In honor of Pi Day, I built and deployed a Pi-Hole server.

Pi Hole is software that acts as a caching DNS server and ad-blocker, by black-holing known advertising sources at the DNS layer.

You can obtain Pi Hole at https://pi-hole.net/

As the name suggests, it is optimized to run on a Raspberry Pi. I’m running it on a Pi B that was otherwise unoccupied.

It’s been running for a couple of days now, and tells me that it is stopping around 25% of traffic. And because it stops the traffic before the browser even connects to the server, that means that it is making my network faster as a result.

It took me very little time to get running, following the instructions on the website. Indeed, the longest part of the entire process was the initial Raspberry Pi operating system installation. The actual Pi Hole installation took maybe 10 minutes.

So far there has been no negative impact that I’ve noticed – no false positives, no pages I couldn’t get to that I wanted.

Recommended. Give it a try if you have a Raspberry Pi that has been sitting around since Christmas and you’re not sure what to do with it.


I’m heading home from SnowpenStack and it was quite a ride. As Theirry said in our interview at the end of Friday (coming soon to a YouTube channel near you), rather than spoiling things, the freak storm and subsequent closure of the event venue served to create a shared experience and camaraderie that made it even better.

In the end I believe I got 29 interviews, and I’ll hopefully be supplementing this with a dozen online interviews in the coming weeks.

If you missed your interview, or weren’t at the PTG, please contact me and we’ll set something up. And I’ll be in touch with all of the PTLs who were not already represented in one of my interviews.

A huge thank you to everyone that made time to do an interview, and to Erin and Kendall for making everything onsite go so smoothly.

OpenStack PTG and the Beast From The East

I’m at the OpenStack PTG in Dublin. I’ve started posting some of my videos on my personal YouTube channel – http://youtube.com/RichBowen – as well as on my work channel – http://youtube.com/RDOCommunity.

It turns out we’ve planned an event in the middle of the storm of the century, which the press is calling the Beast From The East.

So far it hasn’t amounted to a lot, but there’s a LOT more snow promised for this afternoon, and the government has warned people to stay off the roads after 4 unless they have a really good reason. Which is disappointing because I have a party planned to start at 6. I’m still trying to get hold of the venue to decide what happens next.

Yesterday I suddenly realized that I had bought my plane ticket for Sunday instead of Saturday by mistake. I quickly booked another hotel room for Saturday night, closer to the airport. Well, it turns out this may have been the most fortunate travel error I’ve made in a long time, as pretty much everything is cancelled for the next few days, and getting out of here on Saturday might have been impossible.

For now, we’re just watching the weather reports, and hoping for the best.

Not a Kenya citizen, apparently

There’s some drama going on in the news in Kenya right now. Without going into all of the detail (it’s quite a soap opera) one of the characters in the drama is one Miguna Miguna. (Yes, that’s really his name.)

Weirdly, I have been acquainted with Miguna for several years. He used to come to my Kenya website, say awful things about pretty much everyone, and then threaten to sue me when anyone said anything at all about him. Even when they had documented evidence. Like about his time in prison for opposing the Moi government, and other details that are conspicuously absent from his Wikipedia page.

But I digress.

One of the details of great interest to me is his citizenship. At some point, he acquired Canadian citizenship while in exile from Kenya (again, due to his political activism). The constitution says pretty clearly (and, as a lawyer, one would think he’d know this) that if you acquire foreign citizenship, you lose your Kenya citizenship. Read it for yourself. And you must apply for reinstatement, if you want it. Kenya does not automatically recognize dual citizenship, although there is a process you can go through to gain it, if you’re in that position.

Now, this last part was news to me, and so I’ve been reading over the last few days. Perhaps I could apply for reinstatement of my dual citizenship?

The 1991 constitution, I vaguely remember, introduces some language that eliminates dual citizenship. However, everything I can find about it now says that the only substantive change in that revision was the abolishment of the one-party state.

This led me to dig some more, because I have always believed that I had dual citizenship when I was born. I was born in Kenya to USA citizen parents.

