Linux.conf.au 2015 – Getting started

Disclaimer: The below is my personal opinion and does not represent the views of the 2015 LCA organising committee. Some details have been left out, stuff may change, names may be wrong, may contain nuts, etc.

In January 2015 the Linux.conf.au conference will be held in Auckland, New Zealand. Each year the conference brings together 600 ( +-100 ) Linux developers and users for 5 days for talks, chat and social events. LCA 2015 will be the 12th Linux.conf.au I’ve attended (every year since 2004) and the first I’ve helped organise. It will be the 3rd time the conference has been held in New Zealand.

Each year’s LCA is held in a different city by a group who bid for and run it. The Auckland team consists of a “core team” of about 10 under the overall lead of Cherie Ellis, another dozen “supporters” (including me). Others volunteers  will be recruited closer to the time and there are also external groups like the papers committee and people from Auckland University doing various jobs.

The majority of the conference will be held in the Owen G Glenn Building at Auckland University. The is single big building with several large lecture theatres along with big central areas and smaller rooms. The currently plan is for just about the whole conference proper to happen there.

Over half the attendees with probably stay at nearby student accommodation, this is cheap, nearby and lets people mingle with other attendees after-hours. There will also be some planned social events (like the conference dinner) elsewhere in Auckland.

Since January 2014 when Auckland was announced as the winning bid for 2015 the pace has gradually been picking up. Over 30 main positions have been filled (most with both a main and backup person) and the core team is meeting (usually online) weekly and the second supporters meeting is coming up.

The amount of stuff to organise is pretty big. As well as the venues, there is food, travel, accommodation, swag, the programme, the websites, network, dinners, registration, etc etc. A huge amount of stuff which will take up many hours per week for the rest of 2015.

At the end of March there was a “Ghosts visit”, this is where half a dozen previous conference organisers ( “Ghosts of conferences past” ) come over for a weekend to look over the setup and talk to the group. The purpose is twofold, the Ghosts check that everything is on track and look for problems, while the 2015 organisers get to pick the Ghost’s brains

Large Brain possibly belonging to Ghost

Even the Ghosts’ event itself is a small test of the organizers’ ability. They have  to fly, meeting, accommodate, hosts, feed and otherwise look after half a dozen people, a mini rehearsal  for the full conference.

Links: Legal marijuana, curry, LOTR, Moon Towers

Links: Containers, Performance, Backpack Nukes, New Countries

Linux.conf.au 2014 – Day 5 – Finish

Winner Rusty Wrench Award: Andrew Tridgell

 

Host of LCA2015: Auckland!!

Website:

 

Lightning Talks part 2

  • My toothbrush has a serial number
    • after sales support
    • can they find it for me?
    • In the post-Snowden world this should be investigated
  • DIY Book Scanning for Fun
    • Scanned book useful for good reasons
    • diybookscanner.org
  • Freedom Box project update
    • Almost ready for 0.2 release which will be pretty good
  • OneRNG
    • Open Hardware, Random number generator
    • Trustable, see raw or AES whitened
    • trying various options
    • onerng.info
  • Central Coast LUG
    • cclugtmp@gmail.com
  • Bitcoin Myths
    • Anonymous – Nope, all transactions records
    • Bubble – nope, infrastaructer
    • Giant Ponzi scheme – Not sold as investment, no claims
  • dlect – Lecture recording downloader
    • uqlectures.sf.net
    • Looking for help and the extend to other Universities
  • Debian in Australia
    • Trying to get Debian Australia mailing list started
  • Bitcoin architecture applied to capital markets
  • Learning Opportunities in Rocketry Software
    • Maths makes by head hurt
  • Electronic Frontiers Australia
    • Would like to invite you to volunteer and drink beer
  • LA does other things
    • pycon AU in August
    • Drupal camps
    • Barcamp
    • Join a user group
    • hacker space
    • add your blog to our planet
 

