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Linux
Apr 23

The latest version of Ubuntu (Jaunty Jackelope) has hit the streets – I’ve been using it for a few weeks now and it is simply more of the same great stuff.   The only difference I’ve really noticed is boot speed and I didn’t have to download and install OpenOffice 3.  So far it has been a breeze to install and run on both a VM and physical hardware.  Still fast, secure and incredibly easy to use.  Very nice.  That being said, for full production servers, I still prefer RHEL for Enterprise Server applications.  With the addition of some VM technology, Ubuntu may become a contender in that arena soon.  Maybe 10?

However, the most exciting part of the release wasn’t the Desktop or Server Editions, but rather the Netbook Remix.   After getting to use it a bit on a friend’s netbook, there really is no real competition for it.  Vista is slow and bloated on a Netbook, CE & XP just seem clunky and very, very dated – And out of all the Linux distros, Ubuntu Netbook Remix is by far the most polished and complete out of the box.  It is really the current gold standard for Netbook OS’s.

Apr 22

Once upon a year ago, when Sun Microsystems acquired MySQL, there were many bloggers who theorized that Big Red, who had a long-running, close partnership with Sun, was pulling some strings in this deal.  The people who endorsed the idea that Oracle couldn’t put the kibosh on MySQL without a PR headache (But Sun could), were dismissed as crazy, conspiracy-theory people.  My only surprise so far is the courteous lack of ‘I told you so’ popping up in the expert blogs.

So where do we go from here?  Oracle doesn’t have any experience in hardware.  If they keep most of Sun’s staffing, and continue to fund their innovation efforts, we may continue to see excellent products from them.  But will they retain their stellar brand identity?  Will they abandon the Sparc chip architecture and adopt x86?  It seems the best solution here looks more like a tightly coupled partnership rather than a merging of the two companies.

From Oracle’s whitepaper on the decision, MySQL’s fate seems a little less promising:

MySQL will be an addition to Oracle’s existing suite of database products, which already includes Oracle Database 11g, TimesTen, Berkeley DB open source database, and the open source transactional storage engine, InnoDB.

This doesn’t sound like Oracle is poised to grow MySQL and allow it to flourish.  At this time MySQL 6.0 is in Public Alpha, and has added the Falcon transactional engine as an advanced alternative to InnoDB, and SolidDB.  Looking at the architecture, this engine brings some industrial-grade caching, recovery, and long transaction support to MySQL.  Couple this with the real deal disaster recovery 6.0 is bringing to the table, and you have a free multi-platform database that rivals everything an Oracle database can offer outside of Enterprise Edition, and soundly trounces the latest Microsoft SQLServer offering.

But will Oracle put the resources toward MySQL, to allow it to be all it can be?  Personally, I don’t see it happening, but I hope I am very, very wrong.

Sid

Jan 17

LanguageHave you ever run into this situation: You are happily scripting out or designing a new capability, performing maintenance, or providing support. Perhaps you are eating lunch, or are home in bed, soundly sleeping at 3:00AM.

And then it happens.

Something broke somewhere, and it is database-related. No, it is not something you’ve built, maintained, or even seen - It is something from another business area, and their help is not available.

When you arrive, you are greeted by the ever-present group of concerned stake-holders, and a terminal. Will you staunch the flow of money they may be hemorrhaging? Will you bring back the data they may have lost? Will you be able to restore their system to service?

What you don’t want to do is flounder because they don’t have your favorite management software, your preferred shell, or your favorite OS.

Learn to speak the native languages!

There are 3 skill sets every good data storage professional should keep current at all times, outside of their core RDBMS interface languages:

  • Bourne Shell (bash)
  • vi (Unix/inux text editor)
  • CMD Shell

I guarantee that any Linux system you log into will have bash and vi. I personally prefer the korn shell for navigation, and the c shell for scripting - but the bourne shell is on every system. Same with vi - Except, I really prefer vi to anything else.

This means no matter what Linux or Unix server you are presented with, you can become effective immediately.

