Author Archives: jzb

Venue Change for London Cloud Summit

Just a bit over a week before the London Cloud Summit for 29 January, and we have a great line-up of speakers for the event.  One small housekeeping note, we’ve had a venue change from Shoreditchworks to The Bakery, which is here:


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If you haven’t signed up yet, there are a few seats left, so grab your ticket today:

Full schedule on Lanyrd.

The 4K Desktop on Fedora

Seiki 4K on Fedora

Seiki 4K on Fedora

Like a lot of folks, I caught the “4K is for Programmers” post off Hacker News a few days ago (it’s here, but the link seems to be borked at the moment) and got to thinking about more desktop space. Much more.

My current setup, when not traveling, involves a 27″ 2560×1440 display – usually connected to my laptop. Even with that, I found myself tabbing through windows too often balancing terminal windows, browser windows, and mail.

Eventually I decided it was worth a shot, and ordered the Seiki 4K 39″ (SE39UY04) off Amazon. Unfortunately, didn’t seem to have much luck getting it going with my existing video card in the workstation or my laptop, so I wound up ordering a EVGA GeForce GTX760, and slapped that into the workstation.

It takes a few steps to get it going at its full resolution on Fedora 20, at least with my setup:

  1. Install the nVidia drivers as explained in this F19 nVidia install/un-install guide.
  2. As shown in this forum post, add a line to /etc/X11/xorg.conf in the Device section with several options that are needed to pass the right resolution:Option "ModeValidation" "AllowNon60hzmodesDFPModes, NoEDIDDFPMaxSizeCheck, NoVertRefreshCheck, NoHorizSyncCheck, NoDFPNativeResolutionCheck, NoMaxSizeCheck, NoMaxPClkCheck, AllowNonEdidModes, NoEdidMaxPClkCheck"
  3. Add the file /usr/share/X11/xorg.conf.d/10-monitor.conf, with this content:
    Section "Monitor"
      Identifier "Monitor0"
      Modeline "3840x2160" 307.00 3840 4016 4104 4400 2160 2168 2178 2250 +hsync +vsync
    EndSection
    Section "Screen"
      Identifier "Screen0"
      Device "HDMI-0"
      Option "ModeValidation" "AllowNon60hzmodesDFPModes, NoEDIDDFPMaxSizeCheck, NoVertRefreshCheck, NoHorizSyncCheck, NoDFPNativeResolutionCheck, NoMaxSizeCheck, NoMaxPClkCheck, AllowNonEdidModes, NoEdidMaxPClkCheck"
      Monitor "Monitor0"
      DefaultDepth 24
      SubSection "Display"
        Depth 24
        Modes "3840x2160" "1920x1080"
      EndSubSection
    EndSection

And that’s really it. Once I logged out and back in, it automagically detected the highest resolution and set the monitor to it.

Is the picture as nice as the 27″ Cinema Display? No. But it works fine, and after some tweaking (turn the Sharpness to 0, use the User preset) it’s a respectable picture.

I also tested plugging in the 27″ display and the 39″ display at the same time… yep, they both work. So if I can clear enough space on the desk, I’ll have waaay too much desktop space to play with. It has four outputs: HDMI, DisplayPort, and two DVI. I may see if it can drive all four just for grins, though I can’t imagine using that setup all day.. or having space for it on my desktop.

Given that the 4K post seemed to spark a lot of conversation, I do hope we’ll start seeing some focus on higher resolution monitors in the near future. We’ve been stuck for a few years with stagnant pricing on higher resolution displays (e.g. 2560×1440 displays) and not many options. Looking forward to working with the new biggie-sized desktop.

4K and Fedora?

Decided that mere 2560×1440 resolution was just not cutting it on the desktop, so I ordered a 39″ Seiki 4K monitor on Amazon. Should be arriving tomorrow. Wondering if anyone else in Fedoraland has set one of these puppies up, and if so – what video card and drivers you’re using?

I have a Dell dual-Xeon workstation with a nVidia Quadro NVS 295. A bit of googling suggests that it might have trouble driving something with a resolution higher than 2560×1600. Any experience with this video card and Fedora would also be welcome!

FOSDEM Distributions Developer Room: Call for Participation

FOSDEM LogoOnce again, FOSDEM will have a cross-distribution miniconference on 1 & 2 February 2014. We’d like to invite submissions of talks, Birds of a Feather (BoF) sessions, or round-table discussions from any interested representatives of Linux distributions or individuals who have a topic of interest related to Linux distributions.

