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My Experiences with the Greatest Open Source Software of All Time

by on Sep.03, 2009, under Storage

My Experiences with the Greatest Open Source Software of All Time

InfoWorld recently recognized the top 36 most important open source software projects that have withstood the test of time. These are the projects that have shaped the way that we use many technologies today. I&aposve mentioned before that I was a Unix sys admin in the mid-1990s, so this article brought back a lot of memories for me.

GNU tools and utilities. I was always a big fan of GCC, and it was one of the first things I would install on a new Unix box (from source, because that&aposs the way real admins installed software). Then there is always the Emacs vs. vi debate. I&aposm a vi kind of girl, and I still use vi to edit system files on my Mac, mostly out of habit.

Networking. One of the best things about being a sys admin was playing with all kinds of network protocols. I learned so much about the underlying technologies behind the internet in just a couple of years. I got to administer our companies DNS servers running BIND, but more importantly, I helped set up and administer a rogue corporate email server (Sendmail and Pop3). Our company at the time (1995 or 1996, I think) used the mainframe for all email, which was less than optimal for the people using PCs or Unix within the company, so we set up a rogue email server and diverted their email at the firewall to hit the Unix Sendmail server, instead of the mainframe. People would wander into my cubicle whispering about email, and I&aposd get them set up with their secret email account.

I still play around with a few other things on their list, like Apache, MySQL, PHP, etc. as a side effect of doing some minor work on WordPress installs and other web applications. I only talked about a few of the many projects on the InfoWorld list that brought back the most memories for me, but plenty of other great software was also on the list: various Linux / BSD distros, Asterisk, OpenSSH / OpenSSL, VNC, PostgreSQL, Perl, Python, Ruby, Wine, Samba, Cygwin and more.

What&aposs the story behind your favorite open source software project of all time?


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You show me mine, I’ll expo you yours, OSCON

by on Jul.23, 2009, under Storage

You show me mine, I’ll expo you yours, OSCON

Why do I love the show floor at conferences? It&aposs almost impossible to have a reasonable conversation with the poor folks doing booth duty. Often this is because they might not be working in the area that you are interested in, or the noise level is just too high to have a good talk.

Sadly, I am addicted to technology, and the show floor is a great place for a quick fix.

OSCON is the Open Source Convention put on by O&aposReilly Media and is being held in the San Jose Convention Center. As with any good-sized convention, the big hitters in the technology business are present…

  • Microsoft – OK, these guys seem unusual to be present in an open source setting, but they want to highlight the tools they have created for hosting open source projects. Their booth seems mostly an excuse for people to play Guitar Hero.
  • Sun – as the company which has contributed the most lines of open source code, it&aposs not surprising to see them with a strong presence.

    Again, their booth was more a lounge rather than a place to have technology demos and talks. They did have a great supply of giveaways./li>

  • Amazon – had a smaller booth, and the focus seems mostly on code. They posted a code snippet and a contest for solving a problem with it.
  • Google – Also a very code focused booth. They were talking a lot about, their Soureforge competitor.
  • Facebook – Although I&aposm sure that any of the companies at OSCOn would love to hire really killer technical talent. And certainly there is good talent there. But the Facebook booth seemed to be totally focused on recruiting people. A little obvious, I guess.
  • Intel – as is usually the case, Intel&aposs booth was crammed with technology demos, booth talks and an amazing give-away. I&aposm not sure which of these created the long lines in the booth, but it was pretty full whenever I came by.

The demos showed a good split between hardware geek stuff and software partners.

  • OpenSolaris on Xeon, particularly showing great tools like PowerTop, which now has a pretty gtk interface.
  • SuSE running on a Xeon 5500 (formerly Nehalem) server. They were showing an Oracle database, and the tools available for the administrator here.
  • Moblin, running on Netbooks, Moble Internet Devices and automobiles. This last was really cool – there was a functional open source dialer which successfully called my cell phone!

Because O&aposReilly is a media company, there are some booths which don&apost usually fit in the usual technology conference – publishing companies:

  • No Starch Press- I love the useful technology titles these guys have, and I really love the art work these guys have on their book covers, in particular a robot pouring coffee into the open door in its head.
  • Manning – don&apost know as much about these guys, they seem to have good titles.
  • Linux Pro Magazine
  • O&aposReilly – hosted a lounge and a very nice book store.

And being an open source conference, there is a selection of what I would call "advocacy" booths: Electronic Fronteir Foundation, Free Software Foundation, the ACLU and FOSSFA which is the Free and Open Source Software for Africa group.

