Texas Linux Fest Review

17 04 2010

Been working on this for a few days, sorry I am a week late…

The event was well done and I was very impressed for the first show that these guys have put on. It started late and there were a few hiccups early on, but they were all minor things and over all things went well. ‘How well?’ you may ask and my response would be that one of the biggest complaints I had was that the three seminar rooms weren’t labeled on the map as to which was A, B, or C. When that is one* of the biggest nit-picks I can find then the show went well. So I am going to delve into my various notes for your review.

*The biggest complaint is further down.

So first things first, the loot!
* A sweet shirt from LinuxFund that was drawn up by Illiad at User Friendly. One of my favorite geek comics. Very happy and hence this gets top listing. I also got a few stickers from Linux Foundation.
* A nice Texas Linux Fest 2010 shirt and bag. Also got a wristband.
* Debian gave me a flyer. Talked to the Debian guys there for a while too. Great guys to hang out with for a while.
* Linux Journal hooked me up with a calendar and offered me a magazine but as a member I already had it. 😀
* Ubuntu hooked me up with a Ubuntu 9.10 disc and Kubuntu 9.10 disc. A ton of stickers and a lapel button.
* Red Hat hooked me up with a few stickers while the Fedora booth next to them hooked me up with stickers and Fedora 12 DVD for 64bit systems.
* Virtualmin gave me a cheat-sheet of git commands (which I am learning now so good handout!)
* Linux Pro magazine
* Firefox stickers, temp tattoo, and buttons.
* Gnome stickers
* Rackspace pen
* Google notebook and pen.

Here are the programs that I went to (Full schedule ) along with a few notes I made:

10:00 Keynote: A Musical Guide to the Future of Linux: Reprise – Joe “Zonker” Brockmeier
– Open Source could use less junk, better apps, and more ideas.
– Companies put business first and tend to turn a deaf ear to harsh criticisms. The problem with criticizing companies that have been or are Open Source friendly is that if they only hear the negative they will have no interest in continuing to support or contribute to Open Source. He cited Novell’s and IBM’s history of helping Open Source and the harsh criticism or recent news.
– The community doesn’t need more zealots, it needs inspiration. Help others feel the same as you do about Linux. Show them why you are excited about Linux and why they should be too.
– Logic drives decisions; Emotions drive actions.
– My personal take: He had a lot of really good things to say that I wish were said more often. I agreed with almost all of his view points. However, I actually disagreed with several bands he mentioned and some comparisons I thought were way off. This is the problem with using music as the analogy instead of cars. I hate the cars analogy too, but it usually fits because everyone can relate and it shares almost no personal bias. Comparing against music and you end up with:
Person 1: “Linux is like $FamousBandFrom60s. It rocks!”
Person 2: “Ugh! Are you kidding me? $FamousBandFrom60s was only regarded as good by people on drugs in the 60’s and they are only liked by stoners now. No Linux is more like $FamousBandFrom80s.”
Person 3: “With that crazy hair and neon colors? Ahh heck no!”
and so forth and so on. Music varies wildly and is hard for everyone to relate to. The car analogy works because a statement of “Linux is like a Corvette ZR1! It is fast and gets peoples attention!” Doesn’t matter if you like the ZR1 or not, it _is_ fast and it does attract attention and therefore it is relate able.

11:00 Documentation Needs? How FLOSS Manuals Can Help – Janet Swisher and Anne Gentle
– Don’t have a lot of notes on this as their site explains it pretty well: http://en.flossmanuals.net/
– I was really impressed and have already started two different manuals to be released on the site (hopefully in the next few weeks).

11:30 Open Source from the Trenches: How to Get Involved and be Successful – Chris Aniszczyk
– ohloh.net
– Brand yourself for the job you want not the one you have.
– Avoid negativity when posting online.
– Be helpful and honest. It is all part of your image when people search for you online.

12:00 Coexisting with Non-programmers – David Cramer and Janet Swisher
– The more you use a piece of software the more you contribute to it. By using software (proprietary or Open Source) you create opportunities, information, an support for that software.

1:30 Ubuntu on ARM – Pete Graner and David Mandala
– For some time I have been itching to get a touchbook. I have been hesitant because my attempts at ARM in the past have been less then stellar. However, this project gave me hope that Ubuntu will have good support. I went and spoke with them for some time about it afterwards and was very pleased to know that one is actually in their possession! So in a couple of weeks when I have some downtime scheduled I am planning on picking up a touchbook and running it through its paces. Even if it is a disaster, at least I won’t be alone. I will also be able to contribute bug reports and hopefully fixes to a group who is actively working on ARM. I am really pleased.

