CentOS 4 i386 Live CD Released

May 14, 2006

The CentOS team released a live CD today. It is based on the CentOS Plus kernel and is geared to be a workstation. It contains the following highlights (stolen from the Announcement on the Mailing List):

Open Office 1.1.2

Evolution 2.0.2

Firefox 1.5.0.2

Gimp 2.0.5

k3b 0.11.14

Gaim 2.0.0

XChat 2.4.0

It also offers the following tools for system recovery:

Read / Write access to XFS, JFS, ext3, ext2, NTFS, reiserfs

LVM2 Graphical Tool

GNU Parted

QTParted

PartImage

EVMS

smb4K

chkrootkit

MemTest86

System Log Viewer

I downloaded it today and booted the ISO in a VM this evening. It of course had no issue with the VM and it does look pretty nice. It will be interesting to see how it works on a wider range of hardware. I will burn it to CD this weekend and boot some machines at work when I have time to see how it handles a wider array of hardware.

I think its a good move the CentOS team though as it will give folks a chance to try out a CentOS workstation without needing to commit to a full install.

Also it sounds like the 4.3 Server CD may be out Monday sometime for those of you waiting for that one-disk server install. Though I tend to just use the first CD of four and do a minimal install and then use yum to install whatever else I need.

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VMware, AMD X2, Windows Installs

May 13, 2006

I am finally getting around to setting up a Windows test network in addition to the Windows boxes I already have. My base OS on my AMD X2 machine is Fedora Core 5 running the most recent VMware Server Beta. The other night I tried to install Windows 2000 Server and it just hung at the Starting Windows 2000 during the very initial parts of the install (before you even partition the disk). I initially thought it was a bad disk or one that wasn’t playing well with VMware.

Tonight I tried another disk. Same thing. This time I was off to Google and found that there were some hits on this in the VMware forums. Adding:

processor1.use = “FALSE ”

To the .vmx file for the virtual machine fixed the problem right up. Now Windows Server is installing with no issues.


Open Source Auditing Software

May 6, 2006

We were in need of some software to help get our hardware and software inventory under control for our Windows PCs. We had a commercial application that had been partially rolled out over a year ago. Due to department turnover and a rapid release cycle our install soon fell into disarray and was out of date on top of that. With interest in getting something up and running again our help desk guy found a nice open source package called Winventory.

We took a look at it and saw it used a VBScript to pull the hardware specs and software installed on the Windows PCs using WMI. It formats all the data up into a series of SQL update statements which are submitted to a web form running on Apache with PHP and a MySQL database backend. I put it up in our test environment pretty easily, probably in about ten minutes.

From there I played with the audit file and got it to run against a test PC. A few small issues later (the biggest being not all the software found was loaded into the DB, this was corrected with a re-written function taken from the Bugs forum of the Winventory site) we had our first PC inventoried. It grabbed a large amount of information, in fact I saw very little missing. It includes a hardware section, software section, when the PC was audited and areas to add your own manual notes.

The audit can be run from a central station as long as the user running it has Admin rights on the remote machines. This is great as there is no client software to install as long as WMI is on the machine you are scanning (which is the case for 2K and XP machines). This is agreat advantage over our commercial solution which required a client which was prone to crashing on the PCs it was installed on. Each scan takes about 30 seconds on a modern PC, a little longer if the remote is an older model.

The other nice factor is that with it all being open source we can customize the software if we want. Add to the VBScript if we want more information or create our own reports to run against the DB.

So far I have been pretty impressed with the software. It looks like we will be rolling it out into production next week and saying goodbye to the maintenance renewal fee for our commercial software.


PXE Fun

May 1, 2006

I finally setup some of the PXE boot install config I wanted to. Now for all of my VMware installs (which can PXE boot) can easily be installed by a few clicks. No fumbling for CDs, just reboot, hit F12 and choose which installer to run. Currently I have Fedora Core 4, Core 5 and CentOS 4.2 ready to go, though they are interactive installs right now. I will streamline that more later.

There are several good resources out on the Internet to help get started with this setup. I was already running DHCP from my CentOS server and only needed to add a few lines to my scope. I also needed to install a TFTP server to host the boot images on. I also already have my install flats on the server for the three OS’s mentioned above.
I tested it out on a few VMs and it appears to be working great! This should make any future testing and installs go much, much quicker.