martes, 28 de abril de 2009

FLISoL Bogotá 2009 - The good, the bad and the ugly


Last saturday we had a run of FLISoL. I was present to Bogotá's instance as an installer. It's so wonderful to see all those guys going somewhere with the only purpose of helping other people (plus hanging out afterwards).

The Good
There were roughly 30 installers overall. 121 machines got worked on. Roughly 100 of them got a GNU/Linux installed/updated on them. 55 of them were Ubuntus (and such), 21 of them got Debians (no love for RPMs here in Bogotá, guys.... sorry), 12 of them got Mandriva, 4 of them got OpenSuSE, 2 got Fedoras plus a few others.

I got to install Kubuntu 9.04 64 on a machine (cause I didn't have Ubuntu 64 at hand), plus another Ubuntu 9.04 32. Unfortunatly I had to leave early cause of family matters. Till the moment I left things were flowing normally.

The environment was cool though we were a little crammed.

The Bad
We were going to have some servers with mirrors of the repositories of the major distributions. Unfortunately the mirrors weren't up till a couple of hours later which meant that the first installations that went through had to download stuff from internet repositories.... and with so many installations going on at once, you can guess how fast that went through. Unfortunately not having the mirrors from the start could have easily added 20 minutes (being optimistic) to the installation times of that first round. For my second installation the mirrors were already in place and that went much faster.

The thing to keep in mind for every installation you do is trying to get it well done in as short amount of time as possible, and having the "customer" understand the basic things (most important of all: package manager). That can be a little tricky to balance.

Another letdown was that we couldn't use the application I had worked on (along with Jorge) to gather all the information about the boxes once they were finished. It was probably because of the same reason we didn't have the mirrors up when we started. Fortunately that was not a show stopper.. I hope we'll be using it for other coming events.

The Ugly
In one of our previous installers' mettings we had been told not to bring anything to the Festival (other than the strictly necessary). Last year one computer got lost and they didn't want the same to happen again.

Well.... the Festival wasn't even started and not one but two laptops were already missing. Apparently there's a guy who has this custom of fooling around at the library to see which unwary person he can try to con. One person was candid enough to hand him with two laptops he/she was carrying while he/she did something else. A while later the person who got the boxes was missing... along with the two boxes. A strong reminder for me that, even if Bogotá is not as insecure as Maracaibo or Caracas, it's not Vienna (don't want to start a war here, guys, it's just my appreciation).

Some pictures
Here, here and here.

I liked the experience very much. I hope I can work on it next year as well. I still haven't seen statistics of Colombia or Latin America overall... Let's just hope they are as good (or even better) than Bogotá's.

I already learned that Maracaibo (my hometown in Venezuela) will be having its FLISoL next saturday (don't know why).

And for those who are curious: Nope, Microsoft didn't hand out anything for FLISoL. But given their last quarter's results, who can blame them?

lunes, 20 de abril de 2009

Una ayudita para FLISoL - Carta abierta a Microsoft

Querido Microsoft

Antes de hacer mi petición quiero dejar claro quien soy. Mi nombre es Edmundo Carmona. Soy un ingeniero de computación venezolano viviendo en Bogotá. Desde hace varios años soy un usuario/administrador de GNU/Linux y, a diferencia de otras personalidades de la comunidad de FLOSS (muchos de ellos con muchos más logros que yo), no confío en ustedes y despotrico de ustedes cada vez que puedo (ítem 940).

Durante las útimas dos semanas he estado colaborando en la organización de FLISoL, el Festival Latinoamericano de Instalación de Software Libre, que tendrá lugar este sábado. Vamos a estar instalando (de forma gratuita) Software Libre en los equipos que nos traigan a los sitios dispuesto para ello para el festival. En cierta forma, somos cuidadanos responsables tratando de eliminar las drogas tecnológicas de las calles.

Durante nuestra última reunion surgió la pregunta de qué hacer con los niños que vengan acompañando los padres que traigan sus equipos para la instalación? Ahí es donde entran ustedes.

Todos sabemos que Vista fue un gran desastre (probablemente comparable a Windows Me). Me imagino que ustedes deben tener pilas con miles y miles de CDs/DVDs de instalación de Windows Vista disponibles esperando que algún incauto compre alguno.

Serían tan amables de facilitarnos unos 15 o 20 CDs/DVDs de instalación de WIndows Vista? No los vamos a estar instalando en los equipos, no se preocupen. Yo personalmente se los entregaría a los niños para que se entretengan con ellos (usándolos como frisbies o rayando su superficie). mientras estamos haciendo nuestra labor. Yo se perfectamente que su sistema operativo es un juguete y por ello lo deberíamos instalar en los equipos de los niños pero, la verdad, me rehúso.

Edmundo Carmona
Ingeniero de Computación

Ya que no tengo idea de con qué puede salir Microsoft a raiz de este correo, quiero dejar claro que esto es un chiste y que por ningún motivo puede que ser interpretado como que está relacionado de alguna forma a FLISoL. Es mi creación exclusiva y nadie más de FLISoL participó en su creación.

English Version

domingo, 19 de abril de 2009

A little help for FLISoL - Open Letter to Microsoft

Dear Microsoft

Before I make my request, let me first state who I am. I'm Edmundo Carmona, a venezuelan computer engineer living in Colombia. I've been a GNU/Linux user/administrator for years and, unlike others in the FLOSS community (many with far greater accomplishments than mine), don't trust you a tiny little bit and I bash you every time I can (940).

