Article posted on Feb 14
Finnix is a small, self-contained, bootable Linux CD distribution for system administrators, based on Debian testing. Today marks the release of Finnix 104, the twentieth release of Finnix. Since the first public release of Finnix 0.03 in March 2000, there have been twenty releases and 37 ISOs released to the public, totalling 4.5GB . (All releases have included x86 and PowerPC ISOs, with the exception of Finnix 0.03, 86.0, and 100.)
Finnix 104 is a maintenance and rollup release, including updated upstream Debian software, Linux kernel 3.2, small functionality updates and a large number of bug fixes.
(Finnix 104 is being released on Valentine's Day, and while Finnix releases are sometimes timed to specific dates, today is otherwise a coincidence. However, rest assured that Finnix does love you.)
Article posted on Feb 5
Finnix will be participating in the World IPv6 Launch, a commitment by sites, ISPs and hardware manufacturers to be ready for IPv6 on or before June 6, 2012. This is a continuation of World IPv6 Day, a test launch of sites' IPv6 services on June 8, 2011.
Nothing will actually be done to Finnix on June 6. All Finnix sites (including this blog) have been IPv6 enabled for several years, and many Finnix mirrors are IPv6 enabled. Finnix is proud to be in this standing, and welcomes World IPv6 Launch to help push the internet forward into the IPv6 era.
For more information on Finnix and IPv6, please see www.finnix.org/IPv6.
Article posted on Jan 22
I have accepted an IS Operations position with Canonical, the makers of Ubuntu, and just got back from a week of orientation. This is a great opportunity, and I'm really looking forward to the coming months as I get settled in to operations at Canonical.
I wanted to let Finnix users know what this means for the future of Finnix and how it will change. Namely, nothing should change. Finnix will continue to be my personal project. From my initial talks during the interview process, Canonical management is supportive of Finnix, but will not try to exert any control over it. Conversely, I am joining as an operations sysadmin, not as an Ubuntu developer, so I have no direct control of Ubuntu development over any other member of the Ubuntu user community.
Finnix will continue to be based on Debian; I currently use a mix of Ubuntu and Debian for my workstations and servers, and while I love Ubuntu, Debian's development process is a closer fit as a base for Finnix's development process. I will also continue to be a Debian Maintainer, and will continue representing Finnix as a Debian derivative.
The decision to use Launchpad for Finnix bug tracking was unrelated (but has been working well so far), and actually began before I started interviewing with Canonical.
Article posted on Dec 12
I am experimenting with tracking development on Launchpad, specifically bug tracking and new features. A number of bugs have already been filed for the Finnix 104 milestone. If you have a bug or a feature request not already listed, please file a bug through the Launchpad interface.
The mailing list will continue to be the focal point of Finnix discussions, and Launchpad will not be used for things like package management. Still, it's already proving to be a decent bug tracking interface, and beats the method used for the previous 12 years (namely, a text file in a screen session on a development machine).
Article posted on Oct 23
Finnix is a small, self-contained, bootable Linux CD distribution for system administrators, based on Debian testing. Today marks the release of Finnix 103, the nineteenth release of Finnix, and marks three months since the release of Finnix 102, and six years since the relaunch of Finnix 86.0 in 2005. Finnix 103 includes a new forensic mode, RNG entropy gathering, a minor kernel update, a large number of bug fixes, new packages and new minor features.
Finnix 103 includes a new forensic mode. When booted with the "forensic" or "forensics" boot flags, Finnix changes its behavior to minimize the chance of loading suspect code or writing to suspect media. These changes include cryptographic hash verification of discovered Finnix CD media, locking block devices, and avoiding swap, LVM, RAID, crypt and network autodetection. For more information, see the Forensics page on finnix.org.
Modern Linux distributions add to their random number generator (RNG) entropy pool by saving some random data before shutdown, and adding it back into the pool during startup. A LiveCD cannot normally do this, so Finnix includes a new feature to generate random data to be fed into the pool via a method that relies on the separation of a computer's CPU and RTC. By default 8 bytes are generated during each Finnix startup (due to the time it takes to generate data via this method), but a new utility wrapper, "finnix-generate-entropy" is included to generate a full pool's worth of entropy (currently 4096 bytes). For more information, see this blog post on finnie.org.
Article posted on Oct 19
If you're the type who is delighted by tables and number and maps with markers on them (and hey, who isn't?), there is now a Finnix mirror status site at mirrors.finnix.org. There you can see the current status of Finnix mirrors, see when they were last synced, and test GeoIP functionality.
