2 hours, 17 minutes ago
I introduced the concept of an ‘install gap’ in this illustration that I used in ‘Image management - an introduction‘:
The broad point is that to do useful work a VM
(or cloud instance) needs to be running an application or offering services that are used as part of an application. An operating system on its own (or even an operating system with some middleware installed) isn’t all that useful.
Installing by hand
After launching a virtual machine it’s fairly typical (at least in the first instance) for the user to install stuff by hand. This might be done with a package manager (e.g. yum
on Enterprise Linux, apt-get
on Debian/Ubuntu and derivatives), a source control system (e.g. git
), language specific packages (e.g. Ruby gems
or Java ear
files) or simple file archives (e.g. tar
Installing by hand provides infinite flexibility, but it’s time consuming, resource intensive and error prone, which is why it’s often desirable to automate installation (particularly once something has been developed and it’s moving into a production setting).
There’s a mantra that ‘any good systems administrator will replace themselves with a script’, and scripting provides ways for stuff that would be done by hand to be automated. Many operations people start out writing their own scripts in bash, perl, python or whatever, but in a large organisation the scripts can become a tangled mess with their own set of (inter)dependencies.
Tools like Chef
are essentially scripting frameworks that are (or at least can be) strongly connected to version control systems. This allows infrastructure (or at least infrastructure configuration) to be treated like code. There is perhaps too much focus on the tools used in DevOps (a natural IT
tendency) rather than the fact that it’s an artifact of more mature design
Deployment automation tools seek to resolve scripting interdependencies by introducing centralised repositories and management. Such tools were mostly developed for and targeted at physical servers before the advent of virtualisation.
A painting analogy
Building a server up from ‘bare metal’ can be a bit like spray painting a car. Different layers are applied to build up to a glossy finish - primer, base coat, colour, lacquer. Like new cars coming out of highly automated factories the aim is to get a perfect finish on each individually customised order.
This is where things can go wrong with deployment automation tools. They tend to be used to spray across multiple machines at the same time, and it gets messy when a new sort of primer (aka patch) is sprayed on after the lacquer (finished application) was already applied.
The layers found in deployment automation can often become like tectonic plates - any movement and you get earthquakes across the data center.
The point of a virtual appliance is to provide containment. A single machine to be built up (like a single car in the paint shop). The virtual appliance is a unitary deployable unit. The parts within it can be known to work together. Change in one virtual appliance doesn’t ripple through its neighbours.
There are many approaches to closing the install gap, but each has their drawbacks. Virtualisation brings with it the opportunity to do something different with virtual appliances, and in the next part of this series I’ll take a look inside a virtual appliance factory at the stages where installation can take place.
Author: Chris Swan
2 hours, 26 minutes ago
Emerald Window Decorator development may have stopped and the package is no longer available in the Ubuntu repositories for a few releases, but there are users who want to continue using it, so to make it easier to install, I’ve uploaded Emerald to the main WebUpd8 PPA, for Ubuntu 13.04, 12.10 and 12.04.
Emerald is a window decorator for Compiz that allows full composite window decorations
. There are many themes out there that come with frames, titlebars, buttons and so on that you won’t see for other window decorators, this being the main reason why Emerald was so popular a while back. Emerald is also highly customizable.
Because it requires Compiz, Emerald doesn’t work in GNOME
Shell, but it should work with Unity (3D), GNOME
Classic with Compiz or Xfce with Compiz
Here are a few of the many Emerald themes available on Gnome-Look, DeviantArt and so on:
The themes can be tweaked using Emerald Theme Manager
, which allows you to change the borders size, shadows, titlebar font and alignment and so on
. For instance, the LittleGlass theme above has some pretty large shadows so I’ve used the Emerald Theme Manager to change them - under Edit Themes > Frame/Shadows
tab. You can also move the window buttons
from/to left/right, as long as the theme aspect allows it - more about this, HERE
Install Emerald Window Decorator in Ubuntu 13.04, 12.10 or 12.04
Emerald is available in the main WebUpd8 PPA
, which is a general PPA
with some other packages as well. If you don’t like that, you can compile Emerald
from source or add the PPA
, install Emerald, then remove the PPA
Also, please keep in mind that Emerald Window Decorator is no longer developed / supported and while I’ve tested it for about two days in Ubuntu 13.04 (as well as some brief testing under Ubuntu 12.10 and 12.04 in VirtualBox) and I didn’t encounter any issues, there might be bugs, etc.