Linux.conf.au 2014 – Day 5 – Session 2

Provisioning Bare Metal with OpenStack by Devananda van der Veen

  • Tried to use the existing NOVA tool (which was used for VM provisioning) but all sorts of limitations
    • Hacked it a lot and then gave up
  • Created a new project “Ironic” for bare-metal provisioning in May 2013
  • Status
    • Being working on but lots of devs
    • Not in main release yet
    • Some push to simplify openstack installation – Triple-O (Openstack on Openstack)
    • “Openstack is not a virtualisation layer”
  • Security not there yet
  • Driver Interface
    • 3 classes of interfaces: core, common, vendor
    • core: power management, deploy,
    • common: console, rescue
    • vendor: fireware? boot-from-volume? something-else?
  • Architecture
    • REST API
    • DB
    • conductor services
    • RPC
    • ( the slide makes more sense )
  • Many conductors, Many drivers
  • If the cluster changes
    • take-over hooks
    • consistent has updates
    • node(s) re-mapped to conductors
  • Feature equiv to bare-metal in a few months
  • Usable by that point, eventually to replace bare-metal, may require re-deployment
Talk only took 20 minutes. That was quick

Linux.conf.au 2014 – Day 5 – Session 1

D-Bus in the kernel by Lennart Poettering

  • kdbus
  • Most newer OS designs started around powerful IPC
  • Linux only had IPC primitives ( sockets, fifos, shared memory)
  • DBUS is powerful IPC
    • Method Call Transactions, Signals, Properties, OO, Broadcasting, Discovery, Introspection, Policy, etc,  etc etc
  • D-Bus has it limitations
    • Suitable only for control, not payload
    • It’s inefficient ( 10 copies, 4 complete validations, 4 context switches per duplex method call transaction)
      • Can we optimise that rather than moving it into the kernel? – “We are, We are moving it into the kernel with kdbus”
    • Credentials one can send/recv are limited
    • No implicit timestamping
    • Not available in early boot, initrd, late boot
    • Hookup for security frameworks happens in userspace
    • Activatable bus services are independent from other system services
    • Codebase is a bit too baroque, XML
    • No race-free exit-on-idle bus activated services
  • D-Bus is fantastic, solves real problems
    • Right approach: good concepts, generic, comprehensive, covers all areas
    • Established, it is the single most used local high-level IPC system on linux, bindings most languages
    • Used in init systems, desktop, etc
  • kdbus
    • Suitable for large data (GiB), zero-copy, optionally reusable
    • Efficient ( 2 or fewer copies, 2 validations, 2 context switches, per duplex method call transaction)
    • Comprehensive credentials sent along ( uid, pid, gid, selinux, cgroup, caps, audit, etc etc)
    • Implicit timestamping
    • Always available from earliest boot to latest shutdown
    • Open for LSMs to hook into from the kernel side
    • Activation is identical to activation of other services
    • Userspace is much simpler, No XML
    • Rece-free exist-on-idle
  • Overview
    • Intention to replace current D-BUS implimentation
    • Should be drop-in so program using bindings should be drop in without changing anything
    • No performance tests yet
    • Receiver buffers
    • Single copy to destinations(s)
    • method call Windows
    • Name registry
    • memfds
      • File descriptors for memory regions
      • Zero Copy
      • Sealing
      • At 512k and above zero copy is faster than single copy, below that the mapping overhead is too expensive
      • a bit like Android ashmem
    • Signal Broadcasting
      • Bloom filters
    • Userspace
      • proxy provides compatibility with dbus1 sockets
    • When?
      • Code all there, pretty much implemented, policy still to do
      • Compile-time switch in systemd
      • We hope to get in the kernel in 2014
      • gdbus support coming soon
 

VisualEditor: Wikipedia’s new editing system, and how you can use it too by James Forrester

