Wednesday Jan 27, 2010

Finally its done, Cube3_div released

Here it is finally, Cube3_div 1.0. This adds Division algebra feature to CUBE 3.2 . Finally, its over. Now can completely devote myself to other projects. Thanks to Verdi March of Sun APSTC Singapore and Markus Geimer and Brian Wylie of Julich Supercomputing Centre for all their help and support.

Download and check (only if you are interested in MPI/Open MPI development). Click here to download.

Friday Sep 25, 2009


Software Freedom Day is the worldwide celebration of Free and Open Source Software. Sun Microsystems has been sponsoring SFD celebrations for the past few years. Also Sun supports SFD activities through its numerous Open Source University Meetup (OSUM) clubs worldwide. The OSUM clubs are provided with Sun merchandise, software CDs/DVDs, posters and banners to celebrate the event. All of these activities are co-ordinated through the OSUM site .

We celebrated SFD at SVNIT on 18th September, one day earlier, because its Navratri time and most students were about to leave that evening. Posters and banners were put up at the departments and hostels. I also designed a custom A3 poster for SFD. Apart from this SMSes were sent to students who had attended previous Sun Tech demos.

The topic on 18th was OpenSolaris and ZFS along with OpenSolaris installation on Virtual Box. I had done an OpenSolaris intro last year too but decided to do it again because entirely new batch of students have come this academic year 2. got feedback during my last talk that everyone wanted to learn OpenSolaris 3. the last talk on OpenSolaris saw very poor participation as it clashed with a singing competition where half the college decided to participate and the other half decided to cheer the participants. So with this OpenSolaris intro I want to start off with a long series of workshops on OpenSolaris and its related technologies.

The talk began with the usual on how Sun OS became Solaris and Solaris has become OpenSolaris. I like my talks to be free moving and at times wander off to parallel areas. Also I prefer not to stuff my slides with too much of information. I generally have one big heading per slide and 4 lines(preferably words) of text. I expect my audience to look at me and not the slides. I talk, the slide doesn’t. Also I make my slides visually appealing. For me a presentation is a work of art and I am learning to improve my craft.

So yes, we discussed a lot of things like why no Free OS can play MP3 and many video formats out of the box and the workarounds to those problems. Why OpenSolaris matters and where it stands vis-a-vis other OS? The future of OpenSolaris post Oracle-Sun merger. Why OpenSPARC is better than Intel x86 and yet why it does not sell as much? Why Apple decided to switch to Intel processors etc

During my intro of OpenSolaris ZFS, I also talked about the recent intrusion at and how the sysadmins managed to save a lot of data and effort as they were using ZFS at various places. The students were also fascinated by the concept of Zones and lots of questions and doubts were fired on this. Due to time restrictions I could not talk in depth about Crossbow and I had to move on to the installation demo. Nevertheless, I will be talking about all of the above in great detail in future sessions.

Also there were goodies for asking and answering most questions. The guy who asked most questions got a Sun USB stick and the next three got OSUM bags. In all it was a fruitful discussion and will bring in more people next time.

Some more tech demos are planned in the next few weeks. Wish me luck.

Friday Aug 07, 2009


My SCALASCA project is coming to an end. Its nearly over. I will take up another after this. This seems to be addictive, I want to learn more and more about it. And I have such fantastic and supportive people like Ganesh, Rajesh and Verdi. I wont talk about my next project right now. Let me complete this one first.

Ganesh Sir has already let students from my college ( work on porting apps to OpenSolaris IPS. Now he is also willing to let selected students to work on HPC projects under Sun Engineers from Singapore, who are also researchers at NUS. And I am understandably ecstatic about it. This will really help our students. HPC @ Sun means the cutting edge of technology and some really cool projects.

Also I and a few other friends of mine are fully going ahead with our plan of setting up a cluster here. Exciting times ahead. :)

First CA event of this academic year

My CA term got extended for a year. So I will be the CA throughout my 4th year. My coordinator this year is Kumar Abhishek, a absolutely cool guy whose tech demos are wildly popular. My first event this year was on 4th Aug. It was an introduction to Sun and FOSS. I wanted to talk to people about FOSS, why it matters to Sun and why it should matter to them. We at our ACM Chapter, too, take FOSS seriously and do our best to promote FOSS. I made 2 types of posters(20 each), one to promote FOSS and the other to highlight Sun, which were put up at various part of the college.

