Red Hat

Red Hat using Containers?


I like to do some walking on Sundays. Walking is what us older people do for exercise. When I walk, I like to listen to audiocasts. One of the programs I've been listening to with some regularity is FLOSS Weekly and the program this week was about OpenShift.

OpenShift is a Platform as a Service (Paas) product that is, as you would expect, built on top of Linux. What is PaaS? System Admins / DevOps are constantly deploying web-based applications. They all use a web server, a database, a scripting language / runtime environment, etc. PaaS automates most of the common tasks needed so you don't have to do the same thing over and over... and can concentrate more on your application.

OpenShift has been available for awhile now as a developer preview service run by Red Hat on top of Amazon Web Services (AWS). Supposedly the current level of service will always be free but they plan to charge for higher levels.

A few weeks ago they released OpenShift as open source project (OpenShift Origin) with an Apache license and no code contributer agreement needed.

Turns out that they have various combinations of things available such as several databases to pick from, several scripting languages, etc. Those things are called "cartridges". Some of the cartridges they have are:

Databases: MySQL, PostgreSQL, and mogoDB
Language runtimes: Node.js, Perl, PHP, Python, Ruby, and Java / JBoss
Frameworks: CodeIgniter, CakePHP, Ruby on Rails, Django, Perl Dancer, Flask, Sinatra, Tornado

Need a libary of web-applications to pick from? OpenSift has "quick-starts" which are pre-packaged web-applications. Included are such things as WordPress, phpMyAdmin and Jenkins.

Another concept they have is a "gear". A gear is really an LXC container. Why they needed to create a new term (gear) rather than just calling it a container, I don't know. So it appears that Red Hat is using Linux native containers (LXC) in a product now... so I hope they'll get more into containers... since I'm a big container (mostly OpenVZ) fan. Dependong on how heavy a particular cartridge is, it may or may not be deployed inside its own gear. They easily fit serveral dozens to a hundred or more gears on each cloud-based virtual machine. While Red Hat runs their service on top of AWS, users are free to create their own setups on top of whatever virtualization platform they want.

OpenShift is written in Ruby but also uses some shell scripts for cartridge and gear operations. What OpenShift does could probably be mimiced with containers that use a large set of OS / Application Templates but the unique feature that makes OpenSift stand out is that it uses git for deployment.

If any of this interests you, check out either the FLOSS Weekly audio version or the video. Unfortunately, they only seem to support patent encumbered codecs.

Video: Red Hat on CNBC's Mad Money

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I'm not much of a fan of Jim Kramer... but here's the video.

Flash is the best I could do. Sorry for the small size and internal branding/ads.

Video: Default to Open

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Red Hat produced a video entitled Default to Open: The History of Open Source and Red Hat. Since it is about history, it has a number of older clips... bits and pieces I've seen before but quite a bit of new stuff too. Enjoy it embedded in webm format or use the link below to download it for local playback.

Default_to_Open.webm (~27 min, 121 MB)
Right-click, Save target as...

Opinion: On Canonical, Red Hat, and their communities

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When I can, I try to participate in The Linux Link Tech Show when it is streaming LIVE... but even when I can't I often listen to the archived recordings. When I find something interesting I'll sometimes shoot Dann Washko an email with my thoughts. This morning I found myself writing a long email to him on a subject they covered on their June 15 episode (#407). I thought I'd post it here too.

It just so happens that several of TLLTS regulars had attended the Southeast Linuxfest the weekend prior and one of the conversations that Dann encountered there was about Canonical and Ubuntu. Dann spoke about the questions and opinions he heard raised and asked for everyone else's opinions but he didn't get a whole lot of feedback so I thought I'd provide him with some.

I'll admit yet again... I'm a big Red Hat and Fedora fan and I am biased... and I sometimes even serve as an apologist for them. While I think everything I say below is "fair and balanced"... I'm sure there are plenty of folks who disagree with me... and maybe one or two who agree... I do encourage feedback and comments from all sides. Read on at your own peril. :)

Interview: Troy Dawson from Scientific Linux

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Troy DawsonTroy DawsonRed Hat Inc. rules the "enterprise" Linux market with their Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) product line. Novell Inc. (now owned by The Attachmate Group) is second with their SUSE Enterprise Linux product line. To the best of my knowledge, there aren't any free SUSE Enterprise Linux clones but there are a number of free RHEL clones. CentOS is the most well known RHEL clone but with the seeming unending delay of the 6.0 release (July 11th is my guess), CentOS has received quite a bit of criticism leading some users to investigate alternatives. As a result, Scientific Linux is getting a lot of long overdue attention given the fact that it too is a solid enterprise clone... that has been around for a long time... that has a lot of support behind it.