  • Why a visual editor
    • Drop off in new contributors is major issue for wikipedia
    • MediaWiki is based on the very rich wikitext syntax
    • Wikitext stops people becoming contributors or staying away
    • Not an appropriate way to ask people to contributive things in the 21st century
    • Prevents us from providing other helpful editing tools
  • Flexibility and modularity
    • Modular
    • support by 300 languages
    • replace or extend existing tools
    • expand it for editing new content
  • What?
    • Client-side JavaScript contentEditable HTML editor
    • Stand-alone, integrate into any platform
    • Mediawiki integration (parsoid converts HTML+RDFa to/from wikitext)
  • 3 Main layers
    • Data Model
      • We can’t edit the input HTML+RDFa directly
      • Reliable convert from HTML to things we can edit and back without corruption
      • Synchronise with ContentEditable (both ways)
      • Needs to allow real-time collaborative editing
      • All sorts of problems with spliting characters in various languages
    • Browser contentEditable
      • Messes up HTML, inconsistent key handling
      • Native text insertion, spell-check, selection and cursor
      • Equal rendering
    • Programmatic cursor handling
      • Intercept the browser’s native cursor handling
      • allows us to skip over non-editable elements
      • Thought this will allow to avoid UX issues
      • but this breaks internationalisation
      • Move to “observe and fixup” of native browser action
    • Input Method Editors
      • Lots of languages reply on IMEs
      • Mainly East Asian and Indic languages
      • Each IME has it’s own unique way of changing content
      • But can change by OS, browser, IME version
    • SurfaceObserver
      • Poll DOM for changes and notify model
      • Lots of events emit no of few events (eg spellcheck)
      • Possibly use MutationObserver in the future
      • Re-render if really necessary
    • Actual rich editing of stuff
      • Annotation (bold, underline)
      • Generated content (references, tables )
      • Tool UX types – Dialogs
  • Future
    • Patches welcome
    • Maybe can be integrated in wordpress or something ( but might be hard)
 

 

Linux.conf.au 2014 – Day 5 – Keynote – Jonathan Oxer

  • How many people have wanted to work on something that went into space? – Everybody
  • How many people have actually done that? – about a dozen
  • How about if every kid could answer “tes” to that question
  • Cubesats – Small standard way to luanch tidy stats – 10cm cubes
  • ArduSat – Kickstart – June 2012
  • Feb 2013 – Revises design of board
  • Mar 2013 – New design built
  • June 2013 – Hardware integrated and built – ArduSat-1 and ArduSat-X
  • 3 Cubesats Launched to ISS include the 2 ArduSat’s
  • Need to upgrade/update Experiments in flight
    • Browser based updates
    • Code sent via Internet to california, run on duplicate of satellite
    • Transmitted to satellite
    • Distributed to one of the nodes
  • CubeSat System bus
    • Supervisor node controls smaller nodes
    • Stores stuff on Sd card
    • Allocates experiment to node, powers up the node
    • sends it via “serial port” to node
    • Supervisor controls Power and reset and serial for each node
    • node thinks it is just a stand-alone off the shelf Ardino
  • Satellite
    • 4-6 month life
    • 12-15 experiments
    • If allocated in 1 week blocks we can sell those for $300 each
    • So much backlog and interest is plan to launch 30 ArduSats/year for next 5 years
  • Make Satellite available
    • Flyable version costs approx $50k
    • Replace flying modules with open-source parts
  • TODO
    • Release of designs without attracting the lack helicopters
    • Flight computer design
    • Terrestrial sensor suite design
    • Development of education material
  • Wait there is more…
  • Water powered cube-sat
    • 5kg total mass, 2.5kg of water propellant
    • On kickstarter

 

