Email is still one of the best mechanism to get push notifications, so getting automatic nudges via email from Ask OpenStack is useful. I took some time to document how to get an email message every time a new question is asked on Ask OpenStack.
As of today Ask OpenStack gets around 10 new questions per day and the rate is increasing steadily. I highlighted the configuration that can help you prevent getting too many emails: select the frequency of the notifications want to get notifications first in the line “Entire forum (tag filtered)”. Then set the tag filter: I picked “only subscribed tags”. You can modify the tags you want to receive notifications from the form at the bottom of the page:
Add tags you’re interested in to this form
Tags are added by the person asking the question and can be edited by anybody with karma higher than 100. On the same subscriptions page there is also a setting to receive notifications for questions asked in Chinese languages.
On Ask OpenStack home page there are also ways to customize the site further, hiding questions carrying ignored tags from the view or highlighting interesting ones
Further configuration options on Ask OpenStack home page
Back from busy days in one of the most exciting cities I’ve ever visited, I needed some time to put thougths back in order, recover from jet lag and deal with my irremediably broken WordPress installation (will probably blog about this later, too). Hong Kong was a blast in many aspects. The Summit itself started with lions dancing at the sound of drums in front of over 3,000 people:
There has been an incredible growth inside and around OpenStack, the project is growing fast. Growth is good, it’s what we wanted so we have plenty of reasons to celebrate. The second edition of the User Survey brought us more insights about usage of OpenStack around the world. We announced our first OpenStack Ambassadors, people who will help the OpenStack Community team get closer to many communities around the world. It was great to meet personally more women from the Outreach Program for Women of OpenStack. we’ve been doing this for over a year now, it’s a thing.
Growth also brings challenges and some of them were evident in some of the conversations had at the Summit, around it and after. A few signals I caught during and around the Design Summit sessions highlighted that we may need to start taking new steps to reinforce the culture of collaboration inside the project. The challenges highlighted go from lack of reviewers (not core reviewers, just developers who pay attention and help others), PTLs getting overloaded, the high traffic on the Development mailing list (which leads to loss of information), the increasing number of questions on Ask OpenStack with no interactions (no up/down votes, comments, etc) and little engagement in its Chinese version, the challenges inside the Internationalization Team with processes and tools. We’ve also heard of a very few Design sessions where it was too hard to have a productive discussion because of one or two uncollaborative people.
Since we’re getting so many new developers in the project we’re probably getting to the point where we can’t assume they are accustomed to contributing upstream first. The founders and first members of OpenStack all had a brilliant pedigree of open source contributions and collaboration. New members of the OpenStack Foundation may need some help to succeed. I enjoyed the session Getting Your Blueprint Accepted Quicker: the VPNaaS Use Case so much that I’m proposing the Upstream University training as an official program at the OpenStack Foundation to help new members. I’ll write more about this in the future.
The next six months will continue to be super exciting and full of things to do. If you have missed Hong Kong go watch the recordings of the sessions keep watching this space for more news.
Linux kernel community has long been considered the greatest of all the open source communities. Linus Torvalds and his team has set the ground for open source development, defined processes and tools adopted and shared by other successful projects. The Linux kernel mailing list with its public review of patches and git, the tool to manage the incredible flow of code among thousands of people in tens of different branches laid the ground for many other open source projects. Even OpenStack doesn’t get close to those number (although OpenStack is only a three years old toddler and the kernel is old enough to vote and drink.) Linus has built an incredible community and an impressive culture around it. A culture where technology rules everything and also profanity and insults are common. And the results are clear: it worked for Linux kernel.
This doesn’t mean that any community can live and prosper like the Linux kernel with the same culture of harsh criticisms, middle fingers or what Linus calls management by perkele. In fact, I think nobody else can afford managing open source communities the way Linus does. Torvalds can get away saying things like “trying to come up with some ‘code of conduct’ that says that people should be ‘respectful’ and ‘polite’ is just so much crap and bullshit”. I certainly can’t and chances are you can’t either.
Now if you ask me if Torvalds should change his attitude my answer is: no, he is what he is and he’s made what he’s made because (or despite, who cares: results matter) of what he is. Should his lieutenants be assholes too? Of course not, and that’s why the kernel is still one of the most successful open source projects out there.
Episode two of my experiment with the Raspberry Pi I have received at Pycon 2013. On the way back from Santa Clara I stopped by Fry’s and bought the only USB sound card they had in store, a weird looking Creative and a powered USB hub. I ordered also a case from Adafruit industries (not convinced of the case though).
