Tag Archives: Management

AMD Renoir Graphics Power Management Gets Wired Up

AMD --

While AMD’s next-gen Renoir APUs are Vega-based and not Navi, beyond the initial Linux driver enablement seen over the past few weeks coming out a few days ago were a set of patches just getting the power management in order.

The graphics power management support for Renoir is where we’re seeing a larger deviation in the driver code than the rest of the driver enablement that mostly pegs it as a Vega/GFX9 Raven Ridge refresh past Picasso. The power features for Renoir has come in at 37 patches amounting to around one thousand lines of new code, more than would be necessary for just a Raven Ridge / Picasso facsimile.

These patches make the many adjustments needed to PowerPlay, enable GFXOFF support for being able to turn off the graphics engine when not needed. updated golden settings, and clock gating support for the various blocks. The new power management code for Renoir can be found on the mailing list.

Given the punctual Linux driver support, hopefully any/all Renoir issues will be squared away prior to launch. From our recent testing of the Picasso Ryzen 5 3400G it’s been working out well on Linux, much more so than the original Raven Ridge APUs.

How AIOps Can Improve Data Center Management | IT Infrastructure Advice, Discussion, Community

Today’s data center management professionals face a unique challenge. Technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud computing are elevating a new generation of IT applications, powering everything from smart cities to data-driven crisis response. However, these capabilities have made digital environments more complex by several orders of magnitude, making it increasingly difficult to effectively manage modern data centers.

Thankfully, an emerging trend known as AIOps — or Artificial Intelligence Operations — offers IT professionals the support they desperately need. By bringing artificial intelligence and visualization technologies to bear on a wide range of data center challenges, AIOps enables data center management professionals to automate administrative tasks, reduce unnecessary alerts, and identify anomalies before they cause wider issues.

AIOps tools are already helping IT teams in multiple scenarios, data center management included. In fact, a new report from OpsRamp shows that 87% of technology professionals say their AIOps solutions are delivering the value they had expected prior to implementation. Coupled with analyses showing that the market for AIOps platforms will grow from $2.6 billion in 2018 to $11.0 billion in 2023, these positive early results underscore the transformative potential of AIOps in the IT space.

For data center management professionals interested in learning more about AIOps, it’s important to understand the approach’s range of possible use cases, as well as the requirements for successful implementation. By doing so, data center teams can ensure they’ll reap the rewards of a technology that promises to revolutionize the IT industry at large.

Read the rest of this artilce on InformationWeek.

Read more Network Computing articles on this topic:

AI-Driven Wireless Is Key to the Digital Workplace

How Is AI Affecting Infrastructure Pros?

Why IT War Rooms Fail, and Why Failure is No Longer an Option


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With Regolith, i3 Tiling Window Management Is Awesome, Strange and Easy | Reviews

By Jack M. Germain

Jun 20, 2019 10:33 AM PT

With Regolith, i3 Tiling Window Management Is Awesome, Strange and Easy

Regolith Linux brings together three unusual computing components that make traipsing into the i3 tiling window manager world out-of-the-box easy.

Much of the focus and attraction — as well as confusion — for newcomers to the Linux OS is the variety of desktop environments available. Some Linux distributions offer a range of desktop types. Others come only with a choice of one desktop.

i3 provides yet another option, but it is a much different choice that offers an entirely new approach to how you interact with the operating system.

Window managers usually are integrated into a full-fledged desktop system. Window managers control the appearance and placement of windows within the operating system’s screen display. A tiling window manager goes one step further. It organizes the screen display into non-overlapping frames rather than stacking overlapping windows.

The i3 tiling window manager in Regolith Linux serves as what essentially becomes a standalone pseudo desktop. It automatically arranges windows so they occupy the whole screen without overlapping.

Regolith Linux desktop

An otherwise barren desktop quickly gets crowded with equal-sized tiled windows. Here we see the Firefox Web browser on the left, Control Panel in the center, and a LibreOffice document on the right.