Linux.conf.au 2014 – Day 4 – Session 3

Disaster Recovery Lessons I Hoped I’d Never Have to Learn by Bdale Garbee

  • Got backups?
    • Do you keep a copy of your essential data off-site
    • If someone called you and said your house was gone: completely devastating or just a really bad day?
  • 11th June 2013
    • Got no warnings of fire, saw it one km away and then got instant evacuation order
    • Had 20m-1h to pack (unsure of time due to heat of situation)
    • Went to leave and fire was on driveway, unable to get car out.
    • Had to park car and firefighters walked them out.
  • The fire
    • Started 1pm 11th of June 2013
    • 13,000 homes evacuated
    • 94,000 acres evacuated
    • 500 fire fighters involved
    • Destroyed – 14,290 acres ( 57.8 km²) , 511 homes, 2 people
    • Let back into property on 21 June
  • Aftermath
    • House pretty destroyed
    • Normally 2000-2200 degrees, His house got to 3000 degrees plus Fahrenheit
    • Most metals melted
  • Ready to go – what would you grab?
    • Usuaul pocket contents.. mobile phone, wallet, keys
    • Photo albums and scrape books
    • Jewelry
    • Computers
  • Stuff you havn’t thought about
    • Mobile phone charger
    • Identity documents
    • Safe deposit box key
    • Account numbers and contact info
  • Hows your insurance
    • Types and levels of coverage
      • Structure
      • Contents
      • Loss of use
      • Outbuildings
      • Landscaping
    • Replacement cost vs actual cash value
    • Personal vs Business Property – Have you even taken a business tax deduction for any of these items?
    • Costed out how much it would cost to rebuild old house, got that much money to build new cost (not the same)
  • Rapidly recoving
    • Take care of human needs first
    • Find a place to live.. being homeless sucks
    • Minimise the amount of “throw away” stuff purchased ( don’t buy stuff you don’t want to keep, eg apartment-only stuff)
    • Pick one or two things to “put back to normal” ASAP
      • Mobile phone for my son
      • Big-screen TV with cable service
      • 3d printer
      • art supplies
    • Registries and wish lists
  • Cleaning up
    • Lots of metal extracted from the ashes – copper, silver
    • Found very few intact items – a Japanese doll, a few other ceramics
    • Since house taken out by embers around 2/3s of trees intact
  • Recovering Hobbies and Small Business
    • Back on the net quickly but not back in business
    • Commitment to AJ and Mike Beatie for rocket launch

A web page in seven syscalls by Tollef Fog Heen

  • “Most of us, well at least the ones of us who have CS degrees”
  • Modern Computers – Cores, Caches, 64 bit, Virtual memory
  • Massively multi-threaded – usually 1000 threads or more
  • Relative performance of CPU -> system calls -> Disk access
  • Varnish from HTTP’s point of view is a origin server not a “http cache”
  • Two processes
    • manager process – starts child, compiles config, watchdo on child and restarts if dies
    • Child process, handles all connections, handles storage
    • params shared via shared memory
  • VCL
    • Domain specific language
    • Compiled into C when loaded
    • Can escape to C from within VCL
    • Can import plugins
  • Optimisations
    • Avoid syscalls
    • Memory workspaces
    • Length-counted strings
    • Threads
    • Don’t fight the VM, use hints
    • Don’t copy data
    • LIFO schedule threads
    • Preallocate
    • Accept filters
 

 

