Search Results: "Matthew Wilcox"

18 January 2014

James Bromberger: 2014: LCA TV

The radio silence here on my blog has been not from lack of activity, but the inverse. chewed up the few remaining spare cycles I have had recently (after family and work), but not from organising the conference (been there, got the T-Shirt and the bag). So, let s do a run through of what has happened LCA2014 Perth has come and gone in pretty smooth fashion. A remarkable effort from the likes of the Perth crew of Luke, Paul, Euan, Leon, Jason, Michael, and a slew of volunteers who stepped up not to mention our interstate firends of Steve and Erin, Matthew, James I, Tim the Streaming guy and others, and our pro organisers at Manhattan Events. It was a reasonably smooth ride: the UWA campus was beautiful, the leacture theatres were workable, and the Octogon Theatre was at its best when filled with just shy of 500 like minded people and an accomplished person gracing the stage. What was impressive (to me, at least) was the effort of the AV team (which I was on the extreme edges of); videos of keynotes hit the Linux Australia mirror within hours of the event. Recording and live streaming of all keynotes and sessions happend almost flawlessly. Leon had built a reasonably robust video capture management system (eventstreamer on github) to ensure that people fresh to DVswitch had nothing break so bad it didn t automatically fix itself and all of this was monitored from the Operations Room (called the TAVNOC, which would have been the AV NOC, but somehow a loose reference to the UWA Tavern the Tav crept in there). Some 167 videos were made and uploaded most of this was also mirrored on campus before th end of the conference so attendees could load up their laptops with plenty of content for the return trip home. Euan s quick Blender work meant there was a nice intro and outro graphic, and Leon s scripting ensured that Zookeepr, the LCA conference manegment software, was the source of truth in getting all videos processed and tagged correctly. I was scheduled (and did give) a presentation at LCA 2014 about Debian on Amazon Web Services (on Thursday), and attended as many of the sessions as possible, but my good friend Michael Davies (LCA 2004 chair, and chair of the LCA Papers Committee for a good many years) had another role for this year. We wanted to capture some of the hallway track of that is missed in all the videos of presentations. And thus was born LCA TV. LCA TV consisted of the video equipment for an additional stream mixer host, cameras, cables and switches, hooking into the same streaming framework as the rest of the sessions. We took over a corner of the registration room (UWA Undercroft), brought in a few stage lights, a couch, coffee table, seat, some extra mics, and aimed to fill the session gaps with informal chats with some of the people at speakers, attendees, volunteers alike. And come they did. One or two interviews didn t succeed (this was an experiment), but in the end, we ve got over 20 interviews with some interesting people. These streamed out live to the people watching LCA from afar; those unable to make it to Perth in early January; but they were recorded too and we can start to watch them (see below) I was also lucky enough to mix the video for the three keynotes as well as the opening and closing, with very capable crew around the Octogon Theatre. As the curtain came down, and the 2014 crew took to the stage to be congratulated by the attendees, I couldn t help but feel a little bit proud and a touch nostalgic memories from 11 years earlier when LCA 2003 came to a close in the very same venue. So, before we head into the viewing season for LCA TV, let me thank all the volunteers who organised, the AV volunteers, the Registration volunteers, the UWA team who helped with Octogon, Networking, awesome CB Radios hooked up to the UWA repeated that worked all the way to the airport. Thanks to the Speakers who submitted proposals. The Speakers who were accepted, made the journey and took to the stage. The people who attended. The sponsors who help make this happen. All of the above helps share the knowledge, and ultimately, move the community forward. But my thanks to Luke and Paul for agreeing to stand there in the middle of all this madness and hive of semi structured activity that just worked. Please remember this was experimental; the noise was the buzz of the conference going on around us. There was pretty much only one person on the AV kit my thanks to Andrew Cooks who I ll dub as our sound editor, vision director, floor manager, and anything else. So who did we interview? One or two talks did not work, so appologies to those that are missing. Here s the playlist to start you off! Enjoy.

