Article posted on Jul 26
Host Virtual, a Virtual Private Server (VPS) provider with 10 datacenter locations around the world and native IPv6 support, is now sponsoring Finnix, providing colocation and bandwidth for primary Finnix services. Finnix's services have been hosted at Host Virtual's San Jose facility for over 5 years, and all Finnix sites have had native IPv6 since early 2010.
Equally important, Host Virtual is now the latest VPS provider to provide Finnix as part of its core platform. Users can easily boot Finnix on their VMs as a rescue image for rescue, repair and maintenance of their OS installations.
Finnix is perfectly suited for VPS providers, and we are committed to working with all VPS providers to implement Finnix as a deployable option for their users.
Article posted on Jun 27
Finnix now has a page on Facebook, for all your Finnix-related facing and/or booking needs! Please visit facebook.com/FinnixCD today.
Article posted on Mar 2
That's a souvenir (replica) license plate; the text is red rather than blue (sadly, blue would have been better in this case).
(My actual car's license plate is VMLINUZ.)
Article posted on Nov 19
The people have spoken. Or at least, the people who use a certain RISC architecture.
I received a lot of mail and comments following the announcement that support for the PowerPC architecture was being dropped from Finnix, and the subsequent release of Finnix 100 as x86-only. Finnix was one of the few LiveCDs in the market with support for PowerPC, and many people use Finnix for administration of PowerPC systems, as I found out.
When I made the announcement, I left some wiggle room, stating, "I'm sure there will be one-off updates throughout the years, but PowerPC support will no longer be a release goal." I'd like to reiterate that this is still the policy, strictly speaking. Over the years, there have been releases that have been delayed due to PowerPC-specific bugs that had to be resolved before a release could be made for both supported architectures. However, after the show of support from PowerPC users, I am happy to announce that the "implied" policy has changed. PowerPC releases may not strictly be a release goal, but I now intend to produce PowerPC releases as a rule rather than an exception.
I've made some upgrades to the main Finnix PowerPC development machine (a G4 Mac Mini -- I have a more powerful dual-proc G4 MDD, but it sounds like a jet engine when running), and I expect, barring unforseen circumstances, that Finnix 101 will be released with both x86 and PowerPC support.
Article posted on Nov 7
After the release of Finnix 100, I did a little housecleaning of the main dev box, and found some old/odd Finnix builds. I decided to gather the various ISOs in one place to preserve for the times. I may release these somehow, but for now I just wanted to make sure they were not lost, and to give you a glimpse of some unreleased software. This list also includes some builds that I know existed and would like to find, but are currently missing.
Article posted on Nov 5
Back in 2006, before the release of Finnix 88.0, I released a bootchart report of the boot process, and it came in at 19 seconds. 4 years later, I decided to try again. This time, we're down to 12 seconds. Not bad, not bad:
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Article posted on Nov 3
In July 2008, Cory Buford wrote a nice review of Finnix for linux.com, shortly after the release of Finnix 92.0. Unfortunately, the review did not survive linux.com's transition to the Linux Foundation later that year, but I was able to save a copy, and with permission from the author, it has been reproduced here. Enjoy!
Edit (2011-07-02): It appears the review is back. Please see the original review on linux.com.
Finnix is a live CD distribution designed to assist system administrators in such tasks as system recovery and network monitoring. Based on Debian testing and Linux kernel 2.6, Finnix helps with filesystem and partition manipulation as well as with data recovery, installation of other operating systems, and boot record repair.
Finnix works on both x86/AMD64 and PowerPC systems. The latest release, version 92.0, fixes the Debian SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) vulnerability that was present in previous releases.
One nice thing about the distribution is its small size. Using SquashFS, the entire 300MB distribution was compressed into a bootable distribution just a little over 100MB. Its compact size notwithstanding, Finnix includes the latest technologies and applications for system administrators, including Logical Volume Manager 2 (LVM2), encrypted partitions, and multiple filesystem support.
To start using Finnix, download it from the author's site and burn it to a CD. Since you will likely use this distribution to recover systems -- the main intent of Ryan Finnie when he created it -- booting it as a live CD is the preferred option. If you want to use the CD drive for other purposes, such as using Finnix tools to back up on a CD, you can also load the distribution into RAM; just make sure you have enough RAM -- preferably at least 512MB -- to hold the entire package.
You can also install Finnix to a hard drive using the fairly complex documentation given on the author's site. Another option, once you're inside Finnix, is to run the finnix-thumbdrive script to create a bootable Finnix USB drive.
When you boot Finnix you will see a menu with several options. Although Finnix is designed to automatically detect the type of processor (either x86/AMD64 or PowerPC), you can still choose one yourself. You can run other useful tools -- including Memtest86+, a utility for memory hardware diagnostics -- from the boot menu. If you want to boot multiple operating systems on the system disk, you can use Smart Boot Manager, and for those who miss the DOS command-line interface, you have FreeDOS.
After you select a system, Finnix boots with no problems and with all hardware detected. You are then presented with a simple command-line interface (CLI); no graphical user interface (GUI) is available.
Finnix tools inside
Despite the absence of a GUI, Finnix's wealth of tools and utilities should be enough to satisfy system administrators or others tasked with system recovery. While recovery offerings such as Hiren's BootCD are effective, Finnix can be more flexible, especially when you use the utilities along with proper scripting to their full extent.
