The Artistic Director

I attended the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra concert on Saturday, April 28, David Robertson,  “Conductor” (wait, I thought he was called “Music Director”, which is what it says on the cover page of the playbill program for the evening – well,  more on that later) which was a program of Bruckner’s Symphony No. 4, the “Romantic”, and a violin so-called “single-movement violin concerto” by Widmann.

I’m not going to debate the merits of the Widmann, so-called, if you will, “Violin Concerto” but I will in all honesty say that it was the first in my 56 years of attending a symphony concert where I seriously considered walking out because I had an overwhelming response to just start laughing out loud at this piece.  This was a physiological reaction brought on by the juxtaposition of an entire hall of musicians, especially the soloist, working so hard to play a piece that reminded me of this scene in Apocalype Now:

Capt. Benjamin Willard: I was sent on a classified mission, sir.
Colonel Kurtz: It’s no longer classified, is it? Did they tell you?
Capt. Benjamin Willard: They told me that you had gone totally insane, and that your methods were unsound.
Colonel Kurtz: Are my methods unsound?
Capt. Benjamin Willard: I don’t see any method at all, sir.
Here, Widmann plays the part of Colonel Kurtz, and I am in the role of Capt. Benjamin Willard.  To the point, I didn’t see any method, at all, in the Widmann piece.  But then that is just me.  I will add that whenever David Robertson prefaces a piece with extended comments, I always internally go “Oh no, another one of THOSE works.”
This brings me to the thesis or title of this post, which is to say that David Robertson is indeed the current “Conductor” of the SLSO (when he is actually here), but he is not, in my opinion, the “Music Director”; rather, David Robertson is, in fact, the “Artistic Director” of the SLSO.  I draw a distinction here between “Art” and “Music”.
If one types into the google search website the search “music definition” this is what one gets as the “headliner” definition:

“Vocal or instrumental sounds (or both) combined in such a way as to produce beauty of form, harmony, and expression of emotion.” defines it as:
“An art of sound in time that expresses ideas and emotions in significant forms through the elements of rhythm, melody, harmony, and color.”
and the Oxford English Dictionary defines it as:
Vocal or instrumental sounds (or both) combined in such a way as to produce beauty of form, harmony, and expression of emotion.”
“Art” is defined in most of the similar references to above thusly:
1. “the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.
2. “the various branches of creative activity, such as painting, music, literature, and dance.”
I find it interesting, and a bit cowardly, the the mainstream definers of  “Art” feel compelled in this day and age to tack on the additional phrase “to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power” because this seems a very old-fashioned idea.  Personally, I see art as just simply “the various branches of creative activity” where the key idea is that this is an activity where an Artist creates a Work.  Period.  Subsequent subjective opinions of others, or indeed even by the Artist, who might later regret or even dislike their own work, are irrelevant.  Art stands on its own with no subsequent subjective requirements of perception.
So at the risk of being accused of “borrowing authority” I’d say that even today, in the era of Widmann, Adams, Diamond, et al,, the mainstream definition of music still includes this phrase in it’s definition:  “…combined in such as way as to produce beauty of form, harmony, and expression of emotion.”
So if we are going to admit Widmann’s Violin Concerto in One Movement with Page Turner as “Music” imho we are going to have to invoke the “…expression of emotion” component of the definition of music, because, to channel Capt. Benjamin Willard, “I don’t hear any beauty of form or harmony, at all” in the Widmann work, and for me personally, it qualified as music because it produced an expression of emotion in me, an almost uncontrollable juvenile “laughter fit” during the performance (I did manage to hang on and get through without LOL during the performance, but I almost made a run for it because I wasn’t sure I’d make it through).
So I think in recent years, David Robertson has definitely shifted from being “Music Director” of the SLSO, to being “Artistic Director” of the SLSO; to wit, his grammy was garnered for the interpretation of Adams by the SLSO led by Maestro Robertson (there’s another moniker – “Maestro” – yikes!) which is variously defined as something like “A distinguished conductor or performer of classical music.” which is decidely true of David Robertson:  He is a distiguished conductor or performer of classical music, absolutely.
Lest anyone who has read this far dare to accuse me of being “anti-anti-music” by which I mean “anti-anything-that’s-not-Rachmaninoff-Tchaikovsky-or-Dvorak” (well you get the idea I hope), I’d like go on record that I’ve been very enthusiastic about the “anti-music” if you will that Leon Burke III has programmed at the University City Symphony Orchestra, so much so, that I have shifted some of my giving to the UCSO recently.
I very much enjoyed the Kenneth Fuchs Saxophone Concerto, and if that’s not “Artistic” enough for you, I was WOWed! by the “Invitation to a Die-In” by Nkeiru Okoye (although I was miffed that Maestro Burke directly segued a recording of the “Ave Maria” at the end of the Okoye “Invitation to a Die-In”.
To wrap-up, I think one takeaway for me is that when David Robertson wears his “Artistic Director” hat, he falls short in my opinion, because he is very PC in selecting pieces that are innocuous examples of “music as art” such as, imho, Adams, Diamond and Widmann, while carefully staying away from works that are “music as message” and indeed works that require “no explanation” because, in the case of, for example, the Nkeiru Okoye “Invitation to a Die-In” we know from a cursory read-up on the piece what it is addressing.
I think that the experimental programming by Maestro Robertson is chosen as disposable “anti-music” that for me, has “no method (nor message either) for that matter”, allowing Maestro Robertson to burnish his avant-garde credentials among “his people” (the society of fellow musicians and artistic directors) without stirring up a hornet’s nest by performing works like “Invitation to a Die-In” which would cross a much more dangerous bridge of not only “music structure and form (or the lack thereof)” but also “music message and meaning” which is imho a far more “artistic” endeavor, because it is true “art” – it is a creative work created by an artist without regard to how it might be perceived or received, and without regard to its beauty (or the lack thereof).
I would like to add that I think an entire generation of composers who might have chosen as a starting point, say Rachmaninoff, or Tchaikovsky, or Dvorak, have been marginalized in favor of the Widmann’s, Diamond’s, and Adams’s of this world because the  composing of music intended to “produce beauty of form, harmony, and expression of emotion.” is shunned by the current crop of “Artistic Directors” who seek to provide disposable non-controversial “experimental” works that allow patrons to have a feeling that they have heard “something experimental and avant-garde” without having to have their political and economic agenda challenged in the way that, say, “Invitation ot Die-In” by Okoye would force questions into the mind and community.
So I will say that this current crop of Artistic Directors, of which David Robertson is a prime example, seem, if you will, quite disingeuous to me, in the sense of  being “not candid or sincere” and twisting the definition of “disingeuous” a bit, “pretending to be avant-garde and exploratory, while actually proferring a steady diet of easy-to-digest “modern” music that is the equivalent of the “It’s All Good” phrase that our confused youth have become so fond of using:  It is not, imho, “all good”.  Some things are indeed bad, and wrong, such as excessive use of police force resulting in the unecessary death of someone’s son, daugther, sister, or husband.
In short, the problem with David Robertson isn’t that he goes too far with experimental music; it is in fact that he does not go far enough.

