Overwhelming Response to CeBIT

Since the CeBIT letter action, I've received a surprisingly big press coverage, ranging from heise.de over zdnet.co.uk, zdnet.com to news.com.

That press coverage, together with the slashdotting on Tuesday last week have triggered an enormous amount of feedback, mostly from individual users reporting a myriad more of alleged gpl violations.

I'm sad that the number really grows that fast, but on the other hand happy that we now have the chance to collect all this information.

Last, but not least, a number of people have volunteered to help the project, e.g. with it's public database interface, as well as homepage XSL corrections for full XHTML validation.

If you have sent me mail regarding GPL violations and didn't receive a response so far, please be patient, I'm just not through all of them yet. Give me another week, thanks.

Microsoft due to invent packet filtering?

According to some reports the worlds most popular series of proprietary systems is suffering from a severe lack of a packet filter. This is also documented at another article plus discussion.

Now apparently Microsoft will invent the idea of having a packet filter integrated into the operating system with their WPF for Longhorn.

It's really amazing how innovative those guys are ;) Did I mention that Linux has an embedded packet filter since more than a decade?

CCCeBIT negative award for Bundesdruckerei

The CCC has presented it's 2005 CCCeBIT negative award to the Bundesdruckerei, the formerly state-owned now-privatized company in charge of printing passports in Germany.

They are one of the strong forces in Germany behind the announced introduction of biometric information in passports. To understand this, you have to know that the law still requires passports being produced by Bundesdruckerei, even though they're now a private company.

The gpl-violations.org homepage has been slashdotted

The news about the CeBIT letter action yesterday has made it to slashdot.

While this is good news (since more people learn about my project), it also has the disadvantage that my SDSL line was fully filled. Now I moved the site to vishnu.netfilter.org, the main web-server of the netfilter.org project.

Also, I really regret that the amount of information at gpl-violations.org is still quite limited, especially the database of documented gpl violations and enforcement cases is still not there :(

The best source of information is probably my blog, and the slides of my various presentations.

Aftermath of CeBIT letter action

So today I've personally handed over some 13 letters at the CeBIT trade fair in Hannover.

My experience varies from case to case. A number of the respective recipients simply received the letter and told me they would forward it to the respective department.

The best experience so far was X-Micro, where I met the Vice President and had some discussion with him about what this all was about. Apparently he was quite happy to hear that it is not about license fees and neither about patent infringement ;) Anyway, we'll have to see what kind of practical results we will see in the upcoming weeks.

Still learning about DSP algorithms

Really bad timing. The USRP is sitting on my desk for about ten days now, but I still haven't really done anything useful with it. This is because I'm still reading up the theoretical background in digital signal processing.

That DSP book I'm reading is a real revelation, though. At the moment I've finished the discussion of LTI systemes and IIR filters, making my way through the z-Transform. It's really exciting, and I'm sure I need more of that kind of stuff :)

Filling the database with more and more data

The frequent reader will know that I'm internally keeping a SQL database of all gpl violations and related data. Unfortunately I have still not found the time to write some scripts to generate a public web interface.

Anyway, even only entering the data is quite difficult, since there really is a significant lack of database related programs, or even something as SQL rapid application development IDE's, similar to FoxPro (yes, I've used that some six years ago...).

The gnu-enterprise project is heading that way, and at some point I was half through writing a fronted for the gpl-violations.org database. However, something has recently broken the gnue package on Debian, so that's not an option at the moment.

So for now, my data entering tool is 'psql' and hand-typing SQL statements. Gets sort of annoying after you're doing it for the better part of the day :(

Did you know about mutt-ng?

For a number of months, there is now a forked version of mutt called mutt-ng. I just tried it today the first time, and I really like it. It's good to see mutt development is moving again.

I'm not even sure how much time mutt-ng will save me through it's maildir header caching. That saves the ridiculous delays when navigating through my 130+ folders 4GB maildir spool :)

Next item on my personal wish-list would be threading across multiple folders. I'm missing that feature ever since I stopped using CrossPoint (DOS-based mail-reader software for FIDO,Z-Netz,MAUS and UseNet) in 1994.

Picked up working on ct_sync again

I've recently again picked up the work on ct_sync. The final goal ist to support real active-active fail-over setups. Before the real work on that particular issue can start, there are a number of prerequisites, like:

  • multiple cluster instances on one node
  • new sysfs-based configuration interface

Chemnitzer Linux Tage 2005

this was probably one of my shortest conference visits ever. I took the train to arrive about three hours before my talk, and left two hours after it. It's a pity that I had to skip the social event, but I really don't have any leftover time at the moment.

