Wednesday, August 31, 2016

LinuxCon NA 2016 - Highlights

After visiting FISL this summer, my travels have now taken me to LinuxCon NA 2016 in Toronto.
As everyone knows, the hot topic of the moment is containers, and they were everywhere at LinuxCon. Several companies are working in this market, there are even hardware optimized for getting the best performance on containers!
However, besides containers, there were several other different subjects of which I had more contact with:
memory-driven computers, workqueues, bluetooth, graphics, file systems, power saving (check the talk highlights below).
I also met several amazing people working in different fields and contributing with the free software community.

The place:

The infrastructure of the event was great, wifi worked everywhere. There was breakfast for attendees and snacks during the small breaks during the day.
In the main Hall, there were several couches and tables, and the conference rooms were great.

Each morning there were keynotes that were hosted in a big fancy room.  These were also streamed to the main hall so other people could watch.
In the afternoons there were several talks happening in parallel in smaller rooms.

The women lunch:

On the first day there was a women's only lunch event promoted by Intel, which was populated by 100+ women from the tech field. I've never seen so many of us reunited like that!
It was a great event to socialize and learn where everybody works. Several of them work directly with coding, but not the majority.
It was a pleasure to meet everyone and I am looking forward to see even more women in tech.

Booths (Hightlights):



In this booth I met The Machine, which is based in a Memory-driven computer architecture that promises to revolutionize how we know computers today.
The main memory is based in memristors, which can be viewed as a non-volatile RAM, so instead of having our basic model of Caches/Main Memory/Disk we would only have one memory based on memristors, all connected through a photonic fabric instead of a copper bus.
This changes our current programing model. HP have a github available with a framework where you can emulate the hardware, test and start programing for it.


Diamanti is a company that offers a hardware based solution to optimize containers and virtual environments, as mentioned in my NVMe post, I am working in a patch to optimize performance of shared NVMe device for a guest system in software while Diamanti, instead of sharing a NVMe device by software, make their hardware pretend there are multiple NVMe devices and they attach each of this devices directly to a container or virtual machine, thus from a software point of view, the container controls the device without having the VMM interfering.
They also do the same this for other peripherals beside NVMe as network cards.


Besides the Linux distribution (Ubuntu), this booth was presenting Juju, which is a tool to manage your services in the cloud, and also LXD, an hypervisor for containers


As most of you know, the Docker project is a great tool to create containers, which are something in the middle of a virtual machine and a chroot, it uses the kernel from the host.
Docker is also the name of the company (I thought is was only the name of the project) and they use LXC as a base to create containers.
The company provides services for other companies using the Docker project as setting up the infrastructure, setting a private Docker Hub, providing support, etc.


Why was Microsoft was in LinuxCon? To declare its love for Linux! :)
In this booth I obtained many stickers written "Microsoft loves Linux".I guess they decided to stop fighting old battles and be friends with Linux in the server market.


CoreOs is a Linux distribution mostly meant to be a lightweight host system for docker containers.
Kubernetes is a tool for managing containers, automating deployment and scaling. So used in conjunction with CoreOs is a good match.

Talks (Hightlights):


Btrfs with High Speed Devices - Chris Mason, Facebook:

Currently the maintainer of Btrfs, Chris Mason talked about this file system, tools to debug and how to identify bottlenecks.
One of the bottlenecks was btree locking, where he presented a patch that has a new locking scheme that optimizes the file system.

Open Source Bluetooth Device Firmware for IoT and Makers - Marcel Holtmann, Intel:

In this talk, Marcel Hltmann gave a great overview of the Bluetooth stack and mentioned that Bluetooth 5.0 is coming with support for mesh network.
As he is the maintainer of the Bluetooth stack on Linux, he talked about BlueZ and other Bluetooth tools in Linux.
For IoT and Makers who usually use an nRF51/nRF52 Bluetooth chip with the proprietary SoftDevice firmware, Marcel talked about how we could use Zyphis or MyNewt (which are open source) instead of SoftDevice and how he managed to get it working on Arduino 101.

Async Execution with Workqueue - Bhaktipriya Shridhar, Linux Kernel

Bhaktipriya Shridhar gave a talk about her Outreachy project on workqueues and how she managed to migrated several drivers from the old API to the new one.
Workqueues is a mechanism in Linux Kernel to execute pieces of code in asynchronous fashion, in short: if you have a function to execute and you don't want to wait for it to return, you can add it in the workqueue.
Internally, the kernel has two API's, the old one, with several issues as proliferation of kernel threads (it could run out of process IDs before even executing user space), deadlocks (if wasn't handled correctly) and unnecessary context switches. And the new API, the Concurrency Managed Workqueue (cmwq), which solves most of these issues.


Kernel Internship Report and Outreachy Panel - Moderated by Karen Sandler, Software Freedom Conservancy; Helen Fornazier, Rik Van Riel & Bhaktipriya Shridhar

Outreachy is 3 month internship meant to promote the presence of minorities in free software community.
If you know what GSoC is, Outreachy is similar with small differences in the projects (not necessary about coding), the selection phase, who can participate, etc.

In the panel we had 2 former mentors Rik Van Riel and Tiffany Antopolski (who is also a former intern), Bhaktipriya Shridhar (current intern in the linux kernel), myself as former intern and Karen Sandler as host and part of the organization of the Outreachy program at Software Freedom Conservancy.
Each one shared their experience as a mentor or as an intern.

CPUfreq and The Scheduler: Revolution in CPU Power Management - Rafael J. Wysocki, Intel OTC

To save power when the system can't go idle, CPUFreq can decrease or increase the clock frequency of the CPU based in the current work load.
Rafael Wysocki (ACPI core maintainer) explained the architecture of the old system that was based on timers, that would sample the load from time to time and update the clock frequency accordingly. The new system provides a much better result by using a Scheduler-driven mechanism instead of timers, using data from the scheduler to make decisions on the next frequency.


Bringing Android Explicit Fencing to Mainline - Gustavo Padovan, Collabora Ltd.

In this talk, Gustavo Padovan explained how graphic fences are exposed to userspace to synchronize buffer sharing and increase performance compared to the implicit fencing where userspace is not aware.


The gala party:

In the last day we had a great gala for the 25th anniversary of Linux.

I had the pleasure to have a great conversation with Eduardo Habkost from Red Hat who has worked with virtualization for 10+ years and gave me a great explanation on how Qemu connects with KVM.

This conference was not only about getting updates around the Linux community, but I also had the pleasure to meet great people and finally meet in person several people who I only knew through IRC, and was able to confirm that they were not bots! xD

Special thanks to Allison Lortie and William Hua from Canonical who showed us the city and made it such a pleasant trip.

1 comment:

  1. Glad that you gave a talk and had nice experience. Keep doing it! :)