Orabuntu-LXC Announcements

Modular Design

Orabuntu-LXC is undergoing some major revisions.

Earlier this year Orabuntu-LXC modifications to support multi-host deployment got underway.  As that work progressed, it became clear that the code base was getting unwieldly in it’s current form.  When Orabuntu-LXC was originally coded, it began as a bunch of manual scripts that were translated into a set of 5 bash scripts that were essentially a monolithic start-to-finish installer-deployer.

The non-modular design of Orabuntu-LXC began to become a nagging issue that up until now had been ignored, but now with multihost and other features planned Orabuntu-LXC is being redesigned as modular software.   The multihost additions add alot of code that should be generic across the 3 code trees of Ubuntu Linux, CentOS Linux and Oracle Linux/RHEL but in the current design must be redundantly added to each of the 3 code trees.  This consideration was one of the drivers for identifying common code and moving to modular design.

The code trees orabuntu, lxcentos, and uekulele have much code in each tree that is generic and identical across the three trees, and up until this modular redesign, changes had to be redundantly propagated to each code tree.  With the new modular design, modules that are generic across all trees will be maintained as a single piece of code to avoid code anomalies across the 3 existing tress that support Ubuntu Linux, CentOs Linux and Oracle Linux (UEK)/RedHat Linux.  Of course, this will also simplify maintenance of the code as well.  It should also lead to better code, because the longer term goal will be to have every module include the branching required to make it generic across all trees.  However, if there are cases where code is better suited to be unique to that code tree, then multiple versions will be supported if there is good justification.  Overall, this redesign should lead to much better quality of design and coding.

Conversely, code that currently but does not necessarily need to be tree-specific/distro-specific, such as package deployments of yum vs apt-get will initially have separate code in the first cut to modular design, but later efforts will be made to make each module capable of branching to work with all supported distros, as one genuine piece of code with no different versions across the distro code trees.

Another consideration that drove the decision to take the time to recast Orabuntu-LXC as modular design software is that in time it is planned to add additional distros such as Debian, Fedora, OpenSUSE and Gentoo.

The other reason for going to a modular design is in preparation for building a GUI for Orabuntu-LXC since part of the plan for Orabuntu-LXC has always been that it will become a containerized replacement for hypervisor-based products such as VirtualBox, VMWare Player, KVM, etc.  Modular design will allow program elements to be added to the GUI and called by the GUI for atomic tasks rather than the monolithic binary design which constituted Orabuntu-LXC’s genesis.

Modular design also should make collaboration more accessible should additional workers fork Orabuntu-LXC.  To be sure, Orabuntu-LXC has not been forked much yet, although it is now watched by 37, starred by 16 and has been forked twice.

