Monthly Archives: March 2017

7 Myths About How the Internet Works

The internet is a vast and complicated set of interconnected networks, tying internet service providers, cloud service providers and enterprises together. While the cloud is an exciting new technology that is changing the way the world watches videos, hails taxis, uses money, and shares pictures, it’s not clear how these service providers work together in the background to create the value we all enjoy.

Cloud computing enables companies to create real-time transactions and collaborate to produce applications that are valuable for the real world. However, while cloud computing sounds like it is the same thing as the internet, it’s actually a metaphor. Cloud computing uses the internet and obscures the interconnecting infrastructure, platforms, and applications to make transactions seamless, immediate, and convenient for the entire interconnected world. 

Thanks to this obfuscation, there is a great deal of historical fact and fiction about the origins of the internet, networking, computing, and the interlocking pieces that’s melded together to produce myths about how the internet actually works. Let’s take a look at some of these internet myths on the following pages.

(Image: nednapa/Shutterstock)

Jim Poole is the Vice President for Global Ecosystem Development at Equinix. His mission is to explore new and emerging digital ecosystems with a focus on how interconnection can be used to strategic advantage by Equinix customers. Prior to his current role, Jim served as the Vice President for Global Service Provider Marketing, where he was responsible for vertical strategy, messaging and sales activation. Jim has an over 20-year background in the ICT industry. He has held executive level positions at Roundbox, Savvis, C&W Americas, dynamicsoft and UUNET.

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How to Use Different Linux Bash Shells in Windows 10 |

It’s no secret that Linux dominates the cloud, whether it’s a private cloud running on OpenStack or if it’s AWS or Microsoft Azure cloud.  Microsoft itself admits that one out of three machines run Linux in Azure cloud.  However,  as more customers were running Linux, they needed the ability to manage their Linux systems, and Windows 10 lacked Linux tools and utilities.

Microsoft tried to add UNIX capabilities to its own PowerShell, but it didn’t work out as expected. Then, they worked with Canonical to create a Windows Subsystem for Linux. This allowed users to install Linux inside Windows 10, offering native integration, which meant users would be literally running Ubuntu command-line tools in Windows.

However, not everyone uses Ubuntu. In the Linux world, different distributions use different tools, utilities and commands to perform the same task. Officially, Microsoft is sticking to Ubuntu, as it’s the dominant cloud OS. But that doesn’t mean you can’t run your choice of distro. There is an open source project on GitHub that allows users to not only install a few supported distros on Windows, but also easily switch between them.

To start, we need to install Windows Subsystem for Linux on Windows.

Install Linux Bash for Windows

First, you need to join the Insider Build program to gain access to pre-release features such as WSL. Open Update Settings and then go to Advanced Windows Update option. Follow the instructions and join the Insider Build program. It requires you to log into your Microsoft account. Once done, it will ask you to restart the system.

Once you’ve rebooted, go to Advanced Windows Update option page and choose the pre-release update and select the Fast option.

Then, go to Developer Settings and choose Developer mode.

Once done, open ‘turn windows features on and off’ and select Window Subsystem for Linux beta.

You may have to reboot the system. Once rebooted,  type ‘bash’ in the Windows 10 search bar, and it will open the command prompt where you will install bash — just follow the on-screen instructions. It will also ask you to create a username and password for the account. Once done, you will have Ubuntu running on the system.

Now every time you open ‘bash’ from the Start Menu of Windows 10, it will open bash running on Ubuntu.

The switcher we are about to install basically extracts the tarball of your chosen Linux distribution into the home directory of WSL and then switches the current rootfs with the chosen one. You can download all desired, and supported, distributions and then easily switch between them. Once you switch the distro and open ‘bash’ from the start menu, instead of Ubuntu, you will be running that distro.

Let’s get started.

Install Windows Subsystem for Linux Distribution Switcher

It’s time to install a switcher that will help us in switching between distributions. First, we need to install the latest version of Python 3 in Windows. Then, download  the switcher folder from GitHub. It’s a zip file, so extract the file in the Downloads folder. Now open PowerShell and change the directory to the WSL folder:

cd .DownloadsWSL-Distribution-Switcher-master

Run ‘ls’ command to see all the scripts available. You should see this list:

