This is a note to all companies or projects or people considering working on some sort of  systems administration tool or platform or interface.


Here’s why:

Red Hat




These companies use python for an OVERWHELMING number of items in their sysadmin/build/deploy/maintenance tooling. A massive amount of their code is already in python. They can work with it, you can import their modules, and you don’t have to yet another frelling language installed just to maintain your systems.

So when confronted with a choice of a language don’t think about it anymore than python.

It has made me grumpy when folks don’t completely explain what yum does when it encounters two pkgs providing the same dep and how it decides which one to use. Today someone called me on complaining about something when I’ve not explained it thoroughly myself.


Thanks to James Antill and Ray Strode for adding clarification and details.

hard problem

May 12, 2010

long conversation tonight w/a friend about how to verifiably/cryptographically trust the data from a network based database or service.

It seems like if you move data you could cryptographically sign for trust to a service on the network – you can no longer trust the data itself. You can trust the server the service is running on – but not the service nor the data itself.

This is essentially the – “how do we do depsolving w/o having everyone download a copy of the repodata” problem.

Or put another way – our package repos are growing w/o bound and the metadata per package is also growing – since we cannot ask everyone to download a massive copy of the repodata as it increases in size, how can we get the same results, we can trust, from a service or an app.

I think the answer is essentially, we cannot.

At best we can trust the SERVER the service is running on by trusting an SSL cert – but we cannot verify the data we get back is valid.

Fedora is a garden.

Right now we let almost anyone help out in the garden. If you have a spade and something to plant, you can dig in. This is not a bad thing at all. The problem is we have a finite amount of land and we have one patch in the front which is what we want everyone to see first when they come in and to think of first when they think of the fedora gardens.

Two issues fedora is grappling with:

The first issue that fedora has been grappling with is who decides what gets to be in the patch in the front and how we enforce those decisions and make them fair.

The second issue is how we make sure that folks planting in the garden (in the front or in the back) are not making the ground toxic and impossible for anyone else to grow anything.

blast from the past

May 7, 2010


Amusing in retrospect.


May 7, 2010

Greg mentioned dissidents in fedora in his outgoing blog post.

In case you were wondering – I was one of the dissidents Greg was talking about.

I like to think I was a dissident who was building things. Fedora Extras for example. Some of you may remember that at one point in time the Fedora Extras build system was ME and a wiki page. Scary, huh?

We were taking Red Hat Linux and turning it into, ultimately, an rpm-based debian-like project. Take a bunch of people who wanted to share packaging responsibilities and chuck all of that at something sort of like a distro.

Then the merge happened and  we still had a ‘core’, sort of, but that’s expanded and the package set has exploded in size and the ability for the core to exert force out over the rest of the distro is greatly limited.

Fast forward a few years: whereas before everyone who maintained a package in the ‘core’ knew that the goal was to make a distro that all went together, now we have a lot of packagers who only care about their own packages, not the good or the focus of the distro.

Our current batch of dissidents are not building anything. They want to preserve the status quo of things being without rules, without organization. Let’s use an analogy:

At one point in time there were no speed limits, nor were there rules about how a car had to be maintained. This was the case since interaction with cars was so uncommon and the people who maintained them so careful and special it was just not a concern. Then you ended up with a lot of cars and a lot of interaction and a lot of people maintaining them poorly you needed to have rules to make sure the cars were being kept up properly and to make sure no one was operating them dangerously.

When they started to make the rules about cars a group of people protested and raised their voice in anger. This was not what _THEY_ wanted – this was not FREEDOM – they were being oppressed and no one would listen to them.

That’s our group of dissidents. They do not want anything to change, even though they’ve already changed.

Cars are packages.

There used to be few – and the people who took care of them knew the implicit set of rules. Then there were more and the problems cropped up and we setup packaging rules explicitly so everyone could understand. So they knew what they should do and not do. The rules of the road, so to speak.

Now there are TENS of Thousands and we need to set up infrastructure to keep them from colliding into each other all the time and wrecking people’s computers AND lives.

Our dissidents want life to be like it was when there were fewer pkgs and they could roam free and willy-nilly. Those days are gone. Repeatedly saying the same arguments over and over and over again will not make those days return.

So our dissidents are in a fantasy world and they are not BUILDING a new world, they’re just building their fantasy.

That doesn’t work when you’re traversing to the next layer of things.

I’d like fedora to be en-route to the next layer of things. If that means more rules, more infrastructure, more control, so be it.

But if I know there is going to be more rules and more infrastructure, I’d rather be the people working on making it so. Not the group of people crying about their fantasies.

life update

May 6, 2010

1. my right elbow has a small fracture on the radial ulna head which means I get to do nothing for 6 weeks and do PT. Fun!

2. Eunice’s bike came intoday and it’s very hard to generate 30ftlbs of torque with a broken elbow. so. Victor came by and generated 30lbs of torque for us.

Victor got a new bike, too.

Eunice got a new bike, victor got a new bike.

I wanna new bike, everyone else got one.