Archive for November, 2010

Usability Fedora vs Windows

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

I’m writing this post sitting in a train, connected to the internet via UMTS. The device is a Huawai E220 HSDPA modem connected via USB. Guess who is the winner?

Procedure to get the device running on Fedora (first time usage):

  • Plug in the device on any USB port
  • Enter the PIN in the pop-up
  • Enjoy mobile Internet connection

Steps: 3
Time: approx. 5sec.

Procedure on Windows XP (first time usage):

  • Decide on what USB port you will plug in the device an memorize it, because subsequently it will only work on that USB port
  • Plug in the device
  • A virtual CDROM drive gets mounted, a window with some drivers is appearing
  • Install the driver
  • reboot your notebook
  • Finding and starting the previously installed software
  • Getting a pop-up asking for the PIN
  • Enjoy mobile Internet connection

Steps: 8
Time: approx 10min

Procedure on Windows 7 (first time usage):

  • Decide on what USB port you will plug in the device an memorize it, because subsequently it will only work on that USB port
  • Plug in the device
  • A virtual CDROM drive gets mounted, a window with some drivers is appearing
  • When autorun.inf is enabled, the driver installs automatically (on enterprise systems mostly disabled). if not enabled, read some documentation what to do
  • Finding and starting the previously installed software
  • Getting a pop-up asking for the PIN
  • Enjoy mobile Internet connection

Steps: 7
Time: Between 5min and 30min (depending on your Windows 7 knowledge)

For the subsequent usage on Fedora proceed as it is the first time usage.

On Windows (XP and 7) you need to remember which port you plugged in the device when you installed it. Otherwise you need to uninstall the drivers, reboot and install the drivers again and reboot again. [update]On Windows 7 you do not need a reboot.[/update]

Having fun? With Fedora yes πŸ™‚ With Windows? Not really…

Spacewalk 1.2 released -> PostgreSQL Support quite ready -> First analysis

Saturday, November 20th, 2010

Today, Spacewalk – the upstream project of the RHN satellite – released version 1.2. One of the promises the developers made was better support of PostgreSQL. It seems that lot of stuff is now working. As I promised, I’m going to examine whats working and whats not. I’ll file every single bug I’ll find, please do the same in a polite manner.

First impression
Installation and first sync of yum channels works like PostgreSQL support was there from the first second. Nevertheless, there is still a lot to test.

How to install Spacewalk with PostgreSQL?
It is straight forward:

  • Set up a PostgreSQL database as described here
  • Follow and exclude things that mentions Oracle
  • Go for the the instructions about PostgreSQL.

And enjoy your newly installed Spacewalk server w/o Oracle!

What I proofed working so far:

  • Installing with PostgreSQL went smooth and much faster than the stuff with an Oracle setup
  • Creating a CentOS5 Channel
  • Add a yum repository (
  • Linking the yum repo to a channel

Conclusion so far

  • Spacewalk feels (not measured) MUCH (very much) faster with PostgreSQL. (Feels like more than the tripple speed)
  • PostgreSQL support seems to be almost ready for production (the tested stuff)
  • As RHN Satellite 5.4 is out now and the ISS bug is fixed (in spacewalk-nightly, not yet with an erratum) Red Hat should and can now focus on the complete replacement of the Oracle embedded DB.
  • RHN Satellite 6.0 can and should be released w/o being bound to Oracle

More things to test

Since syncing repos is a time consuming task (seems to be much less time consuming with PostgreSQL), some tests are still pending. There is no single System yet subscribed, no deployment tests etc. I’ll test them later and let you know.

Some more words to say

The RHN Satellite and Spacewalk developer crew (once again) made an outstanding good job (I wish I could say the same on QA). At FUDCon 2010 in Zurich, Miroslav stated that nobody is willing to test the PostgreSQL support. No wonder it was not yet ready to test it at that time. Now, PostgreSQL enabled Spacewalk is ready for being tested by broad public , do it as I do it!

