Tim Groeneveld

Random musings from the world of an Open Source geek

Google owns On2. What now?

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When it comes to companies that create multimedia codecs, I have followed none closer then that of On2 Technologies.

On2 came to my attention when TrueMotion VP3 was released as Open Source Software in late 2001. On2 released the source code of their VP3 codec. They irrevocably disclaimed all rights to the codec and gave all individuals and organisations working on the code a royalty-free license grant for any patent claims it might have over the software and any derivatives their patents on the video codec technology. On2 made a further donation to the Open Source community when in 2002 it re-released the source code under the LGPL and gave the source code of VP3 to the Xiph.org Foundation under a BSD license to create what is now known as ‘Theora’.

Their video codec “TrueMotion” amazed me with the quality that it could provide with such low bitrates, and the technology in VP4, VP5 and VP6 continued to just get better. Unfortunately, even after (or maybe because of) Flash 8 supporting VP6 videos natively code did not continue to flow into the open source community.

Comparison of different video formats on the web

VP6 has always been a popular format on the web, but since the arrival of H.264 on the codec scene this has most surely changed. On August 26, 2010 MPEG LA announced that H.264 encoded internet video that is free to end users will never be charged for royalties, however, the license terms are updated in 5-year blocks which does not give the MPEG Licensing Alliance that long* to change their minds.

* Yes, 5 years is a long time, but not in ‘technology’ time. A lot of revolutions occur in five years time. Five years is not a long time for a Licensing organization such as MPEG LA to change their minds on something as crucial as what format your videos will be licensed under.

On 19 February 2010, Google had completed the acquisition of On2 Technologies. By May 19, 2010 something that I long dreamed of occurred. Google finally open sourced the latest version of the On2 codec.

Finally seeing a codec such as On2’s VP8 as a fully open source standard, with everything open sourced is a fantastic sight. We can all only hope that Google will ensure that the technology only gets better from here on in.

MPEG LA has claimed that video codecs such as Theora and VP8 infringe on patents owned by its licensors, without disclosing the affected patent or patents. That does not sound like SCO all over again, does it?

Where is CentOS 6?

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Want to know what the status is of CentOS 6 is and how far away it is to being completed? There is a page on the CentOS wiki which contains a list of all the packages which the developers are currently focusing their attention on. Head over to http://wiki.centos.org/QaWiki/6/AuditStatus for more information on the status of this Audit process.

Seems like CentOS 6 is still at least six weeks away, if not more. There is always quite a bit of work involved when a new version of RHEL is released – especially a major version such as RHEL 6.

I Can’t wait to install CentOS 6!

A CMS for Video?

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I have recently been looking for an application that will allow me to put up a mini series of videos for one particular topic. Something like YouTube+Moodle, but slimmer. Of course like any well trained computer nerd it was off to Google to go find my answer. Unfortunately there was not really that much that tickled my interest.

Being a PHP developer, having something that is written in PHP would be a very big plus 🙂

I did find an application called ‘Clipbucket’, however, this didn’t really seem to do the job that I was looking for the application to perform.

After hours of Googling, I do not believe there is a PHP application that does what I want. I was faced with two options: 1. Write my own or 2. Drop the ‘PHP’ requirement. Option 1 was rulled out because I now have 2,013 projects to finish so off to option 2 🙂

After digging around I found a project called MediaCore (http://getmediacore.com/). This application checks most boxes on my checklist and from the looks of it does not appear to take 6 hours to install and configure. That and the theme it ships with is simply stunning.

MediaCore is a free open source video CMS and podcast platform. It makes distributing media on any website easy, and has a powerful range of features that can transform any website into a media rich experience.

Every aspect of MediaCore can be controlled, allowing you to manage all video, podcasts, and comments through a beautiful control panel. MediaCore is so awesome that it will generate iTunes Feeds and RSS feeds for you automatically!

Now just to find the time to set it up and import everything :]

A new PHP Asterisk Gateway Interface

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In my random searches of the Internet, I have found on Github a new PHP AGI framework. Incase all of that sounded like gibberish: AGI == Asterisk Gateway Interface. Asterisk == VoIP Server. VoIP Server == “Press 1. for”, PHP Framework == “if ($key->pressed == “1”) {” 🙂

This framework (nicely named just PAGI) is intended to simply making agi applications. All you need to do to get started is extend the PAGIApplication class and your signal handler, error handler, init, and shutdown methods are automatically setup and called.

Something really interesting about PAGI is that it uses log4php which is from the Apache Software Foundation. As the name suggests, it is a logging framework for PHP which supports writing logs in a variety of different ways. Very awesome, and it seems like using PAGI might be a good way to also get my feet wet with log4php.

New Year’s Resolutions

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It’s 2011, time for a new year and a list of new years resolutions. The United Nations has designated 2011 the International Year of Forests and International Year of Chemistry, but the real question is: what will I designate the year 2011 to?

