New in version 14.2
August 18th, 2014
- The latest version of m23 extends the spectrum of supported client distributions by adding support for Ubuntu 14.04 LTS and Linux Mint 17 Qiana. For Linux Mint, the desktop environments Mate, Cinnamon, Xfce and KDE are available - for Ubuntu, there are a minimal KDE/Kubuntu Desktop, Unity (3D), Xfce, the Lubuntu Desktop and Gnome.
- Even while adding support for the two new distributions - and especially the desktops - accounts for most of the time needed to build this new release, there have also been made other improvements to m23. Among these you will find the improved user authentification by LDAP or the new testing framework "AutoTest" which automatically checks the m23 server installation ISOs.
- From this m23 version on LDAP users (on clients with Debian 7.x, Ubuntu 14.04 and Linux Mint 17) will automatically be added to the local groups to which local users would also be added. This ensures that users logged in via LDAP can also access the client's resources (for example the sound card). Also, when adding an LDAP user via the m23 interface, the corresponding LDAP group is created or the user is added to the group with the number of the admin's choice.
- AutoTestAutoTest is a new framework which was developed to automate repetitive testing tasks (which occur before the release of a new m23 version). Currently, it does not yet contain all the features we have planned, but it's enough to install the m23 server installation ISO on a virtual machine in VirtualBox without any user action. AutoTest defines the parts of a testing process using an XML file. Each part consists of a trigger event (for example a sequence of letters on the VM's screen), one or more actions (for example emulated keyboard strokes) and the following comparison with letter sequences on the screen which signal success, warnings or fatal results of that action. The output picture on the VM's screen is interpreted using the gocr character recognition.
- The test definition file also contains the parameters used to create the VM (for example RAM and hard disk size). A test can be executed on a local machine (on the same computer with the same user as the one starting AutoTest) as well as on a remote machine (in a running X- or X2go-session).
- Future versions of AutoTest will also allow to automagically test the m23 web interface, for example to add a new client and install it.
- m23 command line interface:
- cliThe m23 command line tool (m23cli) was extended by four features: It can now output the contents of a package sources list and a client's MAC address. One m23cli plugin lists all clients' IP addresses in one group. Another one checks if the clients can be accessed by network.
- Odds and ends:
- Debian based clients now do a "dist-upgrade" after the installation of the base system to update the software which is in the compressed operating system archive. If the hardware detection cannot find a harddisk (either because the driver module is missing or because there really is no harddisk), an error message in the partitioning dialogue in the m23 interface now alerts the user and stops further setup of the client. The recovery method "Set status to "Add"" does no longer add the task "reboot" or "shutdown". The new script "fixPHPFilePermissionsAndCR" (in /m23/bin) allows that the Apache user can access the PHP scripts in /m23 and that they use the correct end of line markers for BASH. When installing a language pack, this automatically required the installation of k3b. From this version on, k3b will automatically be removed again if it has not been installed before the language pack was added. The m23 virtualbox functions were modified to be able to get status informations from all VirtualBox versions.
- Bug fixes:
- Of course, we have also fixed some (small) bugs ;-) A change to the function which suggests a free IP address (used in the "Add client" dialog) now only refers to the currently valid (and not some previously used) IP range of the m23 server. At the start of the mass installation, the debconf settings are now also replicated and the second DNS server of the model client is also added to the real clients' settings. In the file list of the package architect, the file size of files bigger than 2 Gb on 32bit m23 servers is now shown correctly. And, lastly: In the HTML version of the user manual, all quotation marks are now supposedly in their correct place.
New in version 13.2 (August 20th, 2013)
- m23 rock 13.2 is all about Debian 7 "Wheezy". The 7th incarnation of Debian is now used as a basis for the m23 server and the network boot images and is also available for installation on m23 clients. For these, the desktop environments GNOME 3, KDE 4.8.4, LXDE, TDE 3.5.13 and XFce 220.127.116.11 can be used and installed automatically using m23.
