2009 wrap-up (incl Open Source Databases Mini-conf): Day 0-1

It’s no secret that I love My first was 2003, in Perth and I’ve been to every one since (there are at least two people who’ve been to every single one, including CALU as it was called in 1999).

I’ve been on the board of Linux Australia for some insane proportion of the years since then (joining in 2003). Linux Australia is the not-for-profit community organisation that puts on It’s all volunteers and amazingly enough we have more than one group of people wanting to put on each year!

This year, we Marched South to Hobart.

Here I detail what I saw, what I wish I saw and whatever else comes to mind.

Sunday – Before the conference

Ran into Bdale while checking in. Short flight down. A million and one people on the plane and on the ground that I knew. It must be

Seeing way too many awesome people I know, checking into accommodation (oh my, what a hill), registering for conf, beer and then off to a “ghosts of conferences past” dinner – where a few people who had organised previous’s were hastily gathered together to chat to part of the 2010 team.

Monday – Open Source Databases Miniconf Day 1

Oh, that’s right – I’m running the OSDB Miniconf :)

First up, Monty Taylor spoke on “NDB/Bindings – Use the MySQL Cluster Direct API from languages you actually like for fun and profit”. Possibly taking the prize for the longest talk title of the conference. The NDB API is not SQL, it’s what the MySQL server (and one day, when Monty and I get around to it, Drizzle) translates SQL into for NDB. That being said, you can (pretty much always) write NDB API code that dramatically outperforms equivilent SQL (for a variety of reasons). Monty maintains the NDB/Bindings project that lets you use languages other than C++ for the NDB API.

At the same time as Monty was speaking, I wish I’d been able to fork() and go and see “Is Parallel Programming Hard, And, If So, Why?by Paul McKenney and Michael Still talking about MythNetTV (pull RSS feeds of video in as MythTV programs).

After morning tea, we were meant to have “InnoDB scaling up and performance” by Bruce Huang, but he was a no-show. Hint: if you don’t want bad things to be said about you by conference organisers, either show up or let them know you’re not able to make it.

Instead, we led a crazy Q&A type session around the room which was a whole lot of fun. Really a “ask the experts” meets running up-and-down stairs with a microphone.

Next up, Arjen Lentz who runs Open Query spoke on “OurDelta: Builds for MySQL”. The best way to describe OurDelta is a “distribution of MySQL”. It’s the MySQL server plus a bunch of patches provided by various people that haven’t yet made it into the main source tree (for any number of reasons).

At the same time (if you’ve never been to, you’ll find that you often want to be in at least 3 places at once) I would have really liked to see “MythTV Internals by Nigel Pearson” (I co-wrote Practical MythTV with Michael Still, which is having a “second edition” in wiki form over at as well as the panel on geek parenting as this may be something I’m one day faced with.

Up next: Russell Coker filled in for Kaigai (same talk, different speaker) to talk on The Security-Enhanced PostgreSQL – “System-wide consistency” in access controls. I found this quite interesting and different approaches to database security are worth looking at. Modern applications (read: web applications) don’t map their uses to database users at all. There are usually two users on the database server: the super user and the user that the app uses. It would be nice to have a good solution for those who want it.

Again, If I had the ability to be in two places at once, I would have also seen “How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love ACPI” by the extremely handsome Matthew Garrett.

Monty Widenius (blog here – and yes, we have two Monty’s now… which does cause confusion) talking about the Maria storage engine. Maria is based on MyISAM, but adding crash safety and transactions (among other things).

Again, if I was able to be in several places at once I would have also seen Rusty‘s “Large CPUmasks”, Nathan Scott talking about “System level performance management with PCP” and Bdale’s “Collaborating Successfully with large corporations”.

An awesome start to the conference.

People on IRC as some measure of a project

#mysql isn’t too fair to include, as it’s really about users, not dev. #mysql-ndb is there because i heart ndb.

Oh, and is there because it’s *awesome* and you should go.

Totally unscientific due to i’m only taking a sample once and whatever… but it kinda interests me… paper review

<sarcasm>Because I had nothing else on this month.</sarcasm> I’m currently reviewing papers. This is fun, brutal and hard.

