Devuan on a Dell XPS 15 (9560, 2017)

I’ve  been a Linux Systems Administrator for more than two decades, and I’m intimately aware of what’s necessary to run Linux in the enterprise. I knew after the viral epidemic that is systemd, that the Linux ecosystem was inherently broken, and we needed a change.  At that point, I sought out a group of folks identifying themselves as the VUA, or Veteran Unix Administrators.  This group is vehemently opposed to systemd and began a fork of Debian without systemd, now known as Devuan (pronounced dev one.) Devuan is still in it’s infancy, only one major release under it’s belt, but it’s a massively capable server platform. My company is now running solely on Devuan Linux for all of our LAMP stack applications.  We are even using it for virtualization using vserver.  On the desktop side of things, it’s coming along quite nicely as well, but there are definitely some growing pains.  My company recently purchased a Dell XPS 15 (9560, 2017) for me, and it came with Ubuntu.  I figured it was time to “put my money where my mouth is,” and try an install of Devuan on this very new hardware that uses an NVME disk and boots via UEFI.  This is a journal of that experience.   I’m doing most of this from memory, so there may be some minor typos and/or mistakes. Feel free to reach out if something doesn’t seem correct. Continue reading

Checkpoint SSL VPN on Debian/Ubuntu

I’m currently in the middle of small-scale deployment for my company.  We sell a managed-service, big-data platform. This usually consists of a mix of Hadoop, Elastic Search, Storm, and Kafka; but all of that is actually irrelevant to the current topic. The data center we are deploying in lives on VMWare and from the outside is locked down with the exception of a Checkpoint SSL VPN.  I work for a massive and archaic company; seriously, we have 90,000 employees and we’re still using Lotus Notes for email. It’s like it’s 1997 again; and I can say that because I was doing IT in 1997 and remember deploying Lotus Notes in the Marine Corps. Given the nature of my company, it’s needless to say they are mostly a Wintel shop and are still trying to figure out how to deal with all of their startup acquisitions, like myself.  My group, ie. what is left of our startup, is mostly a Mac shop.  I personally use my Debian Linux desktop for most of my work because I honestly can’t stomach Windows, and would rather not deal with OS X.  That being said, there were really no directions on how to get the Checkpoint SSL VPN working with my Debian Jessie/Testing desktop, or my Ubuntu laptop. So I did what any *nix geek would do and figured it out on my own with a little know-how and a lot of Googling.   Continue reading

What is the best Linux distro?

As a veteran Unix/Linux Systems Engineer, I get the question everyday, “What is the best Linux distro?” First, I can tell you, there is no best Linux distro; each of them has their strengths and their weaknesses.  Secondly, that is the wrong question.  The question you should be asking: What is the right Linux distro? I can tell you that there is no right answer here. Continue reading