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Pete & Amber

Atlanta LinuxFest the Day After

Wow, I'm still in a daze. Atlanta LinuxFest (ALF) was an incredible event. It was held at the IBM facility in Atlanta on Saturday.

Some background first. My wife Amber (akgraner) was on the planning team, so I was watching this event come together from the periphery. I would hear her on planning calls and I never really understood what it takes to put an event like this together. My hats is off to all involved, I can say it gave me a new appreciation for all the work that goes into community events like this.

This was ALF's 2nd year and as such was expected to be small. It was far from that, they had over 600 registrations and at any given time during the event there were 300+ people at the event. This event was planned by 4 people with limited resources and they pulled off one hell of a LinuxFest.

The speaker line up was diverse and impressive, there was something for everyone. Additionally Amber had organized an UbuCon and it was a big hit. They had sessions topics like "Community Leadership" & "Burnout", every time I went by the UbuCon area it was packed and they had some intense discussions going on.

The Ubuntu Kernel Team took advantage of the event to get some Karmic testing done on the plethora of laptops/note/netbooks that were there. Manjo Iyer from the Kernel Team ran the testing. I don't have the exact numbers of what makes and models were tested (we still have to sift thru the data), I do believe it was well over 100 people and some had 3 & 4 machines with them. Lots of bugs were filed. I want to put out a heartfelt "Thank You" for everyone that came by for testing. You guys will make Karmic a far better release.

I gave a talk on Ubuntu, Canonical & the Ubuntu Kernel Team. I had given a talk at the Southeast LinuxFest back in June and received lots of feed back about the content. I was surprised to learn that people wanted to know about Canonical, a bit about it's structure and how Ubuntu fits in. So I incorporated lots of that back into the presentation. I also stressed how the Kernel Team is looking to expand its community, and if you want to participate you don't have to be a kernel developer, or even a programmer! We welcome anyone who is willing to test, triage or help us organize. Like in any community we need people with diverse skill sets.

Steve Conklin of the Ubuntu Kernel Team gave a talk called "Debugging the Kernel". This talk originated from another Kernel Team member Colin King (cking). The talk is basically a collection of all the wild & useful debugging techniques that Colin has come up with over the last few years.

John Johansen & Stefan Bader from the Ubuntu Kernel Team gave a rehash of Greg Kroah-Hartman's "Write a real working Linux driver" tutorial. The tutorial consisted of a Ubuntu USB live stick tricked out with compilers, headers and git tree. Users would boot the live stick so that they would have a consistent development environment. John then walked them through the basics of git, kernel device drivers and in the end the users wrote a device driver that would work with a GoTemp USB Thermometer. They had 16 thermometer devices and in the end the temperature could be read by reading a file in the /sys file system. Each session was full, I just wish we had more devices so that everyone would have had the chance to fully participate, not just watch.

Dan Chen of Ubuntu Audio fame gave a great talk on debugging audio. Judging by the size of the crowd in his talk, audio is still an issue with quite a few users.

Suse, Red Hat & Fedora were all there with booths and talks as well, however I would say that the mind share at the event went to Ubutnu. You couldn't turn around without hearing the Ubuntu login music, seeing Ubuntu stickers, banners, t-shirts everywhere!!!!

Surprisingly quite a few folks have been running Karmic in some state of Alpha for quite a while!

The day started with a Video Podcast from Mark Shuttleworth specifically for the event. Mark was about to announce the name of 10.04 when they cut the video with a slide that said "Find out at the UbuCon!"... dooh! It left everyone hanging for about another hour.

In the UbuCon area they had monitor set up with people crowed all around waiting for the announcement. They played the whole video from start to finish and finally after much anticipation, Mark announced that 10.04 would be called Lucid Lynx. This was quite a departure from other "naming announcements" where he would send out an email or post it on his blog. It was really special that it was announced at a UbuCon at a community event!

There is so much more, but I'll leave that for the other blogers... I have to catch a plane on my way to LinuxCon & Linux Plumbers in Portland!


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Pete & Amber

Atlanta LinuxFest

Wanted to drop a quick note about ALF...

I'll be speaking at the Atlanta LinuxFest, talking about the Ubuntu Kernel. This will talk about the team, how we develop & maintain the Ubuntu Kernel.

In fact there are several Canonical folks talking at ALF.

  • Steve Conklin - Kernel Debugging
  • John Pugh - The Weather Ahead - Clouds
  • Ken VanDine - Ubuntu Desktop Experience
  • Rick Clark - Ubuntu Server
Along with all the speakers noted above, members of the Ubuntu Kernel Team will be conducting a driver writing session. This is based on GregKH's original driver writing presentation. We will be using a USB thermometer as the hardware and the object is to write a working driver that will get the current temperature.

