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October 30, 2012

openSUSE Conference 2012 in Prague

Filed under: Great Days — colyli @ 4:59 am

In Oct 20 ~ 23, I was invited and sponsored by openSUSE to give a talk on openSUSE Conference (OSC2012). The venue was Czech Technical University in Prague, Czech Republic, a beautiful university (without wall) in a beautiful city.

It was 5 years ago since last time I visited Prague (for SuSE Labs conference), as well as 3 years ago since last time I attended openSUSE conference as speaker, which was OSC2009 in Nuremberg. In OSC 2009, the topic of my talk was “porting openSUSE to MIPS platform”, this was a Google summer of code project accomplished by Eryu Guan (being Redhat employee after graduated). At that time, almost all active kernel developers from China were hired by multi-national companies, few local company (not include university and institute) in China contributed patch to Linux kernel. In year 2009, after Wensong Zhang (original author of Linux Virtual Server) joined Taobao, this local e-business company was willing to optimize Linux kernel for their online servers and contribute patches back to Linux kernel community. IMHO, this was a small but important change in China, it should be my honor if I was able to be involved into this change. Therefore in June 2010, I left SuSE Labs and joined Taobao, to help this company to build a kernel engineering team.

From the first day since the team was built, the team and I applicate many ideas which I learned/learn from SuSE/openSUSE kernel engineering. E.g. how to corporate with kernel community, how to organize kernel patches, how to integrate kernel patches and kernel tree with build system. After 2+ years, with great support from Wensong and other senior managers, Taobao kernel team grows to 10 persons, we contribute 160+ patches into Linux upstream kernel, becoming one of the most active Linux kernel development teams in China. Colleagues from other departments and product lines recognize the value of Linux kernel maintenance and performance optimization, while we open all projects information and kernel patches to people outside the company. With the knowledge learned from openSUSE engineering, we lay a solid foundation on Taobao kernel development/maintenance procedure.

This time the topic of my talk is “Linux kernel development/maintenance in Taobao — what we learn from openSUSE engineering“, this is an effort to say “Thank you” to openSUSE community. Thanks to openSUSE conference organization team, I have the opportunity to introduce what we learn from openSUSE and contribute to community in past 2+ years. The slide file can be downloaded here, if any one is interested on this talk.

Back to openSUSE conference 2 years later is a happy and sweet experience, especially meeting many old friends whom we worked together for years. I met people from YaST team, server team and SuSE Labs, as well as some ones no longer serve for SUSE but still active in opneSUSE community. Thanks to the conference organization team again, to make us have the rare and unique chance to do face-to-face communication, especially for community members like me who is not located in Europe and has to take oversea travel.

The conference venue in first 2 days was inside building of FIT ČVUT (Faculty of Information Technology of Czech Technical University in Prague). There were many meeting rooms available inside the build, so that dozen of talks, seminar, BOF were able to happen concurrently. I have to say, in order to accommodate 600+ registered audience, choosing such a large venue is really a great idea. In Monday the venue moved to another building, though there were less meeting room, the main room (where my talk was in) was bigger.



CPU power talk by Thomas Renninger

Cgroup usage by Petr Baudiš

After talking with many speakers out of the meeting room, and chair a BOF of Linux Cgroup (control group, especially forcus on memory and I/O control), there were some non-linux-kernel talks abstracted me quite a lot. Though all the slides and video records can be found from internet (thanks to organization team again ^_^), I would like to share the talk by Thijs de Vries, which impressed me among many excellent talks.



Thijs de Vries: Gamification – using game elements and tactics in a non-game context

Thijs de Vries was from a game design company (correct me if I am wrong), in this talk he explained many design principles and practices in the company. He mentioned when they planed to design a game, there were 3 objects to considerate, which in turn were project, procedure and product. A project was built for the plan, a procedure was set during the project execution, a product was shipped as the output of the project. I do like this idea for design, it’s something new and helpful to me. Then he introduced how to make people have fun, involved into the game, and understand the knowledge from the game. In Thijs’ talk, it seems designing funny rules and goals is not difficult, but IMHO an educational game with funny rules and social goals is not easy to design even with every hard and careful effort. From his talk, I strongly felt innovation and genius of design (indeed not only game) from a different way which I never met and imagined before.

Beside orthodox conference talks, a lot conversation also happened outside the meeting room. Alexander Graf mentioned the effort to enable SUSE Linux on ARM boxes, which was a very interesting topic for people who looking for low power hardware like me. For some workload from Taobao, powerful x86 CPU does not help any more to performance, replacing them with low power ARM CPU may save lot of money on power and thermal expenditure. Currently the project seems going well, I hope the product may be shipped in the near future. Jiaju Zhang also introduced his proposal on a distributed clustering protocol which called Booth. We talked about the idea of Booth last year, it was good to see this idea came to a real project step by step. As a file system developer, some discussion about btrfs and OCFS2 happened with SuSE Labs people as well. For btrfs it was unanimous that this file system was not ready for large scale deployment yet, people from Fujitsu, Oracle, SuSE, Redhat, and other organizations were working hard to improve the quality to product usage. For OCFS2, we talked about file system freeze among cluster, there was little initial effort since last 2 years, a very incipient idea was discussed on how to freeze write I/O among each node in the cluster. It seems OCFS2 is in maintenance status currently, hope someday I (or someone else) have time and interest to work on this interesting and useful feature.
This article just part of my experience from openSUSE conference. OSC2012 was well organized, included but not limited to schedule, venue, video record, meal, travel, hotel, .etc. Here I should thank several people who help me to attend the great conference once again,

  • People behind, who accept my proposal
  • People behind, who kindly offer the sponsorship for my travel
  • Stella Rouzi, who helped me on visa application
  • Andreas Jaeger, Lars Muller, and other people who encourage me to give a talk on OSC2012.
  • Alexader Graf and others who review my slide

Finally, if you have interest to find more information about openSUSE conference 2012, these URL may be informative,

Conference schedule:
Conference video:
Slide of my talk:
Video of my talk:


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