Having fun? Yes sure, I’m going to do some more intensive tests on the PostgreSQL support.



RHEL6 is released!

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010


RHEL6 was just released at 2010-11-10 20:09:50 CET. Quoting Red Hat press relase: Today, we delivered Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 to the market. @Red Hat: you are so mean! Next time inform your fellows one day in advance to give your fellows the chance to fill the fridges with champagne!

I did not checked (yet) the differences between beta 2.1 and GA. I guess the differences are at a minimum.

The odd thing is: It seems not be available via satellite-sync yet (yes, sat540 is in place).

[update]You need to get a new certificate from Red Hat support to get access to the rhel6 channels, regardless if you got one a few days ago to install sat540.[/update]

Having fun? No, I do not have any champagne in my fridge πŸ˜‰

Joining the Fedora doc and trans-de Teams

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

The history
Since 1994 I’m a Linux enthusiast. In the year 2000 I was installing the first commercially used Linux Systems in Switzerland’s airline industry. Since then I worked in different companies mostly in the outsourcing business.

From 2001 to 2003 I was also contributing some German translations for KDE, as well as writing two Docbook SGML documentation for TLDP.

The current
Since approx. two years I’m working mostly with Red Hat’s RHEL and its derivatives such as CentOS. Later I also switched my desktop and notebooks from openSUSE to Fedora, for obvious reasons: Fedora is the upstream of RHEL and it is more stable.

I’m also a guy that wrote and writes some Bugzilla entries, mostly for RHN Satellite/Spacewalk. Those guys may already know me, I’ll hope they still like me πŸ˜‰

First contact to the Fedora community
My first contact with the Fedora community was at FUDCon 2010 in ZΓΌrich, Switzerland, my home town. There I recognized that it is indeed a very nice and international community with a lot of interesting people.

This encouraged me to to something for the Fedora project. What can I do? First of all, I’m having some knowledge about technical documentations, thus joining the doc-team. I also have some experience with GNU gettext and my mother tongue is german, so joining the trans-de team makes sense.

The future
I’m a RHCE with some skills in building RPMs, lets see if I can help the project with that too.

Lets have some fun?

Upgrading RHN Satellite from 5.3 to 5.4, experiences and hints

Monday, November 8th, 2010

As I wrote in my previous post I’ll let you know about my experiences. The most important message is: It is easy to upgrade your Satellite from 5.3 to 5.4, if you have an eye on certain things. Everyone that plans to use RHEL6 and manage it with a Satellite server needs this upgrade, due to the fact that RHEL6 comes with SHA-256 checksums on its RPM packages.

Who needs this upgrade?
Any company that plans to use RHEL6 which is released when quoting Red Hat: “later this year”. Any company with more than 50 managed systems which is annoyed by BZ #629543. Every company with more than 500 managed systems to able to manage 501+ systems because of the same bug.

The odd thing
RHN Satellite 5.4 was released at the end of October 2010. There no press release, no announcement, nothing (yet). This upgrade is probably one of the most important ones, because of RHEL6. @Red Hat: Please explain.

Before you begin
Obtain the new Satellite certificate from Red Hat. Open a support case at It takes about two days. Provide them the version of the new Satellite to avoid further loss of time.

Do I need to say that you need to download the ISO-image from

If your Satellite has SELinux enabled and it is in enforcing mode, you need to put it into permissive mode by issuing setenforce 0. At the moment there is are two open bugs regading SELinux: BZ #646863 and BZ #646862.

The protocol for syncing has changed from version 5.3 to 5.4. You need to keep this in mind when using ISS (Inter Satellite Sync). At the moment a 5.3 Satellite cannot be the master of a 5.4 Satellite. The other way round it works perfectly. A bug was filed, read BZ #644239 for more information, a fix will be released quite soon.

It is important to backup /etc/rhn/rhn.conf since this file will get overwritten. A Bugzilla issue is filed (BZ #650987).

