Fine software projects, news and thoughts from the Linux world.

Debian 6.0 "Squeeze" released

After 24 months of constant development, the Debian Project is proud to present its new stable version 6.0 (code name "Squeeze"). Debian 6.0 is a free operating system, coming for the first time in two flavours. Alongside Debian GNU/Linux, Debian GNU/kFreeBSD is introduced with this version as a "technology preview".

Debian 6.0 includes the KDE Plasma Desktop and Applications, the GNOME, Xfce, and LXDE desktop environments as well as all kinds of server applications. It also features compatibility with the FHS v2.3 and software developed for version 3.2 of the LSB.

Debian runs on computers ranging from palmtops and handheld systems to supercomputers, and on nearly everything in between. A total of nine architectures are supported by Debian GNU/Linux: 32-bit PC / Intel IA-32 (i386), 64-bit PC / Intel EM64T / x86-64 (amd64), Motorola/IBM PowerPC (powerpc), Sun/Oracle SPARC (sparc), MIPS (mips (big-endian) and mipsel (little-endian)), Intel Itanium (ia64), IBM S/390 (s390), and ARM EABI (armel).

Debian 6.0 "Squeeze" introduces technical previews of two new ports to the kernel of the FreeBSD project using the known Debian/GNU userland: Debian GNU/kFreeBSD for the 32-bit PC (kfreebsd-i386) and the 64-bit PC (kfreebsd-amd64). These ports are the first ones ever to be included in a Debian release which are not based on the Linux kernel. The support of common server software is strong and combines the existing features of Linux-based Debian versions with the unique features known from the BSD world. However, for this release these new ports are limited; for example, some advanced desktop features are not yet supported.

Is Parallel Programming Hard, And, If So, What Can You Do About It?

Edited by:

Paul E. McKenney
Linux Technology Center
IBM Beaverton

January 5, 2011


The purpose of this book is to help you understand how to program shared-memory parallel machines without risking your sanity. By describing the algorithms and designs that have worked well in the past, we hope to help you avoid at least some of the pitfalls that have beset parallel projects. But you should think of this book as a foundation on which to build, rather than as a completed cathedral. Your mission, if you choose to accept, is to help make further progress in the exciting field of parallel programming, progress that should in time render this book obsolete. Parallel programming is not as hard as it is reputed, and it is hoped that this book makes it even easier for you.

VMware Workstation 7.1.3 runs great on Linux kernel 2.6.37

Of course, only after you patch the installation. :) I can't remember when was the last time Workstation run without patching, that was really long long time ago. Maybe it's Linus' fault, he moves too fast, who can tell... :)

Also, you won't be able to compile and run the 2.6.37 kernel with the legacy BKL (Big Kernel Lock) disabled, Workstation still depends on lock_kernel() and unlock_kernel() primitives. Let's hope VMware fixes that in their next revision.

Anyway... the patch is relatively small this time, but many files had to be patched for the modules to compile properly, so I propose a slightly different methodology for patching.

An excellent Linux dedicated server that won't burn a hole in your pocket

This site certainly has seen it's share of hosting environments. It started on a shared hosting, without even a proper domain name, then later moved among many of the popular virtualization techniques, first VMware server, then KVM and finally Xen (VPS). But, most of that time, it somehow wanted to end on a real hardware, to have a room to breathe, so to say. As my page on the subject of the digg effect clearly shows, there are times when load on the web server increases rapidly, and to survive such sudden rise in interest, it's best to be hosted on a proper dedicated server. Also I remember that the ever popular picture of Linus Torvalds giving thumbs up to Windows 7 OS ate a fair amount of bandwidth in short time.

The problem is, dedicated servers can get really pricey, because you're leasing not only the physical hardware, you also expect the server to be in a properly air-conditioned and secured data center, connected to UPS, have a good network connection and you also expect the hosting company to pay for all those electricity, cooling and networking bills for you. And of course to install the OS for you and to quickly replace any malfunctioning part etc... All this quickly adds up and pricing goes through the roof fast, thus making most of the real (enterprise) servers completely out of the reach from hobby projects like this site. Fortunately, in the last few years, there has been a steady growing market of so called green servers, small and affordable units that are more energy efficient, possibly more densely packed and certainly more affordable, but still giving great performance to those for whom the absolute availability is not the first priority.

New kernel (2.6.36), new patch to apply to VMware Workstation 7.1

The problem:

Using 2.6.x kernel build system.
make: Entering directory `/tmp/vmware-root/modules/vmmon-only'
make -C /lib/modules/2.6.36/build/include/.. SUBDIRS=$PWD SRCROOT=$PWD/. \
make[1]: Entering directory `/usr/src/linux'
CC [M] /tmp/vmware-root/modules/vmmon-only/linux/driver.o
/tmp/vmware-root/modules/vmmon-only/linux/driver.c: In function 'init_module':
/tmp/vmware-root/modules/vmmon-only/linux/driver.c:425: error: 'struct file_operations' has no member named 'ioctl'

Persuading VMware Workstation 7.1 to cooperate with Linux kernel 2.6.35

This time compilation fails with:

make: Entering directory `/tmp/vmware-root/modules/vsock-only'
make -C /lib/modules/2.6.35/build/include/.. SUBDIRS=$PWD SRCROOT=$PWD/. \
make[1]: Entering directory `/usr/src/linux'
CC [M] /tmp/vmware-root/modules/vsock-only/linux/af_vsock.o
/tmp/vmware-root/modules/vsock-only/linux/af_vsock.c:312: warning: initialization from incompatible pointer type
/tmp/vmware-root/modules/vsock-only/linux/af_vsock.c:359: warning: initialization from incompatible pointer type

Shrinking VMware virtual disk from command line

While shrinking virtual disks is very functional using VMware tools from the guest machine while it is running, from time to time it may be convenient to do it offline, from command line. Here's the procedure to do that (linux host, windows guest):

First we have to mount the virtual disk on the host machine, to prepare it for shrinking:

vmware-mount vmachine.vmdk /mnt

If your guest is also windows OS, you need to make sure that you have ntfs-3g installed on your system. Most linux distributions nowadays have it enabled by default.

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lbzip2: parallel bzip2 utility

lbzip2 is a multi-threaded bzip2 compressor/decompressor utility that can be used on its own, in pipelines, or passed to GNU tar with the –use-compress-program option (or with the –use shorthand).

The main motivation for writing lbzip2 was that I didn’t know about any parallel bzip2 decompressor that would exercise multiple cores on a single-stream bz2 file (i.e. the output of a single bzip2 run) and/or on a file read from a non-seekable source (e.g. a pipe or socket). Thus lbzip2 started out as lbunzip2, but with time it gained multiple-workers compression and single-worker decompression features. Due to the input-bound splitter of its multiple-workers decompressor, it should scale well to many cores even when decompressing.

GNU/Linux Advanced Administration

Authors: Remo Suppi Boldrito, Josep Jorba Esteve
Coordinator: Josep Jorba Esteve
Licenses: GNU Free Documentation License, Creative Commons Attribute ShareAlike License

The GNU/Linux systems have reached an important level of maturity, allowing to integrate them in almost any kind of work environment, from a desktop PC to the sever facilities of a big company.

In the module called "The GNU/Linux operating system", the main contents are related with system administration. This book is the main documentation for the module.

We will learn how to install and configure several computer services, and how to optimize and synchronize the resources.

The activities that will take place in this module cover the studied topics in a practical approach, applying these concepts in real GNU/Linux systems.

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