Monthly Archives: October 2018

Redis Labs Modules Forked » Linux Magazine


As expected, developers from the desktop projects Fedora and Debian have forked the modules that database vendor Redis Labs put under the Commons Clause.

The Commons Clause is an extra license rider that prohibits the user from “selling” the software, and “selling” is defined to include selling services such as hosting and consulting. According to Redis Labs and the creators of the Commons Clause, the rider was created to prevent huge hosting companies like Amazon from using the code without contributing to the project. Unfortunately, the license also has the effect of making the Redis Labs modules incompatible with the open source licenses used with Linux and other FOSS projects.

To fix the problem, Debian and Fedora came together to fork these modules. Nathan Scott, Principal Software Engineer at Red Hat, wrote on a Google Group, “…we have begun collaborating on a set of module repositories forked from prior to the license change. We will maintain changes to these modules under their original open source licenses, applying only free and open fixes and updates.”

It was an expected move. When license changes are made to any open source project, often some open source community jumps in and forks the project to keep a version fully compatible with the earlier open source license. The fork means commercial vendors like Amazon will still be able to use these modules without contributing anything to Redis Labs or the newly forked project. However, not all forks are successful. It’s not the license that matters. What matters is the expertise of the developers who write and maintain the codebase. Google once forked Linux for Android, but eventually ended up merging with the mainline kernel.

In a previous interview, Redis Labs told me that they were not sure whether adding the Commons Clause to these licenses would work or not; they already tried the Affero GPL (AGPL)  license, which is also designed to address the so-called application service provider loophole that allows cloud vendors to avoid contributing back their changes, but the move to the AGPL didn’t help them get vendors like Amazon to contribute.

Redis Labs added the Commons Clause to only those modules that their staff wrote; there is no change to the modules written by external parties.



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4 Useful Tools to Run Commands on Multiple Linux Servers | Linux.com


In this article, we will show how to run commands on multiple Linux servers at the same time. We will explain how to use some of the widely known tools designed to execute repetitive series of commands on multiple servers simultaneously. This guide is useful for system administrators who usually have to check the health of multiple Linux servers everyday.

For the purpose of this article, we assume that you already have SSH setup to access all your servers and secondly, when accessing multiple servers simultaneously, it is appropriate to set up key-based password-less SSH on all of your Linux servers. This above all enhances server security and also enables ease of access.

1. PSSH – Parallel SSH

Parallel-SSH is an open source, fast and easy-to-use command line based Python toolkit for executing ssh in parallel on a number of Linux systems. It contains a number of tools for various purposes such as parallel-ssh, parallel-scp, parallel-rsync, parallel-slurp and parallel-nuke (read the man page of a particular tool for more information).

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4 Must-Have Tools for Monitoring Linux | Linux.com


Linux. It’s powerful, flexible, stable, secure, user-friendly… the list goes on and on. There are so many reasons why people have adopted the open source operating system. One of those reasons which particularly stands out is its flexibility. Linux can be and do almost anything. In fact, it will (in most cases) go well above what most platforms can. Just ask any enterprise business why they use Linux and open source.

But once you’ve deployed those servers and desktops, you need to be able to keep track of them. What’s going on? How are they performing? Is something afoot? In other words, you need to be able to monitor your Linux machines. “How?” you ask. That’s a great question, and one with many answers. I want to introduce you to a few such tools—from command line, to GUI, to full-blown web interfaces (with plenty of bells and whistles). From this collection of tools, you can gather just about any kind of information you need. I will stick only with tools that are open source, which will exempt some high-quality, proprietary solutions. But it’s always best to start with open source, and, chances are, you’ll find everything you need to monitor your desktops and servers. So, let’s take a look at four such tools.

Top

We’ll first start with the obvious. The top command is a great place to start, when you need to monitor what processes are consuming resources. The top command has been around for a very long time and has, for years, been the first tool I turn to when something is amiss. What top does is provide a real-time view of all running systems on a Linux machine. The top command not only displays dynamic information about each running process (as well as the necessary information to manage those processes), but also gives you an overview of the machine (such as, how many CPUs are found, and how much RAM and swap space is available). When I feel something is going wrong with a machine, I immediately turn to top to see what processes are gobbling up the most CPU and MEM (Figure 1). From there, I can act accordingly.

