Archive for the ‘comp’ Category

The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien

Saturday, September 19th, 2015

How did we communicate before email? Before SMS? Before faxes? While using a telephone was an expensive luxury? People wrote letters. Writing a personal letter is a great exercise for the mind, giving the opportunity to think and focus, and make visible the train of your thought. Those who loved their language probably wrote more than others. And for many it was customary to keep letters, for reference, or for cherishing. So while looking for clues about someone’s life over the first 70 years of the 20th century, one should look for their letters.

J.R.R. Tolkien had during his lifetime a massive correspondence. He constantly wrote to his family, employers, friends, and publishers. Some of them are collected in this book. Through his letters, we follow his life, as seen with Tolkien’s own eyes, from the small everyday events when writing to his friends and family, through the drafts of The Lord of the Rings while writing to his publishers, and even to religious musings or pure philosophy, when writing to his children in his elder days.

Many of the letters were found in draft form, or collected from their receivers. The collection is comprehensive, but of course not complete. Lots of letters are missing, and no one knows how many Tolkien ever wrote. From the known letters, this is of course also an edition, and the editors have focused on Tolkien’s life, and especially the occations that touched the legendarium, from which his most famous works arose.

For those interested in Tolkien’s life and the story of his books, this is pure silver, and specked with golden treasures, like these:

Got my head-harvest reaped: a big crop: still fertile soil, evidently (#63)

The vast sum om human courage is stupendous (#64)

Finnish nearly ruined my Hon. Mods, and was the original gem of the Silmarillion (#75)

I coined the word ‘eucatastrophe’: the sudden happy turn in a story which pierces you with a joy that brings tears (which I argue is the highest function of fairy-stories to produce) (#89)

This university business of earning one’s living by teaching, delivering philological lectures, and daily attendance at ‘boards’ and other talk-meetings, interferes sadly with serious work. (#117)

The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien is highly recommended reading. And if you get nothing else from this, at least I have learned, that taking time to write personal letters, is something I should do more often.

jemalloc-4.0.x for fedora and epel

Thursday, August 20th, 2015

jemalloc, Jason Evans’ general-purpose scalable concurrent malloc implementation, was recently updated to version 4.0.0. I have wrapped packages for Fedora, and will update rawhide in a few days. If you would like to test the packages already, have a look at

Update: Jason recently released updates through 4.0.1 to 4.0.3. Packages for 4.0.3 are pushed to rawhide. Builds for epel are available at

There are a few fedora packages that rely on jemalloc. If you have a chance to help testing, please recompile and test the package against the updated version. You can leave comments here, or send me a mail.

$ sudo repoquery --whatrequires jemalloc |\
  sed 's,\(.*\)-.*-.*,\1,g;' | sort | uniq | tr '\n' ' ' | fold -s; echo

blender blenderplayer bro gridengine gridengine-execd gridengine-qmaster 
gridengine-qmon jemalloc-devel nfs-ganesha nfs-ganesha-ceph nfs-ganesha-gluster 
nfs-ganesha-proxy nfs-ganesha-utils nfs-ganesha-vfs nfs-ganesha-xfs redis 

For those that would like to use jemalloc-4.0 on epel, I have built packages for epel 5, 6, and 7 as well. These will not be pushed to the official epel mirrors, as there are api and abi changes that make them binary incompatible with the existing packages in epel.

I have my happy day job at Redpill Linpro in Norway. Redpill Linpro is the market leader for professional Open Source and Free Software solutions in the Nordics, though we have customers from all over. For professional managed services, all the way from small web apps, to massive IPv4/IPv6 multi data center media hosting, and everything through container solutions, in-house, cloud, and data center, contact us at, or follow us on social media:

hitch-1.0.0-beta for Fedora and EPEL

Friday, June 26th, 2015

The Varnish project has a new little free software baby arriving soon: Hitch, a scalable TLS proxy. It will also be made available with support by Varnish Software as part of their Varnish Plus product.