Directory: C:UsersarnieDownloadsWSL-Distribution-Switcher-master

Mode                LastWriteTime         Length Name
----                -------------         ------ ----
d-----         2/4/2017   3:18 PM                ntfsea
d-----         2/4/2017  10:00 PM                __pycache__
-a----        11/2/2016   2:54 PM           3005
-a----        11/2/2016   2:54 PM           5018
-a----        11/2/2016   2:54 PM           9907
-a----        11/2/2016   2:54 PM          16237
-a----        11/2/2016   2:54 PM           1098
-a----        11/2/2016   2:54 PM           7442
-a----        11/2/2016   2:54 PM          13824 ntfsea_x64.dll
-a----        11/2/2016   2:54 PM          11264 ntfsea_x86.dll
-a----        11/2/2016   2:54 PM           1161 pyinstaller.spec
-a----        11/2/2016   2:54 PM          17547
-a----         2/5/2017   1:56 PM        1898755 rootfs_alpine_latest.tar.gz
-a----         2/5/2017   1:40 PM       42632248 rootfs_centos_latest.tar.xz
-a----         2/4/2017   9:59 PM       51361242 rootfs_debian_latest.tar.gz
-a----         2/4/2017   9:56 PM       26488540 rootfs_debian_sid.tar.xz
-a----         2/4/2017  10:00 PM       67973225 rootfs_fedora_latest.tar.gz
-a----         2/4/2017   9:58 PM       38760836 rootfs_fedora_latest.tar.xz
-a----         2/5/2017   1:08 PM       28933468 rootfs_opensuse_latest.tar.xz
-a----         2/4/2017  10:00 PM       50310388 rootfs_ubuntu_latest.tar.gz
-a----        11/2/2016   2:54 PM           4568
-a----        11/2/2016   2:54 PM          14962

Now we need to download the desired distribution. Let’s try Debian:

py.exe debian

Then, install it:

py.exe debian

Now, open bash from Start Menu. Then, you can check whether it’s still Ubuntu or it has switched to Debian. Run the following command:

cat /etc/os-release

You should see this output:

PRETTY_NAME="Debian GNU/Linux 8 (jessie)"
NAME="Debian GNU/Linux"
VERSION="8 (jessie)"

Debian 8 is now installed. Now, let’s start using Debian. If you want to use openSUSE, first quit the Debian bash session, by typing exit.

Now go back to PowerShell and enter the WSL directory as explained above:

cd .DownloadsWSL-Distribution-Switcher-master

Let’s download Fedora:

py.exe opensuse

And then install it:

py.exe fedora

When you install a distribution, the ‘bash’ automatically switches to that distribution, so if you open ‘bash’ from Start Menu, you will be logged into openSUSE. Try it!

cat /etc/os-release

NAME="openSUSE Leap"
PRETTY_NAME="openSUSE Leap 42.2"

Ok! Now how do we switch between installed distributions? First, you need to quit the existing ‘bash’ and go back to PowerShell, cd to the WSL Switcher directory, and then use ‘switcher’ script to switch to the desired distribution.


So, let’s say we want to switch to Debian

py.exe debian

Open ‘bash’ from Start and you will be running Debian. Now you can easily switch between any of these distributions. Just bear in mind that WSL itself is a beta software; it’s not ready for production so you will come across problems. On top of that, WSL Distribution Switcher is also an “under development” software so don’t expect everything to work flawlessly.

The basic idea behind this tutorial is to get you started with it. If you have questions, head over to the GitHub page and do as we do in the Linux world: ask, suggest, and contribute.

Learn more about Linux through the free “Introduction to Linux” course from The Linux Foundation and edX.

Packet Blast: Top Tech Blogs, March 24

We collect the top expert content in the infrastructure community and fire it along the priority queue.

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Manjaro: User-Friendly Arch Linux for Everyone |

Arch Linux has never been known as a user-friendly Linux distribution. In fact, the whole premise of Arch requires the end user make a certain amount of effort in understanding how the system works. Arch even goes so far as to use a package manager (aptly named, Pacman) designed specifically for the platform. That means all that apt-get and dnf knowledge you have doesn’t necessarily roll over.

Don’t get me wrong; Arch Linux is a fantastic distribution. However (and that “however” is significant), it’s certainly not a distribution for anyone even moderately new to the world of Linux. Case in point: When you boot up an ISO of Arch Linux, you wind up at a Bash prompt, where you then walk through the numerous steps (as outlined in the Installation guide) to get Arch Linux installed. In the end, you will be rewarded with a fine-tuned Linux distribution that will serve your needs well. On top of that, by the time you’ve installed Arch, you will know more about your operating system than you would have before.

But what about those who want the benefits of Arch Linux, but don’t want to have to go through the unwieldy installation? For that, you turn to a distribution like Manjaro. This take on Arch Linux makes the platform as easy to install as any operating system and equally as user-friendly to work with. Manjaro is suited for every level of user—from beginner to expert.