MontanaLinux is proud to present an interview that was conducted via email with Troy Dawson who is a long-time Fermilab employee and Scientific Linux developer.

About Troy Dawson

Montana Linux: Please tell us about yourself... as much as you feel comfortable with... as open or as closed as you want to be... family, education, work, hobbies, etc.

Troy Dawson: My name is Troy Dawson. I have a Bachelors degree in Physics and a Masters degree in Computer Science. I have worked at Fermilab since 1993. I was initially an accelerator operator, and then transferred over to computing in 1999.

I've been working with Linux since 1999.

I am married with two kids. I am very active in my church. I think my main hobbies are family, church, and computers.

Video: Dan Walsh on SELinux and KVM

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Dan Walsh gave a presentation at the Red Hat Technical User group Netherlands (RHTUGNL) entitled something like, This isn't your grandfather's SELinux. I'm one of those who uses SELinux on my Fedora desktops.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3-ish:

Videos: Red Hat Summit 2011

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Red Hat held their annual Red Hat Summit and JBoss World conferences in Boston from May 3-6, 2011. I've yet to be able to attend a Red Hat Summit but I do search the web for information and videos from it.

Red Hat announced a number of new developments including OpenShift (Platform as a Service) and CloudForms (Infrastructure as a Service). Basically Red Hat continues to sponsor development on a large number of open source projects and bundles them together into more comprehensive solutions. I haven't yet done enough reading to speak intelligently about either of those... but give me some time... although they do seem primarily oriented towards the "enterprisey" folks.

The thread that runs through most of the videos is that yeah, the "CLOUD" is a big bunch of hype these days... so much so the world doesn't have any meaning. Red Hat wants you to know that all of the big public clouds are based on open source and that there are a lot of tangible products and benefits to be found once you cut through the hype.

Red Hat released 28 videos from Red Hat Summit and posted them to their website. They were available in ogg and mp4 formats so I downloaded them all, converted them to webm format (300Kbit video, 64Kbit audio, 20 FPS) and posted them to honoring the Creative Commons license they posted them under. Posting them on means they won't be hard to find a year from now like they will be on Red Hat's site, and the re-encoding I did means they are smaller files and easier to stream online or download.

Many of the videos are very business speak but there are some session videos that actually have a bit of technical meat to them. You can find all of the videos here:

As a teaser video, I'll include inline the recap video they made for the event:

If you don't see the video in your browser, download the desired video with the links below and watch them locally with your preferred media player. I recommend VLC.

Bela Ban, Geographic Failover for JBoss Clusters 142.8 MB
Keynote - Brian Stevens, Red Hat CTO 125.5 MB
Keynote - Celso Guiotoko, Nissan CIO 51.6 MB
Day One Reactions 6.3 MB
Keynote - General Shelton, Red Hat Chairman of the Board 22.8 MB
Keynote - Inna Kuznetsova, IBM VP 68.1 MB
Keynote - Jeremy Gutsche, Founder 104.6 MB
Keynote - Jim Whitehurst, Red Hat CEO 94.3 MB
Keynote - John Newton, Alfresco CEO and Chairman 79.4 MB
Keynote - Lew Tucker, Cisco CTO for Cloud 66.5 MB
Keynote - Paul Cormier, Red Hat EVP 56.8 MB
Keynote - Paul Daugherty, Accenture Chief Technology Architect 50.1 MB
Keynote - Pauline Nist, Intel GM of Mission Critical Segment 72.4 MB
Innovation Award Winners 10.4 MB
JBoss - Mike Amburn and Chris Bredesen , Building a Customer Portal 96.4 MB
Chris Wright, Overview and Roadmap of Virtualization 178.7 MB
John Shakshoeber, Performance Analysis and Tuning of RHEL PT1 161.5 MB
John Shakshoeber, Performance Analysis and Tuning of RHEL PT2 153.8 MB
Tim Burke, RHEL Roadmap PT1 150.7 MB
Tim Burke, RHEL Roadmap PT2 146.1 MB
Andy Cathrow, RHEV Roadmap 114.6 MB
Thomas Cameron, Red Hat Network Satellite Power User Tips and Tricks PT1 158.1 MB
Thomas Cameron, Red Hat Network Satellite Power User Tips and Tricks PT2 115.1 MB
Michael Ferris, Red Hat in the Cloud 95.7 MB
Gordon Haff, Trends in Cloud Computing 92.1 MB
Keynote - Steve Dietch, HP VP of Marketing for Cloud Solutions 62.7 MB
Joint Expert Panel 88.7 MB
Red Hat Summit and JBoss World Recap 12.1 MB

Who should fix a broken Flash?

