I am in the process of forming a class roster to test a new Linux Administration course I am creating. This 5-day class will be held in Raleigh, NC, July 25 through 29. The normal cost for this course would be $1995 per student, but because this is a test class, there will be an $800 discount for a cost of $1195 per student. This is a one time offer. All future classes will be at the full rate. To obtain this discounted rate you must be enrolled and course fees paid no later than 5:00 PM on July 15, 2011.

I have a couple students committed to this class and would like to have a few more.

This class is based upon material I have put together over several years for a number of different specialized reasons. I am in the process of filling out the areas needed to cover all aspects of an Introduction to Linux  System Administration.

Course Synopsis

This course is intended for  junior Linux Systems Administrators who wish to advance their knowledge, and administrators of other Unix versions or Windows who wish to become Linux System Administrators. This class is heavily oriented towards hands-on activities. At least half of the class time is allotted to lab projects. The class is based on Fedora because it is the upstream distribution for Red Hat Linux.

The student will learn about the history of Linux and the philosophy of Linux and how it applies to the everyday tasks that she will be expected to perform. The student will install a current Fedora Linux system on common Intel hardware, using various installation options to customize the final result. The students will learn to use the command line interface (CLI) and many basic Linux commands along with the vi editor. More advanced commands such as sed and awk will be covered and combining all of these commands into short command line programs will be discussed and the student will have opportunity to use them in lab projects.

This course covers the Linux boot sequence and the traditional SystemV init scripts as well as the new systemd daemon for startup and daemon management. The student will learn to manage users and software packages. Networking, security, processes, filesystems and Logical Volume Management will be covered in detail.

The course outline (subject to change) is shown below:

  • Introduction To Linux
  • The Linux Way
  • Installation
  • Getting logged in
  • Using the Console
  • The Command Line Interface (CLI)
  • Basic Linux Commands
  • Boot Sequence
  • Startup
    • Upstart
    • SystemV init
    • systemd
  • The vi Editor
  • Managing Users
  • Advanced CLI Commands
  • Processes
  • Task Scheduling
  • Filesystems
  • Logical Volume Management (LVM)
  • Disk management
  • CLI Programming
  • Package Management with RPM and YUM
  • Network
  • Security
  • Problem Solving

Please contact dboth {at} millennium-technology {dot} com to register for this class or call 919-389-8678.

The Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4 1776 by a small group of people who possessed great courage and foresight. The Constitution was framed and signed after the Revolutionary War, on September 17th of 1787 by another group of visionaries.

The United States of America was founded and has been nurtured by small groups of people working together to solve common problems and to promote the greater good. They understood and practiced the precepts of participatory government. However the idea of participatory government was not new even then. Plato said, “One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.”

I was privileged this past weekend to be involved in a 21st Century version of participatory government.

CityCamp Raleigh (http://citycampral.org/) brought together government, business, neighborhood, non-profit, and academic communities to re-imagine the ways in which open source collaboration and technology will shape the future of our city.

CityCamp is a series of events, first started in Chicago, focused on innovation for government and community organizations in our cities. Each CityCamp has four main goals:

  1. Bring together government officials, municipal employees, experts, programmers, designers, citizens and journalists to share perspectives and insights about the cities in which they live
  2. Create or maintain government transparency and effective local governance using the web as a platform
  3. Foster communities of practice and advocacy on the role of information and open data in cities
  4. Create outcomes that participants will act on during and after the event

CityCamp Raleigh was an “unconference” with little planned structure other than the first day in which we learned about unconferences, CityCamps in other cities, and problems facing citizens and the state and local governments. The organization required to identify and solve problems was created on the fly as we listened to panels and speakers. The simple low-tech expedient of a grid of masking tape on one of the walls of our venue allowed participants to post ideas and for others to self-select into groups based upon those ideas.

Each group focused on one problem in which they shared a common interest and generated a presentation to define the problem and their possible solution. Some groups even provided a simple level of implementation or a non-functional prototype to demonstrate their solutions. Sunday afternoon, June 5, each group presented its ideas to a panel of judges and the other groups.

