Jul 302004

Cancel my subscription to optimism.

Fell asleep around 6 am. Whole body grogginess abounds. It’s friday today I think.

Raining in biblical proportions. Easily ~4 centimeters a day, with lots more in inland. Flood alerts have been given.

Jul 292004

Went indeed to see excellent quality swedish-irish rock-folk.

Hung out with Ile and Jytky. Had a good, albeit slow time. Watched all four sets. Some new songs, but old classics (Mrs. Robinson, Losing My Religion, Brown-eyed Girl) still bring out the biggest applause.

Jul 282004

Slept a wink or two in the planes. No more than 30 minutes in one go. Missed most of Station Agent, the second film shown on the transatlantic leg.

Pilot did good time on the way back, and the connection in Frankfurt was not a total disaster. Had half an hour to spare after buying the newest issue of GameStar magazine off a newsstand.

Flight to Helsinki was extremely crowded, and food inedible. Nothing new there.

Was afraid that luggage would not be on the plane, but happily enough it looped quickly onto the carousel.

A good warm shower done, now the question remains: to go see Stamp’n Go Shanty at Molly or not. Alternative is to stick around at home and refrain from sleeping until way later.

Jul 272004

A late departure (22:25) mandates day-long traipsing around the city of Toronto.

Visited a big impressionist show at the Art Gallery of Ontario, with ~100 Whistler, Turner and Monet paintings on display. Some good ones (especially the understated nocturnes from Thames), some not so good.

CN Tower’s tallness was marred by low-hanging clouds. Stepped (vewy vewy carefully) on the Glass Floor at 342 meters, anything above was completely cloud-encompassed. No time to visit hockey hall of fame, but it looked smallish and expensive.

For some reason the hotel had organized a limo instead of a regular cab. Seemed expensive (50$, but turned out to be normal price for a cab ride). The Pearson Airport is undergoing sizable renovations, and the international terminal has only a bus connection. Bought the mandatory maple syrup products and embarked. To wait for 90 minutes before taking off.

Jul 262004

Participated in Gray Lines’ one day trip to Niagara Falls.

Saw the falls from the Canadian side. Forgot passport at the hotel, but luckily the line to the US side was long enough to deter anyone from trying to visit.

Two hour bus ride away from Toronto. One of the kitchiest towns ever, easily explained by the myriads of tourists milling around.

Falls are nothing but magnificient. Took the Maid of the Mist boat ride that goes near the falls. Wet, cold and bloody exciting. Shoes squished for the better part of the day.

Visited a couple of other locations on the way back, including a very brief tasting at a local vinyard.

Shopped at a couple of record stores in downtown. Sam the Recordman’s store is huge, and has a great selection. Got one of the missing Coops at $5 (Love it to Death). The HMV right next to it is not bad either.

Jul 252004

Walked a mile (or so, the maps available at the hotel are “not to scale”) to world’s longest street: Yonge Street, 1900 kilometers long. Yes, that is nineteen hundred klicks. Interesting shops on the street, seem to be allocated per-block. One has half a dozen record stores, the other as many kebab-places. Most of the shops closed late on a sunday night, but walking a one and a half dozen or so blocks along reveals a lot of the city’s offerings.

Honking cars with Brazilian flags sticking out of the windows roll by. We figure that Brazil has beaten Argentina in the Copa America finals (turns out that they indeed did, on penalties).

The distance between downtown and the hotel is not bad, been sitting a lot lately and walking feels good. And the Queen street is full of restaurants, bars and small shops as well. End up having a very late dinner at an indian restaurant (Babur), whose food has been spiced with a good hand – it’s not immediately hot, but the heat builds steadily after taking a bite.

Jul 252004

Rode a train to Toronto. Four hours. Smooth travel, apart from the bits when the train does not slow down in curves but rocks in a non-gentle fashion, making walking to the toilet a wee bit interesting than expected.

Finished Particia Cornwell’s newest novel: Blowfly. Extremely disappointing, even after the letdowns of a couple of previous books. Exposition mode has been even further funkified – still present tense like in Last Precinct, but this time in impersonal fashion (no narrator). Story sucks big time too, and leans on three previous books with full weight (most of the time not hinting at previous occurrences). A disjointed, uncohesive tale told from multiple perspectives that never fully works. Full of coincidences, an utterly unconvincing retconning of a previous focal point, abrupt ending that is even more unsatisfying than the rest of the book and leaves plotlines for Yet Another Book. Used to like her books, then bought them for the mostly interesting storylines, now the reasons have spread so thin that I’ll think good and hard about the next one.

