Archive for October, 2013

First UEFI PlugFest for Linuxers


After the 3 days dedicated to LinuxCon US 2013 in New Orleans, it was time to contribute to the UEFI Plugfest organized for the first time as a co-located event.

So what is a UEFI plugfest ? Well it’s a place where hardware manufacturers and software producers meet to check the compatibility of their implementations with regards to UEFI. So Every hardware manufacturer brings some systems, sometimes early units or prototypes, and try them with the latest operating systems available to find out potential issues, some other bring cards to see whether their UEFI driver works fine on computer manufacturer and operating system producers want to try their latest version on these often brand new systems.

UEFI PlugFest

I think it was a brilliant idea to mix the 2 populations for multiple reasons:

  • UEFI members were for sure impressed by the technical knowledge floating around, and employed in such an open fashion, which is not the standard way of working of this standard body.
  • Linux kernel members could exchange with manufacturer representatives of UEFI systems which definitely helped reducing all the FUD around this technology, in particular Secure Boot. They also had the opportunity to test some not yet available hardware platform to ensure their distributions/drivers/tools were working fine or fix them if that wasn’t the case

UEFI PlugFest - Samer El-Haj-Mahmoud, HP

So in the HP area, under the lead of Dong Wei who is UEFI Forum Vice President and HP Fellow, we tried with 2 colleagues various Linux distributions (and even Windows, but not me !) on the 4 systems that were around. And some findings were interesting !

UEFI PlugFest - Dong Wei, HP

  • Debian 7.1 had grub issue at boot and we were not able to install it
  • Mageia 3 has no UEFI support yet and we were not able to install it easily. However, support is planned for Mageia 4, and some info have been published recently to detail how to perform UEFI based installation.
  • Ubuntu 13.10 provides all what is needed to install in a UEFI compliant environment, thanks to their documentation. We were also able to test SecureBoot with success with their version of Matthew Garrett‘s shim bootloader, signed by Microsoft. They are also working on an interesting tool: FWTS aka Firmware Test Suite, which should be adopted by all distributions IMHO in order to have (for once !) a single tool able to perform firmware compliance tests for a Linux environment. Easy to use, pretty comprehensive, reports lots of useful info. Too bad that they are not providing their certification tools online anymore 😦
  • OpenSUSE 12.3+ again has what is needed for UEFI support. Same mechanism with a shim bootloader, but this time signed multiple times by Microsoft and SUSE. However, this requires a more recent implementation of the UEFI specification, which wasn’t the case on all our system during this event. SUSE provides in particular an excellent documentation on UEFI support, including the possibility to sign its own kernel with pesign in order to use it with SecureBoot.
  • Fedora 19 provides mostly all what is needed. Install worked in UEFI mode without problem. We used the updated version of the shim and shim-unsigned packages from Fedora 20 in order to avoid some issues. However, the multisign issue met with OpenSUSE was also encountered here. More over, Fedora doesn’t provide a good documentation yet for signing your own kernel, which was reported upstream and could benefit from this article. Also the usage of mokutil is broken and should be fixed for Fedora 20.
  • UEFI PlugFest - Samer El-Haj-Mahmoud, HP

    We also got visited by two Kernel Maintainers Greg Kroah-Hartman and James Bottomley who even tried some of his tools on our systems.
    UEFI PlugFest - James Bottomley, Parallels - Neill Kapron, HP

    Note that Some USB keys even correctly formated didn’t boot correctly on some platforms so if you encounter this issue, try using another USB key.

    Finally I made some tries with MondoRescue on the Last Fedora distribution installed. I thought the work done to support EFI on Itanium would be sufficient, but there are some detection problems for the boot loader in mindi need to be solved and are now tracked upstream as well.

    And on top of all what I was able to learn working with my 3 colleagues, I was pointed to a very instructive article from Ken Thomson on Trusting Trust, I hadn’t read before (and I encourage you to read it), following discussions on Secure Boot. And we had a very nice dinner downtown, a walk through Bourbon Street
    Bourbon Street

    followed by a real air of New Orleans Jazz.

    That was the end of a very rich US week. More to come on other more recent travels later.

