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Archive for September 14th, 2010

Systems Management Zeitgeist

September 14th, 2010 by

Dear Lizards,
This recent release from IT World on the best Linux distributions out there caught my eye last weekend, as it declares “The package’s administration utility, YaST, is widely acknowledged as one of the best” in its entry on openSUSE and SLE (the documentation also drew praise, distinguishing itself as “some of the best printed documentation you’ll find for any distro“), and reminded me I wanted to share some of the positive feedback I collected during our 11.x development and after final release.  Ready? Here we go.

Some of the initial ‘Net commentary was all centered on performance and memory footprint, from Snorp’sI don’t think it’s possible to overstate just how much of an improvement it really is” to Duncan’s benchmarks providing interesting numerical comparisons like  “Yum uses about 9 times more memory” (and takes several times longer).  This was refreshing given that at the same time Yum’s less-than-nimble footprint was drawing some interesting comments from Zed and Zbr.

Eventually, the improvements rolled over to the press, with Jason Perlow proclaiming 11 RC1 the Mercedes-Benz to Ubuntu’s Wolkswagen. Jason had plenty of praise in his review, but I am singling out “the most beautiful installer program I have ever seen” and “quite impressed with how fast the package repository management works” since this is the Systems Management team’s ticker-tape parade, after all.  Our then Community Ambassador Zonker followed up with his Package Keeper piece on the special that Linux Pro Magazine issued for the 11.0 release, focusing on package management as “one of the most impressive advances” in the release (link sadly missing as article still paywalled).   Linux Format retorted with “One of our favorite features of SUSE is the one-click install system” and “faster than any other package manager we’ve seen, and on top of that it looks great, too” in their What SUSE Does Best review (no link, as LXF requires subscription).

Finally, with the release of our Enterprise distribution, the commentary rolled over to our corporate customers, as I previously reported when one customer I like to track personally as particularly representative reported a 300% speed improvement in rolling updates to production.

Afterwards, we have moved up live distro upgrade (more famously known as zypper dup) to fully supported status, quickly receiving loud praise from a Linux Journal editor with clearly too many Debian-using friends.  We do relate to his plight, in a tongue-in-cheek manner, and are happy to help.  Indeed, other distributions have started adopting Zypper as well, with Ark leading the way.

So what is next for us? Well, with Btrfs around the corner, integrating snapshot and rollback into the update system stands clearly out from the crowd: an undo button to painlessly bring back the system to where it was before your last upgrade. Stay tuned!

The package’s administration utility, YaST, is widely acknowledged as one of the best,The package’s administration utility, YaST, is widely acknowledged as one of the best,

Another openSUSE kernel git repo

September 14th, 2010 by

The mirror of the openSUSE kernel-source repository has been around for several months already, now there is something new: A repository that is actually usable :-). The current kernel-source repository is a series of patches managed in git, which has some upsides, like the ability to easily cherry-pick a patch and port it to a different branch or send it upstream. But it is quite painful if you want to work with the code itself and not with patch files. A task as simple as determining if drivers/…/foo.c in openSUSE-11.3 has or does not have a certain change requires checking out the branch and running the sequence-patch script to be able to look at the file. If you need to know when was the file changed, you have to run ‘quilt patches <file>’ to find out what patches touched the file and then ask git about the history of these patches. Neither convenient nor efficient. That’s why we have a second repository, that contains the mainline tree with all the suse patches applied. It’s located at http://gitorious.org/opensuse/kernel, the clone url is git://gitorious.org/opensuse/kernel.git. If you already have a clone of the mainline tree, then you can download just the differences with

git remote add suse git://gitorious.org/opensuse/kernel.git
git remote update suse
git checkout suse/master

The above task is then solved by opening the required file in an editor or typing ‘git show branch:file’. And you don’t even need to clone the tree to quickly check something in the source, just use the web viewer. Also, bisecting is much easier, because you avoid the sequence-patch step now. There are some gotchas though:

  • Not every commit to the kernel-source repository results in a change in the kernel repository. For instance updating config files in the kernel-source repository results in a commit that has no text changes. The gitorious viewer is confused by this and tells you that you are viewing the initial commit. In a local clone, you can exclude such commits with ‘git log .’ (note the dot).
  • When the patch series does not apply, there isn’t much to show in the kernel repository. In such case, the commit only adds a ‘BROKEN’ file to the toplevel directory and uses the tree from the previous commit. When using a bisect script, you can skip such commits with e.g. ‘test -e BROKEN && exit 125’.
  • When patches such as xen are temporarily disabled while updating to newer upstream versions and later enabled, it generates huge diffs back and forth. That’s usually not a problem unless you are bisecting something xen-related.

Anyway, I’m sure this will be useful for anyone who needs to debug something in the openSUSE kernel.

On-Access virus scanning on openSUSE 11.3

September 14th, 2010 by

One of the most useful deployment scenario for Linux in enterprise or educational environment is a fileserver with on access virus scanning, to serve Windows PCs on the network of course. Long ago there used to be samba-vscan that worked very nicely, it went missing in openSUSE 11.2 so dazuko kernel module worked in its place. On 11.3 dazuko is no longer available, enter dazukofs.