Along with ALF there will be a Ubucon (Ubuntu User Conference). The Ubuntu Kernel Team will be holding a "Is your hardware ready for Karmic" workshop. We will have USB sticks loaded with a testsuite that will test most of the new Karmic hardware features like Kernel Mode Setting (KMS), grub2, net/notebook hotkeys, web cams, audio and the like. This is non destructive to the hard disk and will let folks know in advance about what the Karmic experience will look like on their hardware. If items fail to work we will file bugs on the spot with the proper debugging info attached to the bug.

I want to give a huge shout out to Manjo Iyer & Ronald Fader who have spent lots of time and hard work to make the testing happen and to John Johansen for putting together the driver writing session! Great work guys

More on ALF as it gets closer.


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Pete & Amber

Split Routing Over 2 DSL Lines

Its been a bit since I've blogged last. Most of it is due to moving. We moved from Raleigh NC to a small town in the western part of NC called Union Mills. The good thing is we are on a farm, we have lots of land, space, fresh air... however the Net connection just plain sucks.

I'm 2.3 miles from the CO, so the best I can get with DSL is a 3m/384k connection thru AT&T. So I called AT&T commercial and was assured I could be 2x bonded ADSL lines that would give me effectively a 6mb connection. Guess what? The fibbed. In the end I had to settle for 2x ADSL lines not bonded, and I elected for the non-commercial option since it was far cheaper.

Now came the big question how to best effectively use em'. After hitting up Google I found lots of interesting solutions. Most were very complex, routing various protocols out this interface or that.... I wanted something that would give me the closest to a load balanced connection as possible.

I'm using a old HP Desktop with 3 network cards as my gateway router running Jaunty 9.04 Server Edition.

Below is what I came up with using ip route and iptables. I put in bogus IPs to keep it as real as possible.

First I added two routing tables to the /etc/iproute2/rt_tables file:

1 line1
2 line2

Then I found a script on the net and used it as a template and hacked it up as so:


# DSL Lines are IF0 & IF1, IF2 is local net.

# IP Addr on Gateway matching interfaces above


# Network addresses

# Routing table entries

# Set up routes
ip route add $P0_NET dev $IF0 src $IP0 table $T1
ip route add default via $P0 table $T1
ip route add $P1_NET dev $IF1 src $IP1 table $T2
ip route add default via $P1 table $T2

ip route add $P0_NET dev $IF0 src $IP0
ip route add $P1_NET dev $IF1 src $IP1

# Set up default route to balance between both interfaces
ip route add default scope global nexthop via $P0 dev $IF0 weight 1 \
nexthop via $P1 dev $IF1 weight 1

# Add the rules for the routing tables
ip rule add from $IP0 table $T1
ip rule add from $IP1 table $T2

# Now for the masq bits
iptables -F
iptables -X
iptables -t nat -F
iptables -t nat -X
iptables -t filter -F
iptables -t filter -X
#iptables -t nat -A POSTROUTING -o $IF0 -j MASQUERADE
#iptables -t nat -A POSTROUTING -o $IF1 -j MASQUERADE
iptables -t nat -I POSTROUTING -s -j MASQUERADE

# Turn on ip_forwarding
echo 1 > /proc/sys/net/ipv4/ip_forward

iptables -A FORWARD -i $IF2 -s -j ACCEPT
iptables -A FORWARD -m state --state ESTABLISHED,RELATED -j ACCEPT

# Flush routing every four hours
echo 144000 > /proc/sys/net/ipv4/route/secret_interval

It works like this... Each time a connection is established outbound, the server will decide which interface to route it out of. This should be a rough 50/50 split. The server decides based on congestion and a few other factors. Only one connection can only ever be established over the same route.

If I was start a download, it will only ever utilize a single connection, another download from the same IP will also utilize the same connection. This is due to the kernel having already cached the route. If a 3rd download to a new server was to be started it will likely be established over the second connection due to the first route being congested and the second route is idle.

The route will be flushed 4 hours after the first download completes, then a new decision with be made on how to contact the original server.

I've been using this for a bit now and it seems to do what I need it to do... give me a faster response time when I have intensive net operations going on, like vonage & rsync's to offsite machines.

By no means am I a iptables or routing guru. If anyone has any other suggestions or better ways to do it I'd love to hear them.


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Pete & Amber

Android and the Ubuntu Kernel

More news out of UDS. As many know Canonical demoed Android running on Ubuntu on the x86 architecture. As was noted quite a bit did not work because the demo was running a stock Ubuntu kernel. For some background you can read an article on Ars Technica about the demo.

