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How to Build a Netboot Server, Part 4

One significant limitation of the netboot server built in this series is the operating system image being served is read-only. Some use cases may require the end user to modify the image. For example, an instructor may want to have the students install and configure software packages like MariaDB and Node.js as part of their course walk-through.

An added benefit of writable netboot images is the end user’s “personalized” operating system can follow them to different workstations they may use at later times.

Change the Bootmenu Application to use HTTPS

Create a self-signed certificate for the bootmenu application:

$ sudo -i
# MY_NAME=$(</etc/hostname)
# MY_TLSD=/opt/bootmenu/tls
# mkdir $MY_TLSD
# openssl req -newkey rsa:2048 -nodes -keyout $MY_TLSD/$MY_NAME.key -x509 -days 3650 -out $MY_TLSD/$MY_NAME.pem

Verify your certificate’s values. Make sure the “CN” value in the “Subject” line matches the DNS name that your iPXE clients use to connect to your bootmenu server:

# openssl x509 -text -noout -in $MY_TLSD/$MY_NAME.pem

Next, update the bootmenu application’s listen directive to use the HTTPS port and the newly created certificate and key:

# sed -i "s#listen => .*#listen => ['https://$MY_NAME:443?cert=$MY_TLSD/$MY_NAME.pem\&key=$MY_TLSD/$MY_NAME.key\&ciphers=AES256-SHA256:AES128-SHA256:AES256-SHA:AES128-SHA'],#" /opt/bootmenu/bootmenu.conf

Note the ciphers have been restricted to those currently supported by iPXE.

GnuTLS requires the “CAP_DAC_READ_SEARCH” capability, so add it to the bootmenu application’s systemd service:

# sed -i '/^AmbientCapabilities=/ s/$/ CAP_DAC_READ_SEARCH/' /etc/systemd/system/bootmenu.service
# sed -i 's/Serves iPXE Menus over HTTP/Serves iPXE Menus over HTTPS/' /etc/systemd/system/bootmenu.service
# systemctl daemon-reload

Now, add an exception for the bootmenu service to the firewall and restart the service:

# MY_SUBNET=192.0.2.0
# MY_PREFIX=24
# firewall-cmd --add-rich-rule="rule family='ipv4' source address='$MY_SUBNET/$MY_PREFIX' service name='https' accept"
# firewall-cmd --runtime-to-permanent
# systemctl restart bootmenu.service

Use wget to verify it’s working:

$ MY_NAME=server-01.example.edu
$ MY_TLSD=/opt/bootmenu/tls
$ wget -q --ca-certificate=$MY_TLSD/$MY_NAME.pem -O - https://$MY_NAME/menu

Add HTTPS to iPXE

Update init.ipxe to use HTTPS. Then recompile the ipxe bootloader with options to embed and trust the self-signed certificate you created for the bootmenu application:

$ echo '#define DOWNLOAD_PROTO_HTTPS' >> $HOME/ipxe/src/config/local/general.h
$ sed -i 's/^chain http:/chain https:/' $HOME/ipxe/init.ipxe
$ cp $MY_TLSD/$MY_NAME.pem $HOME/ipxe
$ cd $HOME/ipxe/src
$ make clean
$ make bin-x86_64-efi/ipxe.efi EMBED=../init.ipxe CERT="../$MY_NAME.pem" TRUST="../$MY_NAME.pem"

You can now copy the HTTPS-enabled iPXE bootloader out to your clients and test that everything is working correctly:

$ cp $HOME/ipxe/src/bin-x86_64-efi/ipxe.efi $HOME/esp/efi/boot/bootx64.efi

Add User Authentication to Mojolicious

Create a PAM service definition for the bootmenu application:

# dnf install -y pam_krb5
# echo 'auth required pam_krb5.so' > /etc/pam.d/bootmenu

Add a library to the bootmenu application that uses the Authen-PAM perl module to perform user authentication:

# dnf install -y perl-Authen-PAM;
# MY_MOJO=/opt/bootmenu
# mkdir $MY_MOJO/lib
# cat << 'END' > $MY_MOJO/lib/PAM.pm
package PAM; use Authen::PAM; sub auth { my $success = 0; my $username = shift; my $password = shift; my $callback = sub { my @res; while (@_) { my $code = shift; my $msg = shift; my $ans = ""; $ans = $username if ($code == PAM_PROMPT_ECHO_ON()); $ans = $password if ($code == PAM_PROMPT_ECHO_OFF()); push @res, (PAM_SUCCESS(), $ans); } push @res, PAM_SUCCESS(); return @res; }; my $pamh = new Authen::PAM('bootmenu', $username, $callback); { last unless ref $pamh; last unless $pamh->pam_authenticate() == PAM_SUCCESS; $success = 1; } return $success;
} return 1;
END

The above code is taken almost verbatim from the Authen::PAM::FAQ man page.

Redefine the bootmenu application so it returns a netboot template only if a valid username and password are supplied:

# cat << 'END' > $MY_MOJO/bootmenu.pl
#!/usr/bin/env perl use lib 'lib'; use PAM;
use Mojolicious::Lite;
use Mojolicious::Plugins;
use Mojo::Util ('url_unescape'); plugin 'Config'; get '/menu';
get '/boot' => sub { my $c = shift; my $instance = $c->param('instance'); my $username = $c->param('username'); my $password = $c->param('password'); my $template = 'menu'; { last unless $instance =~ /^fc[[:digit:]]{2}$/; last unless $username =~ /^[[:alnum:]]+$/; last unless PAM::auth($username, url_unescape($password)); $template = $instance; } return $c->render(template => $template);
}; app->start;
END

The bootmenu application now looks for the lib directory relative to its WorkingDirectory. However, by default the working directory is set to the root directory of the server for systemd units. Therefore, you must update the systemd unit to set WorkingDirectory to the root of the bootmenu application instead:

# sed -i "/^RuntimeDirectory=/ a WorkingDirectory=$MY_MOJO" /etc/systemd/system/bootmenu.service
# systemctl daemon-reload

Update the templates to work with the redefined bootmenu application:

# cd $MY_MOJO/templates
# MY_BOOTMENU_SERVER=$(</etc/hostname)
# MY_FEDORA_RELEASES="28 29"
# for i in $MY_FEDORA_RELEASES; do echo '#!ipxe' > fc$i.html.ep; grep "^kernel\|initrd" menu.html.ep | grep "fc$i" >> fc$i.html.ep; echo "boot || chain https://$MY_BOOTMENU_SERVER/menu" >> fc$i.html.ep; sed -i "/^:f$i$/,/^boot /c :f$i\nlogin\nchain https://$MY_BOOTMENU_SERVER/boot?instance=fc$i\&username=\${username}\&password=\${password:uristring} || goto failed" menu.html.ep; done

The result of the last command above should be three files similar to the following:

menu.html.ep:

#!ipxe set timeout 5000 :menu
menu iPXE Boot Menu
item --key 1 lcl 1. Microsoft Windows 10
item --key 2 f29 2. RedHat Fedora 29
item --key 3 f28 3. RedHat Fedora 28
choose --timeout ${timeout} --default lcl selected || goto shell
set timeout 0
goto ${selected} :failed
echo boot failed, dropping to shell...
goto shell :shell
echo type 'exit' to get the back to the menu
set timeout 0
shell
goto menu :lcl
exit :f29
login
chain https://server-01.example.edu/boot?instance=fc29&username=${username}&password=${password:uristring} || goto failed :f28
login
chain https://server-01.example.edu/boot?instance=fc28&username=${username}&password=${password:uristring} || goto failed

fc29.html.ep:

