http://www.stellarium.org/: A Planetarium on your Desktop
on 30.03.2008, 05:00
in packages-news
Spread the word!
on 28.03.2008, 17:59
in debconf-news
Debian Installer Lenny Beta 1 released
on 18.03.2008, 23:24
in news, release
PAGASA, PH, uses a Debian cluster for weather forecasts
on 16.03.2008, 14:32
in success-stories

http://www.stellarium.org/: A Planetarium on your Desktop

published on Sun Mar 30 05:00:18 2008 in packages-news

If you usually read Debaday, you must have noticed the recent lack of articles. We apologise for that, we’re lacking articles and editing manpower. We really need your help to keep the site running!

Article submitted by David Newgas. Guess what? We still need you to submit good articles about software you like!

I’ve always been interested in astronomy. But it was only after moving out of the city that I discovered merely by tilting my head up I could see some of the amazing things I had seen pictures of and learned about. Unfortunately, I knew very little about how to find interesting things in the sky.

This is where Stellarium comes in! Stellarium is a free/open source planetarium for your PC. It offers a splendid interface:


Stellarium Interface

Many "Sky Cultures":


Stellarium Sky Cultures

And beautiful graphics:


Stellarium Nebulae

To install, just apt-get install stellarium. The user interface is easy — left-click and drag to move around, and mouse wheel to zoom in and out. Alternatively arrow keys can be used to move, and Ctrl-Up/Down to zoom. Usually Stellarium shows the stars rotating at the same speed as in reality (which is only obviously visible at high zoom). However, the controls in the bottom right corner allow time to be sped up or reversed. This is important for figuring out where objects will be in the sky.

Time shifting means that Stellarium can be used to simulate solar eclipses, comet passes and meteor showers (all of which have something which can be seen in the simulation).

The magnifying glass icon or Ctrl-F allows you to find objects. I recommend finding the especially beautiful Dumbbell Nebula, or the recently famous Comet McNaught (Hint, it is recognised as C/2006 P1).

Stellarium is beautiful to use to look at constellations. Turning on the first three toolbar options displays the constellations, their names and artwork of what they represent. In the language tab of the settings window (the spanner or "1" key) the “sky culture” can be changed, showing the constellations of the Chinese or Inuits, to name just two.

One fun thing to do is find a solar system object and press Ctrl-G. This takes you to a view from that planet, with positions and phase of other solar system objects calculated correctly.

After having a little play around with Stellarium, it#8217;s down to business. Find a little free time after dark, and before you go out, jump onto Stellarium. Set the time, date and place in the configuration window to when and where you will go out. Then find a few objects (maybe a dimmer planet like Saturn or Jupiter) with magnitude less than five (Magnitude is a negative logarithmic scale, lower numbers are brighter), and note down their positions relative to the cardinal points and nearby stars.
when you go out, try and find them! Many objects such as Orion’s Nebula or the planets can be seen with the naked eye. Charles Messier catalogued over 100 objects that can be made out with the naked eye. Try searching for M1 - M110 to find these. Binoculars or a small telescope make these more visible.

For those of you who feel like shelling out a bit of cash, Stellarium can be used to control telescopes, or even be projected onto a dome.

Have fun stargazing, both real and virtual!

Spread the word!

published on Fri Mar 28 17:59:00 2008 in debconf-news

I'm going to DebConf8, edition 2008 of the annual Debian
developers meetingStefano Zacchiroli proposed the idea of spreading the word about DebConf8 in a recent blog post, in a way similar to what FOSDEM did this year. So be a part of the meme! Add this HTML snippet to your blog posts and help spread the word!

<a href="http://debconf8.debconf.org">
<img src="http://media.debconf.org/dc8/images/debconf8-going-to.png"
     alt="I'm going to DebConf8, edition 2008 of the annual Debian 
     developers meeting" />
</a>

Debian Installer Lenny Beta 1 released

contributed by Frans Pop, published on Tue Mar 18 23:24:52 2008 in news, release

The Debian Installer team is proud to announce the first beta of Debian Lenny's Installer.

This is the first release since Etch and the whole team has been hard at work during the past 11 months to make this release full of new features and bugfixes.

We do need your help to find bugs and further improve the installer, so please try it.

Improvements in this release of the installer

A comprehensive changelog of what has changed since the release of Etch is available on the wiki.

Support for CD/DVD sets is back

Support for loading additional CDs or DVDs from a set (a feature missing in Etch) has been added again. As language-related packages do not all fit on the first CD, this greatly improves the situation for non-English speakers performing installations without internet connectivity.

Clock synchronization using NTP

By default, the installer will now attempt to synchronize the system clock using the Network Time Protocol (NTP) when a network connection has been configured. The hardware clock will be updated before the system is rebooted.

This ensures a valid system time during installation, preventing odd behaviors with cryptographic signatures or filesystem checks.

