Leaving Novell’s SuSE Linux Enterprise Server

I was trying to ruminate how to write this so it wasn’t an out and out hit piece on how badly Novell shot themselves when it comes to running Linux. Then I realized that this was the company who brought us netware, and they couldn’t ever get ahead of it. Once I realized this, I understood the fundamental truth of the issue: Novell has always stood in Microsofts shadow and this is why they never achieved greatness.

Netware always ran on top of DOS. They were inseparable even as OS2 ran on top of DOS. DOS wasn’t even particularly nice, but the selling point of DOS back then was that it wasn’t UNIX. And it wasn’t even that it wasn’t UNIX in the sense that UNIX was unpleasant to use – UNIX was a great write-once-run-anywhere example with POSIX (for the most part) – it was that it was so darned expensive. The rise of Linux has been documented ad infinitum on this blog and elsewhere. If you’re unclear about it, grab a copy of the absolutely great Revolution OS and watch it. It’s not as much about politics as The Cathedral and Baazar but more about the people involved and their motivation in the face of absolute commercial adversity.

Lets consider, for a moment, the state of a Linux company as a whole in the present. Windows 7/Windows Server 2008 (I’ll just call it “Win 7”) finally has threading and user separation which is actually worth something. Windows 7 scripting is still a crapshoot with power shell but it’s vastly better than it ever was. People are finally starting to take .Net seriously since the Win 7 threading stopped sucking. It’s still hideously expensive to run, but it’s got the critical advantage that people are generally familiar with it. I know most of my readership runs Linux, bear with me, I run it too. When we say that Linux has better, more robust filesystems, this is true. When we say Linux is typically faster, this is true. When we point to Linux and we say that it’s more secure, this is true. The problem here in the present for a Linux company is that Windows 7 is probably good enough for most people. MS has put something out which is so good it raises the bar, and people who were not terribly happy with Linux due to their vendor might take a moment and say “Well now performance is similar for my specific purpose, lets give it a try”. I’m looking at you, Novell, because your tech support sucks, and this is coming from someone who’s been running Linux for 10 years and saw how badly Caldera’s support sucked.

What happened to Caldera? Novell bought them. Sigh.

When the company I worked for decided to shove off Novell’s SuSE, this is exactly the reasoning. Novell’s support sucked, in turn performance was marginal but vastly poorer than their marketing material would have shown, I suggested going to RedHat and the company ultimately decided Windows 7 was “good enough”. There is now balkanization where various departments are spinning off their own IT groups who were happy and satisfied with SuSE, but these IT groups are running OpenSuSE and they’re not using the Novell proprietary services. They would be every bit as happy on RedHat or Fedora or Debian or Ubuntu… as they would with SuSE. To them it doesn’t matter what Linux they’re running so long as the old faithful chugs along and dishes up their applications. To them, Linux is “good enough”. To my group which has to do things like directory administration and file sharing, Novell was a serious problem on whatever OS we ran it on (including XP clients to eDirectory which often crashed or did weird stuff when java was updated) and the new problem was that it wasn’t even “good enough”, it was totally blown out of the water.

Lets take a step forward and get out my Penguin Crystal Ball. Novell’s in trouble because they’ve allied themselves as a partner with MS and touted their AD compatibility. The problem was they did this before Win 7 really got a foothold out there and now the Big Push from MS was Windows 7 as a server OS. Now Novell, once again, finds itself competing with MS in MS’s own ballpark. This is from a simple technology perspective, nevermind that Novell only recently fixed up eDirectory to AD support to make it robust. From a money perspective it’s a no brainer – the cost of the license + the cost of support is about what you would pay for a similar amount of performance from MS. I’m not going to say they lied here, but the performance numbers were definitely padded in my opinion and it only got worse once the virtualization craze hit because it was even slower. RedHat here is a great example of doing this correctly – the price is competitive and the numbers are correct, but more on the point RedHat understands that MS is the Big Dog in the neighborhood and RedHat’s claim to fame is that they serve as AD replica servers flawlessly. Now you have a MS product which is fully supported, but if you have a branch office that doesn’t need all the bells and whistles, you can throw a RedHat Enterprise Linux server out there for $100 and serve up a full replica of AD. You can’t even buy Windows 7 for $100. Redhat’s other great idea – It doesn’t care if you’re a Mac or an MS client. It can serve up the domain and filesystems wholly transparently. Try joining an AD domain with an Apple sometime, see how that works out for you.

