Friday Mar 06, 2009

Kernel Conference Australia - Call for Papers issued

More movement at the station when it comes to KCA2009 - we've now got a Call For Papers which I've started emailing to various people and groups.

I'm still on the hunt for sponsorship to help things along, so if your org can help, please contact me directly.

One other thing - you might look at all the details for KCA and think "but I don't use OpenSolaris why should I bother?" - to which the response is that we're interested in Open Source, which is not limited to just one kernel or company. So please, don't think KCA2009 is not for you.

Friday Feb 27, 2009

Kernel Conference Australia - it's coming!

Over the years it's been a source of frustration for me that the conferences which I wanted to attend were either too expensive (time, travel, registration etc) or not covering topics I was interested in.

Late last year I realised I should stop grumbling about it and fix it myself.

So it is with great pleasure that I can announce that this July 15th to 17th in Brisbane, there will be an Open Source kernel-focused conference: Kernel Conference Australia. We don't have absolutely all of the organisational bits together yet, but here's what we do have:

World class speakers

Fantastic location

Our venue is the Queensland Brain Institute, within the University of Queensland.

Excellent climate

The University is situated in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. Yes, it will be winter... but winter in Brisbane is a beautiful time to visit.

Call for Papers

The Call for Papers is not quite ready (still a few details to be ironed out), but if you'd like to be considered for a presentation spot you should be thinking about a topic in any of these areas:


  • Cross-architecture kernel development

  • Porting an OS to a new architecture

  • Filesystems

  • System performance visualisation (DTrace, SystemTap?)

  • Image visualisation (GPU kernels)

  • Fault Management

  • (globally) Distributed kernel development - how to make it work

  • Virtualisation

  • Clustering (HPC and High Availability)

  • Distributed systems

  • Kernel Testing - methodologies, interesting problems found

  • Traps and pitfalls found when porting drivers between OSes

  • Realtime performance and scheduling

  • Embedded OSes and drivers (including control systems)

  • Patents and Open Source

  • The state of OS kernel research / what's new / work in progress

Apart from the above, we expect that pretty much any kernel-focused topic for an Open Source licensed OS will be considered by the organising committee.

Target OSes

If you would like to help with sponsoring the conference, please let me know via email (jmcp at my employer . com).

Wednesday Jan 16, 2008

I'm going to the SunTechDays conf in Sydney

Got my travel, hotel and everything else booked today so that I can go and present (for Jim Walker) on OpenSolaris Testing at the upcoming Sun Tech Days conference at the start of March.

I'm really looking forward to it and I hope to catch up with my Sydney-based colleagues and SOSUG mates as well as our friends and family. (J's able to come with me, which is a real bonus).

Thursday Nov 01, 2007

Beijing Sun Tech Day 2007 wrap up

Wow ... what a day! I hung out with my friends (including Robs) at the HCTS - Hardware Certification Test Suite booth for most of the day. We were showing off the latest prototype demo of the Slim Installer LiveCD, which provided a very nice segue to the OpenSolaris Device Detection Tool. I lost track of how many people I talked to and handed out August 2007 OpenSolaris starter kits to, but it was definitely a steady stream of people.

Just after lunch we managed to trip a surge protector, so the se3320 and t2k sitting in front of me were silent. Then a bunch of students from Beijing IT Institute rocked up and wanted to know all about the t2k. So I showed them the fan trays, swung the unit around and started talking about LOM and the various interfaces.... then figured what the heck, might as well yank the cover off entirely and show them the insides.

So a good 45 minutes later after many many questions and much discussion about the benefits of multi-core computing and OpenSolaris, they invited me to visit their campus! Unfortunately I can't take them up on the offer since I'm flying home today (gee it's late as I type this!) but my Beijing colleagues will definitely visit them.

The last session of the day for us was a demo of a device driver writing utility which our team is working on as a NetBeans / Sun Studio plugin. I think it went quite well, though I did get the impression that a lot of the attendees didn't really understand what a device driver was!

