Archive for January, 2010

Et si les économies se faisaient sur les biens et non les personnes ?


Comme dans le Zapping de Canal+, il y a des chocs d’informations qui sont stupéfiants: On ne parle que de réduction de personnels en France comme solution majeure au déficit budgétaire. A côté de cela, on peut lire dans l’Express de cette semaine,sous la plume d’Emmanuel Paquette, que le Ministère de la Défense passe un contrat-cadre de quelques 100 MEUR sur 4 ans avec Microsoft … Irlande. Et en parallèle, FOSSBazaar nous présente comment une école Néo-Zélandaise utilise des machines Ubuntu et Mandriva pour gérer son infrastructure informatique complète.

Si notre gouvernement voulait bien investir en France, il pourrait contribuer au développement d’une société française, telle que Mandriva (et récupérerait au passage des charges sociales, et autres impôts sur les sociétés, le jour où Mandriva fera des bénéfices ;-)). Et même si il devait, comme les Néo-zélandais choisir une solution mixte de fournisseurs (pour un domaine sensible comme la défense cela ne me choquerait pas), l’investissement serait toujours profitable en France car l’écosystème du libre dont font partie Ubuntu et Mandriva dispose de nombreuses sociétés de services locales prêtes à travailler pour les ministères, et même référencées par eux.

Et on pourrait aussi créer de toute pièce un centre de recherche en informatique libre pour le secteur de la défense française (dans un premier temps avant de pouvoir le faire au niveau européen), à l’image de celui mené par Roberto di Cosmo pour l’Inria, qui pourrait étudier l’adoption massive des logiciels libres par le secteur de la défense, ainsi que les adaptations nécessaires à y faire pour le rendre conforme aux usages en vigueur dans ce secteur. Des technos comme SElinux, iptables, et les multiples outils de sécurité disponibles autour des distributions Linux permettraient, à moindre coût pour le citoyen-contribuable de résoudre une quadrature du cercle: économie d’achat de logiciels, maîtrise complète des systèmes, reversement à la communauté, emploi de personnels.

Il est temps en 2010 de prendre le taureau par les cornes au sein de l’administration française et d’effectuer un big-bang qui sera salutaire tant pour nos finances que pour nos emplois, tant pour nos compétences, écoles, centres de recherche que pour notre indépendance: l’adoption à grande échelle et officielle du logiciel libre à tous les étages et le financement sur deniers publics de qui lui manque encore pour être utilisable partout. Ce serait une réforme fort utile. Je veux bien que mes impôts servent à cela plutôt que de finir dans la poche de Microsoft Irlande. Et surtout à payer le développement de compétences et d’emplois ici plutôt que des logiciels fermés ailleurs.

HP Virtual Room on a 64 bits Linux


HP Virtual Room is a nice aplpication allowing us to communicate remotely with colleagues, partners, and customers, in addition to a conference call, by providing desktop sharing. Very neat for presentations, or demo.

It has provided multiple platform support since a long time (Windows, Mac and Linux) for attendees. You just need to install a dynamic library under Linux, as a browser plugin, whcih is working just fine with Firefox.

Recent versions of the tool have improved and Linux is now fully supported, including for presenters ! However, I recently experienced a problem while at home on my Mandriva 2010.0 64 bits version. The shared desktop window just didn’t want to appear, when trying to test the system.

It took me a bit of time to realize what was happening. The applet is 32 bits, and one 32bits library was missing on my machine to support it correctly. Of course, no useful message was produced to diagnose that, and I finaly found the right error message:

$ grep virtual $HOME/.xsession-errors
/users/bruno/.hpvirtualrooms/hpvirtualrooms: error while loading shared libraries: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory

So just 2 commands later, it was working just fine:

$ urpmf
$ sudo urpmi libalsa2

Just in case you also have the issue one day you now know where to look 😉

auto_inst: the best kept Mandriva’s secret ?


Have you ever tried to automatically installed your Linux distribution ? Of course, if you’re a long time sysadmin, and Red Hat user, you use kickstart, or FAI if you happen to be a Debian fan.

But if you’re a Mandriva user, like myself, you also have a great tool to achieve the same goal: auto_inst.

What ? You were not aware ! Well, not so surprising seeing the lack of documentation around that tool, since nearly the begining. Mandriva has been lucky enough to have a contributor, David Eastcott, who published and updated for a couple of years a good auto_inst guide. It has been my bible, when I first looked at it, and found it very detailed and useful, even if I never understood why Mandriva didn’t make more noise about it (they have it as a package drakx-autoinstall-doc included in the official documentation).

But the problem is that this documentation is 6 years old now ! And even if most of it is still accurate, some other parts are now lagging behind. So trying to find a newer version, I went naturally to Mandriva’s wiki, and looked for the up to date version of it. I just found that another contributor, Roudoud0u, hosted a wiki version a bit updated on his own page. So I updated it with some of the findings I made on fs_type field for partitions, but what would be really needed, is that Mandriva takes back ownership of this documentation and host it in a decent place on its wiki, and have the writer of the tool review it and update it. It’s mostly accurate, but it wouldn’t take a lot of time for those involved in the tool to polish it with the latest goodies provided. For me, it would mean reading most of drakx code, understand it, and then being at the end able to review. Way too much for my availability 😦

The tool is extremely useful, and well done, as with a perl script declaring the $o hash, you can enhance your installation process in multiple ways. Including adding code such as with the oem patch support to do what ever fancy stuff you want with it, including fixing installer bugs 😉

For the moment, I still have a problem with the automatic installation of my 2010.0, where the installer gives back the hand to me saying “Oops, no root partition at /usr/lib/libDrakX/fs/ line 68. Even looking at the code, it didn’t give me a clue, as I indeed have a ‘/’ partition in my partition list, and previously the same auto_inst file was just working correclty.