A bit of background:

Varnish is a high-performance HTTP accelerator, widely used over the Internet. To use varnish with https, it is often fronted by other general http/proxy servers like nginx or apache, though a more specific proxy-only high-performance tool would be preferable. So they looked at stud.

hitch is a fork of stud. The fork is maintained by the Varnish development team, as stud seems abandoned by its creators, after the project was taken over by Google, with no new commits after 2012.

I wrapped hitch for fedora, epel6 and epel7, and submitted them for Fedora and EPEL. Please test the latest builds and add feedback: . The default config is for a single instance of hitch.

The package has been reviewed and was recently accepted into Fedora and EPEL (bz #1235305). Update august 2015: Packages are pushed for testing. They will trickle down to stable eventually.

Note that there also exists as a fedora package of the (old) version of stud. If you use stud on fedora and want to test hitch, the two packages may coexist, and should be able to install in parallel.

To test hitch in front of varnish, in front of apache, you may do something like this (tested on el7):

  • Install varnish, httpd and hitch
      sudo yum install httpd varnish
      sudo yum --enablerepo=epel-testing install hitch || sudo yum --enablerepo=updates-testing install hitch
  • Start apache
      sudo systemctl start httpd.service
  • Edit the varnish config to point to the local httpd, that is, change the default backend definition in /etc/varnish/default.vcl , like this:
      backend default {
        .host = "";
        .port = "80";
  • Start varnish
      sudo systemctl start varnish.service
  • Add an ssl certificate to the hitch config. For a dummy certificate,
    the certificate from the hitch source may be used:

      sudo wget -O /etc/pki/tls/private/
  • Edit /etc/hitch/hitch.conf. Change the pem-file option to use that cert
      pem-file = "/etc/pki/tls/private/"
  • Start hitch
      sudo systemctl start hitch.service
  • Open your local firewall if necessary, by something like this:
      sudo firewall-cmd --zone=public --add-port=8443/tcp
  • Point your web browser to https://localhost:8443/ . You should be greeted with a warning about a non-official certificate. Past that, you will get the apache frontpage through varnish and hitch.

    Enjoy, and let me hear about any interesting test results.


    Varnish Cache is powerful and feature rich front side web cache. It is also very fast, that is, Fast as in on steroids, and powered by The Dark Side of the Force.

    Redpill Linpro is the market leader for professional Open Source and Free Software solutions in the Nordics, though we have customers from all over. For professional managed services, all the way from small web apps, to massive IPv4/IPv6 multi data center media hosting, and everything through container solutions, in-house, cloud, and data center, contact us at

  • varnish-4.0.3 for Fedora and EPEL

    Thursday, March 5th, 2015

    varnish-4.0.3 was released recently. I have wrapped packages for Fedora and EPEL, and requested updates for epel7, f21 and f22. They will trickle down as stable updates within some days. I have also built packages for el6, and after som small patching, even for el5. These builds are based on the Fedora package, but should be only cosmetically different from the el6 and el7 packages available from

    Also note that Red Hat finally caught up, and imported the necessary selinux-policy changes for Varnish from fedora into el7. With selinux-policy-3.13.1-23.el7, Varnish starts fine in enforcing mode. See RHBA-2015-0458.

    My builds for el5 and el6 are available here: Note that they need other packages from EPEL to work.

    Update 1: I also provide an selinux module for those running varnish-4.0 on el6. It should work for all versions of varnish-4.0, including mine and the ones from

    Update 2: Updated builds with a patch for bugzilla ticket 1200034 are pushed for testing in f21, f22 and epel7. el5 and el6 builds are available on link above.



    Varnish Cache is powerful and feature rich front side web cache. It is also very fast, that is, Fast as in on steroids, and powered by The Dark Side of the Force.

