What’s the best linux distribution?

Lots of people ask me what’s the best Linux distro, some say what’s the best for a newbie others want to setup a home server and some others want to build a gatekeeper. So what’s the best distro to accomplish all this?

To be sincere I like OpenSuSE a lot and I use it for all my personal things and my work laptops, but I wouldn’t recommend  it for server usage, I don’t recommend any of the desktops distros (aka distribution) for that matter due to a simple issue. The  desktop distros like OpenSuSE, Fedora, Ubuntu , etc have a small support cycle. This means that if you want to have security upgrades you’ll need to be constantly updating your server install.

For usage in a server environment I like to use SLES, RedHat and CentOS. The support cycle is great (at least 5 years), the stability and endurance of the OS is great in any of them.

Once again I prefer SLES, this is due to the great tools and support they provide.However I don’t say the same about RedHat support, whenever I need them I  had to find the solution on my own.

These are the two main scopes of Linux distros out there, the desktop and server, but they aren’t the only scopes where you have Linux. For instance if you want to have a firewall, proxy, content filter, qos, and traffic shaping I would recomend the excellent Endian FW (www.endian.it).

If you want to have your linksys/asus and other router working with linux, you may use dd-wrt, would you like to have an older computer as a

media center look at Geex-Box. A hacker distribution so you can test your systems security just download BackTrack. The list can continue and you will be able to find a distribution suited to your needs. Some may need just a live cd or dvd system, other a complete server suite like SME server (that will give you the same offer as Windows small business).

To conclude I don’t think there’s a better distro, there are differences and those differences make some people like one distro over the other.

Personally I like OpenSuSE and SLES.

Cheers,

Pedro Oliveira



Hobao Hyper 9.5 GL review – from a user point of view

Last time I wrote about the Hobao Hyper 9  I was waiting the 9.5 arrival. It did arrived and I managed to put a gallon on it on practice plus a weekend competition. The competition didn’t go that well but it wasn’t the cars fault, just did practice and qualifications having to leave afterwards.

But lets go to what matters, how’s the Hyper 9.5 GL behaving and what are the new features?

Hyper 9.5 GL has some big improvements on its predecessor the Hyper 9 here’s a list:

  1. 4mm thick + 4mm longer rear lightweight chassis
  2. CNC Front chassis brace
  3. CNC Rear chassis brace
  4. Spider diff (front 5000, center 3000, rear 1000)
  5. 20 Degree engine mount
  6. CNC Coordinator mount
  7. 17mm (20mm) Big Bore shock set
  8. White spring set
  9. CNC one piece shock top cap set
  10. Fiber brake disc set up
  11. Front +2mm wheel hubs
  12. Rear +4mm wheel hubs
  13. Rear 3mm stabilizer
  14. Dust proof wheel nuts
  15. Proline 9024 tires

In my opinion on this list of upgrades from the hyper 9 to the 9.5 the really important ones are:

  1. 4mm thick + 4mm longer rear lightweight chassis
  2. CNC Front chassis brace
  3. CNC Rear chassis brace
  4. 17mm (20mm) Big Bore shock set
  5. White spring set
  6. Dust proof wheel nuts

With the new chassis and braces I’ve been damaging lot less parts than I had with the Hyper 9, specially the center dogbones and plastics, the new shocks are also great in handling as the new springs. The dust proof wheel nuts aren’t just a fancy upgrade they do help a lot preventing dust inside the nuts making it faster to replace or upgrade parts on the track.

About all the other improvements they work really well the brakes are much better, tiny springs where added to the brake pads this makes the brake free as soon as you hit the accelerator. The differential as better too, although I didn’t complain on the previous ones.

What I didn’t enjoy that much and reverted to the setting of the hyper 9 was the engine mount, I like the 25 degrees engine mount better, in my opinion the car handles better, but maybe it’s just me that I’m used to the older mount.

About the handling, what can I say, I loved the car before can’t deny it, but now I love it even more (my wife will kill me for saying this) but the handling in curve is better with the new chassis, the life cycle of parts is improved, I ran the gallon and the track weekend with almost no maintaince other than changing shock springs for tunning, and some minor setups (specially on the brakes). I’ve also noticed that with the with the white springs I can go faster on the corners without rolling. I also enjoy the gray ones for tracks that doesn’t have that many jumps.

What more can I say about the car, not much, just a little comparison I’ve been driving an HotBodies D8 and a Kyosho MP9 and compared to the D8 I like the Hyper 9 much more but compared to the Kyosho… well the Kyosho is a really nice car too, it’s fast and small like the Hyper, they both fly well and turn well in the long run I think the Hyper may have some advantage in what matters to shocks and turning speed, in accelaration they both perform very well but i think with the kyosho you can accelerate a bit sooner existing the corners, but this is just a thought, didn’t do an extensive test.