17 February 2011

Raphaël Hertzog: People behind Debian: Maximilian Attems, member of the kernel team

Maximilian, along with the other members of the Debian kernel team, has the overwhelming job of maintaining the Linux kernel in Debian. It s one of the largest package and certainly one where dealing with bug reports is really difficult as most of them are hardware-specific, and thus difficult to reproduce. He s very enthusiastic and energetic, and does not fear criticizing when something doesn t please him. You ll see. My questions are in bold, the rest is by Maximilian. Who are you? My name is Maximilian Attems. I am a theoretical physicist in my last year of PhD at the Technical University of Vienna. My main research area is the early phase of a Quark-Gluon Plasma as produced in heavy ion collisions at the LHC at CERN. I am developing simulations that take weeks on the Vienna Scientific Cluster (in the TOP 500 list). The rest of the lab is much less fancy and boils down to straight intel boxes without any binary blobs or external drivers (although lately we add radeon graphics for decent free 3D). Mathematica and Maple are the rare exceptions to the many dev tools of Debian (LaTeX, editors, git, IDE s, Open MPI, ..) found at the institute, as those are unfortunately yet unmatched in Free Software for symbolic computations. The lab mostly runs a combination of Debian stable (testing starting from freeze) for desktops and oldstable/stable for servers. Debian is in use for more than 10 years. So people in the institute know some ups and downs of the project. Newcomers like my room neighbors are always surprised how functional a free Debian Desktop is. :) What s your biggest achievement within Debian? Building lots and lots of kernels together with an growing uptake of the officially released linux images. I joined the Debian kernel team shortly after Herbert Xu departed. I had been upstream Maintainer of the linux-2.6 janitor project for almost a year brewing hundreds of small cleanups with quilt in a tree named kjt for early linux-2.6. In Debian we had lots of fun in sorting out the troubles that the long 2.5 freeze had imposed: Meaning we were sitting on a huge diverging monolithic semi-good patchset. It was great fun to prepare 2.6.8 for Sarge with a huge team enthusiastic in shipping something real close to mainline (You have to imagine that back then you had no stable or longterm release nor any useful free tools like git. This involved passing patches around, hand editing them and seeing what the result does.) From the Sarge install reports a common pattern emerged that the current Debian early userspace was causing lots of boot failures. This motivated me to develop an alternative using the new upstream initramfs features. So I got involved in early userspace. Thanks to large and active development team initramfs-tools got a nice ecosystem. It still tries to be as generic and flexible as possible and thus gains many nice features. Also H. Peter Anvin (hpa) gave me the official co-maintenance of klibc. klibc saw uptake and good patches from Google in the last 2 years. I am proud that the early userspace is working out fairly well these days, meaning you can shuffle discs around and see your box boot. Later on we focused on 2.6.18 for Etch, which turned out to a be good release and picked up by several other distributions. Only very much later we would see such a sync again. With 2.6.26 for Lenny we got somehow unlucky as we just missed the new longterm release by one release. We also pushed for another update very late (during freeze) in the release cycle, which turned out to semi-work as too much things depend on linux-2.6. For Squeeze 2.6.32 got picked thanks to discussions at Portland Linux Plumbers and it turned out to be a good release picked up by many distributions and external patchsets. The long-term support is going very well. Greg KH is doing a great job in collecting various needed fixes for it. Somehow we had hoped that the Squeeze freeze would start sooner and that the freeze duration would be shorter, since we were ready for a release starting from the actual freeze on. The only real big bastard on the cool 2.6.32 sync is Red Hat. Red Hat Enterprise 6.0 is shipping the linux-2.6 2.6.32 in obfuscated form. They released their linux-2.6 as one big tarball clashing with the spirit of the GPL. One can only mildly guess from the changelog which patches get applied. This is in sharp contrast to any previous Red Hat release and has not yet generated the sharp and snide comments in press it deserves. Red Hat should really step back and not make such stupid management moves. Next to them even the semi-maintained Oracle Unbreakable 2.6.32 branch looks better: It is git fetchable. What are your plans and those of the kernel team for Debian Wheezy? Since 2.6.32 many of the used patches landed upstream or are on the way (speakup, Kbuild Debian specific targets, ..). The proper vfs based unionfs is something we d be looking forward. We haven t yet picked the next upstream release we will base Wheezy on, so currently we can happily jump to the most recent ones. There are plans for better interaction with Debian Installer thanks to generating our udebs properly in linux-2.6 source itself. Also we are looking forward to using git as tool of maintenance. We d hope that this will also allow for even better cross distribution collaboration. Concerning early userspace I plan to release an initramfs-tools with more generic userspace for the default case and finally also a klibc only for embedded or tuning cases. What do you like most in Debian? For one thing I do like the 2 year release cycle. It is not too long to have completely outdated software and on the other hand it gives enough time to really see huge progress from release to release. Also at my institute the software is is recent enough without too much admin overhead. For servers the three years support are a bit short, but on the manageable side. I do enjoy a lot the testing distribution. For my personal use it is very stable and thus I mainly run testing on my desktop and work boxes. (Occasionally mixing in things from sid for unbreaking transition or newer security fixes). Debian is independent and not a commercial entity. I think this is its main force and even more important these days. I enjoy using the Debian platform a lot at work thus in return this motivates me to contribute to Debian itself. I also like the fact that we strive for technical correctness. Is there some recurrent problem that hinders