Other highlights of the day were meeting Josh Berkus of PostgreSQL fame, and (finally!) meeting Jim Grisanzio in the flesh, albeit briefly.

A few photos from today:


Crowds at registration

More crowds at registration

Queueing near the PostgreSQL booth

Steve talking about xVM

Josh Berkus

Fiona talking about HCTS and HCTLive

Josh Berkus

Ryan about to start the device driver demo session

Hands on experience in the demo

Example template code from the demo

Ada explaining during the demo

Kevin explaining during the demo

Javen explaining during the demo

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Wednesday Oct 31, 2007

Beijing Sun Tech Day tomorrow

One part of this trip which I am really pleased about (apart from getting the backport patches released of course!) is that I'm going to get to go to the Beijing Sun Tech Day tomorrow (1st November).

The event is going to be at the Beijing International Conference Centre next to the Birdsnest, aka Beijing Olympic Stadium:

I'm really looking forward to hearing Jim Hughes speak. Sun "acquired" him with the StorageTek acquisition, and since I have a huge bias towards tape (from years of doing netbackup and networker support), I'm keen to see if I can have a chat with him.

We'll see how it goes. I'll have the camera, I'll take photos and I'll be hanging out at whatever OpenSolaris-related booths I can find. Come and say hi if you're there.

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Friday Oct 21, 2005

AUUG 2005 Conference wrap up

Well I didn't make it to yesterday's sessions of AUUG's 2005 Conference due to illness, being unable to sleep on Thursday and dialling in for a US-hosted concall @ 0300 yesterday morning. So I missed out on Russell Coker's presentation on SELinux and multilevel security. I also missed out on Mark Uemura's presentation about integrating OSS into corporate IT structures, and Greg Lehey's presentation entitled Free as in free beer --- which I'm lead to believe was actually about his beer fridge! Oh, and the conference dinner too. Ah well, I did enjoy today's sessions though --- Chris Green of Microsoft presented a few things about Microsoft's Services For Unix (SFU) product, which actually looks quite good. I'll definitely investigate it in the future. I was particularly impressed when Chris fired up an X11 tetris game from SFU. I wonder whether I can get thunderbird or firefox running from within an SFU session..... hmmmm !! Anyway, Arjen Lentz of MySQL.com then gave a keynote, talking about some of the disappointingly common errors that people make when writing SQL, combining SQL with php/perl/... quite entertaining, and a large number of tshirts was dispensed with as well. Following morning tea Stewart Smith of MySQL.com presented on the cluster features which are coming soon in MySQL v5.1 (iirc), and then backed up very quickly when the next speaker didn't arrive to show us all the code for one of MySQL's filesystem storage drivers. I thought very quickly about presenting my ZFS talk from SOSUG but wasn't fast enough when the audience was asked "does anybody have a paper they'd like to present?" Ah well, maybe I'll be able to deliver an updated version to SAGE-AU's Queensland chapter in December instead. Finally for the morning Dan Kennedy of SQLite presented on why we should all consider using an embedded database rather than flat files or XML for our next project. Apparently the Mozilla Project is refactoring their on-disk data storage to use sqlite rather than the hodgepodge of systems which they currently use. It will be interesting to see what they come up with. The afternoon sessions today really didn't grab me, but I caught the tail end of Iain Jardin's presentation on Sun's N1 Service Provisioning System before the final two presentations for the conference: Michael Paddon of QualComm talked to us (quizzed us!) about the seven deadly sins of software, providing some very entertaining bug snippets from a variety of unix variants for us to look at and see whether we could spot the problems. He even threw Freddo Frogs to those who managed to get the answers correct. To finish the conference we had an invited presentation from Reyk Floeter of Vantronix (a German IT company) talking about wireless support in OpenBSD wherein he discussed some of the pitfalls that await software developers who adhere to some fairly rigid criteria for what sorts of software and licensing is actually "free." He then proceeded to demonstrate the wifi access point daemon and NetBSD's ethernet trunking capabilities, which was very impressive, except for his choice of music! All in all, a very good conference and I'm really glad I went. I didn't manage to get Rob Pike's autograph, nor a photo of him, but I did see the Sun Fire v40z that Sun supplied for the network access sponsorship booted with NetBSD via the network... and that boot image was supplied by a Sharp Zaurus with the image on a usb-attached disk!