#!ipxe
kernel --name kernel.efi ${prefix}/vmlinuz-4.19.5-300.fc29.x86_64 initrd=initrd.img ro ip=dhcp rd.peerdns=0 nameserver=192.0.2.91 nameserver=192.0.2.92 root=/dev/disk/by-path/ip-192.0.2.158:3260-iscsi-iqn.edu.example.server-01:fc29-lun-1 netroot=iscsi:192.0.2.158::::iqn.edu.example.server-01:fc29 console=tty0 console=ttyS0,115200n8 audit=0 selinux=0 quiet
initrd --name initrd.img ${prefix}/initramfs-4.19.5-300.fc29.x86_64.img
boot || chain https://server-01.example.edu/menu

fc28.html.ep:

#!ipxe
kernel --name kernel.efi ${prefix}/vmlinuz-4.19.3-200.fc28.x86_64 initrd=initrd.img ro ip=dhcp rd.peerdns=0 nameserver=192.0.2.91 nameserver=192.0.2.92 root=/dev/disk/by-path/ip-192.0.2.158:3260-iscsi-iqn.edu.example.server-01:fc28-lun-1 netroot=iscsi:192.0.2.158::::iqn.edu.example.server-01:fc28 console=tty0 console=ttyS0,115200n8 audit=0 selinux=0 quiet
initrd --name initrd.img ${prefix}/initramfs-4.19.3-200.fc28.x86_64.img
boot || chain https://server-01.example.edu/menu

Now, restart the bootmenu application and verify authentication is working:

# systemctl restart bootmenu.service

Make the iSCSI Target Writeable

Now that user authentication works through iPXE, you can create per-user, writeable overlays on top of the read-only image on demand when users connect. Using a copy-on-write overlay has three advantages over simply copying the original image file for each user:

  1. The copy can be created very quickly. This allows creation on-demand.
  2. The copy does not increase the disk usage on the server. Only what the user writes to their personal copy of the image is stored in addition to the original image.
  3. Since most sectors for each copy are the same sectors on the server’s storage, they’ll likely already be loaded in RAM when subsequent users access their copies of the operating system. This improves the server’s performance because RAM is faster than disk I/O.

One potential pitfall of using copy-on-write is that once overlays are created, the images on which they are overlayed must not be changed. If they are changed, all the overlays will be corrupted. Then the overlays must be deleted and replaced with new, blank overlays. Even simply mounting the image file in read-write mode can cause sufficient filesystem updates to corrupt the overlays.

Due to the potential for the overlays to be corrupted if the original image is modified, mark the original image as immutable by running:

# chattr +i </path/to/file>

You can use lsattr </path/to/file> to view the status of the immutable flag and use  to chattr -i </path/to/file> unset the immutable flag. While the immutable flag is set, even the root user or a system process running as root cannot modify or delete the file.

Begin by stopping the tgtd.service so you can change the image files:

# systemctl stop tgtd.service

It’s normal for this command to take a minute or so to stop when there are connections still open.

Now, remove the read-only iSCSI export. Then update the readonly-root configuration file in the template so the image is no longer read-only:

# MY_FC=fc29
# rm -f /etc/tgt/conf.d/$MY_FC.conf
# TEMP_MNT=$(mktemp -d)
# mount /$MY_FC.img $TEMP_MNT
# sed -i 's/^READONLY=yes$/READONLY=no/' $TEMP_MNT/etc/sysconfig/readonly-root
# sed -i 's/^Storage=volatile$/#Storage=auto/' $TEMP_MNT/etc/systemd/journald.conf
# umount $TEMP_MNT

Journald was changed from logging to volatile memory back to its default (log to disk if /var/log/journal exists) because a user reported his clients would freeze with an out-of-memory error due to an application generating excessive system logs. The downside to setting logging to disk is that extra write traffic is generated by the clients, and might burden your netboot server with unnecessary I/O. You should decide which option — log to memory or log to disk — is preferable depending on your environment.

Since you won’t make any further changes to the template image, set the immutable flag on it and restart the tgtd.service:

# chattr +i /$MY_FC.img
# systemctl start tgtd.service

Now, update the bootmenu application:

# cat << 'END' > $MY_MOJO/bootmenu.pl
#!/usr/bin/env perl use lib 'lib'; use PAM;
use Mojolicious::Lite;
use Mojolicious::Plugins;
use Mojo::Util ('url_unescape'); plugin 'Config'; get '/menu';
get '/boot' => sub { my $c = shift; my $instance = $c->param('instance'); my $username = $c->param('username'); my $password = $c->param('password'); my $chapscrt; my $template = 'menu'; { last unless $instance =~ /^fc[[:digit:]]{2}$/; last unless $username =~ /^[[:alnum:]]+$/; last unless PAM::auth($username, url_unescape($password)); last unless $chapscrt = `sudo scripts/mktgt $instance $username`; $template = $instance; } return $c->render(template => $template, username => $username, chapscrt => $chapscrt);
}; app->start;
END

This new version of the bootmenu application calls a custom mktgt script which, on success, returns a random CHAP password for each new iSCSI target that it creates. The CHAP password prevents one user from mounting another user’s iSCSI target by indirect means. The app only returns the correct iSCSI target password to a user who has successfully authenticated.

The mktgt script is prefixed with sudo because it needs root privileges to create the target.

The $username and $chapscrt variables also pass to the render command so they can be incorporated into the templates returned to the user when necessary.

Next, update our boot templates so they can read the username and chapscrt variables and pass them along to the end user. Also update the templates to mount the root filesystem in rw (read-write) mode:

# cd $MY_MOJO/templates
# sed -i "s/:$MY_FC/:$MY_FC-<%= \$username %>/g" $MY_FC.html.ep
# sed -i "s/ netroot=iscsi:/ netroot=iscsi:<%= \$username %>:<%= \$chapscrt %>@/" $MY_FC.html.ep
# sed -i "s/ ro / rw /" $MY_FC.html.ep

After running the above commands, you should have boot templates like the following:

#!ipxe
kernel --name kernel.efi ${prefix}/vmlinuz-4.19.5-300.fc29.x86_64 initrd=initrd.img rw ip=dhcp rd.peerdns=0 nameserver=192.0.2.91 nameserver=192.0.2.92 root=/dev/disk/by-path/ip-192.0.2.158:3260-iscsi-iqn.edu.example.server-01:fc29-<%= $username %>-lun-1 netroot=iscsi:<%= $username %>:<%= $chapscrt %>@192.0.2.158::::iqn.edu.example.server-01:fc29-<%= $username %> console=tty0 console=ttyS0,115200n8 audit=0 selinux=0 quiet
initrd --name initrd.img ${prefix}/initramfs-4.19.5-300.fc29.x86_64.img
boot || chain https://server-01.example.edu/menu

NOTE: If you need to view the boot template after the variables have been interpolated, you can insert the “shell” command on its own line just before the “boot” command. Then, when you netboot your client, iPXE gives you an interactive shell where you can enter “imgstat” to view the parameters being passed to the kernel. If everything looks correct, you can type “exit” to leave the shell and continue the boot process.

Now allow the bootmenu user to run the mktgt script (and only that script) as root via sudo:

# echo "bootmenu ALL = NOPASSWD: $MY_MOJO/scripts/mktgt *" > /etc/sudoers.d/bootmenu

The bootmenu user should not have write access to the mktgt script or any other files under its home directory. All the files under /opt/bootmenu should be owned by root, and should not be writable by any user other than root.

