From the Canyon Edge -- :-Dustin

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Its Go Time -- Kirkland 13.11 LTS Released!

AUSTIN, Texas -- Kirkland Family Life Enterprises are proud to announce the eagerly anticipated release of the second product of its generation -- Kirkland 13.11 Ultra LTS (code name: Corinne).

Chief Architect and Lead Developer Kimberly Kirkland (code name: Mommy) delivered another perfect new child process at 10:40pm on November 18th, 2013 -- four days slightly behind schedule this time.  As with previous projects, the development team labored through a very long workday, having begun the release procedures with an all-day Sprint that kicked off around 7am that morning.

Senior Product Manager and Community Coordinator Dustin Kirkland (code name: Daddy) multi-tasked a stream of procurement and support requests, and helped ensure an agile delivery.  He tagged each milestone with snapshots, offering encouragement throughout each task.  Kim and Dustin were assisted by an expert team of support engineers, Stephanie Carter (code name: Nanny) and Gerri Gros (code name: Mimi), who joined them on-site for the final QA and the initial release party.  Dustin wore an Golang Gopher t-shirt for the duration of the sprint, with Kim noting that the cute gopher face made her smile any time the going got tough.

Corinne 13.11 is an "Ultra" Long Term Support release, with first class expert support for at least 18 years.  She is already showing tremendous input/output capabilities and impressive throughput I/O performance.  A contract technician confirmed that her dual-channel stereo input is in good working order, and that her analog output volume, while still a bit inarticulate and compressed, is quite audible.  "We're so delighted to meet her!," says Kimberly, exhausted but joyful.  Kim sheds a tear, "We just couldn't be happier!"

Complete release notes do state that Corinne is currently prone to frequent, spontaneous reboots and random periods of inactivity.  Fortunately, her init and shutdown sequences are quite efficient.  Kim and Dustin shared the design responsibilities for Corinne's look and feel.  They seem to have done quite an elegant job, having achieved fine unity around her outer shell.  And she has a simply gorgeous greeter!  While they some experience at this point, Dustin and Kim were a bit out of practice and are still getting used to the young interface.  They do have quite a bit more debugging experience with various sleep states, and suspend/resume features.  Continuous integration is essential to a smooth running product!

"I'm just loving every second of uptime!" says Dustin, while dealing with an unexpected core dump on the system console.  "We've been looking forward to this package import for quite some time."

Corinne is currently in a limited-release mode, with access only granted to a few statically linked associates.   But in another 6 weeks or so, she's expected to make her first GA appearances, with a formal release party still to be held.

Corinne did meet her elder sister release, Camille, and these two will certainly be constant companions!

While Kirkland Family Life Enterprises are evolving quickly, their trajectory looks impressive, as we confirmed with Board of Directors chairmen Allen Kirkland (code name: Paw Paw) and Robert Gros (code name: Bob).  "We're just delighted with our venture investments and they continue to have our complete backing!" claims the chairmen.  Technical Advisers Donna Kirkland (code name: Gran) and Gerri Gros (code name: Mimi) said, "What an excellent team, and a fine family of products!"

Asked if there's a 3.0 update in the works, Dustin, wearing his VP Product hat, shrugged and noted that they still have plenty of development to do on their current two products.  "Let's work on maturing our 1.0 and 2.0 with stable release updates before we start talking about a whole new product line!  We're not on a time-based release schedule, so just ask me again in a year or two."


Monday, November 18, 2013

Is privacy really yours?

I'm trying desperately to hold private my opinions about the latest revelations on the ways and means of modern espionage, its targets, and rationalizations.

But I find this logic, from Congressman Mike Rogers, Chairman of the House Intelligence committee, quite dangerous...

He says, and I quote:
"You can't have your privacy violated if you don't know your privacy is violated".
While the United States laws on privacy are complicated, I feel that this is so awfully wrong :-(

Criminal voyeurism is illegal.  Date rape is illegal.  This is not a thought experiment.  If a tree falls in the forest, there is a tree on the ground irrespective of its audiology.

Comprehend Congressman Rogers' same logic applied to Rohypnol.  Or a video camera hidden in a dressing room.  These are blatant crimes, whether or not the victims are aware of the violations of their privacy.