Linux.conf.au 2014 – Day 4 – Session 2

Is it safe to mosh? by Jim Cheetham

  • Replacement for ssh remote terminal connectivity, uses udp
  • http://mosh.mit.edu/
  • Remote terminal applications, changing IPs, intermittent connectivity, more robust and responsive than ssh
  • It is safe? It depends…
  • Use cases differ, requirements differ
  • Highpoints
    • No “disconnect” when roaming/sleeping
    • SSP remains responsive; Control-C works when cat’ing a large file or big “find”
    • Instant predictive local echo
    • Very clean UTF-8 terminal
    • In all the main distros
    • Run from userspace
  • Demo “Luckily one of the things I need is an unreliable network”
  • Cloud at cost – cloudatcost.com – $35 VM for life
  • connect via ssh, run mosh-server, disconnects and reconnects back via mosh
  • Problems
    • Terminal scrollback is not yet implimented
    • “If you want scrollback, go get tmux. If you’ve got screen, go get tmux”
    • Logging is not mature
    • Server may live after client has died
  • SSP transport
    • diff and patch are the two main methods
    • RTT times are tracked
    • delayed acks reduce traffic requirements
    • 3s heartbeats keep the session alive
  • SSP Datagram
    • PAyload from transport layer is opaque
    • AES-128 protects the payload
    • UDP – receives packets from anywhere
    • Timestamps everything – maintain RTT estimates
  • SSP authentication
    • 63 bit monotonically increasing, unencrypted
    • out of order packaets discarded
    • at 2PB the session dies
    • Payload must decrypt – not realistic to brute-force
  • SSP allows roaming
    • The server knows where the client was
    • But doesn’t care – utmp is updated though
    • Other protocols are “protected” by having fixed network endpoints – which can be spoofed
  • Roaming
    • IP shouldn’t have tied IPs to location, but too late now
    • SSP is designed to ignore IP address
  • What is safety
    • Risk = Likelihood * damage
    • If client or server is compromised then session can always be taken over
  • What is unsafe
    • Connections from known-bad locations – known in advance
    • Connections from known-comprimised users – detected by behaviour
    • Connections to insecure software – Prohibited by administrator
  • Good and bad habits
    • ssh password vs keys
    • Detached terminal sessions with privilege
  • YES for home users and Small business
  • POSSIBLY  for Enterprise users
 

Below The Line: Fixing The Voting Process With Technology by Benno Rice

  • Australian Senate
  • So many people vote above the line because it is only one tick, below the line up to 100 seperate votes
  • If you vote above the line then you accept the order of preferences from the people you voted for
  • Can get party preference lists from Australian Electoral comission
  • Create a custom “how to vote card”
  • Site ideas
    • Store nothing
    • Just do it
  • First site 2010
    • Python
    • javascript, jquery, sortable
    • ballot renderer – python, reportlab, WSGI, truly awful code
    • Hosted on dreamhost
    • Melted on polling day
    • Typed in the data by hand, it was not fun
  • 2013 version of site
    • Got data in csv from AEC
    • Also did lower house (Geo lookup to find electorate)
    • Store and share ballots
    • Can shuffle parties as well as candidates
    • Links to party websites
    • Ruby
    • Javascript – Angular , ui.sortable
    • Ballot renderer – Python – reportlab
    • Geolocation – AEC has division boundaries mapped and availbale
    • PostGIS, Python, Google Maps API
    • Storing and sharing – python, redis
    • Ballot rendering in html – ruby, Haml, Reactive via bootstrap
    • Ballots stored under a random identifier that was never reused
    • Rackspace hosting – free hosting
    • Cloudflare as CDN
  • 2600 concurrent users
  • 165,000 unique visitors
  • 34,000 PDFs
  • Conclusion
    • The senate voting system is broken
    • You too can change the world
    • Just do it
  • 20+ people in the room used the site to vote below the line
 

 

