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Fix SSH login delay

When I google around for fixing SSH login delay, most articles tell you to add the UseDNS no you the server's sshd_config file. However, I regularly have to use some servers where this setting has been turned off but I still get delays. For future reference, here's my fix. Add the following to your client .ssh/config:

Host <hostname>
    GSSAPIAuthentication no

Book Review: Pro Linux System Administration

by Sander Marechal

“By the end of this book, You’ll be well on your way to becoming a Linux expert” is quite a bold claim for a book that is aimed at people who only have some familiarity with Windows and networking. “Pro Linux System Administration” by James Turnbull, Peter Lieverdink and Dennis Matotek aims to do precisely that and surprisingly, it largely succeeds. In its 1080 pages it explains how you can set up and configure multiple Linux servers to operate a small business network. Starting with basic Linux management and working up the stack through networking, e-mail and webservers you will end up with a pretty complete network that includes document management, groupware and disaster recovery.

The only downside of the book is that it becomes terser as it goes along. Part 1 and half of part 2 are quite thorough. They explain what you are doing, why you are doing it, differences between distributions and possible gotchas. But as the book moves up the application stack these explanations become shorter and in some cases amount to little more than an installation walk-through. I think it would have been better to focus on fewer alternative applications and dive deeper into those.

This article was originally posted at LXer Linux News.

Fixing OpenDocument MIME magic on Linux

by Sander Marechal

When working on the beta of Officeshots.org I ran into an interesting problem with file type and MIME type detection of OpenDocument files. When a user uploads an ODF file to Officeshots I want to determine the MIME type myself using the PHP Fileinfo extension. Windows user who do not have any ODF supporting applications installed will report ODF files as application/zip which is of no use to me. In addition, a malicious user could attempt to upload an executable file and report the MIME type as ODF file.

On Linux, the PHP Fileinfo extension relies on the magic file that is provided by the file package. The magic file contains a series of tests that can determine the file type and MIME type of a file by its contents. I found out that the magic file is incomplete for OpenDocument files. Below I will show you what is wrong with the magic file and how you can fix it.

Update 2009-06-29: I have now also created a patch against the original upstream file-5.0.3.

Open Source News from FOSDEM 2009 - Day 2

by Sander Marechal

In the weekend of 7 and 8 February, the 9th Free & Open Source Developers' Europe Meeting (FOSDEM) took place at the Université Libre Bruxelles (ULB) in Brussels. Your editors Sander Marechal and Hans Kwint attended this meeting to find out for you what's hot, new in the area of the Linux environment and might be coming to you in the near future. This is our report of the second day covering the talks about Thunderbird 3, Debian release management, Ext4, Syslinux, CalDAV and more. Coverage of the first day can be found in our previous article.

This article was originally posted on LXer Linux News.

Final Judgment in SCO v. Novell: SCO Loses Again

  1. SCO's claims for Slander of Title (Count I) and Specific Performance (Count III) are dismissed [...]
  2. SCO's claims for Breach of Contract (Count II), Copyright Infringement (Count IV), and Unfair Competition (Count V) are dismissed [...]
  3. The remaining portions of SCO's claims [...] are voluntarily dismissed with prejudice, without the possibility of renewal following appeal.

Ah, what wonderful words to read. And about time too; It's been going on since January 2004. This should blast a giant hole in SCOs case against IBM since Novell is now authorised to indemnify IBM.

I suggest you hop over to Groklaw’s coverage of the final judgement. As usual it is an excellent read.

T-DOSE 2008 in review

by Sander Marechal

This year was the third installment of the Technical Dutch Open Source Event (T-DOSE). Just as last year it was held at the Fontys University of Applied Science in Eindhoven. This years speakers included Arnoud Engelfriet (European patent attorney) and Ywein van den Brande on GPLv3 compliance, Roy Scholten (Drupal), Bas de Lange (Syllable), Jean-Paul Saman (VideoLan), Jörn Engel (logfs), Bert Boerland (Drupal), Tim Hemel (TMTTD) and many, many other speakers. Unfortunately your editor was only able to attend on Sunday, but the talks were great. Here are the details.