There is no need to install anything to use the top command, because it is installed on almost every Linux distribution by default. For more information on top, issue the command man top.

Glances

If you thought the top command offered up plenty of information, you’ve yet to experience Glances. Glances is another text-based monitoring tool. In similar fashion to top, glances offers a real-time listing of more information about your system than nearly any other monitor of its kind. You’ll see disk/network I/O, thermal readouts, fan speeds, disk usage by hardware device and logical volume, processes, warnings, alerts, and much more. Glances also includes a handy sidebar that displays information about disk, filesystem, network, sensors, and even Docker stats. To enable the sidebar, hit the 2 key (while glances is running). You’ll then see the added information (Figure 2).

You won’t find glances installed by default. However, the tool is available in most standard repositories, so it can be installed from the command line or your distribution’s app store, without having to add a third-party repository.

GNOME System Monitor

If you’re not a fan of the command line, there are plenty of tools to make your monitoring life a bit easier. One such tool is GNOME System Monitor, which is a front-end for the top tool. But if you prefer a GUI, you can’t beat this app.

With GNOME System Monitor, you can scroll through the listing of running apps (Figure 3), select an app, and then either end the process (by clicking End Process) or view more details about said process (by clicking the gear icon).

You can also click any one of the tabs at the top of the window to get even more information about your system. The Resources tab is a very handy way to get real-time data on CPU, Memory, Swap, and Network (Figure 4).

If you don’t find GNOME System Monitor installed by default, it can be found in the standard repositories, so it’s very simple to add to your system.

Nagios

If you’re looking for an enterprise-grade networking monitoring system, look no further than Nagios. But don’t think Nagios is limited to only monitoring network traffic. This system has over 5,000 different add-ons that can be added to expand the system to perfectly meet (and exceed your needs). The Nagios monitor doesn’t come pre-installed on your Linux distribution and although the install isn’t quite as difficult as some similar tools, it does have some complications. And, because the Nagios version found in many of the default repositories is out of date, you’ll definitely want to install from source. Once installed, you can log into the Nagios web GUI and start monitoring (Figure 5).

Of course, at this point, you’ve only installed the core and will also need to walk through the process of installing the plugins. Trust me when I say it’s worth the extra time.
The one caveat with Nagios is that you must manually install any remote hosts to be monitored (outside of the host the system is installed on) via text files. Fortunately, the installation will include sample configuration files (found in /usr/local/nagios/etc/objects) which you can use to create configuration files for remote servers (which are placed in /usr/local/nagios/etc/servers).

Although Nagios can be a challenge to install, it is very much worth the time, as you will wind up with an enterprise-ready monitoring system capable of handling nearly anything you throw at it.

There’s More Where That Came From

We’ve barely scratched the surface in terms of monitoring tools that are available for the Linux platform. No matter whether you’re looking for a general system monitor or something very specific, a command line or GUI application, you’ll find what you need. These four tools offer an outstanding starting point for any Linux administrator. Give them a try and see if you don’t find exactly the information you need.

Exploring the Linux Kernel: The Secrets of Kconfig/kbuild | Linux.com


The Linux kernel config/build system, also known as Kconfig/kbuild, has been around for a long time, ever since the Linux kernel code migrated to Git. As supporting infrastructure, however, it is seldom in the spotlight; even kernel developers who use it in their daily work never really think about it.

To explore how the Linux kernel is compiled, this article will dive into the Kconfig/kbuild internal process, explain how the .config file and the vmlinux/bzImage files are produced, and introduce a smart trick for dependency tracking.

Kconfig

The first step in building a kernel is always configuration. Kconfig helps make the Linux kernel highly modular and customizable. Kconfig offers the user many config targets:

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New Manjaro Beta Builds a Better Arch | Reviews


By Jack M. Germain

Oct 10, 2018 5:00 AM PT

New Manjaro Beta Builds a Better Arch

Manjaro Linux offers the best of two worlds. It puts a user-friendly face on an Arch-based distro, and it gives you a choice of sensible and productive desktop interfaces.

