Sex, Live, and Virtualization

Strangely enough, I start my second blog explaining myself. Mostly because while accentuating the positive in my first post, I did come off as quite critical in what I felt were weaknesses in Ubuntu and the various other buntus. Today, I'm going to complain again though I hope you, and maybe someone at Ubuntu, will find some of what I have to say useful. After all, I believe that Ubuntu, and Canonical, produce a great product and do great things for Linux, FOSS, and the community. Besides, totay's tech trials do have a happy ending. Still, even great products can be improved upon, and I don't believe I'm here to be a cheerleader (at least I don't think so ). First though, I have to address the issue of sex, or more accurately, sexism.

Much has been made of Mark Shuttleworth's keynote speech at Linuxcon as to whether his speech was sexist, demeaning to women, and whether it was a reflection of the man. Last week, I said Mark was a cool billionaire based on my own personal definition of 'cool billionaire'. Right now, Cirque du Soleil founder (and billionaire) Guy Laliberté is on board the International Space Station fulfilling one of my of my great personal dreams -- ah, to be that rich! If Guy Laliberté also happens to like Linux/FOSS, he's definitely cool in my books.

So after pointing this out about Mark Shuttleworth, it was brought to my attention, many times , that perhaps he wasn't so cool after all and that perhaps I should watch the video. So I did. First, all those references to 'guys'; while I understand the arguments here, in and of themselves, it didn't bother me a great deal. I personally strive to be as gender neutral as possible when I write and when I speak, but 'guys' is a pretty generic term. I grew up surrounded by girls (three sisters) who referred to themselves as guys (come on guys, let's go). I hear it when I'm in the company of more than one woman (what are you guys up to). Up to this point in the video, I was okay with the speech though I would have avoided the constant use of 'guys'. There are, after all, plenty of options. You can also refer to what people do; coders, salespeople, programmers, beta testers, etc.

  • The men and women who work on the code . . .
  • The people involved . . .
  • Users will tell you . . .

Where is falls apart is right at the end of the keynote, about 35 minutes in. "If we can really approach it from the perspective of saying 'How do we make this just awesome for users', then we'll have less trouble explaining to girls what we actually do. " I winced uncomfortably. Then I played it back 3 or 4 times and winced each time. Yes, he actually said that.The constant reference to 'guys' is just sloppy. It shouldn't happen, but it's a common enough pattern among male and female speakers that I have to give him the benefit of the doubt and let it go. The final 'girls' comment, however, is sexist and it's demeaning. It deserves an admission that it was inappropriate and an apology. It's obvious from the video that it was meant to be funny, but the keynote was a professional conference, attended by men and women, not a stand-up comedy club.

The same is true of the workplace where men and women work together. In that environment, everyone gets treated with respect and equality. Sexism and sexist comments do not belong there. There is no middle ground. For men or women. No one is exempt. I still think Mark is probably a great guy (I have not personally met the man). He is most certainly a smart guy, as well as a stauch and tireless advocate of free and open source software. He should be lauded. But even really great guys, and gals, screw up. If you made a dumb comment, fess up, apologize, and do better next time

Okay, on with the technology. Let's talk virtualization.

I recently brought a new server online, a Core2 Quad running at 2.8 ghz with a terabyte of mirrored disk and 8 gb of RAM. On my old server running Ubuntu 8.04, I had a couple of Xen virtual machines. My plan was to move them over to this new machine which would run 9.04. I wanted Jaunty in order to get access to some of the updated cloud tools and the virt-manager software, all of which continues to improve dramatically over time. After spending some time installing, getting the configuration I wanted, installing extra packages, running updates, I discovered that Jaunty did not include a Xen-enabled kernel. There was none to install in the repositories which meant building a Xen kernel from source.

Why? Because Ubuntu decided that KVM was now its favored virtualization technology. Well, that's nice if you've got a VT-enabled processor (which I do now, but didn't before) but that's not the only problem. Back in 8.04, KVM was only so good and Ubuntu supported Xen and provided a kernel. Given this and the non-VT thing, I went for and invested a lot of time learning and working with Xen. This worked out well for me and some of my customers who needed virtualization, but what I didn't know is that Ubuntu wouldn't future-proof that investment.

Let me put it another way. With Jaunty Jackalope 9.04, Ubuntu has decided to just plain abandon anyone who isn't doing KVM. Danged short-sighted, particularly when you consider that the people who were most likely to invest in a Xen infrastructure, were business people. Walking away from your corporate customers is not usually a good decision.

Building a kernel is certainly doable, but I didn't want to get into a cycle of providing custom kernels at every turn and every update, so I set about recreating my VMs using KVM.

There were many bumps along the way, specifically as it related to networking. Besides my primary IP address, I also have 7 additional addresses, on a different subnet than my primary interface, which I wanted to use for virtual machines (originally defined as eth0:1 through eth0:6) so that they could be accessible via the Internet. In effect, I want the VM to be a public machine with a public IP. I read dozens of online community documents, all of which left me scratching my head. I tried creating a bridge thing' but as soon as I did a 'brctl addif br0 eth0' as per the instructions, my system hung. How could I add this bridge if my machine is remote and I can't take down the interface to create it?

