Central Texas Wildfire Relief Food and Goods Drive

On Saturday, September 24th, the boys of Cub Scout Pack 2 will be in the Doss Teachers’ Parking lot from 8a until 12p for final collections before delivering the food and goods to those in need. Firefighers with a Fire Engine from the City of Austin Fire Department will join us at Doss from 9-11am, work permitting.

Please demonstrate the generosity and caring of our neighborhood by joining Cub Scout Pack 2 in collecting the following needed items for those impacted by the wildfires of the past several weeks:

  • Canned food items
  • Dishwashing soap
  • Diapers and wipes (all sizes)
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Eye drops
  • Bandages
  • Neosporin/triple anti-biotic cream
  • gift cards or cash which will be converted to HEB gift cards

Boys from Pack 2 have been and will be in uniform at Doss each day September 19th through the 23rd to collect your donations. So far several truckloads of items have been collected.

OpenStack Conference Call for Speakers till Sept 6

OpenStack Community Manager Stephen Spector posted the OpenStack Conference Call for Speakers just a bit ago.  I’m pleased to be a part of the Program Committee for this conference, and encourage you to submit your presentation ideas.  There are two basic tracks, Business and Technical, and each session is planned to last only 30 minutes (so be concise!).

I look forward to meeting more members of the OpenStack community in Boston, October 5-7.  I love Boston in the Fall (or really anytime…).

Google+ vs Identi.ca

I’ve been a member on Identi.ca – the open source microblogging platform, for 3 years now.  I’ve amassed 166 subscribers, and subscribe to 130 people there.

I’ve been on Google+ for a week now.  In both “in my circles” and “I’m in their circles”, I’ve got almost exactly 2x what I’ve gathered from Identi.ca in 3 years.  My “Linux” circle alone has nearly 200, more than everyone I converse with on Identi.ca, even though nearly all my identi.ca friends are members in identi.ca’s target audience -  the Linux & Open Source community.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am an ardent fan of open source software, and the open source development model. Evan Prodromo and the folks at status.net have done a great job.  However, using the “go where the users are” yardstick, I think they’re coming up short.  At a blogging conference in Austin a few months ago, I made the point of asking every analytical software vendor there – folks like Radian6, when they planned to add status.net / identi.ca support into their platforms.  By my count, I was the only one in the room that had even heard of them.

Google, Status.net and other key contributors to the OpenSocial Foundation  serve a key role – building open specifications and APIs to be able to exchange data across social networking sites.  I hope the forthcoming promised Google+ APIs will be based on OpenSocial, which will give both credibility and teeth to the effort, and will encourage the more open sharing of our content across multiple social sites.  I expect integration between Google+ and Identi.ca will be a first fruit.

Consistent Network Device Naming updates

Today I released biosdevname v0.3.7, after listening to feedback from all across the web, including NetworkWorld, LWN, and Slashdot.  No, I’m not killing the feature, as some might hope, but some changes are in order.

First, it’s amazing how many people hated the ‘#’ character in device names.  Yes, that was bound to cause some problems, but nothing that couldn’t be fixed given enough time.  But since it’s early in the game, changing that character from ‘#’ to ‘p’ accomplishes the same goal, with less chance of breakage, so that’s done.  pci<slot>p<port>_<vf> it is….

Second, the various virtual machine BIOSes each do something slightly different for the network devices they expose.  VMware exposes the first NIC (traditionally eth0) as in PCI slot 3.  KVM exposes the first NIC as in PCI slot 2, but has no information about the second NIC.  Xen doesn’t expose anything, so those all kept the ethX naming convention.

To address these discrepancies, and because there is no physical representation of a (virtual) NIC in a virtual machine, biosdevname no longer suggests a new name for NICs if running in a VM guest.  This means all VM guests keep ethX as their naming convention. Thanks to colleague Narendra K for this fix.

Third, for everyone who still thinks renaming devices is a really bad idea, you get an out.  A new kernel command line option, honored by udev, lets you disable biosdevname.  biosdevname=0 will prevent biosdevname from being invoked, effectively disabling this feature, leaving you with the ethX names.

All this, and the usual assorted bug fixes as biosdevname gets more widespread exposure and testing.

