Thursday, July 15, 2010

Projects Keeping Me Busy

Life at Largo never slows down. When you push new technology live, there is always more waiting in the wings. Here is what is going on:

Evolution 64 bit: As I have reported everyone has been moved to release 2.28 on SLED 11 SP1. Still blazingly fast even with hundreds of people working. I moved the bug-buddy binary out of the way and inserted a custom script that dumps backtraces to flat files and into a common directory. I can see how many people, what people and why people are crashing in real time. Looks like we are hovering around 20 crashes a day that dump BTs and a few more that crash at startup. Around 400 unique people check email a day, so most people are having a stable experience. BTs are being shipped to Novell and we hope to start getting some patches soon. Those patches should also land upstream and help everyone else too.

OpenOffice 64 bit: 3.2.1 is working well and stable. It's still running so fast that even under a user load you don't see the splash screen at all. On a multi-user system you never really have a "cold start" but the UI opens in about 2-3 seconds at which point you can immediately start typing. Nice. We have identified that extensions are causing the memory leak, and hopefully Sun/Oracle will be able to work on it soon. In the meantime we just bought more memory (cheap) to keep everyone out of the swap device.

Firefox 64bit: Pavel Janik finished testing our new 48 processor (8 cpu x 6 core) server to try and set some new OpenOffice compilation records. I won't spoil the surprise and you can read his blog when it comes out. I'm downloading OpenSuse 11.3 right now and we will move that server back inside the DMZ and prepare it for our employees. I'm going to begin testing 64bit Firefox 4 and see how it works. Adobe seems to have pulled back 64bit flash, so I'll be experimenting with the various plugins and see how they work. I'll check on the state of the various media players and see which one works. We used mplayer last time and it works great, but I always keep an eye on other solutions.

Debian Lenny Xserver Crash On Thin Clients: I finally packed up a bug report on the crashing Xserver issue. It only happens about every 2-3 weeks, with compiz enabled and happens when you close a child window. Bug report is here

Verizon USB 760 EVDO Modems + Laptop Thin Client: Verizon released a nasty modem, the USB 760. They thought it would be a good idea to put software and a modem into one USB stick, nice. Linux sees it as /dev/sr0 and tries to automount what it thinks is a CD/DVD drive. The workarounds are not pleasant, you have to tell udev to then immediately eject the drive and then attempt to fire up your dialer. I'm poking around at some ideas to make it not so clunky. Note to Verizon: Please don't make hardware devices like this anymore!

GDM + XDMCP: Halfline and I are trying to get synced and have some time to experiment with newer versions of GDM and find out why it won't let thin clients connect with XDMCP anymore. Hopefully that will happen in the coming days.

Update: 2 second cold starts on Firefox on the 48way server. Obviously no user load, but promising. :)


Anonymous said...

Regarding the Verizion USB 760: Wasn't the usb modeswitch software designed to deal with these types of devices?

Dave Richards said...

@cszikszoy: That's an excellent resource thanks! Will check it out and see if I can build that and get it working. :)

Anonymous said...

Hope it works out for you! I've had great success with my t-mobile usb modem.

Anonymous said...

I believe most 3G USB modems these days pretend to be driver CD-ROMs on first plugin. The usb-storage kernel driver knows about some of them and issues the "unmount and become a modem" command automatically; for the rest there's modem-modeswitch and the aforementioned usb-modeswitch.

When I first played with 64-bit Linux, Firefox 3.something could play Flash though the use of nspluginwrapper, with the added advantage of crashing Flash plugins not taking down the whole Firefox. I felt the user experience was slightly better than on 32-bit Linux with native Flash.

Your posts are always very interesting!

amirul said...

Its always inspiring to read what can be done with ltsp. Keep it coming Dave.
Regarding my small scale deployment, a question. I've got Firefox running as a localapp but how to make it open nautilus and evince on the server? Tried ssh -X without success. Any help appreciated.

Dave Richards said...

amirul: What you do to run remote X from one computer to another is always pass the $DISPLAY in your bundle. Using rsh we do it like this: (ssh is exactly the same).


And then on , the first line of is:

export DISPLAY=$1

The remote host then always knows how to get back to the thin clients.

amirul said...

Thanks for the pointers Dave. Tried the rsh method but can't seem to get the permissions right.
With ssh this is what I did:
1. Set up the keys so that it doesn't ask for passwords
2. To test, ltsp-localapp xterm to run a terminal on the thin-client. Run ssh -X ip.of.ltsphost nautilus
result: nautilus pops up on thin client
3. Enter the same stanza in firefox when it asks for 'Open with' doesn't work
Anyway, have a great weekend