The Manjaro Linux team released its latest updates running the KDE, Xfce and GNOME desktops, Manjaro Linux 18.0 Beta 7, late last month. All three are solid performers and seem to be ready for final release. A key benefit of Manjaro Linux is the rolling release method to push new versions to users without requiring full reinstallation, as is the case with most other Linux distributions.

Manjaro Linux is a fast, traditional desktop-oriented operating system based on Arch Linux. Arch itself is renowned for being an exceptionally fast, powerful and lightweight distribution that provides access to the very latest cutting-edge — and bleeding-edge — software. Manjaro exceeds that reputation and delivers more benefits.

Using an Arch-based distro such as Manjaro is not the same thing as using a pure Arch Linux descendant, however. Arch is geared toward more experienced or technically minded users.

Arch-based distros generally are beyond the reach of those who lack the technical expertise (or persistence) required to use it. If for no other reason, Arch Linux derivatives are monsters to install and configure. Those processes require more than a passing knowledge with the command line interface. Manjaro Linux is different.

Developed in Austria, France and Germany, Manjaro provides all the benefits of the Arch operating system with a focus on user-friendliness and accessibility. The prime directive for all things Arch is simplicity, modernity and pragmatism.

Manjaro Linux’s in-house system tools, easy installation application and better range of software packages make it a better Arch-based distro than Arch Linux itself. Manjaro offers much more.

Arch-Based or Real Arch?

Manjaro Linux is not Arch Linux — but yes, it is based on Arch underpinnings and Arch principles. That is a good thing.

Nor is using Manjaro Linux the same as using pure Arch or more direct derivatives, such as Antergos Linux, which I recently
reviewed. Even if Arch is outside your comfort zone, though, you will be rewarded with a satisfying computing experience with Manjaro Linux.

I have not seriously looked at Manjaro Linux in several years. I had a take-it-or-leave-it reaction to the much earlier version I checked out back then. However, Manjaro has come a long way. The developers’ goal to be an independent Arch branch is the key to the distro’s success.

Manjaro is independent of Arch and has its own development team. Manjaro’s user base targets newcomers, not the more technically inclined, experienced Linux user.

Manjaro breaks away from the pure Arch mold to make a better Arch-based platform. It is easier to use. A few more distinct differences separate Manjaro and Arch.

A Better Way

Manjaro’s independence is one of its key distinguishing traits. That is clearly evident in its software packages. Manjaro has its own repositories that are not affiliated with Arch Linux. The benefit is that fewer things break, because the Manjaro team takes more time to make sure its software packages are compatible. In addition, the repositories contain software packages the Arch community does not provide.

Manjaro also includes its own distribution-specific tools, such as the Manjaro Hardware Detection utility and the Manjaro Settings Manager. Also, Manjaro has its own way of doing system functions, compared to Arch.

Manjaro’s developers built this Arch Linux derivative around a series of system apps that make using it much easier. For example, Arch distros usually require familiarity with terminal windows to carry out package installations and removals. Manjaro’s front-end assistance and improved system tools give less-experienced users considerable handholding.

One software feature Manjaro closely shares with Arch Linux is compatibility with the AUR, or Arch Users Repository. This added access expands your free software stores within the Arch community. It has more of the latest software additions that are not yet vetted for the official Arch repository. This is a community-driven repository for Arch Linux users.

An added benefit of using the AUR is a simplified package installation process in Manjaro. Community members port applications to the AUR and provide scripts to install applications not packaged for Arch or Manjaro.

Another invaluable tool is the console-based net-installer Manjaro-Architect. You can install any of Manjaro’s official or community-maintained editions, or you can configure your own custom-built Manjaro system.

If you have several desktop or laptop computers and want to create identical systems, this is the way to get that job done efficiently and painlessly. Manjaro-Architect downloads all packages in their latest versions during installation. Manjaro-Architect supports systemd, disk encryption, and a variety of file systems, including LVM and btrfs. You can view a tutorial for using the architect tool on the Manjaro forum.

Manjaro Kudos

I was particularly impressed with Manjaro’s hardware support, especially for Broadcom wireless cards. Several of my laptops are plagued with problems related to these quirky wireless devices. More times than not, they fail to be detected when I test a Linux distro. Manjaro eliminates that issue.