Sudo does not work well with systemd’s DynamicUser option, so create a normal user account and set the systemd service to run as that user:

# useradd -r -c 'iPXE Boot Menu Service' -d /opt/bootmenu -s /sbin/nologin bootmenu
# sed -i 's/^DynamicUser=true$/User=bootmenu/' /etc/systemd/system/bootmenu.service
# systemctl daemon-reload

Finally, create a directory for the copy-on-write overlays and create the mktgt script that manages the iSCSI targets and their overlayed backing stores:

# mkdir /$MY_FC.cow
# mkdir $MY_MOJO/scripts
# cat << 'END' > $MY_MOJO/scripts/mktgt
#!/usr/bin/env perl # if another instance of this script is running, wait for it to finish "$ENV{FLOCKER}" eq 'MKTGT' or exec "env FLOCKER=MKTGT flock /tmp $0 @ARGV"; # use "RETURN" to print to STDOUT; everything else goes to STDERR by default
open(RETURN, '>&', STDOUT);
open(STDOUT, '>&', STDERR); my $instance = shift or die "instance not provided";
my $username = shift or die "username not provided"; my $img = "/$instance.img";
my $dir = "/$instance.cow";
my $top = "$dir/$username"; -f "$img" or die "'$img' is not a file"; -d "$dir" or die "'$dir' is not a directory"; my $base;
die unless $base = `losetup --show --read-only --nooverlap --find $img`;
chomp $base; my $size;
die unless $size = `blockdev --getsz $base`;
chomp $size; # create the per-user sparse file if it does not exist
if (! -e "$top") { die unless system("dd if=/dev/zero of=$top status=none bs=512 count=0 seek=$size") == 0;
} # create the copy-on-write overlay if it does not exist
my $cow="$instance-$username";
my $dev="/dev/mapper/$cow";
if (! -e "$dev") { my $over; die unless $over = `losetup --show --nooverlap --find $top`; chomp $over; die unless system("echo 0 $size snapshot $base $over p 8 | dmsetup create $cow") == 0;
} my $tgtadm = '/usr/sbin/tgtadm --lld iscsi'; # get textual representations of the iscsi targets
my $text = `$tgtadm --op show --mode target`;
my @targets = $text =~ /(?:^T.*\n)(?:^ .*\n)*/mg; # convert the textual representations into a hash table
my $targets = {};
foreach (@targets) { my $tgt; my $sid; foreach (split /\n/) { /^Target (\d+)(?{ $tgt = $targets->{$^N} = [] })/; /I_T nexus: (\d+)(?{ $sid = $^N })/; /Connection: (\d+)(?{ push @{$tgt}, [ $sid, $^N ] })/; }
} my $hostname;
die unless $hostname = `hostname`;
chomp $hostname; my $target = 'iqn.' . join('.', reverse split('\.', $hostname)) . ":$cow"; # find the target id corresponding to the provided target name and
# close any existing connections to it
my $tid = 0;
foreach (@targets) { next unless /^Target (\d+)(?{ $tid = $^N }): $target$/m; foreach (@{$targets->{$tid}}) { die unless system("$tgtadm --op delete --mode conn --tid $tid --sid $_->[0] --cid $_->[1]") == 0; }
} # create a new target if an existing one was not found
if ($tid == 0) { # find an available target id my @ids = (0, sort keys %{$targets}); $tid = 1; while ($ids[$tid]==$tid) { $tid++ } # create the target die unless -e "$dev"; die unless system("$tgtadm --op new --mode target --tid $tid --targetname $target") == 0; die unless system("$tgtadm --op new --mode logicalunit --tid $tid --lun 1 --backing-store $dev") == 0; die unless system("$tgtadm --op bind --mode target --tid $tid --initiator-address ALL") == 0;
} # (re)set the provided target's chap password
my $password = join('', map(chr(int(rand(26))+65), 1..8));
my $accounts = `$tgtadm --op show --mode account`;
if ($accounts =~ / $username$/m) { die unless system("$tgtadm --op delete --mode account --user $username") == 0;
}
die unless system("$tgtadm --op new --mode account --user $username --password $password") == 0;
die unless system("$tgtadm --op bind --mode account --tid $tid --user $username") == 0; # return the new password to the iscsi target on stdout
print RETURN $password;
END
# chmod +x $MY_MOJO/scripts/mktgt

The above script does five things:

  1. It creates the /<instance>.cow/<username> sparse file if it does not already exist.
  2. It creates the /dev/mapper/<instance>-<username> device node that serves as the copy-on-write backing store for the iSCSI target if it does not already exist.
  3. It creates the iqn.<reverse-hostname>:<instance>-<username> iSCSI target if it does not exist. Or, if the target does exist, it closes any existing connections to it because the image can only be opened in read-write mode from one place at a time.
  4. It (re)sets the chap password on the iqn.<reverse-hostname>:<instance>-<username> iSCSI target to a new random value.
  5. It prints the new chap password on standard output if all of the previous tasks compeleted successfully.

You should be able to test the mktgt script from the command line by running it with valid test parameters. For example:

# echo `$MY_MOJO/scripts/mktgt fc29 jsmith`

When run from the command line, the mktgt script should print out either the eight-character random password for the iSCSI target if it succeeded or the line number on which something went wrong if it failed.

On occasion, you may want to delete an iSCSI target without having to stop the entire service. For example, a user might inadvertently corrupt their personal image, in which case you would need to systematically undo everything that the above mktgt script does so that the next time they log in they will get a copy of the original image.

Below is an rmtgt script that undoes, in reverse order, what the above mktgt script did:

# mkdir $HOME/bin
# cat << 'END' > $HOME/bin/rmtgt
#!/usr/bin/env perl @ARGV >= 2 or die "usage: $0 <instance> <username> [+d|+f]\n"; my $instance = shift;
my $username = shift; my $rmd = ($ARGV[0] eq '+d'); #remove device node if +d flag is set
my $rmf = ($ARGV[0] eq '+f'); #remove sparse file if +f flag is set
my $cow = "$instance-$username"; my $hostname;
die unless $hostname = `hostname`;
chomp $hostname; my $tgtadm = '/usr/sbin/tgtadm';
my $target = 'iqn.' . join('.', reverse split('\.', $hostname)) . ":$cow"; my $text = `$tgtadm --op show --mode target`;
my @targets = $text =~ /(?:^T.*\n)(?:^ .*\n)*/mg; my $targets = {};
foreach (@targets) { my $tgt; my $sid; foreach (split /\n/) { /^Target (\d+)(?{ $tgt = $targets->{$^N} = [] })/; /I_T nexus: (\d+)(?{ $sid = $^N })/; /Connection: (\d+)(?{ push @{$tgt}, [ $sid, $^N ] })/; }
} my $tid = 0;
foreach (@targets) { next unless /^Target (\d+)(?{ $tid = $^N }): $target$/m; foreach (@{$targets->{$tid}}) { die unless system("$tgtadm --op delete --mode conn --tid $tid --sid $_->[0] --cid $_->[1]") == 0; } die unless system("$tgtadm --op delete --mode target --tid $tid") == 0; print "target $tid deleted\n"; sleep 1;
} my $dev = "/dev/mapper/$cow";
if ($rmd or ($rmf and -e $dev)) { die unless system("dmsetup remove $cow") == 0; print "device node $dev deleted\n";
} if ($rmf) { my $sf = "/$instance.cow/$username"; die "sparse file $sf not found" unless -e "$sf"; die unless system("rm -f $sf") == 0; die unless not -e "$sf"; print "sparse file $sf deleted\n";
}
END
# chmod +x $HOME/bin/rmtgt

For example, to use the above script to completely remove the fc29-jsmith target including its backing store device node and its sparse file, run the following:

# rmtgt fc29 jsmith +f

Once you’ve verified that the mktgt script is working properly, you can restart the bootmenu service. The next time someone netboots, they should receive a personal copy of the the netboot image they can write to:

# systemctl restart bootmenu.service

Users should now be able to modify the root filesystem as demonstrated in the below screenshot:

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Chromium on Fedora finally gets VAAPI support!

