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Category: Technology

Farewell to 32-bits


What's the Difference Between 32-Bit and 64-Bit? - The Plug - HelloTechMy mail server was installed in 2007 and has always been a 32-bit system. It was originally a physical machine, a Pentium-based assembled unit. In 2010 I virtualized it with a p2v (physical to virtual) operation performed via rsync.

Since then it has always run inside a 32-bit virtual machine in VMWare. No particular problem as Slackware Linux still continues to actively support the 32-bit distribution, keeping it completely in sync with the 64-bit version.

Recently, however, I faced the problem of deciding whether it made sense to continue keeping this one 32-bit server while all my others are 64-bit. Especially because, for specific reasons, I started compiling the kernel independently for all my virtual machines, which forced me to set up a compilation VM for 64 bits and one for 32 bits, and therefore to repeat the compilation of the kernel twice.

Furthermore, the fact that Slackware Linux continues to support the 32-bit distribution does not mean that it will continue to do so forever. Virtually all major distributions in recent years have made the decision to only offer a 64-bit version that has enough compatibility to run 32-bit binaries as well. It is possible that sooner or later Slackware Linux will also make this type of decision.

So I convinced myself to switch the server to 64 bit. However, I didn’t want to do a clean installation and then migrate the services. There are 17 years of configurations and customizations in this server and having to do it all over again is one of the reasons why I have never thought about converting it until now. I also like the idea of preserving the age of installation of a server, a bit like when you try to preserve uptime for as many days, months, years as possible.

I therefore thought of using a conversion method that was not officially supported but which logically had every chance of working, that is, taking the latest 64-bit Slackware Linux installation DVD corresponding to the update level of my 32-bit server , boot the virtual machine with this DVD and mount the installed OS partition, then replace all the installed packages with the equivalent 64-bit packages. Finally, reset the kernel to boot and go.

I tested this operation on a clone of the vm and it worked without problems. So after some time I acted on the actual machine with positive result.

After booting and starting the system, now 64 bit, I proceeded to recompile and reinstall the binaries coming from packages that were not part of the official DVD.

The whole thing took about 4-5 hours in total but it was worth it. Now the mail server is to all intents and purposes a 64-bit system originally installed in 2007 but to all intents and purposes upgradeable and maintainable like all the other 64-bit systems in my possession.

My own cloud


Keeping faith to my previous words on cloud computing, I’ve decided to work on my own installation of ownCloud.

ownCloud is a service developed by the KDE team which aims to realize a personal storing and sharing platform for files and information.

In simple terms, and using words now commonly spread in the world of web 2.0, it is a personal Dropbox system managed and installed on our own systems, using our own ip addresses and our own disk space.

It’s actually a webDAV service with some bells and whistles, including a small PHP management and configuration portal. WebDAV is not new, it’s been out for years, but recentlly it’s gathering popularity due to its usage in all modern shared disk space services.

Requirements are really minimal: you need a Linux distribution with Apache, PHP, mySQL or SQLite for backend, and some disk space. I’ve assigned to it the same virtual machine I’m using for monitoring, and I’ve added a virtual disk within vSphere’s datastore.

Actually it’s still missing something to be a full Dropbox replacement: a local sync client, allowing to keep a local folder in continuous synchronization with the service, and allowing to copy the content on several installations. A client is on the works but it’s still not ready.

Currently it’s possible to use ownCloud through webDAV on all devices supporting it, and it can be “mounted” on KDE’s Dolphin, adding a new network folder.

For the adventurous LoneStar Network users who are willing to test it, you can to have an account. As soon as there will be userfriendly clients ready for use on Linux/Mac/Windows I will publish proper instructions, and the service will become part of LoneStar Network’s offering for its users.

is OpenSource forgetting Linux?


I happen to notice more and more opensource projects, even big ones, presenting their products with screenshots taken on Windows or Mac OS X. Have you noticed this too?

Not only the presentation, but often features and innovations are primarily developed on Windows/Mac ports of the product, and secondarily brought to the Linux version (if ever).

I recall Firefox. It’s widely obvious that all Firefox’s development happens mainly on the Windows version, then on Mac version, and at last on Linux version. Just browsing the website is enough to see a quantity of images taken on Windows or Mac.

I have my reservations about this, also because I think things are on the opposite side, meaning that I find desktop aestetics on Linux – especially with KDE4 – are so widely superior to those on Windows and Mac that it’s not even worth comparing them. And I’m saying this being also a Windows7 user, and being surrounded by many Mac users (sic!).

Some months ago rumored news came out on music player Songbird, an Opensource project of fame that’s been born on Linux – dropping Linux support to focus only on Windows and Mac environments, and giving the reason of it in the fact that most of developers and users mainly use these environments.

I’m not saying there’s a lack of applications or a developers’ departure syndrome on Linux, because there’s an obvious amont of software, forks, different implementations, etc., but still it all seems quite strange to me.

I consider it “natural” for an OpenSource project having its main focus on Linux, or *BSD – even if this means a whole different kind of licenses. Versions on Mac and Windows are ok but they shouls always come second!

Everybody seems to have forgotten when, only ten years ago, we were predicting the success of Linux as main desktop environment, and they all seem setted on a pacific coexistence playing the token role, having Windows and Mac as protagonists.

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