Turns out, the 1963 constitution does not recognize Jus Soli – the notion that you’re a citizen of the bit of dirt you’re born on. Turns out, that’s actually somewhat uncommon, and mostly only recognized in the Americas. Not in Europe, Africa, or Asia, where (for the most part) you are a citizen only if your parents (or, in most cases, one of them) was a citizen.

So, although I have believed all my life that I’m a citizen of Kenya by birth, it turns out, legally, I never was. And, of course, the 2010 constitution makes it impossible for me to have that citizenship (re)instated, even if I had been, as I would have to reside in Kenya for 7 years, which is not practical at this stage in my life. And, as someone who was not, legally, born a citizen, I’d have to renounce my US citizenship as part of that process.

This is odd. Practically speaking, it makes no difference. I have never had enough knowledge of local politics to want to vote. I can still travel to Kenya without a visa. And I still have my childhood and my memories. It makes no practical difference whatsoever.

But I still feel like I’ve lost a part of who I am. Or, something that I always believed I was.

FOSDEM ’18, and the CentOS Brussels Dojo

The first weekend in February always finds me in Brussels for FOSDEM and the various associated events, and this year is no exception.

I arrived in Brussels on Wednesday morning, in order to have a little time to get over jet lag.

I have an AirBnB with two of my colleagues, and on Thursday, we cooked a fancy dinner and had a few friends over to share it. I think this is going to become an annual thing. It was a lot of fun, and I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time. I kind of wish we could have invited more people, but space is limited.

On Friday, CentOS had a dojo at the Marriott. We had roughly 75 people in attendance, and two rooms of presentations. I was, on the whole, very pleased with the event – both the attendance and the great talks.

Videos from the talk will start to appear on YouTube over the next few days, for those that missed it.

(We’ll have another Dojo in Singapore in March. Details coming real soon.)

Today was the first day of FOSDEM, with the chaos that always accompanies that. As usual, I worked shifts at the Apache, CentOS, and OpenStack tables. As usual, I was exhausted by quitting time. (Ok, quite a while before quitting time.)

Of course, I have to go back and do it again tomorrow.

This event is always exhausting, but it’s also a great time to see friends and colleagues from pretty much every open source project I’ve ever worked on, all the way back to the beginning.  Today I saw Apache friends I haven’t seen in many years, and also got to spend time with colleagues that I usually only see a few times a year.

I’ll be writing more over on the CentOS blog, as well as in the RDO newsletter, so see those for the rest of the story.

Curb side checkin

When I was a kid, someone told me that curb side baggage checkins at airports were usually a scam – unaffiliated with the airline and just there to steal your luggage.

30+ years later, I don’t think I’ve ever used on of these outside baggage checkins. They seem somehow suspect, even though I’m pretty sure they’re probably legit. I’m just certain I’d never see my luggage again.

Do you use them?

Flight delay out of Amsterdam

Yesterday I flew from Amsterdam to Prague on the 2:30pm flight, scheduled to arrive around 4pm.

Boarding began on time. This being Amsterdam, you don’t just walk out of the gate onto the plane – there’s a bus that takes you from the gate out to the plane. So, we all got on the bus, and got on the plane. No trouble.

At this point (unbeknownst to all of the passengers) one passenger calls a flight attendant over and reports that the bag which he/she has boarded with is not, in fact, his/her bag.

This started a chain of events from which there was no escape, due to both airline and federal policy.

A full security sweep of the plane was ordered, which involved everyone getting off of the plane. There was quite a bit of confusion – I assume they were trying to avoid panicking anybody, and so communication was slow? – but eventually we all got off of the plane, and back onto the buses. After sitting on the bus for a while, we started to drive around the plane parking area, making several loops.

At one point, the driver told us that the pilot had been arrested, and later that a passenger had been arrested. Neither one of these turned out to be true.

