Continuing my series on building a Desktop computer for a kindergarten class, I look at Fedora with Sugar mentioned in the article [Top 6 Linux Distributions for Children (Ages 2 and Up)].
(This series started with my post [Kindergarten desktop - The Challenge]. I have a 512MB RAM system with 40GB disk drive that I will install Linux and educational software for a class full of kindergarten children. My previous post covered three other Linux distributions [LinuxKidX, Qimo, and Foresight for Kids].)
I am not stranger to the Sugar learning platform, developed as part of the One Laptop per Child [OLPC] project.
As I mentioned in my post [Helping Young Students - part 1], I was part of the OLPC development team back in 2008, helped local volunteers deploy laptops to children in Nepal and Uruguay, mentored a college student in India, and learned a lot of Python programming language in the process.
Sugar is now developed by Sugar Labs, a nonprofit spin-off of OLPC. The code is free and open source desktop environment for many other machines, including as a "Desktop Environment" for Fedora Linux.
I kept my 40GB hard drive partitioned as follows. On the extended partition, sda5 will hold my system utilities, like Clonezilla and SystemRescue, and sda6 is my swap space, increased to 1500MB. Partition sda1 has Edubuntu 12.04 on it, and I will use sda2 to install Fedora with Sugar.
[Sugar-on-a-stick], is so named because it is designed so that each child has their own LiveUSB. This can run on PC with Windows or Mac OS without affecting those operating systems, allowing a child to use Sugar in the classroom, then take the stick home and continue on their home PC.
A 2GB or greater USB memory stick can hold both Fedora and Sugar, and use that to boot your desktop. Unfortunately, it requires 1GB of RAM, and I have only 512MB. Can I just run Sugar natively on a Fedora install? Yes, thanks to the [Sugar not "on a stick"] instructions, I can install Fedora first, then just:
$sudo bash #yum groupinstall "Sugar Desktop Environment"
Unfortunately, the latest Fedora release (F20) recommends 1GB of RAM. Fortunately, I found Dean Howell's rant [Fedora Irresponsibly Lowers Memory Requirement To 512MB] about the Fedora F17 release. I gave this a try.
There are three ways to install Fedora:
I chose method 3 and downloaded the appropriate ISO file. While F17 only requires 512MB of RAM to run, the graphic installer requires 768MB, and is fully explained in this [29-step F17 installation guide].
To get around this, select "Troubleshooting" which then lets you select low-graphics/text mode installation that ran well under 512MB. I installed both LXDE and Sugar, and everything worked fine!
Why both LXDE and Sugar? Well, Sugar is quite a different environment, and I wanted LXDE as an alternative for the admin and teacher to use.
The article on [Sugar software on Wikipedia] sums it up well:
"Unlike most other desktop environments, Sugar does not use the 'desktop', 'folder' and 'window' metaphors. Instead, Sugar's default full-screen activities require users to focus on only one program at a time. Sugar implements a novel file-handling metaphor (the Journal), which automatically saves the user's running program session and allows him or her to later use an interface to pull up their past works by date, activity used or file type."
Now that I have that working, it is time to upgrade from non-supported F17 to a supported level. Ravi Saive explains the [Four Ways to Upgrade from Fedora 17 to Fedora 18]:
As you can probably guess from the title of this post, I chose method 2 "FedUp" as it seemed to be the least invasive. I was unsure if method-1 "Clean Install" of F18 would work with 512MB of RAM, and I have been through enough horrors of failed yum upgrades on my own Red Hat Enterprise Linux [RHEL] at work to avoid method 3. Method 4 is just a script to automate the steps of method 3.
The steps are fairly straightforward. First, install the FedUp package, run "yum update" to ensure you have all the latest kernel and F17 packages for everything else, and reboot.
Then run the fedup-cli command, which upgrades all the packages to F18 level and creates a special kernel level that will then finish the install after the second reboot. It took a while, so I let it run unattended. I put the debug log on partition sda5 in case anything went wrong.