The big question, however, is why would you want to give Manjaro a try? With so many Linux distributions available, is there anything particularly compelling about this platform to woo you away from your current daily driver (or to simply test out what this Arch-based distribution is all about)? Let’s take a look.

32- and 64-bit friendly

While many distributions are dropping support for 32-bit architecture, Manjaro continues to support the aging platform. This means that all of your older hardware can still make use of this Arch-based operating system with the latest-greatest releases of software. This will become more crucial in the future, when more Linux distributions stop supporting 32-bit hardware.

Rolling Release

Manjaro (currently on its 17th iteration) is a rolling release distribution. What does that mean? For those that do not know, a rolling release distribution effectively means everything is updated frequently, even the core of the system, so that there is no need for point-based releases. This also means your machine will always have the latest-greatest stable software. Due to the frequency of the updates, they are also smaller. Some consider this a superior update delivery method, as there is less chance of software breakage.

Choose your desktop

At the moment, you can choose between the Xfce, KDE, or GNOME. All three editions follow similar design concepts and offer a very clean and professional look (Figure 1).

The Net edition provides a base installation without a pre-existing display manager, desktop environment, or any desktop software. With this particular release, you can customize it to perfectly meet your needs.

There are also community editions that include spins based on the following desktops:

The Manjaro developers have done a fantastic job of making Xfce, GNOME, and KDE versions look and feel the same. The biggest difference, for me, is that both the KDE and GNOME takes on the distribution are a bit more elegant and modern than Xfce (which might sway you one way or another).


Beyond Manjaro’s ability to make Arch easy, one of the most impressive aspects to be found on this desktop Linux distribution is the collection of included software. Yes, you’ll find the standard productivity software:

  • LibreOffice

  • GIMP (XFCE version only)

  • Inkscape and Krita (KDE version only)

  • File managers and other standard desktop tools

  • Firefox (all three versions)

  • Thunderbird (KDE and XFCE versions)

  • Evolution (GNOME version)

But beyond the basics, you’ll also find the likes of:

  • Avahi SSH Server and Zeroconf Browser

  • Steam

  • Bulk Rename

  • Catfish File Search

  • Clipman

  • HP Device Manager

  • Orage Calendar

  • Htop

  • GParted

  • Yakuake (KDE version only)

  • Octopi CacheCleaner (KDE version only)

Along with those packages, Manjaro offers an easy to use Add/Remove Software tool (Figure 2) that allows you to install software from a vast collection of titles.

Understand, the pre-installed package listing will vary, depending on which desktop environment you’ve chosen to install. For example, the KDE version of Manjaro will lean heavy on KDE applications and the GNOME version will lean on GNOME software. You will find, however, that all three official desktop iterations do include LibreOffice, so your productivity is covered, regardless of environment.

The package manager GUI is as simple to use as any: Open the tool, search for what you want to install, select the software, and click Apply. Updates are just as easy. When an update has arrived, you will be notified in the system tray. Click the notification and okay the installation of the upgrades.

Settings Menu

One nice touch for Xfce spin of Manjaro is the Settings menu. Click on the Main menu and then click Settings in the right side of the menu to reveal an impressive amount of options available to configure (Figure 3).

With the KDE and GNOME flavors of Manjaro, you work with the standard tools of that particular desktop environment, for a bit more cohesive feel. If you’ve used a recent releases of either KDE or GNOME, you’ll feel right at home. The GNOME iteration also includes the Dock To Dash extension, for those that prefer a more “dock-like” approach to the desktop.


I was pleasantly surprised that Manjaro was able to play MP3s out of the box with one of its media players. The Xfce edition of Manjaro ships with both Guayadeque and Parole media players. Of the two, only Guayadeque was able to play MP3 files out of the box. YouTube videos play without issue and Netflix only requires the enabling of DRM (Figure 4) and the installation of the Random Agent Spoofer extension.

Once you’ve taken care of those two issues, Netflix plays seamlessly (Figure 5).


As for performance, you can opt for any of the official editions of Manjaro and expect incredible speed. Running as a VirtualBox guest with 3GB of RAM, Manjaro ran as smoothly and quickly as the host Elementary OS Loki with a remaining 13GB of RAM available. That should tell you all you need to know about the performance of Manjaro. As a whole, there is absolutely nothing to complain about with regards to Manjaro performance. It’s quick, smooth, and reliable. The GNOME, KDE, and Xfce are flawless.

Who’s it for?

In the end, I think it’s safe to say that Manjaro Linux is a distribution that is perfectly capable of pleasing any level of user wanting a reliable, always up-to-date desktop. Manjaro has been around since 2011, so it’s had plenty of time to get things right… and that’s exactly what it does. If you’ve been looking for the ideal distribution to help you give Arch a try, the latest release of Manjaro is exactly what you’re looking for.