Monday Oct 17, 2005

Guess who I sat next to at AUUG today?

Courtesy of Sun's diamond sponsorship of AUUG's 2005 Conference I've scored a free pass to the conference. W00t! There was a keynote from Brad Templeton where he spoke in defence of the general purpose computer (and also thereby in defence of innovation). There was a keynote from Bryan Cantrill --- today, since he was recovered from his jetlag he was able to go at his usual million miles/hour.... I think the audience dug it... I kept to the Systems and Documentation track in the morning... didn't really get me going, maybe I should have looked into the crypto track instead. At lunch, though, I sat at the same table as Chris Maltby --- a name that I recognise from when I first started at uni although of course I couldn't remember why until I googled him. And there was a bloke wearing a purplish cap opposite me...... Rob Pike !! Yes, The Rob Pike W00tW00tW00t! He apparently spends a fair bit of his time here in Sydney nowadays --- a decent chunk of the Google Maps team is based our here. He's one of those unix demigods, and I never thought I'd get to meet somebody of his standing. In the afternoon I followed the spam countermeasures track, which was actually very interesting --- even though I'm no longer officially a sysadmin or mail platform admin. Somebody asked David Purdue when we would be able to see spamd running on OpenSolaris --- since ipf is integrated (and yes, Darren Reed was over there in the corner, hacking away on his Acer Ferrari) with Solaris Express it really shouldn't be that difficult. The final keynote that I got to go to today was from Damien Miller of the OpenBSD foundation (?) talking about good design and implementation principles, using OpenSSH's portability goal as the example. It was great to hear him present the core team's attitudes, because their attitudes matched mine :-D Had to duck across the road from the conference to go to my circuit analysis exam, but I managed to make it back in time for most of the drinks in the evening. Which was a really, really good thing because I got talking with Arjen Lentz and Stewart Smith of the MySQL team about their cluster offering. And that turned into dinner at a nice little Vietnamese restaurant around the corner, and that ended up with me, Brendan Gregg and Russell Coker (RedHat's SELinux guru) catching the train up to North Sydney together. All in all, a very pleasant evening! Now if it wasn't for the fact that I'm listening to one of our architecture review committee meetings, I'd probably be able to rock up to today's sessions. But I think I'll have to catch some snooze time instead. And I'm looking forward to the Friday programme a bit more than the Thursday programme so it's all good. Hopefully I'll be able to get Rob Pike to autograph my copy of The Practice of Programming and let me get my photo taken with him. Fingers crossed!