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But wait... another long post from me... this time from an email I wrote today to the Fusion Linux mailing list... regarding how Flash 64-bit was broken in Fedora 14 and the arguments around who should fix it and why:


----- Original Message -----
> I am sorry to disagree, Linus does state that it is an hack, but he
> also suggests that it could/should be used, please see comment
> :
> " The nicest alternative might be to just install that
> into the google chrome directory, and add the LD_PRELOAD to the wrapper shell
> script that google chrome already uses for the xdg binaries and the ffmpeg
> library.
> And obviously something similar should work for firefox. I just
> happen to use chrome, so I gave the directions (approximate as they were) for the
> thing I tried.
> No guarantees. It was a really quick hack. "

Oh don't worry about disagreeing with me. That is often good and I don't take it personally. :)

Yeah... but did you read comment from Linus later on?

- - - - -

Linus Torvalds 2011-02-21 18:19:22 EST Comment 199

Don't use my workaround: it was a stupid hack to test the bug, and show that "always copy upwards" works better than the crap that is in glibc now.

A much better workaround is likely to just implement memcpy() as memmove() (you can replace the inline asm by that in my preload example if you want to). Once memcpy() isn't small and trivial any more, that's just the right thing to do.

The fact that the glibc people don't do that, and that this hasn't been elevated despite clearly being a big usability problem (normal users SHOULD NOT HAVE TO google bugzillas and play with LD_PRELOAD to have a working system), is just sad.

Quite frankly, there is no reason for the current memcpy() mess. There is no _technical_ reason for it, and there is certainly no usability reason for it. Why the Fedora people don't just fix it, I don't understand. It's a shame and a

The fact that Adobe does something that isn't technically right is no excuse for having a sub-par crap memcpy() implementation.

And how does one raise the priority for a bug in bugzilla, or get it re-assigned to somebody who cares?

- - - - -

Please note that I disagree with Linus on everything but the first half of the first paragraph. :) So did the glibc developers and the Fedora developers. While users want it to work, it isn't Fedora's job to fix Adobe's broken program. Just because the problem didn't show up until after the glibc change doesn't mean the problem wasn't there. It was just luck that it worked to begin with. The glibc change just happened to expose the problem, not create it. Adobe needs to fix their program. Why can't they? They update Flash all the time so getting an update out to users really isn't a problem. They said they have a fix for the issue but it could be months before it gets deployed? Why?

Linus still ignores the direct evidence that the glibc change wasn't supposed to be faster except on lower end CPUs... and his testing is invalid. He blathers on and on... intimidating others. That is his way. That is actually his sense of humor... and he is obviously right much more often than when he is wrong... but this is one of the few times he is wrong. :)

Working around Adobe's problem can be done... but why should we do it? Oh, so it makes our distro look better... and users are happier. Yeah, but look at the crazy mess of a workaround it is. Is every distro supposed to engineer their own fix? How much work is that by how many people? I realize that many have not and may not run into this issue because they use older versions of glibc... but you get my point.

I think it is better to say... "we are aware of this bug and we are waiting for Adobe to fix it" and put the blame where it needs to go... rather than everyone working around Adobe's problem and then having to undo everything after they fix it.

What will be next? How many other closed source, commercial vendors will need to be accommodated in the future? This would set a very bad precedent... and that's why (in my opinion) Fedora didn't go for it... even with Linus breathing down their necks.

Fedora doesn't even ship with Flash (nor Google Chrome). They ship with alternative players and those are not affected. Lots of programs break when libraries change... and if they are in distro then they get fixed. If they are closed, commercial products... and they are slow to change... that just re-enforces our belief that FOSS is a better development model... because it is.

Ok, Fusion Linux DOES ship with Flash... and maybe you guys want to fix it. I haven't really contributed to Fusion Linux other than typing some emails here and there... so my opinion doesn't really matter. Do what you think is best... but I did want to provide some additional background and clarification.

I've been living with the warbly sound on some Flash videos for some time now... and I guess I've gotten used to it. Like I said previously, it just strengthens my desire to consume and promote the use of more non-flash content... like webm and ogv.