The answer is actually pretty long but I do want to share it with you. Next post (I'm running long here). For the moment, suffice it to say that the results of my KVM experience has been good. Really good, actually. I'm impressed with the performance, the ease of setup (once I figured out my networking issues), and I also like the fact that these are essentially qemu images.

A final note, with a nod to Live CDs and DVDs.

One of the greatest things to happen in the Linux world has been the availability of live CDs (and DVDs) as a way to try Linux before you commit to acually running a distribution. This is true of people looking to move from Windows but it's also true with Linux users who are contemplating a switch to Linux. The Ubuntu community knows this and continues to provide live CDs and will ship them free to anyone who requests it (for Kubuntu disks, click here). Kudos to Canonical and Ubuntu for continuing to offer this service.

If you need evidence that Ubuntu and the various *buntus are well respected, you need only look at the many Ubuntu-derived distributions. Ubuntu should look at these as well because sometimes, those distributions go the extra distance to provide the Ubuntu experience that you probably really want from the beginning.

Exhibit: Linux Mint. This is Ubuntu (and Kubuntu) done right. Mint is based on Ubuntu 9.04, the old Jaunty Jackalope. It uses the Ubuntu repositories so in essence, it is Ubuntu, with a little extra (contained in Mint's own repos). The reason Mint is so cool is that includes all those pesky codecs and plugins right out of the box, er, uhm, live DVD. No need to download and install a Java plugin. It's there. Flash? It's there too. That video? It works.

Sure, you could install the real Ubuntu, then download and install all those packages after the fact, but why not explore the alternative? Next time you want to introduce Ubuntu to your friends and loved ones who are currently trapped in Windows hell, hand them Ubuntu with a touch of Mint.

Until next time . . .


Woman is the nigger of the world II

I think mark shuttleworth should really stop coding and start composing song " Woman is the nigger of the world part II" for his sexism speech.
John Lennon once did that!

no "neutral term" in English

I call bull on steve-o's comment - the word "folks" works just fine in every case I've seen where people use "guys" as a false generic.

It's what I use now, anyway :)

Feminazis and the crap women come out with

Thought that would get your attention!

Don't be boring and claim there's not sexism or discrimination. Don't be boring and claim people are generally recruited on merit. Don't be boring and claim that such things are infrequent.

Statistics alone boring prove otherwise.

The fact YOU are not offended frankly means little. That your wife may not be offended frankly means little.

The general facts are that discrimination occurs against women and reducing discrimination means noticing it, taking steps to address it and not being defensive when pulled up short about it. Having worked in addressing racial discrimination I can boringly point out that it's widespread. More so in some countries than in others. The same with sexism. It's more obvious, widespread and blatant in some than others.

Shuttleworth was just being lazy with his speech. Marcel has it right. There are a great number of other things he could have said that would have avoided the problem. I don't know that Shuttleworth is sexist - I've not heard or read anything else and it could well be he was 'playing to an audience' - the geeks who haven't kissed a girl yet...and there's an example. Maybe there are lots who have? Maybe this is just a silly joke. What about the geeks who haven't kissed a boy yet (I'd say that the majority of them).

There are places and times when to make such comments (and sometimes that's never and no-where) but don't come all coy and act like it's some kind of 'knee-jerk feminism'. He ought to take note and be more appropriate and considerate - that hurts no one...other than those who are in to knee-jerk defensiveness.


Next time, Linux speakers at conference should replace words like guys, girls, moms and grandmothers with something more neutral, like penguins, pidgins, rabbits, etc. No one will understand but the result could be more funny. I hope that people protecting rights of animals will not rise their voice against such speech... ;-)

Sexist, I don't think so.

I do agree that when you listen to the video that "girls' comment kind of sticks out, making it easy to take the wrong way.

If you look at the context though, how many people talk about the mom test. It's a common experience with tech people, they know about the computer stuff, making them the ones their moms and grandmas turn to for support and guidance.

Mark talks about the moms and grandmas, then makes a more generalized statement about making things easier for users, then makes the "girls" comment.

Since he had just referenced moms and grandmas just a little bit before making the "girls" comment, I find it hard to interpret it as a reference to anything other than our moms and grandmas.

Later, Seeker

Sex Neutrality

"Maybe the OPENSOURCE community can help solve the "GUYS" problem by choosing one of these."

Why? Guys is applicable. Saying something neutral is like saying "the sacrifices of the men and women of the US army", when it's men getting their body parts blow off, and men who make up almost all of the army and do all of the heavy lifting and nearly all of the getting-maimed and dying. There comes a point where it's disrespectful to say "men and women".


The problem with "GUYs" is that ENGLISH is incomplete. We have no word for "ALL OF YOU REGAURDLESS OF SEX" in the language. The default is to use the masculine form.

They've solved the problem in southern US by using "YALL". "YOUS" or "YOUSN" is used in parts of New England.

