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Monday, December 7. 2009
Last week, my colleagues Giuseppe, Kai and myself attended the SAPO Codebits event in Lisbon, Portugal. Codebits is an annual, invite-only hacking event, which went on for three days. The venue they chose this year was the "Cordoaria", a former rope factory located in the Belém district, close to the 25 de Abril Bridge (which is an impressive sight!). I have been told that the Cordoaria is the longest building in Portugal and I have no doubts about that! The building is so long that the crew used bicycles to get from one end to the other. I've taken a number of pictures from the event as well as from Lisbon itself, you can find them in this flickr set.
The organizers described this year's event as follows:
3 days. 24 hours a day. 600 attendees. Talks. Workshops. Lots of food and beverages. 24 hour programming/hacking competition. Quizz Show. Rock Band Contest. Lots of gaming consoles. More food. More beverages. More coding. Sleeping areas. More fun. An unforgettable experience.
I wholeheartedly agree, we had a great time! The conference started with sessions and presentations on a wide range of topics on the first two days. Afterwards, a 24-hour programming contest was held. I was invited to give two talks, one being my all-time favourite about "MySQL High Availability solutions" (slides, video), the other one was titled "Why you should be using a distributed version control system (DVCS) for your project" (video, slides). Both went quite well and the feedback I received was pretty positive. Giuseppe talked about "MySQL Schema Migration" (slides, video) and gave an "Introduction to Gearman" (video). Kai's talk was titled "Think before you develop" (video) and gave a nice roundup of tips and best practices for setting up and developing new web projects.
The Codebits session schedule was filled with amazing and interesting talks in four parallel tracks. Sometimes it was hard to choose – some other talks I attended and enjoyed:
Walter gave a lockpicking workshop after his presentation, which I attended as well. I was quite impressed (and a bit shocked) to find out how easy many locks can be opened this way! Later that evening there even was a live band named "Pornophonique" playing (one guy with a guitar, the other one using an Nintendo Game Boy for making music), but I missed that show as I was too busy opening more locks... Fortunately the concert and most of the sessions were recorded on video (in excellent quality) and are already available from the SAPO video pages. Kudos for this speedy service!
But this just matches my overall conclusion of this event: very well organized, great speakers and venue. Thanks to the organizers for having us, we really enjoyed our stay!
Posted by Lenz Grimmer in Linux, MySQL, OSS at 15:39 | Comments (2) | Trackbacks (0)
Thursday, November 5. 2009
This blog post is a by-product of my preparation work for an upcoming talk titled "Why you should be using a distributed version control system (DVCS) for your project" at SAPO Codebits in Lisbon (December 3-5, 2009). Publishing these thoughts prior to the conference serves two purposes: getting some peer review on my findings and acting as a teaser for the actual talk. So please let me know — did I cover the relevant aspects or did I miss anything? What's your take on DVCS vs. the centralized approach? Why do you prefer one over the other? I'm looking forward to your comments!
Even though there are several distributed alternatives available for some years now (with Bazaar, git and Mercurial being the most prominent representatives here), many large and popular Open Source projects still use centralized systems like Subversion or even CVS to maintain their source code. While Subversion has eased some of the pains of CVS (e.g. better remote access, renaming/moving of files and directories, easy branching), the centralized approach by itself poses some disadvantages compared to distributed systems. So what are these? Let me give you a few examples of the limitations that a centralized system like Subversion has and how these affect the possible workflows and development practices.
Continue reading "Aspects and benefits of distributed version control systems (DVCS)"
Monday, October 26. 2009
This time of the year is usually a very busy one, as there are plenty of events and conferences to attend. Just take a look at our calendar of OSS events on the MySQL Forge to see what I mean! Here's a quick summary of the ones that I will attend and speak at until the end of this year:
On November 14-15, I'll attend the openSQL Camp in Portland (OR), USA. I missed the first one that took place in Charlottesville (VA) in 2008, but had a lot of fun organizing the European Edition earlier this year. The upcoming one will be more like an unconference again - the list of proposed sessions looks very interesting and the attendee list reads like a "who is who" list of the OSS database community.
