11 April 2012 NLUUG, Congrescentrum "NCB" Nieuwegein.

NLUUG = Netherlands Unix User Group
NGN = Network User group Netherlands

It is a tradition for me to visit the NLUUG conferences. This time the location and day of the week of the NLUUG where changed. Just as easy to reach (for me) and with more luxurious food and drinks. The NLUUG organized the conference with the NGN a more MS Windows oriented user group, which clarified why 2 out of the 5 tracks where about MS Windows (mostly the new version 8). The Kick-off and Keynote where first and attended by both NLUUG and NGN members.

09:30 - 10:30 Keynote, John Maddog Hall

I first saw John Maddog Hall in Germany on the CeBit fair (a long time ago), where he was at the RedHat booth running RedHat on an iPaq. This was the first time I saw "one of the godfathers of Open Source and Linux" giving a talk. I'm reading a lot of books about the history of computing and it always struck me how the Americans ignored the English/Europeans and vise-versa but John was able to credit both when described the History of (programmable) computers and showed how Operating Systems changed from non existing (Colossus, ENIAC, EDVAC, UNIVAC) to "for one task only" like on the PDP-11 which had 11 Operating Systems available. From there to A general purpose OS (UNIX) that ran on all kinds of hardware. In the beginning (and in a lot of cases now) UNIX was not free (as in free beer) but it was open source. Due to the High price of Hardware in those days the price of the software (OS) was a lesser issue. Applications and its code used to be owned by the company that ordered the software not by the company that did the programming. But now Software overtook hardware in cost and is owned by the vendor. It is said: "software has become a commodity", MadDog argues that it is not, and thats why you want to modify it to provide for your specific needs, Open Source enables this. After a question from the audience, John explained the origin of his middle name.

10:35 - 11:20 What's up in Kernel-land, Thorsten Leemhuis

Thorsten is a german who writes in the also in the netherlands available C!T magazine about the latest developments of the Linux kernel. During the talk a lot of current states of the latest 3.3/4 kernel are given. Most of it is about Graphics Drivers (GPU) but because i'm a Linux server user/administrator a lot of the info doesn't apply to me but it is good to know that development in the Linux Kernel is still very very active and maybe CUDA libs can use the optimized GPU drivers.

11:20 - 11:50 Coffee break

Great Coffee, Great mini-cakes and mini-donuts.

11:50 - 12:35 Spice, Open Remote Computing, Hans de Goede

This open source VNC alternative is specially tailored for virtualized guests. It focusses on remote desktops so besides a remote console other channels can exist for for example USB. The Spice server runs in the virtualization layer (qemu/kvm/libvirt) and therefore the OS in the guest does not need any drivers. The user uses a native client or a browser extension to access the console screen of the Virtual Machine. The communication between the Spice client and the Spice server are optimized for performance. Further development is focused on increasing performance multiple guests and remote storage. The Spice Console Demo is impressive and unlike demo's done in other lectures, fast and convincing. Using Multiple windows as a multi-display setup Hans connects to the Client OS, creates a single screen shot of the multiple displays and does a cut-and-paste into and from the clients OS. After this demo Hans talks about USB redirection from the Client to the Guest OS. Latency and Jitter are a problem especially for usb-webcam like a applications, performance is optimized to avoid this. Using libvirt, dynamic adding and removing of USB devices to the Guest OS is possible. And Again the demo was impressive, a webcam and de adding and removing of a USB memory stick worked like a charm. A note: Both demo's where done on a single laptop so the influence of a network connection was non existent.

12:35 - 13:35 Lunch

Again good coffee. nice mini-bread and warm snacks

13:35 - 14:20 Hardware Virtualization, Sebastian Grandjan Perrenod Comtesse

This was my first and only visit to the AIX track. Virtualization is as old as the IBM 360 (1966) and just like then done in hardware (CPU microcode to be exact) on al IBM produced virtualization platforms like the PowerPC. When talking about IBM OS and CPU, LPARs (Logical partitions) is the one thing one can not avoid to mention. It divides the Hardware in Partitions, again on hardware level. This time it became clear to me, because it was mentioned several times by Sebastian, why LPARs are needed. Pricing and Licensing of the software, yes, it's al about money, or saving money until the software vendor changes its licensing model. Using LPARS on a 4 CPU machine, a single CPU License can be used when a 1 CPU LPAR is created. The hardware hypervisor and LPARS allow to fine grain (dynamically) the use of resources. By using a Simultaneous Multi threading technique (not SMP or Hyper-threading) optimal scheduling of the running LPARS and VMs is accomplished. Net work Virtualization is also supported.

14:20 - 15:05 Android is Linux, Toch?, Mark van Cuijk

Yes, the Android kernel is a linux kernel, but every thing around it is less Linux like. Most surprising (for me that is) on top of an mostly open-source (but not GPL2 licensed) layer Java applications are running. Mark Explained the build up of the layers extensively. THe interprocess communication (openBinder) was explained and the permissions on an Android system where addressed. Nice detail: Every application runs as a separate user, this way the Android kernel can easily separate processes and files from other applications.

15:05 - 15:35 Tea break

Good coffee and tasty tea

15:35 - 16:20 The btrfs filesystem, Gabor Nyers

One could ask "why an other filesystem?" but even the ext4 lead developer acknowledge that btrfs is the way to the future. Btrfs is not ZFS, it has a lot of features already implemented in ZFS like snapshots and RAID but unfortunately they either lack the complete implementation or the tools to manage them. And after 4 years btrfs still looks promising but it's not production ready yet. ...... told a lot about the resent developments and possibilities, but ran out of time to give a demo.

16:20 - 17:05 Experiencing Solaris 11, Patrick Ale

Solaris has alway had my interest, so I ended this conference with a visit to the solaris track. Patrick is a practical user of Solaris. His tips for Solaris 11: Always use SMF and don't edit /etc/... They are just there for compatibility reasons and strange things can happen when you do edit them and then reboot. Patrick explained and demo-ed (his username: pale) until his laptop battery ran out of juice, how he was able to build a test environment of a new Solaris environment on his Laptop using virtual-box. Using zones and the etherstub (a software bridge) an isolated environment could be created.

17:05 - Drinks

Oeps, i didn't attend any Windows lectures, while there where 2 tracks the whole day. Oh well it's time for beer and hot dutch snacks.

And after all this a Greek dinner with ex-college's of SNOW B.V. in Nieuwegein City-Center

April 2012, Alain van Hoof