the progress of Debian? The New Maintainer process is a strange way to discourage people to contribute to Debian. It is particularly bureaucratic and a huge waste of time both for the applicant and his manager. It should be completely thrown overboard. One needs a more scalable approach for trust and credibility that also enhances the technical knowledge for coding and packaging of the applicant. NM is currently set in stone as any outside critics is automatically rejected. Young and energetic people are crucial for Debian and the long-term viability of the project, this is the reason why I d consider the New Maintainer process as Debian s biggest problem. Note from Rapha l Hertzog: I must say I do not share this point of view on the New Maintainer process, I have witnessed lots of improvements lately thanks to the addition of the Debian Maintainer status, and to the fact that a good history of contribution can easily subsume the annoying Tasks & Skills questionnaire. Another thing I miss is professional graphics input both for the desktop theme and the website. I know that effort has been done there lately and it is good to see movement there, but the end result is still lacking. Another trouble of Debian is its marketing capabilities. It should learn to better sell itself. It is the distribution users want to run and use not the rebranded copies of itself with lock-in sugar . Debian is about choice and it offers plenty of it: it is a great default Desktop. Linus Torvalds doesn t find Debian (and/or Ubuntu) a good platform to hack on the kernel. Do you know why and what can we do about this? The Fedora linux-2.6 receives contributions from several Red Hat employed upstream sub-Maintainers. Thus it typically carries huge patches which are not yet upstream. As a consequence eventual userland troubles get revealed quite quickly and are often seen there first. The cutting edge nature of Fedora rawhide is appealing for many developers. The usual Debian package division of library development files and the library itself is traditionally an entry barrier for dev on Debian. Debian got pretty easily usable these days, although we could and should again improve a lot more in this sector. Personally I think that Linus hasn t tried Debian for years. I have the feeling that the implication of the Debian Kernel team in LKML has been on the rise. Is that true and how do you explain this? Ben Hutchings is the Nr.1 contributor for 2.6.33. He also is top listed as author of patches on stable 2.6.32. Debian is not listed as organization as many send their linux-2.6 patches from their corporate or personal email address and thus it won t be attributed to Debian. There is currently no means to see how many patches get forwarded for the stable tree, but I certainly forwarded more then fifty patches. I was very happy when Greg KH personally thanked me in the release. In the Squeeze kernel, the firmwares have been stripped and moved into separate packages in the non-free section. What should a user do to ensure his system keeps working? There is a debconf warning on linux-2.6 installation. It is quite clear that the free linux-2.6 can t depend on the firmware of the non-free archive (also there is no strict dependency there technically). On the terminal you d also see warnings by update-initramfs on the initramfs generation for drivers included in the initramfs. The debconf warning lists the filename(s) of the missing firmware(s). One can then apt-cache search for the firmware package name and install it via the non-free repository. The check runs against the current loaded modules. The match is not 100% accurate for special cases as the one where the device might be handled well by this driver without firmware, but is accurate enough to warrant the warning. The set of virtualization technologies that the official Debian kernel supports seems to change regularly. Which of the currently available options would you recommend to users who want to build on something that will last? KVM has been a smooth ride from day zero. It almost got included instantly upstream. The uptake it has is great as it sees both dev from Intel and AMD. Together with libvirt it s management is easy. Also the performance of virtio is very good. The linux containers are the thing we are looking forward for enhanced chroots in the Wheezy schedule. They are also manageable by libvirt. Xen being the bad outside boy has an incredible shrinking patchset, thus is fair to expect to see it for Wheezy and beyond. For many it may come a bit late, but for old hardware without relevant CPU it is there. Many tend to overstate the importance of the virtualization tech. I d be much more looking forward to the better Desktop support in newer linux-2.6. The Desktop is important for linux and something that is in heavy use. The much better graphics support of the radeon and nouveau drivers: The performance optimizations thanks to dcache scalability work and the neat automatic task-grouping for the CPU scheduler are very promising features for the usability of the linux desktop. Another nice to have feature is the online defrag of ext4 and its faster mkfs. Even cooler would be better scalability in ext4 (This side seems to have seen not enough effort lately). Is there someone in Debian that you admire for their contributions? Hans Peter Anvin and Ted Tso are a huge source of deep linux-2.6 knowledge and personal wisdom. I do enjoy all sorts of interactions with them. Christoph Hellwig with Matthew Wilcox and also William Irwin for setting up the Debian kernel Team. Several Debian leaders including the previous and the current one for their engagement, which very often happens behind the scene. The Debian Gnome Team work is great, also the interactions have always been always easy and a pleasure. Martin Michlmayr and previously Thiemo Seufer do an incredible job in porting Debian on funny and interesting ARM and MIPS boxes. Debian has a lot of upcoming potential on this area. I m looking forward to other young enthusiastic people in that area. Colin Watson is bridging Debian and Ubuntu, which is an immense task. Michael Prokop bases on Debian an excellent recovery boot CD: I d be happy if any Debian Developer would work as carefully coding and working.
Thank you to Maximilian for the time spent answering my questions. I hope you enjoyed reading his answers as I did. Subscribe to my newsletter to get my monthly summary of the Debian/Ubuntu news and to not miss further interviews. You can also follow along on, Twitter and Facebook.