Support for "volatile" has been added

The installer now supports adding the "volatile.debian.org" repository when adding additional APT sources. In the same way as security.debian.org, it will be configured by default when the "stable" distribution is installed.

In addition, it is now possible to disable the security and volatile sources when the installer is run in expert mode and security.debian.org will be configured by default for installations of "testing".

Please read the debian-volatile homepage for more information about the volatile project.

Starting the installer from Microsoft Windows

Since the integration of the win32-loader package, it is now possible to start the installer directly from Microsoft Windows without the need to change BIOS settings. Upon insertion of a CD-ROM, DVD-ROM or USB stick, an autorun program will be started, offering a step-by-step process to start the Debian Installer. A few installer settings (including language) will be preconfigured from this process.

Experimental support for Serial ATA RAID (dmraid)

As previously announced, the debian-installer now includes experimental support for installing Debian on systems with Serial ATA RAID as supported in Linux via the dmraid utility. Please see the dedicated wiki page for more information.

Other noteworthy changes

  • The installer has been updated to use Linux 2.6.22
  • Various changes have resulted in reduced memory usage
  • Rescue mode now supports LUKS encrypted partitions
  • Various code cleanups, reorganizations and refactorings have been done
  • A new language, Amharic, has been added (graphical installations only)

No longer supported

  • DECstation (mipsel) and RiscPC (arm) machines are no longer supported
  • The sparc32 architecture is no longer supported as kernel support for it was dropped.

Known issues in this release

  • Support for the "relatime" mount option has been added, but is currently broken. See #460824
  • i386: kernel oops during installer startup on Thinkpad T41. See #470522
  • mips: the installer won't start on at least SGI O2 and qemu
  • arm: this release doesn't support Netwinder
  • s390: the "tape" installation method is unusable due to a kernel issue. See #466906

Plans for next Beta release

The next beta will be focused mainly on getting an installer version working with Linux 2.6.24.

Other contributors have nevertheless mentioned working on non-free firmware support, improvements in the partioner, locale support and mirror selection and improvements in the graphical installer.

The debian-installer team is still looking for active contributors for new features, bug triaging and squashing, improvements on the manual and the developer documentation. If you want Lenny to release on time, please join and help!

Installation CDs, other media, and everything else you'll need are available from our web site.

PAGASA, PH, uses a Debian cluster for weather forecasts

contributed by andremachado, published on Sun Mar 16 14:32:38 2008 in success-stories

PAGASA, PH, uses a Debian cluster for weather forecasts instead of a costly proprietary supercomputer OS

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), Quezon City, PH, part of Philippine Department of Science and Technology (DOST) uses a Debian GNU / Linux eight off-the-shelf PC nodes cluster for weather forecasts running open-source and no-cost meteorological software, achieving better control of configuration, timely forecasts and accuracy.

The Debian GNU / Linux cluster cost to deploy was only US$ 37000 and freed the department of a US$ 5000 monthly maintenance cost of previous proprietary software on its supercomputer.

The Debian GNU / Linux cluster is part of the PAGASA Interactive Climate and Weather Information Network (PICWIN) developed by the Advanced Science and Technology Institute (ASTI), who already launched its own version of Debian GNU / Linux, the Bayanihan Linux.

Each 3 hours, PICWIN collects seven meteorological data of synoptic stations across the country and sends to the Debian GNU / Linux cluster through SMS.

Each 6 hours, the Deutscher Wetterdienst (DWD), the German Meteorological Office, sends meteorological data from several countries using the internet.

Both massive sets of data covering a 5500 km by 5500 km square over country, divided into a three dimensional grid of 301 x 201 x 32 (LxWxH) blocks, are processed by the no-cost, for government agencies, High Resolution Model (HRM) software created by Deutscher Wetterdienst (DWD) and by the open source MM5 meteorological softwares and generate weather forecasts every 12 hours.

These programs were recompiled from sources with Intel Fortran Compiler (IFC), non-commercial version, and Intel C compilers (ICC), because of their support of Cray pointers, at Debian GNU / Linux machines for optimal performance.

Parallelization is based on MPICH2 libraries using eight dual Xeon EM64T nodes connected by Gigabit ethernet.

Alan Pineda, PAGASA Flood Forecasting Branch officer-in-charge, gave a first interview with more information and a second one with further details.

As a sidenote, newest supercomputer clusters can run Debian GNU / Linux too.

About PAGASA

Mission

The primary mission of PAGASA is to provide protection of life and property against natural hazards due to typhoons, floods, drought, giant waves, high seas, etc., to utilize scientific knowledge and information as an effective instrument to ensure the safety, well being, economic security and improve the quality of life of all the people and the environment; and to promote national progress and contribute to regional socio-economic development through various applications of meteorology, geophysics and space sciences (including astronomy).

