Tuesday, December 22, 2015

It's a good time to be a Linux sysadmin!

Linux is everywhere now.  It's on my TV, on my Roku, it's the firmware running my SAN hardware, it's the OS behind all of our virtualization platforms. If you know me, you know my technology passions are for Linux, Perl and pretty much anything running open source.  I started using Linux about 1993/94 when I downloaded SLS from GEnie over my 2400 baud modem.  It was kernel 0.99p11.  It booted Linux and ran off of floppy.  Later, I got a larger copy from GEnie using work's 9600 baud connection.  I had to dialup Indy to get a speed that fast!

Later, when Windows 95 came out, I started running Linux as my desktop and I've stuck with it.  I remember that the guys in my office would always reboot their Windows 95 systems at lunch as a preventative measure to prevent accidental lockups.  One time, just prior to lunch, I distinctly remember Ken yelling "Oh  no!  It locked up and I've been working on that spreadsheet for an hour!" I typed "w" to get my uptime:

[rat@localhost Desktop]$ w
 16:39:19 up 99 days,  8:14,  4 users,  load average: 0.25, 0.25, 0.27

Ha!  They can't keep their desktop up half a day - mine's been up for 99 days and still going.  I think to myself: "Linux - I think I'll keep it."

It's been over 20 years.  I can remember telling someone I worked on Unix and Linux systems.  "Ah, a niche OS, eh?"  "Niche?"  Not really.  Unix/Linux was running the Internet before these guys knew there was an Internet.  It's always been the one to run DNS, web servers, DCHP servers, NTP (time protocol), etc.  It ran all the SMTP (mail) and SNMP (network and hardware monitoring).  Linux WAS the back office of any decent sized IT shop. 

Later, Apple forked BSD Unix into its operating system OSX.  Now Apple was Unix!  I was very much at home on the Apple OSX command line.  Everything was there: Bash shell, Perl, and all the core Unix commands.  Pretty cool. 

Next came Windows PowerShell.  So many of the commands were aliased to bash commands that I was once again at home.  I really like Windows 2012 R2 Core and PowerShell.  Each new version of PowerShell adds more and more bash-like aliases.

And now, Microsoft Azure Cloud Services has dozens of versions of Linux you can deploy in their cloud service.  One estimate was that over 75% of the virtual machines in Microsoft Azure Cloud Service were Linux.  Even better - Microsoft runs AZURE on Linux!!  What's more, the Azure services SDK client also runs on Linux!  It was pretty freaky seeing bash scripts with a Microsoft license boiler plate on them.  And now the Office 360 is coming to Linux!

It's not a niche!  It's not going away.  I'd say that, without fan fare, Linus' OS has finally won.  I saw the future 20 years ago.  It is Linux!!

Merry Christmas everyone!

P.S. Don't forget - Linux is the OS running Android phones and the Raspberry Pi.


Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Joy of Modern Computing

  1. Solaris Zones & Containers
  2. Oracle VirtualBox
  3. Xen 
  4. VMware
  5. KVM 
  6. Heroku
  7. Hyper-V 
  8. Citrix XenServer 
  9. Oracle VM Manager (OVM) 
  10. Amazon Web Services (AWS) 
  11. Microsoft Azure Cloud Services
These are a few of my favorite virtualization platforms that I've been using since 2006. I love virtualization!  I work mainly out of a virtualized desktop running ssh into virtualized systems.   Lately, I've been working a lot with Microsoft Azure Cloud Services.

It's funny how this is perceived by some people unfamiliar with it.  Today in a meeting, some people thought that moving systems to the "cloud" would cause a loss of IT positions.  I never thought so.  My least favorite part of the job is the part that takes .001% of your time - mounting the physical hardware in a rack and wiring it.  If that goes away, I will not miss it at all.

I love that I can clone, copy and snapshot VMs.  Using physical hardware now seems to me like working without a net. I would not want to go back.  Even better is having the services in the cloud.  No messy wires, no failing hard drives (I have an open ticket for one now).  Even backups are a breeze.

I have a 32 bit Windows 7 desktop VM that I migrated from a PC running CentOS 5 under Xen to a PC running Red Hat Linux 6 running KVM (that was a tough migration - but it worked!) and then I moved it again to a PC running Oracle Linux 7 under KVM (much easier move).  So, my Windows 7 has been with me through 3 PCs.  All of my stuff is there - all my files and software.  Virtualized PC's are really cool!

I also run additional VMs on my PC.  If a new distro comes out and I want to see what it looks like - I just load it from the ISO!  I don't have to have spare hardware.  It's great!  I have been running my desktop like this about 6 years and can't imagine doing it any other way.  (I started virtualizing my servers almost 10 years ago).

Lately, as I have built about a dozen various VMs in Azure.  I've been testing the cloning of VMs & filesystems and securing endpoints. (It took some time to figure out how to reserve static addresses.)

Now, I love Linux and my technology passion is learning pretty much anything OpenSource - BUT, even though I could do quite a bit with the cross platform kit for Azure under Linux - most of the work was easier in Powershell.  No problem - because I really like Powershell - BUT, my 32 bit Windows 7 system didn't seem to want to finish the install and hung twice.  I figured it was because it was 32 bit.  Again, thanks to virtualization - No problem - I just loaded up 64 bit Windows 10.  (I tried to like Windows 8 and 8.1 but eventually gave up. Skipping that one.)  Windows 10 is a nice mix and seems more intuitive then its predecessor and ran the Azure Powershell environment which made cloning much easier.

The cool thing is, I can still run my old Windows 7 for as long as it gets patches (and then I could just remove the network and keep it for nostalgia) BUT I also get to run Windows 10 and use the Azure Powershell features I need.

Anyway, Linux and KVM gives you a lot of possibilities and it's free (your VMs, may not be).