I don't want baby users who are pampered away from issues... I'd prefer to grow a community of contributors who can see problems (rather than having them hidden from them)... who work to solve problems rather than work around them. I guess that's part of the reason I'm a Fedora user. :)

> I am sorry that it did not fix for you, but as you can check from the
> bug report it fixed for many others. IMHO and until there is proper
> fix we should try to provide a positive user experience to as mush
> users as we can.

That report has been around for a long time and there have been a ton of updates since then. I don't know if that has a bearing on it not working for me or not. This fix I tried was the patch not the Linus fix. That fix was too much work for me.

> I don't think that the technical argumentation on who is right or
> wrong about the proper fix has any relevance for the end user, also
> I do not have have the technical expertise to debate with you, Linus
> or the glibc maintainers about the change.
> My suggestion was just about delivering a better experience to the
> users, getting broken sound on some flash contents is bad, if we
> could avoid it it would be great.

See my above comments.

I do appreciate you taking the time voice your opinions... because it shows you care... and I definitely want to encourage that! Please do not take anything I've written as a personal attack. I don't claim to be any more right than you... but it is obvious I disagree. Perhaps you'll be comforted in the knowledge that Linus agrees with you... I know I would be. :)

One other thing Linus was wrong on and that was on moving cgroup scheduling policy into the kernel... rather than keeping it in userspace... like the systemd developer explained was the better way. I don't recall what the final outcome of that was.

TYL, Scott Dowdle

On success and failure of Linux companies

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Here's a LONG response I wrote to one of the comments to the previously mentioned blog posting (The GNOME war) that I wanted to share here as well.


Novell has already been sold. There is an investigation holding up the original transfer date but it is very likely to go through. There will be changes in Novell. If the company taking it over didn't think they could turn it around, they would not have bought it. Turning it around might end up being breaking up all of the pieces and selling some of them, keeping some of them, and killing some of them. Who knows what will happen? We'll just have to wait.

I'm not sure why you seem to be so unhappy with Red Hat with your "while Red Hat is imposing their rules" comment. What rules are they imposing? Is Red Hat in decline? I have no idea. I can tell you that their quarterly reports have been quite positive since they went public... which is pretty rare for any technology company much less a Linux company.

I see some people complaining about their stock prices and valuation... but what tech company on the stock market isn't overvalued? To me the stock market is fundamentally broken but that is a completely different topic so I'll leave it at that.

Oh wait, let me bring up one example. Apple. A while back I read some report where a leading PC magazine had one of their guys dig deeply into Microsoft's yearly earnings reports. The gist of the article was that the author believed he had discovered that Microsoft had moved around various things in their financial reporting to hide the fact that they had lost 1% of the desktop marketshare. Ok, let's think about that for a second. Who did they lose it to? Let's just say all of the 1% went to Apple. Last I checked, and I haven't checked in a while, Apple was very high up on the stock market. They are seen as the darlings of the tech industry... making the cool products... having the best usability... advertising on US TV (I don't know about the rest of the world) with a budget of tens of millions of US dollars. Sure they sold a ton of iPhones but the Android army has come into being and has hit them hard. The iPad has done quite well (15 million sold(?) with the iPad 2 coming out today)... and no one else in the market seems to have an inroad to significant marketshare in the "tablet" arena (which I don't even believe is a legitimate genre although Miguel de Icaza definitely disagrees with me buying his third iPad today). How are they doing with the desktop OS marketshare? They are supposedly selling lots of laptops... but in one of their best years in recent history... they have managed to pull 1% of the marketshare away from Microsoft? 1%? That's all? Yet they are a darling of the stock market... and the envy of the GNOME and Canonical developers.

Of course if you listen to others, the desktop is dead and there is no reason to care about it anymore... and FOSS developers should start working on cloud apps before it is too late... and some say it is already too late.

Wow, I'm getting off on some tangents. In any event, you can see that the tech industry is a tangled web of twisty little passages... all different. :) (Who knows where geeky reference comes from?)

Also, I'm not sure where people keep coming up with this figure that Ubuntu has "60% of the Linux desktop marketshare". I have no idea if it does or not... but determining that is near to, if not completely, impossible. For the sake of argument, let's say it's true. Have they been able to turn a profit yet? If not, why not? How much of the marketshare will they have to gain BEFORE they can turn a profit? Stupid question. Having marketshare for something that is free doesn't make you successful. In fact, it can be a dead albatrose hanging around a company's neck. That is the situation Red Hat found itself in before it decided to go the enterprise Linux route.

