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HP Announces Support for Debian Linux 145

Posted by samzenpus
from the helping-hands dept.
Bain writes "PC World reports that HP is to offer support for Debian Linux on its ProLiant and HP BladeSystem servers. Support will be provided by HP telephone operators rather than the discussion-group method that current Debian users rely on. The move to support Debian continues HP's relationship with the community-based OS, which stretches back to 1995."
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HP Announces Support for Debian Linux

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  • hooray! (Score:1, Interesting)

    by doti (966971)
    For me it's useless, but I'm sure it will help give Linux a more serious look for the PHB out there..
    • This is good to hear, but as always implementation is everything. It will be interesting to watch as their service reps grapple with an entirely new system. We all know how great telephone service is for Windows.


      "Ok, now open the control panel."
      "What control panel?"
      "Click Start, then click control panel."
      "Start? What Start?"

      • Re:hooray! (Score:5, Funny)

        by chris_mahan (256577) <chris.mahan@gmail.com> on Monday August 14, 2006 @02:25PM (#15904480) Homepage
        > "Ok, now open the control panel."
        > "What control panel?"
        > "Click Start, then click control panel."
        > "Start? What Start?"

        Exasperated tech support guy takes a deep breath to stop from screaming.
        "Ok, use the mouse, point to the lower left of the screen..."
        "What mouse?"
        "Arrrgghhh!!!!"

        Level two support:
        "Do you have ssh?"
        "Of course"
        "Ok, what the ip address and the root password?"
        "Nice try."
        "Well, I can't help you if you don't give me the root password."
        "You said it."
        "I said what?"
        "You can't help me."

        Level three uber-tech-support from hell:
        "Ah, yes, I can see what the problem is."
        "You can?"
        "Of course. Lemme fix it"
        "But how can you get in? You don't even have an account on the server?"
        "Correction, it's you that doesn't have an account... anymore. BWAHAHAHA."

        Sorry. I'll go back to coding crappy corporate proprietary code...

        • ... of course not. what was I thinking

          well if you DID, you would notice that the support is for thin client servers. I very much doubt the people calling for support will have these kinds of issues
      • Re:hooray! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by timeOday (582209) on Monday August 14, 2006 @02:31PM (#15904542)
        This is good to hear, but as always implementation is everything.
        I disagree, in this case it's the declaration of support that matters. Am I ever going to actually call HP for debian support? No, I'll search the web like usual. But when spec'ing out the system, it could help to say my OS of choice is "supported" by HP. And this is a very good indication that all the hardware will work, even on other distros.
        • Let's see... Knoppix is based on Debian.

          So, will Knoppix work in these boxes?

          Knoppix is aimed more at desktop users, but has a lot more in there. It's worth a try, to see what is/isn't supported.

          -- Rapidweather

          • Knoppix and Debian are different enough that when it comes to troubleshooting, you really have to treat them separately. Just try asking about Knoppix in #debian or Debian in #knoppix (or try answering questions about one when the person is really asking about the other... extremely frustrating).
        • Wow. My sentiments exactly.
    • Re:hooray! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Red Flayer (890720)

      it will help give Linux a more serious look for the PHB out there..

      Now why am I imagining some ominous music and a fade to black?

      I feel very, very bad for the poor folks answering the help line in 3-4 years when there are hundreds of small companies without someone who knows what they are doing. You think helpline support for Windows is bad? Wait until you've got to help someone who's only ever used Windows with their Debian install. And no, you can't tell them to RTFM.

      /shudder

      • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Monday August 14, 2006 @01:58PM (#15904227)
        I feel very, very bad for the poor folks answering the help line in 3-4 years when there are hundreds of small companies without someone who knows what they are doing. You think helpline support for Windows is bad? Wait until you've got to help someone who's only ever used Windows with their Debian install. And no, you can't tell them to RTFM.
        In my experience, working through the boot process of a Linux box is incredibly simple compared to Windows.

        Remember, this won't be troubleshooting Apache/SSL or anything. This will be determining why the OS doesn't like the hardware and whether it is an OS problem or hardware problem.
      • Re:hooray! (Score:3, Insightful)

        As an ex-HP-support user, sometimes it wasn't obvious that their helpdesk people had ever used Windows. The front-line people had been given a script, and followed it with no comprehension. When (in the case of the laptop hardware problems that I was logging at the time) it was impossible to follow their instructions, the only solution was to box it up and send it back. With a laptop that's feasible; just swap for another one - but with a server it isn't.