On December 3-5, I'll be joining Giuseppe at SAPO Codebits in Lisbon, Portugal, which is going to be a very cool event: "3 days. 24 hours a day. 600 attendees. Talks. Workshops. Lots of food and beverages. 24 hour programming/hacking competition. Quizz Show. Rock Band Contest. Lots of gaming consoles. More food. More beverages. More coding. Sleeping areas. More fun. An unforgettable experience". I will be talking about my favorite topic of MySQL High Availability (I'm currently working on revising my slides based on several excellent discussions about MySQL HA that happened on Planet MySQL in the past weeks) and about the benefits (both social and technical) of using a distributed revision control system (DVCS) like bazaar, git or mercurial for your open source project.
Shortly after Codebits, I will attend SLAC 09, the "Secure Linux Administration Conference" in Berlin, Germany (December 10-11), where I will give two MySQL-related talks (in German) - my usual suspects, but in revised and extended form: MySQL High Availability solutions and MySQL Backup & Security best practices.
Friday, October 16. 2009
With IntelliJ now being available under an Open Source license, developers have another option to choose from when it comes to Java-based IDEs/Frameworks (Eclipse and NetBeans being the other two prominent ones). Choice is always good, and being an Open Source enthusiast, I of course welcome JetBrain's move!
However, as I'm not really a heavy GUI-based IDE user myself, I can't really comment on which one is the best. These kind of discussions tend to turn into a Holy War anyway... In the end it's likely that each of them gets the job done and you have to come to your own conclusions, based on your personal preference and requirements.
I personally would be interested in seeing how their support for PHP or Python compares to the one in NetBeans. Their plugin repository lists more that 560 plugins, including many for database connectivity/modeling/navigation (incl. support for MySQL). I'm also glad to see that they have a plugin for Bazaar, something that I'm desperately missing from NetBeans!
Interestingly, they decided to keep a few parts proprietary, it's going to be interesting to see how this will turn out for them and if developers will be willing to pay for these extra features, considering that most of this is available for free from the other two projects.
Their Contributor License Agreement looks like it has been derived from the Sun Contributor Agreement (SCA), which is always nice to see. I assume this can be attributed to Roman Strobl - I was positively surprised to notice that he joined their team as a technology evangelist in June! Roman did a great job in spreading the NetBeans and OpenSolaris gospel at Sun before and I briefly met him at this year's FOSDEM conference in Brussels. Congratulations!
Thursday, May 28. 2009
I just realized that I haven't blogged for more than a month! Shame on me. But I will blame it on being away on conferences and vacation for quite some time And if you are following me on twitter, you may have noticed what I was going on in my life and that I did't get hit by a bus...
So what was going on since I returned back home from the MySQL Conference? First off, I uploaded und sorted my pictures from the conference and the Drizzle developer day on Flickr. I also uploaded the slides (PDF) from Colin and myself speaking about "MySQL Server Backup, Restoration, and Disaster Recovery Planning" to the MySQL Conference site and they are now available for download from the session page.
On May 4th and 5th I attended the amoocon in Rostock, Germany - a conference primarily about Open Source Telephony and VoIP, where I gave two talks (in German) about MySQL HA Solutions and MySQL Backup and Security Best Practices. There were several other MySQL-related sessions at this conference (e.g. Geert speaking about MySQL Cluster) and I was quite impressed to learn about how widely used it is in the VoIP/Telephony sector. The PDFs of my slides for both talks are available from the conference web site as well as on my slidespace on SlideShare (a very convenient service that I recently started using). There even is an MP3 and video recording of the HA talk, which is also linked from the session page mentioned above.
Right after the amoocon, I attended the next09 conference, which took place in Hamburg, Germany. On the first day I helped manning the Sun booth for some time (Sun Startup Essentials Germany was a sponsor of the event) and listened to some talks, on Wednesday I gave a presentation about "Working for a Virtual Company: How do we do it at MySQL?". A video recording of my talk is available from sevenload. Last time I checked the video was truncated, but I hope they will publish a complete version of it soon. Unfortunately I had a very bad speaking slot - the very first one in the morning (9:00am), after there was a party/social event going on the night before... But luckily there still were ~20-30 people in the audience. This was the first time that I gave this presentation and talked about something less technical, which was actually quite fun! As for the other recent talks, the slides are on SlideShare.
From May 14th to the 16th I was in Verona, Italy to speak about MySQL Backup and Security and bzr - The Bazaar source revision control system at the Italian phpDay. This was quite a nice event with ~150 attendees and Rasmus Lerdorf giving two talks as well. However, many of the sessions were in Italian, so I decided to spend some time walking around the city and taking lots of pictures. I also took a number pictures from the conference, but the light was pretty dim in the room and many shots turned out to be too blurry. Next year they plan to have the phpDay in Rimini - I definitely plan to be there!