Learn more about Linux through the free “Introduction to Linux” course from The Linux Foundation and edX.

Vim Shortcuts and Text Searches |

In our previous Vim how-to, An Introduction to Vim for Sysadmins, we learned enough about using Vim to bang around in short text files and get something done. Now we’re moving on to some of Vim’s excellent power tools: abbreviations (autotext), mapping hotkeys, and text searches.


Vim’s abbreviations are glorious custom autotext. You can use these for anything: copyright notices, signatures, page headers, code snippets, anything your heart desires. Create a new abbreviation in command mode, like this example of my new signature:

:ab sig Carla Schroder, angel with a lariat

Switch to insert mode to use your new signature. In my example it is mapped to sig, so I type sig and press Enter. You can make your abbreviations concise and mysterious, or make them a little bit longer and mnemonic, like sig. List your abbreviations in command mode:

! sig Carla Schroder, angel with a lariat 1,0-1 All

Remove an abbreviation:

:una sig

Remove all abbreviations:


When you create abbreviations this way, they are not permanent and will disappear when you close Vim. This is good when you need them only for a particular document and don’t expect to use them again. To save them permanently, put them in your ~/.vimrc. They look exactly the same in ~/.vimrc:

:ab sig Carla Schroder, angel with a lariat

If you use una or :abclear your abbreviations in ~/.vimrc become unavailable until you close Vim, but are not removed from ~/.vimrc, so they will be active when you start Vim again.

What if you want to type your abbreviation’s name, like sig, and not print your abbreviation? No problem, just type sig followed by CTRL+V.

Another use for abbreviations is auto-correcting typos. This corrects teh to the:

:iab teh the

:iab is for insert mode only, :cab for command mode, and :ab operates in both modes.

Run :help abbreviations to learn the many finer points. Leave the help screen with :q.

Fast Markup Tagging

Now we’ll use Vim’s maps to create custom keystrokes for inserting markup tags. These examples insert both opening and closing HTML tags around single words.

:map <F4> <strong><Esc>ea</strong><Esc>a
:map <F5> <em><Esc>ea</em><Esc>a
:map <F6> <del><Esc>ea</del><Esc>a

After creating your keymaps switch to insert mode, place your cursor on the first letter of the word, press the appropriate function key, and poof! Nice HTML tags surrounding your word. So what the heck just happened here? Let’s dissect the first mapping.

:map creates a new keymap that works in insert mode. (:map! works in both command and insert modes.) F4 is the hotkey, and remember to type it out when you create the new mapping rather than pressing the key. <strong> is the opening HTML tag. <Esc> switches to command mode, e navigates to the end of the word and then a appends </strong> after the cursor. Cool, eh? And not so mysterious when you crack the Vim code.

You may map commands to any key combinations you choose. F2-F12 and shifted F2-F12 should be safe. When you use other hotkey combinations think up odd combinations that you are unlikely to use in text, like q-consonant combinations, comma-letter, or F-key-letter or number.

The examples above may not be practical, as they are limited to tagging single words. You can also map single tags, like this:

:map <F4>1 <strong>
:map <F4>2 </strong>

Just like abbreviations, you can preserve your key mappings in ~/.vimrc. Of course you may map any text you like.

Text Search

Vim’s basic text search is fast and easy. In command mode, type /string, replacing string with your own text, and then continue the search forward with lowercase n (next), and search backwards with uppercase n. This matches your search string even when it is inside longer strings, so searching for “is” also finds “this” and “isn’t”.

To find an exact match you have to make it a regular expression, like this:


Another way to find an exact word is to place the cursor on a word, enter command mode, and type an asterisk to find more occurrences of that word. Again, use n and N to repeat the search.

The default is a case-sensitive search. Set ignorecase for a case-insensitive search:

:set ignorecase

:set smartcase is a rather slick tool for smart case-sensitive searches. This works only on typed search strings. If you search for /wOrd then it will find only that exact match. If you search for /word then it will find all matches regardless of case.

You can override these settings with c (case insensitive) and C (case sensitive) like this:


One more cool search feature, and that is using Vim’s search history to repeat previous searches. Press / or ? to enter your search history, and navigate it with the arrow keys. You may edit any search in your history, and press the Enter key to use the search.

In our next installment, we’ll take an in-depth look at search-and-replace, and how to perform lovely complex feats of searching and replacing in large and multiple documents.

Learn more about Linux through the free “Introduction to Linux” course from The Linux Foundation and edX.