One thing that is immediately evident by the global mirror map is that it isn't very global. Most of the mirrors are located in the eastern half of North America. The remaining are one in Idaho, one in California (temporarily provided by me through Colobox Networks to service the west coast), and one in Greece. If your organization can provided mirror services for Finnix and are particularly located in one of the following regions, I'd like to hear from you:
Any new mirrors would be appreciated, but I would like to especially focus on those regions. More information for mirror providers is available at the main mirrors site. Thank you.
Article posted on Sep 18
All direct links to ISOs (on the home page for example; URLs that begin with http://www.finnix.org/releases/) redirect the user to a mirror. In the past, this redirector was purely random, with a weight added to the randomness to prefer larger capacity mirrors to smaller mirrors.
The redirector now takes GeoIP location information into consideration when possible. It increases the chances that the user is redirected to a geographically close mirror. Weighted randomness is still a consideration, so you will not be redirected to the closest mirror every time, but the GeoIP distance adds weight to closer mirrors.
A full list of Finnix mirrors is available here.
Article posted on Aug 21
Finnix is an open source product; it is comprised of many pieces of software under a variety of open source licenses, and the "glue" that holds everything in Finnix together is GPLv2, so the distribution itself is considered to be GPLv2 for convenience sake.
However, very little source is actually released by Finnix itself. The kernel sources and all Finnix-specific packages are available at packages.finnix.org, but the majority of software included with Finnix is released binary-only. Believe it or not, this is done deliberately. Finnix is based on Debian, which has a long history of fastidious license reviews and source retention. The official line is "if you need sources, for 99% of the software in Finnix, Debian has already done the work for you".
However, that does not release Finnix from legal obligations. As detailed on the Legal page, Finnix complies with section 3(b) of the GPLv2, which requires a direct offer of source upon request if source is not provided directly with binaries. However, again, Debian does such a good job at source/licensing that nobody has yet to invoke this throughout Finnix's 11 year (and counting) history.
This method was chosen for practicality, not to avoid doing work. Indeed, it still takes a lot of work to prepare a Finnix release from a source compliance perspective. Years ago I wrote software called damngpl (name chosen with tongue firmly in cheek) to manage the various methods of making sure sources for all software in the Finnix userland are accounted for. The result is, for each Finnix release, a separate unreleased ISO of all sources for that release. (Finnix 102's source ISO was exactly 600 MiB, for example. By comparison, the released x86 binary CD was 114 MiB, and the PowerPC CD was 116 MiB.) These source ISOs are kept safe in several locations, and ready to be offered if needed.
All this leads to what I originally wanted to announce. While I had been doing this since Finnix 86.0's release in 2005, the original release of Finnix, 0.03 from 2000, did not have a source ISO available. Section 3(b) of the GPLv2 specifies that the written offer is valid for three years, but this is generally interpreted as from when the corresponding binaries are last offered from the releasing party. And Finnix 0.03 is actually still being released today (it is being distributed by the official mirror network).
Finnix 0.03 was based upon Red Hat Linux 6.1, and amazingly, The Internet does lose memory. (As blogged about last year, several of Finnix's own public releases, mostly pre-releases, are presumed lost.) Red Hat Linux 6.1 sources were hard to find, and updates to RHL 6.1 were even harder. But in the end, I was able to collect SRPMs for every single package in Finnix 0.03. So now Finnix is able to account for sources for every piece of software in each of its 18 releases in its 11 year history.
Article posted on Aug 14
Finnix has had PowerPC support for over 5 years now, and is frequently mentioned by PowerPC Linux enthusiasts. Part of the reason is while PowerPC is well supported in the Linux kernel, sadly very few distributions support PowerPC any more. Finnix is one of only two PowerPC LiveCDs, and IMHO the most popular (the other is GeeXboX, a graphical multimedia LiveCD). As for installable distributions, very few support more architectures than 32/64-bit x86 these days.
So I decided to make a list of Linux distributions with PowerPC support. I took the list at DistroWatch.com and weeded out errors, distros that are no longer active, distros that are active but no longer have PowerPC support, etc.
Vine Linux (a Japanese language distro) was on this list when I compiled it a few weeks ago. But since then Vine 6.0 was released with no PowerPC support, and the release notes make no mention of its removal.
Article posted on Aug 14
I was at DEFCON 19 in Las Vegas, Nevada last week, with Finnix stickers and CDs in tow. And I gave away a lot of stickers, approximately 150. Enough that when I got back, I heard from multiple people who had been at the conference and saw other people who had Finnix stickers on their bag, laptop, etc.
Of course, you can also receive free Finnix stickers through a variety of methods. The self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) method has been pretty successful since I launched it earlier this year, and I send out SASE stickers a few times per month. Monetary donations help support Finnix and will also receive free stickers as a thank you.