Today we held an open session on Incorporating Android Into the Ubuntu Kernel. It was decided that we would make an Android Enabled Ubuntu kernel available. The kernel will be available on x86 and ARM architectures.

We will be forming up the spec over the next few weeks and I'll keep updating it here as well.

For the curious.... You can find more info on Android here:

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Pete & Amber

To the hills and some observations

This weekend I took the family to the mountains of western North Carolina. That is where my wife was born and raised and we will be moving there when the kids get of school in June.

The weather was a bit crappy today and that gave my wife lots of time to continue her investigation of Ubuntu. If you want to read its here:

I find it very enlightening reading it. She has not been asking for my help and I have to deliberately stay away so I don't volunteer. One thing I found very informational is the Ubuntu help. To be honest I never bothered to read it. Watching her use it she was grumbling about sudo. That caught my attention so I listened more... "Why do I care what sudo does?, why do I care about a command line?" were some of the statements I heard her utter. The one that really struck me was "on my Mac I *never* use command line..." Hmmmm, it was at that point I realized we (techies) assume everyone will need to sudo and use a terminal, if we did a better job of designing interfaces they wouldn't need to. In fact you have to hunt for the terminal application on a Mac. We have it in the accessiories menu. Something to think about.

At Red Hat I managed the Base OS group and that dealt with primarily userspace & plumbing so I never really thought about how to make it better. At Canonical I manage the Kernel Team and again I don't give the desktop much thought. I have been using Linux so long I remember when you had to configure FVWM to launch your applications. Anything that was easier than that to me has been a big win. I just take it for granted you need to do things different than Windows & Mac users do. Watching Amber struggle to understand things has given me a whole new appreciation as to the work we as a community need to do.

Amber managed to get on Freeenode and join #ubuntu-women and join the ubuntu-women mailing list (her first mailing list subscription ever!). The folks in the channel were very patient and supportive of her endvour with Linux. She is very much enjoying the community aspect of it all.


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Pete & Amber

Ubuntu and the New User

I had no sooner got home from Europe when my wife Amber has the idea that she wants to use Ubuntu. (Thats what I get for getting her an Ubuntu T-Shirt with "Linux for Human Beings" on the back.)

My wife was a die hard windows user for years. When I got tired of being her personal admin, we moved to a Mac. For me a Mac was close enough to Linux in that I could ssh in, do most thing remotely... As of yesterday I couldn't pry a Mac out of her cold dead hands...

Over the years I had tried to move here to various Red Hat flavors since I worked at Red Hat, we tried RHL, Fedora, RHEL WS, and every time it met with abysmal failure. Usually it manifested itself as some sort of failure when I was out of town, she couldn't print, WIFI wouldn't work, or just her plain impatience when it comes to button clicking. If something doesn't immediately return she keeps clicking, selecting more and more menu choices until the computer grinds to a halt with 10,000 dialog boxes all over the screen with wording she does not understand.

So I'm back aboard the "convert the wife to Linux" train yet again. This time I don't get to help, advise or otherwise participate. I gave her an old laptop the Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid CD and showed her how to "press F12" to get to the boot selection menu.

She is blogging about it if you want to follow the saga you can here:

Cuz God knows I'm living it... *sigh*


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Pete & Amber

Jaunty Kernel Bits

It has been a long few weeks, with that said I'll try and recap some of the more interesting things that have been going on with Ubuntu, specifically the kernel happenings in the Jaunty Jackalope release.

The Platform Team met in Berlin for the Jaunty Platform Sprint for the week of 2-6 Feb. This was an incredible event with the vast majority of the Canonical Engineering teams. We had both cross team and individual sub-team tracks. The kernel track covered all of the release roadmap items and administrative topics.

I'll talk about some of the roadmap items and the most interesting highlights...

Kernel Version

The Jaunty Kernel version will be 2.6.28. We considered 2.6.29, it was not selected however due to all of the major changes. The primary reasons were due to the large number new features that are scheduled to land in it. Regression of functionality is a large concern and there would be a good chance of that happening given when estimated date that Linus will declare it baked. Unfortunately it just doesn't line up with the Jaunty release cycle. On the bright side... for Jaunty+1 we will have time to shake out any issues and are looking towards 2.6.30 or .31

Suspend & Resume

We are making the suspend & resume one of our top priorities for this cycle. We ran a suspend and resume workshop with every notebook at the sprint.

Surprisingly we had a small number of failures. Most of them were on resume with NVidia video. We did not test the priority divers only the free ones. Out of 65 machines tested (various models) there were 12 failures.