The presentation went quite fine, though I now remember all the items that I wanted to add, but forgot during the presentation. Too many strange questions interfering throughout the talk.

Anyway, I almost forgot how nice CLT was. Apart from their very professional organization (they even send you paper printed city maps via snail mail!), their speaker care-taking is extraordinarily. I haven't been to any other event that provides free food for speakers throughout the day - ranging from freshly prepared sandwiches (no dull catering service)to pastries... at any given time in the speakers lounge.

So now I'm sitting in the train back from Chemnitz and am working on the Aftermath of Rusty's 'newnat2', hopefully the last rework of the conntrack/nat helper infrastructure.

Getting conntrack+nat helpers to work with 2.6.11

2.6.11 is out for a number of days, and we still don't have the conntrack/nat helpers from patch-o-matic ported to Rusty's latest conntrack/nat helper infrastructure changes.

It turns out that there are more changes necessary than I though initially. It's strange that nat helpers now don't have a separate expectfn() anymore, only the expectation has one. So I guess at least for talk, we'll have to call back into ip_conntrack_talk.c from ip_nat_talk.c.

With some luck I'll be finished by tomorrow and can again concentrate on the fun stuff like active-active support for ct_sync.

gpl-violations.org meets CeBIT

A number of companies who don't fully oblige the GPL license conditions are going to be present at CeBIT. This provides the unique opportunity to personally hand them a letter about their licensing problems, and in some cases probably even enforce the license with vendors whose products are otherwise not sold in Germany, but who're present at the trade show.

For strategic reasons I cannot really say more at this time. Stay tuned.

Returned from FOSDEM

FOSDEM was a huge success, met lots of interesting developers working in various different areas. The conference facilities seemed more crowded than at any other conference - probably due to small hallways and really cold weather outside, combined with the lack for space where people could just sit and chill out.

One dinner with Alan Cox, one with the gnomemeeting crew and another one I ended up sitting next to the author of squashfs :)

I was a bit disappointed that Richard Stallman (although present at the event, delivering two speeches himself) did not attend my closing talk on GPL enforcement. Maybe he was already travelling home at that point, or he's really not that much interested in my first-hand experience on enforcing 'his' license.

Also, I got rid of the last batch of netfilter t-shirts, saving me from finding further excuses why I am not shipping them anymore ;) Also, this means we can now head for a new logo (stating Linux 2.6 instead of 2.4) and probably even black shirts, since I don't wear white shirts anyway ;)

USRP has finally arrived - what next?

The regular reader of this blog already knows what the USRP is. The infrequent reader is referred to this blog entry.

So it has finally arrived, although I really don't have too much time of playing with it at the moment. I guess I'll do some basic functionality tests and then have to put it aside for some time.

One of the important issues remains the lack of readily available RF frontends. With the BasicRX frontend, you can basically sample amplified signals of up to 32MHz bandwidth below 200MHz.

I've investigated a lot of options with regard to RF frontends, and none of them is really promising:

  • A commercially available 20-3000Mhz tuner/down-converter WiNRADIO WR-G526e. That's what we all want. Unfortunately horribly expensive, I've read USD6k somewhere :(
  • Using a commercially available radio scanner with 10.7MHz IF output. This sounds like a good idea. The problem is that most of them seem to have ridiculously small IF bandwidths:
    • Yaesu VR-5000 (+- 100kHz IF bandwidth): ~ 500-600 EUR
    • AOR AR3000A (IF bandwith unknown): 780 EUR
    • AOR AR8600MK2 (IF bandwith +- 2 MHz): 710 EUR
    • AOR AR5000A (IF bandwith +- 5MHz): 1600EUR
    So if you want to go for high-bandwith signals such as DVB or 802.11, only the AR5000A would be usable... again quite pricey.
  • Using a DVB-{T,S,C} tuner to build your own USRP RF frontend. That sounds reasonably priced, but requires quite some amount of work. Issues include
    • Obtaining tuner samples from vendors like Sharp or Microtune
    • Designing the support circuitry (voltages, matching)
    • Writing software for tuning (mostly i2c bit banging)
    Possible Tuner Modules I've found so far

Our Agilest 54622D mixed signal oscilloscope arrived

Due to the generous donation of TomTom, we were finally able to purchase a second hand digital oscilloscope.

The 54622D has two analog channels with 100MHz bandwidth (200Ms/s) and 16 digital channels with 200/400MS/s. The really nice features include stuff like CAN-, I2C-, USB- and SPI trigger modes :)

Let's see how this new toy is getting used to explore yet more technology...

