Smooth upgrade to Ubuntu 8.04 LTS on my Linode

A few days ago I upgraded to Ubuntu 8.04 LTS on my Linode VM (the machine which hosts this blog). I had upgraded to 7.10 a while back, so it was unlikely to be much of a challenge… But it was great to see another very smooth upgrade, without any manual workarounds required at all.

While the packages were downloading, I noticed a few coming from universe, but fewer than I had expected. I try not to use universe stuff on my mission-critical server, but some things are just too good to live without. Perhaps they’re candidates for main inclusion?

So, here’s some of the universe stuff I can’t live without on my server, excluding supporting libraries:

  • collectd: Totally awesome “just works” system information collection and graphing tool. No more dicking around with nightmare configuration of Cacti and friends — collectd comes with a bunch of useful and sensible plugins that are ready-to-go for common graphing tasks. collectd has a vote of confidence from the Red Hat Emerging Technology folks, so you know it’s good. :-)
  • libapache2-redirtoservname: Convenience module for making sure you’re always redirecting to the primary domain name for your websites — with only one line in your VirtualHost configuration. Here’s how easy it is to use:
    RedirectToServerName On
  • rtorrent: Simply the best terminal-based torrent client.
  • php5-xcache: Opcode caching for PHP. Handy when running lots of PHP gash.
  • mailgraph: Lets me know how much spam I’m killing, and email I’m suffering. :-) See mailgraph on for a great example of mailgraph in action.

This is progress? (iftab vs. udev)

Apparently, the delightfully simple /etc/iftab is no longer used, replaced with the ugly and fiercely undelightful /etc/udev/rules.d/70-persistent-net.rules. See, you can even tell from the name of the file that you’re not going to like it.

Surely udev could read and do something useful with /etc/iftab, even if it only provides a fraction of the functionality? Ubuntu successfully migrates the configuration, which is plenty good, but… ew.

I’d kick myself for becoming a “this is progress?! in my day…” curmudgeon, but this is a matter of protecting simplicity rather than pointless defense of “the old ways”. :-)

Here’s /etc/iftab:

# This file assigns persistent names to network interfaces.
# See iftab(5) for syntax.

eth0 mac 00:15:c5:4a:71:98 arp 1
eth1 mac 00:18:de:03:3e:0d arp 1

While this is /etc/udev/rules.d/70-persistent-net.rules:

# This file maintains persistent names for network interfaces.
# See udev(7) for syntax.
# Entries are automatically added by the 75-persistent-net-generator.rules
# file; however you are also free to add your own entries.

# PCI device 0x14e4:0x1600 (tg3)
SUBSYSTEM=="net", DRIVERS=="?*", ATTRS{address}=="00:15:c5:4a:71:98", ATTR{type}=="1", NAME="eth0"

# PCI device 0x8086:0x4222 (ipw3945)
SUBSYSTEM=="net", DRIVERS=="?*", ATTRS{address}=="00:18:de:03:3e:0d", ATTR{type}=="1", NAME="eth1"

links for 2008-04-10

links for 2008-04-09


Time for a little perspective on the Open Source industry in Australia… Yesterday, the ABS shipped some findings about digital game development companies:

At end June 2007, there were 45 businesses in Australia involved in the provision of digital game development services. These businesses employed over 1,400 people and generated a total income of $136.9m which represented an average of $3m per business.

Total expenses incurred for the same period were $128.5m. Almost two-thirds of this amount was attributable to labour costs ($83.8m).

During 2006-07 digital game development services businesses recorded an operating profit before tax of $8.5m, and an operating profit margin of 6.2%.

Compare and contrast. :-)

links for 2008-04-07

GNOME in MarkMail

So when Tim O’Reilly pimped MarkMail a few weeks ago, with a post about their huge Perl mail archive import, I liked what I saw.

But it wasn’t just that. I also wondered how much we kicked Perl’s arse. Or, put more diplomatically… I wondered what the difference might be between two large, mature FLOSS projects.

Of course, GNOME and Perl have very different structures, requirements and constituents, and there’s simply no point making comparisons with Apache’s… consortium of projects. ;-)

More seriously, I really liked the visualisation, interface and rich querying capabilities. The attention to detail to these issues makes MarkMail the #1 mail archive site I’ve seen.

Thanks to Jason Hunter at Mark Logic, we now have a full import of the GNOME mailing list archives to play with in MarkMail. Enjoy!

Update: Jason has announced the loading of 750,000 GNOME mailing list archive emails. Rock on!

Australian Open Source Industry & Community Report 2008

Dodging spanners and hospitals, we’ve managed to navigate the last stages of our Census project to deliver the Australian Open Source Industry & Community Report 2008!

Australian Open Source Industry & Community Report 2008

It has been incredibly satisfying to ship the report, as this project has been with us in various forms for over a year now. The initial concept came together in July 2006, as I was leaving Canonical to join Waugh Partners, and we announced the project in November 2006 at our (thoroughly over-catered) launch party.

We knew that one of the most significant barriers to Open Source adoption in Australia was the perceived lack of support, but that was always counter to our anecdotal understanding of the industry and community here. We needed numbers.

Many thanks to our sponsors, NICTA, IBM and Fujitsu and supporters OSIA, Linux Australia and the NSW Department of State and Regional Development. Without their help, this may have just been yet another small-target, DIY project — no professional face, no industry credibility, and no impact on the wider business community. Instead, we have a serious resource that our industry and community can use to change the game.

… and that’s what Waugh Partners is focused on in 2008: Changing (and sustaining!) the game for Open Source in Australia. This report is just one of the steps we’re taking towards this goal.

Foundations of Open: Technology and Digital Knowledge

Australia 2020 Summit

While I share some disappointment in the lack of technology practitioners at the Australia 2020 Summit, I’m tickled pink to be presenting today at a feeder event, organised by the very mavenly Senator Kate Lundy.

Foundations of Open: Technology and Digital Knowledge features some familiar faces, and some fresh ones — all in all, an awesome group of people rocking the frontiers of digital collaboration and openness… and from the sounds of it, the “audience” is going to rock, too!

In the spirit of open, there is a Moodle running for online collaboration and discussion about the event, open to participants in the room and those tuning in via the web. Click through to it from Senator Lundy’s site above. I believe there will be a streaming video of the event available today, but I’ll have to update later with the details.

Update: Tom Worthington has put videos (and lots of other goodies) from the day up on the Open 2020 Summit Moodle site. Enjoy!