This article was originally posted on LXer Linux News.

Who Are The Real Friends of Linux and Free Software? Or, Linux Is Still a Dirty Word

Carla Schröder has an excellent editorial over at Linux Today:

[Ken Starks] was the fly in the soup at the big important Linux Foundation-sponsored IBM-hosted Second Annual Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit.Ken stepped up to the mike at the panel discussion and asked a simple question that visibly discomfited the panel: “My customers can turn on their cable television and in 30 minutes watch five Microsoft Windows commercials. When are IBM and HP going to put the same things on? When are my customers going to be able to see about Linux? Television and radio legitimize the product.”

The responses, in my occasionally-humble opinion, were worthy of Redmond itself. […] It all comes back to the same old story—don’t trust the suits because their business models are based on exploitation, and even when they profit handsomely from Linux it’s shameful and not mentioned in polite company.

The real friends of Linux and Free Software are people like Ken Starks […] who are not afraid to take a stand and say plainly “Linux is good, Linux is a superior choice, and yes, you really do have choices.” Why is it that only the little people are brave enough to say this?

From: Linux Today

FSF and Stephen Fry celebrate the GNU Project 25th anniversary

The GNU operating system is turning 25 this year, and the Free Software Foundation (FSF) has kicked off its month-long celebration of the anniversary by releasing “Happy Birthday to GNU,” a short film featuring the English humorist, actor, novelist and filmmaker Stephen Fry.

In the five-minute film, Fry compares the free software operating system to “good science” and contrasts it with the “kind of tyranny” imposed by the proprietary software produced by companies like Microsoft and Apple that it replaces. He encourages people to use free GNU/Linux distributions like gNewSense and free software generally, for freedom's sake.

From: FSF Press Release. See the video.

Judge Kimball Rules at Last!

Judge Kimball rules in SCO v. Novell! I haven't read it yet myself, just quickly skimmed it enough to see that SCO owes Novell some money ($2,547,817 plus interest probably -- SCO can oppose -- from the Sun agreement) and it had no right to enter into the Sun agreement, but it did have the right to enter into the Microsoft and other SCOsource agreements. Requests for attorneys fees are separate, and that part comes next. Then appeals.

[…] the big picture is this: Judge Kimball did not change anything in his August 10th order, which I was afraid might happen. So, SCO breached its fiduciary duty to Novell, converted funds, and so it has to pay. […] However, Judge Kimball accepted SCO's argument that UnixWare is the latest version of UNIX and that it was the foundation of all the other agreements, even though SYSV was also involved, or so SCO thought. He accepted SCO's argument that if SCO was wrong about owning the copyrights, and it was, then it's too bad for the licensees -- they just got less than they thought they were paying for, and that is a matter for them to work through with SCO. So if EV1, for example, wanted its money back, or part of it, it would have to sue SCO.

From: Groklaw.

In memoriam: Linux evangelist and Linux.com editor Joe Barr

Our colleague Joe Barr sometimes described himself as a doddering old geek. Many knew him as a Linux evangelist; others knew him from his ham radio activities. And those of us who worked with Joe knew him in all of his sometimes irascible, often funny moods. Joe was always one of our favorite people, and we are devastated to report that he died at home, unexpectedly, last night.

His wife Susan asks that instead of sending flowers, you make a donation to an animal rescue group of your choice in Joe's name.

Rest in piece Joe. You will be sorely missed :-(

From: Linux.com.

Benchmarking Linux filesystems on software RAID 1

by Sander Marechal

A couple of months ago I got a couple of wonderful birthday presents. My lovely geeky girlfriend got me two Western Digital 500 GB SATA 3.0 drives, which were promptly supplemented with a 3ware 9550XS 4-port hardware RAID card. Immediately I came up with the idea for this article. I had just read up on mdadm software RAID (updated reference) so I though it would be perfect to bench mark the hardware RAID against the software RAID using all kinds of file systems, block sizes, chunk sizes, LVM settings, etcetera.