#fedup-cli --reboot --network 18 --de
What could go wrong? Well, it turns out that fedup works by updating the Grub2 boot loader configuration, but my grub2 resides on sda1 partition instead, owned by my existing Edubuntu. The reboot did not give me the option to run the specialized kernel to finish the process.
Fixing this was a hot mess, but I managed to configure Grub2 on Fedora, and complete the upgrade and get everything working as before. However, even though it just came out last year, [F18 version is already out of support]! This means I get a second chance to do FedUp, this time to F19 release. Oh boy! Fun!
While the second time went smoother, the problem was that F19 doesn't seem to run well in 512MB of RAM, and chances are F20 won't either.
So what have I learned from this?
If you have any experience with Fedora or Sugar in the classroom, comment below!
Next week, thousands will convene in Las Vegas for [IBM Pulse 2014], an IBM conference that will focus on Cloud, Service and Storage Management.
To lead up to this event, my colleague Steve Wojtowecz, or 'Woj' as we like to call him, IBM VP of Storage and Network Management Software Development, has a five part series that is worth a read. Here are some excerpts:
For more insights into these predictions, attend [IBM Pulse 2014] in Las Vegas, next week, February 23-26.
Sadly, I won't be there in person. Although I helped launch the original IBM Pulse back in 2008, I have only been invited once to come back, and that was as a last minute replacement for another speaker in 2012. Unfortunately, I could not accept because of my [near-death experience].
Last month, my post [ IBM System Storage Announcements for January 2014] introduced the IBM FlashSystem 840. Last week, I had blog post [Fall in Love with IBM FlashSystem V840 Enterprise Performance Solution]. The similarity in names has raised some confusion.
The first, "Without V" is a 2U storage array that uses Flash to offer 90-135 microsecond latency. Here are some IBM Redbooks that provide guidance:
The second solution, "With V" (for Valentine's Day, of course) is a storage virtualization solution that not only contains the technology from the FlashSystem 840 above, but also borrows technology from our SAN Volume Controller to provide added functionality, like Real-time Compression, Remote Mirroring and Thin provisioning.
We don't have an IBM Redbook specifically yet for the V840, so for now, consider using the [Implementing FlashSystem 840 with SAN Volume Controller] solution guide to get you started.
(Update: Now available! [IBM FlashSystem V840 Enterprise Performance Solution - IBM Redbooks Product Guide])
To learn more about new IBM Redbooks as they get published, follow Burt Dufrasne and team on the [IBM System Storage Redbooks blog]!
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Well, it's Tuesday again, and you know what that means? IBM Announcements!
This week we also have [Valentine's day], so it is perfect time for you to fall in love with the new [IBM FlashSystem V840 Enterprise Performance Solution]! The "V" stands for Valentine.
From the photo, the marketing people staggered the various components to give it a stylized [Dagwood Sandwich] effect. I can assure you that these are just standard 19-inch rack components that fit into 6U of space in standard IT racks.
Starting top to bottom, we have the first FlashSystem V840 Control Enclosure, its 1U-high UPS, a second FlashSystem V840 Control Enclosure and its UPS, and finally a 2U-high FlashSystem V840 Storage Enclosure.
You can have up to a dozen Flash modules, either 2TB or 4TB size, for a maximum of 40TB usable RAID-protected capacity. These can be protected with AES 256-bit encryption. The FlashSystem modules are front-loaded, and slide in and out for easy maintenance.
The system is fully redundant and hot-swappable with concurrent code load to ensure high availability.
(Update: In the comments, readers thought that this was nothing more than just a two-node SVC with FlashSystem 840. There are differences, so I have added the following table.)
The system is fully VMware-certified, supporting VAAI interfaces, and an SRA for VMware's Site Recovery Manager (SRM). With Real-time Compression, you can get up to 80 percent capacity savings for workloads like Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI). That in effect gives you up to 5x (200TB) of virtual capacity in 6U of rack space!