The output of lsusb:
Bus 001 Device 006: ID 147a:e03d Formosa Industrial Computing, Inc.
Hooked them all together, installed avahi-daemon on the Pi so I can ssh into it easily from any lan (ssh raspberrypi.local, although I should change its name to something more unique). Tested arecord locally first. It took me a while to figure out how to use arecord, it’s old stuff that I’m not very used to. You need to specify the hardware device. If you get this sort of error:
arecord: main:682: audio open error: No such file or directory
probably you haven’t specified that you want to record from the card that actually has an input device
pi@raspberrypi ~ $ arecord -l
**** List of CAPTURE Hardware Devices ****
card 1: Audio [2 Channel USB Audio], device 0: USB Audio [USB Audio]
Subdevice #0: subdevice #0
I hooked my phone’s audio player to the mic input of the USB card so that there would be constantly audio coming in the Pi, then started recording
I have specified the hardware device I want to use, the format and the number of channels. Playing back that file worked.
pi@raspberrypi ~ $ aplay -D hw:1,0 test.wav
Next step was to capture live audio from the line input of the USB card, transcode that to OGG Vorbis and ship the bits to the remote Icecast server I setup last week. I quickly gave up on ezstream and started using ices2, the Icecast client: it seems easier to manage as it takes care of the encoding. This is the input module I used for the Pi:
<!– Read metadata (from stdin by default, or –>
<!– filename defined below (if the latter, only on SIGUSR1) –>
The USB soundcard I’m using sends 16000hz samples. I chose not to resample that, only to downmix stereo to mono to save bandwidth.
<– stereo->mono downmixing, enabled by setting this to 1 –>
And all seems to work: the Pi sends a clear signal up to the streaming server and it’s been doing that for a while. Big success so far. Next step for me will be to write a script that grabs data from the OpenStack Summit schedule for one room and adds that information as metadata for the streaming: this way the listeners will have an idea of who is speaking or what the session is about.
Update: the stream was having a wide latency, around 20 seconds so I decided to play a little bit with the sampling rates. The latency went down to around 1 second using <param name=”rate”>48000</param> in the input module and <samplerate>48000</samplerate> in the encode module, with no resampling. Unfortunately the USB card dies every now and then when not connected through a powered USB hub. Too bad, because the USB hub looks ugly.
I have always wanted to have a simple way to stream audio from the OpenStack Design Summits, much like Ubuntu used to do for its Ubuntu Design Summit. Since every participant to Pycon 2013 was kindly given a Raspberry Pi and having a couple of hours to kill, I have started playing with a simple idea: configure a Raspberry Pi to capture audio and stream it to a public icecast server.
First thing: spin up a virtual machine on a public cloud that will be serving as public icecast server. I have used my UniCloud account, created a small server, 512Mb ram, Ubuntu LTS 32bit. I updated the default security groups to allow traffic on port 22 (SSH) and 8000 (icecast), and I also needed to assign a public floating IP. Once the machine is up, simple apt-get install icecast2 took care of starting the audio streaming server. That’s it, streaming server part is done.
Back to the RasPi, in order to test the streaming server, I installed ezstream, copied the config files from /usr/share/doc/ezstream/examples. I copied ezstream_vorbis.xml to pi home dir:
<!– looping the stream forever, for testing purposes –>
<svrinfoname>OpenStack Test Streaming Rradio</svrinfoname>
<svrinfogenre>OpenStack Test Streaming</svrinfogenre>
<!– advertising on public YP directory –>
The playlist.m3u is a simple text file with one .ogg file in there, enough to test it. Start the stream to be sent to the icecast server with
Simple, rudimentary but I like because it seems to be easy. The next step for me is to buy a USB microphone to stream live audio captured in a room. The optimal configuration though is to use this system to stream audio easily from the OpenStack Summit rooms. I need a way to connect the USB input to a regular audio mixer: any idea on how to do that?
I am very happy to see the Free Software Foundation going back to making good software. I have argued for long time that what made the FSF a great organization that changed the world is the fact that they didn’t only point at proprietary software as a problem but they also provided a solution with copyleft and the GPL licenses and provided working code in the GNU system. I’m glad to see that the FSF has adopted Mediagoblin’s software development and included it in the GNU system. It’s free as in freedom software as a service that allows to publish multimedia content (pictures, audio, videos, 3D models) in a federation with API support and lots of awesomeness. You can think of it as a federated replacement for things like Flickr, YouTube or SoundCloud that you or anyone can run. Just wonderful.
