Tag Archives: free software

KVM Forum 2014 Schedule

The 2014 edition of KVM Forum is less than a week away.  The schedule of the talks is available at this location.  Use this link to add the schedule to your calendar.  A few slides have already been uploaded for some of the talks.

As with last year, we’ll live-stream and record all talks, keep an eye on the wiki page for details.

One notable observation about the schedule is that it’s much relaxed from the last few years, and there are far fewer talks in parallel this time around.  There’s a lot of time for interaction / networking / socializing.  If you’re in Dusseldorf next week, please come by and say ‘hello!’

OpenStack Pune Meetup

I participated in the OpenStack Meetup at the Red Hat Pune office a few weekends ago.  I have been too caught up on the lower-level KVM/QEMU layers of the virt stack, and know there aren’t too many people involved in those layers in Pune (or even India); and was curious to learn more about OpenStack and also find out more about the OpenStack community in Pune.  The event was on a Saturday, which means sacrificing one day of rest and relaxation – but I went along because curiousity got the better of me.

This was a small, informal event where we had a few talks and several hallway discussions.  Praveen has already blogged about his experiences, here are my notes about the meetup.

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My opensource.com Article on FUDCon Pune 2011

My article on FUDCon Pune 2011 appeared on opensource.com last week:

http://opensource.com/life/11/12/fudcon-pune-making-conference

Apparently my initial submission was about 3x longer than the average article on opensource.com.  I’ve covered events running up to the conference on this blog, and with the osdc article, I’ve covered the conf as well.  There still might be a few things left which I’ll post about here in the coming days.

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 APAC 2011: Pune, Nov 4-6

Jared Smith, the Fedora Project Leader, has announced the Pune bid has won for the APAC FUDCon for 2011.

https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/FUDCon:India_2011

If you’re planning to attend, there’s information on travel and costs on the bid page above.  A few community volunteers who will speak at the event can be sponsored, subject to budget restrictions.

Make sure to get your proposed talks or hackfests listed on the link above.  We already have a healthy list of topics; I’m eagerly looking forward to the event.

For people local to Pune, you can help organising the event. Please contact Rahul Sundaram, the event owner, or send an email to the fedora-india mailing list for details.

On Mind Maps

I wrote an article on mind maps in the BenefIT magazine for the March 2011 issue.  The people at BenefIT are nice enough to license the content under a CC license, so I can host the pdf and point you to it:

Mind-maps.pdf

This article talks about how mind maps are beneficial for the thought process and how you can use them to make decisions.

This is my second article that got published in the BenefIT magazine.  I’ve written one on taking frequent breaks from the computer earlier.  Writing for non-tech, business-oriented people is different, and not very straightforward :-)

Stay Healthy By Taking Breaks

Most of us lead sedentary lifestyles these days — most of our time is spent in front of computers. This slowly is causing a lot of problems people from previous generations haven’t experienced: back aches, knee problems, wrist pains, myopia, among others. And just going to a gym or putting in one hour of physical activity a day isn’t enough. It doesn’t help balance the inactivity over the entire day.

I recently wrote an article in the BenefIT magazine that talks about two tools: Workrave and RSIBreak. Thanks to the publishers, the article is available in pdf format under a CC license.

I’ve tried both the software but have been using Workrave for quite a while now and am quite happy with it. To briefly introduce them: both software prompt the user to take a break at regular intervals. They have timers that trigger at configured intervals asking the user to take a break. Workrave also has some stretching exercises suggested that can be performed in the longer breaks. The shorter (and more frequent) breaks can be used to take the eyes off the monitor and to relax them. Read the article for more details.

I’ve reviewed Workrave version 0.9.1 in the article, though the current version as of now is 0.9.3, which has a few differences from those mentioned in the article. The prime difference is the addition of a ‘Natural Rest Break’ that gets triggered when the screen-saver gets activated, which is nice since if the user walks away from the computer for a prolonged period of time, the rest break in effect has been taken, and the next one is scheduled after the configured duration once the screen-saver is unlocked.

Both software are available in the Fedora repository: Workrave is based on the GTK toolkit (and integrates nicely with the GNOME desktop), whereas RSIBreak is based on the Qt toolkit (and integrates nicely with the KDE desktop). Give these software a try for a cheap but effective way of staying healthy!

Idea: Faster Metadata Downloads With Yum and Git

The presto plugin for yum has worked great for me so far.  It’s been very useful, not for the lack of download limits, but for the time saved in getting the bits downloaded.  The time saved is significant if the bandwidth is not too good (it never is).

However, I’ve observed in some cases the presto metadata is larger than the actual package size in some cases — e.g., a font.  If a font package, say 21KB in size, has a deltarpm of 3KB in size, it results in a savings of 18KB of downloads.  This is a very impressive 85% of savings.  However, the presto metadata itself could be more than 400KB, nullifying the advantage of the drpm.  We’re effectively downloading, in this corner case, 418KB instead of 21KB.  That is 19 times of what of the actual package size.

So here’s an idea: why not let git handle the metadata for us?  The metadata is a text (or sqlite) file that lists package names, their dependencies, version numbers and so on.  Since text can be very easily handled by git, it should be a breeze fetching metadata updates from a git server.  At install-time (or upgrade-time), the metadata git repository for a particular Fedora version can be cloned, and on each update, all that’s necessary for yum to do is invoke ‘git pull’ and it gets all the latest metadata.  Downloads: a few KB each day instead of a few MBs.

The advantages are numerous:

  • Saves server bandwidth
  • Uses very less server resources when using the git protocol
  • Scales really well
  • Compresses really well
  • Makes yum faster for users
    • I think this is the biggest win — not having to wait ages for a ‘yum search’ to finish everyday has to get anyone interested.  Makes old-time Debian users like me very happy.

There are some challenges to be considered as well:

  • Should the yum metadata be served by just one canonical git server, while the packages get served by mirrors?  Not each mirror may have the git protocol enabled nor can the Fedora project ask each mirror to configure git on the server.
    • Doing this can result in slow mirrors not able to service package download requests for the latest metadata
    • This can be mitigated by using git over http over the server
  • The metadata can keep growing
    • This can be mitigated by having a separate git repository for the metadata belonging to each release.  Multiple git repos can be set up easily for extra repositories (e.g., for external repos or for multiple version repos while doing an upgrade).
  • The mirror list has to be updated to also include git repositories that can be worked on with ‘git remote’.

I’ve filed an RFE for this feature.  For someone looking for a weekend hack for yum in python, this should be a good opportunity to jump right in!  If you intend to take this up, get in touch with the developers, make sure no one else is working on this yet (or collaborate with others) and update the details on the Fedora Feature Page.