- But this is by far not everything which is new: The new m23 version also contains support for the integration of Linux Mint 15 and a function to Ex-/Import package selections and extended options for handling external DHCP servers which are not controlled by m23.
- Up to now, it was only possible to save package selections in the database of the m23 server. Now we introduced the option to save them in simple text files which can later be imported. This is useful, for example, to transfer package selections between multiple m23 servers or to construct a package list with the tools of the respective distribution and to import it afterwards.
- For the vexed subject "external DHCP server" there is a new solution strategy, inspired by the iX article "Linux-Clients mit m23 zentral verwalten (Central administration of Linux clients with m23)". From m23 13.2 on, the settings of all m23 clients which are supposed to boot via network can be exported in the notation of an ISC DHCP server, so that the administrator (or an automated script) can add these settings to the configuration of a DHCP server which is not controlled by m23.
- Two new functions allow to deactivate the verification of SSL certificates for the client-server-communication. One of them deactivates the verification specifically for a single client and the other globally for all clients. Even if I do not think that the deactivation is a good idea, it can be necessary in some special cases, where without it, no jobs and feedbacks can be sent between client and server.
- We also introduced the merging of installation jobs for normal packages. All jobs with identical priorities are combined into one installation job. This helps speed up the completion of many single jobs and makes sure that every package is marked for installation only once.
- For developers, there is the new chapter "Using new Debian/Ubuntu releases with m23" in the "Development guide", where the adaptation of m23 for installation and administration of new, not officially by m23 supported, Debian and Ubuntu versions is described. This could be interesting especially for those of you who employ Ubuntu beyond the LTS versions which are supported by m23. Please let me know if you have been successful with an adaptation.
New in version 12.3 (June 13th, 2012)
- With m23's new version 12.3 rock, you can now also install and administer Ubuntu 12.04 LTS. We also added different desktop environments which should suit everyone's taste. Ubuntu's new standard desktop environment Unity is included in its 3D and 2D variants. Those who do not like Unity, are confronted with the agony of choice and have to decide between a classical Gnome environment (which is optically based on Gnome 2), Xfce, KDE (now with a brighter theme), LXDE or the pure text mode ;-) . The new login manager LightDM accompanies the list of new desktop environments .
- In addition to the main feature Ubuntu, we made many changes and improvements: The first thing to notice is the output of the m23 client monitor in the client's realtime status of the web interface implemented with AJAX. This way, you can always keep your client in view, even without using an SSH direct connection. When adding a new client, m23 now automatically suggests an unused IP address, which saves you the work of the tedious trial-and-error method or the invention of an algorithm to find free IPs. For German-speaking administrators (or all those who would like to become one), there is now the integrated BAfH daily excuse, that conjurs a new, humourous excuse into your web browser every day, which provides a plausible and absolutely logical reason, why the user's problem (unfortunately, regrettably) cannot be solved right now ;-). Besides this really useful (and possibly life saving) tool, a simple calculator has also found its way into the interface.
- The internal, VirtualBox-based virtualisation of m23 was improved massively: Now the newer VirtualBox 4.x (as it is contained in Ubuntu 12.04 LTS) can be used as a basis and for the first time, the hardware acceleration (PAE, NX and "Nested Paging") of the processor is used (if available), to install 64-bit operating systems or to allow the operation of virtual guests in virtual machines. In a graphical VNC session, the restart (e.g. when restituting a client) or the shutdown of a virtual client work now. The boot method is now changed automatically after the installation of the operating system is finished, for example from network boot to boot from a virtual harddrive.
- For use with other virtualisation solutions like KVM, the script VirtualBox-networking-setup.sh (which was originally created for use with VirtualBox) for the creation of network bridges was modified to be able to run in Ubuntu 12.04.
- The m23-xorg-configurator for the setup of the graphic card was upgraded by the ability to run in Ubuntu 12.04, this ability also has benefits for other distros. New upstart scripts ensure that the m23-xorg-configurator is executed before the login manager and that no X11 session is running. Otherwise, problems with the detection and recognition of the hardware could occur. A correction now makes sure that the configuration made by XOrg is found in the correct directory.