Novell, as a company, I am fairly sure will persist. There’s a lot of people such as ourselves who have legacy applications which run on Netware but want some bridge to the future. There’s also a place for companies right now who do Linux distributions because Linux’s kernel is going through growing pains at the moment with regards to hardware and “kernel module loaders”. The question is – how long can they hold on with both Apple and MS going for two different market segments? Apple is quickly becoming the defacto desktop to run for people who think buying a new computer is the solution to computer problems. They made a great choice putting a pretty face on the good old UNIX workhorse and they weren’t so vain as to make broad sweeping changes to POSIX (looking at you, Novell) or hide the command line. It even runs Linux software almost 100% so it has a wealth of applications. Win 7 in this respect is too little, too late. However, on the server side, Windows 7 is just what it needed to be to compete with UNIX deployments. Java, threads, scripting, POSIXy stuff and great privilege separation are all there. If I were Novell, I would be doing some serious soul searching.

If I were looking for a new way to update my infrastructure, I’d probably give Windows 7/Windows 2008 a try and put RedHat into service as a performance enhancer for my new, shiny system.

Update: In case anyone is wondering “what do I do if novell tanks?” – you can install OES (the Novell enterprise software) on top of RedHat. It works perfectly with a bit of librarly versioning work, but it can be done and it does run correctly.

Pennsylvania Hunting and Trapping Digest

The new presentation of the 2010/2011 PA Hunting and Trapping digest is tops.

It includes some new illustrations, the maps are now broken out in a much easier to read format and it has a grid of orange requirements per season per device per activity. The “handsome deer tine” illustration is still there. They still don’t explain what the difference is between a rabbit and a hare.

What’s lacking is the wording can still be goofy in places due to legalese and the hunting licenses are now 7 little thermal squares. The antlerless application still is printed on it but the paper is the glossy stuff that came out of old fax machines and thus it’s impossible to write on. To their credit, they broke out the seasons now so you have the standard “short season” listing, but later the season is in a color coded box and the box corresponds to the appropriately colored page of the digest. This makes it much easier to flip through in a hurry.

The big news for the state was that hogs are being regulated. Previously it was just hush hush over the whole thing and if you shot one you got a wink-wink-nudge-nudge pat on the back. While it’s been regulated to the back page right next to the elk permit, the green box says “yes we have a hog problem and it’s open season except where they’re being trapped”. Where are they being trapped? No-one knows! Since it didn’t make the digest I’m going to simply say shoot’em if you see ’em.

The Weiners of 9/11

I’m going to sound terrible here but since we can make holocaust jokes on South Park I don’t feel too bad about this one: Anthony Weiner is a troll and he knows it.

It gets worse: The Daily Show was trolled. Stewart got off script and they had to edit him.

It’s rare that a show like The Daily Show or the Colbert Report gets trolled because they are in essence, trolls by themselves. However Weiner pulled off possibly the best political troll I’ve seen in quite a while (or he’s really out of touch with the Obama Politics). The whole bitchy episode from Weiner was bizarre from the get-go. He knows that there wasn’t a simple up/down vote like he states in his editorial. To be fair, later in the editorial he mentions the suspension calendar, but it’s puzzling why he says it was a simple up down vote (“simple majority”) when it clearly was not. He also knows that Democrats too, voted against the bill. Or maybe he doesn’t seem to realize that mentioning the specific number of Republicans voting against it (12) means he can’t plead ignorance to the amount of Democrats (16) who voted against it.