Well I guess those are the main considerations for the somewhat timely and also time-consuming work recasting Orabuntu-LXC as a hopefully modular design.

SCST Storage Layer Improvements

The other significant update is regarding the Orabuntu-LXC storage layer SCST (for more info see website).  While on the uekulele tree for Oracle Linux/RHEL Orabuntu-LXC has long had support for built RPM packages from source (which are auto-rebuilt on kernel upgrades transparently to the user) regrettably on the Ubuntu Linux side the source build deploy of SCST was just a source build that required users of Orabuntu-LXC to rebuild SCST from source after each kernel update.

Orabuntu-LXC was very excited to announce in late July that it now automatically builds DKMS-enabled SCST packages and installs them automatically for Ubuntu 15.04-17.04+ which means that SCST modules are managed and auto-rebuilt on kernel upgrades by DKMS and so therefore both sides of the Orabuntu-LXC house, RHEL-based and Debian-based now have a storage solution that maintains and rebuilds itself so to speak across kernel upgrades and so loss of SCST service after a kernel update is now a thing of the past for any Orabuntu-LXC deployment.

The Grateful Dead

Lastly, Orabuntu-LXC got some great help from Christian Brauner on the Canonical LXC team providing some help on new design features in LXC 2.0.8 that had temporarily left Orabuntu-LXC functionality on the Ubuntu Linux side dead in the water. This problem turned out to be because Orabuntu-LXC was using some LXC functionality that was outdated and deprecated.  The changes recommended by Christian Brauner were immediately implemented and functionality was restored.

You can read more about the resolution of that issue if you are interested here:

The project is very grateful to Christian Brauner for his help.  Christian’s help got the Ubuntu side of Orabuntu-LXC back on track!


All in all July was an exciting if hairy month for Orabuntu-LXC project.  It began with frustrating code failure on in the Ubuntu Linux code tree due to the aforementioned issue that was solved by Christian Brauner and implemented by me, and ended with a triumphant success providing the community with a generic SCST Linux SAN fully-automated DKMS-compliant solution for building and installing DKMS-enabled *.deb packages for SCST.  That SCST solution by the way is generic and can be used even if you are not using Orabuntu-LXC.  I’m really pleased to be able to give back to the community a really good SCST install solution for Debian-based systemd-enabled Linux distributions.

It’s important to note that the SCST solution relies very heavily on my fork of Martijn Grendelman’s scst-3.x-debian Github here and that in addition to Martijn, work was done on that original github for SCST Debian support by Fajar A. Nugraha and Adrian Stachowski for early work on this as well.

Orabuntu-LXC is not a major collborative effort at this point, but as the Stones sang:

You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometimes well you might find
You get what you need

And so thanks to some indirect help from Martijn, Fajar and Adrian, and some direct help from Christian, the Orabuntu-LXC project rolls on…


TFLW: Streep, Irons (1981)

Although I am almost 56, I had never seen the 1981 film adaptation of The French Lieutenant’s Woman (based on a novel by John Fowles) until last night, December 9, 2016. My wife wanted to see it, so I dialed it up on our Amazon Prime TV. There are some reveals and spoilers in what follows below, so if you have not seen The French Lieutenant’s Woman (1981) starring Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons, then just trust me and first watch it and read no further right now and if you care return to this review afterward.

I found the movie to be unexpectedly brilliant. I found myself taking away a wide range of thoughts, impressions and ideas from the movie. It’s an old enough movie that many as not have seen it. If not, I recommend it. 

I read reviews and analysis of the novel and movie the next day. I found almost none to be my takeaways from the story in any review or analysis (although I didn’t read them ALL as the late George Carlin might say) so I make no claim to originality here. 

Meryl Streep in her modern role as Anna the actress is a woman who is in danger of her real life being subsumed by the power of the role she is playing with Mike in the “movie within a movie”. Mike in his modern role as Mr. Charles Henry Smithson has already been subsumed into a slightly demented loss of his grip on reality by his moving scenes with Anna in making of the film within a film. 

In one scene on an enclosed porch where they are rehearsing their roles, he calls Anna “Miss Woodruff” which scene I found very telling. He could have called her “Sarah” (her film first name), or Anna, (her real first name), but he chose “Miss Woodruff” highlighting her fictional marital status and her fictional role, in one fell swoop. In the ending, when Anna looks in the mirror in the darkened room which was the location of their fictional final scene, she in my opinion flashes a sudden emergency realization that she is in grave danger of allowing the natural powerful passions of the making of a deeply romantic film to spill over into the reality of her real life. This moment comes after Mike has professed his love openly to her over the phone the previous day: “I love you.” says Mike twice to an Anna who is on the phone in the same room with her actual love partner, a Frenchman (the not-so-subtle joke that Anna’s love interest IS actually a Frenchman is fabulous. It adds to the sense of unreal blurring of the movie she is filming with her “real” life). Her flight from Mike at the cast party is powerful and believeable. Although women are generally perceived as the “emotional gender” actually they possess an arsenal of stunningly good judgement and the ability to divorce themselves from fantasy when that fantasy crosses the line into threatening all that they have achieved and currently enjoy. 