        I suppose that there are always the HP-UX and ex-D
      • Re:hooray! (Score:3, Interesting)

        by WindBourne (631190)
        Years ago, I use to work at HP. While I was a developer, I did know a few folks in the help group for our product. One of the things that I found out is that they had a big QA DB that handled the vast majority of questions that ppl had. That DB was seperate from what was on the internet (it was 1991; no web) and to the best of my knowledge, still is. Combine that with the famous award winning online linux support, and I suspect that HP will offer cheaper superior support to what anybody delivers on Windows.
      • Windows Version:

        Poor Folk: I have a problem with my Windows computer.
        Help Desk: Reboot.

        Debian Version:

        Poor Folk: I have a problem with my Debian computer.
        Help Desk: apt-get update && apt-get upgrade
      • Re:hooray! (Score:3, Funny)

        by timeOday (582209)
        I feel very, very bad for the poor folks answering the help line in 3-4 years when there are hundreds of small companies without someone who knows what they are doing.
        What, you mean I can't just hire somebody with no clue how to do their job, and rely on the HP helpdesk to give them a free education?
    • Yet another reason I like HP, then. Couldn't care less about Debian itself – I occasionally use their sources if the "stock" ones don't work, their patches can sometimes be useful, but never really used the distro itself – but I definitely like the fact that they've always been so Linux-friendly, and I hope they continue... (note, I'm a bit biased towards HP, my dev box right now is an HP dx5150 MT that I got at an auction for $300, very nice machine, and my other dev box is a COMPAQ DeskPro, n
      • <troll>And I'm so glad it's not bloody Ubuntu!</troll>

        Heh. Or Gentoo.

        Can you imagine phone support for Gentoo?

        Customer: "I try to run Firefox, but it says "command not found".
        Support: "Okay, Sir, just type emerge firefox"
        Customer: "Okay."
        Support [45 minutes later]: "Sir?"
        Customer: "It's still compiling."
        Support: "Ah, okay."
        Customer [30 minutes later]: "Okay, done, but now it crashes."
        Support: "Okay, I'll log in remotely."
        Support [15 minutes later]: "I don't know how you di

        • Damn near laughed my head off... never really used Gentoo, but with all the sources I've had to build lately – especially with my poor PIII-650! – I can't decide whether it's a joke or a perfect description of what I usually have to deal with (other than the fact that I have no telephone support ;-)
    • I wouldn't say "useless". It would be very nice if by "support" they mean that I will be able to download a debian version of the PSP (which contains special drivers, management tools, etc.) which have only been available for Suse and RedHat. Yeah, you can get some of the stuff to work by manually extracting and installing, but it's a PITA. I couldn't care less about phone support.
  • by tacocat (527354) <tallison1 AT twmi DOT rr DOT com> on Monday August 14, 2006 @01:26PM (#15903984)

    So when I call HP for support, I can watch for their posting on the Debian mailing list to find out the answer? This should be fun!

    • Supposedly, they've rehired Bruce Perens to operate the 1-man call center.
    • That's the beauty of open-source software--anybody can support it and become an expert just by examining the code. I'm confident HP's support technicians will have an intimate knowledge of administering and running Debian and will consistently provide helpful and accurate answers to all questions that customers bring to them . . .

      *snicker*

      • I'm confident HP's support technicians will have an intimate knowledge of administering and running Debian and will consistently provide helpful and accurate answers

        It's tough to teach an old dog new tricks. Especially since the HP support folk are just used to saying: Download the latest Windows Update patches, restart your pc, and try again.
        • You know, this might sound a little crazy, but maybe they'll actually hire new support staff, preferably people with experience using debian.
        • So,

