1. AArch64 on AWS

    I woke up today, looked into news stream on my phone and bang! Amazon announced Arm systems being available in AWS. Nice!

    Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.6 is one of operating systems available from day one. Boots, runs and all the boring things you expect from operating system. It is nice to see new systems run RHEL out of the box.

    So, what to do with such EC2 instance? I know that some people plan to move their x86-64 based cloud infrastructure to aarch64. Several projects will add them into their pool of AWS instances to have another architecture available in their CI systems. Lot of people will run one just to check how it differ from their daily x86-64 systems.

    As those are not bare metal systems you are not able to run OpenStack or play with virtualization but if you are using containers (Kubernetes on Arm anyone?) then it probably can be something to play with.

    Written by Marcin Juszkiewicz on
  2. Red Hat Platform Enablement meeting week

    Last week I was in Vancouver, Canada again. At the time when Linux Plumbers conference took place. But it was not the main reason as I went there to meet people from Platform Enablement team at Red Hat.

    Linux Plumbers

    The idea was simple — gather everyone in one place at same time and let them talk. Conference was selected to give something else to do at same time. And we were visible — for 473 attendees about 60 was from Red Hat.

    Red Hat team before going for team dinner

    I was talking with most of RH people to find out who they are, what they are working on etc. It ended in a lot of interesting discussions. Also many talks with non-RH people. The ‘so you are IBM now’ phrase happened just a few times.

    There were funny moments too. Like one when Dave Airlie responded with “ah, you are the ‘arm64 + radeon guy’” ;D

    Vancouver

    As there was no breakfast option in ‘The Burrard’ hotel I went for a walk to find some. Davie street is full of bars, diners, restaurants (but most of them open at 11:00). Interesting graffiti, cannabis stores (as it is now legal in Canada) and lot of LGBT rainbows everywhere.

    Band graffiti

    Some "Safe space" monument

    Tanning salon

    Cannabis Store

    Fountain

    Shore

    A-maze-ing Laughter

    Toronto

    Due to one of my flights being cancelled I had to choose: weekend in Vancouver, weekend in Toronto or rebooking whole trip. So I decided to go to Toronto and meet friend there.

    On Saturday I meet Karol and we had long walk. It was good to not discuss about ARM or OpenStack — we went for visual effects instead as this is Karol’s area of expertise. Maya, Houdini, Renderman, Mr. X, ILM, Pixar and other names were going over. I was told “they work on Houdini in that building” and later “here Maya is developed” ;D

    So I asked about photo realistic movies — are they possible now? Turns out that yes, they are. But it is too expensive to make.

    During weekend I did over 20 kilometers by just walking through the city. Some random photos below:

    Thimble monument

    Pink Panther graffiti

    Dog graffiti

    Rabbits graffiti

    Leslieville graffiti

    Together sidewalk graffiti

    Halloween decorations

    Small house between bigger ones

    TORONTO city sign with buildings

    TORONTO city sign

    Me and TORONTO city sign

    It was great week. Despite sleep deprivation ;D

    Written by Marcin Juszkiewicz on
  3. 20?8 is year of acquiring?

    In 2007 I started working for OpenedHand. They became acquired by Intel in 2008. Today I am working for Red Hat (for over 5 years now). And we have 2018 and it became acquired by IBM.

    I came back home in the evening with plans for some cider and episode of some TV series (probably “Ozark”). But when I landed on a couch and took a look on my phone it shown set of notifications. Telegram, Facebook, Messenger…

    And all of them were about one thing: Red Hat being acquired by IBM. First I looked and sources were Bloomberg and CNBC. At that phase I thought “ok, it can be a rumour” so my answer was “can not comment”.

    But then I went for Red Hat mailbox. And there were links to more serious places: IBM newsroom and Red Hat announcement.

    Looks like tomorrow will be interesting day. Full of reading mails.

    Written by Marcin Juszkiewicz on
  4. OpenStack Superuser Award nomination for my Linaro team

    During last few years Linaro Enterprise Group (recently renamed to Linaro Datacenter and Cloud Group) was working on getting OpenStack working on AArch64 at same level as it works on x86-64 architecture. And I am proud to be member of that group ;D

    We started our adventure with Liberty, migrated to Mitaka and then Newton. And we stayed there for a while with Developer Cloud to make sure that all those projects which rely on it can use VM instances for their work.

    In meantime we were contributing to several OpenStack projects to get everything working properly. Main one was Kolla as we needed good way of cloud deployment but also Nova, Disk Image Builder and others.

    Took us Pike and Queens to get to the point when we could create new setup of Developer Cloud. In clean way, using containers generated by one of OpenStack projects. No more in-house solutions.

    Our team always consisted people from several countries and companies because this is how Linaro works — there are Linaro employees, there are assigned engineers from member companies etc. We cooperated with our kernel people, packagers, developers from several open source projects (libvirt, RDO, CentOS, Debian) and more.

    Some people were running tests, some were doing image builds, package builds. Others were managing to keep us focus and to get it delivered as we planned to.