TFLW also accomplishes an amazing double juxtaposition of contrasting cause and effect of the moral climates of the Victorian era of Charles and Sarah vs the modern era of Mike and Anna. I think that the regressions of the Victorian era are shown to paradoxically push Sarah and Charles ultimately together in one of the famed “alternate endings” of the story. However, the very intense serial freedoms of the modern era that Mike and Anna live in allows them to make love during their relationship as leading man and leading woman of the film even as Anna’s Frenchman husband and Mike’s British wife as bohemian partners wincingly silently tolerate this because as artists they accept the idea that the making of the movie and the intense love scenes between the ACTORS Mike and Anna cannot hardly but help spilling over into the actual hearts and passions of the actors. To wit Mikes wife and Anna’s husband play very unsung (and afaik totally uncredited)  brilliant supporting roles as embers of the Community of Artists who face and embrace passion. And these two supporting actors do an amazing job in just a minute or two of screen time showing the mix of understanding of the situation with a nagging  fear that the movie passion of Mike and Anna could spiral out of control into reality. “Yes…” they both say unspoken in their own minds to their real-life actor spouses, “…you are overcome by the passions of making this movie. But when the movie is done filming, so also is the valid justification for your passions with each other” think the exasperated, worried and tolerant spouses of these artists. I will just add the the movie Mr. And Mrs. Smith with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie is an example where the movie passion did not only blur into reality but actually became reality. Not the first time actors jilted their “real-life” partners to allow the movie love to become fully real.

Which brings me to one other point which is TFLW can arguably be called endlessly corny, trite and hackneyed. I can see how that charge could be leveled. I think that the movie does the best job I have seen yet of revealing how most of what moves us most deeply is corny and trite and that the fine line between corny content being corny and corny content being a great and moving experience is a very thin line indeed. Nowhere in TFLW did I begin laughing out loud. But we know of similar movies where the intended drama is mistakenly and unintendedly hilarious and uproariously funny. TFLW is not so imho. TFLW is a retelling over and over of what moves us and what we long for most of us and strive to find, dramatic, moving, love and life. But to be sure there is a very strong hint of an in-joke a certain hilarity to the drama that is lurking just below the surface of the film; after you watch it you at some point feel like you should have been laughing at the trite drama of it all, and yet I did not laugh at it, and many others did not either. It was nominated for many awards. People liked it. Critics recognized it. Nominators nominated it. Somehow it keeps the cornyness at bay, like a sleeping dog who misses out on a good bark.

The very freedom of the modern era allows Anna and Mike to allow their overwhelming feelings created by the making of the movie to light up and burn naturally like fire logs in a fireplace, and then settle down to embers and eventually go out when the filming of the movie has ended (though with some emotional difficulty to be sure). By contrast, the extreme repression of the Victorian era causes all aspects of the relationship between Sarah and Charles to be exaggerated out of all proportion in an almost Wuthering-Heights-esque level of massive drama, and really leaves Charles and Sarah with no choice but to let their passion to some degree destroy their fictional social lives. Ironically, the freedoms of the modern era devalue the commitment and intensity of love and passion, but at the same time modern morality creates the conditions whereby TRUE morality can thrive (Anna and Mike ultimately are fulfilled with their brief filmmaking-driven affair but in the end, led mostly by Anna’s moral compass, return rightly to their real life spouses and allow those spouses the intellectual out of chalking up the affair of Mike and Anna as a necessary homage and ingredient for the making of ‘ART’ – the movie – so that the real passion and artistic passion fueled and blurred the boundaries of the actions on all levels of the film).  Another way of saying this is that our modern era highlights and emphasizes forgiveness and understanding, while the Victorian era emphasized duty, intent, conduct and propriety, and largely eschewed forgiveness. I think the modern world with its stance of forgiveness indicates that despite what we might think at times, that there is, as Richard Feynman once wrote “…a hope for the continuous motion of human beings in some direction that doesn’t get confined or permanently blocked, as it has so many times before in various periods in the history of man.” (and woman I would add).

That Streep and Irons were able to convey this successfully in the movie is truly a tribute to a great work by two great-capable actors. As I may have mentioned, I haven’t liked all of Streep’s filmography, and it’s interesting to me  to note that this one which I found in total to be a masterpiece on so many levels, was one with which Meryl Streep herself was not entirely happy.

I think alot of credit for what I like about the film goes to the director, producers, and cinematographers. The movie really it seems to me very deftly shifts from Victorian to modern scenes.