    Redpill Linpro is the market leader for professional Open Source and Free Software solutions in the Nordics, though we have customers from all over. For professional managed services, all the way from small web apps, to massive IPv4/IPv6 multi data center media hosting, and everything through container solutions, in-house, cloud, and data center, contact us at

    rpm packages of vmod-ipcast

    Thursday, January 8th, 2015

    Still on varnish-3.0? Missing the ability to filter X-Forwarded-For through ACLs? Use vmod ipcast by Lasse Karstensen.

    I cleaned up and rolled an rpm package of vmod-ipcast-1.2 for varnish-3.0.6 on el6. It’s available here:

    Note that the usage has changed a bit since the last version. You are now longer permitted to change client.ip (and that’s probably a good thing). Now it’s called like this, returning an IP address object:


    If the string does not resemble an IP address, the fallback ip is returned. Note that if the fallback ip is an unvalid address, varnishd will crash!

    So, if you want to filter X-Forwarded-For through an ACL, you would something like this:

    import ipcast;
    sub vcl_recv {
       # Add some code to sanitize X-Forwarded-For above here, so it resembles one single IP address
       if ( ipcast.ip(req.http.X-Forwarded-For, "") ~ someacl ) {
         # Do something special

    And that’s all for today.

    Varnish Cache is powerful and feature rich front side web cache. It is also very fast, that is, Fast as in on steroids, and powered by The Dark Side of the Force.

    Redpill Linpro is the market leader for professional Open Source and Free Software solutions in the Nordics, though we have customers from all over. For professional managed services, all the way from small web apps, to massive IPv4/IPv6 multi data center media hosting, and everything through container solutions, in-house, cloud, and data center, contact us at

    J.R.R. Tolkien: The Silmarillion

    Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

    I read Tolkien’s “canon” every christmas, and while posting late, I managed to read through The Silmarillion this December too.

    While reading The Silmarillion yearly, there are some passages that touches me more than others. Luthien’s rescue of Beren on Tol-in-Gaurhoth. Hurin’s last stand – Aure Entuluva! The killing of Beleg Cúthalion. Fingon finding Maedhros by song. But I am deepest moved by the Ainulindalë, the Song of the Ainur, that is, the creation of the World, simply because it is so beautiful.

    God, Eru Ilúvatar, creates the The World, and not the Earth only, but the whole Universe. And how is this done? It is shaped by song. But he does not sing himself. He suggests a theme, and lets his Ainur sing in before him. He’s not even conducting. He sits back, and lets the Ainur sing, improvising in beautiful harmony, inspired by his thought. And when the song is finished, he says Ëa! – Let this be! And the World is created from the void, and the Ainur watches their song unfold in time and matter and space. This is probably the finest image of Tolkien’s idea of sub-creation, and of course, integrated in his own legendarium.

    But wait, there is more. The mightiest and proudest of all the Ainur was Melkor, and he tries to turn his song to another theme, where his song stands out. The result is disharmony. But Illúvatar tells him that there is nothing Melkor can do, that has not its uttermost source from him. So when the World is created, there are valleys where there were sung mountains, cold winter where there were sung mild summer, and fires and heat where there were sung water and cool breezes. But thus, there were snowflakes and ice crystals, and there were clouds and rain. Ever more beauty is revealed from Melkor’s attempt to draw the song to himself.

    Both Melkor and rest of the Ainur improvise with free will, and as real beauty comes from all the Ainur’s song, Evil also comes from Melkor’s fall from harmony. God did not want evil to be, but while it is often hard and cruel to the children of Ilúvatar – elves and men, afterwards it will have been good to have been, as God will make amends, and from it create more beauty in a better world.

    While Tolkien seldom preaches the Christian gospel in his books, the problem of evil and the span between free will and God’s omnipotence, is seldom better discussed than in this text.

    The heroes of The Lord of the Rings

    Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

    Every year around christmas, I read Tolkiens “canon”, that is The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion. As earlier years, I’ve also this time tried to find a new angle or figure to watch closer. This year, let’s talk about heroes.