Saturday, April 25. 2009
Today I attended the Drizzle Developer Day which took place in the auditorium of the Sun Campus in Santa Clara.
Many of the the Drizzle core hackers as well as several other people interested in the development attended this event, hacking away and discussing various issues. Jeremy Zawodny gave a presentation about Craigslist's needs for Drizzle, Jay Pipes gave an overview over Google's protocol buffers library. I took a number of pictures, which you can find in my Flickr photo set.
I joined a group of people that haven't built Drizzle from source by themselves so far, helping them with installing Bazaar and the required libraries. As Drizzle requires several third-party libraries that sometimes are not included in the common linux distributions (or only in outdated versions), we spent some time in getting these build requirements fulfilled.
One of the requirements for building Drizzle is libdrizzle - the client & protocol library. So one first has to download and compile this one, before the actual build of the server can proceed. I noticed that the libdrizzle source distribution contained an RPM spec file already, so I've been working on adding libdrizzle to the openSUSE build service today. The packages for various distributions (Fedora, openSUSE, RHEL, Mandriva) will be available for download shortly. Along the way I also fixed several small issues in the spec file and created a libdrizzle-devel subpackage. The patches are now proposed for merging on Launchpad, I hope Eric will take a look at these shortly.
Wednesday, March 25. 2009
My travel schedule is getting quite crowded for the next months - I just received confirmation that I will be speaking at the phpDay in Verona, Italy on May 15-16th. I'll be talking about bzr - The Bazaar source revision control system as well as MySQL Backup and Security - Best practices in the developer track of the conference. I've never been to Verona, but it seems like it's a beautiful city. I look forward to being there!
Friday, January 9. 2009
A (slightly belated) Happy New Year to you! I just returned from my Christmas vacation two days ago, which I spent mostly at home and with my parents-in-law in St. Radegund, Austria. Now I am busy catching up with what has piled up during my absence (I managed to resist the temptation to check my work email during the time off).
Some MySQL-related news that came up in the past weeks and are worth sharing:
Quite a lot of exciting stuff going on, and more to come. This is a great start into the new year!
Monday, December 1. 2008
FOSDEM 2009, one of the biggest European Open Source conferences, will take place on February 7-8 in Brussels, Belgium. Today I received a confirmation from the organizers: MySQL will have a developer room on Sunday, the 8th! This is very cool.
My idea was to organize some kind of MySQL mini-conference, with a focus on developers and DBAs. I am going to send out a more formal CfP soon, but if you have any ideas or suggestions for a talks/sessions already, please get in touch with me!
In addition to the devroom, I have also been invited to give a talk about MySQL High Availability solutions in the conference main track. In this talk I plan to cover some commonly used HA setups for MySQL, including the OSS components/tools (for Linux and OpenSolaris) involved. I will mention MySQL Cluster as well, explaining the relationship and architecture of MySQL Server and NDB Cluster. I hope this will be of interest to the audience.
I also submitted two lightning talk proposals: "New features in MySQL 5.1" and one about "Why you should use Bazaar for maintaining your OSS project", but I won't know if these were accepted until the end of December...
See you there!
Thursday, September 11. 2008
If you are a maintainer of an Open Source project, you currently have plenty of choice when it comes to getting your project hosted for free. One criterion could be your software configuration management system (SCM) of choice.
Some of the hosting services that I am currently aware of and the choice of SCM they offer include:
As disclosed by Tim Bray some days ago, there now is another option - Kenai is open for project hosting (currently by invitation only)! In his blog post, he interviews Nick Sieger, one of the developers behind this project about their motivation and intentions:
We need to demonstrate credibility in building on top of more traditional LAMP/SAMP web stacks (not just Java EE); and we need to show viability of Sun technologies and hardware for next-generation web applications.
In a nutshell, Kenai is a platform for:
Some of the features that are currently available include:
Reading the interview with Nick and looking at some presentations slides for RailsConf from Fernando Castano (a jRuby and Database performance engineer at Sun and another member of the project team), I was able to gather a list of the tools and technologies they used to build Kenai:
I found it interesting that they decided to deploy and run the Rails application as a war file within the Glassfish application server (using Warbler). By the way, the fabolous OpenSUSE Build Service is a Rails application, too! So far, the entire site is powered by a single MySQL instance with query cache enabled.