I think this movie meets better than any other movie I have ever seen what my father always said was the main criteria for movie greatness: the “willing suspension of disbelief”. Here we have not only a movie within a movie, but also each time the movie shifted back into the Victorian drama of Charles and Sarah, I was instantly absorbed in that drama. I had no after images or recall of Anna and Mike at all; I simply shifted immediately and totally to the movie inside a movie. In this era of Downton Abbey it was like a bunch of Downton Abbey episodes strung together, with no waiting until next week required; instant eagerly awaited and enjoyed gratification.

I’ll just wrap up my review of TFLW (1981) by commenting that the newer interpretation of Sherlock Holmes on  BBC with Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock has dabbled in similar time shifts and although quite different, still follows in the steps of that difficult tradition of the successful filmmaking art of time travel and era shifts. I grudgingly recognize what Cumberbatch & Co. have aspired to do with some admiration for their lofty artistic goals, despite the fact I am a huge fan of the late Jeremy Brett’s interpretation of Sherlock Holmes which I consider to be without peer, but I digress. Another movie worth watching that dabbles in the movie-within-a-movie genre (successfully I would say) is Lindsay Anderson’s “O Lucky Man” (1973) starring Malcolm McDowell, also available on Amazon Prime, and which also has interesting time-shift quirks to it as well. Oh and let us not forget Peter O’Toole, Steve Railsback, and Barbara Hershey in The Stunt Man (1980), another great example of the movie-within-a-movie genre. And no, I am not paid by Amazon Prime to write this. But I am a big fan of the Amazon Fire TV service. It is amazing to put it mildly. We love it.

I strongly recommend taking an evening to watch The French Lieutenant’s Woman, starring Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons (1981). You can get it on Amazon Prime. Preferably watch it while sitting next to a fire that grows then knowingly calms down to embers towards the end of the film.

And does anyone know who the uncredited actors were who played. Mike’s modern British wife, and also the actor who played Anna’s French love interest partner. He is only shown briefly in the scene where Mike calls Anna at home to profess his love. These two patient spouses their real names I would like to know; I thought the were spectacularly good in their brief appearances in TFLW (1981).

This review was written on a Verizon BlackBerry Z30 using the Android WordPress app. When you feel something, write something; contribute. Express yourself.

Wednesday Morning Quarterback

These stories that Donald Trump won on the back of an angry white vote are just not true, in my opinion, and this will be proven in the analysis I believe.

The first sign I had that there was unexpected broad support for Trump was a black working-class Uber driver who told me during the ride how vehemently anti-Clinton he was. He spoke of deep mistrust and even said things like “ever notice how people who oppose the Clinton’s end up dead?” expressing not only a very surprising suspicion of Clinton but also actually a fear of Clinton which I found shocking. This driver wore a black “stocking-type” hair covering and very much looked like a regular black man-in-the-street and so since I believe first my own eyes and ears this told me that Trump had unexpected supporters that were non-white and that there was trouble brewing in Detroit for Hillary Clinton.

The next thing was that Hillary Clinton had no clear message at all that I could ever hear. The Clinton campaign went all-in on painting Donald Trump as unfit, but never had a message about what Hillary would do. Voters needed more than bashing they needed message and they never got anything more from Hillary than the sister who points her finger at her brother and says “Mommy, Jimmy’s being bad again!”. 

Finally, Clinton almost never gave any realistic opinion or policy statement on anything. She regularly said that a problem is “complicated and requires discussion.” or something like that. Unfortunately this kind of answer is not decisive enough for a president in the opinion of substantial numbers of voters of all races, creeds and genders. 

In the same vein her rather outlandish supposition that Donald Trump could not be trusted with “the football” nuclear launch codes was a dangerous gambit because it risked boomeranging on her and implying that she conversely would hesitate and not man-up to commit American military might in a crisis; that she would “freeze up” looking for consensus and approval in a crisis. Voter fear in a dangerous world I’m sorry to say worked counter to a woman who looked far too much like a consensus-builder and approval-seeker and not enough like an executive decision-maker.

The Huffington Post early in the election cycle sounded alarms that Clinton’s stunning defeat by Sanders in the Michigan democratic primary was being swept under the rug by the Democratic machine, while in fact it was a clarion call that the Democratic party machine should have recalibrated the messaging and at a minimum restructured the Clinton campaign and moreover should have halted the actually corrupt plan to derail the Sanders campaign and rush to market with an already previously side-swiped-by-Obama candidate. Democratic voices were sounding the alarm but it was ignored.

Also, Trump continued and built upon campaign strategies Obama had successfully used of being a change candidate, while Clinton suddenly improbably was painted as an establishment candidate by both the Trump campaign message and also by Bernie Sanders interaction and marginalization (and marginalizing Bernie resonated with voters themselves afraid of being marginalized – again – by a Democratic machine that took a lot smugly for granted).

In the end a preponderance of voters, were willing to overlook deep character flaws to elect a candidate with a strong stern message of change, while on the other hand were unwilling to elect a candidate with character flaws and a message that relied far too heavily on pointing the finger and saying “Mommy, Jimmy’s being bad again!” and little else.