Sun poster
FOSS poster

The talk focused on what FOSS is and I talked a bit about all the history related to it including the Free Software Foundation and Open Source Initiative. I also talked a bit about some popular FOSS software to make it clear that FOSS means serious software and not just enthusiasts stuff.Then the talk moved over to Sun Microsystems. My focus was mainly the software and hardware that Sun develops and some of its pioneering work. The students were particularly interested in OpenSolaris and have asked me to conduct workshops on it. That will soon happen, but before that I need to conduct workshop on Netbeans and SPOT. I am already in the process of installing Netbeans on all PCs in our computer lab. The talk went for about 90 mins and I was happy to see that the students were not bored.Students who asked good questions or answered my questions received Sun goodies. A total of 43 students attended, a good feat considering most had left home for raksha bandhan. Expectations are high now and I have to deliver. I will do at least one more tech demo next week, if possible two.

Wish me luck.

Wednesday Jul 22, 2009

Internship at Sun Microsystems

Most of you already know that I did an
internship at Sun Microsystems India Engineering Center this summer
(I am sure I have bragged enough about it). The internship has been a
fantastic experience. The very first day I was welcomed by Rajesh,
the Sun CA program co-ordinator for the south of India and Ganesh
Hiregoudar, the APAC Head of the Sun CA Program. On the very next day
I got a complete list of projects in my preferred area, High
Performance Computing (HPC). I chose a project and a conference call
was scheduled with the concerned Sun Engineer, in my case it was
Verdi March, who works at the Sun Singapore office and is also a
researcher at National University of Singapore (NUS). I was also
alloted an account at Singapore Grid Discovery Zone to run my apps.
My project was to find the per function speed up of a parallel
application across multiple profiles. If you haven't understood
anything, don't worry. I will explain.

Any computer application is made up of
functions (I trust you already knew that). Profiling an application
involves executing it and finding performance metrics out of it, like
number of system calls, the time taken for each such call, the time
taken by each function to complete,the amount of memory used, the
number of bytes of inter process communication done by the
application etc. In my case, all the applications were parallel ones,
applications which use more than one CPU/cores/nodes. Now each time
you run a app, under different conditions like different number of
CPU, the performance characteristics will be different. Function will
take different amounts of time to complete under different
conditions, sometimes lesser time (a speed-up) and sometimes more (a
speed down, i.e a speed up of less than 1). My job was to write a
program that could read the performance profiles and calculate this
speed up.

Here comes SCALASCA (Scalable Analysis
of Large Scale Parallel Applications). SCALASCA profiles and analyses
parallel apps. It been developed by the Julich Supercomputing Centre
in Germany and has been used on such well known supercomputers like
the Blue Gene......

My job was to extend SCALASCA to
calculate the per function speed up. SCALASCA already does the job of
profiling your application and generating a trace in XML format. It
also provides an API to read/write those files. However, there isn't
much documentation available on SCALASCA as the developers are mainly
people at the Julich Supercomputing Centre. Neither is there a
mailing list for discussing problems. Hence I spent a hell lot of
time going through the source and trying to understand the underlying
design. The problem was further compounded by the near lack of
comments in the source code. However, the SCALASCA developers,
particularly Markus Geimer and Brian Wylie replied to all my question
which enabled me to understand the CUBE API (CUBE is the tool that
displays the performance data in the form of a GUI and allows you to
perform operations on it).

Understanding the architecture of
SCALASCA and the CUBE API took me quite a few days. And finally on
the fourth week, I had nearly written a code that I believed would do
the job. However there are still a few compilation errors to be taken
care of (They have reduced from 26 to 4 now). I should complete the
whole thing in the next couple of days.

I also met many of the other CAs. Made
great friends with Abhishek Uppala, Vasusen Patil, Jay, Avinash,
Abhishek Gupta, Okendra and others. Rajesh and Ganesh were always
helpful and approachable. They are the best bosses you can get. I,
Rajesh, Uppala and Vasusen also made a trip to Pondicherry. It was a
fantastic experience. We played Foosball daily and my performance as
a defender improved from pathetic to passable. We also had a few CA
conferences and a team lunch as a farewell to Vijaya Santosh, a CA

Overall the experience was amazing and
I am looking forward to go back to IEC.