The problem?

The obvious problem is that the law violated the Obama version of Pay-Go where the President can spent a metric ton of money and everyone else has to fund their own legislation. In this case there was no provision for funding which was the sticking point for the legislation. The Obama Pay-Go has been on the books for six months now. So apparently from the word go, Weiner knew the bill had little chance of passing. When he tried to pull a procedural card which changed the voting process from “up/down” (simple majority) he got wrecked because it was now subject to special voting rules.

The not-so-obvious problem is that the bill stands on shaky intellectual ground. The “toxins” which were “released” are no more toxic than what would normally exist in any building and aircraft combination of reasonably modern manufacture. This isn’t to say the firefighters, etc aren’t getting sick, but there’s a vast difference between dust in the air and toxins. What toxins were there? Secret CIA toxins spread when Bush blew up the buildings? Weiner ends up coming off as a tinfoil hat hearing chemtrail guy when you actually read the transcript. There’s never any effort made to explain what toxins killed people or what those toxins are. More on the point they appear to be “talc and cellulose”, which appeared in James Zadroga’s lungs. Both of these materials make up pill casings for administering drugs, and it probably didn’t help that James Zadroga was addicted to oxycotone.

The question in my book is why, WHY JOHN STEWART? YOU KNOW BETTER THAN THIS.

Prop 8 Overturned on 14th Amendment

Proposition 8 was overturned, which I think is a good thing as I believe being gay is something central to someone’s identity, much in the same way someone’s race is central to someones identity, and therefor cannot be legislated. If you read the link to the ruling above, you can see that Prop 8 was overturned with the 14th Amendment. The 14th amendment I generally feel is a gross violation of the spirit of the constitution and I feel it’s a great example of backwards thinking. The spirit was probably in the right place when it was originally written – the authors were seeking to prevent discrimination. What it led to – affirmative action, no child left behind, fair housing act and our hilarious current mortgage problem – were unforseen consequences and a problem with the application of what amounts to a socialist law in a capitolist environment. When you try to legislate away poverty by claiming discrimination against poor people and thus a violation of the 14th amendment, banks end up making loans they wouldn’t even consider.

The wording of the ruling is absolutely bizarre. The challenge says “The Due Process Clause provides that no ‘State [shall] deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.'” Except that Proposition 8 is the due process of the law. (The spirit of this is that you must have a trial). Unfortunately this is a great example of working within someone elses framework. The state (in a general sense) treats marriage as something the state is party to, but treats it as something divine which the state does not regulate. Therefor it would seem to me, being the worst of the armchair lawyers, that a challenge to the regulation of marriage should call into question the state’s ability to regulate marriage prima facie. The answer is no, you can get a “quaker marriage” license and perform any such ceremony you wish and the license only serves as the regulation of paperwork. This should have been carried on through the ruling and in fact it seems like the judge was aware and sympathetic to this argument but looking for something to crouch the argument in. The state does not regulate being gay, or being a gun owner, or a racecar driver. The state regulates sodomy, murder and speeding. The entire body of laws is crouched in the idea that who you are doesn’t matter as much as what you do. This is both Just and Correct, and this is why the 14th amendment seems like such a miss. A church-and-state challenge is where I really wanted this to go and I would be interested in seeing someone challenge a similar law on that basis.

The 14th Amendment allows protected peoples to basically put their rule over the common agreements of society. The argument within the context of the 14th amendment therefor is an argument of entitlement. We could not argue that sodomy is legal between two consenting adults, because of their consent. The covenant of their consent would therefor be a marriage license, but we’ve fallen so far as a society that we’ve made womens rights such that consent can be withdrawn after the fact. Instead of strengthening the institution of marriage by making it inclusive of all, we’ve chosen to make gays a protected class (like the handicapped and the elderly) via the 14th amendment and therefor say a law is discriminatory by furthering legal discrimination. The problem here is that laws are based on the common good of society, and this was the original spirit of the sodomy laws in the first place. That being said, the problem with Proposition 8 was that it was poorly worded from the get-to and barely literate, so a challenge to it is roughly the same. This is why I believe the wording of the ruling is so strange.

