How Linux got to be Linux: Test driving 1993-2003 distros

Here’s a trip down the memory lane – “How Linux got to be Linux: Test driving 1993-2003 distros“.  The article looks at some of the early Linux distributions, remember what was already in and what came later.  Complete with screenshots.

I don’t remember for sure which versions of which distributions I used in the early days, but Slackware, Suse, RedHat and Mandrake were definitely among those.  Slackware was probably my first one, when I found the floppies in the only book on Linux at my college library.  Then, somehow, I found RedHat (I think 5.1 or so) in one of the local computer shops.  Later I tried Mandrake and Suse, cause those were laying around at work.  But RedHat stuck with me ever since.  I think I’ve used pretty much every version, including the move to Fedora, CentOS, and even the Red Hat Enterprise Linux, which we had the licenses for at some of my early work places.

Fun times!

CentOS 7.3 released

CentOS 7.3 was released rather quietly a couple of days ago.  Or maybe it wasn’t quietly, but I still somehow missed it.  Here is a list of major changes:

  • Since release 1503 (abrt>= 2.1.11-19.el7.centos.0.1) CentOS-7 can report bugs directly to bugs.centos.org.
  • Various new packages include among others: python-gssapi, python-netifaces, mod_auth_openidc, pidgin and Qt5.
  • Support for the 7th-generation Core i3, i5, and i7 Intel processors and I2C on 6th-generation Core Processors has been added.
  • Various packages have been rebased. Some of those are samba, squid, systemd, krb5, gcc-libraries, binutils, gfs-utils, libreoffice, GIMP,SELinux, firewalld, libreswan, tomcat and open-vm-tools.
  • SHA2 is now supported by OpenLDAP.
  • ECC-support has been added to OPenJDK-8, PerlNet:SSLeay and PerlIO::Socket::SSL.
  • Bluetooth LE is now supported.
  • virt-p2v is now fully supported. virt-v2v and virt-p2v add support for the latest windows releases.
  • Lots of updated storage, network and graphics drivers.
  • Technology Preview: Among others support of Btrfs, OverlayFS, CephFS, DNSSEC, kpatch, the Cisco VIC and usNIC kernel driver, nested virtualization with KVM and multi-threaded xz compression with rpm-builds.

More information is here.

Also, make sure you read the Known Issues section, as it might surprise you:

  • SElinux received major changes in this release, which might break certain functionality on your system. You might want to take a look at this bugzilla entry for further information.
  • The initramfs files are now significantly bigger than in CentOS-7 (1503). You may want to consider lowering installonly_limit in /etc/yum.conf to reduce the number of installed kernels if your /boot partition is smaller than 400MB. New installations should consider using 1GB as the size of the /boot partition.
  • The newer version of openssh in this release does not exit on the first match in the .ssh/config file as the older version did. This means if you have multiple host sections that match in your config for a given host, ALL will be applied. As an example, if you have a “host1.example.com” entry and a “*.example.com” entry, it will apply BOTH sets of instructions to “host1.example.com” but only the “*.example.com” section for “host2.example.com”.
  • Many people have complained that Ethernet interfaces are not started with the new default NetworkManager tool/have to be explicitly enabled during installation. See CentOS-7 FAQ#2.
  • At least 1024 MB RAM is required to install and use CentOS-7 (1611). When using the Live ISOs for install, 1024 MB RAM produces very slow results and even some install failures. At least 1344 MB RAM is recommend for LiveGNOME or LiveKDE installs.
  • If your screen resolution is 800×600 or lower, parts of the images shown at the bottom during install are clipped.
  • VMware Workstation/VMware ESXi allow to install two different virtual SCSI adapters: BusLogic and LsiLogic. However the default kernel from CentOS-7 does not include the corresponding driver for any of them thus resulting in an unbootable system if you install on a SCSI disk using the defaults for CentOS Linux. If you select ‘Red Hat Enterprise Linux’ as OS, the paravirtualized SCSI adapter is used, which works.
  • Commonly used utilities such as ifconfig/netstat have been marked as deprecated for some considerable time and the ‘net-tools’ package is no longer part of the @core group so will not be installed by default. Use nmcli c up ifname <interfacename> to get your network up and running and use yum to install the package if you really need it. Kickstart users can pull in the net-tools package as part of the install.
  • The AlpsPS/2 ‘ALPS DualPoint TouchPad’ edge scrolling does not work by default on CentOS-7. See bug 7403 for the command to make this feature work.
    After the update, some NICs may change their name from something like enoxxxxxxxx to something like ensxxx. This is due to the updated systemd package.
  • The 4 STIG Security Profiles in the anaconda installer produce a broken sshd_config that must be edited before sshd will start (BZ 1401069)

EPEL : the effort behind the scenes

Catching up with recent news, I came across this blog post by Stephen John Smoogen in Fedora People, where he explains the reason for the recent disappearance of the Puppet package from the Extra Packages for Enterprise Linux (EPEL 6) repository:

This week various people using EPEL on RHEL and CentOS 6 have found that the puppet package is no longer provided by EPEL. The reason for this is due to the way EPEL packages are built and kept inside the repository. A package needs a sponsor so that we can hopefully get bug fixes and security updates to it. In the case of puppet this package is sponsored by the user kanarip. However, most packages aren’t whole pieces, they rely on other software.. in this case the package puppet relies on a lot of different ruby gems of which one of them was called ruby-shadow. This package was orphaned 30 weeks ago and while it did have other people watching it, none of them took over the package.