For those of you who submitted: never be disheartened by not having it accepted: there are so many good papers for we could probably hold two conferences and they’d both be excellent.

We do, however, only have one conference – so good papers get left out.

P.S. since I just bought a house the only forms of bribes currently being accepted are large contributions towards my mortgage.

P.P.S. smaller contributions probably accepted too.

P.P.P.S. I’m not the only reviewer you need to bribe… but if you’ve got a spare few hundred thousand dollars, you probably have enough to bribe enough. 2008 Mini-Conf Selection

So, last night a group of us sat down and went through all the mini-conf proposals for 2008

There were a lot of proposals. There were also a lot of good ones.

We’re not announcing anything yet… but in the interest of openness… here’s the procedure.

We started out as any responsible group of selectors would…. looking at the proposals over beer:

dsc_8260.JPG dsc_8261.JPG

a few jokes thrown in… frank discussion and all that. But really, we came to the conclusion that it’d been all done before and we needed to somehow narrow down all the excellent suggestions…

Luckily, the pub we were meeting at had the right facilities!


And we went about selecting a few more…


Of course, there are simply some mini-confs that we all agreed were a must have…  although nothing was certain…


One of the more hilarious suggestions of the evening was to force somebody to organise a PostgreSQL miniconf, convince Marten to hold a MySQL company meeting in Melbourne around Jan 2008 and have all of MySQL AB come and sit in the back of the room for the PostgreSQL miniconf.

Eat My Data: @ luv Tuesday 3rd July

Tomorrow night (that’s Tuesday the 3rd of July) I’m speaking at LUV (Linux Users of Victoria). I’m presenting “Eat My Data: How Everybody Gets File I/O Wrong“.

This is another one of my (possibly futile) attempts to get people to care more about data integrity when writing software – and the less futile attempt to make users cry*.

* over lost data, not spilt milk.

UPDATE: date is Tuesday the 3rd . Turns out I can’t use /usr/bin/cal

Somebody should blog…

So, for whatever reason, at about 2am this morning I was finding out what showed up when you googled for sites in Swedish.

(actually… I do know why.. I was waiting for a a cluster to start so i could run a test)

Somebody should blog (in Swedish) about how awesome the upcoming in January 2008 (in Melbourne) is coming along.

Melbourne will be much warmer and sunnier than Sweden in January. Promise.

MySQL Conf: Getting Drunk with Eben Moglen

So Jay Pipes pointed out that Eben Moglen is speaking at the upcoming MySQL Conference in his attention grabbing post: Getting Drunk with Eben Moglen.

I saw Eben speak at 2005 in Canberra – which was totally totally awesome.

I’m really looking forward to seeing him again – honestly, it’s probably worth the conference admission fee just to see this session.

LCA2007 Photos

I’ve added a LCA2007 section to my Gallery with a bunch of photos I took at and around the conference. Feel free to have a look. I’ve posted a bunch of these to flickr already, so you’ve likely seen some if you follow my flickr feed.

Note that this gallery install is usually running a top-of-tree mysql cluster install on a box that has a bunch of other load on it… so things may work, may not – whatever :)

Those of you listening in on Planet MySQL – you should be able to spot a few other MySQLers around there, and there’s photos from the MySQL miniconf.

Programme – 2007

The Programme for 2007 has hit the streets (err.. web) and it’s looking pretty neat.

I’m glad to see the MySQL and PostgreSQL miniconfs on different days – means I should be able to pop into the PostgreSQL one as well. Kernel could be interesting too… I guess it can depend on the sessions and stuff though.

Greg Banks’ session on “Making NFS Suck Faster” should be interesting. Tridge’s session on “clustering tdb – a little database meets big iron” should be really interesting (after all, I hack on a clustered database for a crust). After lunch, I’m a bit torn between a few sessions – but Matthew Garrett‘s “Fixing suspend for fun and profit” could be a laugh.

The next session will involve last minute jitters for my session (which is next: “eat my data: how everybody gets file IO wrong” – which will be great fun as there will no doubt be a bunch of smart people about ready to expand and clarify things.

By the end of the day I’ll be torn between Keith Packard’s “X Monitor Hotplugging Sweetness” (Hopefully the extension will be called XBLING – as I keep tryning to convince him to call an X extension that) and Garbage Collection in LogFS by Jorn Engel.

