word for it, it’s a big deal.
What this means, basically, is that there’s now an Open Source SQL database that could rival Oracle. Databases at a discount. Oh, and Novell licenses MySQL, which they send out with all their product. (Or, at least they did the last time I installed anything.)


XWindows Config

Filed under: Career Archive,Fun Work,Geek Work,Linux,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Snake which is mid-morning or 10:06 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Wow, I’m becoming a Unix admin!

Now, this might not be a big deal for old-time Unix geeks, or anyone who prefers to work with Micro$oft products, but I think it’s cool. Last week, I was wrestling with a little problem that I solved with a judicious application of XWindows.
We run Oracle 9ias at my office and to get it to print graphics we have to do a kludge work-around. Not that we’re special, everyone who runs Oracle 9ias has to do it. What we’ve been doing is using a pair of Windows workstations running a Windows-base X terminal. Well, over the weekend those workstaions locked up and the DBA couldn’t get them restarted without physically rebooting them. So, Wednesday he came to me and told me he wanted a Linux solution to the problem.
After a bit of Googling, I found what I hoped would be the answer, but I didn’t have time until Thursday to try it out. Here’s what I did, in a nutshell:
1. On my Red Hat 9 workstation, I opened a terminal and ran “xhost +”
2. On the Solaris 8 test server running Oracle 9ias, I telnetted in and ran “display=my RedHat 9 workstation IP address:1.0″ and then “export display”
3. Then, still on the 9ias server, I ran”Xterm” and it popped up on my XWindows session on my RedHat workstation!

Woot! So, I know it might not be a big deal to an old Unix hand, but to this old Novell geek, it was pretty cool. Oh, and it works, too. Now, I just have to figure out how to script all that so it runs automagically……


I see penguins…

Filed under: Fun Work,Geek Work,Linux — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dog which is in the evening time or 8:10 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Third Quarter Moon

in my sleep!

I’ve really been bustin’ my hump the past two weeks cranking out Linux servers. Specifically, I’ve been making, and reconfiguring, Red Hat Linux AS2.1 servers out the yin-yang. I made six in one day. Then spent a couple of days going back and cleaning them up. Then, I had to install the Veritas agents and setup backup jobs for them. Then, we found out that at least two of them had to have shared storage!
So, this past weekend, I had to figure out how to do Linux clustering. And it was working fine, until we had to reconfigure the IP addresses yesterday. Now, it’s wacked. It seems to be centered around something with a piece of external hardware. See, to have good, safe fail-over, the cluster relies on an external power “switch” that reboots the servers. That way, it ensures that only one of them is in control of the shared disk-space and the Oracle database that resides there. Anyway, the cluster config only worked if we left out the section that sets up the power switch. So, Friday, I’ll have to try and reconfigure it. Hopefully, that will let us reconfigure the cluster, but who knows… Ah, on the job experience. Gotta’ love it!

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