    Who is the true hero of The Lord of the Rings. Frodo everybody yells at once, of course. Or Gandalf! Gandalf for president! – an american slogan from the sixties. Or even Aragorn, the high king returned.

    I tend to disagree.

    Of course, Frodo is the main character, the Ringbearer, our beloved protagonist, and the hero of the story, as he goes forward, constantly dodging dangers and all the time trying to avoid the lure of the Ring itself. But what does he do? (more…)

    J.R.R. Tolkien: The Hobbit (or The Battle of Five Armies)

    Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

    I read The Hobbit again, and this time aloud to the youngest of the kids. So now, I have to wait for grandchildren. The target for this reading was of course to complete it before watching final chapter of the Hobbit movie series, so they can proudly tell, when they grow older, of course I read the book before I saw the film.

    So instead of adding a deeper analysis of this cozy children’s book, I’ll share some thoughts about the film.

    First: I enjoyed the film. A lot. There are always many things that you would like to include, but I think on the whole, they kept as much of the real story as to keep at least some of the Tolkien purists content. Including myself. This is still quite a different story than The Hobbit, but the movie makers did what they had to do, I suspect.

    The good:
    I loved the dragon. Smaug, the Chiefest and Greatest of Calamities, and his downfall was magnificent. The destruction of Lake Town and Bard’s shot was just great. Bard standing out as the real leader of the people of Esgaroth, and the heir of Dale, was heart-warming. I was again impressed by the immenseness of the halls of the Lonely Mountain. I actually enjoyed the fight of the White Council in Dol Guldur. I can even stomach the fight of Thorin and Azog. I of course loved the details of the costumes, the surroundings, the filming, all superb. I also enjoyed a lot of the action scenes, though Legolas doing a Mickey Mouse style run-up-falling-stones, was perhaps a bit too much. And the homecoming to Hobbiton, and building up the frame story was brilliant, though I missed the final visit from Gandalf and Balin.

    The bad:
    As in the previous movies, I hated the attempts to make comic relief based on plat jokes. The added figure Alfrid was on the whole unnecessary. There are enough comic points to fetch from the original story. Making up some coward dressing in drag to avoid battle, that’s not even funny.

    Giant monster-worms eating rock? What? What?

    Where was the good old thrush! As I lamented in the previous movie, it should be Bilbo that finds the weak point in Smaug’s armour, and the thrush retelling this to Bard, so he is able to slay the dragon. This makes Bilbo (again) the real hero of the original story. Why this point was neglected by the movie makers is hard to understand. It was used in The desolation of Smaug to build up the tension between Bard and the leaders of the city in Stephen Fry’s speech to the public, announcing a warm welcome to the dwarves, but still, this could easily be dealt with in other ways.

    One of the most important parts of the battle in the original story was the eucatastrophe, when the Eagles and Beorn comes and turns the battle. That Beorn, this wild creature, and not overfond of dwarves, joins in on the dwarves’ side, wrecks havoc to the orc armies, and rescues Thorin from being hacked by the orcs of Bolg, is a major point. He goes from being a wild creature, at no one’s side, to being a chieftain of a woodland folk, joining in on the good side. Showing him for, what was it, 2.5 seconds, was a huge disappointment. Social media said it concisely, hashtag #blinkorbeorn.

    Foul British language from a hog riding dwarf? Give me a break. Again, this is not funny (at least, not to my taste). Daín was a great leader of dwarves, and close kin to the kingship of Durin. Give him some credit, please.

    The coldness of the king of the elves is strange to me. While it must be hard to him to watch the slaying of his folk by the orcs, suggesting to just give up and go away seems strange. The elves were valiant warriors, and should be in front of the battle, as their hatred for the orcs was cold and bitter. Also, the king’s attitude against Gandalf is strange. Gandalf was a long time friend of the wood-elves of Mirkwood, and surely, the king knew him well.

