Issue #11 September 2005

Ask Shadowman

Dearest readers,

Shadowman knows that you nice folks don't come around here looking for anything too heavy. A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer in the pants—that's what the people want from the Shadowman experience, and Shadowman does love to give the people what they want.

But first, let's all tend to some important business. The sooner we get past this bit, the sooner we can get to the standard Shadowman patter.

As loyal readers may recall, Shadowman and friends were mixing it up in the Big Easy not so long ago. Talking shop by day, shuckin' and jivin' and shakin' and bakin' in the hottest little juke joint in the 9th ward by night. Three months ago, this was.

Everybody had a great time at the Summit, but the Summit was about serious business, too—and no business was more serious than the presentation of the Red Hat Summit Awards. Serious awards, given to serious people, for serious work. Sanjiva was one of these serious people; he was in New Orleans to accept an award for his work on the Sahana project.

For those of you who aren't from Sri Lanka, "sahana" is the Sinhalese word for "relief." See, Sanjiva is from Sri Lanka. When the tsunami hit last December, Sanjiva was there. Three days after the tsunami, Sanjiva drove up and down the Sri Lankan coast to see the aftermath firsthand. Confronted by the enormity of the tragedy around him, Sanjiva asked himself, "how can I help?" And Sahana—the first open source disaster management system—was his answer.

Sanjiva and his team started their work within days of the tsunami. Together, they took Sahana from idea to functioning disaster management system in three weeks. They built Sahana not out of some vain need to prove the superiority of open source software, but because the necessary software simply did not exist. In Sanjiva's words, and you should read them for yourself:

What's incredible is that there doesn't appear to be software for this stuff, and all these agencies which deal with disasters regularly don't have all this sh** automated. Incredible. Well, we're going to build our stuff (openly/freely) and we'll be happy to share it with the other affected countries or anyone else.

This is the part where Shadowman wonders where to take the story. Belabor the irony of having given an award for disaster management software in New Orleans? Tempting, but way too easy. Climb up to the bully pulpit and denounce somebody-or-other for something-or-other? Frankly, Shadowman thinks it's crowded enough on that bully pulpit already. Tell a moving tale of tragedy and salvation? Not really Shadowman's bag.

No, Shadowman will follow Sanjiva's lead.

Shadowman asks his readers:

How can we help the victims of Hurricane Katrina?

To which Shadowman replies:

Most of you have probably already answered this question for yourselves. If you're procrastinators, though, and if you still need a little prodding to help, here are lots and lots and lots of suggestions. Give a little, give a lot—just give something.

One last suggestion: if there are Katrina survivors bunking in your neighborhood, take a few hours and stop on by to see them. Bring a big bag of candy for the kids. Tell 'em a good joke. Treat 'em like folks.


All right, enough of that. Back to the fun.

Got a question that you'd like Shadowman to answer? Ask him.

Keith pointed out oh-so-helpfully:

Oy Bwana, you mention the current way to resize an ext3 filesystem in Red Hat Enterprise Linux is with it unmounted. Check RH Knowledgebase Article ID 4841:

It is possible to resize an ext2 or ext3 filesystem in Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4. Currently the only way to do so is by using the ext2online command. This can only be done when the filesystem is online (mounted) and where the the filesystem is on a resizable logical volume.

Why yes, I'd love a Red Hat coaster! Thank you for offering! E me and I'll send my US mailing address!

To which Shadowman replies:

Don't you people ever get tired of nitpicking?

No? Well allrighty, then. Looks like our fine enterprise support folks decided to backport some key functionality while Shadowman wasn't paying attention. Typical.

We're all out of coasters, tough guy, but Shadowman will come up with something. Send Shadowman your mailing address, and Shadowman will maybe send you a t-shirt, or a pint glass, or a ball cap, or a swift kick in the sweetbreads. Or something.

Raffaele asked:

What about Shadowoman? Say hello to her from me ;)

We have set up some boxes with Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 through pxe+dhcp+nfs and everything works just fine. Now we would like to keep up to date the distribution to install (on the nfs server) with the new packages as they come out from RHN. How can we do it? At the time of RH7.3 I played a little bit with RedHat/base/comps.*, and I could make some modification on the list of packages to install. Where can I find some updated documents about it? Is there any way to integrate RedHat proxy with the nfs directory that contain all rpm packages to install? The goal would be to always install the most updated version of the OS via pxe+dhcp+nfs.

To which Shadowman replies:

Shadowman could give you the complicated answer to this, but in the interest of (a) saving time and (b) making money, Shadowman will give you the simple answer instead:

RHN Provisioning.

Yes, it's an extra service on top of RHN, and yes, it costs a little more, but it makes all this stuff dead simple. Dead easy system profiling, works with PXE, works with NFS, push a button and rebuild a system from scratch. Read all about it, then talk to a friendly and knowledgeable salesperson, then go back to playing bzflag.

As for "Shadowoman", she has prohibited Shadowman from ever, ever, ever mentioning her in public. With good reason, by the way.

abbu asks:

If in a dhcp environment. There are no free leases available is there any quick fix solution to increase the leases temporarily.

To which Shadowman replies:

Find the most timid person in your office, unplug their ethernet cable while they're away at lunch, and take their IP address. If confronted with evidence of wrongdoing, deny it. When the network admin figures it out, he/she will be forced to add more IP addresses.

You have problems. Shadowman has solutions.

(P.S. if you get in trouble and try to tell your boss that "Shadowman told me to do it," Shadowman will resort to the time-honored "Shadowman is a moron" defense. So don't even try it.)