We will be issuing a Call For Testing at the Beta release, however for those of you that want to play along at home early you can visit the Suspend/Resume wiki here: and some more of the background material is here:

Some other notable suspend and resume news for Jaunty...

  • There is a new testing script to test (and stress test) suspend resume.
  • Suspend/Resume script will also be integrated into checkbox (aka System->Administration->System Testing) for ease of testing.
  • If a suspend/resume cycle fails it is detected by apport and the user will have the option of filing a bug
Vanilla Kernel Builds

Starting with Alpha 5 we will have available .deb packaged pure upstream vanilla kernels available.

The primary intent for doing this is to allow our community to test kernels without the Ubuntu "sauce", that is things that we add to the kernel to support the Ubuntu distribution. The goal is to help get wider testing of the upstream kernel source by leveraging interesting Ubuntu Community members.

In addition to Jaunty we are doing this for Hardy, Intrepid and the current active kernel development branch. The planned update schedule for each of these is:
  • Hardy, Intrepid - Upon a stable upstream point release i.e.
  • Jaunty - Every RC until release final is declared. Then it will fall into the same cycle as Hardy & Intrepid
  • Current active devel branch - Currently 2.6.29 updated on every RC release
The plan is to have them available in the Ubuntu-Kernel-Team PPA, until them you can find them at:

There is a lot more and I'll talk more about them later. As usual I'm on a plane back from Europe and my battery is beginning to run low, so thats prob about enough for this post.


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Pete & Amber

As the Ubuntu Intrepid release came down to the wire we ended having a serious bug (LP #264019). This bug was very difficult due to the way it manifested itself. First some background.

For a number of years the Linux Kernel had something called TCP Timestamping in the kernel. In 2.6.27 in the rc1 timeframe upstream did some TCP stack fixes and one of these broke some very old consumer grade DSL modems and routers. Keep in mind the fixes in question are technically correct, they follow the requisite IETF RFCs. It was this old consumer grade equipment that was at fault. All this is documented in kernel bugzilla in bug #11721. In the end a patch was developed that reset the TCP ordering.

Ok, after all this why is this such a big deal? Timing and the nature of the bug. A user reported that without this patch they could not connect to our archive servers over the Internet. This posed a problem for any user that had the old hardware. They would be unable to get the fix via the normal update method. Not a good thing.

So the next question would be why not just add the kernel patch? Thats where the timing issue comes in. We were at a point in the release cycle where to spin, test and validate a new kernel would have delayed the release up to a week.

We decided to go with a temporary workaround. The workaround would all the affected users the ability to get the fixed kernel. In parallel we prepared a security kernel that was ready in the archive by the time the Intrepid images hit the mirrors. The security kernel turns off the workaround we put into the procps package, and contains only the patch to fix this issue.

Decisions like this are made all the time by Distribution vendors. Its walking a fine line between whats best for the users and the amount of work, cost and end user expectation. We don't take issues like this lightly, all parts of the Ubuntu team and the highest levels of Canonical management are involved.

I hope this helps clairify things for people.

P.S. Its currently 14:43 London time as I write this and the security kernel has not yet hit the archive. Don't worry its making in the process of being published. It hould the archive shortly.


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Pete & Amber

Intrepid and 2.6.27

As I talked about in my last blog post we are considering moving to 2.6.27 for Ubuntu Intrepid Ibex. Ben posted this RFC to the ubuntu-devel list which outlines the rationale and technical benefits. This came late in the Intrepid development cycle and as such comes with risk and lots of questions such as:

  • What are the regressions from 2.6.26 upstream and Ubuntu specific?
  • Whats the plan "B" or fall back plan? When does it get invoked?
  • What new "critical" bugs does 2.6.27 introduce?
  • What existing 2.6.26 bugs does 2.6.27 fix?
We have and will continue to issue calls for testing and our QA team has been all over this since day one. We have been tracking all of these issues and then some. For those of you who wish to follow along at home here is my list of links:
I published the plan "B" with overlaid decision points here:

As it stands now we shipped 2.6.27rc4 with Intrepid Alpha5. We noticed some big suspend/resume issues with Alpha5. I noticed these issues on the 3 dell notebooks that I have. We will be updating to 2.6.27rc5 shortly which should resolve the issues and fix even more bugs.

Hope folks find this useful...


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Pete & Amber


For a job that is "Work from home" I'm sure not home a whole lot. Looks like I'll be in London in Aug (14th - 22nd). I'm soliciting suggestions on what to do over the weekend. Thoughts anyone?