You can either keep it as an All-Flash array, or you can virtualize external IBM and non-IBM disk systems, and use the Flash capacity in the Storage Enclosure for IBM's Easy Tier automated sub-volume tiering and data migration. With or without external storage, the FlashSystem V840 can provide local and remote mirroring and point-in-time copies.
Continuing my series on building a Desktop computer for a kindergarten class, I look at three other Linux systems mentioned in the article [Top 6 Linux Distributions for Children (Ages 2 and Up)].
(This series started with my post [Kindergarten desktop - The Challenge]. I have a 512MB RAM system with 40GB disk drive that I will install Linux and educational software for a class full of kindergarten children.
First, I re-partitioned the 40GB hard drive as follows. On the extended partition, sda5 will hold my system utilities, like Clonezilla and SystemRescue, and sda6 is my swap space. This gives me three primary partitions to install three flavors of Linux to try out.
The first was [LinuxKidX], which actually started out as a Portuguese-language effort in Brazil. It was then translated to the English language to extend its reach. It is based on the KDE desktop familiar to users of OpenSUSE Linux.
Many of the education software were similar or the same as those from Edubuntu I mentioned in my last post. However, not everything was translated, and unless you are able to read Portuguese, you may not want this one.
Next, I wanted to look at [Qimo for Kids], but first I had to look for the distribution, as the mirrors listed seemed to be unavailable. I was able to find an qimo
Unlike Edubuntu, Qimo fits on a CD-ROM for older PCs that may not have DVD drives. Based on lightweight XFCE desktop, the LiveCD runs comfortably in 512MB, with a kid-friendly app launcher at the bottom of the screen. However, Qimo 2.0 is based on Ubuntu 10.04 (Lucid Lynx) LTS, with long term support expiring this May 2013. The Firefox 3.6.3 was too old to run Gmail.
Why hasn't Qimo been enhanced since 2010? It looks like you can just install the packages qimo-session and qimo-wallpaper on newer levels of Ubuntu.
Third, I tried Foresight Linux for Kids 1.0 release. The most recent Foresight is 2.5.3, but Linux for Kids is still at the 1.0 level. The "installer" was very outdated, so the website suggested following the [power-user install HOWTO].
The HOWTO can be a bit intimidating, but I was able to install just fine in 512MB of RAM. Foresight detected I had pre-configured a swap space, and used that to help finish the install process.
Like the others, it had many of the same educational software as before. A key difference is the [Conary package management]. Most systems use either Debian (DEB) or Redhat Package Manager (RPM), but this one is different, and the use of Conary may reduce the number of software applications available.
So what have I learned from these?
If you have had any experience with any of these three distros, please comment below.
Well, it's Thursday again, and you know what that means? IBM Announcements!
(OK, OK, my long-time readers already know that [storage announcements are usually on Tuesdays], not Thursdays.
Here, then, is a quick review of the storage portion of today's announcements.
In other news, IBM had once again filed [the most U.S. Patents for the 21st year in a row], and our brothers and sisters over in server land introduced [the X6 architecture for x86 servers] for the System x and PureSystems product lines, optimized for Cloud and Analytics.
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Last week, in my post [IT Support for the Holidays], I mentioned that I was scrubbing computers in preparation to give them to charity. A local reader asked if I would be willing to donate one of the computers to her kindergarten class. She teaches a class of 20 kids, at the very same elementary school that I went to when I was that age.
So here is the beefiest machine of the set.
Make/Model: Sony PCV-RC850 Processor: 2.4GHz Intel 32-bit RAM: 512MB Hard disk: 40GB Removable media: CD/DVD-ROM and CD/DVD-RW Keyboard/mouse: standard PS/2 Sound: headphone jack Ethernet port: 100Mbps USB ports: two
IBM likes grand challenges, like [Deep Blue computer] to play chess against Grandmaster Garry Kasparov, and the [Watson computer] to play against two experts on the game show Jeopardy! My "Kidergarten Desktop" challenge is certainly on a smaller scale--to install software on this machine that will neet the following requirements
The 512MB is not enough to run Microsoft Windows 7, but certainly enough to run some flavors of Linux. Inspired by this review of [Top 6 Linux Distributions for Children], I thought I would give a few a spin.