Some say it is because Mr. Shuttleworth, who you obviously see as another legendary hero like many see Steve Jobs, has made it impossible for Canonical to make a profit because he has tried to focus the company in too many directions... meaning that no particular direction gets enough focus to be successful. Others might say that doing that is like throwing many things at the wall and seeing which ones stick. He keeps throwing things, and so far nothing has really stuck... nothing that will make the company profitable. I'm not saying that Canonical won't figure it out. I certainly hope they do... because the Linux market needs more FINANCIAL successes... not less.

If Red Hat and Novell falter (which I don't think is going to happen)... while it might shift some customers over to other companies... it will make Linux seem like a less stable technology platform to pay for and invest in. Red Hat has shown that it can be done by having positive financial statements quarter after quarter... all while releasing everything they do as FOSS... and you want them to be taken down? You do know how much they contribute to the Linux kernel, gcc, GNOME,, etc... right?

I do know that if Novell fails or Red Hat falters... any people they have to shed will most likely be snapped up by other companies. Linux can survive the loss of Linus and Linux can survive the loss of one or more of its major distros... but we'd like to do more than survive.

If you ignore everything else I write, please realize that there is plenty of room for more than one or two successful Linux companies. We all do better, when we all do better. :)

Just because you see Arch and Ubuntu and not much else used in your neck of the woods doesn't mean that is how it is everywhere else. Red Hat and Novell are doing well in the "enterprise" space and CentOS is doing quite well too. Debian also.

I think your supposition that if someone uses distro X in high school and/or college they will refuse to work for a company that doesn't use distro X... is silly. Or maybe you were saying that the company they work for will be forced (somehow) to switch to distro X because that's what their new employee(s) use. Riiiiiiiiight. That might be true for major OSes... but not from one flavor of Linux to another. Distros are 95% the same software and switching between them is not so difficult.

Thanks for the discussion, Scott Dowdle

Reponse to "The GNOME wars"

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I saw a posting on Fedora Planet entitled, The GNOME wars and just had to respond. Since I put some effort into my comment, I decided to post it here as well.


Your statements are a gross oversimplification of the situation... specifically with regards to GNOME 3 / Shell and Ubuntu Unity.

To date Canonical still has not learned how to properly collaborate with all of their upstreams. Some they have, some they haven't. GNOME is one that they haven't. It took Novell and Red Hat a while to get it right with GNOME and they made their share of mistakes along the way... or at least that is my understanding. The main problem is that in its dealings with GNOME, Canonical would provide completely done software/libraries without much prior collaboration with the GNOME developers on why the library was needed, what needed to be in it, and if any other already existing libraries could have accommodated some or all of the functionality. Just like with Linux kernel development, the developers prefer to be in the loop on developments and having some input and feedback rather than getting a big code dump out of nowhere.

Did Canonical read into that... that Red Hat, which does employ some of the top tier GNOME developers, was trying to block their code? Maybe they did... who knows. Was Red Hat actually trying to block their code? From the top (Red Hat management), absolutely not. That doesn't mean that one or more developers didn't turn their nose up at Canonical, which is possible... but I strongly doubt it. GNOME is a mature community with a wide range of participation from many companies (including Red Hat) as well as independent developers... and Red Hat does not control GNOME.

What we have here is Canonical wanting to have more control over the things that they care about (usability)... with the GNOME and Canonical developers having clashing differences in design decisions. That's all. While some may have reasons to play it other ways, that doesn't make it true.

I actually WISH there were a "war" between Red Hat and Canonical because that would be mean that Red Hat cared more about the desktop. Fedora cares about the desktop, but Red Hat, not so much. While Ubuntu Server may be becoming more popular on servers, I don't think it has eaten into Red Hat's business too much. Even if it had, and Red Hat was trying to be at "war" with them, I doubt they'd do it through GNOME. Ubuntu Server doesn't even ship with a desktop environment.

Who will win? No idea. I'm not even sure there has to be a winner. I've tried both GNOME 3 Shell (in Fedora 15 Alpha) and Ubuntu Unity (in Ubuntu 11.04 Alpha 3). GNOME 3 Shell seems much more polished and streamlined to me. I still haven't quite figured out Unity. If Unity matures and is liked by enough people, other distros will probably add it as an option. If GNOME 3 Shell does well, perhaps Canonical will change its mind. In any event I don't think we'll be able to tell much from the initial releases of either one. It will take time and a few release iterations for things and users to settle.

Having both, at least for the short term, will be a good thing as each project will work harder to compete with the other. For the long term, I'm not sure.

As always, I appreciate your postings as they make me think... and quite frequently, respond. :)

TYL, Scott Dowdle

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