Proposals should be submitted through the FOSDEM proposal system (Pentabarf) here:

https://penta.fosdem.org/submission/FOSDEM14

You’ll add your session title, speaker bio, and abstract for the talk. If you’ve presented or submitted at FOSDEM previously, you should have an account in Pentabarf. If you haven’t created an account, but have presented at FOSDEM previously please contact me before creating an account – the odds are you have an account that was created previously by the FOSDEM organizers.

Deadline for submissions is 22 December 2013. Since we’re on a tight timeline, this is unlikely to be extended.

In addition to speakers, we also need one moderator for each day, and a video volunteer for each day. The moderator will introduce the speaker, keep time, and pass the microphone around for questions. The video volunteer will handle recording of sessions with provided equipment. (Don’t worry, we’ll also provide training as well.)

The call for participation is going out a bit late, so please do speak up quickly if you’re interested in participating! Also, please do help spread the word so we can ensure the best possible program for this year’s FOSDEM.

First Impressions at AWS re:Invent

Last year I attended AWS re:Invent, kinda, sorta. We were in Las Vegas to put on the first Apache CloudStack conference and most of my time and brainpower were consumed with last-minute planning for that event. I did spend time in the developer area, on exhibit floor, and some of the after-parties – but it wasn’t a usual conference for me.

This year, I’m actually not consumed with pre-conference planning (though the CloudStack Collaboration Conference is happening next week in Amsterdam, and I’m sad I won’t be able to attend), so I’ve been paying attention to re:Invent.

Generally, I tend to attend more community/FOSS and techie shows than big vendor blow-outs like AWS re:Invent. The very scale of the event is really impressive, and I have to give Amazon kudos for the slickness of the presentations and how smoothly the event is running. The registration, for instance, was totally slammed on day one – yet they kept the lines moving really well and even had a DJ (!) playing tunes in the corner to make the wait a little better.

The content on the other hand… well, it’s a bit generic and the keynote yesterday was definitely not what I was hoping for or expecting. First, I was surprised and disappointed at the amount of time Amazon spent calling out competitors (IBM, for an admittedly silly marketing stunt) and dissing private cloud. Does Amazon offer a solution that’s really appealing for certain applications or certain types of companies? Yup. Is public cloud ever going to be the majority of the compute market? I’m not convinced.

The keynote yesterday felt like a plea to enterprise, and way too much preaching to the converted and marketing fluff that we already knew anyway. Yeah, we get it: AWS is big, lots of customers (oooh, pretty NASCAR slides) and so forth. At least they did announce a few new services during the keynote, so attendees got a little excitement.

For me, the biggest part of any event is the “hallway track.” On one hand, it’s pretty good here because there’s about 9,000 people – you can easily find interesting people who are doing fun stuff with AWS and other tech, so that’s been good.

The bad, really bad, is the conference scheduling site is terrible and there’s no attendee directory whatsoever. I was doubly disappointed when I looked on Lanyrd and found only about 40 people signed up. It would have been great if I could have searched a directory (opt-in, of course) to try to connect with people ahead of time to meet and talk about their cloud usage.

Maybe next year. Overall, I think re:Invent is worth the time, money, and trip if you’re using AWS or are trying to disrupt AWS – but there are a number of things Amazon could do to make the conference more friendly for attendees and partners.

Apple’s “Pathological” Approach to Customers

I think Lawrence Lessig puts his finger on it pretty well with this post about the problems with Apple’s “communication” strategy about bugs/feature removal in upgrades:

But the argument I want to advance here is different. It is that in the “hybrid economy” that the Internet is, there is an ethical obligation to treat users decently. “Decency” of course is complex, and multi-faceted. But the single dimension I want to talk about here is this: They must learn to talk to us. In the face of the slew of either bugs or “features” (because as you’ll see, it’s unclear in some cases whether Apple considers the change a problem at all), a decent company would at least acknowledge to the public the problems it identifies as problems, and indicate that they are working to fix it.

Why is that what decency requires? And why, then, is the pathologically constipated way in which Apple communicates with its customers indecent?

Because when you see the incredible effort that is being devoted to dealing with these either bugs or features, there is an obvious incredible waste of time and resources that Apple could avoid simply by saying what they know.

For many users, communication is one of the strongest arguments for open source.