          How hard will it be to teach them say "aptitude update && aptitude dist-upgrade"??
          • tech: ok, open a command prompt
            customer: you mean like bash?
            tech: uh, yeah, sure, try that, now type attitude update
            customer: command not found
            tech: really? oh wait, this one is weird, try a-p-t-i-t-u-d-e update
            customer: there we go
            tech: now when that's finished type attitude d-i-s-t minus upgrade
            customer: command not found. try it again.
            tech: a-p-t-i-t-u-d-e space d-i-s-t minus sign upgrade
            customer: there we go
            tech: next time RTFM and don't call me. you interrupted my new addiction, frozen bu
            • tech: now when that's finished type attitude d-i-s-t minus upgrade

              Damn it Jim, it's upgrade! Nobody (except Debian developers) should ever have done a dist-upgrade of any given Debian machine more than a dozen times. dist-upgrade is for switching between major versions of the distribution. It's not for everyday use!

              On the other hand, it's exactly what I'd expect from some techs, just like a lot of them thing ping is a DNS query tool.

          • by tacocat (527354)

            Not hard, but that rarely fixes any real problems. You need to stop thinking like a Windows User and actually start thinking like you have functional grey matter between your ears.

    • Linux support (Score:2, Insightful)

      Knoppix is a linux distroy anyone can use, the automated hardware detection etc is supurb. The DVD 4.0 version does demonstrate a lot of the incompatability issues he's talking about though. because knoppix has about 6 GB of applications (they're compressed on the DVD image) many of the applications are broken.

      Debian is the distro Knoppix is based of of, so it has really good hardware detection, but the "stable" version is using the "older" proven stable detection routines. That means it doesn't configure

      • "Debian is "ready" for the desktop...", but what does this have to do with HP providing support for "its ProLiant and HP BladeSystem servers"? Why install a GUI, let alone Flash, for a server? Interesting post, but somewhat off topic...
      • Re:Linux support (Score:2, Insightful)

        by kwark (512736)
        You are little to enthusiastic.

        Knoppix has failed me many times (but worked even more times) on desktop machines. Even knoppix 5.0.1 failed to do the simple task of installing grub. Any grub related command completly froze on an opteron, something you kinda need after moving the root partition to soft RAID-1.

        And the persons who made the new debian installer images should be the first ones against the wall. Please supply some utilities with the installer, a cp with recursion or a tar that can actualy create
        • And the persons who made the new debian installer images should be the first ones against the wall.

          You could always, you know, help, if you think you can do better.

          • oh, please, not this again...
            i don't have to be an experienced cook to say that a panckake is burnt.
            i don't have to be an automotive expert to tell that a car has damaged headlights.

            don't get me wrong, it is nice to help if a person can do that - but posts like this are useless.
            there are cases when such a response is in place, but even then it can be crafted much, much more politely.
            like, "those sound like good suggestions - unfortunately, currently all developers/documentation writers are busy with other t
            • Well, I don't agree that they're good suggestions, because I do have the knowledge to help with the Debian installer.

              The Debian installer is designed to install Debian in the common case. It's not a rescue disc, nor is it a way to get Debian installed on weird configurations. If you need a diagnostics disc, use a live CD (there are ones besides Knoppix). If you need to install Debian on esoteric systems, then boot that live CD and use debootstrap.

              grub is a fragile program (though less fragile than LI

              • http://m1.2mdn.net/viewad/1265453/DAV_videobanne r_728x90.gif

                of course. i'd even say that is stupid and arrogant :)
                in any way, i believe that explaining the situation and suggesting ways to help (no, "code it yourself" does not count ;) ) would be way better. remember to suggest possible help in writing or proofreading documentation, testing & reporting problems, and also helping on forums/irc etc.
                that could get you one more supporter instead of annoyed user ;)

                of course, in cases when somebody who compl

  • by crunch_ca (972937) on Monday August 14, 2006 @01:27PM (#15903995)
    Does that include support for other Debian distributions (like Ubuntu)? What about testing and unstable? The article is pretty light on what's actually covered.

    Still, good for HP.

    • My guess is they are supporting as little as possible (just the stock, stable, vanilla, debian) so they don't go screwing things up. Good for them. As much as I abhor their Home PCs, their servers and corporate hardware are just fine with me.
    • by neonprimetime (528653) on Monday August 14, 2006 @01:35PM (#15904053)
      From cnet [com.com]

      HP's offer will apply to the current "Sarge" version 3 of Debian and to version 4, "Etch," due in December. (Debian versions are named after characters in the movie "Toy Story.")
      • "We've had a number of customers continuing to ask us to have broader support for Debian," and HP decided to oblige, said Jeffrey Wade, worldwide marketing manager at HP's Open Source and Linux Organization.

