The penguins are coming!

Last Updated on September 30, 2010 by Dave Farquhar

The penguins are coming! Word came down from the corner office (the really big corner office) that he wants us to get really serious about Linux. He sees Linux as a cheap and reliable solution to some of the problems some outside clients are having. This is good. Really good.
My boss asked if it would be a capable answer to our needs, namely, for ISP-style e-mail and for Web caching. But of course. Then he asked if I was interested in pursuing it. Now that’s a silly question.

Now it could be that FreeBSD would be even better, but I know Linux. I don’t know FreeBSD all that well. I’ve installed it once and I was able to find my way around it, but I can fix Linux much more quickly. The two of us who are likely to be asked to administer this stuff both have much more Linux experience than we have BSD experience. Plus you can buy Linux support; I don’t know if you can buy FreeBSD support. I doubt we will, but in my experience, clients want to know (or at least think) that some big company is standing behind us. They’re more comfortable if we can buy support from IBM.

So maybe my days of Linux being a skunkworks project are over. The skunkworks Linux boxes were really cleverly disguised too–they were Macintoshes. They’re still useful for something I’m sure. I expect I’ll draft one of them for proof-of-concept duty, which will save us from having to pull a Compaq server from other duty.

I spent a good portion of the day installing Debian 3.0 on an old Micron Trek 2 laptop. It’s a Pentium II-300 with 64 megs of RAM. It boots fast, but current pigware apps tend to chew up the available memory pretty fast. I recompiled the kernel for the hardware actually in the machine and it helped some. It’s definitely useful for learning Linux, which is its intended use.

I’ve noticed a lot of people interested in Linux lately. One of our NT admins has been browsing my bookshelf, asking about books, and he borrowed one the other day. Our other NT admin wants to borrow it when he’s done with it. The Trek 2 I installed today is for our senior VMS admin, who wants a machine to learn with. My boss, who’s been experimenting with Linux for a couple of years, has been pushing it aggressively of late.

I don’t know if this situation is unique, but it means something.

I spent a good part of the evening at the batting cages. I messed my timing up something fierce. I hit the first few pitches to the opposite field, some of them weakly, but soon I was hitting everything–and I mean everything–to the third-base side. So my bat speed came back pretty fast, and I was getting way out in front of a lot of the pitches. So I started waiting on the ball longer, hoping to start hitting the ball where it’s pitched. The end result was missing about a quarter of the time, slashing it foul to the third-base side a quarter of the time, hitting it weakly where it was pitched a quarter of the time, and hitting it solidly where it was pitched a quarter of the time. Good thing the season doesn’t start until June–I’ve got some work to do.

Afterward, I drove to my old high school, hoping to be able to run a lap or two around the track. I was hoping for two; realistically I knew I’d probably be doing well to manage one. There was something going on there, and I couldn’t tell if the track was in use or not, so I kept driving. Eventually I ended up at a park near my apartment. I parked my car, found a bit of straightaway, and ran back and forth until I was winded. It didn’t take long.

I can still run about as fast as I could when I was a teenager, but my endurance is gone. I’m hoping I can pick that back up a little bit. I was a catcher last season, filling in occasionally at first base and in left field. In the league I play in, we usually play girls at second and third base, and we’ve got a couple of guys who can really play shortstop, so I’ll probably never play short. When I was young I played mostly left field and second. I’d like to roam left field again. Not that I mind catching, but there’s a certain nostalgia about going back to my old position.

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6 thoughts on “The penguins are coming!

  • March 8, 2002 at 11:18 am

    Hi Dave:

    Keep up the start on your aerobic exercise. You should definitely be able to get back up to your teenage abilities or even more!

    I ride my back hard a fair bit and it is amazing how much that helps.

    Good luck,


  • March 8, 2002 at 1:04 pm

    LFS-3.2 is out with some much needed improvements in boot scripts, package upgrades, and hints. You should check it out again sometime, Dave.

    On the agenda for 4.0 is a form of self-diagnostics (I’ll be working on that part with Gerard and Marc), enhanced package management, LSB 1.1 compliance (we’re actually working with the LSB people to have ALFS be a reference set for other distributions that want total LSB compliance), and better internationalization.

  • March 8, 2002 at 1:23 pm

    Well, I meant to say "I ride my bike" not my back!!!!



  • March 8, 2002 at 2:21 pm


    I’ll bite.

    What was the Linux book that was so popular with the NT admins?

    Thanks much,

  • March 8, 2002 at 5:51 pm

    Dustin, I may give LFS another look. I have to admit I like having Debian look out for everything for me though. Maybe I’ll throw the CD into a P6-level machine to compile a minimal Linux for that 486-133.

    Steve, the book they liked was Linux Network Servers 24seven by Craig Hunt, published by Sybex. I’ve found Hunt’s work to be very good.
    If I were buying a Linux book today, I’d look at Linux for Windows NT/2000 Administrators, co-written by Mark Minasi and Craig Hunt, published by Sybex. I don’t know that anyone knows Windows better than Minasi, and few know Linux better than Hunt (and those who do can’t write like him). I know experienced Linux guys find it superficial but it’s a much better starting point than a Dummies book.

  • March 8, 2002 at 8:50 pm

    *sigh* I see you came up with something else to do since I bailed on you. 🙂 Although I would have much rather been at the batting cages instead.

    Dave, next time you go to the batting cages, let me know! I love going, but hate going alone. However, I am rusty beyond belief. Which might be incentive for you to NOT invite me.

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