- Some details of the m23 interface were improved to accelerate and facilitate your work processes. When searching for packages in Debian and Ubuntu, you can now choose if you would like to see the complete package descriptions and sizes or the faster short variant of the descriptions in the result.
- After preselecting packages for (de)installation, you can now still modify your selection by using the new comfort functions. The packages can now - in addition to the old single choice method - also be selected and deselected as a whole or the selection can be inverted. Besides discarding tasks, their priority can now be changed, for example to make sure that they are run in a specific order. These priorities can even be saved as a package selection, so that they can be deployed to many clients. When you want to install several packages during the base installation of the clients, you can now choose as many package selections as you like, which are then installed automatically after the installation of the operating system. Special packages are now listed in a sorted fashion and a correction ensures that the list also contains special packages which are symbolic links.
- Behind the scenes, there has also been a lot of change: For example, the access method for the MySQL database has been changed to permanent connection and the configuration of the network boot Linux kernel was adapted to be used with device names of the type /dev/sd* for IDE drives.
- The new version is available as update via the m23 interface, via APT, as ISO to burn the m23 server installation CD/DVD or as preinstalled virtual machine.
New in version 12.2 (March 30th, 2012)
- CentOS 6.2 is the first halfSister distribution which m23 can install on 32- as well as on 64-bit systems. The community distribution CentOS is based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and is fully binary compatible to it. It is focused on stability and long-term support and (along with Debian) it constitutes a possibility when you need a system that can be employed in the long run.
- Great thanks is due to Philippe Gaunet in this m23 version for the revision of the French m23 help texts and the improvements that have been incorporated into the other language versions.
- The halfSister API was complemented by calls for changing user names and passwords. The hardware setup was adapted in such a way that it is now possible to install data partitions on a software RAID and to even allow an installation of some distributions on these. To simplify the development of the m23HSAdmin scripts for the different distributions, there is now the new tool checkForMissingHSFunctions.sh, to check if all implementations have the same functional range.
- Beside the important changes, there are, of course, also some less obvious improvements. For example, the mount points of partitions are now shown when the mouse pointer is hovering over the info icon. After the creation of a disk or partition image, the client will be shut down or re-booted, depending on its state before the creation of the image. During the search for packages, an animation is now shown and after completion of the search, the long package descriptions and the package sizes in MB are now listed for all distribtutions. Further changes concern the administration of the m23 administrators. Passwords can now contain any kind of character and after logout from m23, the index page of the m23 server is now shown automatically.
- Only very rarely, a function is removed from m23, and until now, this fate only occured to outdated distributions which were no longer maintained. This version is an exception of that practice, as it deactivates the plugin interface and removes it from the menu. As far as it is known to us, this interface was never used. However, if there is someone among you who needs this function, now would be a good time to tell us.
- Now, let's talk about the bug-fixes: For Debian/Ubuntu, the main user and his/her password for an m23 client can now be changed. For the creation of an image, the necessary SSL certificates are now loaded to the m23 client and the SSH server dropbear is started. To make an immediate formatting possible for complicated partitioning situations, after every creation and deletion of a partition a number of tools are started that forward the changes made on the partition table to the kernel. In the update.php, a syntax error was eliminated, that had led to the problem of update information never being shown.
New in version 11.4 (October 26th, 2011)
- m23 rock 11.4 is ready - and now Debian Squeeze is available as an additional client distribution and TDE (which can be seen as a continuation of KDE3) was added to the list of desktop interfaces to choose from.
- Everybody who used KDE3 before and missed it painfully in the new distributions can now use an alternative: TDE (Trinity Desktop Environment) can now be installed with m23 on Debian Squeeze clients. The differences to the KDE3 you are used to are so irrelevant - except for some small details - that KDE3 users will find their way around the new desktop easily. Of course, there is not only the Trinity desktop available, but also the corresponding program packages.