Sunday Apr 26, 2009

An Ex-Googler talks about MySQL and why it made sense to them back in 2001

An Ex-Googler talks about MySQL and why it made sense to them back in 2001. These guys ran AdSense on MySQL back in 2001, when it did not even have support for transactions. They decided to move to a \*real\* (or you can say proprietary and exhorbitantly costly) database and the switch proved to be a disaster.

 Read it here

Pizza treat for FOSS and Sun Tech Quiz winners

I had conducted a FOSS and Sun Quiz on 2nd March. The first three winners received cash prizes of INR 300, 200 and 150 respectively. Also they were promised a pizza treat at Smokin' Joes. Conflicting schedules did not allow us to have it till now. So yesterday, we all found free time (we have loads now coz exams are over) and decided to get it done. Prakhar could not make it though.

\\Pizza treat for FOSS and Sun Tech Quiz winners

From left: Abhishel, Gurupad and Me

Thursday Apr 09, 2009

SPOT Demo at Mindbend 2009

Mindbend is the annual technical festival of SVNIT (Sardar Vallabhbhai National Institute of Technology). This year it was conducted from the 1st to the 4th of April. Alongside Mindbend, our institute also celebrated Sparsh 09, our annual cultural festival. It too was spread across 4 days, with Bombay Rockers and Rhythm Nation performing on the last night. So while we unleashed our creative and innovative ideas during the daytime at Mindbend, the evenings were for having fun at Sparsh. We strongly believe in the adage, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.


Being the Sun Campus Ambassador to SVNIT, I decided to conduct a Sun event at Mindbend. I chose SPOT, a technology I was introduced to by Jay Mahadeokar at Sun Tech Days 09. The reasons for choosing SPOT was simple, it’s cool and it attracts electronics and computer guys alike. I also ordered a huge amount of Sun goodies to distribute during Mindbend

But then SPOT also means delving into electronics, a subject which is not my forte (I only code. Period). So I had to enlist the help of my friend Nirzaree Vadgama who is a student of Electronics Engineering in her second year. We decided to make a SPOT controlled car where one SPOT is placed on the car and controls the motors and the other SPOT is used as the remote, which when tilted moves the car in the desired direction. Apart from the car we also made simple programs for demonstrating individual components of the Sun SPOT like accelerometer, temperature and light sensor, wireless communication. The money for buying electronic components for the car was sponsored by the ACM SVNIT Student Chapter of which I am the Chairman. Also many activities of our local Sun Club will henceforth be sponsored by the ACM Chapter. It took us two evenings to get the car done. In the process we learnt how to perfectly burn a L293D motor driving circuit (we burnt two circuits) and how not to crush your finger with a hammer while driving in a nail. My job was mainly to write the code and it was quite easy considering that it was Java programming and the SPOT API is well documented. I also modified the code for the remote control such that one could hold the remote control SPOT horizontally and move around and the SPOT would follow. 

So finally, we had our Tech Demo on the 2nd of April. Murphy’s law (anything that can go wrong will go wrong) came into act and our car stopped working 3 hours prior to the event and Niz was almost at the point of a nervous breakdown. However, nearly 15 minutes before our event, the car started functioning properly. The Mindbend organizers had demonstrated their immense insight and intelligence by giving us a 1PM-3PM slot (right after lunch) and placing a robotics contest and coding contest in parallel with our event. This resulted in a significantly lower audience of nearly 50 from the registered 90+ audience. Most of the audience had seen us working on the SPOT and already had a basic idea of the device. We were quizzed on the features, the kind of I/O pins, memory and what not. Some of the audience suggested us some really whacky and innovative ideas on how we could connect an antenna to the SPOT (though I am not sure if any of those would work). Also we had two persons among the audience who read the Mindbend leaflet and though we were physicist giving a talk on solar Sun SPOT. Nevertheless, we entertained them and they left happily with lots of gyaan and Sun goodies. The one thing I observed was that SPOT really lit up the faces of the audience. Even a physics faculty got interested (and no he did NOT mistake it for the spots on the Sun). However, they were a bit disappointed with the price tag of SPOT which at nearly 15k is a tad too high for India (Sun Labs, are you listening?). 