The winning team, named “Open it Up,” proposed making public data from NC Education Report Card open and easily accessible. Although the data is currently available, it is cumbersome to obtain and difficult and expensive to manipulate.

School data can currently be obtained from a web site that does not allow any direct comparison of various measurement and tracking criteria. All of the data from the web site can be obtained directly from the Department of Public Instruction on a CD for a $10 shipping and handling fee. Once the CD is in one’s hands, however, it is still not accessible. You must spend several hundred dollars on proprietary software merely to access the database. You must learn to use the software and then figure out how to manipulate the data to meet your needs. This is not open data because it is not easily accessible.

The Open it Up team demonstrated a method to convert this data into an open data format that can be used by anyone, Comma Separated Variable (CSV). Any spreadsheet program can import and export data in this format and a large number of Open Source programs can use it as well. They made the data available on the open data web site http://ncschooldata.wordpress.com/ where it was easily transformed into graphs allowing parents to easily compare school performance. You can download the data yourself from the website and use it in any way you choose.

Ideally the data should be in an open format to begin with so that proprietary tools would not be required. The raw data should be made publicly available from the internet in this open format. This allows citizens and entrepreneurs to create inexpensive apps to access the data in any variety of ways so that parents could compare schools without having to invest a great deal money and time in proprietary software.

The $5000 prize was awarded on creativity, execution, and feasibility. Jason Hibbits a CityCamp Raleigh committee co-chair and judge said, “The Open It Up team epitomized the CityCamp Raleigh event. The issue was mentioned in the panel on Friday by Jimmy Goodmon as a parental concern, stated by a government employee in a breakout session on Saturday morning, and a team of strangers came together to propose and prototype a technology solution by the end of the following day.”

Another group suggested ways to implement Open Source Software in the City of Raleigh. They recommended supporting the resolution before the City Council this Tuesday to include Open Source Software as an option in the city purchasing process.

Open Source Software can be of higher quality and less expensive than proprietary software. In some cases it is even free of charge such as many versions of Linux, and the Firefox web browser. I use Free Open Source Software exclusively to run my business and on all of my home computers. Yes I have many computers.

One of the more interesting problems was increasing bus ridership and making it easier for those who already use public transportation. The solution was to use QR codes on stickers and the realtime GPS data that will soon be made publicly available from the CAT buses. The QR stickers would be pasted on each bus stop sign and each sign has a unique code embedded in the sticker.

A simple app would let cellphone users snap a photo of the QR sticker and that data would be used to determine which routes serve the stop and the arrival time of the next bus for each route. A similar app in use in San Francisco allows users to get to the bus stops just as buses arrive. For many people this means less wasted time waiting at bus stops.

Other groups worked on ways to support local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) groups, provide easier citizen input to their city council members, and even use telepresence in public places to connect with people in our sister cities.

Many of the participants worked far longer than just the official CityCamp hours to hone their projects. Emails and tweets flew at all hours of night and day.

Much of the success of CityCamp was the diversity of people who attended. Citizens and government employees brought the problems that the technical people had know knowledge of. Then together with the more technical attendees they synthesized workable solutions in way that the techies alone would not have imagined. CityCamp is a perfect example of how Open Source works.

I was amazed at the creativity exhibited by these groups and the amount of energy surrounding these projects. I was exhausted by the end of the three days and yet exhilarated by the results that all of the teams achieved. I met and worked with some old friends and made many new ones.

Thanks to all who participated in planning and staffing CityCamp Raleigh. I would like to thank the sponsors and the state and local government officials who supported the first CityCamp Raleigh. Without them this event would not have been possible. I enjoyed myself so much that I have volunteered to help plan future CityCamp Raleigh events. I really hope to see you at the next CityCamp Raleigh in 2012 or at one of the meetups between now and then.

All of the groups are excited by the results of CityCamp Raleigh and will continue working to implement their projects to make Raleigh a better place to live than it already is. Look for the results of their efforts during the coming year.