If you haven’t donated yet, do it now as it’s not too late. MediaGoblin 1.0 is going to support OpenStack Swift too, so if you like OpenStack you have the moral obligation to donate to the FSF to develop Mediagoblin.
My experience at the OpenStack Summit in San Diego has been really good. I have received lots of positive comments about this configuration, merging the Design Summit with the Conference. Despite the high amount of people it seems that things went well. I’m waiting to gather more details about the remote participation to the Design Summit with WebEx, I’ll report more about that soon.
I presented one session at the conference, lead two sessions on the Design Summit track and facilitated the meeting of the APEC group. Especially on the last day I missed the integration of the summit’s agenda from sched.org into my personal calendar applications (phone and desktop) because I ended up overbooking myself a couple of times. Thankfully Monty Taylor covered for me.
The ‘Community Dashboard‘ that I presented with zAgile was received with enthusiastic comments: the crowd cheered ‘ship it’ when I asked them what they thought of the demo. I’ve talked with Sanjiva and Andrew after the presentation, we should have an early beta out there by the end of the year.
More needs to be done in order to improve the community resources: IRC channels are not owned by the Foundation, some services depend by one person only (the main website and etherpad service, just to make an example). The forums need some love and probably we should have a Q&A system in place. During the sessions Atul Jha from India showed an askbot-powered system that he volunteered to run. In the next weeks I’ll help him go live with it. We discussed also the migration of the General mailing list out of Launchpad: unfortunately I have no news since my last update. The planet needs a better look, if nothing else. And the OpenStack blog needs a better content policy: some people in the room raised some concerns over the abuse of corporate posts on it.
During the discussion on how to track OpenStack’s adoption I was suggested to focus on users’ survey instead of proposing to add some ‘telephone home’ capability to OpenStack’s code (like Mozilla Foundation does with Firefox). I think this is a good idea and I’ll make sure this will become a project of the Foundation in the next months, once we’ll be fully staffed (we’re hiring).
Monty lead the session I proposed about an Integrated Identity System among all OpenStack tools. We went through the improvements we’re working on regarding the CLA workflow and its integration into Gerrit and the Foundation’s membership database. Todd Morey was in the session and we had more ideas on how to make things progress a bit faster (we agreed that hanging out on IRC is a prerequisite for make things happen faster). The future of Launchpad as the main ID system for OpenStack will be decided after Ubuntu Developer Summit: Thierry will spend time with Canonical’s folks there to understand if it will still be able to serve our purposes in the future.
My list of things to do has increased, as it’s expected after the Summit. Thanks everybody for joining.
This week was my first week as an employee of the OpenStack Foundation. I’m Technical Community Manager, still helping the OpenStack project succeed by helping the technical contributions. The difference is that my salary is now being paid by the newly formed OpenStack Foundation instead of Rackspace. Most of the people I worked with more closely at Rackspace are also at the OpenStack Foundation: Lauren, Mark, Jonathan and Thierry and we’re also hiring more people.
The main thing that changed is my laptop: finally I got rid of that heavy brick I used to carry around and now I have a slick, top of the line Dell XPS 13, the Project Sputnik one, powered by Ubuntu. Oh, what a great machine. I love it already. It gets noisy some time but I believe that’s because I had to run java applets in the past days. I’ll post more details about how I set it up later on. Good times.
I’ve been kindly invited to give a keynote to openSUSE Summit in Orlando and I just got off the stage after delivering it. The slides and my notes are below. The video I took during the keynote is on YouTube (and embedded).
openSuse keynote: The lessons of Open Source for the Open Cloud
Thank you Suse community for having me here today. It’s my turn to wake you up today, so let’s start. I want to start by telling you that we have accomplished a mission
The mission to build a wholly/holy free operating system for servers and desktops is accomplished. I believe the Free/Libre Software and Open Source (FLOSS) movement has conquered the datacenters, replacing proprietary systems everywhere. This is good, right?
While we were busy winning over the proprietary Unix, proprietary databases etc things changed. We’re in the middle of a radical change of how we think of computing. Cloud and mobile computing have emerged as radically new things. And for the first time ever, Open Source implementations are not lagging behind, quite the opposite. Open source software is opening new paths, not just building on top of a fully laid out Unix or the standard C libraries. Open Source is where a lot new things are happening regarding cloud and mobile computing.