I'll be traveling every month up to the end of the year. In Sep, Linux Plumbers Conference, in Oct. a visit to our office in Taiwan, Nov. another conference Linux End User Collaboration Summit and in Dec the Ubuntu Developer Summit in CA. Thats only the ones I know about, I'm sure a few others will get squeezed in.

I've been neglect in posting to the Blog. Since starting with Canonical I've had lots of questions about the company, Ubuntu community, culture etc... I'm planing on taking some time and doing a detailed posting in the near future. So if your interested stay tuned.


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Pete & Amber

Canonical Followup

Since my last posting I've received numerous, emails, IMs & text messages about going to work for Canonical. All in all, the majority have been good wishes and "glad to have you back in the community" messages. However I have had numerous questions so I thought I'd answer here since my blog is where it all originated from.

Q. What are you going to be doing?
A. Ubuntu Kernel Manager. (The following is more for my family since the title means nothing to them). Here is the job description:

Job Title: Ubuntu Kernel Team Manager
Job Location: Your home, given appropriate facilities including broadband Internet
Reports to: Ubuntu CTO (Matt Zimmerman)
Job Summary: Drive the leading edge of desktop and server OS technology based on the Linux kernel, open source methodology, and a supportive community of users and developers.

Key responsibilities and accountabilities:
• Lead a team of engineers responsible for the development and maintenance of the Ubuntu branch of the Linux kernel
• Take overall responsibility for day to day kernel development
• Manage project plans and schedules
• Encourage and enable community participation in accordance with the unique philosophies and practices of Ubuntu
• Ensure world­class hardware compatibility for Ubuntu by working with vendor and OEM partners to deliver driver support for their components and systems
• Provide direct line management for a fast­moving team of 5+ individuals
• Provide regular updates on program results and provide feedback and new action plans if necessary
• Lead and participate in regular development “sprints” involving international travel, 4+ week­long trips per year

Required skills and experience:
• Proven track record in project management and management of small­medium sized teams at a global level
• 3­ to 5 years experience in technical project management, Linux and open source focus strongly preferred
• Solid knowledge of software/software industry trends, particularly open source software
• Strong English language communication skills, especially in online
environments such as mailing lists and IRC
• Fundamental technical understanding of the Linux kernel and its development, and with architectural
principles of Linux distributions (including packaging)
• Ability to effectively interact with diverse group of people (technical, non­technical); multi­task when necessary
• Ability to be productive in a globally distributed team through self­discipline and self­motivation, delivering according to a schedule.

Key Qualities:
• Self­driven, results ­oriented with a positive outlook, detail ­oriented, responsive, proactive

Q. How does this differ what what you did at Red Hat?
A. I don't know. I am reserving all comments and speculation about the position until I've been doing the job for a bit. Canonical is not Red Hat and as such there will be differences as well as similarities, I just don't know enough to speak to them yet.

Q. What made you decide to leave HP?
A. Lots of things really. The primary driver was that I missed being in the Linux and Open Source world. While the application (HP's Server Automation System, formally Opsware) I was supporting did run on Linux, along with Solaris and Windows, you were very removed from the OS and free software in general. Many people will consider using MS Windows daily as a dumb reason to want to change jobs, just ask Amber she will tell you all about it. The fact is that HP uses MS Windows as the primary desktop and as such so did I. Let me first state that you can use other OSs (Linux, OS X, etc...) but they are not officially supported and most things that I needed to use on a day to day basis as a manger did not work with the "Non supported OS's". Many of the internal applications were written for IE and didn't work at all with Firefox or any other browser. As such I realized how bad Windows sucks. Reboots daily, applications disappearing in the middle of using them, lost data. Its really quite depressing having to use Outlook for email. I missed my Linux desktop.

Those were the top questions. I had lots of other ones that I don't want to answer just yet, mainly because I don't know enough about what the job is (or is not) going to be.

I am excited and will keep everyone updated here as thing progress.


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Pete & Amber

Job change ...

Short and sweet... more details to follow. This was more to save me the multiple explanations.

I decided to leave HP and have taken a position with Canonical as the Ubuntu Kernel Manager.

Why leave HP? The job I was doing was not working with Linux. Yea yea I knew that going in but I wasn't prepared for the Linux withdrawal. The offer from Canonical was very interesting and I just couldn't refuse.

I will be working out of my home in NC, as such I've been busy getting the upstairs guest bed room ready as an office. As part of the exercise I've managed to gather up about 3 large totes of misc cables, part and computer bits that I need to get rid of. Becca decided she wants to have a yard sale and keep the money she makes from it. Like dad would ever have a say? It is good to get rid of the junk.

We'll be going to the mountains for the Memorial Day weekend, hopefully hooking up with Greg & Tammy and mucho brews.

More to follow...


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