Maybe the OPENSOURCE community can help solve the "GUYS" problem by choosing one of these.

re: re: Poorly


Probably 95% of the Ubuntu users never care about any virtualization, just the way 98% of the Windows users don't care about such things, OK?

MOST Ubuntu users just want to use the Internet, to use a media player and an office suite.

MOST desktop/laptop/netbook users are not IT professionals.

How many VMware and Parallels licenses are sold, and how many desktop OS licenses?

Oh, Ubuntu is also for servers? Then... STOP talking about Flash, codecs, Linux Mint and whatever else is FOR DESKTOP USE!


As for Ubuntu 9.04 and Linux Mint 9.04, no matter what they say, Intel users are screwed. Seriously. The said "older driver" (2.4.1) is not stable, unless you like deadly stuff like I830WaitLpRing:

Ubuntu 9.10 is rapidly shaping up. In the last few days, it got TONS of updates and fixes, and even Xubuntu 9.10 got an excellent theming (via xubuntu-artwork 0.36 and 0.37), and fixes for stupid bugs as those in Mousepad and Leafpad (MrPouit is a great guy).

Allow me to go for Xubuntu 9.10 right now, and to only add codecs and WINE. I'll then allow you to go up there, in the clouds :-)

In the same Xen boat - KVM migration coming

I'm in the same boat that you left with Xen. Our company runs Xen and Ubuntu. We see that switching to KVM is necessary with the next LTS release. We aren't happy about this, but I wasn't happy as a 5yr old when my sister pushed me into the pool either.

I'm looking forward to your migration story, in detail.

Sexism ...

Hi Marcel, I have to say I looked closely at the video and didn't think that it was sexist in any way - maybe not appropriate for this conference, but definitely not sexist. Please remember that people come from all over the world and there are different customs, ways and grammatical phrases. Unless there is something that is blatantly wrong in a global sense, please take it for what it was meant - just some light hearted humour. I asked my wife if you would be offended and she looked at me as if to say 'what's the big deal'?

If you look at the following article ( ), it seems to be all about picking his speech to pieces. Knowing the kind of person Mark is, I doubt very much it was his intention to denigrate anyone. While I'm sure everyone tries to be PC in this age of over-PCness, you'll get it wrong now and again - live with it. Not everyone is out to be bad.


People should calm down about the issue of feminazi or racism agitators heckling about FOSS recruitment, or any recruitment. No one should need to "...strive to be as gender neutral as possible". All that matters is recruitment on merit for the job. Sex is of no relevance here. Recruit completely black, white, male or female teams as you wish as long as all were recruited on merit. When recruiting, just be careful not to give the above mentioned agitators any information by simply declining candidates with "sorry you did not fit our profile". Though this is hard on candidates, it must be, until politically correct nonsense is purged from society.

Ubuntu vs LinuxMint

Did you actually research to find out why Ubuntu doesn't ship with Flash or the codecs needed to play DVD's or other proprietary video files? Did you stop to think that maybe in some countries (like the USA) that they can't, due to the DMCA, and current patents? LinuxMint can because they are very low on the radar, and they probably don't have a legal team telling them not to.

re: Poorly

Actually, many users care about virtualization, even on the desktop. That's why companies like VMware and Parallels sell their products to desktop users. That aside, Ubuntu (and any other Linux distribution for that matter) aren't strictly for desktop use. Ubuntu is very popular with companies running Web and Email servers. Virtualization, to those people, is important.

As for the Mint argument, I see your point, but you're making a case based on 9.10 which is still in Beta right now. Essentially, you're arguing that Linux Mint 9.04 suffers from the same problems as Ubuntu 9.04. Fair enough. Nevertheless, as Ubuntu 9.04 works for a great many people and works well for them, so should Linux Mint.

re: Happy ending

And I thought it meant, "and they lived happily every after" or the movie has a happy ending; bad guy gets caught, the couple gets married . . . that sort of thing.

what 'happy ending' means

FYI-- "Happy ending" as it was used in Mark's keynote refers to man being serviced by a hooker to the point of ejaculation.What a charming way to begin a speech.

Congratulations on the launch of Ubuntu User, so far it's quite enjoyable, thank you!


Heck, most desktop users shouldn't care about virtualization at all, when will you get this right? They'd use that Linux distro, plus something else via WINE, period.

As for Linux Mint, it's great, but it releases MONTHS after Ubuntu, which is such a showstopper right now, when Ubuntu 9.04 has a screwed Intel video and 9.10 just got it right. So I am using Xubuntu 9.10 today -- the corresponding Mint XFCE edition might not be ready before January 2010!

The expanse of space surrounding Planet *buntu is getting busier and busier. As a result, achieving a stable orbit is particularly difficult when you're easily distracted. Consequently, Marcel Gagné's blog looks at pretty much anything and everything that orbits Planet *buntu. News, howtos, rumors, opinions, controversy, tech tips, helpful hints . . . you'll find it all here. Oh look! A shiny object!

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