July 2006

Magic 8-Ball

It seems to be something of a Magic 8-Ball week. First there was a nice article at Daring Fireball about Microsoft's Zune (warning: creepy rabbit animation).

For the last week or two, Fedora Core 6 test 2 has been scheduled as going into freeze on July the 24th and releasing on the 26th. Now that it's the 28th, the freeze date has been changed to "no sooner than 27 July" and the release date is:


The latest Fedora board minutes indicate that the main reason for the slip is final integration of the Xen virtual machine monitor. As this is also a blocker for the next release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, it makes sense not to roll on without it.


Cuddly Headcrab

In deference to my more squeamish readers, I won't post an image showing this excellent plush version of the iconic Half-Life enemy, the Headcrab.

I'm finding, in fact, that people who haven't played any of the Half-Life series have some kind of mental block that makes them run screaming from the room on seeing this, rather than the more typical "how cute" that you might expect. Well, that you might expect if you are someone who has grown to love the cute little critters, or at least learned to downgrade them to "annoying" after the first few thousand encounters.

Two bits of bad news on the HL2 Headcrab Collectible page: firstly, you can wear them as a hat, but only if you are yourself a quarter-scale model or perhaps a large cat or small dog. Secondly, they are all sold out…

Update Roulette

Not installing security updates isn't really a viable strategy these days. Even waiting a few days to see whether other people have trouble with the update is problematic when a zero day exploit might be available.

It's a bit like playing Russian Roulette in a room full of people who feel their job is to point their guns at you until you pull the trigger.

Obviously this goes wrong once in a while. The recent Samba 3.0.23 update broke access from Windows and Mac machines on my Fedora Core 4 system, but some people with Fedora Core 5 are reporting that all logins to their systems are disabled.

After a bit of searching around and trying various things, I found that in my case I could bring my system back to life by "upgrading" to an older version of the four packages in question.

There is some indication that version 3.0.23a will be out real soon now… but that doesn't really make me feel completely happy. Nor does the realisation that my FC4 system will officially be "legacy" next week and I'll need an upgrade to at least FC5 to stay within my "properly supported" comfort zone.

This kind of thing does seem to happen more often with Fedora, and anecdotally seems to be related to their strategy of pulling in new releases rather than back-porting security fixes. Moving to a more "enterprise" style system for the places where I need stability rather than the latest features is probably the right answer for me; once RHEL 5 is out I will probably take a close look at it and the equivalent CentOS release.

[Update 20060729: the 3.0.23a release doesn't fix the problem, at least for me.]