It takes a small effort to keep up to date on space news. Here's a summary of some current space flights that I like.

New Horizons
In 2015 we will see Pluto (a dwarf planet) for the very first time. This is the best picture we have of Pluto today:

New Horizons should improve this picture gradually from February to August 2015, yeah!

Remember Ceres, the dwarf planet between Mars and Jupiter. Only 900km accross, yet it could have more fresh water than planet Earth, and it holds about a third of the mass of the Asteroid belt. Dawn will give us a first look at Ceres in February 2015, yeah!

China to the Moon
Many people laugh with the Chinese space program, they shouldn't! They launched Chang'e 3 to the Moon in December 2013, and released a rover that is still operational today. Never mind that it stopped driving in January 2014, having a bunch of instruments operate for more than 10 months at -150 and +100 degrees Celcius is *amazing*.
Chang'e 4 will launch 23 October 2014 to fly to the Moon and back, testing return to Earth. Chang'e 5 will collect some rocks from the Moon in 2015 and fly them back to Earth. How long will it take before they send people ?
My guess is they won't just plant a flag, they will go to the Moon to do real long term science.

Elon Musk
Elon Musk is a man with a clear vision. He wants to put a million people on Mars as soon as possible. He is currently in charge of SpaceX (and also CEO of Tesla). They already had four or five flights to the International Space Station with their own rockets and their own spacecraft. My best guess is that they will have an unmanned Mars landing in about six years, and manned around 2025-ish.

There is more:
-Rosetta (circling a comet!) with Philae

-the Chinese space station (construction from 2018 till 2022-ish)
-the American rovers on Mars
-lot's of satellites around Mars
-and the Voyager probes are still alive


Vagrantfile (this is just a bookmark)

This is my (thank you Abel) current Vagrantfile to quickly create a number of servers with two extra disks and three extra network cards:


Vagrant.configure(VAGRANTFILE_API_VERSION) do |config|
 config.vm.provider :virtualbox do |vb|
  vb.customize ["storagectl", :id, "--add", "sata", "--name", "SATA" , "--portcount", 2, "--hostiocache", "on"]
 (1..3).each do |i|
  config.vm.define "server#{i}" do |node|
   node.vm.hostname = "server#{i}"
   node.vm.box = "hfm4/centos7"
   config.vm.box_check_update = true
   node.vm.network :public_network, ip: "10.1.1.#{i}", netmask: ''
   node.vm.network :public_network, ip: "10.1.2.#{i}", netmask: ''
   node.vm.network :public_network, ip: "10.1.3.#{i}", netmask: ''
   config.vm.provider "virtualbox" do |v|
    v.name = "server#{i}"
    v.memory = 512
    v.cpus = 1
    v.customize ['createhd', '--filename', "server_#{i}a.vdi", '--size', 8192 ]
    v.customize ['createhd', '--filename', "server_#{i}b.vdi", '--size', 8192 ]
    v.customize ['storageattach', :id, '--storagectl', 'SATA', '--port', 1, '--device', 0, \
'--type', 'hdd', '--medium', "./server_#{i}a.vdi"]
    v.customize ['storageattach', :id, '--storagectl', 'SATA', '--port', 2, '--device', 0, \
'--type', 'hdd', '--medium', "./server_#{i}b.vdi"]


Reserved DNS TLD's .invalid ?

I (wrongly) assumed that using a .local domain would never bother the root dns servers. It does (about 1500 q/sec).

So I read the relevant rfc's (2606 and 6761) where it clearly states:

...caching DNS servers SHOULD, by
default, generate immediate negative responses for all such
queries.  This is to avoid unnecessary load on the root name
servers and other name servers...
So I did a small test with the most recent bind9 in Debian as a caching only server, and it turns out it sends .local .localhost .example and .invalid to the root name servers ?! Only .test has an immediate response.

root@debian7:~# tcpdump port 53 -l | grep NX &
[1] 5699
root@debian7:~# tcpdump: verbose output suppressed, use -v or -vv for full protocol decode
listening on eth0, link-type EN10MB (Ethernet), capture size 65535 bytes

root@debian7:~# nslookup
> server
Default server:
> linux-training.local
09:22:15.932194 IP f.root-servers.net.domain > 49328 NXDomain*- 0/6/1 (656)
09:22:15.997731 IP j.root-servers.net.domain > 43556 NXDomain*- 0/6/1 (669)

** server can't find linux-training.local: NXDOMAIN
> linux-training.localhost
09:22:23.099452 IP e.root-servers.net.domain > 22464 NXDomain*- 0/6/1 (673)