[…]

Last week a large cleanup was done to clean out orphaned packages from EPEL which removed ruby-shadow. Once that was removed, then all of the other packages depending on ruby-shadow were also removed. Today various people reinstalling systems found puppet wasn’t around and came onto #epel to ask.. which seems to have gotten the packages responsored and hopefully they will be back in the EPEL release in a day or so.

This problem has been happening a lot lately. I think it shows quite a few problems with how EPEL is set up and managed. For this, I take responsibility as I said I would try to clean it up after FOSDEM 2016 and it is still happening.

Unpleasant annoyance that shouldn’t have happened, right?  Well, yes, maybe.

Software is a complex matter, whether you are designing, developing, testing, or distributing it.  So things do go wrong sometimes.  And that was something I wanted to focus on for a second.

Forget the actual designing, developing, testing and documenting the software.  Forget all the infrastructure behind such a vital part of the Linux ecosystem as EPEL.  Just think of this single issue for a moment.  Once again:

A package needs a sponsor so that we can hopefully get bug fixes and security updates to it.

So what, I hear you say.  Well, let’s take a closer look.  EPEL provides packages for multiple versions of the distribution, hardware platforms and so on.  Let’s just look at the EPEL 6 for x86_64 (to keep things simple).  That looks like a lot of packages, doesn’t it?.  How many? At the time of this writing, from a random mirror that I got:

wget -q -O - http://download.fedoraproject.org/pub/epel/6/x86_64/ | grep -c 'unknown.gif'
12129

Yup. That’s 12,129 packages!  And each one of those has at least one developer behind it, to sponsor.  Some of those amazing people obviously maintain more than one package. Some packages are maintained by multiple people.  All of them are working hard behind the scenes for you and me to have an easy and stable access to a whole lot of software.  Here is a quote from the FAQ which is smoked and marinated in all that effort:

Software packages in EPEL are maintained on a voluntary basis. If you to want ensure that the packages you want remain available, get involved directly in the EPEL effort. More experienced maintainers help review your packages and you learn about packaging. If you can, get your packaging role included as part of your job description; EPEL has written a generic description that you can use as the basis for adding to a job description.

We do our best to make this a healthy project with many contributors who take care of the packages in the repository, and the repository as a whole, for all releases until RHEL closes support for the distribution version the packages were built for. That is ten years after release (currently) — a long time frame, and we know a lot can happen in ten years. Your participation is vital for the success of this project.

I don’t know about you, but for me, this is absolutely mind-blowing.  So I just wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you to all the brilliant people behind the scenes, who are often invisible, yet indispensable for the continuous success of Open Source software in general, and Linux in particular.

You guys rock!

Red Hat Satellite

Here’s something I didn’t know about – Red Hat Satellite.  From the FAQ page:

Red Hat® Satellite is a system management solution that makes Red Hat infrastructure easier to deploy, scale, and manage across physical, virtual, and cloud environments. Red Hat Satellite enables users to provision, configure, and update systems to help ensure that they are running efficiently andsecurely, and remain compliant with relevant standards. By automating most tasks related to maintaining systems, Red Hat Satellite helps organizations increase efficiency, reduce operational costs, and enable IT to better respond to strategic business needs.

Now Red Hat’s acquisition of Ansible makes even more sense.  I guess, their satellite is looking for the galaxy.

fpm – build packages for multiple platforms (deb, rpm, etc) with great ease and sanity

fpm – Effing package management! Build packages for multiple platforms (deb, rpm, etc) with great ease and sanity.

Happy 10th birthday, Fedora!

Dear Fedora,

I know we have our disagreements.  At times I don’t know where you are going.  Or whether even you know where you are going.  But that’s OK.  Because you are still awesome.  You still pay my bills.  You are still fun to use.  And you are still on every single computer I can get my hands on, both at home and at work.

It’s your 10th birthday.  And you’ve grown up a lot.  It seems like only yesterday I was upgrading my Red Hat 9 machines to an awkwardly named Fedora Core 1 Yarrow Linux, and yet here we are – expecting the 20th release.  You’ve kept your word on releasing every 6 month (albeit with a few weeks delay every single time).  You’ve grown.  You’ve changed.  You’ve matured.

While I had a few hiccups with you over the years – those Gnome and KDE fights, those boot loader changes, and still painful inclusion of SELinux, you’ve always been there for me.  I’ve helped me to build numerous projects.  To make new friends.  To understand the world better.

Please continue to be what you are.  Please continue to change.  Please continue to improve.  Just, if you can, think of me, your biggest fan and seasoned user, once in a while.

Happy 10th birthday and a huge thank you.

Yours truly, Leonid.

Linux distributions screenshot museum

Chris Haney has put together a simple application that allows one to browse through numerous Linux screenshots.  More than 400 different Linux distributions are presented, with many of them featuring screenshots from different releases.  This is interesting both in terms of how much a distribution has changed over time, and how one distribution compares to another.

I wish these were organized a bit differently, allowing more of a photo gallery experience.  But I’m sure the improvements will come over time.

Via habrahabr.ru.