LinuxCon North America 2013: an air of Jazz


It was really great to be able to attend LinuxCon in New Orleans in September. I’d like to thank again HP’s OSPO team and in particular Eileen Evans, VP leading it, to sponsor my travel there. HP is also a Platinum sponsor of both the Linux Foundation, CloudOpen & LinuxCon events.

As I arrived in the afternoon of Monday, I missed the keynotes and presentations that day, but could join the HP booth where HP was presenting HPcloud:
Stand HP

and also demonstrating the new Moonshot converged system there:
Stand HP - Moonshot

This event is always attracting lots of people from various background and the booths area was crowded
as well as elsewhere in the hotel

Jeanne, who was coodinating the event for HP was even interviewed by the Linux Foundation team
Jeanne Colon-Bonet

Cocktails (nice hurricane !) and a light dinner were provided to the attendees during the booth crawl session which allowed me to talk with some of my US colleagues to learn the latest news
Stand HP - Jonas Arndt, Scott Lamons, Scott Jameson

I started to feel the effects of the jet lag, and went to my hotel room (couldn’t help make some mail !) and rest thinking I was singing Renaissance music just some hours ago !

Speaking of the hotel, this was a very nice venue, with futurists elevators with no button in them 😉

Second day was more active, and I attended all keynotes and sessions I could.
Among the most interestong for me I was able to see, there was the keynote of Kevin Kelly who talked about the notion of “Technium”, this idea that 7 billions people all connected all together all the time, with the latest technologies available will create a new entity he called the Technium and described. Not entirely convincing, and this is good, as it’s also a bit frightening. I consider and hope people will keep enough independance to watch this type of evolution with distance and won’t become a big brother type of system managing itself.
Kevin Kelly, Wired Mag. on the Technium

Then it was time for an OpenStack refresh with Thierry Carrez who did a great job explaining that a release manager is not just working 1 day every 6 months 😉 I can’t agree more with him ! (even if I have much smaller projects to deal with). Thierry also covered the various sub projetc and how to manage coherency in such a project. When you think about it: 3 years ago nobody was talking about OpenStack and now they have as many company and contributors as the Linux Kernel had in roughly 20 years ! Quite amazing.
Thierry Carrez, OpenStack
Then James Blair continued on a related talk explaining the continuous process pushed to the extreme set up in the project with the development of ad-hoc tools such as zuul. I must admit it really gives incitation to look more closely at it, gerrit, jenkins and take what could be relevant, even for a small project.
James Blair

After the lunch, it was time to go back to keynotes, which were a bit less interesting than usual for me, even if the concepts brought by Candy Chang to revigorate a neighborhood was original. I decided to continue with Cloud and look at what Red Hat had to propose around openshift. In complement to their RDO (sort of Red Hat OpenStack distribution), they have this offering which exists for some time, but seems now to grow in activity. Diane Mueller presented well the offer, the various aspects of the project, but I definitely lack a demo or a more detailed explanation of the technical aspects of this PaaS offering. Worth digging later on with my Red Hat EMEA friends 🙂
Diane Mueller, Red Hat

I attended then the openVswitch presentation from Jesse Gross, but again was a bit disappointed as I was expecting a more concrete presentation of this important tool in todays cloud environments.
Finally, I attended a session on storage management I already attended last year, by Ric Wheeler, which is always interesting, and allowed me to see which progresses were made on their way to storage unification, and principally what remains to be done !! I particularly think to the global architecture they try to put in place, which would be really great to have but is not there yet.
Ric Wheeler, Red Hat

The business day was then over, and it was time to move to the VIP party.
Of course, it was time for my first air of Jazz as well in New Orleans. And even if that’s not my preferred style of music, it was pretty good that night, as well as the buffet !

Lots of VIPs were there of course, which allowed for entertaining discussions

The inside was worth the outside !