One comment Liked this article? Click here. My blog is Flattr-enabled.

18 April 2007

Ben Armstrong: The children of Debian

Who are the next generation of Debianists? Are they all still coming to us out of different OS backgrounds, or do we now have the significant beginnings of a home grown generation, born and raised in Debian-using families and now making their voices heard? I hope that Debian Jr. will encourage this kind of generational growth of the project. When recently I rewrote the guiding principles of Debian Jr., my vision was a Debian that children would identify as their own. I expect they will be eager to add their own ideas as they grow up with it. It was pointed out to me today that there is some evidence that this is already happening (thanks for the link, Matthew Wilcox). As for my own kids, ages 16, 15, 12, 9 and 5, only the oldest have ever used some system at home other than Debian1. They all comfortably use our Debian systems daily, discussing regularly with me what they need. This leads to filing bugs and patches on their behalf2, and inspires further development of the Debian Jr. project. So, in at least this sense, the children of Debian are already contributing members of Debian, if not voting members. The ideas of families are improving Debian for everyone. As the project grows, I expect the ways in which families will change Debian will be more significant, not only technically but also in Debian’s character.

1 Before we started using Debian in 1995, the family system was a VT-420 terminal connected to the Solaris system running our community freenet. At that time our kids would sit in my lap and play at typing into pico for their amusement.

2 For instance, I was pleased to discover the other day that my egoboo patch was accepted. That was a direct result of my kids asking me to make it work for them.

11 October 2006

Junichi Uekawa: Curry party in Ginza.

There were a few Debian Developers from the U. S., canada and Italy,and I did a meeting with them at a vegetarian curry restaurant in Ginza.11 people in total attended, with 6 people from Japan (Knok,Horms, Nori1, Iwamatsu, Daigo, dancerj).Mattia Dongli isthe Debian maintainer for user-mode-linux, and I did receivepatches for pbuilder user-mode-linux support; only that Ididn't remember until he mentioned.Matthew Wilcox and Iand few others discussed git/mercurial, and how it improvedour lives.Icommented that mercurial is not well-accepted because HG hasa subtly different connotation in Japan.I discussed a bit about ruby with Daigo, and it soon became midnight.Thanks to all who attended for attending.