Orabuntu-LXC 4.0-RC ChangeBlog

Haven’t done my changelog yet for the latest release of Orabuntu-LXC, but some mighty changes were brought into this release.

The dynamic DNS DHCP Server was moved itself into an LXC container (Xenial 16.04) so now Orabuntu_LXC doesn’t touch your existing bind9 or isc-dhcp-server configs at all. Also the Ubuntu LXC DNS DHCP container uses the faster image download too.

The required configs for sysctl.conf for Oracle on the Orabuntu_LXC host have been moved out of /etc/sysctl.conf and into /etc/sysctl.d/60-oracle.conf so sysctl.conf is now untouched too.

Same for /etc/limits.conf; it’s now updated via /etc/security/limits.d/70-oracle.conf so that limits.conf is not touched.

In fact, there are now only 3 files touched for Orabuntu_LXC install on the Ubuntu  LXC host, and one of them is /etc/NetworkManager/dnsmasq.d/local (see here for more info on that) so version 4.0-RC of Orabuntu-LXC represents an almost 100% transparent overlay of the Ubuntu host.

Orabuntu_LXC is also now totally re-runnable thanks to improvements such as iptables rule cleanups and many detailed improvements. Orabuntu_LXC re-runnable means that Orabuntu_LXC is like etch a sketch for multi-host multi-tier, RAC, multi-host Oracle EBS etc pilot projects. You can deploy as many Oracle-enterprise-software-install-ready fully-networked, all-Oracle-prequisites installed, Oracle Linux 5,6 or 7 containers (“hosts”) in literally less than 10 minutes to prototype something, and when done just blow them away and reset new in literally less than 10 minutes and optionally archive off your previous setups by just tar.gz’g your previous chroot container rootfs’s.

The SCST Linux SAN optional module has undergone major improvement as well. For Ubuntu kernels >= 2.6.30 there is NO custom kernel build required anymore for SCST thanks to Vladimir and Bart and the good people who bring us SCST as long as SCST branch 3.1.x is used. This has been incorporated into Orabuntu_LXC fully. The SCST SAN scripts build the entire file-backed iscsi Oracle ASM SAN in less than 10 minutes, configure all SCST groups, targets, devices, LUNs, etc, and there is a script that automatically builds your ASM LUNS (offers parameter [ external | normal | high] ASM redundancy build option) and  also configures the multipath.conf file automatically with all parameters, WWIDs, and aliases. Of course because it’s in bash, it’s easy to customize it to create your SAN in your own custom configuration.

Orabuntu_LXC uses iptables rules to provide WAN networking so your physical interfaces are untouched and remain fully independent of OpenvSwitch. 

There have also been enhancements to the Openvswitch-ovs design too. Orabuntu_LXC uses VLAN tagging to provide VLANs for the deployments. VirtualBox VMs can easily be added to the Openvswitch network using only the VBox GUI so LXC and  VMs can talk.

For the first time Orabuntu_LXC was designed to also be deployable in an Ubuntu VM so you can now build a multi-node Oracle app (eg RAC) in a single Ubuntu Linux VM which has its own integrated DNS DHCP. 

Orabuntu_LXC now supports user-supplied custom domain names and custom nameserver name. Orabuntu_LXC comes with a two-domain design so that its clear how to generalize to an n-domain design by editing the files and extending to n-domains.

Everything in Orabuntu_LXC is GNU3 Open Source license and written in straightforward bash code so you can fork Orabuntu_LXC and design it to suit your needs (remember to please share your tweaks, changes, improvements etc back to your fork please).

All this and much more! Try out 4.0-RC here (it’s not at the yet). Note that of course you can use Orabuntu-LXC to run anything you want in a container. Orabuntu-LXC provides Oracle Linux 5, 6 and 7 Containers, but you can create additional containers of other Linux distros at the LXC CLI, and, as long as you migrate them over to the OpenvSwitches the DNS DHCP uses those containers will also be in the same domain and network too. Support to deploy other non-Oracle-Linux distros directly from Orabuntu-LXC  is planned but does not have a roadmap date yet (because the primary goal of Orabuntu-LXC Is to enable running Oracle Enterprise software on Ubuntu Linux with NO hypervisor at bare metal network, compute, and storage performance). As always note that Oracle Corporation neither supports nor certifies Oracle on the Ubuntu Linux platform. 

Ubuntu Linux really turbocharged my career ever since I started working with Ubuntu 7 and 8 desktop back in my days as a TUSC Oracle consultant based in Chicago at the Butterfield Road HQ. Even then I had tried to build Oracle RAC on Ubuntu (pre-LXC) era, and I can only say LXC made my RAC-on-Ubuntu dream a straightforward no-hacks reality. Love; It’s what makes Ubuntu Ubuntu.

OTN Appreciation Day 2016

The main thing I love about OTN is that Oracle software can be downloaded from OTN freely with minimal fanfare (well you do have to check a couple of export restriction boxes). There are some exceptions such as Retek and archived versions of the database, but I can live with that and I understand the reasons for that. 