While I believe in mobile computing the Open Source principles are fairly easy to adapt, cloud computing poses a whole new set of questions for the movement.
We’re missing a paradigm to interpret and define open-ness in cloud computing.
In the minutes we’ll be looking at lessons learned during +25 years of Open Source and how those can be adapted to define the Open Cloud and at what we can do to see this idea materialise.
First of all I’d like to recognize where we stand, in terms of achievements of the past 25 years. I think we’ve done great so far.
When I started working on Open Source and Linux the system was 5 years old, GNU tools had been around for 10 years. To convince customers to buy our Linux distributions I had to start from scratch.. Well, Linux is made by smart people around the world, loosely coordinated by a Finnish dude wearing sandals. Unbelievable, right? Their objections are probably familiar to you too right? you may have been in one of these sales meetings.
If I passed that first step, I had to show that our small team of 10 people could support them… and that opened a whole new set of problems… You can imagine how fast our little startup could close a deal Today’s meeting are more normal, Dilbert style.
Look around today how things have changed.
Today nobody asks ‘Does it work?’ but they ask ‘how fast can you get it here and solve my problems’. And to start a new venture, developing free software is one of the mainstream options.
We won! GNU and Linux have taken over the proprietary systems they were designed to take over. Open Source has even opened complete new ways to do things, think of Big Data and NoSQL … all ideas empowered, enabled even, by the freedom to tinker that comes with free/libre software. It’s the freedom to make, the freedom to innovate.
Our way of developing software has won, too. You know that dude with long hair and long beard from Boston that started a movement, loosely coordinating hundreds of developers around the world? Turns out, he started something very big, much bigger than an operating system “like Unix but better”. His idea to ask the best brains in the world to help produce the best software possible and share the results together, is good for companies too. They get new products much faster, better performing, they get marketing, support you name it…
Business schools have studied how we make software, companies have learned that what we have been doing since the 90s. Now a whole new line of research focusing on how firms around the world pool in resources to develop new products faster and share the benefits. They call this ‘Open Innovation’, we call it ‘The Open Source Way’.
When you started working on open source, were you expecting that your work would spur such radical change? To be honest, I’m still surprised but I was hoping for it, I’m a dreamer
Let me give you an example of how ‘Open Innovation’ the open source way worked for OpenStack, the project I work for. The project started two years ago, NASA and Rackspace were trying to solve the same problem: they needed an operating system that run on top of an entire datacenter. Virtualization is not enough once you reach the ‘HUGE’ scale. Once your virtual servers start to be thousands, thens of thousands you start loosing track of what runs where and you have all sorts of other problems. NASA and Rackspace found each other by chance and decided to pool their resources. Rackspace had a very good object storage system (now known as SWIFT), NASA had a promising prototype of a virtual computing engine (known as NOVA). Deal done. Time 6 months and look at the spectacular growth in number of active developers per month: that’s comparable with the Linux kernel (not in quantity, but in slope). The amount of companies joining it, the partners in the newly established OpenStack Foundation.
I believe we, the free software and open source movement should be very proud of what we’ve accomplished so far. We, as a movement, should take a moment to sit back and appreciate what we’ve achieved in the past 25 years. Our principles, our way of doing things, has made OpenStack possible.
VIDEO THING: On my three, you’re going to yell “Welcome OpenStack” and I’ll record it on camera, ok?
Celebrate the achievements of our movement and let’s move on: we need a way to define openness for the next generation of computing.
The principles that gave us GNU and Linux were designed in a time when Unix was the dominant paradigm for computing: terminals and later client/server. One processor, one operating system. A world made of ‘computing products’.
In the late 80s and 90s, when Stallman started the GNU project and Torvalds started Linux the there was a world made of computing ‘products’. Today we’ve added computing ‘services’ to the mix.
Cloud Computing blurs the lines of what is a ‘user’ and what is a distribution and copies of software. Porting the Free Software definition from a product to a service is not simple but we can try.
How to define the Open Cloud
Let’s have a look at the free software definition, simple and elegant. Software is free/libre when it comes with:
0 freedom to run for any purpose
1 freedom to study how it works
2 freedom to make copies to help you and your friends (and charge for the act of making one)
3 freedom to distribute modified copies
We have now understood all of this, for computing products. It makes sense: software comes on a CDrom, a USB stick, downloaded,…whatever, you take something and you run it on your machine.
