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Re: (AMI) usability

On 4/7/12 9:56 AM, Jan Schaumann wrote:

I'm currently teaching a class in system administration using Amazon
EC2[1].  In it, I like to expose students to different operating systems
wherever possible, and obviously like to use NetBSD as well.

Unfortunately, it has repeatedly been the case that the NetBSD AMIs
listed on are not working
reliably.  A common problem that I've observed myself is that they
simply cannot be ssh'd to, despite network access being open.  Is there
anything known about this issue?

I mentioned this in PR46306, but I think what's happening here is that the AMI is crashing on boot, and so can never be logged into. I have had this happen on certain very old hypervisor versions that Amazon sometimes allocates (3.1.2 and before). We're looking into it, but unfortunately it's not very easy to debug with an unusable console. :(

Additional feedback from my students frequently goes into the direction
of them considering NetBSD the "worst" platform:

"This assignment[2] has taught me never to use NetBSD.  One of the biggest
lessons I've learned in this class."

General lack of experience with non-linux aside[3], my students do have
a point:

- in comparison to other systems, including, in particular, FreeBSD, our
   use of pkgsrc with binary packages is quite cumbersome.  This is a
   quite serious issue for casual and novice users, who may not (yet?)
   understand or appreciate pkgsrc's strength

We're working on addressing this at least a bit in 6.0, which will make it easier to have pkgin available right off the bat. Please test the new config menu in -current sysinst! (it will be pulled up to netbsd-6 before release)

- some of the packages built for NetBSD 6.0 Beta simply do not work (on
   the AMIs?): apache-2.2.21* installed, but the executable failed with
   missing or conflicting dependencies (I have not yet had the time to
   file a PR, I'm afraid)

This is almost definitely a side-effect of libexpat being part of X11 for NetBSD < 6, and nobody in their right mind installing X on a server. This lib was moved during the 6.0_BETA cycle, and the next batch of binary packages (which I'm building now) should handle it correctly.
It is unfortunate when my attempts to expose students to different
platforms leads them to conclude that NetBSD should be avoided, and it
would be nice if we could improve on this.

Sorry, I'm aware that this email does not contain any direct ways to
improve things, but still wanted to bring this up, if only as another
reference point in the dicussion around what audience we are targeting.

It's good to hear that people are actually trying things out; concrete suggestions would be helpful, but it's a start!


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