I’m also glad that OTN gives many of my favorite bloggers such as Jeffrey Hunter and Tim Hall and many newcomers too a venue for publication. When I first began working with Oracle on OpenvSwitch networks OTN picked up my posts on that topic and spotlighted them. 

Thanks OTN! 

Oracle Public Cloud: Me-Too on Steroids

That Oracle would trumpet at OOW 2016 a VM-based offering, the dense IO shape, is shocking, and disappointing, when Linux Container (LXC) technology offers order-of-magnitude better elasticity, density and performance relative to hypervisor-based VM technology.

Last year, I asked a certain founder of a company known the world over for its sturdy and magnificent Linux Desktop software at SCALE 14x conference if he felt container technology made the Xen-hypervisor-fork foundation technology of AWS obsolete, and his answer was no, and as I recall he cited full-isolation as the main reason for his answer. Still, that same company has staked a great deal on LXC technology, and has led, and continues to lead this field.

Those of us who champion container technology know that LXC smokes hypervisors on all metrics and features except complete isolation any day and twice on Sunday. I routinely build 6-node Oracle 12c multitenant ASM Flex clusters in LXC containers that perform at bare metal speed, turning in bare-metal SLOB benchmarks, which on a VM on the same hardware would choke, and probably be crashed by intensive SLOB tests .

So one such as I asks why did Oracle opt to go to market with what I would call a “me-too public cloud VM offering” rather than boldly use its reputed engineering prowess to solve the isolation problem and be a pure-play  “container-cloud” giant, a space under-represented by the “public cloud big-4” of AWS, Azure, Google, and IBM. Note, to be fair, Google has Kubernetes, Amazon has their EC2 Container Service, and Nardella over at Microsoft is strengthening it’s ties to Canonical Ltd. and has the Azure Container Service. But all these offerings tend to be oriented around Docker and underlying VM layers (i.e. Amazon Containers run ontop of EC2 VM layer). 

At OOW 16 yesterday, I popped over to the Oracle virtualization and container kiosks and found what I would describe as a lame offering that the Oracle reps described as effectively the “only” Oracle container offering which they  called “Bare Metal As A Service”. That’s BMaaS I guess, right? Smirk. They told me that that is the extent of Oracle’s container cloud offering…you can get BMaaS from Oracle Cloud and build whatever you want on it, including for example, LXC containers. You’d think Oracle could have built some GUI provisioning and management tools for LXC containers technology. However, to be fair, Oracle now fully supports Oracle 12c database in LXC containers provided you run a suitably recent version of Oracle Linux Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel (UEK).  Oracle for those who might not know, has its own fork of the RedHat-family of kernels called Oracle Linux. They offer this support for Oracle database 12c in LXC containers for both Oracle Linux 6 and Oracle Linux 7. And to be sure, since it’s a true bare-metal platform for LXC, it deserves mention here.

Oracle, like BlackBerry, missed the boat by about 10 years on Public Cloud just as BlackBerry denied reality about Apple iPhone. Oracle still had, and has, a chance to lead containerized clouds, but apparently lacks the will to spend on R&D to “make it so #1” and solve the challenging full-isolation issue holding container adoption back.

Therefore, I predict that like BlackBerry, the Oracle Public Cloud has a murky future at best. Currently the Oracle Public Cloud does not even make it into the 2016 Gartner Magic Quadrant. BlackBerry went multi-platform in recent years trying to catch up to Apple, but the new approach at BlackBerry also cannibalizes BlackBerry’s “Service Access Fees” which it loses every time someone junks their old BlackBerry handset. SAF for those who don’t know is per-phone, per-month fees BlackBerry used to collect from BlackBerry users. SAF is quickly eroding at BlackBerry and it remains to be seen if software and services products at BlackBerry can close the breach on vanishing SAF revenue. 

Similarly, Oracle is getting intense pressure on all sides about its exorbitant support fees for Oracle database, and to compete in the cloud yet preserve support fees Oracle has to somehow match AWS incremental cloud cost while not cannabalizing it’s own SAF-like support fees. 

This leads to a big clue about why Oracle eschewed superior LXC containers technology for its public cloud. Containers run at 10x the density of VM’s and hence Oracle likely did the math on what a container cloud would do to Oracle support revenue (which remember is processor/core based) and said to itself “let’s not go there”.

SLSO Opening Weekend 2016

The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra opened it’s 137th season this weekend with a bold gambit of a Charles Lindbergh themed evening celebrating the “Spirit of St. Louis”.  The program included Weill, Boulez and Debussy.  The St. Louis Symphony is a unique experience and more so this year.  Much more intimate than any other symphony orchestra, attendance has an unpretentiousness that I find no where else except the St. Louis Symphony.  The bold direction established by Maestro Robertson this opening weekend with these bold unorothodox opening performances unsheathes a double-edged sword which at the same time sets the St. Louis Symphony experience one unlike any other in its surprising and relaxing atmosphere of a simple gathering of great musicians who decided to get together of an evening and deliver fabulous performance of whatever they choose to play, while on the other edge of the sword a risk of dimishining the out-of-the-box stature that a symphony orchestra can claim simply through pretentiousness and set pieces, not to mention losing the core mature symphony-goers who gravitate to the traditional repetoire.