Linux.conf.au 2014 – Day 4 – Session 1

Programming Diversity by Ashe Dryden

  • What is diversity
  • More than gender
    • backgrounds experiences and lifestyles
    • not always visable
    • sexuality, age, language, class, race, ability
  • Terms
    • Intersectionality
      • The interaction of traits (race, sex, etc) and how people treat you beacuse of that
    • Privilege
      • unearned advantages a person gets for a perceived trait
      • Education, access to technology, higher pay, assumed competency, quality of network
      • Seen as a skill-set instead of traits
      • Easily fit/identify with subculture
    • Stereotype Threat
      • Worry you will confirm the stereotype that is applied to you
      • Lots of pressure
    • Imposter Syndrome
      • Unable to internalise their accomplishments
      • almost anyone can suffer
      • less likely to apply for jobs, apply to talk at conferences or even attend conferences
    • Marginalised
      • Doesn’t fit into the default groups
      • their needs or desires being ignored
      • Even marginalised groups marginalise others, nobody is trait blind
  • Women are about 20% of tech
  • Maybe Women aren’t into programming
    • Women like Grace Hopper prominat in field early
    • No physical of biological difference in race or gender affecting programming ability
  • Bulgaria
    • 73% of CS Students are women
    • teach children in schools that STEM is important to everybody, push everybody towards it
  • Diversity matters -
    • Companies that are more diverse tend to have better sales, profits, etc
    • Diverse teams:
      • solve complex problems faster
      • more creative and stimulated
      • get better decisions and generate for something
      • financial viability and success
  • Why lack of diversity?
    • Pipeline
      • Difference in toys and games for boys and girls
      • no famous role models that represent them
      • Access to technology. On average Boys get first computer at age 11, girls at age 14. Early teens great best age to learn and retain skills
    • Geek stereotypes
      • people who don’t identify and aren’t represented by the geek stereotype are turned off by those who do
    • Attrition
      • 56% of women leave tech in 10 years
      • twice the rate of men
      • our Grandmothers more likely to be programmers than our granddaughters are
    • Why attrition?
      • Harassment
      • People in marginalised groups twice as likely to report being harassed or mistreated
      • men 2.7 more likely to be promoted to higher ranking positions
    • Why can I do about this stuff?
      • Change starts with us
      • educate people who don’t understand this problem
      • Get to know people different from us – talk to people wearing a specific color that day
      • Follow people on twitter that are different from you
      • bias & discrimination are often subtle
      • learn to apologize
      • Talk about these issues openly ” That’s not cool :(
      • increase education and access
      • Facilitate event for marginalised groups
      • work with colleges and universities to remove bias
      • “have you programmed before?”
      • Thinks about what the “about” page of your website looks like
      • Think about the company culture
      • Job listing language and requirements – joblint.org
      • Interviewing
      • equal pay
      • mentoring and career goal attainment
 

From Kookaburra to the Cloud: where to now for copyright in Australia by Ben Powell

  • Several recent cases
  • Australian law deals by exception, under copyright except where “fair dealing” , “fair use” etc allowed specicly by law
  • ALRC Review
    • More exceptions or general “fair use”
    • Report not yet tabled, but interim discussion paper released
  • Kookaburra
    • Song from 1932
    • “Down under” 1981
    • Nobody noticed till 2007 when on TV Quiz show
    • Court decided infringing
    • Two culturally significant songs
  • Fair Use vs Fair dealing
    • Fair dealing has specific exceptions
    • Things are not fair dealing
      • Sampling
      • non commercial use of incidental music
      • memes
      • commercial services to allow recording in the cloud
      • stoarage of copyright material
      • copying DVD to other devices
      • search engines (thumbnails)
      • digital archiving
    • More exceptions?
      • Quotations
        • in the Berne Convention
        • anachronistic term
        • doesn’t cover transformation, implies verbatim use
      • Transformation
        • not a substitute for the original work
        • low threshold – undermines creators rights
        • high threshold – confusing, how much change needed
        • How does commercial use fit?
        • Hard for court to decide
      • Private and Domestic use
        • Format shifting and time shifting exists already (VHS only, not DVD)
        • doesn’t cover the cloud
        • not technology neutral
        • Canadian more technology neutral but “non-commercial” bit heard to define
    • Fair Use
      • See US Copyright Act
      • Fair Use in Australia
        • Fairness facter
        • illustrative uses (non-exhaustive)
        • flexible defence, weighing up the factors
      • Advantages
        • Balance
        • Flexible
        • aligns with community expectations
      • Against Fair Use
        • Uncertainly ( parliament vs law)
        • Requires litigation
        • Originated from different legal enviroment
      • The reply to objections
        • Uncertainty – See normal consumer law with terms like “unfair contracts” , “misleading and deceptive conduct”
        • Different legal env – same common law roots, AUSFTA meant to “harmonise” copyright law.
        • International Law , 3 step test – The US gets away with it, never chellenged
  • Govt unlikely to go forward with fair use based on their leanings
  • The introduction of a Fair Use defence would encourage Australian innovation
  • “General the US likes to export the ‘bad parts’ of it’s copyright law, not the ‘good bits’  “