Or so I though… As it turns out, my (then) limited understanding of RAID and some trouble with my 3ware RAID cards meant that I had to scale back my benchmark quite a bit. I only have two disks so I was going to test RAID 1. Chunk size is not a factor when using RAID 1 so that axis was dropped from my benchmark. Then I found out that LVM (and the size of the extends it uses) are also not a factor, so I dropped another axis. And to top it off I discovered some nasty problems with 3ware 9550 RAID cards under Linux that quickly made me give up on hardware RAID. I still ended up testing various filesystems using different blocksizes and workloads on an mdadm RAID 1 setup, so the results should still prove interesting.

Digg this article: This article on Digg

HeliOS Solutions added to our portfolio

A little over a month ago I linked to an interview with Ken Starks a.k.a. Helios about his new company HeliOS Solutions. HeliOS Solutions is a small not-for-profit Linux company in the United States of America. All of their profits go to the Komputers4Kids program, which recycles old computers, installs Linux on them and gives them away to children who need them for school work.

Various changes have been made so far to the website, including an exciting new service called Tux-by-mail, which is a sort-of mail order Linux installation. I have now (finally) added HeliOS Solutions to our portfolio of past work. I hope you like it!

Linux For The Masses? Bet On This Winner

In this interview with Ken "helios" Starks of Lobby4Linux fame, Ryan Sommers tries to find out everythiong about HeliOS Solutions. HeliOS Solutions is Ken's new business venture which was set up to generate money for the Komputers4Kids program. Komputers4Kids refurbishes donated computers and gives them away for free to children who need computers for school.

Incidentally, the HeliOS Solutions website was designed and implemented for free by us, The Lone Wolves Foundation. More about this later in a feature article.

The Chumby: Fun, Hackable and full of Potential

by Sander Marechal

Thanks to a friend who knew a friend who knew someone else, I was lucky enough to get my hands on a Chumby for a few days even though it is only available as a limited preview and not outside the Unites States. It's probably one of the first Chumbies in Europe. I only had it a few days as it was only lent to me by the owner, but this gave me ample opportunity to play with the device, give a thorough review and hack it a little. And what fun I have had!

This article was originally posted on LXer Linux News.

Day two at T-DOSE

by Sander Marechal

Sunday was the second day of T-DOSE in Eindhoven, The Netherlands, a technical open source event aimed at developers. See our previous article for the coverage of the first day. Today's topics: Search Engine development with AdvaS, A GNU Edu overview, Sebastian Kügler about KDE 4.0 and an overview of Free Software events in Europe. I was also able to talk in person with a few people, such as Olivier Cleynen, who's presentation from yesterday about FOSS marketing is also covered in today's article.

This article was originally posted on LXer Linux News.

Day one at T-DOSE

by Sander Marechal

In its second year, T-Dose, the Dutch Open Source event aimed at developers takes place in Eindhoven. Your two LXer editors went there to find out what's happening and what's new in open-source land. Todays topics include QTopia for PDA's and smartphones, open source software in the iLiad digital paper device, KDE4 application programming, the Lodel publishing tool, efficient data structures and how to overtake proprietary software without writing code.

This article was originally posted on LXer Linux News and was co-written by Hans Kwint.

The LXer Interview: John Hull of Dell

by Sander Marechal

It has been over four months since Dell started shipping computers preloaded with Ubuntu GNU/Linux to home consumers in the United States. Lets take a moment to look at the progress that has been made so far. John Hull, manager of the Linux Engineering team in Austin was kind enough to let me interview him by e-mail. Besides commenting on the current state of affairs with Ubuntu on Dell machines, he also offers some insight in how the Linux team at Dell works and opens a small window into the future of Linux at Dell.