Do you like playing videos in your web browser? Well, good news, the Chromium web browser available in Fedora gets a Video Acceleration API support. That makes video playback much smoother while using significantly less resources.

A little bit of history

Chromium with a VAAPI patch was already available on other distributions. But this was not the case with Fedora. I really want hardware acceleration. But my love for Fedora was holding me back. Then with sheer willpower, I joined Fedora and started maintaining a package in COPR.

I am not really a distro hopper but a DE hopper. I usually jump from Gnome to KDE and vice versa depending upon my mood. Then I started maintaining Chromium with vaapi patch on COPR. I was using the official patch which was submitted upstream for code review. I had very little hope that it will get merge. The patch is outdated and and try jobs were failing at that time.

After six months, the Chromium upstream maintainers made a statement that they are not interested to include this patch. So after that I started working on my own patch with referenced from the official patch. My patch is about using the existing flags that other operating system uses instead of creating a new flag just for experimentation.

screenshot showing chromium uses video engine

Chromium uses AMDGPU’s UVD engine while playing a video

chromium's flag screenshot

Chromium uses Existing flags on Fedora

Effects of the VAAPI patch

Chromium with this patch was extremely stable on both of my machines. They both have AMD GPU. The video playback is smooth. This improved overall power savings as well.

Comparision with/without vaapi

Credits: Tobias Wolfshappen

As you can see, chromium with the vaapi patch takes up significantly less resources in comparison to chromium without the patch and Firefox.  The CPU usage went down from 120% to 10%. The playback is smooth with no shuttering.

VA-API patch in chromium for Fedora

It was then Fedora’s Engineering Manager @ Red Hat and Chromium maintainer, Tom Callaway, finally recognises the VAAPI patch and decides to include in Fedora’s Chromium browser. Fedora becomes the second distribution to include the VAAPI patch in their official Chromium package.

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Carlos Castro León: How Do You Fedora?

We recently interviewed Carlos Castro León on how he uses Fedora. This is part of a series on the Fedora Magazine. The series profiles Fedora users and how they use Fedora to get things done. Contact us on the feedback form to express your interest in becoming a interviewee.

Who is Carlos Castro León?

Carlos Castro León is a computer engineer in northern Peru. He started using Linux in 2006 when another Linux user helped him install Ubuntu Edgy Eft. When Carlos attended college he decided to use a more stable distribution: “I already knew about Fedora 16 and decided to use it.” Castro León currently works as a computer engineer in Peru. His main task is to coordinate the activities of a team of individuals who manage the servers and networking at his company.

He loves food. He says his favorites are El Cabrito and La Caigua Rellena: “They are delicious and if you come to Peru I can give you very good recommendations.”

Carlos finds the most difficult thing is to get people interested in open source. He overcame resistance from his colleagues by building on the success of the first project. “My first project was implementing OpenVPN,” he says. After this he implemented the following servers: Zimbra, GLPI, DHCP, Rsync, Bacula, Owncloud, and Alfresco.

The Fedora Community

Castro León has some fantastic things to say about the Fedora Community: “They are always attentive to solve problems.”  He added, “the community documentation is available to everyone.” He would like to encourage the spread of open source. Carlos would like to create workshops, events and give presentations at universities. Castro León would like to see more people understand the full potential of having a computer engineering career within an open source project.

What Hardware?

Carlos owns a Dell Inspiron 15 5000 laptop with Fedora installed. He also uses a Brother DCP-T500W printer connected via wireless. “I have not had any issues with hardware or software compatibility,” he reports. For design work he uses a 20 inch monitor and extends the screen. At work he has a Lenovo M700 tiny. This computer has both Windows 10 and most importantly a Fedora install. Carlos says, “I prefer to use Fedora because it has better performance and I have not had problems connecting to shared resources within the office.”

What Software?

Castro León is currently running Fedora 29. For personal projects he uses GIMP, Inkscape, Kdenlive, Audacity, VLC and Simple Screen Recorder. At work he makes use of Shutter, Libre Office, GEdit, and Terminal.

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How to Build a Netboot Server, Part 3

The How to Build a Netboot Server, Part 1 article provided a minimal iPXE boot script for your netboot image. Many users probably have a local operating system that they want to use in addition to the netboot image. But switching bootloaders using the typical workstation’s BIOS can be cumbersome. This part of the series shows how to set up some more complex iPXE configurations. These allow the end user to easily choose which operating system they want to boot. They also let the system administrator manage the boot menus from a central server.

An interactive iPXE boot menu

The commands below redefine the netboot image’s boot.cfg as an interactive iPXE boot menu with a 5 second countdown timer:

$ MY_FVER=29 $ MY_KRNL=$(ls -c /fc$MY_FVER/lib/modules | head -n 1) $ MY_DNS1=192.0.2.91 $ MY_DNS2=192.0.2.92 $ MY_NAME=server-01.example.edu $ MY_EMAN=$(echo $MY_NAME | tr '.' "\n" | tac | tr "\n" '.' | cut -b -${#MY_NAME}) $ MY_ADDR=$(host -t A $MY_NAME | awk '{print $4}') $ cat << END > $HOME/esp/linux/boot.cfg #!ipxe set timeout 5000 :menu menu iPXE Boot Menu item --key 1 lcl 1. Microsoft Windows 10 item --key 2 f$MY_FVER 2. RedHat Fedora $MY_FVER choose --timeout \${timeout} --default lcl selected || goto shell set timeout 0 goto \${selected} :failed echo boot failed, dropping to shell... goto shell :shell echo type 'exit' to get the back to the menu set timeout 0 shell goto menu :lcl exit :f$MY_FVER kernel --name kernel.efi \${prefix}/vmlinuz-$MY_KRNL initrd=initrd.img ro ip=dhcp rd.peerdns=0 nameserver=$MY_DNS1 nameserver=$MY_DNS2 root=/dev/disk/by-path/ip-$MY_ADDR:3260-iscsi-iqn.$MY_EMAN:fc$MY_FVER-lun-1 netroot=iscsi:$MY_ADDR::::iqn.$MY_EMAN:fc$MY_FVER console=tty0 console=ttyS0,115200n8 audit=0 selinux=0 quiet initrd --name initrd.img \${prefix}/initramfs-$MY_KRNL.img boot || goto failed END

The above menu has five sections:

  • menu defines the actual menu that will be shown on the screen.
  • failed notifies the user that something went wrong and drops the user to a shell so they can troubleshot the problem.
  • shell provides an interactive command prompt. You can reach it either by pressing the Esc key while at the boot menu or if the “boot” command returns with a failure code.
  • lcl contains a single command that tells iPXE to exit and return control back to the BIOS. Whatever you want to boot by default (e.g. the workstation’s local hard drive) must be listed as the next boot item right after iPXE in your workstation’s BIOS.
  • f29 contains the same netboot code used earlier but with the final exit replaced with goto failed.

