– Full Frontal Nerdity

Clint Byrum's Personal Stuff

The bitter part of the Bittersweet news



"Vest over t-shirt pwns half-shirt, Bill!"

That is the word that I would use to describe the work done by my fellow engineers at Canonical over the past 2.5 years. However, it is time to move on.

Bill and Ted say "whu?"

"I think I'm gonna hurl, Bill"

Its not an easy thing to move on from what is truly the best job I’ve ever had. However, it is time. I’ll discuss more here after my last day at Canonical, which will be very soon, December 5th. Suffice to say, I won’t disappear from Ubuntu, so stay tuned!

November 30, 2012 at 4:42 pm Comments (0)

Precise is coming

Almost 2 years ago, I stepped out of my comfort zone at a “SaaS” web company and joined the Canonical Server Team to work on Ubuntu Server development full time.

I didn’t really grasp what I had walked into, joining the team right after an LTS release. The 10.04 release was a monumental effort that spanned the previous 2 years. Call me a nerd if you want, but I get excited about a Free, unified desktop and server OS built entirely in the open, out of open source components, fully supported for 5 years on the server.

Winter, and the Precise Pangolin, are coming

And now, we’re about to do it again. Precise beta1 is looking really solid, and I am immensely proud to have been a tiny part of that.

So, what did we do on the sever team that has led to precise’s awesomeness:

Ubuntu 10.10 “Maverick Meerkat” – We helped out with getting CEPH into Debian and Ubuntu for 10.10, which proved to be important as it gave users a way to try out CEPH. CEPH will ship in main, and fully supported by Canonical in 12.04, which is pretty exciting! This was also the first release to feature pieces of OpenStack.

Ubuntu 11.04 “Natty Narwhal”Upstart got a lot better for server users in 11.04 with the addition of “override” files, and the shiny new Upstart Cookbook. We also finally figured out how to coordinate complicated boot sequences without having to rewrite upstart to track state. I wasn’t personally involved, but we also shipped the first really usable OpenStack release, “cactus”.

Ubuntu 11.10 “Oneiric Ocelot” – It seems small, but we fixed boot-up race conditions caused by services which need their network interfaces to be up before they start. Upstart also landed full chroot support, so you can run a chroot with its own upstart services inside of it, which is important for some use cases. This release also featured the debut of Juju, which is a new way to deploy and manage network services and applications.

Ubuntu 12.04 “Precise Pangolin” – OpenStack Essex is huge. Full keystone integration, lots of new features, and lots of satellite projects. Juju has really grown into a useful project now (give it a spin!). We also were able to transition to MySQL 5.5, which was no small feat. The amount of automated continuous integration testing that has gone into the precise cycle is staggering, and continues to grow as test cases are added. We’ll never find all the bugs this way, but we’ve at least found many of them before they ever reached a stable release this time.

There’s so much more in each of these, its amazing how much has been improved and refined in Ubuntu Server in just 2 years.

I’m pumped. A new LTS is exciting for us in Ubuntu Development, as it refocuses the more conservative users on all the work we’ve been doing. I would love to hear any feedback from the greater community. This is going to be great!

March 1, 2012 at 10:47 pm Comments (0)

Cars are so last century … but, so is Linux, right?

This past weekend, I attended the 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show. I’m not a huge car buff. I do think that BMW’s are the bomb, and I like Honda’s common sense vehicles, but really, I am NOT a car guy. However, I thought this was an interesting chance to take a look at an industry that, in my opinion, isn’t all that different than the one I’m in.

Now, that may surprise some. Its pretty easy to think that I work for a super advanced company that has started a revolution and sits on the bleeding edge of innovation. I mean, at Canonical, we’re doing all kinds of amazing stuff with “the cloud” and building software that makes peoples’ jaw drop when they see it in action sometimes.

But really, I think we’re more like CODA. CODA has built what looks to be a sustainable, practical electric car. The car itself is not visually stunning, but the idea behind it is. Make an electric car that anyone can buy *and* use. Make it fun, and make sure the business is sustainable. But, in no way is CODA challenging the ideas and revisions that have worked for the 100+ years that the car industry has existed.

CODA is still putting a steering wheel, gas pedals, and gear shift in the cockpit for the driver. There are doors, wipers, lights, and probably floor mats. In much the same way, in Ubuntu, we’re still putting our software out there with the intention that, while its created differently, and affords the user more capabilities, it is basically driven in much the same way as Windows 7 or OS X, mostly as a web, errrr, cloud terminal.

The exciting part is that for $3 of possibly more efficiently produced electricity, you can drive 100 miles. Even more exciting is that the CODA might actually compete with sensibly priced  (but larger) Honda and Toyota sedans, rather than like the Tesla cars that compete with Lexus and BMW’s.

Given this way of thinking, the auto show was extremely interesting. The electric car (open source?) has “arrived”, and the established players are buying the interesting enabling technology like batteries (android’s linux kernel, darwin for mac, etc) from companies like Tesla, and putting them in their established products.

Whether consumers care about either open source or electric cars is another story.. maybe the 2011 LA Auto Show will have an answer for me on at least one of them.

November 22, 2010 at 6:06 pm Comments (0)

Ubuntu Developer Summit Day 1 survived

After about 16 hours in the air and waiting on the tarmac, I arrived here in Brussels, Belgium for my first day on the job at Canonical.

I actually really love the feeling one gets when pushed to their limits of sleep deprivation. For me, my ego tends to shrink and go away after this long without sleep. I did catch a few winks on the plane, but they were mostly drunken winks, so they weren’t quite as restful as, say stretching out on a pile of broken glass. With the sun hanging in the air while my body wanted it to be under foot safely blocked out by a ball of mud, magma and water, I arrived feeling pretty much like I was in outer space.

That feeling was rather fitting, given that the first Canonical employee I met at lunch was none other than Mark Shuttleworth, who actually *has* been in outer space. It was quite random, I grabbed a place in the salad line, and there he was. We had a pretty good discussion ranging from why people still choose CentOS to Darwin’s Theory of Sexual Selection, its really awesome knowing that the guy at the helm gets what we’re doing.

The afternoon was spent in sessions, and I have some quick take aways from them:

  • Puppet integration in Ubuntu Server is about to get really damn good. Some things that have been discussed are making client registration automatic and decoupled from hostname, allowing re-provisioning without reconfiguring anything.
  • PPA’s for volatile software that releases nightly builds are continuing to flesh out. This makes upstream bug reports much easier, as when they say “try the latest nightly build” you can, in fact, try it without suddenly shifting from the package installed version to a custom compiled, or trying to build your own package. I think one challenge for that is going to be making sure that users know that the PPA exists.

Well, I got some sleep, so now I’m up at 0-dark-thirty and ready to attend some sessions. My favorites for the day are:

Monitoring is near and dear to me. Mathiaz has some awesome ideas about how to make it fault tolerant.

A full rack of servers using only 7.5kw  … can’t wait to see this presentation.

I want to learn more about this and play with it.

May 11, 2010 at 12:11 pm Comments (0)

Canonical, and Ubuntu Developer Summit, here I come!

As of next Monday, I will officially be in the employ of Canonical as a member of the Ubuntu Server Team. Please come say hi if you’re going to the Ubuntu Developer Summit in Belgium, as I’ll be there all week (try the fish!).

May 4, 2010 at 7:27 am Comments (0)