Is cron really meeting your scheduling needs?

The folks over at Airbnb were frustrated with how good old cron was not really managing their scheduled jobs.  To limit the frustration they built Chronos.  This week they decided to open source it.  It’s built on a Java project from the Apache Project Incubator called Mesos and Maven as the backend.

For those who haven’t used it cron is about the simplest scheduling you can do.  Cron works great for kicking off things like backups and basic reporting.  Where cron starts to fail is when you want to do complex jobs that know to start things on a previous jobs success or manage the number of jobs that are running.  The logging and reporting of cron failures is generally pretty rough.  So facing these issues the team decided to write their own replacement.  They additionally needed it to be able to run on multiple machines. 

They started building the system, simple and with functional GUI to make management and reporting easier.  To be redundant a server is chosen to be the “Leader” which keeps track and hands out work to through their API.  If you do connect to a machine that isn’t the “Leader” your request is redirected to the “Leader”.  If the “Leader” goes down a new “Leader” is elected.  The jobs can have defences and can be run in parallel.  The jobs themselves are written in interrupted BASH Shell commands.  It tries it’s best to be flexible and not overly complicated.

If you are looking for a package to manage distributed schedules this one is defiantly worth a look.  Here you can find a good demo talk about how they got to where they are. There are closed source options but they tend to be very complex.  So this is a really nice addition to the open source world.

Is Linux a fragmented operating system… has a great article that discusses how different development is in today’s world as compared to say 10 years ago.  They focus on the fact that Linux is at the core of so many devices these days how can you know what hardware platform your app will need to run on?  The article asks lots of interesting quesitons and has some ideas of where we are going.  Where do you think we are headed?  Is having so many different ways to use linux, i.e. Phones, Laptops, tablets, making it harder or easier to program?

Application Installers Unite…..

According to this article we found, meetings are starting to happen and people are trying to move towards a common Application Installer. So their could be the end of the “My package manager is better than yours is” debates?  Well it’s a bit early to tell but it does sound like the big distros are talking about settling on a common package format.  If they do go forward with this we can only hope that it’s adoption moves faster than LSB(Linux Standards Base).  It would definitely go a long way to help adoption of Linux as a platform.  For instance, only seeing one line on download pages like Windows and Mac have would help newbies or people thinking about trying linux be less afraid.  When you can create app stores that only have to carry one type of package they become a lot easier to create.  We here at hope that every linux install will get easier over time.

What do you think?  What problems will one package format have?  What hidden benefits are there?  What hidden problems?

Episode 38 – Predictions for 2011….

Running Time:  38:28

Click here to go to the podcast page

1) Introduction

2) What we predicted for 2010

  • An App Store for Linux like there is one for the IPhone and Android Phones – This came true with the Ubuntu One App store. Google released the first browser/Chrome OS App Store and Apple announced a Mac App Store to premier in 2011.
  • Microsoft will be try to make a serious run at VMWare for the Vitalization Market on XSeries, Red Hat will come from no where and put Microsoft into 3rd place behind Xen. – Failed on this but they did acquire a lot of Novell Patents
  • Someone will figure out what to do with Google Wave in an enterprise or just in general. Wave Federation will take off. – Wave got killed by Google but it’s been reborn as an apache project and several companies, including Novell, are doing wave in a box.
  • Chrome OS and Android will merge. – Google Still swears it ain’t gonna happen.
  • This will not be the year of the Linux Desktop. Linux will continue to gain share in the X86 Server market. Linux will be the preferred Netbook OS paired with something like Chrome OS. – That was true but Netbooks seem to be getting replaced by Tablets. We finally have the first Chrome OS “CloudBook”. CES is coming so how many new tablets are we going to see. Playstation Phone will run on Android.
  • Linux will not see a major virus in 2010. Really we don’t think there will be a major issue with Viruses in general in 2010. – True Same goes for 2011.

3) What we think is going to happen in 2011

  • Phones will become a big target for virus’ in 2011.
  • Joe says …HTML 5 will rock the world..OK he really said it’s going to take off.
  • Android will continue to dominate…New tablets will hit the market next year that may upset.
  • Google will negotiate contracts and start streaming day old episodes
  • Wayland will successfully replace Xorg for most major free distributions and become an option for the paid distributions.
  • And More you will have to listen to hear….

4) Conclusion

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45 TB Linux based NAS

Start your year off with some awesome 45 TB Linux based NAS System.  The Synology DiskStation 5-Bay (Diskless) Scalable Network Attached Storage DS1511+ allows you to get to 45 TB by adding additional cabinets.  Help Net Security has a cool post about this new Linux Based NAS.  If you need lots of storage for all those orders you are getting on your E-Commerce site this sounds like a choice you should be evaluating.  The system starts at $900 and go up from there as you add more storage cases and disks.  

Episode 36 – Novell is finally bought and other news…

Do you do centralized logging?

One of the things that can really save you or your Admin’s time is a centralized logging server.  I came across this article about how to set one up on either GenToo or Ubuntu.  It’s a great how to that would get you started.  If you are looking for something really powerful I would suggest looking at Splunk.  Splunk is a  great tool to help you group, filter and analyze your logs.  There are very few other solutions.  If you have a solution for managing your logs please post it in the comments.  If I can get more than just Splunk I will try to do a more in-depth review of the options everyone suggests.

expect the unexpected when scripting with expect….

On of my favorite tools I never get enough time to use is expect.  What is expect?  Expect is a scripting language that let’s you automate responses to scripts or daemons and pretend to be a users.  So you can write a script to say update the passwords on all your systems with just one command.  Another way I am planning to use this in the very near future is to do MD5 Check Sums on a file and compare them.  If the files aren’t then it will the re-copy over the files that are missing.  Over at they have a great gettings started document you should check out to see if it can make your life easier.

Great article about tools no sysadmin should live without…

Every sysadmin I know is a little different.  Some prefer GUI tools and others prefer the good old command line.  All of them though have a certain set of tools that they use every day.  Jon Buys at lists several of my favorites like free and rsync.  He offers great insight into the tools and hopefully will help you be a better sysadmin.(Assuming that is what you want to do.)  Check it out and then let us know what your favorite sysadmin style tool is…