Another small issue is that the installer becomes again interactive to warn me that it will install xdm, even if I tried with multiple way to instruct it it was a server without X needed 😦

So please Mr Mandriva (or Mrs Mandriva maybe ;-), a small effort to bring that tool more in the light, as it first deserve it, and is mandatory in any distribution targetting the enterprise.

I’ve posted here an example of my auto_inst file for others to look at and share.

Use the right methods and tools to support diversity


Look at: presentation at upcoming FOSDEM


For the first time this year, I’ll attend the FOSDEM in Brussels. Some FLOSS friends already explained to me it was a must attend event in EMEA, so this I tried to propose some conference material, and my proposal around was retained 😉

I’ll only arrive on the Saturday morning, but will leave on Monday, combining a customer visit with it. So if any of the reader is around and want to discuss about Continuous Packaging or Disaster Recovery with Mondo Rescue, or anything else, that would be with great pleasure !

And there will be lots of interesting talks there as well, such as the one from Dominique Dumont on Config-Model, Guillaume Rousse on Youri or Jeff Johnson on RPM, just to name a few in the same room.

I hope to meet you there as I'm going to FOSDEM, the Free and Open Source Software Developers' European Meeting

MondoRescue leads to … 16 hours of travel ;-)


It’s incredible what an Open Source project can lead you to achieve !

Last week, I was involved in a consulting activity around MondoRescue (seems to become somehow a hot topic for some customers) to make it more robust in handling LVM devices exclusion. For the record, it’s still not completely finished but we made lots of progress during those 2 days with the customer.

The interesting part of that is that it was in Madrid Spain ! So I was able to enjoy traveling a bit, and specially eating at a very nice restaurant (Nina), where I even found a french person explaining everything to me 😉 The dinner was just great ! Highly recommended.

However, when leaving on Friday, it was really snowing hard around Lyon, France and as a consequence, the airport was closed. I was warned by SMS that my flight was cancelled but without reason. So I decided to go to the airport and look at options. That’s where I learnt the closing of the airport. Could have been in the SMS 😦 Anyway, I could indeed change my flight for one to Paris, Charles de Gaulle. I was also happy that our travel agency could reserve a train from Paris to Lyon. So that’s what I did. Left Madrid a bit later, and arrived in Paris at 8:30PM instead of in Lyon at 7:30PM but better than nothing. Then I catch my train… well of course, because the driver wasn’t there. He was himself delayed. So departure was made 1/2 an hour later than planed, finaly at 10:30P and all in all the train had 2 and half hours of delay due to snow, and arrived at 2:45 in Lyon. Well late, but not too bad looking at the wheather conditions !

I was very surprised that the SNCF (French national railroad company) had 4 people waiting for travellers and making accomodations for those in correspondance, or providing taxis for those like me wanting to go back to the airport or in the city. Very nice and helpful. Kudos to them. So I arrived at 3:45AM at the airport to take back my car. I put chains on it before leaving, as highway had 2/3 centimeters of snow !

Trip back was tiring, and long, as I had problems with my chains. I slept one hour in the middle and finally arrived at 8:30M at home. So really Open Source projects can lead you to incredible situations !!

And that was easy, as this week, I fly to Sweden 😉

Mandriva 2010.0 on HP mini 110


No problem to install Mandriva 2010.0 on this new (for me !) HP mini 110. However, at reboot time, blocked on udev.

I found a similar bug report for another system that gave me the hint: Add ssb.blacklist=1 at boot prompt. And indeed it did the trick 😉

Now I still need to find a way to make the embedded bcm43xx wifi module to work with ndiswrapper, and everything looks just fine. Also will try mobin to see how convenient it is ont it.

Transforming a zone 1 DVD into a zone 2 DVD under Linux


Just a couple of notes of what worked for me to transform a DVD I bought (incidentally zone 1) where I thought it was a zone 2. So I had to transform it in order to be able to see it on my non free-zone player.

First I used the excellent ffmpeg to transform the VOB video files from NTSC format into PAL format:

cd$HOME/ tmp
for i in /media/dvd/VIDEO_TS/*.VOB; do j=`basename $i`; rm -f $j; ffmpeg -i $i -sameq -target pal-dvd $j; done

Then I tried to find a way to re-create the IFO files, but the LG83 points to old info 😦
So I used a new program for me devede, which just seemed to do the trick for me.

I created 3 chapters, one per original set of VOB files (corresponding to the movie, the trailer, and the making of). Then in each of those titles, I added each of the VOB files concerned. For each, I entered in the advanced options submenu, and went to the last Misc tab (Divers for me). And each time I checked the 2 first boxes (File already MPEG-PS and recombine sound and video without re-encofing).

After that I asked Devede to create for me an ISO image I tested and then I burnt with k3B. And voilà !

There are probably multiple other ways to achieve the same result. I still need to fix a language issue as only the movie had a french track so I have no sound for the trailer and the making of. Should have forced the english one + subtitltes but that’s for the next time 😉