Let’s proceed with the Emerald installation:
1. To add the main WebUpd8 PPA and install Emerald Window Decorator in Ubuntu 12.04, 12.10 or 13.04, use the following commands:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:nilarimogard/webupd8
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install emerald
Once installed, get some Emerald themes
via Gnome Look
and so on and install them using Emerald Theme Manager:
either select “Import” and browse for the .emerald file or simply double click an .emerald theme file and Emerald Theme Manager should install the theme. There are no Emerald themes installed by default so make sure you’ve installed at least one
before proceeding with the next step.
3. Start Emerald (this will replace your current window decorations) by pressing ALT + F2 and entering: “emerald —replace” (without the quotes).
4. To continue using Emerald after a logout / restart, install CompizConfig Settings Manager:
sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager
Then open CompizConfig Settings Manager (CCSM), click the “Window Decoration” plugin and under “Command”, enter: “emerald” (without the quotes):
Reverting the changes
If you want to go back to the default window decorator, open CompizConfig Settings Manager, click the “Window Decoration” plugin again and next to “Command”, click the reset button on the right:
Then log out and log back in. You can also remove Emerald if you want, but make sure you don’t remove it before you reset the CCSM Window Decoration command as explained above:
sudo apt-get remove emerald
3 hours, 34 minutes ago
xkcd Fame for GeoGuessr
GeoGuessr has rightly been getting a lot of great coverage lately. It has now even been featured in an xkcd strip.
Google Maps has featured a number of times over the years on xkcd. I think however this is the first time that a specific application using the Google Maps API has starred on its own.
Just in case you still haven’t played GeoGuessr:
The game drops you into a random Street View and then asks you to guess where in the world you are. Points are awarded for how close your guess is to the actual location.
Four Seasons in One View
Daniel Shwarz has been scanning Google Maps aerial imagery in search of locations where images taken at different times of the year have been stitched together. His post, ‘Justapose
‘, includes screenshots of a number of examples. I think the images are rather beautiful.
Street View Rock Video
It has been a while since we last featured a music video created with Google Maps Street View. Here’s one from band Tereza.
It is worth watching beyond the initial timelapse sequence. Later in the video the band member’s heads have been superimposed over the blurred out heads of people in the Street View images.
Via: Google Street View World
Author: Keir Clarke
3 hours, 45 minutes ago
This simple and brief tutorial will show you how to install the latest version of the popular VLC media player in Ubuntu 13.04 Raring, 13.10 Saucy, 12.10 Quantal, 12.04 Precise.
VLC is available in Ubuntu Software Center by default, but it may be old. You can always get the latest version by adding the PPA repository. Hit Ctrl+Alt+T to open terminal, run following 2 commands one by one:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:videolan/stable-daily
sudo apt-get update
After that, you can keep it up-to-date by running regular update or using Synaptic Package Manager.
4 hours, 47 minutes ago
HouseinCity is a Google Maps based real-estate engine for a number of Indian cities.
HouseinCity allows house hunters to search for a property by location, price, the number of bedrooms and by the property’s builder. In what I think is a first for Indian real-estate websites, HouseinCity also offers users the option to search by commuting time.
The map includes two commuting time options. ‘Metro Connectivity’ overlays a heat map of metro travel times on the map. The heat map shows the average commuting time for a morning commute on the metro. Alternatively, for the driving times of a commute in morning traffic, users can use the ‘Project Connectivity’ option.
It is also possible to display local amenities, like schools, shopping malls etc. on the map. If you select any of the local amenities on the map you can instantly view the travel time that it will take to reach the amenity from your selected location.
Author: Keir Clarke
5 hours, 2 minutes ago
Pinguy OS 13.04 (based on Ubuntu 13.04) beta has been released recently, this being basically the final 13.04 version because Pinguy has decided to keep the 6 month releases as betas and only the LTS will be considered stable.
releases will be using bleeding edge software, like XBMC
13.0 alpha or GNOME
3.8 / GNOME
Shell 3.8 that’s included in Pinguy OS
13.04, which isn’t included by default in Ubuntu 13.04 and so, it isn’t considered fully stable in Ubuntu. According to a recent Pinguy OS
, the 6 month releases are usable, but they might not include features that will be available in the LTS
“The 6 month Pinguy OS releases will be missing features that will be in the final LTS, but the release will be very usable. It just won’t be at a stage where I am happy to call it stable due to missing features or things not quite working as they should. The goal of the 6 month releases is to help give users insight and influence on where Pinguy OS is heading and help shape the LTS release”
For those not familiar with Pinguy OS, this is an Ubuntu remaster with lots of applications installed by default as well as tweaks that you won’t find in any other distro, at least by default.