Love it?  Hate it?  Let me know.  You can find me (mdomsch) on IRC on FreeNode in #biosdevname, #udev, or #fedora-devel, as well as the usual mailing lists.

Fedora Test Day today – please join us

Today is the official  Fedora Test Day for Consistent Network Device Naming.  Given all the coverage this week on NetworkWorld and Slashdot, I would like to see widespread testing of this feature, to assuage the concerns and misconceptions raised there.  Testing is simple – download and boot the LiveISO, and report success or failure on the wiki page.  You can even try it out on a running Fedora 14 instance if you like.

The Dell engineers who have been working on this for years will be online in #fedora-test-day on FreeNode IRC today if you have any questions.  Please join us.  Thanks for your time and participation.

Consistent Network Device Naming coming to Fedora 15

One of my long-standing pet projects – Consistent Network Device Naming, is finally coming to Fedora (emphasizing the 2 of the Fedora F’s: Features and First), and thereafter, all Linux distributions.  What is this, you ask?

Systems running Linux have long had ethernet network devices named ethX.  Your desktop likely has one ethernet port, named eth0.  This works fine if you have only one network port, but what if, like on Dell PowerEdge servers, you have four ethernet ports?  They are named eth0, eth1, eth2, eth3, corresponding to the labels on the back of the chassis, 1, 2, 3, 4, respectively.  Sometimes.  Aside from the obvious confusion of names starting at 0 verses starting at 1, other race conditions can happen such that each port may not get the same name on every boot, and they may get named in an arbitrary order.  If you add in a network card to a PCI slot, it gets even worse, as the ports on the motherboard and the ports on the add-in card may have their names intermixed.

While several solutions have  been proposed over time (detailed at Linux Plumbers Conference last year), none were deemed acceptable, until now.

Enter biosdevname, the tool Dell has developed to bring sanity (and consistency!) to network device names.  Biosdevname is a udev helper, which renames network interfaces based on information presented by system BIOS.

The new naming convention is as follows:

  • em[1-N] for on-board (embedded) NICs (# matches chassis labels)
  • pci<slot>#<port> for cards in PCI slots, port 1..N
  • NPAR & SR-IOV devices add a suffix of _<vf>, from 0..N depending on the number of Partitions or Virtual Functions exposed on each port.
  • Other Linux conventions, such as .<vlan> and :<alias> suffixes remain unchanged and are still applicable.

This provides a sane mapping of Linux network interface name to externally visible network port (RJ-45 jack).

Where do we get this information?  The algorithm is fairly simple:

  • If system BIOS exposes the new PCI Firmware Specification 3.1 ACPI _DSM method, we get the interface label and index from ACPI, and use those.
  • Else if system BIOS exposes an index and label in SMBIOS 2.6 types 9 and 41, use the index value.
  • Else if system BIOS exposes index via the HP proprietary SMBIOS extension, use that.
  • Else fall back to using the legacy PCI IRQ Routing Table to figure out which slots devices are in, sort the PCI device list in breadth-first order, and assign index values.

How will this affect you?

If you have scripts that have hard-coded eth0 or have assumptions that ethX is a particular port, your scripts are already broken (you may just not know it yet).  Begin planning on using the new interface names going forward, adjusting your scripts as necessary.

Fedora 15 will be the first distribution to use biosdevname by default.  There will be a Test Day on Thursday, January 27.  I encourage you to download the Live image, boot it on your system, and verify that your network interfaces are now named according to the above convention, and that all works as expected.  You may also take the opportunity to review your custom scripts, looking for hard-coded ethX values, and prepare for the coming name change.

Once we get sufficient exposure and verification using Fedora, I expect to see this change roll into other Linux distributions, and other operating systems, over time.  Consider yourself warned.

Dell introduces RHEL Auto-Entitlement and 5-year subscriptions

Noted on the Dell blog, the auto-entitlement system we rolled out to the US and Europe a few years ago is finally available worldwide.  What is auto-entitlement, you ask?

If you’ve ever purchased a Red Hat Enterprise Linux subscription when purchasing a Dell PowerEdge server, shrink-wrapped alongside the CDs is a “registration card”, with a long string of numbers on it.  Upon unboxing your system, you had to a) not throw away that card; b) not lose that card; c) get that card to some responsible party at your organization; d) ensure that responsible party went to http://redhat.com/activate to activate the subscription, using the number on that card.  See how many steps that took?  Can you guess how many ways something could go wrong in the process?