** server can't find linux-training.localhost: NXDOMAIN
> linux-training.test

** server can't find linux-training.test: NXDOMAIN
> linux-training.example
09:22:42.124036 IP e.root-servers.net.domain > 8476 NXDomain*- 0/6/1 (661)
09:22:42.141847 IP e.root-servers.net.domain > 31139 NXDomain*- 0/6/1 (671)

** server can't find linux-training.example: NXDOMAIN
> linux-training.invalid
09:22:49.660427 IP e.root-servers.net.domain > 15655 NXDomain*- 0/6/1 (671)
09:22:49.753120 IP l.root-servers.net.domain > 48281 NXDomain*- 0/6/1 (671)

** server can't find linux-training.invalid: NXDOMAIN

So I visit the root dns server stats and notice the top queries (in queries/second):

1 .com 3500
2 .net 2500
3 .local 1400
4 . 1100
5 .home 1100
6. (.com base 64)
7 .org 400
8. .belkin 300

The top five queries for BRU01 (a Belgian root name server) are a surprise:

1 .home 240
2 .localhost 53
3 .local 50
4 .com 19
5 .ru 12

(.be is negligible with 0.4 queries/second)



Coffee or Tea ? Yes!

When people ask me:
"Do you want coffee or tea?" (*)
Then I answer:

... and most assume that I want to be funny, but I don't. I just don't care which of the two (coffee or tea) you give me, I am happy with both.

Turns out I am a hacker.

(*) Do you want spaghetti or rice ? Yes!
(*) Leffe or Chimay ? Yes!
(*) Can I see you tonight or tomorrow ? Yes!

It gets worse when questions contain all possible actions:
(*) Should I stay or should I go?
(*) Can I keep the book or do you want it back ?
(*) With or without sugar ?
 You just gave me all possible options ?! What kind of trickery questions are these ?!



Vagrant: Creating 10 vm's with 6 disks each

Hello lazyweb,

the Vagrantfile below works fine, but can probably be written simpler. I've been struggling to create variables like "servers=10" and "disks=6" to automate creation of 10 servers with 6 disks each.

Drop me a hint if you feel like creating those two loops.

paul@retinad:~/vagrant$ cat Vagrantfile
hosts = [ { name: 'server1', disk1: './server1disk1.vdi', disk2: 'server1disk2.vdi' },
          { name: 'server2', disk1: './server2disk1.vdi', disk2: 'server2disk2.vdi' },
          { name: 'server3', disk1: './server3disk1.vdi', disk2: 'server3disk2.vdi' }]

Vagrant.configure("2") do |config|

  config.vm.provider :virtualbox do |vb|
   vb.customize ["storagectl", :id, "--add", "sata", "--name", "SATA" , "--portcount", 2, "--hostiocache", "on"]

  hosts.each do |host|

    config.vm.define host[:name] do |node|
      node.vm.hostname = host[:name]
      node.vm.box = "chef/centos-6.5"
      node.vm.network :public_network
      node.vm.synced_folder "/srv/data", "/data"
      node.vm.provider :virtualbox do |vb|
        vb.name = host[:name]
        vb.customize ['createhd', '--filename', host[:disk1], '--size', 2 * 1024]
        vb.customize ['createhd', '--filename', host[:disk2], '--size', 2 * 1024]
        vb.customize ['storageattach', :id, '--storagectl', "SATA", '--port', 1, '--device', 0, '--type', 'hdd', '--medium', host[:disk1] ]
        vb.customize ['storageattach', :id, '--storagectl', "SATA", '--port', 2, '--device', 0, '--type', 'hdd', '--medium', host[:disk2] ]




The grand Windows vs Linux fight

A lot of muggles are convinced there is some big battle going on between Microsoft and Linux. They are wrong.

Truth is that only a minority of very noisy wannabe-Linux users see this as a fight. I imagine this loud minority as people who once installed Ubuntu but actually spend most of their time playing games on Windows.

The reality is that most organizations use Microsoft on the Desktop and a lot of them also have one or more products like MS Active Directory, MS Exchange or MS Sharepoint.

But every other computer runs a form of Unix, very often this is Linux:
- the millions of servers from Facebook, Google, Twitter, ...
- millions of DSL modems
- more than a billion Android phones
- 98 percent of the 500 largest supercomputers in the world
- Lego robots
- space station laptops
- (in Belgium specifically stuff like the bbox and digibox etc)
- tablets, routers, firewalls, NAS devices (aka "external harddisks"), stock exchanges, radar control, gps navigation and much more

There was no battle, there is no fight, there will never be a Linux vs Windows. They are just different things, Microsoft is used for end user intranet, Linux for servers and all other devices.

(*) Sure there is also iPad, iPhone and Mac, I know that.