If you did not backed up your database, do it now!

Another thing you need to know is that Red Hats recommendations on extending the Oracle embedded DB’s table space is not enough. Please ensure you have at least 2 Gbyte on DATA_TBS and 1GByte of UNDO_TBS. To be sure of that, fire up db-control report as user “oracle”. If one of the TBS’ does not have the expected free space, fire up db-control extend you-name-it-TBS.

Further, you need to have a closer look to the file system size – depending on on your file system layout – to /var/cache/rhn. I made some odd observations that the space needed has quite exploded from about 2Gbyte to about 6Gybte. So ensure you’re having some free space on /var resp. /var/cache/rhn.

If you using cobbler and kickstarting for provisioning or monitoring, please install the package rhn-upgrade and have a look to the files installed in /etc/sysconfig/rhn/satellite-upgrade/ for more information about the procedure.

First you need to delete some stuff…
Before upgrading your Satellite you need to clean your caches located in /var/cache/rhn. It will be rebuilt later.

… and rebuild it from scratch later
The different tasks you need to conduct will take, depending on how many custom channels you have, between four and 14 hours. More to read further below, after the upgrade process is finished.

Lets start

  • Mount the ISO-image downloaded: mount satellite-embedded-oracle-5.4.0-20101025-rhel-5-x86_64.iso /mnt -o loop && cd /mnt.
  • Fire up the installer: ./ –upgrade It will ask you some questions, anwer then with “Y” for yes.
  • Fire up su – oracle -c db-control gather-stats
  • Update your database scheme with spacewalk-schema-upgrade and depending on the hour, take a break for a long lunch/dinner or go home and continue the following day.
  • When finished, check if the schema was applied successfully by issuing rhn-schema-version. It should read as
  • Activate your freshly upgraded Satellite: rhn-satellite-activate –rhn-cert /path/to/the/cert/you/got/from/redhat.
  • You would like to rebuild the search indexes: service rhn-search cleanindex
  • Check /etc/rhn/rhn.conf and compare it to the previously backed up version. Change it accordingly.
  • Restart your satellite: rhn-satellite restart and have another break.

Rebuild your satsync cache
As written further up, you need to rebuild some more meta data caches: /var/cache/rhn/repodata will be rebuilt when restarting the Satellite. The /var/cache/rhn/satsync will we rebuilt on the first satellite-sync. Keep in mind that satellite-sync still does not remember previously synced custom channels. Please vote on this bug.

Cool stuff to do with RHN Satellite 5.4
Who is using EPEL? IUS? someone? I think a lot of people do so. Until now, the best method was probably wget -m and rhn-push all RPMs in the output directory. This was time consuming and created some extra traffic on the net. Now you can add yum repositories to your satellite and link them to a custom channel. Log in and go to Channels -> Manage Software Channels -> Manage Repositories -> create new repository.

Add a label, i.e. “epel5-x86_64” and add the repository URL. I.e. Save and go back to “Manage Software Channels” and select a channel, or create a new one. Base channel is mostly a Red Hat Channel. Go to “Repositories” and select the formerly created repository. Click on “Update Repositories”, Click in “sync” and confirm by clicking the “Sync” button and you’re done.

What else? Staging content sounds nice. Unfortunately this only works with the upcoming RHEL5.6 (Beta was announced today) and RHEL 6.1 (Why not RHEL 6.0?). It means that if enabled, every enabled system downloads the to-be-updated packages before the actual maintenance window. This greatly helps keeping downtimes short.

At the end of the day…
Companies using RHN Satellite are strongly encouraged to upgrade. Not only because of the support for RHEL6, there also have been a lot of bugfixes, performance improvements and enhancements. I can encourage every Satellite user to upgrade, Red Hat (and in particular the Spacewalk developer team) made a great job, thanks a lot!

Having fun?
Sure, Red Hat Satellite 5.4 makes my daily work more efficient πŸ™‚