Copy the updated boot.cfg from your $HOME/esp/linux directory out to the ESPs of all your client systems. If all goes well, you should see results similar to the image below:

A server hosted boot menu

Another feature you can add to the netboot server is the ability to manage all the client boot menus from one central location. This feature can be especially useful when rolling out a new version of the OS. It lets you perform a sort of atomic transaction to switch all clients over to the new OS after you’ve copied the new kernel and initramfs out to the ESPs of all the clients.

Install Mojolicious:

$ sudo -i # dnf install -y perl-Mojolicious

Define the “bootmenu” app:

# mkdir /opt/bootmenu # cat << END > /opt/bootmenu/bootmenu.pl #!/usr/bin/env perl use Mojolicious::Lite; use Mojolicious::Plugins; plugin 'Config'; get '/menu'; app->start; END # chmod 755 /opt/bootmenu/bootmenu.pl

Define the configuration file for the bootmenu app:

# cat << END > /opt/bootmenu/bootmenu.conf { hypnotoad => { listen => ['http://*:80'], pid_file => '/run/bootmenu/bootmenu.pid', } } END

This is an extremely simple Mojolicious application that listens on port 80 and only answers to /menu requests. If you want a quick introduction to what Mojolicious can do, run man Mojolicious::Guides::Growing to view the manual. Use the Q key to quit the manual.

Move boot.cfg over to our netboot app as a template named menu.html.ep:

# mkdir /opt/bootmenu/templates # mv $HOME/esp/linux/boot.cfg /opt/bootmenu/templates/menu.html.ep

Define a systemd service to manage the bootmenu app:

# cat << END > /etc/systemd/system/bootmenu.service [Unit] Description=Serves iPXE Menus over HTTP After=network-online.target [Service] Type=forking DynamicUser=true RuntimeDirectory=bootmenu PIDFile=/run/bootmenu/bootmenu.pid ExecStart=/usr/bin/hypnotoad /opt/bootmenu/bootmenu.pl ExecReload=/usr/bin/hypnotoad /opt/bootmenu/bootmenu.pl AmbientCapabilities=CAP_NET_BIND_SERVICE KillMode=process [Install] WantedBy=multi-user.target END

Add an exception for the HTTP service to the local firewall and start the bootmenu service:

# firewall-cmd --add-service http # firewall-cmd --runtime-to-permanent # systemctl enable bootmenu.service # systemctl start bootmenu.service

Test it with wget:

$ sudo dnf install -y wget $ MY_BOOTMENU_SERVER=server-01.example.edu $ wget -q -O - http://$MY_BOOTMENU_SERVER/menu

The above command should output something similar to the following:

#!ipxe set timeout 5000 :menu menu iPXE Boot Menu item --key 1 lcl 1. Microsoft Windows 10 item --key 2 f29 2. RedHat Fedora 29 choose --timeout ${timeout} --default lcl selected || goto shell set timeout 0 goto ${selected} :failed echo boot failed, dropping to shell... goto shell :shell echo type 'exit' to get the back to the menu set timeout 0 shell goto menu :lcl exit :f29 kernel --name kernel.efi ${prefix}/vmlinuz-4.19.4-300.fc29.x86_64 initrd=initrd.img ro ip=dhcp rd.peerdns=0 nameserver=192.0.2.91 nameserver=192.0.2.92 root=/dev/disk/by-path/ip-192.0.2.158:3260-iscsi-iqn.edu.example.server-01:fc29-lun-1 netroot=iscsi:192.0.2.158::::iqn.edu.example.server-01:fc29 console=tty0 console=ttyS0,115200n8 audit=0 selinux=0 quiet initrd --name initrd.img ${prefix}/initramfs-4.19.4-300.fc29.x86_64.img boot || goto failed

Now that the boot menu server is working, rebuild the ipxe.efi bootloader with an init script that points to it.

First, update the init.ipxe script created in part one of this series:

$ MY_BOOTMENU_SERVER=server-01.example.edu $ cat << END > $HOME/ipxe/init.ipxe #!ipxe dhcp || exit set prefix file:///linux chain http://$MY_BOOTMENU_SERVER/menu || exit END

Now, rebuild the boot loader:

$ cd $HOME/ipxe/src $ make clean $ make bin-x86_64-efi/ipxe.efi EMBED=../init.ipxe

Copy the updated bootloader to your ESP:

$ cp $HOME/ipxe/src/bin-x86_64-efi/ipxe.efi $HOME/esp/efi/boot/bootx64.efi

After you’ve copied the updated bootloader to all your clients, you can make future updates to the boot menu simply by editing /opt/bootmenu/templates/menu.html.ep and running:

$ sudo systemctl restart bootmenu.service

Making further changes

If the boot menu server is working properly, you’ll longer need the the boot.cfg file on your client systems.

For example, re-add the Fedora 28 image to the boot menu:

$ sudo -i # MY_FVER=28 # MY_KRNL=$(ls -c /fc$MY_FVER/lib/modules | head -n 1) # MY_DNS1=192.0.2.91 # MY_DNS2=192.0.2.92 # MY_NAME=$(</etc/hostname) # MY_EMAN=$(echo $MY_NAME | tr '.' "\n" | tac | tr "\n" '.' | cut -b -${#MY_NAME}) # MY_ADDR=$(host -t A $MY_NAME | awk '{print $4}') # cat << END >> /opt/bootmenu/templates/menu.html.ep :f$MY_FVER kernel --name kernel.efi \${prefix}/vmlinuz-$MY_KRNL initrd=initrd.img ro ip=dhcp rd.peerdns=0 nameserver=$MY_DNS1 nameserver=$MY_DNS2 root=/dev/disk/by-path/ip-$MY_ADDR:3260-iscsi-iqn.$MY_EMAN:fc$MY_FVER-lun-1 netroot=iscsi:$MY_ADDR::::iqn.$MY_EMAN:fc$MY_FVER console=tty0 console=ttyS0,115200n8 audit=0 selinux=0 quiet initrd --name initrd.img \${prefix}/initramfs-$MY_KRNL.img boot || goto failed END # sed -i "/item --key 2/a item --key 3 f$MY_FVER 3. RedHat Fedora $MY_FVER" /opt/bootmenu/templates/menu.html.ep # systemctl restart bootmenu.service

If all goes well, your clients should see results similar to the image below the next time they boot:

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4 cool new projects to try in COPR for December 2018

COPR is a collection of personal repositories for software that isn’t carried in Fedora. Some software doesn’t conform to standards that allow easy packaging. Or it may not meet other Fedora standards, despite being free and open source. COPR can offer these projects outside the Fedora set of packages. Software in COPR isn’t supported by Fedora infrastructure or signed by the project. However, it can be a neat way to try new or experimental software.

Here’s a set of new and interesting projects in COPR.

MindForger

MindForger is a Markdown editor and a notebook. In addition to features you’d expect from a Markdown editor, MindForger lets you split a single file into multiple notes. It’s easy to organize the notes and move them around between files, as well as search through them. I’ve been using MindForger for some time for my study notes, so it’s nice that it’s available through COPR now.

Installation instructions

The repo currently provides MindForger for Fedora 29 and Rawhide. To install MindForger, use these commands:

sudo dnf copr enable deadmozay/mindforger sudo dnf install mindforger 

Clingo

Clingo is a program for solving logical problems using answer set programming (ASP) modeling language. With ASP, you can declaratively describe a problem as a logical program that Clingo then solves. As a result, Clingo produces solutions to the problem in the form of logical models, called answer sets.