– click image to enlarge –

Regolith Linux brings together three computing elements not found anywhere else. It is part Ubuntu’s ubiquity, part i3-wm’s efficient and productive interface, and part GNOME’s system configuration features.

Different Strokes

Regolith Linux is designed for people who prefer a spartan interface with polished and consistent system management. You will not find many distros using the i3 tiling window manager.

The few distros that offer i3 as a sort of desktop option are built into Arch-based distros. The i3 wm components usually need elaborate installation and detailed configuration steps. That becomes a deterrent to trying the tiling window manager.

Regolith Linux changes all that. Developer Ken Gilmore stuffed the i3 tiling window manager into Ubuntu for stability and easy access. If you download the live CD version, you get a ready-to-go Regolith distro with all the Ubuntu software infrastructure.

Another option is to add the Regolith Ubuntu PPA to an existing Ubuntu 18.04 (Bionic) or 19.04 (Disco) system and swap out the Ubuntu desktop with Regolith’s tweaked i3 tiling window manager replacement.

Release 1.0 is based on Ubuntu 18.04; release 1.1 is based on Ubuntu 19.04. Either version will update to the latest files.

“All Regolith packages work fine on Ubuntu 18.04 and 19.04. Essentially the goal is to create something simple, polished and productive,” Gilmore told LinuxInsider.

New Approach

Regolith Linux is very new. Gilmore released the first edition of the Ubuntu installer with the Regolith distro on April 19. The PPA installation on an existing Ubuntu instance is about one year older, first appearing around March 2018.

“There are still many rough edges to be addressed, of course, but overall I feel the interface is particularly compelling to those that would like to work efficiently,” said Gilmore.

Almost all of the developmental work goes into little things that most people do not notice, he added. He sees that work as 90 percent polish.

His plans for continued development include keeping the 1.x development focused on the strategy of using existing open source projects and customizing them as needed to provide the best possible user experience with i3. However, he does not plan to get into actually changing any upstream code.

“I plan on releasing a 2.x development track which is more ambitious in that I plan to modify several UI (user interface) components that Regolith relies on (i3bar, Rofi, gnome-flashback) to further simplify and polish the user workflow. This is a longer-term goal, and I don’t really have specifics yet,” he explained, apart from lots of ideas.

Those UI improvements involve reducing the bar to only a few pixels deep and pushing a lot of the ambient information such as date/time and workspace map to a full-screen modal similar to the way Rofi (a window switcher) is rendered for program launching (Super-space).

More Work Ahead

Since the i3 window manager is largely a keyboard-driven interface, very little in the way of a graphical user display exists in Regolith Linux. The control panel is accessed with the keyboard shortcut Super key + c, for example. Once the control panel launches, you can arrow down a list of settings or use the mouse.

The default key bindings are kept in a .config file that is edited using the gEdit text editor. Gilmore plans to make UI changes more aggressively in the 2.x development. He passes along all developmental changes directly as rolling release updates.

Regolith Linux File Manager

The left window shows the File Manager in the .config folder. The right window displays the Regolith.config file in a text editor.

– click image to enlarge –

The developer issues updates to two PPAs: regolith-unstable for testing and regolith-stable. Once package updates have been pushed to regolith-stable, both PPA users, as well as distro users, get the updates via Ubuntu’s package update mechanism.

“I will add more ISO versions if needed but do not have a specific schedule or plan for global versioning. In fact, that Regolith is a distribution at all is simply because that is the best way for a lot of users to get the software,” noted Gilmore. “Users are familiar with the ISO approach, whereas PPA installations may be too technical.”

Keen on User Focus

Ultimately, Gilmore said it is not his goal to “capture” users or empire-build. In fact, he has documentation on
regolith-linux.org for users who wish to build their own thing or revert back to stock Ubuntu.

Regolith makes no attempt to hide the fact that it’s just Ubuntu with a different desktop environment, according to the developer. From my view, he would be perfectly justified in establishing Regolith Linux as a distro in its own right.