NOKUBI Takatsugu: A party with malattia and matthew

Junichi Uekawa(dancerj) arrenged a welcome party for Mattia Dngili and Matthew Wilcox tonight. Unfortunately, I couldn't attend it because I need to stay to get my large baggage from a transporter. However, the place of the party is really near from my home, so if I can, I'll attend it. By the way, I already met with Matthew Wilbox in 2004, but he wouldn't remember me.

24 July 2006

Bdale Garbee: elilo in Debian

In a recent work-related conversation, Matthew Wilcox pointed out that EFI partitions are mountable on Linux and many distributions keep ia64 system partitions mounted at /boot/efi by default, but Debian does not. Since that behavior is mostly my fault, I recounted the history by way of explaining why it worked that way... and on suggestion from Martin Pool am repeating it here to document all this for posterity. When we were making ia64 bootstrap decisions, the default bootloader on i386 was lilo, and the closest example to what we needed for ia64 in Debian was powerpc. This is because systems using EFI only understand FAT partitions by default, and thus need a FAT partition somewhere that the firmware can read from... often the first partition on the first disk. The Debian model for handling such things at the time seemed to be to craft a command to hook from kernel package postinst scripts that did the heavy lifting in association with a config file. What went on behind the curtain wasn't something to bother the user with on an average day if you could avoid it cleanly. Some bootloaders know how to read a config file from /boot directly, and we started out thinking we'd use elilo that way, but it was hard to match up paths/naming in EFI to what they would look like under Linux. It was also clear to me that most ia64 systems were going to have large system partitions so there'd be plenty of space. So we punted and copy the elilo executable, config file, and any kernels or initrd files referenced in the config to the system partition. I also thought the default location other distributions had chosen for mounting the EFI partition once the kernel was up, /boot/efi, was pretty ugly, but I couldn't think of anything better. The problem is that the standard says you need an \efi\"whatever" directory as the root of your content in the system partition, so mounting the partition at /boot/efi yields paths like /boot/efi/efi/debian. Some distributions didn't adhere to the standard at first, and so didn't see the ugliness until they started to comply... but I was on a team at HP making disk partitioning and content decisions that caused me to be very aware of these details. Putting that all together, I decided there wasn't any point in having the EFI partition mounted by default... anyone who cared and wanted it mounted could just add a line to /etc/fstab to put it wherever they wanted. If I were doing it again today, I'd have an entry in /fstab marked noauto delivered during system installation. I haven't cared enough to tackle that change, though. Sadly, there's one detail of the current implementation that can get in the way of complete happiness. The Debian-specific 'elilo' script that runs in user space to manage the EFI boot partition contents based on the content of /etc/elilo.conf expects to have to mount the EFI partition, and exits with a complaint if the partition is already mounted. For typical users, this script only gets called during installation and from kernel package postinsts, and the actual elilo bootloader remains oblivious to all this. If other distros have picked up the Debian script, I'm not aware of it. So, you're no worse off mounting the EFI partition in Debian than with some other distro, you just get treated poorly if you try to use our elilo script while the partition is mounted. Clearly, we could handle this better. If someone wants to offer up a patch to the elilo script that asks the user if it's OK to scribble in the already-mounted partition instead of doing a mount / scribble / unmount cycle in the presence of an existing mount, I'll be happy to include it in the Debian elilo package. Meanwhile, a lot of us have switched from lilo to grub on our i386 systems, and I'd love for my ia64 systems to work more like my grub-equipped systems. But making a substantive change like teaching elilo to know where /boot is so that it can read a config file from there and do things more like grub, without symlinks, etc, has several issues. We'd need to get the right set of file systems supported from EFI/elilo, we'd need to address the naming issues, and we would require either user intervention on upgrade, or some clever automatic parsing and rewriting of the relevant config files. I can think of other things that would be more rewarding to work on, so don't anyone hold their breath...