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Paid Support From Novell / Red Hat Not Important for Linux Adoption

There is a new growing trend in enterprise, adopt community based distribution such as Ubuntu or CentOS Linux. I can confirm the same. Last month, I helped one my client to move from RHEL 4.x to CentOS and Debian boxes. I also trained their existing staff to work with Debian. This was done to cut the cost and they found that Red Hat support is not worth paying huge money. They were totally dissatisfied with the cost of support services.

Companies are increasingly choosing free community-driven Linux distributions instead of commercial offerings with conventional support options. Several factors are driving this trend, particularly dissatisfaction with the cost of support services from the major distributors. Companies that use and deploy Linux internally increasingly have enough in-house expertise to handle all of their technical needs and no longer have to rely on Red Hat or Novell.

I've client with over 500 RHEL servers. I always found that Google is the best hunting tool for solving Linux related problems. Red Hat staff will always forced to do a sysreport before you moved to 2nd or 3rd level support to get quality support (it may take 2-3 days). So what is the use of support if I had to go though tier 1 each time?

On a bright side, you may wanna use Red Hat or Novell support:

  1. If you like to point fingers at someone else with 24/7
  2. Large Business most likely going to have support option
  3. Red Hat and Novell also help to grow open source software. They pay full-time Linux developers and kernel hackers.
  4. Some kernel bugs and issues can only be fixed by vendor as there is no work around.

Personally, I use Debian and FreeBSD on all my servers. Cyberciti.biz server is powered by RHEL 5.2. I always suggest to have RHEL for all business / mission critical systems.

Read more: Analyst: Ubuntu, community distros ready for the enterprise

Download Of The Day: Firefox 3.0.1 (Critical Security Update)

Firefox 3.0.1 has been released and available for download. This update has been rated as having critical security impact by the Mozilla. Use the following instructions to upgrade Firefox.

Security Issues

An integer overflow flaw was found in the way Firefox displayed certain web content. A malicious web site could cause Firefox to crash, or execute arbitrary code with the permissions of the user running Firefox. (CVE-2008-2785)

A flaw was found in the way Firefox handled certain command line URLs. If another application passed Firefox a malformed URL, it could result in Firefox executing local malicious content with chrome privileges. (CVE-2008-2933)

Download Firefox 3.0.1

=> Visit offical site to grab Firefox 3.0.1

How do I upgrade Firefox to version 3.0.1?

See how to install firefox-3.0.1.tar.bz2 in Linux

How do I update Firefox under Redhat / Fedora / CentOS Linux?

Simply type the following command, enter:
# yum update

How do I update Firefox under Debian / Ubuntu Linux?

Open terminal and simply type the following commands, enter:
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get upgrade

Impact of the Debian OpenSSL Vulnerability On other Linux Distribution

There was random number generator vulnerability in Debian OpenSSL package and similar packages in derived distributions such as Ubuntu / others. Many of our regular readers would like to know:

Can bug present in the Debian OpenSSL packages affect Red Hat / FreeBSD / CentOS Linux workstation / server users?

Short answer, yes.

All keys generated using Debian OpenSSL package must be replaced on other system including FreeBSD / CentOS / RHEL etc as all keys considered as compromized. OpenSSL, OpenSSH and OpenVPN are badly effected. For example, if you use OpenSSH key to get into other Linux / UNIX servers and if key-pair is generated with a vulnerable OpenSSL library, you are at the risk as the key can be reproduced easily.

Bottom, line you need to update keys on other boxes too.

Project Spacewalk: Red Hat Open Sourced RHN Software

Today, at the Red Hat Summit in Boston, Mass., Red Hat introduced Project Spacewalk. RHN has provided patches and software for Red Hat Enterprise Linux operating system. Spacewalk is an open source (GPLv2) Linux systems management solution. It is the upstream community project from which the Red Hat Network Satellite product is derived. From the press release:

Spacewalk is the upstream project upon which RHN Satellite will now be based. Spacewalk will work with Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Fedora and other Red Hat Enterprise Linux derivative distributions like CentOS and Scientific Linux. Spacewalk will bring together a growing community of new users along with seasoned systems management veterans. In this way, the Satellite product can grow (as Linux itself does) with the combined efforts of the open source leader, Red Hat, and an invigorated community. Both will work together to expand the capabilities and stature of the upstream project. This will translate into faster adoption of new, innovative ideas and technologies into the downstream Satellite product.

(Fig.01: Spacewalk in action)

=> You can download spacewalk software here.

Security Alert: Red hat / CentOS Linux Freetype Various Security Issues

Red hat issued important security update for freetype package that that fix various security issues are now available for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3, 4, and 5. Multiple flaws were discovered in FreeType's Printer Font Binary (PFB) font-file format parser. If a user loaded a carefully crafted font-file with a program linked against FreeType, it could cause the application to crash, or possibly execute arbitrary code

The FreeType engine is a free and portable font rendering engine, developed to provide advanced font support for a variety of platforms and environments. FreeType is a library which can open and manages font files as well as efficiently load, hint and render individual glyphs. FreeType is not a font server or a complete text-rendering library.

How do I fix this issue?

