My talk at the CentOS Dojo Pune 2014

I spoke at the CentOS Dojo in Pune yesterday on new features available in CentOS release 7.0 since the 6 release.  Slides are available here: What’s New in Virtualization.  The event was organized by the Pune GNU/Linux Users Group (PLUG) for the CentOS project.

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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.

Continue reading Session notes from the Virtualization microconf at the 2012 LPC

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 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.

Fedora Miniconf and

A very delayed post on the Fedora Miniconf and was held on the 15th, 16th and 17th of this month in Bengaluru. I could confirm my attendance very late, so I missed out on the CfP and a chance at speaking in the main conference, but I could manage to get a speaking slot in the Fedora miniconf. Thanks to Rahul for accomodating me at a short notice.

One of the main things I was looking forward to was meeting my team-mate Juan Quintela. Though we met recently at the KVM Forum 2010, I was going to use this opportunity to catch him and discuss some of the things I’m working on that overlap with his domain, virtual machine live migration, and get things going.

The other thing was to get to know more people — Fedora users and developers from India who I’ve spoken with on the irc channel but not met, other developers and users of free software from around the world. Add to that a few people who I’ve worked with and not met and also people whose software I use daily and who I want to thank for working on what they do.  It was also nice meeting the old known faces from the IBM LTC in Bengaluru — Balbir Singh, Kamalesh Babulal, Vaidy, Aneesh K. V., et al.

It’s always a certainty that there will be users of virtualization (particularly kvm) stack and it’s nice to get a feel of how many people are using kvm, in what ways, how well it works for them, and so on. That’s always a motivation.

The Fedora miniconf was on the 16th. The schedules for talks for miniconfs aren’t published by the people, so it was left to us to do our advertising and crowd-pulling. Rahul had listed the speakers and the talks on the Fedora wiki page. I went ahead and took out a few print-outs for the talks and assigned time slots for each talk depending on the suggested length given by the speakers for their talks as well as the slot allotted to the Fedora Project for the miniconf. The print-outs of the schedules were meant to be pasted around the venue to attract attention to the remotest section that was to host the miniconf, Hall C. However, we just ended up keeping the printouts as handouts at the Fedora stall that we set up. The Fedora stall was quite a crowd-puller. And since it was set up on the second day, we didn’t have to compete with the other stalls since they had their share of attendance on the first day.

The other members of the Fedora crowd, Rahul, Saleem, Arun, Shreyank, Aditya, Suchakra, Siddhesh, Neependra, … have written about the Fedora stall and their experiences earlier (and linked to from the Fedora page).

The Fedora miniconf was a great success, going by the attendance and the participation we had. My talk was the first, and I could see we had a full house. I think my talk went quite well. It could have been a little disappointing for people who expected demos, but I wanted to aim this talk towards people who had a general sense of using and deploying Fedora virt as well as Fedora on the cloud and also at people who would go and do stuff themselves rather than being given everything on a silver platter. This does resonate also with the philosophy of recent years of being a contributor-oriented conference rather than a user-originted one, so I didn’t mind doing that. Gauging by the response I got after the talk, I believe I was right in doing that. (I even got one email mentioning it was a great talk by the CEO of a company).

The other talks from the Fedora miniconf were engaging, I learnt quite a bit from what the others are up to. Arun’s talk on packaging emacs extensions was entertaining. He connects with the audience, I liked that about him.

Aditya’s talk on Fedora Summer Coding was a good call to students to participate in the free software world via Fedora’s internship programme. He narrated his own experience as a Fedora Project intern, which touches the right chords of the intended audience. I think doing more such talks will get him over the jitters of presenting to a big crowd.

Suchakra’s doing good work on accessing an embedded Linux box via a console inside a browser tab — it’s a very interesting project.

Neependra’s talk was a good walk-through of using tracing commands to see what really happens in the kernel when a userspace program runs. He walked through the ‘mkdir’ command and showed the call trace. This was a good demo. He spoke about the various situations in which tracing tools could be used, not just for debugging, and that should have set people’s thoughts in motion as to how they could get more information on how the system behaves instead of just using a system.

Shreyank’s talk on creating a web tool for managing student projects and the Fedora Summer of Code was interesting as well. It was nice to see the way an actual student project was designed and developed and how it’s going to make future students’ and mentors’ lives easier. This talk should have served as a good introduction to the flow and process students have to go through in applying, starting, reviewing and completing their project.

Apart from the Fedora miniconf, I attended a few sessions in the main conf. James Morris’s keynote on the history of the security subsytem in the Linux kernel was very informative. Rahul’s keynote on the ‘Failures of Fedora‘ was totally packed with anecdotes and analyses of the decisions taken by the Fedora project and their impact on the users and developers. Fedora (earlier Red Hat Linux) is one of the oldest distributions around, and any insights into the functioning and data as to what works and what does not is a great source of information to look for building engaging communities of users and contributors.

Lennart‘s two talks on systemd and the state of surround sound on Linux were not very new to me. However, there were a few bits in there that provided some food for thought.