        I thought the above quote from the CNet article was also particularly interesting. Hooray for those HP customers that spoke up. When HP says "a number of customers", I assume they don't just mean 5 or 10.
      • As a Debian user for many years... I am not sure if I like this frantic release schedule. I got 3 good years out of Woody... barely got Sarge installed on my test box and a few edge machines, now it almost time to upgrade again.

        Sarcasm aside, good job Debian, congrats on earning vendor recognition. News like this does affect hardware purchases. Rather fond of Debian, and a nice blade chasis may be just the ticket.
    • Does that include support for other Debian distributions (like Ubuntu)? What about testing and unstable? The article is pretty light on what's actually covered.

      Since it's on servers, I find it natural that they support only stable. Testing/unstable is completely out of the question for that kind of support, too much of a moving target. Maybe you're running some backports on stable because of its age but not as the distro. As for Ubuntu, don't they have their own support program?

      Still, good for HP.

      A bunch of
    • now when i think about it, would be pretty cool if they also supported vanilla linux kernel - in terms of hardware support (which usually is the biggest problem).

      all other compatibility isues are more or less solvable, but having unsupported hardware can cause a lot more work.
      this is especially true for hw monitoring modules in proiant series ;)
  • by russ1337 (938915) on Monday August 14, 2006 @01:35PM (#15904054)
    *Ring Ring*
    Hello, I.T.
    Have you tried turning it off and on again?
  • by Eberlin (570874)
    How many of these do we get nowadays? I've read enough bits about many companies "supporting" linux in one form or another. Dell, HP, Real, even Microsoft has a Linux lab. Yahoo loves the Linux, Google loves the Linux, IBM loves the Linux, SCO owns the Linux.

    So where is Linux in all of this? Sure, some of the companies mentioned above have actually shown their support for Linux. Some others seem not to go much further than lip service. Dell comes to mind -- couldn't hunt down a preinstalled Linux box
    • I bought a dell laptop, and they told me I could install linux, but they wouldn't support it officially. That said, they were happy to try and help me sort a few small issues out (soundcard and graphics driver issues), because I had paid for support, it's just that they wouldn't go beyond advice over the phone.

      I initially tried to buy the laptop with just linux, no windows, but they couldn't do it. The impression I got was that they weren't able to do it because you still had to buy a windows license with a
      • I don't that there is any contractual issues...

        It's more likely that the HD's they put into these laptops come pre-loaded with an Windows image, it's quicker than installing Windows on the machine after its build. After the machine is ready, probably they are tested using some standart built-in auto-test. So there is no way a Dell notebook will come out of the factory without Windows installed.

        It's just industrial scale economics.

        I also tryed to argue with them, without success... but in the end is easier t

    • couldn't hunt down a preinstalled Linux box easily

      Here's the LIST.
      Companies selling preinstalled Linux Desktops and Laptops

      http://lxer.com/module/forums/t/23168/ [lxer.com]
  • bdale garbee? (Score:5, Informative)

    by xoundmind (932373) on Monday August 14, 2006 @01:49PM (#15904168)
    I'd be interested to know how much this gentleman had to do with it:
    http://www.gag.com/~bdale/ [gag.com]
    He's a former Debian Project Leader and now Linux/OSS CTO at HP.
    • Re:bdale garbee? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by stu42j (304634)
      It is possible that this guy has something to do with it but HP has had connections to Debian for a while. Bruce Perens was "Senior Global Strategist for Linux and Open Source" for two years at HP until they fired him for "Microsoft-baiting". Bruce Perens was the second Debian Project Leader. (Ever wonder why Debian releases are named after Toy Story characters? Bruce also worked for Pixar.)
  • Outsourced HP Linux support? This could get ugly.
  • by njdj (458173)

    Somebody ought to say it:

    Well done, HP! I hope this boosts your sales!

    And on the day HP overtakes Dell in PC sales, I'll be opening the champagne.