    We attended several OpenStack related events (PTG, Summit etc) to tell people how AArch64 support looks like in all those projects. Gave several talks about how OpenStack works for us.

    Was it lot of work? Stackalytics graphs show that it took a while. And it was worth it.

    Now we got nominated to OpenStack Superuser Award. It is an achievement which would not be possible without all people working on it during last few years.

    So, go, read about nominees and vote for us!

    Written by Marcin Juszkiewicz on
  5. QML - Quality Matters Last?

    In 2004 I was newbie in embedded Linux area. Decision to buy Sharp Zaurus instead of HP iPaq got me to Qt/e world rather to GTK one. I was also KDE user rather than GNOME2 as well so I can say that I liked Qt already.

    All those sizes in pixels, paddings and margins I saw in GTK code made me feel sick each time I had to edit UI of some application. No idea why developers went that way…

    In Qt world all you had to do was launching Qt Designer, put some UI elements into window, apply some Layout elements and build your app. No need to deal with padding/margin settings etc cause library that for you.

    In meantime Qt developers added QML as a new way to do UI for Qt applications. I ignored it’s existence until now…

    Few days ago Michał Schulz did nice work on improving my Modland player. He also moved it’s UI from old Qt Designer one to QML.

    Modland player with QML based UI

    For now UI is hardcoded to 800x480. I have tried to make it scalable but have a feeling that QML is against me.

    Look at Authors/Modules part. It is simple layout, right?

    • label
    • listView
    • label
    • listView

    In Qt Designer UI I would select those four elements, put into GridLayout and it would scale properly. So I tried that for QML. Labels survived, listViews got 0x0 size.

    And the only ‘design tool’ to edit QML is Qt Creator. Which gets fugly unstable once you try to play with QML designs…

    So I looked at files describing UI. And you know what I found there? Old GTK nightmares… Positioning elements with pixels, sizes in pixels. Pixels! Not some magical “dp units”. There is no way to say “make this element 10em tall” like you can with CSS.

    And it is not only with Modland player UI. Same it with QML examples…

    WTH happened with Qt developers? Or was “QML is only for embedded devices, do not use on desktop” phrase got removed from documentation by mistake?

    Written by Marcin Juszkiewicz on
  6. How fast is APM Mustang?

    During Linaro Connect there was a possibility to play with ThunderX2 workstation. I remember that Arnd Bergmann was comparing speed of kernel compilation with his AMD Threadripper workstation.

    Test was simple — checkout 4.18 source, use arm64 defconfig and do build of ‘Image modules’ with as many threads as you have cpu cores. He did several builds with limiting to one cpu, to disable cpu threads etc but idea stays the same.

    Dual socket ThunderX2 (28 cpu cores, 4 threads per core iirc) did that in about 2 minutes. So did Arnd’s Threadripper machine.

    So I decided to check that on my local hardware. Mustang needed 38 minutes, my i7-2600K based desktop did that in 9 minutes 20 seconds.

    For comparison: I was told that Synquacer with it’s 24 Cortex-A53 cores does that in about 16 minutes.

    Is it fast? Do not think so. But who would assume that retro hardware will be fast…

    Written by Marcin Juszkiewicz on
  7. I am gonna run retro server

    You probably know that I am fan of retro computers. Those from 80s, 70s and older ones. And for quite a time I told that I do not plan to run retro machines at home. But it has to change.

    Due to some work things I am going to run Mustang again. But where is retro in it someone may ask…

    Applied Micro Mustang uses X-Gene cpu. And this was first (or one of firsts) AArch64 CPU. I got mine over four years ago. It is obsolete in some areas (SBSA level 0 anyone?) but still works. And is hard to replace if you do not have spare few thousands USD :(

    Someone may say that I can buy Synquacer. Sure. 1160$ for mainboard in some box. With rotating plates which would go away on first day, not needed graphics card and just 4GB of memory. Good luck with finding ram sticks which will work. I heard rumours that there is a store somewhere which keeps a pile of those. And then you end with 24 slow cores which may be good at kernel compilation but then suck at linking.

    So now I am on a hunt for 2x16GB DDR3 ECC RDIMM sticks for Mustang. And some SSD as using rotating plates for development does not have sense in 2018.

    Maybe one day someone will finally realise that 500 USD is this magical point where hardware can be bought in “just go and buy” fashion. So we, developers, will be able to write to our managers “Hey, there is this arm64 mainboard for 499$” and hear “just go, buy and expense”. Memory, storage, case can be other expense raport (or even collected from spare parts at home).

    But until then I will have to live with my retro server.

    Written by Marcin Juszkiewicz on
  8. My code of conduct

    Few days ago Linus Torvalds added code of conduct to the Linux kernel. And then lot of discussions started.

    I had no plans to take part in any of them. But last week I was dragged into one of them and it was not fun. Turned out that people I know and trust when it comes to technical discussions (never met most of them) do not quite understand the need for such.

    There are many “code of conduct” documents. Often they differ a lot. I have my own and it is probably the shortest one:

    Do not be an asshole. Respect the others.