Hotel is not really a hotel – it’s a pensionate, with kitchenettes in the rooms. Seems to be bug-free, and in a quiet area (with decently lively street a couple of blocks away). It’s at least an improvement over the hotel I stayed in Montreal last year (with a strip joint downstairs – don’t know what Nokia’s travel advisories were smoking when that ended up on the list).

Jul 242004

Conference finished now – four days of pretty intense scheduling of presentations. Today was a little shorter than the previous.

Creating Cross-compile-friendly Software by Sam Robb. A presentation by a Timesys employee describing the wacky world of cross-compilation (no other term used even when the architectures are the same). Differentiation between build / host / target systems.

I would hate user-space locking… by Iñaky Perez-Gonzalez. Robust mutex-work (dying threads no longer abandon held mutexes) and its effects on the threading library. Presentation available at project page at OSDL. Needs gluecode to make NPTL to use the described lock mechanism, struggle is still ongoing, a definite chicked & egg problem once again, between kernel/distribution vendors/glibc maintainers. Provides previously missing POSIX margin codes, and thus enhances Linux’s position as a porting target.

BoF: CE Linux Forum Introduction led by Tim R. Bird. Founded 2003 by Sony & Panasonic. Main focus on kernel enhancements thus far. Six subgroups: bootup time (most active thus far), system size, power management, real time, audio/video/graphics and security. Attempts to escape specification-fever by calling documents ToDo-lists. Call for a sensible communication forum – multiple exist, but none are optimal: lkml, arch-specific lists, handhelds.org, embeddedlinux-book’s community.

BoF: udev led by Greg Kroah-Hartman. Udev is shipped in multiple distributions (SLES9 the biggest includer). Public expects a naming scheme, now that the mechanism is done. OSDL has picked up the ball on this, with SuSE providing the initial scheme (list). Lots of unnecessary flak from a talkative Red Hat engineer. Half a dozen hardcoded devices, but almost everything now discoverable via sysFS.

Andrew Morton had a good keynote (though not as funny as Rusty Russell’s last year). Time for dinner. And the official dead dog party.

EDIT 5.8.2008: OSDL links gone stale.

Jul 232004

Comparing and evaluating epoll(), select() and poll() by Louay Gammo. Turns out it’s actually someone else talking. Using a 1-byte payload and a very simple HTTP-server, the event-handling mechanisms are compared. Turns out that there’s more gains in application code (optimize handling of incoming connections), rather than in kernel space. Most alternatives (poll, select, epoll, used in level- and edge-triggered fashion, vectored epoll) do not differ in a significant enough fashion.

new development model / kobjects & krefs by Greg Kroah-Hartmann. Two presentations for the price of one. First dealing with the “new development model”. Meaning that 2.7 will not be opened for a long time, and that 2.6 will keep accepting new features. This is how things have been working lately, and they have indeed been working well. There’s a good description of the process at lwn.net, as well as plenty of discussion on lkml and news sites (such as kerneltrap.org). Slides available at Greg’s homepage.

The other topic, reference counting in kernel data structures was far more technical, and shorter. Still uses Big Kernel Lock, but that’s not seen to be a major issue, even with regard to performance. Slides available at Greg’s homepage.

Xen and the Art of Virtualization by Ian Pratt. Lots of good material available at the project’s home page. Xen has advanced with leaps and bounds since the last peek inside, and especially performance-wise seems to be a very credible implementation indeed. It uses the hardware protection features of the x86-CPU to a large extent to provide trusted hypervisor environment in which the “guest operating systems” (Linux, BSD variants, Windows XP) run (in a slightly less priviledged mode). The biggest omission right now is the SMP-incapability of the guest operating systems. Implemented as a separate architecture in the source tree to keep the code clean.

TIPC: Providing Communication for Linux Clusters by Jon Maloy. Another “no big news” presentation. Ericsson’s TIPC has evolved a lot, and nowadays even looks like kernel code. On surface looks like a good TCP/UDP replacement: connectionless/connection-oriented, reliable/unreliable, single node/cluster. Until the “not routable” feature comes into play. TIPC is usable in small environments (ie. perfect for intra-cluster messaging), but in the big picture it has problems.

The World of Open Office by Michael Meeks. Rather annoying presentation style. Ingratiating, yet at times very interesting. Open office has grown up. And it has also grown big. The building process is scary and has consumed many spirited hackers. OO is very C++-version specific, and used to be shipped with a lot of redundancy in the libraries to provide the correct ones in the environment used. Nowadays things are better.