On Thursday, I’ll want to be in all the sessions at once – including Practical MythTV as presented by Mikal Still and myself. If you’re not in our session (and damn you for not being :) you should check out the no doubt other great things on: Dave Miller on Routing and IPSEC Lookup scaling in the linux kernel should be great fun, OzDMCA by Kim Weatherall will no doubt bring a tear to the eye, Rasmus on Faster and Richer Web Apps with PHP 5 (aparrently the aim when coding PHP is to not suck… so a lot of PHP “programmers” should take note – and ask to see how fast he can down a beer in), Andrew Cowie is talking on writing rad GTK apps (always fun when you can see something from your coding efforts). My photographer side of my brain is telling me to go to the GIMP Tutorial too. Hrrm… busy day (but our MythTV tute will ROCK – so show up and be converted).

After a morning berocca (err… tea), the NUMA sessions sound interesting (especially on memory mapped files – going to be thinking about this and databases odly enough). Lunch, then the Heartbeat tutorial sounds interesting (from a “we have an internal one and i wonder what this does” PoV).

Ted Ts’o is on enterprise real time… could be interesting as Ted’s a fun guy.

On Friday, Ted’s ext4 talk is a must see – especially from a poking him in the ribs about what would be neat from a DB PoV (and the reminder of the real numbers in a benchmark boost to performance we see with XFS versus ext3).

While wanting to be a cool kid like Rusty, Disk Encryption also sounds interesting, and Robert Collins could be talking about some interesting stuff (although the title “do it our way” isn’t giving much away).

So, I’ve pretty much just planned a week in January down to the hour. If you’re not already going – get booked for 2007 now – sure to sell out quickly. Going to be totally kick-ass.

Rusty on LCA talks and other stuff…

As email is *sooo* non-“Web 2.0”, i reply in blog form….
Rusty’s Bleeding Edge Page talks about a “Writing an x86 hypervisor: all the cool kids are doing it!” session that sounds really cool (better not be on at the same time as my talk… :)

I don’t (currently) intend to be one of the cool kids though.

He also mentions a session entitled “First-timer’s Introduction to LCA”. A couple of possible suggestions (or thoughts, and stuff I’ve seen):

  • be careful if you intend to bitch endlessly about a piece of software – it’s quite likely you’re talking to the person who wrote it (or a chunk of it)
  • sometimes it can be really good to just listen and ask a few good questions to understand. there are a lot of really smart people about
  • you will (at some point) ask a really dumb question (that you’ll only realise is dumb a few months later). Don’t panic – we all do it.
  • Don’t be scared – nobody bites too hard.
  • when staying in the halls, odds are the coffee isn’t that good – be prepared to bring your own or go out every morning.
  • do not be afraid to go up and start talking to people – it’s a great way to meet interesting characters and cool hackers.
  • wash
  • use deodorant
  • encourage others to do the above 2
  • read the summary of a session, not just the title. sometimes you can be misled by the title (for example, not everybody thinks of the same thing when “hacking BLAH” is the title of a session)
  • especially if talking, bring backups, backup (without erasing old backups) and backup. Also, be sure restore works.
  • While a lot of people do enjoy downing a few (or more than a few) Ales, it’s not compulsary. There are people attending LCA who don’t drink (and who may/may not join others at the pub even though they don’t drink alcohol). It’s also okay to not drink too much – in fact, it’s often recommended.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask people who they are, what they do etc. Even if you then immediately recognise the name, it’s good to put a face to the name.
  • You will never see everything you want to.
  • do join the IRC channels – great way of meeting people and organising groups to go do things (like get food, go to pub etc).
  • do talk to people around the dorms – great way of meeting people
  • expect to want a day of rest afterwards
  • there are some “in” jokes – but don’t be afraid to ask what they’re about, strange traditions are part of the LCA experience

I wonder what should/could be written about going all fanboy/fangirl over favourite hackers? and taking/asking to get taken photos?