Familiarity with GNOME and Ubuntu help more experienced users settle into using the i3 window manager as a desktop environment, although the tweaking and integration Gilmore devised brings a whole new look and feel. If you are new to Linux or do not know Ubuntu, Regolith Linux *IS* a unique distro experience.

Gilmore plans to utilize configuration strategies that make it easier for neophytes to play around and share bits of configuration. He wants to make it easy to roll back changes when something goes wrong.

“And I would like to incorporate some of the subtle transitional animation elements we have come to expect with mobile UIs.,” Gilmore said. “Additionally, a lot of work remains for documentation. I want to provide a much more inclusive first-time user experience which gives a new user the ‘big picture’ and walks them through the UI, how to do things, etc., rather than just dropping them to a desktop with a cheat-sheet window.”

On the website, Gilmore wants to provide a full how-to section for people to build their own Regolith-like projects. Debian packaging was really hard for him to learn relative to the complexity of what the process involves. His goal is to help others if he can.

Common Ground Draws Users to Linux

Computer users do not have to be spoon fed what the megacorps want customers to use, according to Gilmore. Regular people often produce far more beautiful and creative environments than those from large software companies, regardless of how talented their designers are.

“How we interact with our computers is our choice to make,” said Gilmore.

When asked to describe the typical person interested in his new distro, his response underscored what makes Linux so inviting: “I think of myself around 2017 when I came to the realization that the Mac platform was a dead-end for professional developers. I had no idea what I should use next, as long as it wasn’t any of the ‘stock’ desktops (windows/mac/ubuntu).”

Not that anything is wrong with Ubuntu by default, Gilmore clarified, noting that it is designed for people who prefer the traditional Windows/Mac UI metaphors.

“For me, Windows was out by default and so that left Ubuntu, as my employer only allows that version of Linux due to IT management and security concerns,” he said.

Taking a Test Drive

Regolith is visually spartan by design so it is not a distraction. It has no icons, docks, panels, menus or widgets taking up screen space.

A small bar at the bottom of the screen shows information such as workspaces on the left end and system status indicators on the right end.

That is the extent of any similarity to an Ubuntu desktop of any variety — or any other Linux distro interface for that matter. The window header does display the expected icons to minimize/maximize, resize, or open window menus. However, they are just a throwback to their GNOME Ubuntu roots. The only window icon that actually works is the X to close the window.

If you are comfortable with terminal boxes and their commands, you can do absolutely anything you want without the missing GUI, right-click on the mouse, icons on the desktop or cascading menus. All it takes to open a terminal window is to use the default keyboard shortcut Super Key+Enter key.

Otherwise, press the Super Key+Space bar to get a scrollable list of installed applications. Just use the up/down arrows on the keyboard. You can point to a title on the center of the screen.

Regolith Linux Super+space keys

The Super+space keys launch the applications list in the center of the screen, leaving the keyboard shortcut list shaded but visible on the right.

– click image to enlarge –

Just do not click on it. Nothing happens. Instead, press the enter key to launch the program. You can close the menu list with the escape key.

Navigating the Desktop

One of the most glaring interface hurdles for me was adjusting to the workspace landscape. i3 has no workplace switcher applet on the bottom panel.

Key mappings are already configured. Press the Super key and a number to jump to that workspace instantly. By default, Regolith has 19 workspaces waiting for you.

Each new workspace you open has its own small colored box that sits with its number in the left end of the bottom of the screen. You rotate among the workspaces with the Super key+number keyboard shortcut.

In any workspace, you can open as many applications as you want or need. The first one opens full screen. The second one changes the screen display to two equal shares. The third one automatically divides the screen into three windows of equal size.

Everything stays in view so there is no need for the Alt-Tab window switching feature. You have no scale or expo animation displays either

Bottom Line

Overall, i3’s minimal visual design does not prevent you from using a modern system with file management features. They are all available, but you must access them differently.