- There have been made improvements on the installation of KDE4, too. By default, gstreamer is now used as backend for the multimedia API Phonon, which is quite useful - as multimedia content (for example audio streams in amarok) can now be played right away.
- We had to make some adjustments for m23 to be able to install Debian Squeeze. For example, the m23-xorg.conf generator, which is necessary to set up the graphic mode and the VirtualBox guest additions automatically, was made more robust and now supports newer VirtualBox versions. In this context, the m23 installation routine for the VirtualBox server was adapted for the automatic setup on Debian Squeeze (and other Linux distributions using the same VirtualBox version). Because of their new LSB conformity, the m23 initscripts are now executed smoothly and on time.
- To make it possible that software packages can be installed using non-default settings, we added configuration pages for the packages from Debian Squeeze and Ubuntu Lucid that give you the same adjustment options as in manual installation and package configuration.
- The m23 user interface now offers more information about clients both installed with m23 and integrated into m23. So now the client properties of both show the first and last name of the main user, the system language, user and group numbers for LDAP and extensive DMI information. Moreover, the readability of the m23 interface was improved by showing table rows in alternating colours in many dialogues. The client status in the client task overview is now shown in the language of the m23 interface.
- And of course, there have also been some corrections and bug fixes. Making and deployment of disk and partition images is working again. The m23 server installation program will now find the drive with the installation CD in every case (thanks to the two hardworking administrators Stephan and Bernd) and will adjust the keybord language for the local terminal correctly. The client boot media for amd64 now also contain the file libresolv.so.2, which is necessary for lspci, so more hardware information can be sent to the m23 server. Further minor changes, which cover several configuration 'special cases', which occur in practice, were added to the m23 packages so m23 can work smoothly.
New in version 11.2 (June 2nd, 2011)
- There are no longer any obstacles to the endeavor of using computers set up with m23 as internet servers: The name of every m23 client, which at the same time is its hostname, may now be up to 64 characters long and can contain dots. A new function now checks if the client name is a valid domain name. The support for Ubuntu also underwent some changes to be able to use Ubuntu as a server. Ubuntu clients can now be installed in text mode, without graphical interface. The package source lists of Ubuntu 10.04 LTS were expanded by additional Ubuntu updates and Ubuntu security updates.
- There were also changes concerning the halfSister support: Every single m23HSAdmin function is now able to send detailed status messages that can contain the return values and possible output of programs running on the client to the m23 server. This was employed with Fedora 14 (the first halfSister distribution) so that every m23HSAdmin function automatically reports success or failure to the m23 server. Also, the installation of grub should work better now, even if the partitioning was not accomplished in full accordance to grub's "wishes".
- As in most m23 releases, the issue 'hardware recognition and configuration' plays an important role. The Linux kernel was updated to version 18.104.22.168 and simultaneously, a small, self-written hardware detection was integrated into the m23 boot media, which compares the hardware IDs contained in the kernel modules to those of the devices present in the computer and loads the corresponding modules. Additionally, there is now an emergency network interface card module loader that will be started to make a last attempt of activating the network interface card if all the other methods of finding a network interface card fail. The hardware detection hwinfo was refined by automated actualisation and conversion of the hardware data base. The m23hwscanner which collects hardware data about the client and prepares it for sending it to the m23 server, now recognizes swap partitions by use of a generic algorithm, works with large harware data amounts and sorts out all read-only devices (DVD/CD drives) in order to transmit only information concerning partitionable drives to the server.
- And here some minor changes: After the deactivation of the rescue system a corresponding message is now shown. In the partitioning dialog an absolutely empty hard drive can be clicked on to define a start and an end point (to create a new partition). The script editor shows a new error message if a script cannot be saved (which normally shouldn't happen ;-)) and MAC addresses are now checked for validity. The readability of the table with the preselected packages was improved. At mass installation, the installation drives are now adapted for the boot manager. And last but not least, the API for the package option pages was augmented by some further elements and a new setpoint value management.