The atmosphere was nice, and I stayed there till 10:00PM but wasn’t alone

Some mail, some sleep and I was ready for day 3 ! Which as usual started with a Keynote (the “usual” Dirk Hondel talk)
Dirk Hondel, Intel
and the session the most expected by the audience I think, the Kernel Roundtable.
Ric Wheeler, Redhat - Sarah Sharp, Intel - Tejun Heo, Red Hat - Linus Torvalds, Linux Foundation - Greg Kroah-Hartman, Linux Foundation -
This time, they had invited Sarah Sharp, Intel (I like her clarity) / Tejun Heo, Red Hat (I discovered his enthusiasm which was great)
Sarah Sharp, Intel - Tejun Heo, Red Hat
Linus Torvalds and Greg Kroah-Hartman, both Linux Foundation.
Linus Torvalds, Linux Foundation - Greg Kroah-Hartman, Linux Foundation
The panel was moderated by Ric Wheeler, Red Hat.
Ric Wheeler, Redhat - Sarah Sharp, Intel - Tejun Heo, Red Hat - Linus Torvalds, Linux Foundation - Greg Kroah-Hartman, Linux Foundation

The room was as usual full, and laughed frequently on Linus or Tejun jokes.
Assistance de la kernel round table
The most amusing part was probably when Linus was asked if he had been contacted to introduce backdoor code in the Linux kernel and when he replied “No” doing “Yes” with the head 😉

After the keynote, Linus passed 20 minutes with fans who wanted to take pictures with him, always nice, even when the camera wasn’t working (and cound’t resist to hack it !). Maybe next time, I’ll also have the courage to ask one picture, even if I diserve none having nearly never worked at the kernel level myself. I will never thank him enough to have created an ecosystem which allows me to earn my life and still have fun at work and at home 🙂 This is a great man !
Linus Torvalds, Linux Foundation
As this was the day of my own presentation on Mageia, I didn’t attend as many sessions as the previous day.
The OpenDaylight one was interesting for me, as it was my first exposure to the ecosystem. Mostly it was an overview of the multiple components. The project is young, but deserves to be followed, as it could become as openStack on the SDN side, despite what some people say. Also the UEFI presentation was very interesting, in particular in preparation of the UEFI plugfest which was the 2 following days.
Vojtěch Pavlík, SUSE

And of course, it was my pleasure to have a 15 people choir to sing “Happy Birthday Mageia” during my session this afternoon 😉

And the day ended with … Blues, not jazz this time ! At the house of blues of course.
House of Blues
With Voodoo art inside
House of Blues - art Voudou

This event is organized for all LinuxCon participants, so there are multiple threaded buffet to satisfy the appetite 😉
House of Blues

The blues band was great, really (they even had a pinguin, look closely !)
House of Blues
I think it will be part of the memorable dinners organized during LinuxCon as it gave everybody energy for the rest of the week
House of Blues

I really enjoyed this event again, made new relationships, learned and hopefully transmit to some the fantastic beauty of Open Source. Hope to have the same pleasure end of this month in Edinburgh. But for me the week wasn’t finished as I attended the UEFI plugfest as said earlier, but that’s for another article.

You can see more pictures at

New 3.2 development branch for MondoRescue


I’ve taken over the lead for MondoRescue in September 2005. It has been 8 years these days. And since the 3rd of October 2005, I started a new branch to try to fix the first bug report (I really mean the first !) that was made !!

It took me hours to work on this branch along the years. Many times I’ve left that dev, as it wasn’t working as I wanted. Too many modifications done without testing, then a non working stuff too difficult to debug. I even included a patch from a contributor René-Marc Dolhen to add i18n support, but due to the numerous changs of branches to work on this, it never materialized in an offical MondoRescue version.

So when René-Marc contacted me back 2 weeks ago to again propose to me to add this patch renewed, I decided it was time to make something !

I’ve thus created the 3.2 branch, passed lots of hours again during my recent travel in the US to port patches from the 3.1 branch to this new one and 3.2.0 will be next MondoRescue version. I’m now testing it. trunk, stable (!) and 3.1 branches are now dead. The one after will be named devel, but that’s not for now.

3.2 now compiles, build and even runs up to the archiving point. I’ll start testing restore soon. I’ll make beta versions available as usual and will really need your help as user/contributor to test it in the various cases that you have to make it as reliable as the one we have today in 3.0.

Even if I don’t intend to maintain 3.0 for a long time in parallel with 3.2, it may be done a bit to ease the transition.

BTW, do not expect many news in 3.2. It’s 3.0 with tons of dynamic memory allocation instead of static one where it was easy to do (and done previously). More will come later on. And hopefully with the i18n patch added if René-Marc has still the force to work with me after so many years of delay !!