Image representing Nitrous.IO as depicted in C...

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I’ve had the Pixel for a few months now. The most surprising thing that I’ve realised is how much time I have been using this without modifications. In the first month, I immediately dropped into devmode, installed Gentoo, Debian and my own builds of ChromiumOS.

In the end, I decided to use the Pixel with devmode off, while I sacrifice shell access to the local filesystem, the extra security of the verified boot is nice. This isn’t that restrictive for me because the crosh shell (ctrl+alt+t) has a ssh client which is enough for me to do my “real” computing on a server somewhere else.

When at home, I have a server at home, at work I have a small cloud and workstation to connect to. But sometimes, I wonder if I really can get away from these support servers and make the most of the ChromeBook environment.

I don’t care about picture or video editing. There are some HTML5 games too. What will matter to me most is an IDE and collaboration tools (groupware). I’ll save groupware for later.

Introducing Nitrous.IO. This is going to be one of those multi-page blogs.

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systemd stage3


systemd (Photo credit: James O’Gorman)

In my quick review of systemd, I left a few points hanging for further elaboration.

I mentioned that there are no official stage3 tarballs with systemd. Without them, the only way to get a systemd system is to upgrade via the guide.

As I get used to it, I’m going to need a way to install systemd repeatedly and consistently. I have therefore created my own stage3 tarball.


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Systemd boot messages.

Systemd boot messages.

It’s been nagging me for a while. I knew that it would happen at some point. I read the blogs, the reviews, the flames. The future of PID1 is here.

I’ve been putting this off for a while, udev-200 was the first visible change. I practiced the upgrade a few times, so I was ready when it stabilised. Replace all instances of eth0 with enpXsY. It seemed harmless enough. For my generic images, adding dhcpcd to the default runlevel, and not creating the net.* specific scripts tends to do well. Hostnames (dhcp/dns coupling) are a bit erratic but some tweaks to the runlevel order fixes those.

This is something a bit more invasive. I can’t upgrade this easily.   Continue reading


English: Cloud Computing

English: Cloud Computing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Modern cloud computing doesn’t install the same way that “bare-metal” and traditional virtualisation system use. As I have discussed before, they may not even be using a boot loader. This has a dramatic effect on the way cloud servers (aka. instances) are booted.

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OpenStack (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I think I’ve done it. I now have my own home IaaS.

I went for the OpenStack approach, Packstack with RDO on Scientific Linux. In the future I want to replace SL6 with Gentoo on the bare metal, and install the OpenStack packages from portage, but I’ll wait for the work from a Gentoo dev who knows what he’s doing.

This also means that the running hypervisor is KVM, not the Xen that I would rather be using. Technically, there isn’t much difference to them, but Xen is the hypervisor used by AWS, PV images can be booted without fiddling with partitioning and bootloaders. That’s so ’90s.

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Bios (Photo credit: Henrique Vicente)


I’m a big fan of the stage3 install method.


Prepare partitions, format filesystems and make a mount point. Extract a root filesystem into place. Add a kernel and boot loader, reboot and done. The rest is configuration.


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Gentoo FTW!

These past few weeks, there have been some pretty disturbing disruptions for Linux users on rolling release distros.The biggest upset in recent times I’ll describe as “The udev-200 issue”, where the symptoms of an unsupervised update/reboot cycle will present you with a) a system that won’t boot, b) a system without network or c) both.

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