This recent TED talk, by Mikko Hypponen, is incredibly thought provoking.  Chillingly, he quips, "Orwell was an optimist".  Yikes.  On a happier note, I'm almost positive his slides in this talk use the Ubuntu font.  Presumably he delivered this presentation in Brussells from an Ubuntu PC?


Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Juke

I do hereby nominate this move as the greatest juke in the history of the football quarterback.

November 9, 2013 at Kyle Field, Texas A&M vs. Mississippi State
For the record, Johnny Football completes a 26 yard pass on the play.  After scrambling a bit more.  Too much to fit in a single animated gif.  Wow.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Review: Ubuntu and an Intel NUC

Last week, I posed a question on Google+, looking for suggestions on a minimal physical format, x86 machine.  I was looking for something like a Raspberry Pi (of which I already have one), but really it had to be x86.

I was aware of a few options out there, but I was very fortunately introduced to one spectacular little box...the Intel NUC!

The unboxing experience is nothing short of pure marketing genius!

The "NUC" stands for Intel's Next Unit of Computing.  It's a compact little device, that ships barebones.  You need to add DDR3 memory (up to 16GB), an mSATA hard drive (if you want to boot locally), and an mSATA WiFi card (if you want wireless networking).

The physical form factor of all models is identical:

  • 4.6" x 4.4" x 1.6"
  • 11.7cm x 11.2cm x 4.1cm

There are 3 different processor options:

And there are three different peripheral setups:

  • HDMI 1.4a (x2) + USB 2.0 (x3) + Gigabit ethernet
  • HDMI 1.4a (x1) + Thunderbolt supporting DisplayPort 1.1a (x1) + USB 2.0 (x3)
  • HDMI 1.4a (x1) + Mini DisplayPort 1.1a (x2) + USB 2.0 (x2); USB 3.0 (x1)
I ended up buying 3 of these last week, and reworked my audio/video and baby monitoring setup in the house last week.  I bought 2 of these (i3 + Ethernet) , and 1 of these (i3 + Thunderbolt)

Quite simply, I couldn't be happier with these little devices!

I used one of these to replace the dedicated audio/video PC (an x201 Thinkpad) hooked up in my theater.  The x201 was a beefy machine, with plenty of CPU and video capability.  But it was pretty bulky, rather noisy, and drew too much power.

And the other two are Baby-buntu baby monitors, as previously blogged here, replacing a real piece-of-crap Lenovo Q100 (Atom + SiS307DV and all the horror maligned with that sick chip set).

All 3 are now running Ubuntu 13.10, spectacularly I might add!  All of the hardware cooperated perfectly.

Here are the two views that I really wanted Amazon to show me, as I was buying the device...what the inside looks like!  You can see two mSATA ports and red/black WiFi antenna leads on the left, and two DDR3 slots on the right.

On the left, you can now see a 24GB mSATA SSD, and beneath it (not visible) is an Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6235 WiFi adapter.  On the right, I have two 8GB DDR3 memory modules.

Note, to get wireless working properly I did have to:

echo "options iwlwifi 11n_disable=1" | sudo tee -a /etc/modprobe.d/iwlwifi.conf

The BIOS is really super fancy :-)  There's a mouse and everything.  I made a few minor tweaks, to the boot order, assigned 512MB of memory to the display adapter, and configured it to power itself back on at any power loss.

Speaking of power, it sustains about 10 watts of power, at idle, which costs me about $11/year in electricity.

Some of you might be interested in some rough disk IO statistics...

kirkland@living:~⟫ sudo hdparm -Tt /dev/sda
 Timing cached reads:   11306 MB in  2.00 seconds = 5657.65 MB/sec
 Timing buffered disk reads: 1478 MB in  3.00 seconds = 492.32 MB/sec

And the lshw output...