Installation instructions

The repo currently provides Clingo for Fedora 28 and 29. To install Clingo, use these commands:

sudo dnf copr enable timn/clingo sudo dnf install clingo 

SGVrecord

SGVrecord is a simple tool for recording your screen. It allows you to either capture the whole screen or select just a part of it. Furthermore, it is possible to make the record with or without sound. Sgvrecord produces files in WebM format.

Installation instructions

The repo currently provides SGVrecord for Fedora 28, 29, and Rawhide. To install SGVrecord, use these commands:

sudo dnf copr enable youssefmsourani/sgvrecord sudo dnf install sgvrecord 

Watchman

Watchman is a service for monitoring and recording when changes are done to files.
You can specify directory trees for Watchman to monitor, as well as define actions
that are triggered when specified files are changed.

Installation instructions

The repo currently provides Watchman for Fedora 29 and Rawhide. To install Watchman, use these commands:

sudo dnf copr enable eklitzke/watchman sudo dnf install watchman 
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How to Build a Netboot Server, Part 2

The article How to Build a Netboot Server, Part 1 showed you how to create a netboot image with a “liveuser” account whose home directory lives in volatile memory. Most users probably want to preserve files and settings across reboots, though. So this second part of the netboot series shows how to reconfigure the netboot image from part one so that Active Directory user accounts can log in and their home directories can be automatically mounted from a NFS server.

Part 3 of this series will show how to make an interactive and centrally-configurable iPXE boot menu for the netboot clients.

Setup NFS4 Home Directories with KRB5 Authentication

Follow the directions from the previous post “Share NFS Home Directories Securely with Kerberos,” then return here.

Remove the Liveuser Account

Remove the “liveuser” account created in part one of this series:

$ sudo -i # sed -i '/automaticlogin/Id' /fc28/etc/gdm/custom.conf # rm -f /fc28/etc/sudoers.d/liveuser # for i in passwd shadow group gshadow; do sed -i '/^liveuser:/d' /fc28/etc/$i; done

Configure NTP, KRB5 and SSSD

Next, we will need to duplicate the NTP, KRB5, and SSSD configuration that we set up on the server in the client image so that the same accounts will be available:

# MY_HOSTNAME=$(</etc/hostname) # MY_DOMAIN=${MY_HOSTNAME#*.} # dnf -y --installroot=/fc28 install ntp krb5-workstation sssd # cp /etc/ntp.conf /fc28/etc # chroot /fc28 systemctl enable ntpd.service # cp /etc/krb5.conf.d/${MY_DOMAIN%%.*} /fc28/etc/krb5.conf.d # cp /etc/sssd/sssd.conf /fc28/etc/sssd

Reconfigure sssd to provide authentication services, in addition to the identification service already configured:

# sed -i '/services =/s/$/, pam/' /fc28/etc/sssd/sssd.conf

Also, ensure none of the clients attempt to update the computer account password:

# sed -i '/id_provider/a \ \ ad_maximum_machine_account_password_age = 0' /fc28/etc/sssd/sssd.conf 

Also, copy the nfsnobody definitions:

# for i in passwd shadow group gshadow; do grep "^nfsnobody:" /etc/$i >> /fc28/etc/$i; done

Join Active Directory

Next, you’ll perform a chroot to join the client image to Active Directory. Begin by deleting any pre-existing computer account with the same name your netboot image will use:

# MY_USERNAME=jsmith # MY_CLIENT_HOSTNAME=$(</fc28/etc/hostname) # adcli delete-computer "${MY_CLIENT_HOSTNAME%%.*}" -U "$MY_USERNAME"

Also delete the krb5.keytab file from the netboot image if it exists:

# rm -f /fc28/etc/krb5.keytab

Perform a chroot into the netboot image:

# for i in dev dev/pts dev/shm proc sys run; do mount -o bind /$i /fc28/$i; done # chroot /fc28 /usr/bin/bash --login

Perform the join:

# MY_USERNAME=jsmith # MY_HOSTNAME=$(</etc/hostname) # MY_DOMAIN=${MY_HOSTNAME#*.} # MY_REALM=${MY_DOMAIN^^} # MY_OU="cn=computers,dc=${MY_DOMAIN//./,dc=}" # adcli join $MY_DOMAIN --login-user="$MY_USERNAME" --computer-name="${MY_HOSTNAME%%.*}" --host-fqdn="$MY_HOSTNAME" --user-principal="host/$MY_HOSTNAME@$MY_REALM" --domain-ou="$MY_OU"

Now log out of the chroot and clear the root user’s command history:

# logout # for i in run sys proc dev/shm dev/pts dev; do umount /fc28/$i; done # > /fc28/root/.bash_history

Install and Configure PAM Mount

We want our clients to automatically mount the user’s home directory when they log in. To accomplish this, we’ll use the “pam_mount” module. Install and configure pam_mount:

# dnf install -y --installroot=/fc28 pam_mount # cat << END > /fc28/etc/security/pam_mount.conf.xml <?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8" ?> <!DOCTYPE pam_mount SYSTEM "pam_mount.conf.xml.dtd"> <pam_mount> <debug enable="0" /> <volume uid="1400000000-1499999999" fstype="nfs4" server="$MY_HOSTNAME" path="/home/%(USER)" mountpoint="/home/%(USER)" options="sec=krb5" /> <mkmountpoint enable="1" remove="0" /> <msg-authpw>Password:</msg-authpw> </pam_mount> END

Reconfigure PAM to use pam_mount:

# dnf install -y patch # cp -r /fc28/usr/share/authselect/default/sssd /fc28/etc/authselect/custom # echo 'initgroups: files' >> /fc28/etc/authselect/custom/sssd/nsswitch.conf # patch /fc28/etc/authselect/custom/sssd/system-auth << END @@ -12 +12,2 @@ -auth sufficient pam_sss.so forward_pass +auth requisite pam_mount.so {include if "with-pammount"} +auth sufficient pam_sss.so {if "with-pammount":use_first_pass|forward_pass} @@ -35,2 +36,3 @@ session required pam_unix.so +session optional pam_mount.so {include if "with-pammount"} session optional pam_sss.so END # patch /fc28/etc/authselect/custom/sssd/password-auth << END @@ -9 +9,2 @@ -auth sufficient pam_sss.so forward_pass +auth requisite pam_mount.so {include if "with-pammount"} +auth sufficient pam_sss.so {if "with-pammount":use_first_pass|forward_pass} @@ -32,2 +33,3 @@ session required pam_unix.so +session optional pam_mount.so {include if "with-pammount"} session optional pam_sss.so END # chroot /fc28 authselect select custom/sssd with-pammount --force

Also ensure the NFS server’s hostname is always resolvable from the client:

# MY_IP=$(host -t A $MY_HOSTNAME | awk '{print $4}') # echo "$MY_IP $MY_HOSTNAME ${MY_HOSTNAME%%.*}" >> /fc28/etc/hosts

Optionally, allow all users to run sudo:

# echo '%users ALL=(ALL) NOPASSWD: ALL' > /fc28/etc/sudoers.d/users

Convert the NFS Root to an iSCSI Backing-Store

Current versions of nfs-utils may have difficulty establishing a second connection from the client back to the NFS server for home directories when an nfsroot connection is already established. The client hangs when attempting to access the home directory. So, we will work around the problem by using a different protocol (iSCSI) for sharing our netboot image.