Tuesday Mar 01, 2005

CEC05 Wrap

Wow, what a weekend! More than 3000 people at the Moscone Centre for the conference. We got to hear all the business unit EVPs, Jonathon and Scott. Andy Bechtolsheim's enthusiasm for the four product lines his team is working on is incredibly infectious. I can't wait until we see these new products in the field --- you're going to love them. Jonathon came out in a basketball singlet which --- to me at least --- looked like it was made for somebody a good 1/2 metre taller than he. Jonathon's fairly tall too.... He talked for about 10 minutes to start with (without slideware), and then did 55 minutes of q and a. It is really something to be listening to him when he takes questions, because he really is on top of everything and has an illustration for every point he needs to make. And these are honest points and illustrations too, which as technically-minded person (and audience) I really appreciate. John and I presented on the new features that are in Solaris CAT v4.2 for crash dump analysis. We're currently working on the legal stuff so we can get it onto the Sun Download Centre (look for the Operating Systems link). The team has written a whole heap more system "sanity checks" and added new options to commands like "cpu" and "rdi" to help with various frequently-performed operations. We are also now able to provide you with the actual function arguments that a function was called with almost all the time --- this used to be a tedious two+ step operation. We've got support for Solaris 10 as well (if you're running a Solaris Express build that isn't at least s10_72 then please upgrade, some critical structures changed). My favourite part was being able to demonstrate an alpha (well, maybe pre-alpha) version of Solaris CAT running live on my laptop which is running a amd64/64bit solaris next nightly build. I think there were a few "oooh"s and "aah"s .... that's something which is planned for our v5.0 release. Then there was the demo room! I caught up with Roy and Mark at the SGR booth (I'll write about SGR in another entry; it's our troubleshooting methodology), said hi to the SunLibrary people who were demonstrating Grokker (again, for another entry), had a look at the new products from Andy Bechtolsheim's team and then spent a long, long time with the engineering folks who demonstrated FMA aka Predictive Self-Healing. FMA is the Fault Management Architecture which we've built into Solaris 10 software-wise, and are progressively building into our new hardware. (It's already in the SF280R, the SFv1280 and lots of others). It is a mechanism whereby Solaris can accurately remove marginal components from use by your system. At this point --- as I understand it --- the minimum size component that will removed is a cpu core, or a memory page. I don't think I can quite do justice to the whole architecture and explain how it works, so I won't. You should visit the pages under Predictive Self-Healing to get a better understanding. Suffice to say that if you are running Solaris 10 on your system, then FMA can do an amazing amount for your system Reliability Availability and Scalability. In a previous entry I mentioned Sun Preventive Services, and that team had a booth in the demo room too. It was great to see their evangelism and the little flashy-red heart shaped things they gave away. It was also great to know that one of my colleagues in Sydney is one of the drivers in this service offering. David Yen's talk about CMT was very, very interesting. I know that in a few years I'm going to be studying cpu design at university. I expect that it will be a few months after our Niagara chip arrives in volume systems, so the lecturers might well not have caught up with what will be the next revolution in cpu design. While I'm thinking about it, one of our Performance and Availability team is already working on figuring out how we will need to re-design, re-think and re-educate the concept of a unix load average. As far as I can determine, Niagara-based systems mean we'll pretty much have to throw out a whole heap of established wisdom and re-invent it. That will take some time! I got to two breakouts today, one (from one of our German cluster aces) on some of the experiences he has had with SunCluster and a fairly large OEM/ISV and the other on Solaris 10 performance from the technical lead on that project. I think it's fair to say that the thing I can say on my blog is this: If you're going to run a clustered environment, Architect (or design) it right. Implement it right and Maintain it correctly and you will have one of the most solid and reliable environments you can possibly get. The Solaris 10 performance presentation was given by Bart Smaalders, a bloke who really, really knows what he is talking about. There are so many perfomance improvements in Solaris 10 that I can't list them all (let alone remember them all). I'd like to say that I've been seeing these improvements myself even on my old nearly-retired duron-650 system and they are only magnified on my laptop. If you aren't running Solaris 10 then you really, really, really should be. I had a good long chat with Bart after his presentation and found out a few more things about other planned changes which are at the scope-out stage right now. Solaris performance is really hotting up. We finished the conference with Scott answering questions for more than an hour with the sort of frankness, honesty and good humour which are his trademarks. I haven't worked for other companies, so I can't compare with them, but I believe it to be truly rare that a COO/President and CEO/Chairman not only take questions and answer them frankly, but that they and all the business unit EVPs make it a mandatory part of their year to turn up to a Services event like CEC. To me it indicates the worth of our work to Sun and that gives me a really good feeling deep inside. I've had a blast at CEC meeting people from all over the world, presenting, seeing the new features, products, services and solutions that are going to be released soon, and learning as much as I can to take back to Australia and pass on to my colleagues. Now I've only got another few days here in the SF Bay Area --- another conference, StorageAces --- and then I get to go home. Woohoo!