I’m more experienced with the hyper and it shows on lap times, but with the Kyosho I’m a second and a half slower, maybe due to the lack of habit driving it, with the D8 well… I’m three and a half seconds slower…and I’m equally used to it as I am with the Kyosho MP9.

In conclusion I think the Hyper 9.5 GL a great evolution on the hyper, it’s not that cheap nor it’s a car free of trouble, but is one of the best RC cars out there at least that I’ve drove, on the bottom end I really dislike the access to electronics as you have to take out the break linkage to change battery or do something else in the box, but well perfection doesn’t exist 😉

Cheers,

Pedro Oliveira


Software appliances – The good, the bad and the ugly

As a part of my work I have to design and plan Hardware, Systems and Software deployment, and as many of you guys know sometimes it’s not that easy. Dimensioning hardware for specific roles can be a pain, sometimes you don’t even have the software as it’s being “produced” by the development team and still you have to tell how many machines, routers, switches and all the small things the project will take.
But some other projects aren’t this difficult and you don’t need such an amount of flexibility to do them, you don’t need a custom based firewall cluster, you don’t need a web server or database cluster, you just need a simple, reliable and out of the box setup that make things work in the smallest amount of time.
When you need something like this many sys admins have an excellent way to things in a tested and production prof way (specially if they are open mined to use open source);

The Software Appliances

The appliances are really helpful  but before you start using them you need to know a few things, so lets start by the bad:

  1. Lack of flexibility
  2. Hardware choices are often hard due to  the lack of drivers/modules available

The lack of flexibility is probably the biggest problem with appliances, usually they aren’t inflexible but to master the appliance you’ll have to put a big effort on the manuals, this should’ t be a problem if you stick to a few appliances but if you use a lot of them then you’ll probably take more time to master them than to study the OS and all the applications your need (apache, samba, iptables, and so on). About hardware choices, appliances are suited to run on most hardware out there (after all they use a linux kernel, at least most of them do) but if you run cutting edge hardware you may find it hard to make it work with your appliance, specially if your appliance version as more than 6month-1year.

Let’s go to the good now:

  1. Easy installation.
  2. Fewer skills required.
  3. Dedicated support, sometimes paid, usually free from the community.
  4. Performance boost (In the cases where the appliance comes with it’s how hardware).
  5. Security.

So in conclusion appliances can be a great help, but they need extensive planning and testing before going to a production environment. Think not only about the present needs of your client but also about the future and expected ones. Bellow I’m going to write about my favorite software appliances and what are they for.

  1. dd-wrt – This is a great appliance for a bunch of Linksys, Asus, and another brand router, access point, home gateways, etc.
  2. Endian FW – Probably the appliance I use the most, you need firewall with a proxy server with content filtering? Do you need a VPN server or an antivirus scanner for your internet connection? Try this one.
  3. SME server – Do you need a windows domain server, a smtp server, pop server? Do you need to setup a small office in 2 hours? Choose SME server.

There are a lot of other appliances I’ve used since I’ve started working below a few honor mentions:

  1. GeexBox – For multimedia content displaying
  2. IPcop – Similar to endian (but endian has more features)

I’m done with appliances today, but you may wonder… what about the ugly? Well I didn’t find any that goes in this category, but the word goes well on the title 🙂 .

Cheers,

Pedro Oliveira

Using fuse to mount a remote dir with sshfs

Hi!

Today I’m writing about a little tool that is an enormous impact on  how to make a remote filesystem available to you as a local filesystem. You may be wondering, what’s the new? NFS does it, Samba does it, it’s true but if you don’t have a VPN and your away from your LAN or WAN a simple task like acceding a folder on a remote web server can be a pain.

The requirements on the host you need to access are:

  1. SSH server running
  2. User account

On the client side you’ll need:

  1. FUSE (Filesystem on user space) – you may install it easily with YUM, Zipper,apt-get, or whatever manager you’r using.
  2. sshfs – once again you can use your software manager or download it from http://fuse.sourceforge.net/sshfs.html
  3. On depending on the local mount point you may need root access.

Now before you start lets create a dir so you can have a local mount point:

mkdir $HOME/REMOTE

and the mount command:

sshfs your_user@remote_host.com:/home/youruser $HOME/REMOTE

to umount REMOTE:

fusermount -u REMOTE

And your done .

There are a lot of options to sshfs, write/read under others permissions, sync or async writes, buffers sizes and read ahead options if you want to know more about all the options (and they are a few dozens) just type:

sshfs -h

Cheers and see you next time

Pedro Oliveira