Juan‘s talk on live migration was packed full of experiences in getting qemu to a state where migration works fairly well. He also spoke about all the work that’s left to do. It was totally technical and I think the people who were misguided by it being labelled as a ‘sysadmin’ talk or by the title (expecting to migrate from an older physical machine to a newer physical machine w/o downtime) quickly left the hall. Whoever stayed back were either people who work on QEMU/KVM (esp. the folks from the IBM LTC) or people too polite to walk out.

Dimitris Glezos‘s talk on building large-scale web applications was a very informative one for me. I’ve never done web programming (except for html, css and a bit of php ages ago), and this was a good intro for me to understand what various web development frameworks there are, their pros and cons, the way to deploy them, the way to structure them, etc. It was evident he took a lot of effort to prepare the slides and the talk, it was totally worth it.

Danese Cooper‘s keynote on the Wikimedia Foundation was an equally informative talk. She spoke on a wide range of topics, including the team that makes up Wikimedia, their servers and datacentres, their load balancing strategy, their backup systems, their editing process, their localisation efforts, their search for a new mirror site in the APAC region, etc. I was interested in one aspect, machine-readable wikipedia content, to which they had a satisfactory answer: they’re migrating to semantic web content and would look at a machine-readable API once they’re done adding semantics to their content.

The other time was spent at the Fedora booth and talking to Juan and the other friends.

The team announced this would be the last, so thanks to them for hanging around so long. To fill the void, we’re going to have to step up and organise a platform for like-minded people from the free/open source software community around here. I’ve been part of organising some events earlier in different capacities, and I’m looking forward to being part of an effort that provides such a platform. There’s a FUDCon being planned for next year in Pune, I’ll be involved in it, and will take things along from there.

Creative Capitalism: For Everyone’s Good

Bill Gates, in his new role, has these thoughts to offer:

Quite simple and effective ways to help the needy and also continue doing what you currently are. is over and I’m back home. The slide deck on my kvm talk is now available.

This was the first time I went to and I really liked the experience. More than the talks, it’s the corridor discussions and meeting up with people that’s really the most interesting part. The place was full with people who have contributed immensely to the software I use everyday, and I couldn’t let go of such an opportunity to go and thank them personally. I definitely missed thanking everyone, so I think I’ll go there next year to make up for that. Danese Cooper gets my vote for the best talk: Trekking with White Elephants. It’s a great way to learn how to go about contributing to open source and years of experience in getting the management knowledgeable about free software. I’ve learnt these lessons myself through all these years and I’m sure young people out there will benefit a lot from these tips. (I will update the link once I get access to the final slides)

My talk on KVM turned into a demo session for KVM and explaining merits of the approach as opposed to Xen, as a few people in the audience had already used Xen and they wanted to know why KVM is different or better. Too bad, since I was hoping there would be contributors who would have liked to know how KVM actually works.

I wasn’t also too happy with the scheduling of the talks: there was a gcc talk in parallel with a kernel talk and a filesystem / distributed computing talk in parallel with another kernel talk. To make matters worse, Thomas Gleixner’s talk on the RT patches was added later in the same time slot as I was to speak.

Rusty has to be the most entertaining kernel hacker; in his inimitable style, he provided a grand finale to the event meant to encourage contributors to the FOSS community. He got me up on stage along with James Morris to speak about how we got involved with FOSS and the kernel.

The Linux kernel folks at IBM LTC Bangalore swore they wouldn’t let me go away easily and asked me to visit their office where people would ask me all sorts of questions on KVM. That was a very nice session that I had; they’re mostly interested in the power management and migration issues on kvm, and that got me pretty kicked, as I’m extremely interested in the power management and Green issues of late. Though I couldn’t answer most of the questions related to power management, I’m sure the kvm-devel list can help.

Moreover, quite a few people came up to me and asked about my work on the kernel and kvm and that was quite encouraging.

I’m sure I also caused inconvenience to people at the sponsor stalls asking them in what ways their company contributed to foss software. Most of them were there just to attract talent. I’m hoping the FOSS enthusiasts don’t stop contributing once they’re in those big companies., KVM, Call for Linux Kernel Developers

I will be speaking at the conference in Bangalore on the 7th of December. My topic? Virtualisation: The KVM Way. is the premier conference in India on Free and Open Source Software, and sadly I’ve not had the opportunity to attend it all these years. And to think, last two years I actually was in Bangalore! So I’m making up for it now. I’m not only going to attend, but am also speaking this time. It’s a big collection of great minds and I am looking forward to meeting several people who work on the software I use daily and finally get a chance to thank them!

As most of you already know, I’m working with Qumranet for quite some time now. Qumranet is the sponsor of the KVM project, which has become the focus of quite a lot of attention these days, and that’s good!

For me, KVM, the Kernel-based Virtual Machine, is the second most thrilling idea since the Linux kernel. I’ve always had many ideas about how to do things with the OS and Linux gave me the perfect opportunity for me to play around. And just when we were thinking there’s not much happening in the OS space that deals with hardware, here come all the virtualisation extensions in the hardware and KVM, which makes the optimal use of the new hardware and all the existing software. And I can’t stop talking about how excited I am to actually be working on it.

By the way, I’d be delighted to talk to you if you’re interested in working on KVM in India. We’re looking out for people with experience of programming in the kernel.

If you happen to be at, please come up and say a ‘hi’.