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Suse Linux

Important: Openssl Security Update [CVE-2008-5077]

Linux / BSD and UNIX like operating systems includes software from the OpenSSL Project. The OpenSSL is commercial-grade, industry-strength, full-featured Open Source toolkit implementing the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL v2/v3) and Transport Layer Security (TLS v1) protocols as well as general purpose cryptography library.

The Google security team discovered a flaw in the way OpenSSL checked the verification of certificates. An attacker in control of a malicious server, or able to effect a "man in the middle" attack, could present a malformed SSL/TLS signature from a certificate chain to a vulnerable client and bypass validation.

This update has been rated as having important security impact on FreeBSD, all version of Ubuntu / Debian, Red Hat (RHEL), CentOS, Fedora and other open source operating system that depends upon OpenSSL.
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Download of the day: openSUSE 11.1 CD / ISO Images

openSUSE v11.1 Desktop ready to rock

openSUSE v11.1 Desktop ready to rock

openSUSE version 11.1 has been released and available for download (jump to download) from the official project website. The 11.1 release includes a ton of new features and improvements, an improved desktop experience with GNOME 2.24 and KDE 4.1.3, OpenOffice.org 3.0, YaST improvements, updated Linux kernel, and much more.
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HP to Ship Compaq Business PC with Pre Installed Suse Linux

Good news for all holiday buyers and open source software supporters.

HP today announced its plans to introduce Linux as an operating system choice for business desktop customers. After Dell, HP the leader in worldwide Linux server shipments and revenue, has introduced a new desktop offering with SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop from Novell on the HP Compaq dc5850. The offerings are designed to help small businesses enhance their productivity and ease their management of technology. You will get productivity software like:
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fold: Wrap Text File / Line / Words To Fit in Specified Width

fold is really nifty command line utility to make a text file word wrap. This is useful for large number of text files processing. There is no need to write a perl / python code or use a word processor.

fold command syntax

fold -sw {COUNT} {input.txt} > {output.txt}

Wrap input lines in each input.txt, writing to standard output.txt.


  • -s: break at spaces
  • -w: {COUNT} use COUN} as WIDTH columns instead of default 80.

For example, following command will wrap input.txt at 60 width columns:
$ fold -sw 60 input.txt > output.txt

A large number of files can be processed using for shell loop:

for i in *.txt
  fold -sw 65 $i > $i.output

Linux: Should You Use Twice the Amount of Ram as Swap Space?

Linux and other Unix-like operating systems use the term "swap" to describe both the act of moving memory pages between RAM and disk, and the region of a disk the pages are stored on. It is common to use a whole partition of a hard disk for swapping. However, with the 2.6 Linux kernel, swap files are just as fast as swap partitions. Now, many admins (both Windows and Linux/UNIX) follow an old rule of thumb that your swap partition should be twice the size of your main system RAM. Let us say I've 32GB RAM, should I set swap space to 64 GB? Is 64 GB of swap space really required? How big should your Linux / UNIX swap space be?

Old dumb memory managers

I think the '2x swap space' rule came from Old Solaris and Windows admins. Also, earlier memory mangers were very badly designed. There were not very smart. Today, we have very smart and intelligent memory manager for both Linux and UNIX.

Nonsense rule: Twice the size of your main system RAM for Servers

According to OpenBSD FAQ:

Many people follow an old rule of thumb that your swap partition should be twice the size of your main system RAM. This rule is nonsense. On a modern system, that's a LOT of swap, most people prefer that their systems never swap. You don't want your system to ever run out of RAM+swap, but you usually would rather have enough RAM in the system so it doesn't need to swap.

Select right size for your setup

Here is my rule for normal server (Web / Mail etc):

  1. Swap space == Equal RAM size (if RAM < 2GB)
  2. Swap space == 2GB size (if RAM > 2GB)

My friend who is a true Oracle GURU recommends something as follows for heavy duty Oracle server with fast storage such as RAID 10:

  1. Swap space == Equal RAM size (if RAM < 8GB)
  2. Swap space == 0.50 times the size of RAM (if RAM > 8GB)

Red Hat Recommendation

Red hat recommends setting as follows for RHEL 5:

The reality is the amount of swap space a system needs is not really a function of the amount of RAM it has but rather the memory workload that is running on that system. A Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 system will run just fine with no swap space at all as long as the sum of anonymous memory and system V shared memory is less than about 3/4 the amount of RAM. In this case the system will simply lock the anonymous and system V shared memory into RAM and use the remaining RAM for caching file system data so when memory is exhausted the kernel only reclaims pagecache memory.

Considering that 1) At installation time when configuring the swap space there is no easy way to predetermine the memory a workload will require, and 2) The more RAM a system has the less swap space it typically needs, a better swap space

  1. Systems with 4GB of ram or less require a minimum of 2GB of swap space
  2. Systems with 4GB to 16GB of ram require a minimum of 4GB of swap space
  3. Systems with 16GB to 64GB of ram require a minimum of 8GB of swap space
  4. Systems with 64GB to 256GB of ram require a minimum of 16GB of swap space

Swap will just keep running servers...