This article was originally posted on LXer Linux News

Linux Foundation discusses Microsoft threat after Linspire deal

Another one bites the dust. After Novell and Xandros, Linspire has signed away their future as well for a wad of cash in the short term. The reaction of the Linspire community isn't as negative as the Xandrosians but that should be no surprise. Xandrosians are the type of people with a big dislike for Microsoft and willing to pay to get far away from it. Linspire folk are on average more the kind of people that want a cheap/free Windows replacement.

The effects of these deals and Microsoft's patent protection racket will be discussed this week at the Linux Foundation summit at Google's Mountain view headquarters. The effect should be clear though. Under GPLv3 only the Novell deal is grandfathered in. Linspire (and Xandros) will get no such protection and will likely be barred from distributing GPLv3 code if they want to keep their Microsoft deal. That should end their distributions pretty quickly.

It's a good thing I run Debian. There's no corporate entity there to sell my rights to Microsoft behind my back. Red Hat should be equally safe despite that it's a commercial distro. And if the sky really does fall down one day… Oh well, there's still Solaris.

Linux: making small businesses possible

by Sander Marechal

Here at Lone Wolves we do more than just blog and write open source software. We have a small company as well and we build websites for equally small businesses in the area. It's nothing big, not even full time, but it pays for this website and the servers we need to keep our projects running. It's Linux that made this possible. If we would have been stuck on the Windows platform there is no way we could have done what we do because it would simply have been too expensive.

I am sure the same is true for many start-ups. Hardware prices have been going down over the years but the cost of proprietary software has only risen. Start-ups need much more of an IT infrastructure to get going and the license costs are dragging them down. It is no coincidence that virtually all the successful start-ups of today are powered by open source software.

Open letter to Novell: Release the patent numbers!

by Sander Marechal

The technology industry has been in a buzz since last Monday's Fortune article in which Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith claims that the GNU/Linux operating system infringes 235 of Microsoft's patents. If GNU/Linux indeed infringes so many patents then it's very curious that Microsoft refuses to tell the community which 235 patents those are.

Gutierrez refuses to identify specific patents or explain how they're being infringed, lest FOSS advocates start filing challenges to them.

Many journalists and editors concluded from this that Microsoft knows it's 235 patents are bogus. But apparently Microsoft is willing to tell someone what those 235 are. They are telling the companies that they sign cross license deals with. Companies such as yourself, Novell.

Horacio Gutierrez, Microsoft vice president of intellectual property and licensing, said that while Microsoft won't discuss specific patents publicly, it has discussed them in private with companies such as Novell Inc. that struck deals with the company to exchange patent royalties for indemnification against litigation.

Source: The Washington Post.

Today you, Novell, claim that GNU/Linux infringes none of the 235 patents that Microsoft is talking about. From your own Novell Open PR blog:

While providing numbers is new, the claims that violations exists are not new. In response to similar Microsoft claims back in November, we put out an open letter from our CEO, Ron Hovsepian, that states our position on this issue. That position hasn’t changed.

From that open letter… “We disagree with the recent statements made by Microsoft on the topic of Linux and patents. Importantly, our agreement with Microsoft is in no way an acknowledgement that Linux infringes upon any Microsoft intellectual property.”

I call on you, Novell, to tell the community which patents Microsoft thinks are infringed by the GNU/Linux operating system. You know the patent numbers. Microsoft gave them to you. Now release them so we all can publicly prove what you claim: That GNU/Linux infringes no Microsoft patents. If you do, then you may gain back some of the credibility in the community that you lost when you signed the cross-license deal with Microsoft last year.


Sander Marechal, GNU/Linux user and developer

WE are Linux! - Tux500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

by Sander Marechal

Tux500, the community sponsorship drive to put a Linux car in the upcoming Indianapolis 500 is picking up steam. After they recetly opened a webshop with Tux500 gear, created a myspace page and started a radio blog, the team announced yesterday that they broke the $10.000,- threshold. $10.000,- is still a long way off from the goal of $350.000,- but it's enough to put Tux on the nose of the car.