Well, for starters year 2011 will be the year of finalising last year’s study rush. I have all the books you could imagine on Windows 2008, and am getting myself all prepared and ready for taking the MCITP* exams.

* I am glad I will not be tagged anymore as someone who Must Consult Someone Experienced (MCSE :))

Also, this will be the year for taking my Red Hat Certified Virtualization Administrator exams (Both the RHCVA and the RHCE).

2011 will be the year of sharing knowledge that I have. Many people who know me would attest to the fact that if you ask me a question, most likely it will result in me giving you the required answer, me entering into a heated discusion on the topic of the question or me finding the answer to the question, but I almost never share my words with anyone else.

To help my quest in sharing this knowledge, I am going to try my best to write down notes of any newly acquired intelligence. Not only to ensure that I can quickly reference this information if and when it is required by myself in the future but to also ensure that other people can be enlightened with the same material.

Of my list of New Year’s Resolutions for this year, most likely my wish to share with a larger population any knowledge that is sitting in my head is the one that will affect people other then myself. Seeing as this is the one item on my personal ‘TODO’ list, I think that is a very nice achievement.

For 2011, I want to see the world as a better place for all human beings. I want to find a way to be able to help the population of Australia in a way that will provide lasting benefits. Something that has been in my head lately has been Habitat. The mission statement of Habitat for Humanity is to “seek to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness from the world and to make decent shelter a matter of conscience and action.”.

Homeowners are usually expected to put approximately 500 hours of “sweat equity” into their own or other project homes, although this amount may vary by location, the number of wage-earning adults in each family, and the recipients’ health issues.

Personally, I see that this is a fantastic way to help people in Australia and provide long lasting benefits to the community in an area other then software.

Last year at the last Open Source Developers Conference I complained how there was very little talk about actually developing software. I felt that my little 5 minute rant might just have been wrongly understood, and that discussion will most likely be for another post, but I promised everyone that I would make sure that for this year’s conference I will be presenting at least one topic. I will be putting up my hand when the Call of Papers is announced.

I am hoping that I will be able talk about ways that individuals can be apart of open source software. A prima of sorts for people who are new to this whole ‘Open Source’ thing.

Of course, no new year’s resolution list would be complete without the traditional personal item :). In 2011 I need to loose some weight, just 10KG’s would be fine 🙂 Sydney has way to many McDonald’s and Starbucks and you only need to look at my tummy for proof!

Getting OpenSUSE’s Xen ‘Kernel of The Day’ on other Distro’s

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Getting the latest (mainline) Linux kernel is easy, you just head over to kernel.org and click the first ‘Full Source’ link that you see. When it comes to Xen, it’s so hard that even the official Xen Wiki can’t really find a simple download and configuration link.

After running Andrew Lyon’s Gentoo patches for Xen kernel for quite a while on my Archlinux install, it’s unstability instability on my work machine (which can mainly be tracked down to Kernel Mode Setting issues inside the kernel code).

I have faced two ways to fix the issues I have been having on this particular machine: either fix the kernel code with the KMS patches (linked to above) or try a newer version of the OpenSUSE patches.

I have tried on and off the KMS patches, but either the build always fails somewhere or the machine simply will reboot just before Dom0 loads. To fix the issue, I have simply gone to rebuild a new kernel from OpenSUSE’s KoTD source.

Recorded here is the quick hacky steps taken to get the kernel building on my machine:

  1. Download the kernel-source rpm from ftp://ftp.suse.com/pub/projects/kernel/kotd/master/src/
  2. Extract the RPM.
    [tim@myhost ~]$ pacman -Qo `which rpmextract.sh`
    /usr/bin/rpmextract.sh is owned by rpmextract 1.0-4
  3. for x in `find | grep \.bz2 `; do tar -xvf $x; done
  4. for p in $(./guards $(./arch-symbols) < series.conf | grep -v ia64); do
        echo "--> $p"
        patch -d linux-2.6.35 -p1 < $p || break
  5. cp config/x86_64/xen linux-2.6.35/.config
  6. cd linux-2.6.35
  7. make oldconfig
  8. make

Will it fix all my complaints that I have about my current kernel? Who knows, but I hope it does!

Xen Common Commands

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Xen has states!