Many of these have Live
I had already scrubbed the [Windows XP] and replaced with [Linux Mint 12 LXDE]. Can I just install the Edubuntu-desktop on Linux Mint? While Linux Mint is Ubuntu-based, it is not binary compatible, so I will need to install fresh.
The [Edubuntu] LiveDVD requires 1GB of memory to try out, so to get this installed, I used the "Alternate Ubuntu 12.04" installer DVD.
Why 12.04 release of Ubuntu? The current release is 13.10 will only be supported for 9 months, and in keeping with "Requirement #3 Minimal Maintenance", the [Edubuntu team recommends installing a Long Term Support (LTS) release], and 12.04.3 is the most recent LTS that will be supported through 2017.
Edubuntu recommends 20GB of disk space to run, so I have partitioned the 40GB drive as follows:
For this machine, I will have three users configured:
Ubuntu's [Alternate Installer] uses basic graphic mode that can run in 512MB, and once installed, I was then able to install the Edubuntu Desktop and both preschool and primary-level educational software, to account for all learning ability levels of the children.
admin-$ sudo bash admin-# apt-get install edubuntu-desktop admin-# apt-get install ubun
I am not a big fan of Ubuntu's "Unity" panel on the left, and was hoping that Edubuntu-desktop would remove it, but no luck. so I removed it manually.
This system does not boot USB files natively, and getting Grub2 boot loader to boot ISO files was more difficult than I imagined. I was able to extract the necessary files over to sda2 hard disk to get them to work. I took "Clonezilla" full system backups to a separate SSH server over my local subnet.
Well, that's my start. Any suggestions? Has anyone done this before? Please enter comments below.
Happy new year, everyone!
Are you looking for new storage for 2014? Time to replace that old gear on your IT floor?
The decisions you make about your IT infrastructure affect everything -- from database and business analytics to cloud and virtualization. That's why it's more important than ever to choose wisely.
If you are currently running on storage from HP, HDS, EMC or one of IBM's many other competitors, you might want to take a fresh new look at IBM storage which...
Next week, on January 16, senior IBM executives will share news about breakthrough technologies, featuring Intel® processors, that enhance Smarter Computing servers and storage.
(This webcast will be available worldwide. I, myself, will be in Winnipeg, Canada, freezing my [tuque] off!)
In this webcast, you will learn how to improve decision support and data processing for your mission-critical applications, drive higher performance on analytics and increase agility and flexibility through scalable solutions.
Here is the link to the [Registration Page].
Welcome back everyone! Were you the IT Support for your friends and family during the holidays?
Last year, in my infamous "Laptop for Grandma" blog post series, I discussed my week exploring various Linux distributions (aka "distros") to find one that would re-purpose Grandma's laptop into an MP3 player. Here is the entire series for your reference.
With Microsoft [dropping support for Windows XP this April], many people got new PCs for the holidays.
(Why not just upgrade to a newer version of Windows in place? Well, [Microsoft Windows 7 requires a minimum of 1GB of RAM, with 4GB recommended], and these old machines simply do not have enough memory. If the motherboard could support the hardware and software upgrades, the cost of Windows 7 license and 4GB of RAM might get into hundreds of dollars!)
So what happens to the old machines? They come to me, of course, with three requests:
I had six old machines to work on this year. Generally, I only get the towers, as most people keep their mouse, keyboard and monitor for their next machine.
For five of them, the process was fairly straightforward. First, I would boot up the system to see what it was running, typically Windows XP or Windows Vista, and simply transfer the "My Documents" folder to an external USB drive.
If the system doesn't boot on its own, perhaps because the OS is corrupted on the hard drive or infected by a virus, then I would boot a Linux-based LiveCD, such as my favorite [SystemRescueCD], and copy the data over to USB external drive that way.
(The shred tool is more thorough, but I prefer scrub for its ease-of-use. Its default National Nuclear Security Agency (NNSA) method writes over the entire disk four times with different random patterns of data.)