Swap space will just keep operation running for a while on heavy duty servers by swapping process. You can always find out swap space utilization using any one of the following command:
cat /proc/swaps
swapon -s
free -m

See how to find out disk I/O and related information under Linux. In the end, you need to add more RAM, adjust software (like controlling Apache workers or using lighttpd web server to save RAM) or use some sort of load balancing.

Also, refer Linux kernel documentation for /proc/sys/vm/swappiness. With this you can fine tune swap space.

A note about Desktop and Laptop

If you are going to suspend to disk, then you need swap space more than actual RAM. For example, my laptop has 1GB RAM and swap is setup to 2GB. This only applies to Laptop or desktop but not to servers.

Kernel hackers need more swap space

If you are a kernel hacker (debugging and fixing kernel issues) and generating core dumps, you need twice the RAM swap space.


If Linux kernel is going to use more than 2GiB swap space at a time, all users will feel the heat. Either, you get more RAM (recommend) and move to faster storage to improve disk I/O. There are no rules, each setup and configuration is unique. Adjust values as per your requirements. Select amount of swap that is right for you.

What do you think? Please add your thoughts about 'swap space' in the comments below.

Linux / UNIX: Find Out If a Directory Exists or Not

I've already written a small tutorial about finding out if a file exists or not under Linux / UNIX bash shell. However, couple of our regular readers like to know more about a directory checking using if and test shell command.

General syntax to see if a directory exists or not

[ -d directory ]
test directory
See if a directory exists or not with NOT operator:
[ ! -d directory ]
! test directory

Find out if /tmp directory exists or not

Type the following command:
$ [ ! -d /tmp ] && echo 'Directory /tmp not found'
$ [ -d /tmp ] && echo 'Directory found' || echo 'Directory /tmp not found'

Sample Shell Script to gives message if directory exists

Here is a sample shell script:

if [ $# -ne 1 ]
	echo "Usage: $0 {dir-name}"
	exit 1
if [ -d "$DIR" ]
	echo "$DIR directory  exists!"
	echo "$DIR directory not found!"

RAID 5 vs RAID 10: Recommended RAID For Safety and Performance

A Redundant Array of Independent Drives (or Disks), also known as Redundant Array of Inexpensive Drives (or Disks) (RAID) is an term for data storage schemes that divide and/or replicate data among multiple hard drives. RAID can be designed to provide increased data reliability or increased I/O performance, though one goal may compromise the other. There are 10 RAID level. But which one is recommended for data safety and performance considering that hard drives are commodity priced?

I did some research in last few months and based upon my experince I started to use RAID10 for both Vmware / XEN Virtualization and database servers. A few MS-Exchange and Oracle admins also recommended RAID 10 for both safety and performance over RAID 5.

Quick RAID 10 overview (raid 10 explained)

RAID 10 = Combining features of RAID 0 + RAID 1. It provides optimization for fault tolerance.

RAID 0 helps to increase performance by striping volume data across multiple disk drives.

RAID 1 provides disk mirroring which duplicates your data.

In some cases, RAID 10 offers faster data reads and writes than RAID 5 because it does not need to manage parity.

Fig.01: Raid 10 in action

Fig.01: Raid 10 in action

RAID 5 vs RAID 10

From Art S. Kagel research findings:

If a drive costs $1000US (and most are far less expensive than that) then switching from a 4 pair RAID10 array to a 5 drive RAID5 array will save 3 drives or $3000US. What is the cost of overtime, wear and tear on the technicians, DBAs, managers, and customers of even a recovery scare? What is the cost of reduced performance and possibly reduced customer satisfaction? Finally what is the cost of lost business if data is unrecoverable? I maintain that the drives are FAR cheaper! Hence my mantra:

Is RAID 5 Really a Bargain?

Cary Millsap, manager of Hotsos LLC and the editor of Hotsos Journal found the following facts - Is RAID 5 Really a Bargain?":

  • RAID 5 costs more for write-intensive applications than RAID 1.
  • RAID 5 is less outage resilient than RAID 1.
  • RAID 5 suffers massive performance degradation during partial outage.
  • RAID 5 is less architecturally flexible than RAID 1.
  • Correcting RAID 5 performance problems can be very expensive.

My practical experience with RAID arrays configuration

To make picture clear, I'm putting RAID 10 vs RAID 5 configuration for high-load database, Vmware / Xen servers, mail servers, MS - Exchange mail server etc:

RAID LevelTotal array capacityFault toleranceRead speedWrite speed
500GB x 4 disks
1000 GB1 disk4X2X
500GB x 3 disks
1000 GB1 disk2XSpeed of a RAID 5 depends upon the controller implementation

You can clearly see RAID 10 outperforms RAID 5 at fraction of cost in terms of read and write operations.

A note about backup

Any RAID level will not protect you from multiple disk failures. While one disk is off line for any reason, your disk array is not fully redundant. Therefore, old good tape backups are always recommended.

Please add your thoughts and experience in the comments below.

Further readings: