FUDCon Pune: My talk on ‘Linux Virtualization’

My second talk at FUDCon Pune was on Virtualization (slides) on day 2.  While I had registered the talk well in advance, I wasn’t quite sure what really to talk about: should I talk about the basics of virtualization?  Should I talk about what’s latest (coming up in Fedora 16)?  Should I talk about how KVM works in detail?  My first talk on git had gone well, and as expected for this FUDCon, majority of the participants were students.  Expecting a similar student-heavy audience for the 2nd talk as well, I decided on discussing the basics of the Linux Virt Stack.  Kashyap had a session lined up after me on libvirt, so I thought I could give an overview of virt-manager, libvirt, QEMU and Linux (KVM).

And since my registered talk title was ‘Latest in Linux Virtualization’, I did leave a few slides on upcoming enhancements in Fedora 16 (mostly concentrating on the QEMU side of things) at the end of the slide deck, to cover those things if I had time left.

As with the previous git talk, I didn’t get around to making the slides and deciding on the flow of the talk till the night before the day of the talk, and that left me with much less sleep than normal.  The video for the talk is available online; I haven’t seen it myself, but if you do, you’ll find I was almost sleep-talking through the session.

To make it interactive as well as keep me awake, I asked the audience to stop me and ask questions any time during the talk.  What was funny about that was the talk was also being live streamed, and the audio signal for the live streaming was carried via one mic and the audio stream for the audience as well as the recorded talk was on a different mic.  So even though the audience questions were taken on the audience mic, I had to repeat the questions for the people who were catching the talk live.

I got some feedback later from a few people — I missed to introduce myself, and I should have put some performance graphs in the slides, as almost all users would be interested in KVM performance vs other hypervisors.  Both good points.  The performance slides I hadn’t thought about earlier, I’ll try to incorporate some such graphs in future presentations.  Interestingly, I hadn’t also thought of introducing myself.  Previously, I was used to someone else introducing me and then me picking up from there.  At the FUDCon, we (the organisers) missed on getting speaker bios, and didn’t have volunteers introduce each speaker before their sessions.  So no matter which way I look at it, I take the blame as speaker and organiser for not having done this.

There was some time before my session to start and there were a few people in the auditorium (the room where the talk was to be held), so Kashyap thought of playing some Fedora / FOSS / Red Hat videos.  (People generally like the Truth Happens video, and that one was played as well.)  These, and many more are available on the Red Hat Videos channel on YouTube. There was also some time between my session and Kashyap’s (to allow for people to move around, take a break, etc.), so we played the F16 release video that Jared gave us.

Overall, I think the talk went quite well (though I may have just dreamed that).  I tried to stay awake for Kashyap’s session on libvirt to answer any questions directed my way; I know I did answer a couple of them, so I must have managed to stay up.

FUDCon Pune: My session on ‘Learning Git’

My session on learning git (slides) was scheduled right after the lunch break on the first day of the FUDCon Pune 2011.

I had targeted the session for beginners; however I had some help from Shakthi, who conducted a session on git during the 2nd FAD and from Ramky who spoke on version control systems in the talk before mine.  So I could skip a few basic things and get right on to the demo.

I didn’t really get the luxury to prepare in advance; I had in my mind what I would do in general, but got the slides and the flow ready just the night prior to the talk.  Organising FUDCon wasn’t too taxing, but there are a few last-minute things that have to be done, well, at the last minute.  And the presentation, etc., had to wait.

I have earlier seen students just attend sessions but not really follow up on what they were being taught.  So I thought I’d make this an interactive session, inviting people from the audience to participate in the session by someone coming up on the stage and writing a .c program, someone else coming up and creating a git repo, then someone else modifying the code, doing another commit, and so on.

While I thought about this, I recalled Rusty’s session at foss.in a few years back where he did such a thing successfully.  Now emulating that feat would be really difficult.  People who have attended Rusty’s talks would know what I mean.  He puts in hours and days for such talks.  I’m sure he’d have thought about how to pull it off even if the person to come up on stage wouldn’t know how to type.

There were about 50 – 60 people attending the  talk.  So what I did, instead, was to ask the attendees about who knew how to write C programs, and who knew how to type fast.  I called up one such attendee and asked him to write a simple ‘Hello, World!’ program.

I then called up someone else (Aditya) to commit the first version.  Thankfully, the original C file did not have any punctuation in the ‘Hello, World!’ string, so the idea for the 2nd commit was ready.  Once Aditya initialised the git repo and did the first commit, I modified the program output to add the comma and exclamation point and make that the 2nd commit in the git repo.  I then moved on to create a new C program that prints out ‘Goodbye, World’ (we had dedicated the conference to Dennis Ritchie).  This was done in a new branch called ‘goodbye’.  Next was to create another branch, called ‘fudcon’, and write another C program to show ‘Hello, FUDCon’.  Then a few lessons on merging, switching branches, viewing commits and logs from other branches followed.  The slides have the list of commands that were shown.