With auto-entitlement, the system administrator is able to simply log their new system into Red Hat Network the first time they use it (as they would to get updates and to manage their system).  Red Hat Network is then smart enough to recognize that the system was purchased from Dell, knows the subscription type and duration, and Bob’s your Uncle.  No registration card to lose, no extra steps to take.  Oh, and if you manage to blow away the hard disk image and re-install RHEL before connecting to Red Hat Network for the first time – no worries – auto-entitlement will still work.

Oh, and while we’re at it, the new 5-year RHEL subscription matches the available 5-year ProSupport hardware service contract, so there’s never any mess with having out-of-sync support subscriptions.

Just two more ways Dell ensures Linux, in this case Red Hat Enterprise Linux, “Just Works”.

Fedora Elections – one day left

Quick reminder that Fedora elections for the Board, FESCo, and FAMSCo are open through Sunday, November 28.  Go Vote! I did.  While it’s a bit weird for me not to be running for re-election to the Board, I’m excited by the slate of candidates, and know it’ll be in good hands.

Linux Plumbers Conference 2010 – User-visible Network Problems track links

At Linux Plumbers Conference in Cambridge this morning, we will be covering several networking issues that have specific implications on userspace programs or system administrator behavior.  Links below are to join us (virtually).  In addition, video of the sessions will be available following.

Topics and their discussion leaders:

  • Challenges in Mobile Networking – Dan Williams
  • Network Device Naming – Matt Domsch
  • Scaling techniques in the stack for servers with high connection rates – Ying Cai
  • Simplifying network configuration for VMs by harmonizing multiple Bridging, QOS, DCB and CNA implementations – Shyam Iyer

To join:

IRC: #lpc2010-thomas-paine on FreeNode

Etherpad (live note taking): http://etherpad.osuosl.org/lpc2010-user-visible-network-issues

Slide decks: http://domsch.com/linux/lpc2010/

Twitter and Identi.ca: Use hashtag #lpc2010

LPC Wiki links:

Fedora Elections – it starts now

You know it’s election season.  The commercials are unavoidable.  Candidates kissing babies.  “The other guys say…”.  Shameless promotion and pandering.  Division and false dichotomies rule the airwaves.

However, in Fedora-land, the tenor is quite calm, welcoming, and actively non-partisan, even though we have several elections going on.

First (timewise), the code name for Fedora 15.  This is the quirky name that we give each release, that both serves as inspiration for the artwork that our fantastic design team generates, and that ties our releases together, both backwards in history to our Red Hat Linux roots and continuing on with each subsequent Fedora release.  Each code name has a non-obvious link to the predecessor release, while leaving wide open the range of future release names.

After sifting through 50 suggestions, and trimming the list for possible trademark conflicts, we are left with 5 names that any Fedora member can vote for:

- Asturias
- Blarney
- Sturgis
- Lovelock
- Pushcart

Take a moment to reflect on the nature of each of the above, and then vote for your favorite.

Second, we have started the nomination process for the semi-annual election of seats on the Fedora Project Board and the Fedora Engineering Steering Committee (FESCo), and for the annual election of members of the Fedora Ambassadors Steering Committee (FAMSCo).  These are important, highly visible, volunteer positions which guide the Project as a whole, the technical details of the “product” of Fedora the distro, and coordinate the activities of our outreach and evangelism teams.  Please consider running for one of these offices by nominating yourself, or, you may nominate someone you would like to see be elected (with their consent of course).

For my part, I have had the pleasure of serving on the Board for the last 5 years since its inception.  We have come a long way during my tenure, from the elimination of the dreaded “Core vs Extras” distinction, to the creation of the Spins and Remixes processes that let anyone, anywhere, use Fedora for any purpose, to the creation of the Stable Updates policy, and finally a Vision Statement we can all get behind.  While there is plenty more to be done, it’s time for me to step aside from policy-making, and assist a new Board in delivering on these visions.  I thank the community for allowing me to serve on the Board thus far, and am counting on you to support the newly elected Board, FESCo, and FAMSco, in continuing to develop and deliver a fantastic distribution.