Vision

PAGASA envisions itself to be the center of: Excellence in its distinctive competence in meteorology, operational hydrology, climatology, astronomy and other allied sciences; World-class capability in monitoring, analyses, forecasting and warning of tropical weather systems such as typhoons, monsoons, Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ).

About the Debian Project

Debian GNU / Linux is one of the free libre operating systems (GNU/Linux, GNU/Hurd, GNU/NetBSD, GNU/kFreeBSD), running 18733+ officially maintained packages on 15 hardware platforms, from cell phones and network devices to mainframes and supercomputers, developed by more than two thousand volunteers from all over the world who collaborate via the internet on the Debian Project.

Debian's dedication to Free Libre Open Source Software, its constitutional non-profit nature, its open and meritocratic development model, organization and social governance make it a first among free libre operating system distributions.

The Debian project's key strengths are its volunteer base, its dedication to the Debian Social Contract, and its commitment to provide the best operating systems attainable, following a strict quality policy, working with an established QA Team.

You can help Debian Project without joining it and even not being a programmer, or being a development and or service partner company or institution at the Debian Partner Program, or simply making various donations to the Debian Project.

Debian Project news, press releases and press coverage can be found from the official Debian wiki page. PR contact at debian-publicity list.

Sanger Institute's Debian cluster with 320 TB Lustre FS of its 1.5 PB storage for genome sequencing

contributed by andremachado, published on Mon Mar 10 15:03:38 2008 in success-stories

Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, UK, uses a Debian cluster with 320 TB HP-SFS (Lustre) filesystem as part of its 1.5 PB storage for human genome sequencing

Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Hinxton, South Cambridgeshire, UK, runs a 640+ cores Debian GNU / Linux cluster with 320 Terabytes of "live data", like a giant virtual memory swap partition, out of its 1.5 Petabytes of storage.

Each of the 27 new technology robotic computerized genome sequencers generates 1 TB of image data each three days, at a 2 MB/s rate during a 3 day run.

This amount of data needs to be "live" during the sequencing and initial analysis, and with the processing needs of the scientific software on the Debian GNU / Linux 640+ cores cluster, the "swap-like" storage needs to provide 320 TB of space using the HP-SFS Lustre filesystem.

Antony Cox, PhD, the Head of Sequencing Informatics, and Phil Butcher, the Head of IT at the institute, gave an interview to The Guardian, presenting the Thousand Genome Project.

The project aims to accurately sequence one thousand individual human genomes to map all of their differences in 0,5% or more of the population sampled, and identify the places involved in the interactions between multiple DNA bases that cause different conditions.

Given that the human DNA has 3 billion bases, and each sampled base must be sequenced between 11 and 30 times to factor out measurement errors, this is one of the biggest computational biology efforts of today.

The project is unique not only because of dealing with 1.5 PB of storage, but for keeping 320 TB of "swap-like storage" for fast comparisons and calculations.

According to Butcher, genomics research is changing focus from the laboratory of glass tubes and moving to be more informatics focussed. The Sanger Institute started using Debian GNU / Linux when the world discovered how reliable and useful it can be. Now the institute has to compete with commercial organisations using Linux for system administrators able to manage large clusters with large-scale distributed filesystems.

You may read the interview for more details.

About the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute

The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute is one of the world's largest centres for DNA sequencing and analysis. It made the largest single contribution to the sequence of the Human Genome Project, contributed approximately 25% of the mouse genome sequence, is finishing the zebrafish genome sequence as well as making contributions to other model organism sequences, such as yeasts and the nematode C. elegans. Institute researchers have also contributed to the sequence of more that 60 finished genomes of bacterial pathogens, such as Salmonella typhi, TB, MRSA and Cdiff, as well as parasites such as those causing malaria, African trypanosomiasis and Leishmaniasis.

Investment in new- technology sequencing will dramatically increase the breadth and depth of genome analysis in humans, model organisms and pathogens.

You can contact Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute press Team here.

About the Debian Project

Debian GNU / Linux is one of the free libre operating systems (GNU/Linux, GNU/Hurd, GNU/NetBSD, GNU/kFreeBSD), running 18733+ officially maintained packages on 15 hardware platforms, from cell phones and network devices to mainframes and supercomputers, developed by more than two thousand volunteers from all over the world who collaborate via the internet on the Debian Project.

Debian's dedication to Free Libre Open Source Software, its constitutional non-profit nature, its open and meritocratic development model, organization and social governance make it a first among free libre operating system distributions.

The Debian project's key strengths are its volunteer base, its dedication to the Debian Social Contract, and its commitment to provide the best operating systems attainable, following a strict quality policy, working with an established QA Team.

You can help Debian Project without joining it and even not being a programmer, or being a development and or service partner company or institution at the Debian Partner Program, or simply making various donations to the Debian Project.

Debian Project news, press releases and press coverage can be found from the official Debian wiki page. PR contact at debian-publicity list.