David Both, president and Senior Consultant of Millennium Technology Consulting LLC, announced today that he will be presenting at a session of the Palmetto Open Source Software Conference (POSSCON) on Friday March 25.

The Palmetto Open Source Software Conference brings a world-class lineup of IT thought leaders to the Southeast for three days, Wednesday March 23 through Friday, March 25, to discuss the latest issues for developers, executives, government leaders and educators.

Open source software continues to be one of the hottest and most relevant topics in information technology as organizations strive to meet the increasing demand for innovation with shrinking budgets. That’s why the goal of the organizers is to provide affordable access to quality open source education.

In 2010, more than 350 people from 14 states, 20 colleges and universities and about 100 business and government organizations attended.

In 2011, POSSCON will be held at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center for all three days and will feature an executive forum, hands-on workshops, and social and networking events. Programming tracks will be offered in the areas of Technical, Educations, Healthcare and Leadership.

The mix of people in addition to stellar speakers, affordable registration fees, cutting-edge staging and Southern hospitality make POSSCON a must-attend event. People from varied backgrounds have attended since 2008 and all say the same thing – “this is a truly unique event and a unique blend of people.” We’re proud of that.

Mr. Both will present a workshop session on OpenOffice, a Free Open Source Software office suite. The presentation abstract is below.

Abstract

The OpenOffice Challenge
Why are you not using this great Free Open Source Software?

OpenOffice is a suite of office programs that allows users to create, modify and manage documents of various types including word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics and databases.

As Free Open Source Software becomes more mainstream, many organizations are taking a closer look at software like OpenOffice in order to reduce expenses. And who can deny that free software can reduce expenses? Those organizations have many questions about the viability of Open Source Software in their desktop environments regardless of its cost.

Questions I promise to answer:

  • What does “free” really mean?
  • Can I run my business on free software?
  • What is OpenOffice?
  • Is there Documentation?
  • Can I get support?
  • Where is the pain?
  • Do my existing documents (spreadsheets, presentations, etc.) work with OpenOffice?

In the spirit of answering this last question I request that you challenge OpenOffice. Please send me NON-CONFIDENTIAL documents which you (and/or your lawyers) feel can be shared, and which were created with your current office suite. These documents will be used as examples during the presentation. The document which, in my sole opinion, is least compatible with OpenOffice will win a prize. A “document” can be a word processing document, a spreadsheet, or a presentation. All entries become the property of Millennium Technology Consulting LLC and may be used in this presentation or may be used or redistributed in other ways by Millennium Technology Consulting LLC in accordance with the Creative Commons License, V3. So really, they should not contain any information you do not wish shared with the rest of the world.

Please send your OpenOffice Challenge documents to challenge@millennium-technology.com on or before 11:59 PM March 18, 2011 in order to be eligible for the prize of a free copy of OpenOffice for your desired operating system. What? Oh, wait – Well, I’ll think of something for a prize.

If you are interested in Free Open Source Software, the 2011 FOSS Fair will be held on Saturday, February 12th in Engineering Building 2 (EB2) on NCSU’s Centennial Campus in Raleigh, NC. We will meet in Room 3211 at 9:00 AM.

The FOSS Fair is an unconference style event. It is completely driven by you, the participants. Any topic relating to Free and Open Source Software is welcome.

  • Have you ever contributed to an Open Source project?
  • Have you ever wanted to share what you gained by joining an open source community?
  • Have you ever wanted to learn what working in the community is like?
  • Would you like to bounce ideas around with the NCSU Open Source community?

https://opensource.ncsu.edu/FossFair2011#preview

I plan to be there and I see from the sign-up sheet that many others will be too.

Why?

Frankly the best software on the planet is free.

Free Open Source Software, also known as FOSS, not only provides the basis for the majority of the Internet Servers in the world, it also provides home and office software that can reduce your software expenditures to zero, $0.00, nada, nothing.

Define “Free”

Free has multiple meanings when applied to FOSS. Here are three I think are important. FOSS is not only free as in beer but free as in speech and free from worry.