Finally, the driver got word that we had to go back to the terminal, and so we headed that direction, only to turn back a minute or two later with new instructions. Back at the plane, we sat for a while, and then did in fact go back to the terminal, where we were issued new boarding passes for the rescheduled flight, now scheduled for 5:30pm. We also received a generous 5 Euro voucher for dinner. (Yes, that was sarcastic. That won’t even get you a sandwich at Schiphol.)

Meanwhile, the flight crew exceeded its mandatory maximum on-the-clock time, and were relieved of duty, so the 5:30 flight was cancelled. Fortunately, there was a KLM plan and crew with nothing to do, and they picked up the flight.

Throughout this entire process, various passengers were loudly demanding more information! Answers! Explanations! None of which in any way helped things along. Others offered advice as to how to handle the situation, which was equally unhelpful, since a procedure was being observed, which wasn’t open to improvisation.

What remains a mystery is why the passenger waited until we were all on board to notify someone that he/she had the wrong bag.

CERN CentOS Dojo, part 4 of 4, Geneva

This is part 4 of a series about my visit to CERN in Geneva. You can read the entire series here: http://drbacchus.com/cern-centos-dojo-2017/

On Friday evening, I went downtown Geneva with several of my colleagues and various people that had attended the event.

CERN is right on the France/Switzerland border, so we’ve been going back and forth between the two countries several times a day, often not really knowing what country we were actually in.

I had been to Geneva when I was younger, but I really couldn’t say for sure when that was. The only thing I remember was the fountain – the Jet D’Eau – so I wanted to see that again. It was every bit as impressive as I remembered it.

CERN and Geneva

However, it was the end of a very long day, and between that, and jet lag, I was absolutely exhausted, so headed back to the hotel. I hope to go downtown again for a few hours this afternoon, but I kind of wanted to get these articles written while the memories were fresh.

When I was a kid, I dreamed that some day I would have a job traveling around the world, getting paid to see cool things. I think a lot of people dream of that. I have had the amazing good luck to achieve that goal. I have the best coworkers in the world, and I get to do things that I’m passionate about, every single day. The only way that this could be better is if I could have my beloved travel with me. Perhaps some day.


CERN CentOS Dojo, part 3 of 4: Friday Dojo

On Friday, I attended the CentOS Dojo at CERN, in Meyrin Switzerland.

CentOS dojos are small(ish) gatherings of CentOS enthusiasts that happen all over the world. Each one has a different focus depending on where it is held and the people that plan and attend it.

You can read more about dojos HERE.

On Friday, we had roughly 60-70 people in attendance, in a great auditorium provided by CERN. We had 97 people registered, and 75% is pretty standard turnout for free-to-register events, so we were very pleased.

You can get a general idea of the size of the crowd in this video:

The full schedule of talks can be seen here: https://indico.cern.ch/event/649159/timetable/#20171020

There was an emphasis on large-scale computing, since that’s what CERN does. And the day started with an overview of the CERN cloud computing cluster. Every time I attend this talk (and I’ve seen it perhaps 6 times now) the numbers are bigger and more impressive.

CERN and Geneva

This time, they reported 279 thousands cores in their cluster. That’s a lot. And it’s all running RDO. This makes me insanely proud to be a small part of that endeavor.

Other presentations included reports from various SIGs. SIGs are Special Interest Groups within CentOS. This is where the work is done to develop projects on top of CentOS, including packaging, testing, and promotion of those projects. You can read more about the SIGs here: https://wiki.centos.org/SpecialInterestGroup

If you want to see your project distributed in the CentOS distro, a SIG is the way to make this happen. Drop by the centos-devel mailing list to propose a SIG or join an existing one.

The entire day was recorded, so watch this space for the videos and slides from the various presentations.

The CERN folks appeared very pleased with the day, and stated their intention to do the event again on an annual basis, if all works out. These things aren’t free to produce, of course (even though we strive to make them always free to attend) so if your organization is interested in sponsoring future dojos, please contact me. I’ll also be publishing a blog post over on seven.centos.org in the coming days about what’s involved in doing one of these events, in case you’d like to host one at your own facility..

The Margin Is Too Narrow