BoF: Linux Kernel Scalability and Tradeoffs led by Dipankar Sarma. Yet more IBM-led birds of a feather sessions. Mainly dealing with locking issues (a presentation in the following morning by the same person). Rapidly descends into the very precise questions (is RCU good for soft IRQs or not).

BoF: RAS: Efficient Data Transfer led by Richard J. Moore. RelayFS, a simple method for shipping vast amounts of data in/out the kernel is not in 2.6. Has a chicken & egg problem, and needs good stories to convince the powers that be to include it. Key reason for not including is its similarity with netlink. Which does bear similarity, but couple of key features (zero copy) are missing from the latter. Would benefit from true benchmarking between the two. Also, providing rFS as a loadable module would give people ability to mess with it without patching their kernel.

Jul 222004

Improving Linux Resource Control with CKRM by Rik van Riel. One of the potential additions to 2.6. A very interesting project from a high availability point of view. Semi-equivalent features exist in other UNIX-implementations. Good material exists on project’s homepage.

Linux Virtualization by Chris Wright. An introduction to virtualization as an operating system feature, and a recap of the existing implementations. Rather academic and high-flying, but decent nonetheless. Multiple references to the presentation on Xen. Hadn’t planned on seeing that session, but best laid plans have to change…

Towards Linux-based Open Telecom Platforms by Ibrahim Haddad. A presentation by a colleague from OSDL’s Carrier Grade Linux-group (works for Ericsson). Nothing new here, a basic outline on the reason’s for the CGL-group’s existence, listing of accomplishments (honest, the new spec is coming), and a brief recap of the projects that Ericsson has been working on: AEM, TIPC, DigSig. On the last of which I have a spontaneous feature enhancement, but decide to hold on until I’m back at work. Would be cool to be working on it, but likely will be an extra-curricular effort on my part. A mini CGL-session ensues after the presentation when relevant attendees crowd the poor presenter.

Linux Kernel Hotplug CPU Support by Rusty Russell. An entertaining session that has very little immediate value, since CPU hotpugging is not often done. Basically there’s a framework for doing this already, but it has some key issues. Fiddling with CPU affinity during a hotplug event may thoroughly hose the system. All actions are currently serialized, which may be a problem on truly big iron (which SGI’s already using).

BoF: First Failure Data Capture Using Crash Dumps led by Hariprasad Nellitheertha. Preaching to the choir here… Most of the audience does indeed subscribe to the “post mortem debugging is a must”- theory. IBM’s been working on a kexec-based dump (basically switching to a healthy [streamlined] kernel to take the dump and then back to the production kernel). Some people use Linux Trace Toolkit in “flight-recorder mode” to capture the system’s last moments (trace buffer stored in the dump). Long discussions on what would be the optimal tracing tool – gdb seems to be the least hurtful for most attendees. It needs some work with regard to exception frames. Kexec is nearing completion, but is by no means a complete solution – drivers need to be fully re-initializable to be reliable in a kexec’d environment.

BoF: How to Help a Penguin Get Up Quickly after a Fall? led by Vara Prasad. Spaced out a couple of times during this presentation (long day etc). Yet another IBM-led discussion on internal improvements. kprobes seen as a usful dynamical instrumentation tool, oprofile seems to be headed for a bright future as well. Discussion kinda dithered on many topics (since the title was not exact enough – boot time related discussions were aborted early, taken care of in another session).

Visited Chilly Chiles near the convention center. A small shop that sells nothing but chiles and chile-related products. Grabbed the new catalogue, and bought some salsa and chips for evening use. Turned out to be between wohoo! and hothothot in heat. Which is always good. Definitely have to pay a second visit. My kitchen is empty without a poster of the different peppers of the world. And I need to bring some hot sauces back as well. Though the chips are the among the best I’ve tasted, shipping is a problem (consume vast amount of room in the suitcase).

EDIT 5.8.2008: A few links have gone stale and removed.

Jul 212004

Where 2.7 is going by Jonathan Corbet (slides available at: lwn.net. Quite badly sidelined by the “new” working method / numbering scheme. But still an interesting overview of the next years or so.