The last thing Rusty talks about is the “Hacking in groups” tutorial. I really liked his and Robert Love’s tutorial in Canberra (Kernel Hacking – where you wrote a PCI driver for the excellent Love Rusty 3000. A device with real specifications, coffee cup stain and all). I’ve had a bit of a mixed feeling about it from Rusty since then, but I reckon it was seriously one of the best tutorials I have ever attended. I also took the hands-on approach as great inspiration for various MySQL Cluster Tutorials I’ve given since (and people have commented on how the hands-on part is great).

I guess the thing about the kernel hacking tute was that not everybody in the room was at the same skill level (which is something you totally run the risk of with hands-on). Also, if you hadn’t done the prep material, you were probably going to be in trouble.

But anyway, the idea of having 20 talented coders with 5 people in the tute for each of them and working on some project could be interesting – although rather ambitious. I worry that people without a good enough skillset would rock up and not get much out of it. Although those with adequate skill would do well.

Picking a project that could be doable in a handful of hours (or a day) is tricky – as it’d probably be an extension to some existing project, which requires learning of it. Or, starting something from scratch can be equally as hard (to end up anywhere useful).

Some ideas for projects could include:

  • linux file system driver (perhaps read only) for a simple file system (mkfs provided)
  • MySQL table handler for some simple format (indexes get trickier… but maybe simple bitmapped index… or just an in memory table handler)
  • fsck for some file format/file system format

These have the benefit of being able to run existing good test suites against the software and see how well people did. They’d probably also help people land jobs :)

Another interesting one would be implementing a library for journaling writes to a file. i.e. instead of write to temp, sync, rename – do journaling.  This would let people easily write apps that did safe updates to large files. You could then use this to implement other things (like a really simple crash-safe storage engine, FUSE file system or something).

I’m just not sure how much “cool tricks” could really happpen in that time (instead of just getting the job done). 20 coders talking about their neat tricks would probably make a good book though…

mythtv scheduling

So, naturally, while at I still need to get to my home mythtv box to set (and check) what’s going to be recorded.

I can also have a look to see what my flatmate has set to record.

It looks like I’m missing the tennis one day to have “Dr. Tatiana’s Sex Guide to All Creation” recorded.

Hrrm… for some reason I’m not unhappy with that….

White Stripes tour dates – The White Stripes

Damn, damn, damn, damn damn. Only January 28th – and I’m in NZ.

Note to future organisers: make sure dates don’t overlap BDO or any really cool band tour dates.

Of course, the real disaster would be if Tool were touring at the same time as a work thing. How will people take it if i leave a company event for however long is needed to see Tool live. as many times as possible. I am dearly hoping that travel co-ordinates itself to see them in different cities, countries. Heck, even another planet if we can do that by the time the new album is ready :)

Some people don’t seem to get the Tool thing. It’s just good music. But that’s the thing – it is good music. Also, great music to hack with. I reckon each album gets played at least once per week – still.

Linux® in Australia

Jon talks about recent happennings with securing the Linux® trademark in Australia.

In what we laughingly call the past, we discovered that Linux was not a registered trademark in Australia and such our legal options in the case of someone abusing it.

So, we set out on the road of securing the trademark. It’s a long process (we’ve also put in some applications for some of the names LA uses) and our legal dude (I think they call them lawyers now, but ‘legal dude’ sounds cool) Jeremy Malcolm has been great in sorting out the stuff you need to sort out.

So, the way the Linux® trademark works is that Linus owns it, but since he has little interest in having to do the legal footwork (something about prefering to hack and spend time with family – you know, things he’s good at) there’s an organisation called the Linux Mark Institute (LMI) to administer it.

So, we’re (LA) being the good guys and making sure we’ve got good legal ground to stand on in Australia – and we’ve gotten Jeremy to do what’s needed to secure the trademark – which is (basically) prove that the right person is going to own it and it’s a good thing to have.

Getting people to say that they respect and support the trademark (by having an appropriate license from LMI) puts us in a better legal position.

Of course, letters from lawyers can scare people – but don’t be scared, this is just warm and fuzzy things for the good of us all.

(Small, cute, furry creatures not included)

gems from, after the pub

* MacPlusG3 wonders wtf is happennning with is imaps connection
<bernard_> MacPlusG3: 21:59 < cef> yup.. dropping my mtu to 1478 fixed it
<bernard_> ?
<bernard_> though I'm on burgmann wireless here and pulling mail over imaps just fine.
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