Simply type the following command at a shell promot:
# yum update
Sample output:

Loading "rhnplugin" plugin
Loading "security" plugin
rhel-x86_64-server-vt-5   100% |=========================| 1.2 kB    00:00
rhel-x86_64-server-5      100% |=========================| 1.2 kB    00:00
Skipping security plugin, no data
Setting up Update Process
Resolving Dependencies
Skipping security plugin, no data
--> Running transaction check
---> Package freetype.i386 0:2.2.1-20.el5_2 set to be updated
---> Package freetype.x86_64 0:2.2.1-20.el5_2 set to be updated
--> Finished Dependency Resolution
Dependencies Resolved
 Package                 Arch       Version          Repository        Size
 freetype                i386       2.2.1-20.el5_2   rhel-x86_64-server-5  313 k
 freetype                x86_64     2.2.1-20.el5_2   rhel-x86_64-server-5  311 k
Transaction Summary
Install      0 Package(s)
Update       2 Package(s)
Remove       0 Package(s)
Total download size: 624 k
Is this ok [y/N]: y
Downloading Packages:
(1/2): freetype-2.2.1-20. 100% |=========================| 311 kB    00:00
(2/2): freetype-2.2.1-20. 100% |=========================| 313 kB    00:00
Running rpm_check_debug
Running Transaction Test
Finished Transaction Test
Transaction Test Succeeded
Running Transaction
  Updating  : freetype                     ######################### [1/4]
  Updating  : freetype                     ######################### [2/4]
  Cleanup   : freetype                     ######################### [3/4]
  Cleanup   : freetype                     ######################### [4/4]
Updated: freetype.i386 0:2.2.1-20.el5_2 freetype.x86_64 0:2.2.1-20.el5_2

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.2 Released

Red Hat enterprise Linux version 5.2 has been released and available via a Red Hat Network subscription. This update brings broad refresh of hardware support and improved quality, combined with new features and enhancements in areas such as virtualization, desktop, networking, storage & clustering and security.

Virtualization of very large systems, with up to 64 CPUs and 512 GB of memory, is now possible. Virtualization support for NUMA-based architectures is provided, as well as security, performance, manageability and robustness improvements. CPU frequency scaling support for virtualized environments also allows for reduced power consumption.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.2 provides enhanced capabilities for several hardware architectures, covering x86/x86-64, Itanium, IBM POWER and IBM System z, which provide improved performance, power usage, scalability and manageability. For example, support for Intel's Dynamic Acceleration Technology permits power saving by quiescing idle CPU cores, and offers performance gains by potentially overclocking busy cores within safe thermal levels. Other hardware enhancements include extensive device driver updates, covering storage, network and graphics devices, and certification of IBM's new Cell Blade systems.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux becomes a certified operating system for IBM's new high-performance blade server based on Cell Broadband Engine (Cell/B.E) Architecture.

Desktop version includes latest cutting edge softwares:

  • Evolution 2.12.3
  • Firefox 3
  • OpenOffice 2.3.0
  • Thunderbird 2.0

Red Hat Cluster Suite, which is included in Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 Advanced Platform, now has a Resource Event Scripting Language that enables sophisticated application failover capabilities. It also newly supports SCSI-3 reservation fencing support for active/active and active/passive DM/MPIO (multipathing), which widens the range of storage devices that can be used in clusters.

Improved iSCSI support allows users to set-up diskless systems with a root volume on the iSCSI server, a common requirement in high-density Blade environments.

How do I upgrade my system?

First, make sure you backup existing configuration and data. Next, simply type the following two commands:
# yum update
# reboot

Verify that everything is working fine including all services:
# netstat -tulpn
# netstat -nat
# tail -f /var/log/messages
# egrep -i 'error|warn' /var/log/messages
# egrep -i 'error|warn' /path/to/apps/log/file

Alternatively, you can click on the "Red Hat Network Alert Notification GUI Tool" - which is a notifier that appears on the panel and alerts users when software package updates are available for the systems. This is point and click method.

If you are CentOS Linux user wait for some time to get all updates. More information available at Red Hat web site.

Linux Failed Login Control: Lock and Unlock User Accounts Using PAM

Under CentOS Linux it is possible to lock out a user login after failed login attempts. This is a security feature. You can also automatically unlock account after some time.

pam_tally - login counter (tallying) module

This module maintains a count of attempted accesses, can reset count on success, can deny access if too many attempts fail.


Use /etc/pam.d/system-auth configuration file to configure attempted login accesses and other related activities. Append following AUTH configuration to /etc/pam.d/system-auth file:
auth required pam_tally.so onerr=fail deny=5 unlock_time=21600
(a)deny=5 - Deny access if tally for this user exceeds 5 times.

(b) unlock_time=21600 - Allow access after 21600 seconds (6 hours) after failed attempt. If this option is used the user will be locked out for the specified amount of time after he exceeded his maximum allowed attempts. Otherwise the account is locked until the lock is removed by a manual intervention of the system administrator.

(c) onerr=fail - If something weird happens (like unable to open the file), return with PAM_SUCESS if onerr=succeed is given, else with the corresponding PAM error code.

Default file /var/log/faillog is used to keep login counts.

The above PAM module is part of all Linux distribution and configuration should work with any Linux distribution.

See also:

  1. man pages faillog, pam.conf, pam.d, pam, and pam_tally
  2. pam_tally - login counter (tallying) module documentation.
  3. CentOS Linux project