Heading off to Brussels for FOSDEM

I'm in the middle of my final travel preparations for Brussels (European Commission and FOSDEM, see the weblog backlog), and was just reading through th e final conference programme.

It's good to see familiar kernel developers like Alan Cox and Deepak Saxena (whom I've last met at Linux Bangalore in December). I'm also looking forward to meet some Ethereal guys (after writing an ct_sync ethereal plugin recently).

Of course there's also the gnomemeeting guys, who will be eager to hear some answers about how to get or not get h323 throug a netfilter/iptables firewall (STUN doesn't help, it's fully symmetric NAT). Not sure if I'll have answers, though ;)

Robert Olsson achieves new record of 2.1Mpps packet forwarding rate

Robert Olsson is doing very insightful high-performance networking research on Linux-based machines for many years. Little people know his huge collection of ASCII-snippets at http://robur.slu.se/Linux/net-development/experiments/. It's a real pity that he's basically doing all this research in his spare time, being a systems administrator at university. Intel and others should actually look at that and fund his invaluable research!

Recently he achieved 2.1Mpps aggregated packet forwarding rate over four Gigabit Ethernet ports using a Dual 2.4GHz Opteron 250 machine with a specially optimized NAPI driver patch.

Another interesting graph (almost one year old) compares the memory latency on Xeon vs. Opteron. Looking at the results, you will understand that really want to get Opteron CPU's with integrated memory controller if you care about network forwarding performance :)

Please note that this number is under very synthetic conditions only. This is single-flow UDP performance, so any routing cache misses / fib lookups are not yet in the picture. Also, due to the stupid nature of _all_ Ethernet cards, we have to do IRQ affinity and thus only achieve highest performance on the two interface pairs that are bound to the same IRQ.

Yay, holidays coming up

I'm already in travel preparation mode. Buying the last couple of gifts, shutting down servers that I won't need, writing packing lists, and wading through the remaining two A4 pages of TODO items for the remaining four days.

I'm going to have three weeks of holidays. Contiguously. Not attached to any conference or other FOSS related event. At least two weeks of it without touching a notebook or PDA. I have no idea when I last did that. Probably while I still was with the boyscouts.

Well, yes, I will meet some hackers in the first couple of days, but those have become friends, and meeting will be strictly off-duty ;)

Elisabeth and me are heading for three weeks of Southern India. It has been suggested to me that details are not to be revealed beforehand, otherwise LUG members might approach me for giving speeches/talks/presentations. Not this time, sorry folks.

I only wish it had already started, and the next four days of TODO bashing had already passed...

Demonstration against Software Patents at the German Ministry of Justice

Yesterday, I was attending the demonstration against software patents at the ministry of justice in Berlin.

This demonstration had to be called in on very short notice, because the European Council has yet again tried to quietly pass the legislation on software patentes (2002/0047 COM (COD)) as so-called 'B-item' on the agenda of the council (toe be more precise: the agriculture and fishing council). A B-item is one that requires no further discussion - which is absolutely wrong. The European Union has new member states that didn't participate in the previous discussion, and several member countries' parliaments have made decisions against patentability of software meanwhile...

A really big Bollywood fan

Since there's a severe lack of non-technical subjects in this blog, I decided to write something about a passion of mine that developed over the last two years: Bollywood Movies.

Most German readers of this blog will probably not have heard about Bollywood before, it's India's mainstream Hindi cinema, from Mumbai aka Bombay (guess that's where the 'B' is coming from).

Unfortunately Bollywood DVD's with English subtitles are very hard to get here in Germany, so I've had to order the initial couple of movies from Canadian NRI-oriented mail orders.

More recently, my friend Atul Chitnis was kind enough to bring a stack of DVD's every time he travelled to Germany - despite his personal dislike of Bollywood cinema. Thanks again, Atul.

Since a very short time ago, I also know DesiTorrents, a forum related to all kinds of Indian cinema, music, music videos, ...

Now you will ask yourself, "hey, isn't that the same guy who prosecutes copyright infringers?". Yes, it is. However, I have no way of legally obtaining the DVD's of the respective movies over here. I haven't found even a single DVD mail order specializing in those DVD's within .de. And ordering from abroad is very impractical, due to the high cost of shipping, and even more due the complicated customs procedure here in Germany.

So as soon as anyone can point me to a less problematic source of desi movies here in Germany, I'll immediately stop using DesiTorrents!