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October 9, 2009

» Blogrotate #1: The Weekly Roundup of News for System Administrators

Welcome to the inaugural edition of Blogrotate. This blog is weekly filter of some of the most interesting news items as it applies to system administrators. We’ll be tackling such topics as operating systems, hardware, software and utilities and even some humorous items. The SA team here at Pythian all love of crawling through RSS feeds and tech blogs, and we’ll bring the best to you every week.

Operating Systems

Ubuntu 9.10 beta 1 released for both Gnome and KDE desktops. The newest version of Ubuntu, code named “Karmic Koala”, is coming out in 20 days, but the first beta release was released this week. The adventurous can download the install images from the Ubuntu site (or Kubuntu if you prefer). Your editor reports on his first look at installing and running the newest version.

Microsoft licensing is complicated? Steve Ballmer has come out and stated point blank that the Microsoft licensing is too complex, but “I don’t anticipate a big round of simplifying our licensing”. We all knew it, check out Ballmer: Don’t expect simpler licensing soon for more.

Virtualization and Cloud Computing

Creating your own cloud with Ubuntu. Thierry Carrez has a really neat blog post showing how to set up a cloud environment using the new Ubuntu: Run your own Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud, part 1. Part one goes through the steps for installing the packages you need and configuring the node controllers.

Red Hat and Microsoft virtualization interoperability. Red Hat, Microsoft deliver on virtualization interop promises is an interesting blog by Paula Rooney on zdnet discussing the new promises Red Hat and Microsoft have made to each other about validating the respective operating systems on each others virtualization platforms. It will be interesting to see how this plays out, or if we’ll just end up with more tainted kernels.

Amazon will win cloud battle says Mark Shuttleworth of Canonical Ltd. In it he states “The winner will be either explicitly Amazon EC2 or, if [other players] get into gear, an IETF standard closely modelled on EC2″. Read Shuttleworth: Amazon will win cloud battle to get the rest of the story.

Virtualization Shootout: VMware Server vs. VirutalBox vs. KVM. If you happen to get Linux Journal, check out this month’s article comparing the different virtualization technologies available for Linux. The results are surprising. Unfortunately there is no cyber-version of this article (if you are not a subscriber) but it may be put on the site for free in the coming months.


Computerworld reports on the coming patch storm from Microsoft: Microsoft plans monster Patch Tuesday next week. In it there will be no less than eight patches released as Critical. The patch cluster will also include patches for yet to be released (for consumers) Windows 7! The mind boggles.

Webmail hit by phishing scam. John Leyden at The Register writes about the recent phishing attacks on webmail providers GMail, Yahoo! and AOL. He states that “The attack emerged after a list of 30,000 purloined usernames and passwords was posted online” . While the list has been taken offline, the damage is done.

Slow brute force attacks. Peter Hansteen aka “The grumpy BSD guy”, follows up on his previous work studying these attacks and has some good thoughts on how to mitigate them. See A Third Time, Uncharmed.


Thunderbird 3 is available for testing, currently in beta 4. Our own Bill Fraser has been testing it and posted a great blog on how to get it installed on your Ubuntu system, and how to fix some issues with email threads. See Testing Thunderbird 3: What to do if it ’shreds’ your threads.

Perl 5.11 released. The newest development version of Perl has been released as version 5.11. This is a pre-release for what will eventually be Perl 5.12 available for testing applications in case you plan to migrate to 5.12.

Firefox 3.6 beta due out next week. The register is reporting that Firefox 3.6 will be released in beta form on 13 Oct, 2009. This release will add some features, but it’s mostly just optimizing code and bug fixes.


Has your DRAM failed you? Google released results of their 30-month study on DRAM failure rates. Jon Stokes at Ars Technica goes over the results and gives you the skinny.

That’s all we have time for this week. Please feel free to comment or share your favorite news items of the week. We’ll be back next week.

June 25, 2009

» Scalable Internet Architectures

My old friend and collaborator Theo Schlossnagle at OmniTI posted his slides from his Scalable Internet Architectures talk at VelocityConf 2009.

The slides are brilliant even without seeing Theo talk and I highly recommend the time it takes to flip through them, for anyone who is interested in systems performance. If anyone took an mp3 of this talk I’m dying to hear it, please let me know.

For those of you unfamiliar with OmniTI, Theo is the CEO of this rather remarkable company specializing in Internet-scale architecture consulting. They generalize on Internet-scale architecture, not on one specific dimension the way Pythian specializes on the database tier. This allows them to see Internet-scale workloads from a unique systemic, multidisciplinary point of view; from the user experience all the way up the stack, through the load balancer (or not), the front-end cache, the application server, the database server, the operating system, the storage, and so on. This approach lets them build Internet architectures and solve scalability problems in a unique and powerful, wholistic way.

Pythian first collaborated with OmniTI in 2001, and they deserve all of their success and profile that they’ve built since then. Trivia: both Pythian and OmniTI were founded in September 1997 and both companies continue to be majority-owned and controlled by founders (in Pythian’s case, yours truly).

Here’s the slide deck. Let me know your thoughts.