Every workplace screen shows a vertical Konky-style panel with a list of the most commonly used keyboard shortcuts. You can change the default keyboard bindings or add new ones by going into the File Manager, selecting the Show Hidden Files option, and opening the Regolith.config file in the text editor.

Regolith Linux Activated workspaces

Each workspace screen shows the keyboard binding Konky display, a vacant desktop, and bare minimum details on the bottom bar. Activated workspaces are shown as different-colored squares on the left end of the bar.

– click image to enlarge –

Study the syntax pattern from what is already there. Then add your own comment line and the new mapping or edit an existing one. Remember to save the file.

If you decide to tackle this awesome but strange i3 tiling window manager environment, be sure to read through the developer’s
Getting Started guide.

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?

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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DevOps Influence on Infrastructure Management | IT Infrastructure Advice, Discussion, Community

How a person defines DevOps often depends on their scope of interest/responsibility within an IT environment. Those with an infrastructure management background are going to lean towards an Infrastructure as Code (IaC) definition. Application developers typically focus on application development processes and agility. There are also people who tell you that DevOps is an end-to-end solution combining infrastructure management and application development.

I see Infrastructure management and application development as two separate disciplines, where infrastructure is used to build a platform consumed by application developers. Application developers can configure the platform as required within the constraints of said platform.

There is no doubt that DevOps principals have influenced how infrastructure is managed at scale using IaC strategies. However, there is a point where DevOps principals may no longer be relevant for IaC, especially when it comes to the management of bare metal.

Continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipelines play a core role in shipping code from development to production; within the pipeline unit and integration tests are run against the code to ensure reliable delivery and reduce risk of faults.

Many hardware vendors supply emulators to replicate the behaviour expected from the hardware platforms. An emulator’s replication of a physical hardware platform should typically be considered a best effort and not necessarily an entirely accurate a representation. A VM running the Network Operating System (NOS) for a white box switching solution would not be able to test how a change impacts the performance of an ASIC contained within physical switches.

Some companies can afford to purchase enough hardware dedicated to testing new workflows or updated impacts, others cannot. The level of accuracy between the test and production environment determines the testing reliability of a CI/CD pipeline.

Introducing version control to track changes is one of the most significant value propositions that IaC provides to operational teams. Issues caused by manual infrastructure changes can be incredibly challenging to troubleshoot as sometimes the intended change isn’t exactly what was changed. Increasing the number of changes made using IaC reduces the amount of time it takes to find which settings were changed.

CI/CD pipelines are frequently integrated with version control systems, enabling automatic execution of pipelines when a repo receives a new commit. If the hardware vendor provides emulators for their hardware platform, the pipeline should build a virtual environment to represent the current environment to run integration testing.

Test results can be used to provide more than simple pass / fail validation, and tests can be used to determine the impact of a change which can then be used to determine if additional steps are required before, during or after application of a new configuration.

Many environments and application services have a state that can impact how seamless a failover is. In a virtualised environment, higher workload density increases the number of applications potentially impacted by an interruption caused by a change, even if that impact is only a blip.

Using a CICD pipeline to detect interruptions caused by the change allows for better change planning or incorporation of steps to perform workload migrations and clean failovers. The use of emulators might be adequate for this level of testing; however, physical reproduction is always a better option.

Continuous iterations required

Working towards a high degree test coverage requires continual iterations which include lessons from previous successes and failures. Agile project management strategies provide a practical framework for managing iteration work in progress.

Physical infrastructure isn’t ephemeral unless you live in the Twilight Zone physical devices do not suddenly appear and disappear from racks. There are configuration changes which can be performed on demand and those which cannot.

Storage platforms have supported storage nodes as individual nodes within a cluster, allowing for the addition and removal of nodes as required. However, the process of changing storage nodes places additional load on the storage solution while data rebalancing operations occur or evacuated. Some changes may require that some protection features are disabled or tuned down to prevent unneeded load on the system. Typically, these are the types of changes which build the foundation of a storage solution provided for consumption.