Free Beer

I have to believe that everyone understands “free as in beer.” But just in case — it means that there is never any charge of any kind for the software. There are no up front charges, no license charges, no upgrade fees, no subscription fees; you simply never have to pay anything, ever. How great is that!

Would you refuse a free beer if someone offered it to you? And if you don’t imbibe alcohol, would you refuse a free Starbucks? Why would you refuse free software?

Worry Free

Because you never have to pay for licenses, you never have to spend money to monitor and audit your licenses. This frees you from the worry that the “Software Police” will come and require an expensive audit. Audits can be doubly expensive because they not only take time and money to perform but they also can cost money in penalties if it is discovered that you are using licenses for which you did not pay.

Make no mistake about it; the software police do come around. Microsoft can be very aggressive about that as can some other proprietary software companies.

Worry free also means that you never have to worry about the security or quality of the software. There are hundreds and even thousands of contributors to Open Source Software around the world who verify the usability and safety of the software. many of these people actively contribute code to various projects while others simply do quality control by checking the code directly or using it and reporting bugs.

Although all software has bugs, Open Source Software gets fixed much more quickly than proprietary software and the fixes are distributed much more quickly. Let’s face it; I have worked at companies that depend on closed source, proprietary software and their first reaction when you report a bug — despite paying thousands or even millions of dollars — is to do an analysis of Return On Investment, or ROI, to determine whether it is profitable for them to fix the bug. Most of the time they came back to us saying that they had known for some time that there was a bug but that it did not affect many customers and so they were not going to fix it. Best case I ever got was that it would be fixed in some unspecified future release, probably multiple years from now.

And of course that never did us any good as we needed the software fixed now. So in at least one place I worked we actually paid over $250,000 to have the software company fix bugs that were their fault and that should have been corrected for free. At another place we paid over $500,000 to have the software vendor add features that should have been in the software in the first place.

With FOSS simply make a request and the feature gets added. Report a bug and it gets fixed and is usually available within days or weeks at most. Or you can do it yourself if you have the skills — most of us don’t so we depend upon the programmers to deal with adding features or fixing bugs.

And finally I never have to worry about viruses, Trojan horses, worms, spyware and other nasties. Linux and FOSS is not immune to those things, but it is far more resistant than Windows and in the very unlikely event that it does get infected, the damage will be very limited. In fact, if you are really paranoid — and you should be if you run a web site, email server or other Internet connected service — you can activate the SELinux feature which was developed by the NSA to make it impossible for a cracker to damage a Linux computer even if he does break in. SELinux is sort of like bolting down the furniture and storing your valuables in a tungsten steel vault just in case someone breaks into the concrete bunker through the quadruple-locked steel door. Way overkill for most of us, though.

Free Speech

Free speech means that I can give you my opinion; which is exactly what I do on this blog and specifically in this post. Whether you want it or not. ;-)

It also means that I, or you, can give away copies of FOSS to anyone and everyone; it means that the software is freely available and unencumbered by restrictions of any type. In fact, the primary Open Source licenses, Gnu Public License, or GPL, and its derivatives all encourage us to give away copies of the programs. And most FOSS can be downloaded quite easily from the Internet.

So if I like a certain program, or an entire operating system, I can give you a copy and you can install it on as many computers as you want. You can turn around and give it to other people if you want to.

Software For Every Task

There is Free Open Source Software available for nearly every task you might want to do at home or in a business. I don’t intend to list them all here, but I run my business and my household on FOSS. This includes OpenOffice which does things like spreadsheets, math formulae,  drawing, database, and just plain old word processing and which includes the ability to use Microsoft Office documents and spreadsheets. I use GNUCash for my home and business finances. I use Thunderbird for email and Firefox for browsing the Internet.

I use VirtualBox for virtualizing multiple computers on a single hardware system. I use Tellico to keep collections of things such as books and the Gramps Genealogy System to research and keep track of my family. There is GIMP for complex image manipulation, Skype for Internet telephony, and multiple image viewers, photo management programs and media players.