    • by DJK (106039)
      > And on the day HP overtakes Dell in PC sales, I'll be opening the champagne.

      You don't drink much, do you?
  • HP can barely handle the point and click associated with RHEL and Windows. I'm at a loss as to who in that company is going to support Debian. I know it's surely not their L1 or L2 phone techs.
    • Re:define "support" (Score:3, Interesting)

      by KokorHekkus (986906)

      HP can barely handle the point and click associated with RHEL and Windows. I'm at a loss as to who in that company is going to support Debian. I know it's surely not their L1 or L2 phone techs.

      Only time will tell I guess but they do have the know-how in the company... since Debian is used as an internal development platform for Linux and they also host one full primary mirror site.

      HP also has a handful of employees that are Debian developers.

      Source:http://opensource.hp.com/opensource_project s.html [hp.com]

      • Well I assumed as much, most major tech corporations today have their fingers in all sorts of open source projects. What do you think the odds of joe schmoe trying to compile the latest kernel getting help from those guys are though? In my experience I've found there's a VERY large void between the lemmings and the experts at HP, and 9 times out of 10, you get stuck in that void trying to get support.
        • "What do you think the odds of joe schmoe trying to compile the latest kernel getting help from those guys are though?" What are the odds that "joe-schmoe" has bought a ProLiant or HP BladeSystem server rather than a consumer device? If all you want is to upgrade your kernel, apt-get makes this easy. If you want the "latest" kernel (meaning you want to be ahead of the debian release cycle) then I'd think you were on your own. I don't see how that would be covered "as part of the warranty coverage for it
          • pretty high. I deal with "admins" on a daily basis trying to install drivers for our FC gear on redhat and can't figure out how to run an install script that is literally ./install.
            • To be fair, the idea of specifying an explicit path using ./ is new to many users who are familiar with other command shells (DOS, old versions of Red Hat Linux, AmigaDOS, etc).
              • well, . could be added to root path... but he was referring to "admins", not users - which usually means their job title is "systems administrator" and they get pais for managing servers. one could hope that they know at least some of the things they are supposed to do ;)
                • well, . could be added to root path...

                  There's a reason why it was removed in the first place. If . is in your path, the following commands can wipe out your system: "cd /home/someuser ; ls". The reason it could is that there could be a shell script called "/home/someuser/ls" that contains the command "/bin/rm -rf /". With . removed from your path, "ls" will always mean "ls".

                  Otherwise, you have a point.

        • Re:define "support" (Score:2, Informative)

          by KokorHekkus (986906)

          ...What do you think the odds of joe schmoe trying to compile the latest kernel getting help from those guys are though? In my experience I've found there's a VERY large void between the lemmings and the experts at HP, and 9 times out of 10, you get stuck in that void trying to get support.

          As I said, only time will tell. But this isn't a service for Joe Shmoe. It's only available for HP Integrity and HP Proliant servers with some HP specific programs added to the Debian install. Which most likely means it

          • Re:define "support" (Score:3, Interesting)

            by saleenS281 (859657)
            I don't buy it. HP fully supports RHEL and SLES, and have for quite some time, and again I've yet to find a clued tech among their L1 or L2. It takes engineering involvement to get someone who even knows what a kernel is. The only reason I've EVER managed to come in contact with them is because they OEM our hardware.

            I think the slashdot community is out of touch with who is really running linux. I can't even begin to guesstimate the amount of clueless windows admins who were thrown a linux box and to
      • Amen. I have "used" HP's RHEL support. The first time I called the guy said he was googling for the answer and when I told him to look at the appropriate man page he didn't have a RHEL machine available! Their business model is confused as well. RHN updates are available from the date you activate but HP support runs from the date you purchase which can lead to gaps in support. Further, you are not allowed to talk to their "backline" support (if it in fact exists) and must submit your request by email which
        • I can tell you that they do in fact have some clued techs on the backline. As I said in another post, I can only confirm this because they OEM our hardware and we have direct links back to their engineering. As you found out and can attest to though, the normal user calling into support doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell of being connected to a clued engineer, and you're better off googling yourself then trying their main phone lines.
  • This is vital (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Almahtar (991773) on Monday August 14, 2006 @01:58PM (#15904223) Journal
    Support is vital for any OS to be taken seriously where downtime is unacceptable. I know way too many IT guys who would love to run some form of *nix for their servers, but their CEO's wouldn't let them. The reason? If there's a problem they can't fix, they resort to googling, mailing lists, forums, etc: they're pretty boned.