    Simple. I do not care which gender people have when I speak with them (ok, may stare at your boobs or butt once) nor their sexual preferences. Colour of the skin does not matter as most of my friends I first met online without knowing anything about them. Political stuff? As long as we can be friends and do not discuss it I am fine. Etc etc.

    It works on conferences. And in projects where I am/was involved.

    Someone may say that part of it was shaped by working for corporation (is Red Hat corpo?) due to all those no harassment regulations and trainings. I prefer to think that it is more of how I was raised by parents, family and society.

    Written by Marcin Juszkiewicz on
  9. Ctrl-Q issue or “are Firefox developers using Linux at all?”

    When I started using Linux on my desktop there was only Mozilla based browsers which were usable. They had different names: Galeon, Firebird, Phoenix, Mozilla Suite and finally Firefox.

    It worked better or worse but did. There were moments when on 2GB ram machine browser was using 6 gigabytes (which resulted in killing it). Then were moments when it started to be slower and slower so I moved to Google Chrome instead.

    But still — Firefox had all those extensions which could do insane amount of things with how browser looks, how it works etc. But then Quantum came and changed that. Good bye all nice addons. Hope we meet in other life.

    But what it has with question from post title? Simple, little, annoying thing: “Ctrl-Q” shortcut. Lovely one which everyone is using to close application they work with. Not that it does not work — it does. Perfectly. And this is a problem…

    Imagine you have few browser windows opened. On different virtual desktops. With several tabs per window. Some open notes there, somewhere some not-finished wiki edit etc. Normal day. And then you want to close ‘funny kitten’ tab and instead you close all those windows/tabs, drop not finished notes/edits etc. Just because your finger slipped to “Ctrl-Q”.

    For years most of users I know used one of those “disable ctrl-q shortcut” addons to NOT close all browser windows when your finger slips a bit when you wanted to close a tab (with “Ctrl-W”) or switch a tab (with “Ctrl-Tab”). Since Quantum it is not possible at all as there is no way how addon can alter shortcuts. Or how user can alter shortcut. No Way At All.

    And then it appears that “Ctrl-Q” problem exists only under Linux. Under Microsoft Windows developers of Mozilla Firefox decided that “Ctrl-Shift-Q” will be a good workaround for the problem. Something similar under MacOS. But Linux still on “Ctrl-Q”.

    There is a bug report opened for it but there were 4 major releases of Firefox without any change I highly doubt that anything will change in this regard.

    Slowly thinking of making COPR repo where I would provide Mozilla Firefox builds with one patch: removing that “Ctrl-Q” shortcut…

    Written by Marcin Juszkiewicz on
  10. Apple Museum Poland is a magical place

    You may noticed that I am trying to visit computer museums when there is a chance. Recently I visited Apple Museum Poland in small village near Warsaw, Poland.

    Museum is open during weekends and visits need to be arranged earlier (as it is in private house). It is easy to get there (Google Maps or other navigation) and totally worth it. Never mind are you an Apple fan or not.

    What’s there? Apple computers from replica of Apple I, through misc Apple II/III models to Lisa, Macintosh machines, Powerbooks, iMacs etc. Some clones too. Some old terminals. Apollo Computer Graphic Workstation. And that’s not all.

    There is a lot of attention given to details. Same monitors as in original commercials. Same setups.

    Apple II with Sanyo monitor and disk drive Apple II with Sanyo monitor and disk drive

    Apple III with dedicated monitor and some peripherals Apple III with dedicated monitor and some peripherals

    First Apple modem under AT&T phone First Apple modem under AT&T phone

    As ARM developer I could not notice that there was a shelf filled with first ARM powered Apple devices: Newton in several models.

    Apple Newton PDA collection Apple Newton PDA collection

    Computers… What about servers? How many people remember that Apple was doing servers? Big, loud machines.

    Apple servers: x86 and PowerPC based ones Apple servers: x86 and PowerPC based ones

    Of course like each museum that one also have some pearls:

    Macintosh Portable in working condition Macintosh Portable in working condition

    Duo Dock II docking station for PowerBook Duo Duo Dock II docking station for PowerBook Duo

    Bell & Howell version of Apple II Bell & Howell version of Apple II

    Marron Carrel Apple IIe Marron Carrel Apple IIe

    There were also several non-Apple machines there. From that Apollo Computer Graphic Workstation to Franklin ACE 1200 (and some other Apple II clone). Also some industrial solutions.

    Franklin ACE 1200 (Apple II clone) Franklin ACE 1200 (Apple II clone)

    Apollo Computer Graphic Workstation Apollo Computer Graphic Workstation

    NEC PC-8001A with peripherals NEC PC-8001A with peripherals

    There were several other computers, accessories and peripherals exhibited. Lot of interesting stories given by museum owner. Incredible amount of stuff not available outside of Apple dealers network (like official video instructions on laserdiscs).

    I could add more and more photos here but trust me — it is far better to see it with own eyes than through blog post.

    Again I highly recommend it to anyone. Never mind are you an Apple fan or just like old computers. Just remember to go to Apple Museum Poland on Facebook first to arrange a visit.

    Written by Marcin Juszkiewicz on
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