First chroot into the image to reconfigure its initramfs for booting from an iSCSI root:

# for i in dev dev/pts dev/shm proc sys run; do mount -o bind /$i /fc28/$i; done # chroot /fc28 /usr/bin/bash --login # dnf install -y iscsi-initiator-utils # sed -i 's/nfs/iscsi/' /etc/dracut.conf.d/netboot.conf # echo 'omit_drivers+=" qedi "' > /etc/dracut.conf.d/omit-qedi.conf # echo 'blacklist qedi' > /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist-qedi.conf # KERNEL=$(ls -c /lib/modules | head -n 1) # INITRD=$(find /boot -name 'init*' | grep -m 1 $KERNEL) # dracut -f $INITRD $KERNEL # logout # for i in run sys proc dev/shm dev/pts dev; do umount /fc28/$i; done # > /fc28/root/.bash_history

The qedi driver broke iscsi during testing, so it’s been disabled here.

Next, create a fc28.img sparse file. This file serves as the iSCSI target’s backing store:

# FC28_SIZE=$(du -ms /fc28 | cut -f 1) # dd if=/dev/zero of=/fc28.img bs=1MiB count=0 seek=$(($FC28_SIZE*2))

(If you have one available, a separate partition or disk drive can be used instead of creating a file.)

Next, format the image with a filesystem, mount it, and copy the netboot image into it:

# mkfs -t xfs -L NETROOT /fc28.img # TEMP_MNT=$(mktemp -d) # mount /fc28.img $TEMP_MNT # cp -a /fc28/* $TEMP_MNT # umount $TEMP_MNT

During testing using SquashFS, the client would occasionally stutter. It seems that SquashFS does not perform well when doing random I/O from a multiprocessor client. (See also The curious case of stalled squashfs reads.) If you want to improve throughput performance with filesystem compression, ZFS is probably a better option.

If you need extremely high throughput from the iSCSI server (say, for hundreds of clients), it might be possible to load balance a Ceph cluster. For more information, see Load Balancing Ceph Object Gateway Servers with HAProxy and Keepalived.

Install and Configure iSCSI

Install the scsi-target-utils package which will provide the iSCSI daemon for serving our image out to our clients:

# dnf install -y scsi-target-utils

Configure the iSCSI daemon to serve the fc28.img file:

# MY_REVERSE_HOSTNAME=$(echo $MY_HOSTNAME | tr '.' "\n" | tac | tr "\n" '.' | cut -b -${#MY_HOSTNAME}) # cat << END > /etc/tgt/conf.d/fc28.conf <target iqn.$MY_REVERSE_HOSTNAME:fc28> backing-store /fc28.img readonly 1 </target> END

The leading iqn. is expected by /usr/lib/dracut/modules.d/40network/net-lib.sh.

Add an exception to the firewall and enable and start the service:

# firewall-cmd --add-service=iscsi-target # firewall-cmd --runtime-to-permanent # systemctl enable tgtd.service # systemctl start tgtd.service

You should now be able to see the image being shared with the tgtadm command:

# tgtadm --mode target --op show

The above command should output something similar to the following:

Target 1: iqn.edu.example.server-01:fc28 System information: Driver: iscsi State: ready I_T nexus information: LUN information: LUN: 0 Type: controller SCSI ID: IET 00010000 SCSI SN: beaf10 Size: 0 MB, Block size: 1 Online: Yes Removable media: No Prevent removal: No Readonly: No SWP: No Thin-provisioning: No Backing store type: null Backing store path: None Backing store flags:   LUN: 1 Type: disk SCSI ID: IET 00010001 SCSI SN: beaf11 Size: 10488 MB, Block size: 512 Online: Yes Removable media: No Prevent removal: No Readonly: Yes SWP: No Thin-provisioning: No Backing store type: rdwr Backing store path: /fc28.img Backing store flags: Account information: ACL information: ALL

We can now remove the NFS share that we created in part one of this series:

# rm -f /etc/exports.d/fc28.exports # exportfs -rv # umount /export/fc28 # rmdir /export/fc28 # sed -i '/^\/fc28 /d' /etc/fstab

You can also delete the /fc28 filesystem, but you may want to keep it for performing future updates.

Update the ESP to use the iSCSI Kernel

Ipdate the ESP to contain the iSCSI-enabled initramfs:

$ rm -vf $HOME/esp/linux/*.fc28.* $ MY_KRNL=$(ls -c /fc28/lib/modules | head -n 1) $ cp $(find /fc28/lib/modules -maxdepth 2 -name 'vmlinuz' | grep -m 1 $MY_KRNL) $HOME/esp/linux/vmlinuz-$MY_KRNL $ cp $(find /fc28/boot -name 'init*' | grep -m 1 $MY_KRNL) $HOME/esp/linux/initramfs-$MY_KRNL.img 

Update the boot.cfg file to pass the new root and netroot parameters:

$ MY_NAME=server-01.example.edu $ MY_EMAN=$(echo $MY_NAME | tr '.' "\n" | tac | tr "\n" '.' | cut -b -${#MY_NAME}) $ MY_ADDR=$(host -t A $MY_NAME | awk '{print $4}') $ sed -i "s! root=[^ ]*! root=/dev/disk/by-path/ip-$MY_ADDR:3260-iscsi-iqn.$MY_EMAN:fc28-lun-1 netroot=iscsi:$MY_ADDR::::iqn.$MY_EMAN:fc28!" $HOME/esp/linux/boot.cfg

Now you just need to copy the updated files from your $HOME/esp/linux directory out to the ESPs of all your client systems. You should see results similar to what is shown in the below screenshot:

Upgrading the Image

First, make a copy of the current image:

# cp -a /fc28 /fc29

Chroot into the new copy of the image:

# for i in dev dev/pts dev/shm proc sys run; do mount -o bind /$i /fc29/$i; done # chroot /fc29 /usr/bin/bash --login

Allow updating the kernel:

# sed -i 's/^exclude=kernel-\*$/#exclude=kernel-*/' /etc/dnf/dnf.conf

Perform the upgrade:

# dnf distro-sync -y --releasever=29

Prevent the kernel from being updated:

# sed -i 's/^#exclude=kernel-\*$/exclude=kernel-*/' /etc/dnf/dnf.conf

The above command is optional, but saves you from having to copy a new kernel out to the clients if you add or update a few packages in the image at some future time.

Clean up dnf’s package cache:

# dnf clean all 

Exit the chroot and clear root’s command history:

# logout # for i in run sys proc dev/shm dev/pts dev; do umount /fc29/$i; done # > /fc29/root/.bash_history

Create the iSCSI image:

# FC29_SIZE=$(du -ms /fc29 | cut -f 1) # dd if=/dev/zero of=/fc29.img bs=1MiB count=0 seek=$(($FC29_SIZE*2)) # mkfs -t xfs -L NETROOT /fc29.img # TEMP_MNT=$(mktemp -d) # mount /fc29.img $TEMP_MNT # cp -a /fc29/* $TEMP_MNT # umount $TEMP_MNT

Define a new iSCSI target that points to our new image and export it:

# MY_HOSTNAME=$(</etc/hostname) # MY_REVERSE_HOSTNAME=$(echo $MY_HOSTNAME | tr '.' "\n" | tac | tr "\n" '.' | cut -b -${#MY_HOSTNAME}) # cat << END > /etc/tgt/conf.d/fc29.conf <target iqn.$MY_REVERSE_HOSTNAME:fc29> backing-store /fc29.img readonly 1 </target> END # tgt-admin --update ALL