Engcon wrap up - DTrace at lightspeed

Well I've now got some spare time to mention what I did on the last day of EngCon: I went to the DTrace presentations. The morning session was all three DTrace Iron Chefs presenting an intro --- they each spoke to a segment, with either Bryan or Adam demonstrating snippets on a Ferrari. That was all really neat, but what I was really there to find out came in the afternoon session: the Advanced DTrace Tips, Tricks and Gotchas. Again, this was presented by all three Iron Chefs, but it was really a symphony of Bryan which started out at a reasonable talk and demo tempo, but then accelerated and accelerated. Dan reckons Bryan was going at a millions miles an hour. I must disagree! Not only did the speaking get to light-speed but so did the demonstrations. I was really hard pressed to keep up making notes even typing them into my laptop. So thankyou to Bryan for making the second presentation available online. It will be a lot easier to pass that info back to my colleagues in Sydney. And thankyou to all three Iron Chefs for presenting on DTrace. It really is as cool, radical and revolutionary as I had been lead to believe.

Friday Feb 25, 2005

EngCon is nearly over

Well it's been a great two days (one more to go) at our Santa Clara campus for the Engineering Conference. I've met people like Dan from one of our engineering groups on the US East coast, and then a whole mob of SunLabs people like Radia Perlman (who invented DecNet), Jonathon Kaplan, Mark Moir, Victor Luchangco, Nir Shavit, Dan Nussbaum and Jan Maessen. I was hoping that Whitfield Diffie and Guy Steele would have been there too, but unfortunately I didn't see them. I guess I'll meet them some other time. One thing in particular was placed into incredibly sharp contrast for me at this conference: the people attending are able to explain their particular field of research interest and make it seem easy and obvious. This, in my experience, is a very rare skill. So to come across so many people under the same roof who all work for Sun and who can all do this was just mind boggling. The closing remarks were delivered by Ivan Sutherland (Dan beat me to it with wifi to quote him). You know how when you're doing your research at uni and you read about the influential people of the past X years and maybe read their publications (check out the earliest publication.... well I never imagined that I would get to hear one of those luminaries speak, let alone that we work for the same company! Tomorrow the DTrace architects are presenting a short workshop which I'm going to attend, then I'll be cruising up El Camino Bignum to San Francisco to attend CEC.

Tuesday Feb 22, 2005

EngCon, CEC05, StorageAces05 then home

Well tomorrow I'll be joining the morning rush hour down I880 from Newark to Santa Clara, which is where the Sun Engineering Conference is on. This is where Dan Lacher is going to be. I'm looking forward to meeting him, the DTrace guys Bryan, Michael and Adam and if I can manage it, Greg Papadopoulos too. It'll all be a bit hectic for the next 10 days or so, because after SunEngCon it's off up the peninsula for CEC, our Customer Engineering Conference. (How does one engineer a customer? Maybe we could start with Sun Preventive Services...) I'm going to be assisting one of the PTS-Kernel engineers with presenting new features in Solaris CAT. That's the crash dump analysis tool which is developed by Sun's Support Services people including myself. Yes, we do know about adb and mdb, but we come at crash dump analysis from a different angle: supporting customers who are not necessarily running the latest and greatest version of Solaris, and making it easy for support engineers to quickly triage a crash dump. The Solaris CAT team is great bunch of people spread over the US and Australia. It's a great thing to be able to work directly with people on the other side of the world. Without good telecommunications (voice and data) it just would not be possible. To round out my trip I'll go direct from CEC05 to StorageAces05, back in Newark. This year there are going to be some partner vendor presentations which I'm really looking forward to. Why do I like going to Sun's conferences? Three reasons: you get to learn about new things which are coming your way, you get to meet people from all over the world, and most importantly you get to network with the people who actually develop the products and solutions which make a difference to your day to day life. When I get back to Australia I think I'm going to need a holiday....
About

I work at Oracle in the Solaris group. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own, and neither Oracle nor any other party necessarily agrees with them.

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