I like not having to configure PPAs (Personal Package Archives) in a package manager when I install less standard software packages in other distros. The large software repository Manjaro provides plus the Arch User Repository make PPAs unnecessary.

This year I’ve noticed increasing delays with other Linux distros in booting into the desktop screen. Some of these delays are caused by patches needed to work around vulnerability issues with Intel and AMD processor chips. That is less of a problem with Manjaro Linux. It has a fast bootup sequence.

Extra Editions

I downloaded the latest official Manjaro ISOs for the KDE, Xfce and GNOME desktop editions for testing. I was pleased to see that the only real difference among them was the look and feel of the desktop environments. The specialized in-house system apps and Manjaro-specific software provided a unified computing platform across all three desktop editions.

Numerous community-maintained editions provide some newer and experimental alternative desktop editions. These community releases still carry the release label of 17.1.12, indicating last year’s base releases. According to a note on the website, these community desktop alternatives are updated with the latest software, however.


Manjaro-GNOME desktop

The Manjaro-GNOME desktop includes the latest refinements that make GNOME easy to use.


These alternative desktop environments range from a few better-known choices to a couple of very obscure desktop projects: Awesome, Bspwm, Budgie, Cinnamon, Deepin, i3, LXDE/LXQT, Mate and Openbox.

The community editions might be more suitable for less-experienced Linux users. The only drawback is a delay in updating the current versions.

Tough Choices

Picking a preferred desktop from the three primary candidates — KDE, Xfce and GNOME — is largely a matter of personal choice. All three desktop environments worked as expected.

Some Linux distros use in-house modifications to the desktop to tweak performance or better align the desktop environment with the distro’s philosophy and design styles. All three releases appeared to be fairly standard versions.

The Xfce desktop is a lightweight environment that is fast and uses fewer system resources. It is visually appealing with little to no eye candy or animations. Despite its so-called lightweight structure, Xfce is a fully functional desktop with modern features and a fair amount of configurability.


Manjaro-Xfce edition user interface

The Manjaro-Xfce edition sports the welcome screen common to all Manjaro editions. The standard Xfce user interface offers a modern integration of classic Linux bottom panel and simplified main menu.


The GNOME Desktop Environment uses the Wayland display server by default. It has a simplified appearance with a less impressive feature set. Most of its customization potential is done via extensions.

The KDE desktop is the most feature-rich and versatile desktop environment of the three. It provides several different menu styles to access applications. Its built-in interface provides easy access for installing new themes.


Manjaro-GNOME user interface

The Manjaro-KDE edition has an attractive collection of background images, along with a multipurpose main menu panel, plus lots of eye candy displays that make the user interface fun and productive.


One of the pluses in running the KDE edition is the desktop customization. You have access to a collection of snappy widgets you can add to your desktop. The result is a much more configurable resource-heavy desktop.

Bottom Line

Regardless of which desktop you select, the welcome screen introduces Manjaro tools and get-acquainted details such as documentation, support tips, and links to the project site.

You can get a full experience in using the live session ISOs without making any changes to the computer’s hard drive. That is another advantage to running Manjaro Linux over a true Arch distro. Arch distros usually do not provide live session environments. Most that do lack any automatic installation launcher from within the live session.

Caution: When you attempt to run the boot menu from the Manjaro DVD, pay attention to the startup menu. It is a bit confusing. To start the live session, go halfway down the list of loading choices to select the Boot Manjaro option. The other menu options let you configure non-default choices for keyboard, language, etc.

After the live medium loads the Manjaro live session, browse the categories in the welcome window. You can click the Launch Installer button in the welcome window or launch it after experiencing the live session by clicking on the desktop install icon or running the installation program from the main menu.

Installation is a simple and straightforward process. The Calamares installer allows newcomers to easily set up the distro. It gives advanced users lots of customization options.

Want to Suggest a Review?

Is there a Linux software application or distro you’d like to suggest for review? Something you love or would like to get to know?

Please
email your ideas to me, and I’ll consider them for a future Linux Picks and Pans column.

And use the Reader Comments feature below to provide your input!


Jack M. Germain has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2003. His main areas of focus are enterprise IT, Linux and open source technologies. He has written numerous reviews of Linux distros and other open source software.
Email Jack.





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