Add the new kernel and initramfs to the ESP:

$ MY_KRNL=$(ls -c /fc29/lib/modules | head -n 1) $ cp $(find /fc29/lib/modules -maxdepth 2 -name 'vmlinuz' | grep -m 1 $MY_KRNL) $HOME/esp/linux/vmlinuz-$MY_KRNL $ cp $(find /fc29/boot -name 'init*' | grep -m 1 $MY_KRNL) $HOME/esp/linux/initramfs-$MY_KRNL.img

Update the boot.cfg in the ESP:

$ MY_DNS1=192.0.2.91 $ MY_DNS2=192.0.2.92 $ MY_NAME=server-01.example.edu $ MY_EMAN=$(echo $MY_NAME | tr '.' "\n" | tac | tr "\n" '.' | cut -b -${#MY_NAME}) $ MY_ADDR=$(host -t A $MY_NAME | awk '{print $4}') $ cat << END > $HOME/esp/linux/boot.cfg #!ipxe kernel --name kernel.efi \${prefix}/vmlinuz-$MY_KRNL initrd=initrd.img ro ip=dhcp rd.peerdns=0 nameserver=$MY_DNS1 nameserver=$MY_DNS2 root=/dev/disk/by-path/ip-$MY_ADDR:3260-iscsi-iqn.$MY_EMAN:fc29-lun-1 netroot=iscsi:$MY_ADDR::::iqn.$MY_EMAN:fc29 console=tty0 console=ttyS0,115200n8 audit=0 selinux=0 quiet initrd --name initrd.img \${prefix}/initramfs-$MY_KRNL.img boot || exit END

Finally, copy the files from your $HOME/esp/linux directory out to the ESPs of all your client systems and enjoy!

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Try the Dash to Dock extension for Fedora Workstation

The default desktop of Fedora Workstation — GNOME Shell — is known and loved by many users for its minimal, clutter-free user interface. However, one thing that many users want is an always-visible view of open applications. One simple and effective way to get this is with the awesome Dash to Dock GNOME Shell extension.

Dash to Dock takes the dock that is visible in the GNOME Shell Overview, and places it on the main desktop. This provides a view of open applications at a glance, and provides a quick way to switch windows using the mouse. Additionally, Dash to Dock adds a plethora of additional features and options over the built-in Overview dock, including autohide, panel mode, and window previews.

Features

Dash to Dock adds a bunch of additional features over the dock that usually shows in the GNOME Shell overview.

The extension has an intelligent autohide feature, that hides the dock when it obscures windows. To bring the dock back up, simply move the mouse to the bottom of the screen.

Additionally, panel mode stretches the dock to take up the entire width of the screen. This is a good option for users that want to always have the dock showing, without autohiding it.

Dash to Dock also cleanly handles multiple windows of the same application. It shows small dots under each application icon to show how many windows are open. Additionally, it can be configured to show previews of each window when clicking the icon, allowing the user to choose the window they want.

Installing Dash to Dock

The quickest and easiest way to install the extension is with the Software Application. Check out the previous post here on the Magazine for more details:

How to install extensions via the Software application

Note, however, that Dash to Dock is available in both the Fedora repositories, and via the GNOME Shell extensions repository. Consequently, it will show up twice when browsing for extensions in the Software application:

Typically, the version from GNOME Shell Extensions is kept up-to-date more frequently by the developer, so that version may be the safer bet.

Configuring Dash to Dock

The Dash to Dock extension has a wide range of optional features and tweaks that users can enable and change. Some of the tweakable items include: icon size, where to position the dock (including on multiple monitors), opacity of the dock, and themes.

Accessing the settings dialog for the extension is easy. Simply right-click on the applications icon in the dock, and choose Dash to Dock settings.

Note, however, that the extension allows you to remove the applications icon from the dock. In this case, access the settings dialog via the Software Application:

 

 

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Fedora 27 End of Life

With the recent release of Fedora 29, Fedora 27 officially enters End Of Life (EOL) status on November 30, 2018. This impacts any systems still on Fedora 27. If you’re not sure what that means to you, read more below.

At this point, packages in the Fedora 27 repositories no longer receive security, bugfix, or enhancement updates. Furthermore, the community adds no new packages to the Fedora 27 collection starting at End of Life. Essentially, the Fedora 27 release will not change again, meaning users no longer receive the normal benefits of this leading-edge operating system.

There’s an easy, free way to keep those benefits. If you’re still running an End of Life version such as Fedora 27, now is the perfect time to upgrade to Fedora 28 or to Fedora 29. Upgrading gives you access to all the community-provided software in Fedora.

Looking back at Fedora 27

Fedora 27 was released on November 14, 2017. As part of their commitment to users, Fedora community members released about 9,500 updates.

This release featured, among many other improvements and upgrades:

  • GNOME 3.26
  • LibreOffice 5.4
  • Simpler container storage setup in the Fedora Atomic Host
  • The new Modular Server, where you could choose from different versions of software stacks

Fedora 27 screenshot

Of course, the Project also offered numerous alternative spins of Fedora, and support for multiple architectures.

About the Fedora release cycle

The Fedora Project offers updates for a Fedora release until a month after the second subsequent version releases. For example, updates for Fedora 28 continue until one month after the release of Fedora 30. Fedora 29 continues to be supported up until one month after the release of Fedora 31.

The Fedora Project wiki contains more detailed information about the entire Fedora Release Life Cycle. The lifecycle includes milestones from development to release, and the post-release support period.

 

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Fedora 29 on ARM on AWS

This week Amazon announced their new A1 arm64 EC2 Instances powered by their arm64 based Graviton Processors and, with a minor delay, the shiny new Fedora 29 for aarch64 (arm64) is now available to run there too!

Details on getting running on AWS is in this good article on using AWS tools on Fedora article and over all using Fedora on the AWS arm64 EC2 is the same as x86_64.

So while a new architecture on AWS is very exciting it’s at the same time old and boring! You’ll get the same versions of kernel, same features like SELinux and the same versions of the toolchain stacks, like the latest gcc, golang, rust etc in Fedora 29 just like all other architectures. You’ll also get all the usual container tools like podman, buildah, skopeo and kubernetes, and orchestration tools like ansible. Basically if you’re using Fedora on AWS you should be able use it in the same way on arm64.

Getting started

The initial launch of A1 aarch64 instances are available in the following four regions: US East (N. Virginia), US East (Ohio), US West (Oregon), Europe (Ireland). Direct links to launch the Fedora aarch64 AMIs directly are available here on the Fedora Cloud site.

Getting help

The Fedora support for aarch64 is very robust. It’s been widely used and tested across a number of platforms but of course with new users and new use cases will pick up issues that we’ve yet to encounter. So what is the best way to get help? If you’re having a crash in a particular application it should be reported in the usual way through RH Bugzilla, we have an ARMTracker tracker alias to block against to help identify Arm issues. For assistance with Arm specific queries and issues the Fedora Arm mailing list and we have the #fedora-arm IRC channel on Freenode.

Known issues

We have one known issue. The instance takes a while to get started, it can be up to 5 minutes. This is due to entropy and has been a general problem in virtual environments, across all architectures. We’re working to speed this up and it should be fixed soon. Once things are up an running though everything runs as expected.

Upcoming features

There will be Fedora 29 Atomic host coming in the next Two Week Atomic release, we unfortunately missed their release this time by a small window but it’ll be available in about 2 weeks with their next release and will appear on the site once released. We can’t let you have all the fun at once 😉