The last step was to clone this repo into another local one, commit a few things there, do a push into the original repo, make some other pulls here and there, and the session participants were ready with hands-on git lessons that they could use.

I had quite a few questions during and after the session, and I even heard of people trying out the examples after the talk. So I’d call the talk/demo a success.

FUDCon Pune Day -1

Things had been going on smoothly so far: banners, posters and booklets had arrived, wireless routers had arrived, the guys in charge of adding power outlets to the venue were going to arrive on time.

Jared Smith, Joerg Simon and Robert Scheck were already in Pune that day and we hosted them at the Red Hat office after lunch.

However, with just one day left for the conference, a little amount of panic set in.

We had planned to go to COEP and register the volunteers to minimise the rush on the registration counters on the first day, and also to have a brief chat with the volunteers on how the event would proceed.  However, we were informed the students had classes till 1730 that day.  Also, the t-shirts would have to be kept on the other side of the campus (across the road) on the 3rd floor of the building (which doesn’t have an elevator).  Lugging the huge T-shirt boxes isn’t something we wanted to burden anyone with, so we decided not to do the distribution / registration that day, but call the students earlier on the 1st day.  We decided on meeting at 0730 hours to register the volunteers on day 1.  Satya, who was in contact with the volunteers, conveyed all these messages across.

However, I sensed a bit of agitation in Satya’s voice.  Looks like she had been in touch with all the speakers landing in, and they were landing all through the night.  She was then also co-ordinating with the cabs to get them to Pune (for those coming in from Mumbai).  Some speakers missed their flights, some chose to hang around in Mumbai and shop around.  Getting in touch with these folks became difficult, and with the cab drivers asking for details from Satya, it was clear to see what she had gone through: no sleep, and working overtime to figure out if everyone is safe and sound and coming in properly.

She wasn’t complaining, but definitely there was something wrong.  She had too much to do on her plate.  I’m not sure how that happened; we had delegated most of the stuff to people, but Satya somehow got caught up with volunteers, registration desk and hospitality.  And all of these things got pretty active in the final days.  We’ll have to keep that in mind for the next time.  Satya’s been a great sport, though, and she’s ensured people got in and out of Pune on time.

A note to speakers and those whom we approved travel sponsorship for: please help us help you.  Keep a phone handy and call us immediately in case of any change of plans (or delays).  Please respond to all emails we send out asking for information and call us the moment something unexpected happens.  Helps maintain everyone’s sanity!

Back to the action: while Prasad (PJP), Shreyank and Kashyap went ahead to the venue to set up banners, power outlets and wireless routers, the rest of us stayed back at the office, started the registration session for Red Hat speakers and attendees, handing out their badges.  Things weren’t too smooth for the folks who went to the venue, either.  Power had failed and they couldn’t test the wireless capabilities.  The electricians adding power outlets could go on doing their work using mobile phone flash lights, though.  It took a good hour and a half for the power to be restored.  We worried if the event could go on without glitches…

Quotable Quotes and Videos from FUDCon Pune 2011

Jared Smith: ‘Our biggest enemy is ourselves’

Sitaram Chamarty: ‘English is never going to be as precise as perl or shell. That’s my biggest problem in life.’

Joerg Simon (kital): ‘The event was really smooth.  All talks started on time, with German precision.  Almost feels like a German event.’  (In an offline chat with me).

Jared Smith: ‘Best FUDPub EVER!’ (on-video, off-video, in multiple locations, in multiple voices)

The kpoint folks have the event videos at their site.

Gearing Up for FUDCon Pune 2011: Day -2

We’re in the final stages now, and things are mostly in place:

  • Website: http://fudcon.in working fine
  • People have started arriving, cabs booked for all coming via Mumbai
    • A couple of them missed their flights, but they’re on their way with a new schedule
  • Posters, booklet, banners printed
  • Budget is under control
  • Videographing set up (but will only be available for one room)
  • Hotel and Guest House rooms ready for speakers coming in
  • Lunch and FUDPub menus finalised

And we have an overwhelming response for the conference:

  • About 50 speakers
  • About 60 sessions (talks, demos, workshops, hackfests)
  • Almost 500 registered attendees
  • About 40 volunteers from COEP

Looks like this FUDCon is set to be the biggest in terms of attendance. We’ve had to propose a draft schedule to avoid confusion with such a huge crowd. The schedule’s put up at  http://fudcon.in/program/fudcon_schedule.

What’s left?

  • Adding power extension boards for classrooms and auditorium — scheduled for tomorrow afternoon
  • Checking wifi access at venue.  We have rented a few routers to boost their signals if needed (we think they’ll be needed)
  • Setting up banners around the campus — tomorrow, after classes

Hmm, amidst all this, I have to find time to ready my slides and prepre for my talks. /me runs to get it done.