Pinguy OS 13.04 beta uses GNOME Shell 3.8 by default and the first things you’ll notice when you log in are a Docky instance displayed at the bottom, used as a taskbar / app launcher, and a simple but stylish Conky setup displayed at the top, under the GNOME Shell panel. There’s another Docky instance on the left, used for quickly accessing various folders, but it uses autohide so you may not notice it at first.
As usual, Pinguy OS comes with many little things that make your life easier as well as under-the-hood optimizations and tweaks such as ZRam and Preload installed by default, aimed at providing a better default experience.
|GNOME Control Center 3.8|Even though Ubuntu 13.04 has GNOME 3.6, Pinguy OS uses GNOME 3.8 with GNOME Shell by default
, customized with quite a few extensions as usual. For 13.04, Pinguy uses Gno-menu extension by default
instead of Cardapio (which is no longer being developed and is looking
for new maintainers), but you can also use Slingshot App Launcher or the GNOME
appmenu extensions instead, both being installed (but not used) by default.
|Messaging Menu extension|
Besides Gno-menu, Pinguy OS 13.04 includes quite a few GNOME Shell 3.8 extensions by default, such as:
- Activities Configurator: lets you configure the Activities button (text, padding, hide text or icon, hot corner sensivity, etc.);
- Alternatetab: ALT-Tab replacement that allows you to cycle between windows and doesn’t group by application;
- Alternative status menu: replaces the GNOME Shell Status menu with one that displays Suspend / Hibernate and Power Off as separate items;
- AppIndicator Support: the extension we wrote about a while back that adds Ubuntu AppIndicator support to GNOME Shell, though you need to set the indicators placement in panel from its settings (via GNOME Tweak Tool) for it to work;
- Default minimize and maximize: displays minimize and maximize buttons on windows, which isn’t available by default in GNOME Shell;
- Frippery move clock: the clock is moved to the right;
- Media player indicator: Ubuntu Unity-like sound indicator;
- Messaging Menu: Unity-like messaging menu;
- Move-free Message Tray: Returns the Message Tray to pre-3.6 behavior where your whole screen doesn’t move;
Just like in the previous releases, because it uses a custom menu, the Activities Overview button isn’t available by default but you can enable it if you want, by using GNOME Tweak Tool, which is included by default in Pinguy OS.
Besides some new GNOME Shell extensions, Pinguy OS 13.04 beta comes with Netflix Desktop by default, along with its usual default packages such as XBMC, codecs, Adobe Flash, G-talk plugin and so on.
Also, the Spotify and Google Chrome repositories are added by default so it’s very simple to install either of these applications.
Pinguy OS 13.04 beta ships with the following default packages: Firefox 21, Nautilus 3.8.1, LibreOffice 4.0.2, Empathy 3.8.2, GNOME Control Center 3.8.2, Deluge 3.6, Docky 2.2.1, Friends 0.1.3daily13.04.17.1, Skype 4.1.0 (but an update to 4.2 is already available through the Update Manager), TeamViewer 7, Thunderbird 17.0.6, Pinta 1.4, Shotwell 0.14.1, Rapid Photo Downloader 0.4.5, Xchat 2.8.8, Arista Transcoder 0.9.7, Cheese 3.8.1, Clementine 1.1.1, GNOME Mplayer 1.0.8, OpenShot Video Editor 1.4.3, DeVeDe 3.23, VLC 2.0.6, XBMC Media Center 2.13.0 alpha, Gloobus Preview 0.4.5, Boot Repair 3.199, Gedit 3.8.2, Gparted 0.16.1, Ubuntu One, GNOME Tweak Tool 3.8.0+git, Wine 1.5.30, PlayOnLinux 4.1.1, Synaptic 0.80, Y PPA Manager 0.0.9.8, Shutter 0.90, Ubuntu Software Center 5.6.0 and more, all on top of GNOME 3.8.
Like Ubuntu 13.04
, Pinguy OS
13.04 beta uses the 3.8.0 Ubuntu Linux kernel, based on the upstream 3.8.8 Linux kernel, comes with MTP
support by default and so on.