Now look at services you consume over a network: do you Run the software? If you consume a platform as a service, do you need to study the details below or just the APIs it exposes? The APIs are free to study, usually. Make copies? You don’t need to really to: if you need more capacity you buy more of the service. Do you really want to modify services? Maybe you want to be able to add features, ok … but does it make sense to use a service if you need features it lacks?
Don’t get me wrong: these freedoms are crucial, necessary even, but not enough. Computing services are radically different, the use cases are so much different. For example:
Data for example is out of the picture in the Free Software Definition. Let’s be concrete and take an example: San Diego Super Computing Center stores petabytes of data every year for its users (astronomers, physicists, etc). They need a storage and archival system that deals with that scale. Their users don’t … let me say better: can’t deal with that scale. The physicist running an experiment can have a few machines and disks to analyze a few terabytes locally but when it comes to handling large quantities of data, and backups, the single lab would have huge costs to run its own storage/backup system. So SDSC came up with an OpenStack Swift cluster where users can drop files at will. Now if those users want to stop using SDSC services and move somewhere else, in theory they can. They run OpenStack Swift, they have the 4 freedoms, the can replicate the cluster somewhere else or have someone else run the cluster for them. But their petabytes of data will be very hard to move across clusters. These guys know the format in which the data is stored into, so you can argue it would just be a matter of time…
That’s why I maintain that the four freedoms are important but data in the cloud changes everything and Scale changes everything. Keeping this in mind, we can start defining the Open Cloud.
We can take from the basic principles that guided Stallman in his definition of free/libre software. The 4 freedoms were designed to help developers help each others to innovate faster and help users get better tools for their tasks. Those are good things, they brought us to were we stand today as we saw before.
We can write principles for the Open Cloud that map the same ideals: respect the users of the service, enable innovation (or don’t reinvent the wheel).
How do you respect the users? Leaving them free to come and go in and out of your computing services. Nothing more or less than the freedom to run the software for any purpose, study, make copies and modify them. How can you come and go from a cloud service to another?
So here is the first thing that’s important to define an open cloud. We’ve got data on one side, and we’ve got functionalities to transform and manipulate that data, in the cloud as services.
The format of the data must be an open standard. Interfaces/APIs are another crucial piece of an open cloud, these must also be an open standard.
The other thing is that you need to enable Open Innovation, create vibrant communities and business friendly ecosystem.
The issue is that a uniform definition of Open Standard doesn’t exist but I like the one maintained by the FSFE. An Open Standard refers to a format or protocol that is:
subject to full public assessment and use without constraints in a manner equally available to all parties;
without any components or extensions that have dependencies on formats or protocols that do not meet the definition of an Open Standard themselves;
free from legal or technical clauses that limit its utilisation by any party or in any business model;
managed and further developed independently of any single vendor in a process open to the equal participation of competitors and third parties;
available in multiple complete implementations by competing vendors, or as a complete implementation equally available to all parties.
And that’s how you respect your users. How do you enable innovation? Creating vibrant communities and large, business friendly, ecosystems.
It’s important for an open cloud to focus on both aspects: guarantee user’s independence from a particular implementation of a service and a vast business ecosystem that implements its open standards.
The issue is complex and definitely needs more thoughts. Stallman had it very simple: he needed to build a new operating system, like Unix but better. There was a model to follow, standards to implement like POSIX and C. GNU and Linux and much more software distributed as Free Software was imitating and improving upon existing software, at least initially. The guiding principles were easy to understand and communicate. His principles spread fast crossing the border of software.
Open Source is not behind the proprietary leader, we have a good chance to build the largest clouds based on our principles of respect and innovation. The race just started. Amazon Web Services was launched in 2006, it’s only 6 years old. Eucalyptus was first released in 2008, OpenStack in 2010 like cloud.com. Open Source implementations have a very good chance at taking the lead in cloud computing.
That’s what we’re trying to do at OpenStack Foundation. You can join it as an Individual Member.
We may not have a moral authority that will keep the definition for Open Cloud, like the FSF and the OSI have done for the world of computing products. It’s up to us to keep an eye on the companies we work for, helping them to understand that staying close to the principles that made Open Source ubiquitous is good for them, also in the world of computing services.
We’ve made it: we changed computing once. Now we just have to do it again. Thank you