During the last couple of weeks I've been helping out in the organization of FLISoL. It's the Latinamerican Free Software Installation Festival, which will take place next saturday. We will be installing Free Software on computers that people take to the locations we set up for free (as in no monetary charge). In a sense, we are just responsible citizens trying to keep technological drugs off the streets.

During our last meeting there was a question about what we will be doing with people that carry their kids along with them to the location. That's where you come into the scene.

See, given the fact that Windows Vista has been such a mess (probably comparable to Windows Me), I thought that you probably have thousands upon thousands upon thousands of Vista installation CDs/DVDs stacked one on top of the other waiting for the first poor soul to buy one of them.

Would you be kind enough to provide us at FLISoL Bogotá with say, 15 or 20 of those installation CDs/DVDs? We won't be using them to install Windows on the computers, don't have to worry about it. I will personally hand them out to the kids so that they use them to play around (as frisbies or just to scratch on their surface) while we are on our stuff. I know that yours is a toy OS and so we should install them on the kids computers, but I refuse to.

Yours truly...
Edmundo Carmona
Computer Engineer

As I don't know what Microsoft could be up to after this letter, I will state that it is a joke and that by no means it should be interpreted as being somehow related to FLISoL. It's my sole creation and no one else from FLISoL (besides me, of course) helped in its creation.

Versión en español

viernes, 17 de abril de 2009

Are macs more insecure than Windows / GNU/Linux?

I've been very busy lately studying python to create a tool for FLISoL, so expect to hear about that within the next days (the event is to take place sat. April 25th).

I hit this article about security on Macs by Preston Gralla where he states that some security experts say that Macs are easier to crack than Windows and GNU/Linux.... now, easier to crack than GNU/Linux, I find that believable... but more than Güindous? I doubt it. Anyway, they are the experts and I don't mean to contradict them.

However, Macs are just another closed platform. It can't be verified to be secure by any third party, so perhaps it really is that they be more insecure than Güindous... given that there's no source code to review, I can't really tell (not that I would check the code, anyway).

How much DRM code is in OSX these days? Does it spy its users "a la güindous"? Does anybody know? No source code, so nobody can't really tell.

I have developed this analogy of someone who wants to buy a nuclear reactor. There are two organizations interested in providing you with their nuclear reactor.

- Provider # 1 gives you the reactor plus all the design information, all blue prints, everything but the kitchen sink!

- Provider # 2 gives you the reactor and doesn't give you a clue as to how it is built inside. It's a black box (or a massive gray one). All you have is the control panels and the documentation that this provider is kind enough to provide with (you know.... they can't give you everything for security reasons).

Given those two choices... which would you consider to be more secure/stable/reliable? Which one would you choose? I'd personally go for Provider 1. At least I know what I'm getting. And the guys are so comfortable with their design that they even give it away to buyers. Perhaps the guys at Chernobyl chose provider # 2.

And finally, what's a virus for Macs called? An iVirus?

martes, 7 de abril de 2009

Latinamerican Free Software Installation Festival'2K9


I have registered myself as an installer at the Latinamerican Free Software Installation Festival, a.k.a FLISoL (first time to work on a FLISoL ever, by the way). This year this event is going to take place on April 25th on many locations all around latinamerica.

I will be working in Bogotá, Colombia. In my location the number of registered installers is around 30 people and we expect to make 150 installations. We will be working at the Biblioteca Virgilio Barco, in case you want to show up. The registration process if you want to get GNU/Linux installed in your computer is already open and, in case you are not insterested in installing GNU/Linux, we will be doing installation of Free Software on other platforms as well (Firefox and OpenOffice come to mind).

I'm more than sure that organizers will welcome any kind of help you think you could provide. Interviews? Donations? Working hours? Anything goes! I'll gladly work as a translator, in case it's needed.

FLISoL Colombia
FLISoL Bogotá

sábado, 4 de abril de 2009

One DVCM to rule them all (follow up)


There were some comments in my original story about the performance of some DVCMs where I was told that bazaar degrades pretty much when you have thousands upon thousands of revisions and that the repositories could be packed. I decided to follow suit and see where git and bzr would stand having some thousands of revisions in them.

First I used git-svn to import some 20,000 revisions of a project into git (I got the first 20,696 revisions from kde... there were roughly a million, but I thought that would be enough... as a matter of fact I spent a couple of days getting to those 20,696 revisions).

I exported the content of git and imported it into the separate VCMs to see how they would match up on that task.

Bazaar took hours to complete this import. The first 2000 revisions where imported in about 6 minutes... but by the end, every 100 (hundred, not thousand) revisions were imported in roughly 10 minutes (one commit every 6 seconds?). The repository would be like 554 MBs in size (after packing).

Git made the import (so that I matched apples to apples) in less than 5 minutes and ended up with a repository like 283 Mbs in size (after gc).

Halfway diff of the project to where it is in the last revision took bazaar some 9 minutes and 15 seconds. Git made it in about 28 seconds. I think bzr won't recover after that liver hook.

When I tried to move to that halfway revision, git took 17 seconds to do it (reset --hard revid), bzr took.... well, to tell you the truth, I forgot about it... I went for lunch, came back and it was still working on it. In Tenchu terms, git got a Grand Master (by the way... I'd love to play Tenchu!).

Well... git did mop the floor with bzr on a big repo after all, both in terms of repository size and performance.

Should I include mercurial? Could it withstand git? How do I make the import to begin with? I tried with hg import -, but it was using massive amounts of memory (bzr did too, by the way... I barely made it to import with the memory I had) and I didn't know if it was the right way to do it.

bzr finally reverted. It took 46 minutes.