2:30 fossevents.org: Helping the Little Guy – Gareth Greenaway
– Interesting site but needs a way to filter data in my opinion. I think it would be great if LUG’s all over the world posted their meeting times but that would be WAY to over whelming for data. If they had a way of filtering out by country/state that would be much more helpful. I am going to propose to our LUG to start adding events to this site.
– The rest of his presentation was on ‘the future’. A lot of good ideas to help events and speakers find each other. I really like the possibility of a site for events to get information ranging from locations to sponsors to advertising. We will see if it actually goes somewhere.

3:00 Skipped this time frame as I was talking with Rackspace and Ubuntu guys. I heard good things about the MondoDB presentation, but a guy who likes the idea of NoSQL wasn’t convinced on it for high reliability in an enterprise environment and for that reason I doubt I would have found too much interest as I have yet to be convinced on NoSQL at all…but that is another topic…

4:00 Monitoring Bare Metal to the Clouds with Zenoss – Matt Ray
– Well done presentation and I applaud the company for doing well. However, not convinced. I know people who swear by Ganglia and Cacti. If you read my blog at all you know I am a MASSIVE fan of Zabbix. ( I had a whole listing of questions regarding Zabbix but someone asked a question and the speaker made it apparent he didn’t know a lot so I didn’t bother him. Not a slam on him by any means, just saying he didn’t appear to have any working knowledge of the differences between Zabbix and Zenoss).
– Also, his comment about Zabbix being unable to run without an agent was wrong. Zabbix can monitor SNMP as well. Which lead me to a question of if Zenoss _only_ monitors SNMP then wouldn’t you get a swamped network when you scale up to hundreds of nodes? I like the burst feature of Zabbix for this reason. I don’t use Zenoss so I can’t say, but I noticed a big difference on network traffic when we switched a bunch of systems that were SNMP (proprietary monitoring) to Zabbix agents….

5:00 SELinux for Mere Mortals (or, “Don’t Turn It Off!”) – Thomas Cameron
– This talk was worth the money of the Texas Linux Fest plus the money to drive 6 hours and back. He ran low on time and that kinda peeved me off that he didn’t have more time (biggest complaint: I wish he had been granted the time to finish; not sure if he didn’t plan well or if he didn’t get the time he was told he would have…still it sucks he rushed the end and didn’t have time for Q&A). I am sure most people don’t care about this, but if you have ever had a fight with SELinux then this was the talk for you. I have fought with SELinux several times and I admit that I have just turned it off at times. While he was talking he directly hit on one (of many ) problem I had and as he was explaining it things just clicked. I had a complete “ohhhh….” moment. My notes span two pages and are mostly things like “man $command” or “man $command $option”. There are also a few scribblings of “I think this would fix my problem on $server. Research it and test it out!”.

This about wraps it up. It was a blast and I can’t wait for next year!



5 responses

17 04 2010
Matt Ray

Thanks for the clarification, I admit my Zabbix knowledge is limited. I guess I should have made a stronger point that Zenoss supports SNMP, SSH, WMI and a couple other protocols by default and has been extended with ZenPacks to support even more. That said, unless your network is slow or your devices have a ton of data points, SNMP is a very lightweight and efficient protocol and we have lots of users monitoring thousands of devices from a single box.

Glad you enjoyed the show, we’re already starting to talk about next year’s event.

19 04 2010

I was just really curious how Zenoss stacked up against other monitoring solutions as there are some pretty big solutions out there. You touched on most of them like Nagios, Cacti, and Ganglia but I know some big installations using Zabbix as well. Of course, since I use it maybe I just listen for it more then the others and so it stands out to me. 😀

I did go and play with the Zenoss demo and there are a few cool features that Zabbix doesn’t have. However, comparing which features I use in Zabbix to the features in Zenoss and the feature sets are fairly identical. I am not planning on switching, but I will keep Zenoss in mind should something come up in the future.

Thanks for your comment and thanks to Zenoss for its support of the Open Source community!

25 04 2010

Thanks for the review, Stack!

I hadn’t heard of anyone from FWLUG attending, though. I’d completely forgotten about it. Plus it was on the same day as our regularly scheduled meeting. If they do one next year, I’ll pay more attention and make an effort to be there.

From what you wrote above, it sounds like you had a pretty good time. I would like to have heard the talk on Zenoss. I know that I’m not using it to its full potential. Once I get some free time at work, I would like to take a closer look at Zabbix. For now, Cacti and Munin are keeping me informed about what’s going on.

Anyway, maybe the LUG can commandeer Bill’s van for the next one! Come visit – you’re missed, too!

25 04 2010

Matt Ray already commented so ping him if you are interested in Zenoss. I am sure he would help.

I may be in town a fair amount this summer. I will try and plan something around one of the meetings. I do miss the group.

1 05 2010

wow sweet info bro.

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