    If there's a Windows problem they can't fix they can fly someone in from Redmond to get the job done in a few hours. Unfortunately Red Hat can't compete with that (yet). If minutes of downtime = millions in losses, Official support that always gets the job done is a requirement that can't be ignored.
    • Unfortunately Red Hat can't compete with that (yet). If minutes of downtime = millions in losses, Official support that always gets the job done is a requirement that can't be ignored.

      If a company is in a business where minutes of downtime means millions (of dollars) in losses, then they have the resources to be able to afford a guru on staff and official support is limited to hardware.
    • Re:This is vital (Score:3, Informative)

      by IANAAC (692242)
      Unfortunately Red Hat can't compete with that (yet)

      They sure are ramping up though. They're heavily recruiting. I went through a round of interviews with them for a travelling support position.

      When I say travelling, I mean 95% of your job is travelling to other sites.

  • I would guess this is going to be very inexpensive for HP to do. The article doesn't say, but I assume they're going to be selling the servers with Debian preinstalled, in which case not much should go wrong, and it should be easy to support. And if a lot of their customers have already been buying servers and installing Linux distros on them themselves, HP is probably already getting tech support calls from them (even if they're phrased as hardware support calls). The difference would be that now, the cust

  • That's what this means. As soon as a winner became apparent in the OSS Distro fog, the major players would join in to try to make a buck. Good for them! Good for Debian. Good for you. Charles
  • I've read a lot of replies in this thread knocking the HP support by making comparisions with what sounds like (to me) their home support line. The technicans that you talk to when you call for support on a Proliant server are not the same guys you are going to talk to when you call with a problem on your Pavillion Media Center PC. HP has been supporting *nix for a long time now and I'm sure that they will do a good job with Debian. If their Debian SmartStart CD is anything like the Windows and Novell on
  • As someone who recently tried to install Debian on a newish ProLiant, and failed miserably because of unsupported hardware, I'm happy to see this announcement. It means that HP will be using hardware for which Linux drivers already exist, and that the Debian installer will be able to load those drivers into the kernel at install-time.

    The bigger bonus is that if vanilla Debian can do it, any Linux disto can: Ubuntu, Gentoo, Slackware, whatever.
    • well, that could help with hardware support for vanilla kernels... but then again it also could not. of course, debian guidelines would never allow including of proprietary kernel modules or other software, but, if understand correctly, nothing prohibits hp from maiking them available for specific debian kernel versions - which would be pretty useless for other distros.
      of course, that would be pretty dumb from hp, so i really hope they are not going that way... at least when i was concerned with it, their h
  • HP's OpenView product mentions support for Debian. Unfortunately, this idea of support means that you have configure your Debian box to work with RPMs and then try and install them.
  • Security Support (Score:2, Informative)

    by baggins2001 (697667)
    Are they kidding. The last version was only supported for one year after the previous version. So I'm going to go tell the PHB we should start using a distribution that should be upgraded every other year. Unless they can offer longer version support I don't see this helping.
    Those of us working in the real world don't change versions unless we have to, because it lowers our TCO.
    I know a data center that was still using RH8 on some of their servers up until 4 months ago and last year I talked with
  • Wow! (Score:1, Funny)

    by CCFreak2K (930973)
    I'm getting a Woody just thinking about this!
  • .debs?! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ldspartan (14035) on Monday August 14, 2006 @03:36PM (#15905163) Homepage
    Does this mean I'll be able to get debian packages of the tools for my DL380 Gen4 without having to do magic with alien and their crap ass RPMs?

    --
    Phil
  • IBM & Suse - Cool HP & Debian - Cool Dell & RedHat or Suse - Cool Gateway & Microsoft - Boo Hey 3 out of 4 aint bad
  • How long before a system maker like HP (or someone other than Apple) buys / starts their own Linux distro?
  • I see where this is going. HP will create their own flavor of Debian - which, because it'll stop being Debian, the Deb community won't support either.

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