And of course I use Linux as my operating system. Always free, secure and stable.

The best part is that all of this software is both free of cost and free as in speech. You can even try Linux and many FOSS programs using “live” spins that allow you to boot from a DVD or CD and try it out without changing or doing anything to your hard drive.

Getting Started

If you are ready to get started, or you simply want to learn more about FOSS, please go to my Millennium Technology Consulting LLC web site to learn more.

Russian Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin recently announced a five-year plan to completely transition Russia to Linux and Open Source. Starting this year and completing in 2015, all Russian institutions must convert from Windows to a Russian version of Linux.

There appear to be several possible reasons for this transition, but the primary impetus is likely to be simply the reduced costs associated with Linux, as it is with many other countries and many commercial institutions as well. Another might be the possibility Microsoft may have included, at the behest of the American government, spy software and back doors that would allow American espionage agencies free and easy access to Russian computers.

Nevertheless, transitioning an entire government, especially one as large as Russia, is a tremendous undertaking and one not to be undertaken lightly. The Russians have made noises about this before but this looks to be a major push by Putin to make sure that it happens.

See the complete article in Linux Journal: http://www.linuxjournal.com/content/russian-linux-push-continues

I use Linux on all of my personal computers. Whether on my NetBook, my very old Dell laptop, my much newer ThinkPad, to my personal workstation and my email and web servers, Linux runs them all.

I am forced to use Windoze on my laptop at work, despite the fact that my job is a Linux Engineer. Go figure.

But every day I use Winblows at work is another day that I am thankful I have Linux at home; primarily because of the daily frustration of using a crappy operating system. Windows 7 is supposed to be better, but it does not take much to be better than before. Just because you are happy with it due to the fact that it is now better, does not make it good; it only means you probably don’t know what a good operating system is.

Well, this did not start out to be a rant but that is what it has turned into. I guess it is all the frustration from being forced to use it at work. My original point was to be that there is an interesting article about switching from Windows to Linux for your desktop.

Read the article here: This is your Brain on Linux Desktop

Don’t let my rant stop you from trying Linux. Or perhaps you should not try it at all. Things this good, like Linux, should really be kept for only those who are wise enough to use it; after all what could be better than something that costs nothing and works better than anything similar for which you could pay any amount of money?

I will be teaching a 4.5 day Linux+ training class in Charleston, SC, the week of September 21.

CompTIA Linux+ is a vendor-neutral certification, generic across distributions, targeted to individuals with a minimum of six to 12 months of practical Linux experience. The CompTIA Linux+ exam covers fundamental management of Linux systems from the command line, user administration, file permissions, software configuration and management of Linux-based clients.

This class is preparation for that exam using Fedora Linux. Even if you do not take the exam this is an excellent training class for relatively new Linux administrators.

The class will be held at DTC Charleston, a local training center.

1064 Gardner Road
Suite 212
Charleston, SC 29407

Sales: 843-402-0983
Main: 843-225-3494
Toll-free: 866-705-4522
Fax: 775-370-0477

Email: martha_nye@dtccharleston.com

If you are interested in attending this class, please contact DTC.

Check my business web page, Millennium Technology Consulting LLC for more information about me and my company.

Millennium Technology Consulting LLC provides Linux Consulting Services for small to medium sized businesses.

In these difficult economic times we offer Linux consulting services that can help you save money, extend the life of your existing computers and make your computers and network more secure. We can help you find the Free Open Source Software (FOSS) that is right for your business. We can provide training for end-users and system administrators, and long-term support tailored to your needs and budget.

We currently serve the Raleigh-Durham, RTP area of North Carolina. Contact us for more information.

I would like to announce that I have now started my own company, Millennium Technology Consulting LLC. We use Free Open Source Software (FOSS) to save money, improve security and extend the life of existing computers for small to medium sized businesses. Open Source Software is high quality, and it is more secure and much better supported than most proprietary restricted software.

Check us out and see how Millennium Technology Consulting LLC can help your business.