I’ve included Microsoft Windows command shell is included because it fits in with a parallel reason for learning the native language - you can proactively increase survivability in your data storage and management systems by using the tools and utilities you KNOW will be available - Even if libraries are unavailable, even if interpreters and frameworks are lost/broken.

If the operating system can boot, you can be sure the bourn shell or CMD shell is available for use.

Knowing that, you should consider scripting the most vital system functions using the available shell script, and initiating them with the operating system’s integral scheduling tool (crontab/Scheduled Tasks). This way you can ensure that if the OS is up, your vital scripts will be executed!

And who doesn’t want that?

Aug 10

Black Hat and DefCon, the premier Information Assurance venue for bleeding edge vulnerability and exploit research just wrapped up in Las Vegas.

The Good: The published presentations including a host of discussion about security in a virtualized environment, the sad state of Microsoft SQL Server security, and much, much more. Topping it all off was the announcement of the Windows Vista security bypass exploit via the browser by Mark Dowd and Alexander Sotirov. This is a particularly bruising find on Microsoft’s latest flagship, as it is quite a resource consumer, fairly annoying to use, but at least it was secure… Maybe now is a good time to try Ubuntu?

The Bad: The Pwnie Awards.  Unless you are in the ‘Most Innovative Research’ category, this is BlackHat’s Hall of Shame for security shortcomings.   A lesson learned from other’s mistakes is hopefully a lesson you don’t have to experience first-hand!

And the Ugly: A group of reporters from E-Week were covering Black Hat 2008 for their Security News.  They were too lazy to use their secured VPN to log into their home servers, so they just let their credentials pass in the clear… At a hacker convention… The shameful part is they threw the three responsible attendees out when they tried to submit these credentials to The Wall of Sheep.

Brian Fedorko

Jul 29

If you haven’t explored server virtualization, there is no better time! VMWare has announced that ESXi is now free! (CHEAP!)

Q. ESXi only supports a single VM, what is the advantage of this?

A. Portability & Flexibility. Since the VM isn’t tied to the hardware, it is ultimately transportable. Have a test server and production server? You can copy the REAL production VM to the test server. If you’re developing, you can copy the VM, archive it for Configuration Management purposes and promote the test environment to production with little risk for surprises due to differences in configuration!

You can get more out of less hardware. For development, your test hardware can be an Oracle 11g database server running RHEL on Monday, a JBoss App Server on SUSE on Tuesday, and an Oracle RAC instance on Oracle Enterprise Linux for emergency scalability on Wednesday, and an impromptu Backup Domain Controller on Windows Server 2008 on Thursday. The same server is the hardware you need when you need it!

Best of all, the VMs you create on ESXi are completely compatible with any of the VM Servers VMWare offers – Port it right into a ESX Server BladeServer or the like, when you are ready.

Q. What about Oracle Licensing on VMs?

A. Oracle does not officially support their products on any VM Server except Oracle VM – Their licensed version of Xen. However, I’ve been running Oracle on ESX on a wide variety of hardware implementations and have yet to experience one problem. Licensing a Virtualized Oracle Server can be expensive on a consolidated VM Server, as you must pay for every socket, whether you are using it for the Oracle Server VM or not – But on an ESXi hypervisor, with single VM setup, the cost is the same as if you put it on the physical server!

Q. What about Microsoft’s Hyper-V – That is free too!

A. Microsoft’s Hyper-V isn’t as ‘free’ or ‘Hyper’ as they would like you to believe. ESXi is free – It sits on the Hardware, requiring no foundational OS. MS Hyper-V requires you to purchase and install Server 2008 to run Hyper-V ($1000-$6000 depending on the flavor). Plus, you get all the overhead of having Microsoft Server 2008 as disk Sspace, memory, and processor overhead!

Then there is the matter of Hyper-V’s supported OS list It supports Windows, Windows, Windows, and SUSE.

Hyper-V space requirement: 10Gb MINIMUM. ESXi: 32Mb

Hyper-V max processors per host: 4. ESXi Max processors per host: 8

Etc…

In short, If you haven’t tried virtualizing your servers, now is a great time (It is always a great time to save your client/company/self equipment funds!). Now, you have nothing to lose!

Brian Fedorko