The St. Louis Symphony under David Robertson and Helene-Marie Bernard’s leadership has opted to take the symphony in a direction which I find unlike any other symphony experience available anywhere, and very refreshing, innovative, friendly and memorable.  It remains to be seen if the symphony can simultaneously be bold and experimental in its cozy Powell Hall space without diminishing textbook stature.  For myself, I think the direction chosen is the right direction.  The SLSO at Powell Hall has always had an approachable unorchestra orchestra feel to it which in earlier years threatened in fact to somehow diminish the orchestra.  Nevermind that this orchestra has won grammys in the very recent past for it’s stellar recordings and nevermind that at 137 years it’s the second oldest elder statesperson of American symphony orchestras.  No, there’s no denying that the SLSO has a dangerously approachable feel to it – and the appreciative St. Louis audiences who are so generous with the standing ovations don’t help matters much (this is a friendly joke – I love our St. Louis audiences and I think soloists who visit us must have St. Louis marked as  a “feel good” destination) and contribute to the risk of diminishing the just-add-a-big-hall-and-a-hard-to-please-audience that a say, NYPhil automatically employs.  NYPhil has “Barry Diller” hall and at least some people still know who he is, but does anyone know who Powell Hall is named after?  I don’t.

I think the new direction of the symphony celebrates what is great about the SLSO and builds on it’s strengths rather than trying to out-nyphil-the-nyphil.  Keep up the good work SLSO!

No blog post for this season of the SLSO would be complete in my opinion without noting the passing of Jack Taylor, founder of Enterprise Rent-A-Car who donated beyond generously to the tune of 10’s of millions of dollars to the SLSO.  Jack Taylor will be very much missed by the SLSO family but his legacy of generosity to the SLSO and to this city truly is consistent with “The Spirit of St. Louis” theme of this opening weekend.  Jack’s relatives and the greater Taylor Clan continue to support the SLSO generously, and I thank them for that most sincerely.

The Winding Road to OOW 2016

It’s definitely been an interesting chain of events that takes me ultimately this year to Oracle Open World 2016 next week. I had not planned to attend this year. I was busy working several consulting gigs when Sushil Kumar, Chief Marketing Officer at Robin Systems, reached out to me over LinkedIn. I learned finally where that consistent San Jose hit showing up in Google Analytics Geo on my Google Sites blog at had originated; it was from Robin Systems. My blogging on my techniques for putting Oracle in LXC had caught their attention.

Robin Systems is a startup which emerged from stealth in April of this year. Robin has developed an Application-Defined LXC Linux Container software platform with extensions for Docker and exciting QoS, snapshot, and time-travel features, all running on an OpenvSwitch SDN.

I’m at the St. Louis airport right now waiting for my flight to New York. I am honored and very pleased to have had my abstract Oracle Linux Container Update selected for presentation at the quarterly general meeting of the NYOUG today, September 14. I’m making a quick day trip in and out no hotel so it’s a 6:00 AM departure. The NYOUG Preso is boxcars to OOW this year which makes for a lot of work and travel.  I’m writing this blog on my BlackBerry Z30 OS10 device with true multitasking and microkernel architecture on-the-fly. 

So, in early August my wife and I flew out to Robin Systems to learn more about what it is that they are doing and what is being built at their Silicon Valley HQ in San Jose, and also to discuss a collaborative effort.  In other words I was interviewed by Robin Systems.  We also flew out together to squeeze in a long-overdue weekend at the wonderful Monterey Tides Resort right on the beach at Monterey Bay before Yelena started her school year as Professor of Russian Language at St. Louis University.

I’ve been working on Oracle Enterprise software in LXC Linux containers for about two years and have my own open source project for running Oracle Enterprise software on Ubuntu kernels (no hypervisor) in GA. Even before that, in 2012, I was blogging right here at WordPress about putting virtualized Oracle systems on OpenvSwitch networks. I was excited about the work and challenges at Robin Systems so I was very happy to be invited to join the team just ahead of Oracle Open World 2016.

As a result, I’ve been crisscrossing the USA from coast-to-coast frequently over the past month, and the acceptance of the abstract at NYOUG added a couple more legs to my sudden return to the jet set after being anchored for about a year with light travel.

So, it’s a swing to NYC today, then right back to STL home base tonight on the last non-stop, and then several full speed hectic days of system architecture hands-on building for OOW 2016, leading up to the exciting days of my third consecutive OOW.

This new position at Robin and the writing of this blog has precipitated the renewed use of my long-dormant WordPress account. Thanks WordPress for not deleting my account. “They also serve who only stand wait.”