Meanwhile, LXer's NoDough has written an open letter to Dell in the hope that it will bring Tux500 nearer to the $350.000,- goal. Good timing because right at that time a Dell spokesperson showed up at LXer to discuss the recent Dell-Ubuntu announcement and the community responses to it. I hope he picked up on the open letter and send it on to the appropriate persons within Dell.

The latest bit of news is the "WE are Linux!" video created by the Tux500 team — filmed at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Here you go:

Ubuntu on Dell - Good for Linux or just for Canonical?

by Sander Marechal

After a few unsuccessful attempts to censor the news, the big word is finally out: Dell will sell some desktop and laptop models with Ubuntu Feisty 7.04 pre-installed.

Dell hasn't stated yet exactly on which models it will provide pre-installed Ubuntu, but Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols has a nice analysis of the different options and most likely models. One thing sticks out from that list: as bigg on the LXer forum has noticed, they all have Nvidia cards and Broadcom 1390 wireless cards.

Will Dell be shipping machines with no hardware 3D and wireless support? That can't be good for Linux! But it's certainly going to be good for Canonical selling paid support...

Interview with Stephan Gregoire, the Linux Indy 500 driver

Bob Moore from the Tux500 Indy car project did an interview with Stephan Gregoire, the man who will be driving the Linux car in the Indianapolis 500 for Chastain Motorsports. Although not a computer person, Stephan said that the effort put into the project has led him to try Linux on a computer that will go to his daughters.

You can find the full interview over at Tux500's radio blog.

Linux community attempts to sponsor Indy 500 car

The Spread Firefox community only talked about it, but the Linux community has actually set up the framework for a Linux Indy 500 sponsorship fund drive in cooperation with Acceleration Marketing. Lobby4linux's Helios was the one to announce the Tux 500 program.

The goal: to raise US$ 350.000,- or more and gain primary sponsorship of a car, including the right to name the car officially. That name will be used in all press releases and by all the media for nearly a full month. While the Tux 500 site has a slick looking model of the car on their front page, the design is still up in the air. They are running a design contest for the car.

Give the Gift of Pre-Installed Linux This Year

It has taken the editors over at LXer quite some time to convert cyber_rigger's “List of companies selling preinstalled Linux and no-OS” into a proper database, but they finally did it! The Pre-Installed Linux Vendor Database is a fact. Currently it holds 107 vendors world-wide but you can add more vendors yourselves, so help this database grow! All vendors in the list offer reasonably-priced desktops and/or notebooks for home and office users, and either offer Linux only, or as an installation option on the system configuration page of their sites.

One Small Business Gladly Gives Microsoft the Boot

You are reminded that Microsoft Windows, portable Microsoft devices or laptops running Microsoft Software within our network is forbidden as of 9/20/06. If you have not already received your Linux Live CD, email Ken or Tammy and they will get you one, along with any instructions you may need. These are yours to keep and at no cost. You are encouraged to use them at home as you see fit.

Everyone should be so lucky to recieve an e-mail like that from your CEO out of the blue on a monday morning. Read part two on how Ken Starks a.k.a Helios of lobby4linux fame is helping an anonymous company that ran afoul of the MS-BSA protection racket migrate a 9 city/455 desktop computer business network from Windows to Linux — Fedora Core in this case.

If you missed how this came to be, then you should read part one: No one ever got fired for using Microsoft — Yes they did.

Myths, Lies, and Truths about the Linux kernel

Greg Kroah-Hartman recently spoke ath the Ottowa Linux Symposium addressing the most often heared myths and lies about the Linux kernel and debunked them, hopefully for good this time. The speech mostly deals with drivers, but is a very good speech indeed and I recommend that anyone interested in Linux read it. His key points that anyone should remember:

  • Linux supports more devices than anyone else.
  • Linux is evolution, not design.
  • Closed source [kernel] modules are illegal.
  • Documentation/HOWTO
  • We need help with review and testing.
  • Total world domination is proceeding as planned.

Good to hear, especially that last point.