    description: Desktop Computer
    product: (To be filled by O.E.M.)
    width: 64 bits
    capabilities: smbios-2.7 dmi-2.7 vsyscall32
    configuration: boot=normal chassis=desktop family=To be filled by O.E.M. sku=To be filled by O.E.M. uuid=[redacted]
       description: Motherboard
       product: D33217CK
       vendor: Intel Corporation
       physical id: 0
       version: G76541-300
       serial: [redacted]
          description: BIOS
          vendor: Intel Corp.
          physical id: 0
          version: GKPPT10H.86A.0025.2012.1011.1534
          date: 10/11/2012
          size: 64KiB
          capacity: 6336KiB
          capabilities: pci upgrade shadowing cdboot bootselect socketedrom edd int13floppy1200 int13floppy720 int13floppy2880 int5printscreen int14serial int17printer acpi usb biosbootspecification uefi
             width: 32 bits
             clock: 66MHz
             capabilities: storage msi pm ahci_1.0 bus_master cap_list
             configuration: driver=ahci latency=0
             resources: irq:40 ioport:f0b0(size=8) ioport:f0a0(size=4) ioport:f090(size=8) ioport:f080(size=4) ioport:f060(size=32) memory:f6906000-f69067ff
        *-serial UNCLAIMED
             description: SMBus
             product: 7 Series/C210 Series Chipset Family SMBus Controller
             vendor: Intel Corporation
             physical id: 1f.3
             bus info: pci@0000:00:1f.3
             version: 04
             width: 64 bits
             clock: 33MHz
             configuration: latency=0
             resources: memory:f6905000-f69050ff ioport:f040(size=32)
          physical id: 1
          logical name: scsi0
          capabilities: emulated
             description: ATA Disk
             product: BP4 mSATA SSD
             physical id: 0.0.0
             bus info: scsi@0:0.0.0
             logical name: /dev/sda
             version: S8FM
             serial: [redacted]
             size: 29GiB (32GB)
             capabilities: gpt-1.00 partitioned partitioned:gpt
             configuration: ansiversion=5 guid=be0ab026-45c1-4bd5-a023-1182fe75194e sectorsize=512
                description: Windows FAT volume
                vendor: mkdosfs
                physical id: 1
                bus info: scsi@0:0.0.0,1
                logical name: /dev/sda1
                logical name: /boot/efi
                version: FAT32
                serial: 2252-bc3f
                size: 486MiB
                capacity: 486MiB
                capabilities: boot fat initialized
                configuration: FATs=2 filesystem=fat mount.fstype=vfat mount.options=rw,relatime,fmask=0022,dmask=0022,codepage=437,iocharset=iso8859-1,shortname=mixed,errors=remount-ro state=mounted
                description: EXT4 volume
                vendor: Linux
                physical id: 2
                bus info: scsi@0:0.0.0,2
                logical name: /dev/sda2
                logical name: /
                version: 1.0
                serial: [redacted]
                size: 25GiB
                capabilities: journaled extended_attributes large_files huge_files dir_nlink recover extents ext4 ext2 initialized
                configuration: created=2013-11-06 13:01:57 filesystem=ext4 lastmountpoint=/ modified=2013-11-12 15:38:33 mount.fstype=ext4 mount.options=rw,relatime,errors=remount-ro,data=ordered mounted=2013-11-12 15:38:33 state=mounted
                description: Linux swap volume
                vendor: Linux
                physical id: 3
                bus info: scsi@0:0.0.0,3
                logical name: /dev/sda3
                version: 1
                serial: [redacted]
                size: 3994MiB
                capacity: 3994MiB
                capabilities: nofs swap initialized
                configuration: filesystem=swap pagesize=4095

It also supports: virtualization technology, S3/S4/S5 sleep states, Wake-on-LAN, and PXE boot.  Sadly, it does not support IPMI :-(

Finally, it's worth noting that I bought the model with the i3 for a specific purpose...  These three machines all have full virtualization capabilities (KVM).  Which means these little boxes, with their dual-core hyper-threaded CPUs and 16GB of RAM are about to become Nova compute nodes in my local OpenStack cluster ;-)  That will be a separate blog post ;-)


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Byobu's Ubuntu Color Scheme for Manpages and Grep

I've been trying to bring Ubuntu's beautiful color palette to the command line through Byobu, starting with the command prompt, by defining a new $PS1 value.

As of Byobu 5.63 (in Trusty now, or in the Byobu PPA for other Ubuntu releases), we now have an Ubuntu theme for less, the default interface for reading manpages at a command line, as well as grep.

Double bright mode is defined to a lighter shade of Ubuntu orange, standout mode is either background Ubuntu orange or italics (depending on your terminfo), and underline mode is a lighter shade of aubergine.

Grep highlights matches in an Ubuntu orange.  A special thanks to goes to Nick Moffit for that one, who is quite proudly not a Byobu user :-)

Here are some screenshots of Gnome Terminal with a few of the default color profiles.  Enjoy!