Overall, the demo went well. We also asked students to register for OSUM and are planning to set up a local OSUM site as our college blocks I would also like to thank my friends, Punit Mehta and Ruta Desai for helping out on making the circuit and are now part of our core Sun Club. I also thank Jay for answering all my queries (some very silly ones actually). 

With this demo, I have got many people interested in learning Java as a language for embedded systems and made them realize the immense potential of Java. Now everyone wants the Sun SPOT kit for a few days of experimentation. 


Friday Mar 20, 2009


As I have already said, we are doing a Sun SPOT demo at Mindbend, NIT Surat annual technical festival. We will begin the actual work from monday. We will be developing a few robots, and other practical applications on Sun SPOT. After Mindbend is over I plan to do a contest here at SVNIT on Sun SPOT. We will ask people to present their ideas on how to use Sun SPOT effectively for a practical and useful project. The best idea gets a cash prize and full support(buying electronics equipments etc) from ACM SVNIT Chapter to implement the idea on the Sun SPOT.

Tuesday Mar 10, 2009

Tech Demo on OpenSolaris 2008.11

I had conducted my OpenSolaris 2008.11 tech demo on 6th March. Only 21 people turned up. Reason: It was evening of the singing auditions for the cultural fest of our college. Some 170 people had signed up for that and another 500 turned up to support those 170. So that meant I did not have a large enough audience. But then, the people who turned up were the most interested one. We discussed about OpenSolaris, why it was important and also allowed them to use it on my laptop. Taught them how to install it on VirtualBox (this was not part of my initial agenda but since a smaller number of people turned up, I could afford it).

And this is exam week. So no activities whatsoever now.

Monday Mar 02, 2009

My first CA event

Conducted my first CA event today. It was a quiz on FOSS and Sun technologies.Went well. Next, Opensolaris intro on 4th March.

Saturday Feb 28, 2009

Awesome OSUM membership drive

NIT Surat OSUM group is now 112 member strong. Hopefully, we will breach the 200 mark tomorrow. But now it is important to keep the group alive with activity.

Thursday Feb 26, 2009


Lots of updates:

1. Visited Sun Tech Days 09 at hyderabad. Learnt a lot (Sun SPOT and JavaFX were the most interesting). Had a lot of fun. Met other Campus Ambassadors. Also Rajesh Umashankar, Ganesh Hiregoudar and many other Sun execs (sorry I cant remember names. I have a very bad memory). Pics and a detailed account coming up.

2. Installed OpenSolaris on multi boot along with WindowsXP and Ubuntu. Took quite a lot of time as my DVD drive is not functioning, so I had to use USB disk to install all of these. Plus Internet not working properly.Also OpenSolaris Grub and Ubuntu GRUB did not recognize each other. That required a bit of tweaking. I did not enjoy OpenSolaris on VirtualBox because my laptop had just 1 GB memory and OpenSolaris requires at least 512 MB to itself. And I wanted the real feel of the OS. So I have it now. Took a lot of time but its done. Now experimenting with OpenSolaris. Will soon write and how to on how to install opensolaris using USB and do triple boot.

3. My first CA event, a quiz on FOSS and Sun Technologies will be conducted on Monday, 2nd March. I chose quiz because it would make people read about Sun and its technologies and thereby make my work easier.

4. Have formed a 4 people Sun Club. We are working on a Sun SPOT based robot. Since I am not much of an electronics guy, my friend Nirzaree will handle the electronics and I will just do what I do best, code. We are also planning other innovative use of the technology. Everyone is excited about SPOT. Everyone wants it. I will probably order another kit through our college ACM Chapter. Will be giving a demo of our robot at our college annual tech fest,Mindbend. Also will do another Sun Tech demo there. Plus I am hoping if someone from Sun could come and deliver a talk or conduct a workshop. Anyone interested??

Thats all for now...Gotta sleep....


Hi. I am Sandip Dev. I am a student of Computer Engineering at SVNIT (NIT-Surat). My passions are coding, listening to music, reading and learning new things. I am also the Chairperson of the ACM Chapter of my college and Sun Campus Ambassador here.


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