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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KVM Forum 2014

The KVM Forums are a great way to learn and talk about the future of KVM virtualization. The KVM Forum has been co-located with the Linux Foundation’s LinuxCon events for the past several years, and this year too will be held along with LinuxCon EU in Dusseldorf, Germany.

The KVM Forums also are a great documentation resource on several features, and the slides and videos from the past KVM Forums are freely available online. This year’s Forum will be no different, and we’ll have all the material on the KVM wiki.

Planet Virt

For a long time various people have been telling me there’s not much information on the low-level / plumbing details of the virt stack on Linux. Especially information related to qemu and its various settings, devices, and so on.

Documentation surely is difficult to come by, but a quick and straightforward solution is to syndicate all of the blog posts that people doing virt development write into a common stream: a planet virt. I started hosting and testing such an instance on openshift, but was quickly pointed to the existing Virt Tools Planet by Rich Jones and Dan Berrange. Dan added the list of people whose blogs I followed for virt development to that instance.

I updated the KVM and QEMU wikis to ensure the Planet gets more visibility, and hope this goes a small way to quell the complaints of not enough available information.

Session notes from the Virtualization microconf at the 2012 LPC

The Linux Plumbers Conf wiki seems to have made the discussion notes for the 2012 conf read-only as well as visible only to people who have logged in.  I suspect this is due to the spam problem, but I’ll put those notes here so that they’re available without needing a login.  The source is here.

These are the notes I took during the virtualization microconference at the 2012 Linux Plumbers Conference.

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About Random Numbers and Virtual Machines

Several applications need random numbers for correct and secure operation.  When ssh-server gets installed on a system, public and private key paris are generated.  Random numbers are needed for this operation.  Same with creating a GPG key pair.  Initial TCP sequence numbers are randomized.  Process PIDs are randomized.  Without such randomization, we’d get a predictable set of TCP sequence numbers or PIDs, making it easy for attackers to break into servers or desktops.


On a system without any special hardware, Linux seeds its entropy pool from sources like keyboard and mouse input, disk IO, network IO, and any other sources whose kernel modules indicate they are capable of adding to the kernel’s entropy pool (i.e .the interrupts they receive are from sufficiently non-deterministic sources).  For servers, keyboard and mouse inputs are rare (most don’t even have a keyboard / mouse connected).  This makes getting true random numbers difficult: applications requesting random numbers from /dev/random have to wait for indefinite periods to get the randomness they desire (like creating ssh keys, typically during firstboot.).


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Virtualization at the Linux Plumbers Conference 2012

The 2012 edition of the Linux Plumbers Conference concluded recently.  I was there, running the virtualization microconference.  The format of LPC sessions is to have discussions around current as well as future projects.  The key words are ‘discussion’ (not talks — slides are optional!) and ‘current’ and ‘future’ projects — not discussing work that’s already done; rather discussing unsolved problems or new ideas.  LPC is a great platform for getting people involved in various subsystems across the entire OS stack in one place, so any sticky problems tend to get resolved by discussing issues face-to-face.

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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.

Gearing Up for FUDCon Pune 2011: Day -2

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

  • Website: 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

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.