The fact that the source is open may not make a lick of difference to people who aren’t good with code, and/or are uninterested in spending the time to maintain or add features, or fix bugs. But they can have a direct line of communication with the developers who are working on features. Maybe a project you’re using goes in a direction you don’t like (for example) but at least you see the “WONTFIX” in the bug tracker. With Apple? Who the heck knows?

Many of the freedoms that are important to open source/free software folks seem like abstractions to non-developers. Apple provides a really good object lesson that shows that there are concrete reasons, beyond just hacking the code, that users should prefer open source.

A Response I’d Never Like to Hear or See Again: “Just Don’t Use X”

Well, Actually TrollcatLet me say this up-front. I’m guilty of this myself. I’ll own it, I’ve said variations of this about plenty of technologies or services.

Someone complains about a mobile OS, “oh, don’t use that. Use [insert speaker's favorite mobile OS here].” Someone complains about Windows/Mac/Linux, “simple, just use [Windows|Mac|Linux] and your problem goes away.”

Someone complains about a problem with Facebook, Gmail, Google+, Twitter, etc. “Oh, just don’t use it. Simple.”

You get the idea.

The speaker may be the best kind of correct, technically correct, but they risk invoking the “fail mode of clever” which is (as John Scalzi so eloquently put it) “asshole.”

You may think your absolutist, well-thought-out, well-reasoned manifesto against $thing is convincing. It may even be convincing to anyone willing to 1) take the several hours it takes to hear the diatribe, and 2) trade off the benefits or perceived benefits of their choice to embrace the alternative. (This is assuming you offer an alternative. Many folks like to bash things and then not even up an alternative, which isn’t a winning strategy. Yes, I’m looking at the whole “Defective by Design” campaign when I say this.)

It’s totally OK for you to refuse to use a service, operating system, program, or whatever. More power to you. Just don’t assume that your choices are applicable to others.

People use Facebook for complicated reasons, and often actually are aware how annoying the service is and how shitty it is that Facebook continually tweaks privacy options/settings and the flow of posts, etc. People use Windows for complicated reasons that depend a lot on their level of comfort with computers, applications they need, etc.

“Just don’t use X,” is not a constructive comment. That’s not to say offering an alternative is bad or wrong, if done reasonably. But “just don’t use X” is pretty much a non-starter.

And don’t even get me started on the folks who recommend telling others when they encounter problems with X “simple, just tell them not to use X and to use a better service/technology.” Yes, because what will win users/customers is to reply to their issues with an invitation to make changes on their end that will be perceived as disruptive. Way to go champ, pick up your prize for customer service at the front desk.

You can advocate for better options, but leading with “just don’t use X” as an absolutist statement pretty much guarantees you’re going to be ignored and annoy the other person or people. Take a stab at being empathetic with others and realize that your set of choices and values may not apply well to their situation.

A Quick Tip/Request on Social Media

Fail Whale One of the things I use social media for is to put the word out about projects that I work with/on and to draw attention to events or things that might be of interest.

Likewise, a lot of my friends are in a similar position. Whenever I peek into Twitter, Google+, or Facebook, I try to re-share/amplify things that my friends post that might be of interest to people who follow me or are connected to me on social media. This used to be sort of de rigueur for social media, but I’ve noticed that the practice has fallen way off.

Assuming your friends are posting things that might be of interest, you might consider boosting their signal a little and help to spread the word. I generally try to RT or promote other people’s events, posts/articles, and so forth at least as much as my own. And if I notice someone being kind to me on social media, I try to return the favor. (Note, this is not a request that everyone all become retweetbots or anything — just asking for folks to take a second and help promote other folks’ stuff as much as they pimp their own.)

The nice thing is that you have a chance to be exposed to things outside your own network, and I’ve run into a lot of interesting things, articles, and people that way.

Thoughts, comments, flames?

DevOps in DC Intro to Ansible

Going all the way to Washington D.C. for USENIX LISA next week? There’s lots to do at LISA (hint: Red Hat events, Fedora events) but if you want to get out and meet some of the local DevOps type folks who might not be at LISA, you might want to check out the DevOpsDC meetup on Tuesday night:

Introduction to Ansible with Michael DeHaan

Ansible is a radically simple IT orchestration engine that makes your applications and systems easier to deploy. Avoid writing scripts or custom code to deploy and update your applications— automate in a language that approaches plain English, using SSH, with no agents to install on remote systems.

Right now the group has 35 slots available, and I suspect as LISA gets closer they’re going to fill up quick. If you’re going to be in town, sign up and learn about Ansible. (And say “hi,” if you see me at the event – looking forward to meeting new DevOps folks!)