I also usually see one or two things that I learn about. One of these was Schooner. These guys are providing engines with Intel Xeon 5500 series processors (formerly Nehalem) and Intel Solid State Disks or SSDs and their optimized version of Linux, memcached and MySQL. What is really cool about this is that they didn&apost just put together some great Intel hardware and push the box out. They have added a bunch of value by optimizing the open source software. As a result, they get fantastic performance improvements.

What was also very cool was to see that Schooner&aposs VP of Engineering is Dave Rodgers, who was the VP of engineering at Sequent Computer Systems when I joined them in the 80s. So it was really cool to see Dave and catch up with him.

It&aposs a cool thing to see the various corporate tribes with their logo-ed T-Shirts herding together and mingling in the various lounges.


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A peek into Extended Page Tables Part 2

by on Jul.09, 2009, under Storage

A peek into Extended Page Tables Part 2

  It has been nearing a month since I posted my blog on Extended Page Tables and it&aposs niceties, I had promised to come up with a follow-up blog with some hands on test runs I had planned to run in my lab. With burgeoning  to do list from work and endless meetings per day, finally I made sometime and setup a testbed in the lab. My goal was to run some workload on the hardware setup with Extended Page Table enabled to help the virtual machine to  translate memory address, then I also planned to rerun the workload on the same hardware setup without EPT and perform a comparison of both result sets. I wanted to keep the test simple enough to achieve my goal while making sure results are repeatable with multiple runs. Workload I decided to use open source workload called DVD Store, this workload was developed by Dell and passed over to open source community, it comes in varients of Microsoft SQL server, Oracle Database server and MySql Database server. The Database schema is made up of eight tables and few store procedures and transactions. The workload comes in Three different DB sizes of 10MB, 1GB and 100GB. However being an open source workload, it allows us to tweak the size of the database and customize is to suit specific size requirement. I went ahead and tweaked the database to be of 2GB in size, this allowed me to fit the Database and log files on the storage devices I had in the lab without going for an expensive SAN based storage. As the name of the workload says, this is a order processing OLTP database workload simulating customers browsing through the store and adding selected DVDs and completing the order. Primary metric coming out of the workload is the number of orders processed during the workload execution period, secondary metric is average milliseconds taken to process each order.

HardwareServerIntel S5520UR Dual socket server.CPU: Intel Xeon X5550 2.67 GHz 8 coresRAM: 12GB DDR3Hard drive: 500GB SATA II 7.2K RPM holding OS partition, IntelNIC: Embedded 1Ge full duplex.Keyboard, mouse and MonitorClientGateway E-4610S SBCPU: Intel Core2 Duo 4300 1.80GHzRAM: 1GBHarddrive: 80GB SATA IINIC: Embedded 1Ge full duplex.OS: Windows XP professional with SP3.SoftwareVMWARE ESX 3.5 U3VMWARE ESX 4.0Microsoft Windows 2008 enterprise server 64bit editionMicrosoft SQL 2005 64bitI wanted to go with Solid state drives to ensure I am not disk bound anytime while running the workload, the alternative to run the workload without SSD would be to use a boatload of conventional hardrives increasing the setup complexity and foot print of my test hardware. Just using 3nos Intel SSDs makes life easier and provides terrific I/O performance.Test MethodologyI not going to delve deeper on how to setup the environment, OS instalaltion, application setup, and customizing the workload these topics are out of scope for this blog. But since it is required to know on how I ran my tests, I will talk about the methodology just enough for readers to understand the workload execution method and test duration, which helps in understanding the result chart below. Test was run from the client machine usinf workload driver and was ran for 10 minutes at a stretch and for Three times just to ensure the results were repeatable. The number of orders executed were pretty much close to with +- 100-200 OPM.ResultsOPMAbove chart shows number of Orders the server was able to execute per minute. The X-Axis represents the number of vCPUs allocated to the virtual machine and Y-Axis shows the orders per minute. With each additional vCPU added to the virtual machine the number of orders executed by the server increases, as you can notice in the chart there is a 15%, 18% and 31% increase in number of OPM clearly scaling up with additional vCPUs allocated to the virtualmachine.Response time.Above chart shows the average response time as to complete one order, you there is a 15% to 40% decrease in response time comapred between server running without EPT assitance and server with EPT enabled. Not only the server can perform more transactions at the given time, but can do that with less time than it took doing it on non EPT based servers.ConclusionWhen I completed my workload execution and came started seeing the data, it was apparent to me that EPT plays the major factor in improving performance of any virtualized workload. With virtualization technology achieving wide spread adoptability, IT orgs are exploring on how virtualize applications which were left untouched till now due to fear of peformance degradation and blowing up the SLA promised to the business. But Technologies like EPT provides enough reasons for the IT managers to start thinking about virtualizing critical workloads like SQL, Exchange etc. This is the last part of the Two part series blog in EPT. Feel free to comment if you have any questions.Bhaskar D Gowda.


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