NFS4 and rpcsec_gss for Linux by J. Bruce Fields. Protocol security not really my cup of tea, here more to see what’s up with NFS4 in general. Server-restart recovery is the key omission in the current (2.6.7-level) implementation. NFS4.1 work has been started (at least on paper, it was not stated whether this was Sun-led or a CITI-effort), the proposed features sound interesting: cluster file system semantics in failovers (with all the needed symmetric state preservation needed), parallel I/O and something called NFS over RDMA. No slides available, but the project homepage packs a lot of information.

TCPfying the Poor Cousins by Arnaldo Carvalho de Melo. An interesting talk about reusing TCP-code in other protocol families to ensure code quality and eliminate special cases from core networking code. DCCP (a new protocol, rather like SCTP) is a proof-of-concept for the process.

Methods to Improve Bootup Time in Linux by Tim R. Bird. First fruits of the Consumer Electronics Linux Forum-initiative. An impressive presentation, that proves that in a constant-hardware environment there are really significant improvements to be gained. The target (having userspace running in 500 milliseconds) is a tough call, but the presenter looked surprisingly hopeful. Execute in Place is helpful, but adds artifacts to delays – partial XIP (hotspots in RAM) a possible solution. There have been multiple .rc script replacements, but true parallelization of scripts is still missing (would need a re-factoring of init)

BoF: Linux Scalability Effort led by Hanna Linder. First birds of a feather-session gets off to a good start by a big bunch of IBM-guys presenting the bottlenecks identified (and in some cases eliminated). dcache, NUMA environments, ckrm discussed – all have issues.

BoF: Hardware error Reporting, Handling, Debugging led by Robert Hentosh. Hardware debuggers thought to be the best way to approach debugging, but that’s only available in lab-environment. Key issue is to provide enough information runtime to resolve any issues in post mortem-fashion. NMI is a totally inadequate solution (it has very little payload), and machine checks are slowly replacing it in modern CPU architectures (which does not help the zillions of installed x86-base at all).

Exchanged the frame-challenged Shrek to Once upon a Time in the West at HMV.

It’s getting hotter. Decided to have dinner at Subway, since the AMD-party’s bound to have snacks.

And the party indeed had food. Of finger kind, but decent nonetheless. A very long-winded presentation having nothing to do with Linux, AMD or pretty much anything else. No-one I knew won anything in the lottery (some quality HW was dished out).

Stopped by Boland’s on the way to the hotel. DNS still acting up, e-mail less existence is not painful at all.

Jul 212004

Early wakey-wakey’s continue. Manage to stick around in bed not much later than yesterday.

Hotel’s wireless LAN is acting up and locks me out with some funky DNS-problems (which plague Kari as well).

Which makes waiting for the breakfastroom to open a wee bit annoying. Fortunately Marriott furnishes every room with a newspaper on weekdays, so it’s not just CNN blathering.

Jul 202004

Ate at Blue Cactus. They no longer server Chili-based margaritas. But the Cajun Catfish is still a killer dish.

Visited the Official OLS Pub Night at Patty Boland’s, a decent-seeming irish pub very close to our hotel. Couple of familiar faces, no friends. Called it an early night and crashed as soon as got to the hotel.

Jul 202004

Walked around. A lot. Visited Quebec on foot. Took pictures. Ate at a lebanese place (weird salad). Visited HMV and bought four movies. Shrek (on-sale version) turned to be a full-screen thingy, have to get that exchanged later on.

Registered at the conference. Figured out the two first days (who of the Nokia’s contingent is going to add which session).

Jul 192004

Flew to Ottawa, Canada to attend the annual Ottawa Linux Symposium.
Proceedings have not been publically announced yet, but are available as: vol. 1
and vol. 2.

Flight was far from too short: Helsinki-Stockholm-London-Ottawa. Guess it was a wee bit cheaper with the extra leg.

Layover in Arlanda was a piece of cake, easily accessible Diners Club lounge that pretty much sucks one in…

Heathrow was its horrible old self. Still being renovated. Still hot. Still without air conditioning. Still loud. Ate at a pub-type place (no matter where you eat in Heathrow, the food tastes like pub-grub). Layover was mercifully short.

Flight to Ottawa surprisingly short and pleasant (go, Air Canada, go). Multiple small meals, attentive waitresses. Movie was Starsky & Hutch, missed bits due to eating and due to horrendous sound via less-than optimal earphones.

Luggage arrived without a hitch, the hotel located conveniently close to the congress center and next to Byward Market, a vast conglomeration of bars and restaurants. Had dinner at a “traditional” Mexican place where the menu claims some old Aztecan ways are used in food preparation. Food’s good. Don’t remeber the name of the place.