There are many areas when DevOps principals influence and improve IaC strategies; however, physical hardware management is different from software management, and the suitability of different principals varies between environments and goals.

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3 Imperatives for Network Management Success in the Hybrid World | IT Infrastructure Advice, Discussion, Community

Networks today are a mixed bag, comprised of what can be a tangled mess of physical, virtualized, and cloud infrastructure. In order to compete today, businesses are pursuing digital transformation initiatives such as SD-WAN, Network Function Virtualization, and edge computing for a competitive edge. While these technologies offer great benefits, they also add great complexity. The race for a competitive edge inevitably creates interoperability hurdles amongst IT systems. Today businesses must wade through wired and wireless networks, multi-platform, multi-vendor, as well as multi-cloud – each with their own set of complexities. Performance issues inevitably arise, which can cause downtime, and cost a business anywhere from tens of thousands to millions of dollars

One major challenge faced by many network operations (NetOps) teams is the use of too many monitoring tools. The issue of monitoring tool sprawl is far worse than most realize. According to a bi-annual network management study from Enterprise Management Associates, nearly half of all networking pros are using between four and ten tools to monitor and troubleshoot their networks. And nearly one-third of IT teams are juggling 11 or more tools!

Today’s hybrid networks simply demand more. Organizations must anticipate, identify, troubleshoot and resolve a wide array of network issues. An important key to network management is comprehensive visibility, with advanced performance analytics, all through a single pane of glass.

Here are three imperatives for network visibility and management across hybrid networks:

The ability to collect various data sources across all network domains: Whether a team is conducting capacity planning, troubleshooting a critical performance issue, or analyzing an anomaly to achieve true end-to-end visibility across the entire network, teams need insight into a broad range of data sources. From Flow (IPFIX, NetFlow, sFlow, Cflowd, etc.) and SNMP, to packet data (full capture and analytics) and API integrations (REST, Bulk, Stream, etc.), each data source plays a unique and critical role in the overall process of managing the network. Without the ability to consume these different data sources, NetOps can be left with insufficient data that can hinder their ability to manage and troubleshoot the network.

The ability toisualize and interpret that data intuitively in order to take action: It’s not enough to simply have access to every network data type. NetOPs teams need solutions that translate data into simplistic management and troubleshooting workflows. For instance, Flow data from virtual, physical and cloud devices is especially critical to managing and troubleshooting application performance. But, if a network management platform doesn’t allow the team to visualize an applications flow across the entire network – from source IP address to destination IP address – it will be difficult to preserve a positive end user experience. Packet-level data is critical for troubleshooting complex application issues like slow database performance. Visualizing the network path and reviewing the packet data creates performance visualizations that allow NetOPs to resolve issues faster. Whether troubleshooting a VoIP issue or optimizing a new SD-WAN deployment, having granular visibility into all types of network data is imperative to comprehensive network management and control. 

The ability to present top-level status updates and reports to executive stakeholders: What good is all this if NetOps can’t clearly communicate its value and progress to executives? Higher ups typically only care about a few key reports and don’t want to be bogged down trying to decipher in-depth networking analytics. How are we doing on uptime? What’s the availability of a particular set of devices, circuits or sites? What caused the minor downtime incident last week? How is the bottom line impacted? There’s a reason they call it an executive summary. If you can’t arm executives with this type of critical information, they won’t be able to make sounds budgetary, personnel, or business decisions. Teams need management solutions that enable them to generate reports that convey easily-digestible network performance metrics, SLA status, application conditions, and ultimately the merits of their work.

The complexity challenges presented by multi-vendor, multi-platform and multi-cloud IT environments, coupled with the ever-present issue of tool sprawl, makes managing today’s hybrid networks an uphill battle. NetOps teams need access to a wide range of network data sources, to visualize that information coherently, and to act quickly. Imperative is effective reporting on business-critical metrics, in order to successfully manage these complex modern network topologies.


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