    That thing about Legolas unable to go home after the battle did not give any meaning to me. Why was this so? One reason was of course his sorrow for Tauriel? But what more? For revenge? For lonely mourning? Please, we need more information here. And even much stranger was the comment from Thranduil, go check out this man called Strider. What?? Why? This may be just a silly attempt to bind the movie forward to the Lord of the Rings series but in the context it gave no meaning at all. I guess we will get the full meaning in the directors cut, when it hit the blue ray players in a year or three.

    But all this are just details. What disappointed me most was the lack of character building. One of the really strong points in the original Hobbit, is Bilbo’s change. He starts out as a respectable Baggins, but listening to his Took genes, he joins in this wild adventure. In the end, it is his Baggins’ side, wanting to negotiate peace on simple financial Baggins style respectable terms. This joining his Took and Baggins personalities to a whole is almost completely missed. Similar, the only person that actually has a character change during the movie is Thorin, winning over the bewitchment of the treasure, and running to the help of his natural allies.

    And finally, when Bilbo leaves the Mountain, what is there? No funerals. No consolidation of the peoples of wood, mountain, and town. No new king under the mountain. No coronation in Dale. Only a very, very few words from Balin, and then just a wave goodbye. I need more closure.

    We saw The Battle of Five Armies in 2D. Sitting for several hours with 3D glasses gives me headache, and we also thought the impact would be lessened on the smaller of the kids (the Norwegian age limit was set to 11 years). So we missed all the fancy 3D stuff. When using 3D as much as they used in the previous films, the movie makers tend to loose, at least in my opinion, a lot of other story telling effects. Too close shots of faces because the 3D effect would disturb the dialog with wider shots. Dwelling on effects that turns the stomach of the viewers, instead of larger scenery. But perhaps I’m just old fashioned.

    After six movies, I’m content that this was the final chapter of Peter Jackson’s Tolkien adventures. If anyone should bring Tolkien to the big screen again, I hope it will be something completely different.

    What is slowing down my ssh login process

    Monday, December 22nd, 2014

    On one box, I had this strange problem. Every login could take 40-60 seconds, but when first in, everything worked as a charm. As I use ssh for login, I checked the obvious; that reverse DNS lookup did not time out (sshd_config: UseDNS no), and that unnecessary gssapi was not used, but to no avail. So I fetched out old uncle strace from the drawer, and was to run sshd in debug mode, on the console. Then I realized that login on the console took at least as long as via ssh.

    So, the problem had to be somewhere else, probably som pam module. strace to the rescue

    # strace -e file -ff /usr/sbin/sshd -D -e -ddd -p 2122

    and logged in via ssh on port 2122

    There it was. An old /var/log/btmp had grown and grown and grown, and login, via (in fedora called in from session), scans it to check for previous logins, using a lot of cpu, io and time in the process.

    But why had the file grown so large? Because the btmp log saves failed logins, and this box (by design) had an open ssh to the world, and was often hit by scanners. But also because of missing log rotation. /etc/logrotate.conf on fedora actually rotates /var/log/btmp once a month, but to save space, someone had gzipped the last rotation (again, because of size). And by some strange reasoning (bug?), logrotate on fedora won’t rotate /var/log/btmp at all, if there exists some /var/log/btmp-20140606.gz (unless compress is switched on, which it by default, is not).

    Tolkien Coffee mug project

    Wednesday, December 17th, 2014


    A few months ago I set out to get a copy of one of the versions of The Hobbit that has Tolkien’s original illustations. After a bit of searching, I found an available copy of the 1962 swedish translation, Bilbo en hobbits äventyr. Some editions of that translation, at least the one I got, the 10th reprint from 1979, have the illustrations.


    So now, I can enjoy my own private printed copy of these nice illustrations.


    Another thought came to me. What about having these pictures on coffee mugs? I could have a complete set! (more…)