The Fabulous Beekman Boys

The first and possibly most offensive thing you will notice about this show is that it preys on every gay stereotype there is. Both of them are obsessed with personal appearances. The effeminate one is the mother figure, the provider, who slaves over a desk (or an oven). The masculine one (cleanshaven) orders the other one around almost to the point of being abusive and apparently is friends in addition to working with Martha Stewart. Both of them make it a point to let you know they’re gay. Both of them are obsessed with fashion and appearances. Both of them weirdly quote Sex in the City. I don’t watch Sex in the City and it’s heavy handed enough even I recognise the quotations. Which is to say they don’t seem like genuine, normal people – they seem interested in talking with a lisp and making convoluted gestures and trying to say we’re women in mens bodies. Therefor the show seems more about a gay couple than about a farm – albeit a gay couple who seems to be forcing a relationship. It feels awkward, frankly, much in the same vein as Tom Cruise and Kate Holmes. Seeing how I ran across this on Planet Green and not Logo, it surprised me when they also offered up “Farmer Joe”, who’s a Mike Rowe-ish manly man who tends the farm. Therefor we’re left with a program which isn’t about being green per se but more about being gay on a farm. Seeing as how nothing of value about farming is presented in the few episodes I watched, I’m wondering why this is on Planet Green at all. Talk about building raised gardens, or the goats and llamas, or the politics of pig farms which are innumerable and topical in the “animal rights” age. Now we’ve got a Gay Green Acres complete with meeting Martha Stewart in New York City.

One of the recurring topics on the show is “running a business”. This is where Farmer Joe fits in, he apparently does the actual farming while these two fuck off building raised flower beds. I can’t help but feel like these are two examples of missed opportunity. You could have a show which really ministers to the Future Farmers of America group or even people like myself who think owning a farm might be neat. You could have a show about building raised garden beds and the time over money investment. Instead we’re presented with the idea of one of these guys going into a local cheese shop to deliver cheese. Where did the cheese come from? What’s involved in “running the business”? Is it cheaper to take the train to NY or rent a truck for this cheese? What’s the cheese sold for versus the overhead of owning a goat, a farm, and the time it takes to make it versus what the goat is eating this week? We’ll never know, the show focuses more on their relationship than the specifics of the farm. This isn’t a plea to make it Dirty Jobs, it’s just that I was sold a show about two men owning a farm and the business aspects of it and that’s not what the show is about. It’s puzzling considering the fact that they have a website selling farm goods but there’s no mention of the production on the show. Cheese doesn’t make itself, and when they go on to describe the process and selling it to a cheese boutique, it would have been really neat to see them actually making the cheese and working out a deal with the cheese shop.

Now it’s not to say the show isn’t fun. There’s a guilty pleasure in seeing two people completely unprepared for the mud and blood of farming get eaten alive by it. This gets spoiled by the feeling that the farm is merely a set piece but seeing someone bounce an axe head off a log trying to split wood is fun. Seeing people getting knocked over by pigs into the mud is fun. Watching goats narrowly avoid having sex on camera is fun as is watching the llama fight the goats over food. It’s also cute. It looks like Pottery Barn threw up on the show but it manages to have enough trials to keep it fresh against the backdrop. It does have it’s moments of introspection, and this is nice because they do feel genuine. Talking about autumn and living close to the elements and the earth is a welcome change from the flash bang TV we’re used to. It’s something you don’t get out of the outstanding Dirty Jobs or Deadliest Catch which are entertaining but seem to lack a spiritual connection to the work.