  • —r: the paravirtualised/hypervised “domain” is currently running some sort of process.
    A domain will not be in the running state (“r”) if it was just waiting for a packet to arrive or a mouse to be moved —
  • b: blocked, domain is waiting for something, usually an interrupt (for example, waiting for hard-disk data to be passed over to the domain). Also ,things like “sleep 5” in the shell would cause “blocked”, as the domain is waiting for a number of timer ticks (5 seconds worth of) to pass.
  • —p: paused – the domain has been paused with the command:xm pause (domain)
  • —c: crashed – when a paravirtualised domain (or an “enlightened” Windows install) crashes (kernel panic / BSOD etc) the hypervisor will detect this and put the machine into a crashed state.
  • d: dying – Something has told the domain to “kill itself” (such as “xm shutdown/destroy”, but it’s not yet disappeared. It’s probably there for the purpose of avoiding race-conditions where something is killing the domain, and something else is talking to it (for example disk accesses)


  • —The xm program is the main interface for managing Xen guest domains. The program can be used to create, pause, and shutdown domains. It can also be used to list current domains, enable or pin VCPUs, and attach or detach virtual block devices.
  • All xm operations rely upon the Xen control daemon, aka xend. For any xm commands to run xend must also be running. For this reason you should start xend as a service when your system first boots using xen.
  • —Most xm commands require root privileges to run due to the communications channels used to talk to the hypervisor. Running as non root will return an error.
  • Most xm commands act asynchronously, so just because the xm command returned, doesn’t mean the action is complete. This is important, as many operations on domains, like create and shutdown, can take considerable time (30 seconds or more) to bring the machine into a fully compliant state. If you want to know when one of these actions has finished you must poll through xm list periodically. —

xm create [-c] configfile [name=value]

  • The create sub command requires a config file and can optionally take a series of name value pairs that add to or override variables defined in the config file.
  • NOTE: Create will return as soon as the domain is started. This does not mean the guest OS in the domain has actually booted, or is available for input.
  • -c Attach console to the domain as soon as it has started. Useful for determining issues with crashing domains.

xm info

Print information about the Xen host in name : value format. When reporting a Xen bug, please provide this information as part of the bug report.

 host                   : tim-pxe-xc02
 release                :
 version                : #1 Mon Jun 02 14:26:26 EST 2010
 machine                : x86_64
 nr_cpus                : 1
 nr_nodes               : 1
 sockets_per_node       : 1
 cores_per_socket       : 4
 threads_per_core       : 2
 cpu_mhz                : 3330
 hw_caps                : 0383fbff:00000000:00000000:00000040
 total_memory           : 16384
 free_memory            : 37
 xen_major              : 4
 xen_minor              : 0
 xen_extra              : -devel
 xen_caps               : xen-4.0.1-x86_64
 xen_pagesize           : 4096
 platform_params        : virt_start=0xfc000000
 xen_changeset          : Mon Nov 14 18:13:38 2010 +0100
 cc_compiler            : gcc version 4.5.0
 cc_compile_by          : timg
 cc_compile_domain      : beast.timg.local
 cc_compile_date        : Mon May 21 12:16:48 EST 2010
 xend_config_format     : 2

Building a PCI DSS compliant network [1/12]

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PCI, or the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council was created in September 2006 by the major card issuers, such as Visa, MasterCard and AMEX.

The standards, PCI-DSS (Data Security Standard) were developed to ensure that card holder’s data security was always kept to the highest possible standards.

To reduce the scope of assessment for any network that involves credit card data, it is extremely important that as little credit card data as possible is stored – and if that credit card data is actually stored on a network, that as few machines as possible have direct access to that credit card data.

This could be done in many particular ways. For example, any remote machines cannot access credit card information once encrypted. Storing the data on a separate network then that of the public network (read: internet) will ensure that your scope of assessment area.

If possible, never transmit credit card data over a wireless network. Seriously. The second that you add a wireless network into the credit card mix, your PCI assessments become much more complex – and much more expensive. When possible, keep the credit card data over wires. Wires are easy to see and difficult to listen in on.

There are 12 requirements inside the PCI DSS document. Read more »

Looking for Alpha Testers!

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Do you like testing and writing documentation for new and exciting applications? I am currently working on a new enterprise application which will simplify the deployment of new machines in a Unix network. It’s literally plug, deploy and play!

I can’t really tell that much just yet on what the application actually does, that’s top secret – but if you would like to be apart of the future, drop me a comment and I will send you the link to the download. The ISO is currently ~900MB, and a new updated version is released on my FTP server every 14 days.

Updating the system is simple, as it’s a rolling release. Just drop yourself into a console and type ‘pacman -Syu’ or click the ‘Update Software’ button in the user interface.

Alpha testers must be able to show a commitment to the Open Source community, and be willing to help write missing documentation for specific features.

Testers will need to be able to use BIND, MySQL, Apache, asciidoc, Xen, OpenVZ and a few other cool open source applications to be able to test the software and see it’s full potential (and fix things when it breaks…)

CrazyCode and up all night

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Do the words “Crazy Code and up all night” describe you? Prefer the night more then you do the sunlight? The site CrazyCode is for you! This blog is all about any subject technical. I am trying to find a few contributing editors to also help along with writting articles for the site, so if you have anything crazy happen to you, please don’t be affraid to share.