Among the available disk and partition manipulation and recovery tools is Partimage, which is comparable to Norton Ghost in functionality but also lets users back up or restore an image from a network server. In addition, Finnix includes the data recovery tool ddrescue.
Finnix offers many options for creating or manipulating filesystems. For filesystems such as ext2 and ReiserFS, there are e2fsprogs and reiserfsprogs, respectively. If you need to access or recover data from an NTFS partition, NTFS-3G and ntfsprogs are available. Also included is hfsutils, which supports Macintosh HFS volumes. Other supported filesystems include Unionfs, Cramfs and Squashfs. For volume management, there is Logical Volume Manager (LVM), which also supports LVM2, and EVMS (Enterprise Volume Management System), which supports NTFS and FAT, among others. Also included is Parted, for extending Linux partitions.
In addition to its disk manipulation and management support, Finnix is host to many monitoring, benchmarking, and diagnostic tools. lm-sensors can monitor system temperature, voltage, and fan status. For benchmarking and diagnostics, memtester stress-tests the memory system and helps find intermittent faults caused by overheating, unregulated power, and so on. To test how well your hard disk system is performing, Bonnie++ is included. For a complete stress test of the system, including the CPU, memory, and IO, a tool called stress is available.
A system recovery distribution such as Finnix would not be complete if it did not allow you to back up recovered data on external media. Finnix supports CDs and DVDs as backup media and includes a range of burning utilities, such as cdbackup, wodim, and dvdrecord, to make this process as fast and easy as possible. Although most of us are used to burning data with a GUI tool, burning data using commands is not that hard as long as you know the proper format, or filesystem, to be used. If you ever have difficulties, you can always issue the
man command followed by the utility name for detailed explanations, or just search for the tool on the Internet to find its related documentation. Experienced users can also control SCSI tape drives for backup and restore using the mt-st tool. You can perform incremental backups over the network, and restore files, using rdiff-backup.
Since Finnix is for system administrators, it includes popular and useful networking tools such as Nmap, for scanning and auditing networks, and tcpdump, a powerful network packet monitoring tool. Also included are SNMP tools such as snmp; the IPTraf interactive LAN traffic monitor; network filtering and firewalls such as ipchains and iptables; various VPN tools for PPTP, IPSec, and SSL; and the common network accessibility tools ping and traceroute. Common Linux network interface management commands such as
ifdownup are included as well, as are tools for enabling network services such as NFS, Samba, and FTP.
I tested the partition management tools, especially Partimage and ddrescue. Although I encountered some problems because I did not use some of the parameters, I successfully created an image of a partition, stored it on a network drive, and recovered some data from a corrupted disk. I also tested the CD- and DVD-burning tools in the command line and, following the detailed explanation of the burning parameters, was able to burn data to a DVD. I found the Joe editor handy for editing configuration files; other editors, such as sed and Zile, are also provided. To see all Finnix's packages, visit the official site.
A system administrator tool
Finnix 92.0 is a useful distribution for system administrators. With many tools covering jobs such as data recovery, hardware diagnostics and benchmarking, network services, and monitoring, this distribution can greatly help an administrator. However, Finnix is not for the average user accustomed to booting up a system and doing things graphically. While Finnix's CLI-based tools are not that complex, one must have the necessary knowledge to fully understand how to use them.
I was satisfied with the packages included in this distribution, especially the filesystem management and recovery utilities, as well as the CLI backup tools. For serious network troubleshooting, I would recommend instead distributions such as Network Security Toolkit or BackTrack, which are specifically intended for such purposes.
Article posted on Jan 13
That's right, Finnix now has a home in Second Life. This was mostly used as an excuse to learn the build system. While, personally, Second Life was rather boring from a "visitor's" point of view (I think I initially signed on about 3 years ago, and came back to visit a few times per year), I quickly learned that owning land and building was actually the fun part. So on with the tour...
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Article posted on Apr 17
The Finnix trademark has been published in the Official Gazette, a USPTO weekly publication for the purpose of announcing new trademark applications and allowing the public to file oppositions against them if so needed. (Hopefully Finnix is in the clear in that regard.) At this point, Finnix should be a registered trademark within about 12 weeks if everything goes right.
You can download the 113MB PDF here if you want, but here's the relevant screenshot:
Article posted on Jan 15
The final touches are being applied to Finnix 89.0, and will probably be released within a week. Currently I'm waiting on an update for Memtest86+: 1.70 was released this weekend, but a chipset detection flaw has forced them to announce a release of 1.71 (with the fix) "within a week". This gives me time to do some final testing and finish up a few of the non-development things that need to be done before a release.
Two of the most annoying non-development tasks are actually graphics and GPL compliance. Graphics are pretty self-explanatory: make a boot banner, CD art, etc. GPL compliance basically means I have to gather the source packages for every binary package in the release, burn them to CD, and throw that CD in my document safe for the next 3 years. Of course, nobody has actually asked for these sources yet (when you can just go to http://snapshot.debian.net and download specific versions yourself), but I do have to keep the sources around, just in case snapshot.debian.net were to disappear one day and someone needed sources to a particular package. The impetus is on me to provide these sources ultimately.