Third, I would do a fresh install of the now out-dated Linux Mint 12 LXDE from CD. Why Linux Mint 12 LXDE? I don't have to worry about any licensing issues with Linux. Linux Mint is the [fourth most widely used home operating system] in the world.
The latest version of Linux Mint is 16, and version 13 has Long Term Support through 2017, but version 12 is the last release small enough to fit on a 700MB CD for the old machines that cannot read the higher capacity DVD media.
Linux Mint comes with various graphical interfaces, but the Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment [LXDE] edition runs in as low as 256MB of memory, the minimum that Windows XP requires. Many newer operating systems expect 1GB or more. The machine is then ready to give to charity. Whomever gets it can certainly install a different OS if they prefer.
So, the process went smoothly for the first five, but the sixth machine gave me an interesting challenge. Here are the specs:
Operating System: Windows 98 Processor: AMD-K6 (Pentium II-class) 150 MHz RAM: 32MB Hard disk: 10GB Removable media: 3.5-inch floppy and CD-ROM drive Keyboard port: standard PS/2 mouse port: 6-pin DIN Ethernet NIC: 10Mb USB ports: none
Yikes! Windows 98? 32MB of RAM? Even a [Raspberry Pi] has more than this!
My keyboard fits, but my mouse doesn't, so I had to look up Windows 98 keyboard shortcuts to navigate the system. The age of the files indicates this machine was actively used from 1999 to 2005. While most people only keep a PC for 3-5 years, this hardware is 14 years old! It has been sitting in Judy's closet collecting dust the rest of the time.
Without USB port or CD burner, there were only two ways to get data off this system. First, was the 1.44MB floppy disk, and the second was through the Ethernet card. I was able to configure TCP/IP and connect via FTP back to my FTP server, allowing me to copy the files over.
Most of my LiveCDs that I tried just froze mid-boot without sufficient memory. Not even my SystemRescueCD would boot. I was able to use [Basic Linux BL3 version 3.5] which boots from two floppy diskettes and requires only 12MB of RAM.
Basic Linux has neither shred nor scrub utilities, so I used old school "dd" command, which was painfully slow.
dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/hda1
While this was not as secure as NNSA, Department of Defense (DoD), or Guttman methods of erasure, I figured it was good enough for a 14-year old machine that had not been used since 2005.
While BL3 includes an install-to-hd script to copy the files over to the hard drive, I could not get LILO to boot natively from /dev/hda1. So, I switched to booting from Damn Small Linux [DSL] LiveCD. Using the "dsl 2" boot cheat code, I was able to boot directly to a superuser text-based prompt, allowing me to create two partitions, a 128MB swap and the rest for an ext2 file system.
DSL only requires 8MB of RAM, but having the extra 128MB swap ensures success. I was able to install DSL on the hard drive, fix up lilo.conf, and boot directly from it.
What a great way to start a new year! Happy New Year everyone!
Are you trying to find the right way to explain Storage Management concepts to your friends and family at the next holiday cocktail party?
One of my readers made the following request:
I had mentioned this video in my 2007 blog post [Re-arranging the Sock Drawer], so I felt I needed to at least make an effort to track it down.
As it turns out, the IBM sales executive in the video, Charles "C.D." Larson, now works for another company (Hitachi Data Systems). Thanks to social media, I was able get in contact with him, and he sent me a copy of this 1989 video, and granted me permission to post it on YouTube.
To put it on YouTube, I had to convert the VOB file to something YouTube could understand. Since I run Linux, I was able to use the [ffmpeg] utility to do this. The result is now an [18-minute video], uploaded for all to enjoy.
The concepts discussed back then still apply today. Yes, we still have DFSMS for the mainframe mentioned in the video, but we also have extended these concepts to the Active Cloud Engine in the SONAS and Storwize V7000 Unified, as well as the hieararchy management included in the Linear Tape File System (LTFS) Enterprise Edition (LTFS-EE) solutions.
Happy Winter Solstice, or whatever holiday you may choose to celebrate this season!