Released: BtSync App 0.1.0

Download: BtSync App v0.1.0 for Linux (x86, 64bit)  with BitTorrent Sync v1.4.103BtSync App is a Linux portable AppImage containing BitTorrent Sync bundled with a Linux desktop GUI.

BitTorrent Sync is a free peer-to-peer cross-platform file synchronization application from BitTorrent Inc.

Linux AppImages enable delivering Linux applications as single, self-contained, executable files that work across distributions.

The AppImage includes the Linux desktop GUI for BitTorrent sync, developed by YeaSoft for the Debian BitTorrent Sync packages.

This AppImage is an UNOFFICIAL package of BitTorrent Sync and is not a product of BitTorrent Inc.

This AppImage in all its different versions, can be found on this GitHub releases page.

The source code used to build this AppImage and further information can be found in my GitHub repository.

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Linux ports of games not offered via the Humble Store. How strange.

The humble bundle and a sad Linux penguinOne of the reasons I am a fan of the Humble Bundle and a repeat buyer, is the fact that it always offers Linux ports of the games sold.

With that in mind, Imagine my surprise, when I found out that games that were already sold in the past via the bundle, do not offer the Linux ports when they are sold via the Humble Store.

Case to the point: Limbo. I have the Linux port. I bought it via the Bundle. But I can’t recommend it to my Linux using friends because they have no way to get it now that the bundle is done with.

systemd cheat sheet

systemd cheet sheetThe system manager’s adoption by Red Hat alone, was enough to make ‘systemd‘ a required learning for every self-respecting Linux sysadmin. Its adoption by most other Linux distributions, made it completely mandatory.

Its not hard to learn to use ‘systemd’. The developers made a conscious efforts to make it compatible, where possible, with existing procedures and commands. The developers also produced some very extensive and detailed documentation. Indeed, a rare thing in the Linux world for such a young product.

To get you started on learning, here is a quick cheet sheet mapping new ‘systemd’ command to classic ‘System-V’ commands.

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Creating RHEL7 Deployment Templates

There is a critical step when creating OS images or templates for use in image-based provisioning systems such as those embedded in most virtualization platforms. That step is cleaning up residual instance-specific data from the base, or golden, image. That step is called ‘sysprep’ in the Windows administration terminology. Failing to do so can lead to various problems such as the provisioned hosts failing to boot, filing to automatically gain network connectivity or subtle identification issues when trying to embed the provisioned host into network-wide distributed systems.

Recent changes in the low-level plumbing of Linux systems, mostly due to the switch to systemd-based system and service management from System-V based management, necessitate some updates the the procedures used to perform golden image cleanup. This post documents the various steps needed to clean up a RHEL7 golden image. While I haven’t tested them directly on such systems, similar steps should apply to Fedora and CentOS 7 systems as well. Continue reading

New approaches to terminal emulator applications

Terminal Emulator IconThe terminal emulator is an ancient but essential tool in the arsenal of any advanced computer user. The terminal emulator allows one to access the command line shell interface of the operating system while working in a graphical environment. The existence of the terminal emulator allows one to simultaneously enjoy both the visual appeal and discoverability of graphical desktop applications and the accurate efficiency and expressiveness of a command-line interface.

While the graphical computing environments have been undergoing a user-experience driven revolution in recent years, the terminals emulators have seen little change. There have been some superficial additions such as tabs and split windows, but in essence today’s terminal emulators still closely resemble their hardware counterparts of old.

Recently there have been attempts to bring modern UI concepts to the terminal emulator and give it a modern overhaul.

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Syncthing a Free Software peer-to-peer file sync software

Syncthing logoSo-called cloud storage services such as DropBox, SpiderOak, SkyDrive and Google Drive provide a convenient means of moving files between different computers and have largely eliminated the need to use USB thumb drives or other physical means to move data. Most online services however, suffer from one or more of the following shortcomings:

  1. The amount of storage one can use tends to be very small. Especially when considered against the size of an average computer hard drive.
  2. The user’s data is completely exposed to the cloud provider.
  3. The end-user software provided by the cloud provider may not support all platforms the user has, and may provide limited features.

From the above reasons, I was very excited to hear about BitTorrent Sync. BitTorrent Sync eliminates the first problem by having the amount of storage a user can use limited only by the size of the hard drive that he has. It solves the second problem by being completely peer-to-peer, which means that data is synced only between computes that the user chooses and controls. The 3rd problem is so far been approached in a satisfactory manner as clients are available for all major platforms.

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Building Ethernet-over-IP tunnels with Linux

TunnelThere is a not so well documented way to link together separate Ethernet segments by using GRE tunnels over IP networks while using only Linux Kernel capabilities and not requiring any userland daemons.

This can be useful to make physically separate networks appear as one, although linking over the internet in this way may not be very wise as the tunnel isn’t encrypted.

This can also be used to simulate multiple separate networks for virtual machines running on different physical hosts, without requiring VLAN tagging support from the physical network or using Open vSwitch.

The basic idea is to add a tunnel link of type “gretap” and attach it to a bridge, here is how to see what little documentation is available about it:

ip link add foo type gretap help

Here is a blog post providing some further explanation.

This capability has existed in the kernel since 2.6.29, so it is included in most moderately-recent distributions including RHEL/CentOS 6, Ubuntu (since 9.10 – Kermic) and Debian (since 6.0 – Squeeze).