Download Pinguy OS 13.04 beta
For support, visit the Pinguy OS forums
6 hours, 26 minutes ago
I read a list post thread tonight that saddened me. I won’t say what community it is part of, or point out the participants, because it is far too common in many of our community meeting places, whether they be lists, IRC or forums. Stereotypes are used rather than names here.
Newperson speaks up, I think for the first time, wondering when a new project result will be put to use, and offering a possible sample.
Longtime Devel speaks up, using rather angry questions about how the old symbol came to be displaced.
Another Oldtimer speaks up defending the symbol, accusing Longtime Devel of being out of touch.
And on. And on. The listowners don’t redirect the discussion, and when questions are asked, they are answered angrily.
Newperson probably has departed by this point.
This seems like a small occurrence, but it is bad for every single participant, and each bystander has the power to change the conversation at each point.
This blog is a call for each of us to think about our power to influence the community spaces we inhabit, to exercise leadership, to become a catalyst for dialog, to open up trust. When I was first asked to become an IRC channel operator, I was asked to read the Freenode Philosopy: Catalysts. Whether or not you use IRC, I recommend reading this page to change your thinking about how you interact with others in your free software project. In fact, these ways of thinking about personal interaction would transform business, education and politics if put into wide use.
We know that bullying in schools can be brought to a stop by bystanders who show the courage to immediately speak up on behalf of the victim, and walk away from the confrontation. While I don’t want to label those who use abusive language as bullies, we can transform tense situations in similar ways by speaking up in a positive, calm manner, as outlined in the Catalyst page.
Labeling people as trolls doesn’t defuse the situation, or create an atmosphere of trust and dialog.
Please folks, if you are in an IRC channel, on a list, or help out on a forum: read the Catalyst page, and remind yourself often to be the change you want to see in the world. You don’t need to be an op, a listowner, or a moderator, to be a leader; bloom where you are! Our Codes of Conduct aren’t bludgeons to be used against evildoers; rather they are guides to our everyday interaction with one another.
Author: Valorie Zimmerman
21 hours, 40 minutes ago
gsalr.com is a garage sale, yard sale and estate sale listing service with a handy Google Maps interface and trip planner that can help you plan your weekend garage
If you select a sale’s marker on the map you can view details of the sale and click on the ‘add to trip planner’ button to add the sale to your personal trip planner. After you have selected all the sales that you plan to visit you can then click on the ‘View Route and Directions’ button in the side panel to open another map with a planned route and the directions to all your planned sales.
Author: Keir Clarke
22 hours, 9 minutes ago
Your photos represent some of your most important memories and life events, yet they are increasingly difficult to manage as you build up your photo library, accumulate new devices and make new friends. In many cases, searching for your photos can be challenging because the information you’re looking for is visual.
Starting today, you’ll be able to find your photos more easily and connect with the friends, places and events in your Google+ photos. For example, now you can search for your friend’s wedding photos or pictures from a concert you attended recently. To make computers do the hard work for you, we’ve also begun using computer vision and machine learning to help recognize more general concepts in your photos such as sunsets, food and flowers.
Try it out on Google.com by signing in and searching for [my photos
] or [my photos from new york last year] or [matt’s photos of food]. You can also try out this feature on Google+ Photos
Posted by Matthew Kulick, Product Manager
Author: Inside Search
22 hours, 32 minutes ago
NPR has released a map showing aerial imagery of the damage from the tornado that struck Moore, Oklahoma. Zoom In On Oklahoma Tornado Damage displays imagery collected on May 20th.
The map includes a tool to view building footprints, the tool can be turned on and off by clicking on the ‘Hide Labels’ button.
This Open Street Map map of aerial imagery also shows the devastating damage caused by the tornado in Moore.
Unfortunately the map doesn’t have any zoom controls or an option to view aerial imagery of the same location before the tornado struck. The map, however, does include a dynamic URL that gives the latitude and longitude of the current view. Therefore, if you want to compare before and after views of the tornado, you can grab the latitude and longitude of a view and paste it into Google Maps.
The aerial view above shows Plaza Towers Elementary School. Below is the aerial view of the same school on Google Maps, taken before the tornado.
Update: Google Crisis Map now also has the same post-tornado imagery. The Google Crisis Map also includes aerial imagery taken at the end of April, so users can compare the pre and post-tornado imagery on the same map.
The New York Times has also created two evocative custom Street View images
of the devastation caused by the tornado in Moore, Oklahoma - Before and After: 360° Views From Moore.
Author: Keir Clarke