Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Introducing Fedora Nightlife

I've recently started a new project at Fedora called Nightlife. Here's the text of the e-mail I sent to the newly-created Fedora Nightlife mailing list:

Fedora Nightlife is a new project for creating a Fedora community grid. People will be able to donate idle capacity from their own computers to an open, general-purpose Fedora-run grid for processing socially beneficial work and scientific research that requires access to large amounts of computing power. Given the large number of Fedora users, I hope that we will eventually be able to build a community grid of over a million nodes at Fedora. This will be a great example of the power of the Fedora community, give people new and meaningful ways to contribute to Fedora, advance the development of large-scale grid software, and lead to real benefits for the world.

Fedora Nightlife will leverage the Condor project, which was ( created and hosted by the University of Wisconsin Madison, for scheduling and harnessing donated computing power. Last year, Red Hat and the University of Wisconsin signed a strategic partnership around Condor. Part of this partnership entailed releasing Condor's source code under an OSI-approved open source license. As a result, we now have Condor packaged at Fedora, and upstream development continues to happen at the University of Wisconsin repository in an open manner.

Some of the immediate next steps for Fedora Nightlife are:
-create a Wiki page for this project
-get a Condor scheduler hosted at Fedora up and running
-work out what are the requirements for a project to be able to run on Fedora Nightlife (e.g. its software must be open source, it must be safe, it should have some kind of open policy around its results, etc)

We've already started working on getting a scheduler up and running. I
should have a wiki setup relatively soon so that we can start mapping out more plans there.

Then, we can focus on growing the Nightlife community of projects and
solicit Fedora users to donate capacity. Hopefully, enabling donation of compute power to Nightlife can eventually become a first-boot option for Fedora installs.

I welcome everyone to contribute to and participate in the Fedora
Nightlife project!
If you'd like to subscribe to the Fedora Nightlife mailing list, you can do so at

Fedora Nightlife is going to build on the work I do in my day job at Red Hat around Red Hat Enterprise MRG--it'll be based on the same technology we use for MRG's grid capabilities. This is great for me for a couple reasons: Fedora Nightlife will be a powerful and public example of the scale that's possible with Red Hat Enterprise MRG, and the work we do to drive Nightlife/Condor to the 1 million node count will directly benefit MRG. Also, it's great to be at a place like Red Hat where I can work on my product management job and do some good in the world at the same time.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Creating a Wireless 3G Network Connection on Fedora 9 With a Novatel Ovation U727

One of my favourite features of Fedora 9 is NetworkManager's new support for wireless 3G modems. I just recently got a Novatel Ovation U727 EVDO Rev A USB Modem for Sprint's network because this modem explicitly supports Linux. Sprint provides instructions for using the U727 on Linux from its Web site. But, since Fedora 9 makes this process much easier, here is how to do it:

  1. Have your laptop always load the proper drivers for the modem by adding the following lines to /etc/rc.local:
    #load driver for Sprint Novatel u727 wireless modem
    rmmod usbserial
    modprobe -v usbserial vendor=0x1410 product=0x4100
  2. Insert your U727 into your laptop.

  3. The U727 has built-in flash storage for which Fedora will mount on your machine, launch a file browser, and show a link on your desktop. Close the file browser, and right-click the link to your flash storage and select to eject the device (note that unless you eject the flash storage, your modem won't work).

  4. Right-click on NetworkManager and select Edit Connections.

  5. Click on the Add button to create a new connection for your U727.
  6. Fill in the new dialog box with the name of your modem's connection and the number to dial. In my case, I named the connection Sprint Novatel U727. Type in #777 for the number to dial.

  7. Hit OK and then close the dialog box
  8. Now, click on NetworkManager, and you should see your new USB modem connection show up as a connection option.
  9. Select your new connection, and you'll be online!
Here are instructions for using your modem in the future now that it's setup:
  1. Insert your U727 into your laptop
  2. Eject the mounted flash storage device in your modem (unless you eject the flash storage, your modem won't work)
  3. Go to NetworkManager to select your U727 connection

I'm currently writing this post while online with my Sprint U727 modem. As a side-note, I selected Sprint's 3G service for mobile broadband even though I don't use Sprint for my cell phone service because Sprint has truly unlimited data usage (Verizon and AT&T cap at 5GB/month) with good terms of service (Verizon restricts things like streaming media), and its EVDO rev A network is fairly fast. Here are the results of a speed test that I just ran:

Update 5/19/2008:

Sprint is updating its Terms of Service to cap data usage at 5GB/month too. Given that, I will likely switch from Sprint to Verizon, which I prefer for cell phone service. Verizon also sells a U727 modem, so these instructions will work for Verizon too