Off to hotel, where fiddling with the complimentary WiFi-connection’s settings and baseball on television prevent from falling asleep too early.

Jul 182004

Exchanged money for the trip to Canada. Easy when you don’t have to carry finnish cash but can use a bank card instead.

Also bought a suitcase belt. Not that there are too many bright yellow Samsonites around the carousels of the world, and not that it would prevent spillage in case the lock broke. Just because. The old red one got lost ~year ago in transit from Vancouver. Served good ten years, so retired with an honorable discharge.

Jul 122004

Visited relatives in pohjanmaa.

Ended up eating way too many ribs and other pork-related products. With a killer sauce whose recipe I haven’t yet got. Best sauna this year. Wood-warmed real old-skool sauna, missing a lake, but having a nice porch for chilling. And attracting mosquitoes.

Train both ways. VR’s (finnish national railways company) web-store works very well – you can print out your own ticket (or not even bother printing it at all, just show the SMS to the conductor). Coolness indeed, and makes travelling a lot smoother. Ought to be a way to specify more carefully what kinda car you wish to travel in (like: upstairs, no kids, no televisions). But it’s a good first implementation nonetheless.

Taught multiple cousins to play Guillotine. After a short introduction I progressed to lose in several embarrassing ways. Only goes to show what a great social game it is, trivially picked up by everyone.

Jul 082004

Saw this referred to on many blogs. Decided to try it out. Here’s the result:

You are an SRCL--Sober Rational Constructive Leader.
This makes you an Ayn Rand ideal. Taggart? Roark? Galt?
You are all of these. You were born to lead. You may not
be particularly exciting, but you have a strange
charisma--born of intellect and personal drive--that
people begin to notice when they have been around you a
while. You don't like to compromise, but you recognize when
you have to.

You care absolutely nothing what other people think, and
this somehow attracts people to you. Treat them well, use
them wisely, and ascend to your rightful rank.

Ha! Underlings, prepare to be led!

EDIT 5.8.2008: Links are predictably dead.

Jul 062004

Still rains. Not constantly. But enough to restrain from spending serious time outside.

Been playing Crytek’s Far Cry. Decent enough first person shooter. Good graphics, immersive environment, extraordinarily cliched story.

But then, you should not expect a decent story from the interactive equivalent of a Steven Seagal-film.

Let’s concentrate on things that go bang, and not the morals and reasons behind it all.

Jul 052004

Second move of the day. Roland Emmerich’s Day after Tomorrow.

A straight catastrophe movie, with some very good good visual effects added to the mix. First hour is well done (Gaia kicks ass is various violent fashions), but the second half consists of mainly uninteresting people trying to survive and travel in difficult conditions. Blah. Dennis Quaid looks more like James Caan than ever, and Jake Gyllenhaal’s still a good actor (though this is way weaker material than the glorious Donnie Darko.

Saw a bunch of trailers also. New Harry Potter looks good (release delayed till august in Finland) as does Spiderman 2. I, Robot looks iffy. Haven’t read the book, but I’m sure ol’ Isaac did not pen very many action scenes in it. Garfield holds the “definitely not going to see, unless forced to in an airplane”-award for the time being.

Jul 052004

Spent day in movies, since weather’s still not agreeable. First up was Guillermo de Toro’s Hellboy.

Not bad at all. Characters, true to Mike Mignola’s comic book, were good. The script, on the other hand was not up to that lofty standard. Too many human interest elements, too many long fight scenes. The big Cthulhu’s cousin in the climax was good, though.

Basically MiB meets Lovecraft, and some people-with-issues added for good measure. I’m sure a sequel is already in the works, since this one’s gotten good reviews and brought in cash.

Jul 052004

Ok. So Greece defended its way to the title.

Sucks. But there are no style points given, and they implemented the strategy well.

Rush apparently has the lowest female-male ratio among their fans. Nope. No reference, just hearsay (conversation took weird turns during the boring parts of the game) without any real facts. But rushettes have been thin on the ground indeed.

Jul 032004

Rained. Not in biblical proportions. Only constantly. ~40 millimeters in a day.

Bought things. Some sensible. Some less. Magyar Posse’s first album (we will carry you over the mountains) is good, but not as good as their second (Kings of Time). Rush’s cover album (Feedback) is very good indeed.

Turns out that Velvet Revolver gig in Kulttuuritalo sold out in five minutes and tix are already going for 80 euros in huuto.net. Still have a couple to spare, but I’m not treating them as investment…