The project is hosted on the following infrastructure:
You should check out Fernando's presentation for more technical details, tuning info and how they benchmarked the setup - it contains a number of useful tuning hints and performance graphs.
Nick also talked a bit about their future near term plans: to improve the usability and feature set, incrementally improve the site navigation and layout and adding support for hosting files/release downloads. They also consider offering Jira as an option to Bugzilla for bug tracking and Git as another SCM option.
There is an IRC channel #projectkenai on freenode.net, to get in touch with the developers directly. The mailing list for the Project Kenai site itself, is email@example.com - you can subscribe to this list here.
Monday, September 1. 2008
I'm back home from DrupalCon 2008 now - it has been a great event! I met a lot of nice people from the Drupal Community and learned a lot about this CMS. I've been very busy in uploading the remaining pictures from the event to my gallery - so here's for your viewing pleasure:
I also gave two talks and held a BoF there - the slides have now been attached to the session nodes, one of them (the HA session) even includes a video recording:
Friday, August 1. 2008
In a recent article, Matt Asay was musing about the aspects of hosting an Open Source project by yourself vs. using a public project hosting service like SourceForge, GitHub or Launchpad. He concluded that it's important for commercial/sponsored open source projects in particular to do the hosting by themselves, so they can maintain full control and can gain more insight, which hopefully will turn into more revenue at some point.
However, Matt seems to reduce "hosting" to "providing downloads" only:
Control and visibility. Given the importance of customer conversions, it becomes hugely valuable information to know that it takes, say, eight months on average for someone to buy the "Enterprise" version of your code after downloading the software. With Sourceforge et al., you have no way of connecting the dots between download and purchase. But if you host your downloads, you can suddenly link a download to a purchase using marketing automation software like Loopfuse.
I understand and agree to Matt's point in principle - you want to know more about the users that download and use your stuff. Here are some related thoughts about this topic.
Project hosting is not just about downloads
First: project hosting is much more than just providing a download/mirror infrastructure for your product releases. On the one hand, you have the regular users of your product who are primarily interested in having easy and fast access to the latest builds for their platform of choice and a platform to exchange their problems and experiences with other users.
But project hosting facilities also address a completely different audience, with different needs. These are the developers, who want to have easy access to the latest source code, be able to submit bug reports and patches and want a direct communication path to the project's developers.
I think it is important to ensure that you serve both the developer community as well as the user community as best as you can, which could of course mean you should provide the full range of project hosting all by yourself. But by doing so, you also create an island that makes it difficult to benefit from the "cross-pollination effects" between your project and others. This can partially be remedied if you don't only set up a project hosting infrastructure for your own purposes, but also open it for projects related to your project (and which not maintained by your own team), e.g. how SugarForge is doing it. But the cost and effort involved in setting up and maintaining such an infrastructure should not be underestimated.
There is more to distribute than releases
At MySQL, we just recently moved away the MySQL Server source trees from the proprietary BitKeeper revision control system to Bazaar. Along with this migration, we also relocated the public repositories from mysql.bkbits.net to Launchpad.net, to make it easier for external developers to access and work with the code. Currently, MySQL only makes use of the source repository hosting capabilities - downloads, bug reports and most other things like mailing lists or forums are all maintained by ourselves and hosted on mysql.com.
Due to the distributed nature of Bazaar, we could of course also provide the source repos from our own servers (similar to how we do it for several of our projects that are still maintained in Subversion). But I think it makes a lot of sense to use Launchpad for that, as it allows a tighter integration and collaboration with contributors and other related projects, and it gives us more visibility within the developer community.
Drizzle has taken this even further: the project utilizes all of Launchpad's facilities, including Blueprints, Bug reporting, mailing lists. It's going to be an interesting learning experience to see how this affects and improves community interaction/participation. I'd love to see MySQL move more into this direction as well (especially the bug database and worklog would be good candidates), but this probably will take some more time.
I too recently moved the source tree of my own personal project from a Subversion repository on my private server to Launchpad. Several reasons motivated me to do this, one of them being the opportunity to gain more practical experience with Bazaar and getting away from a central source code repository that makes me the bottleneck in making changes and applying patches. A distributed revision control system makes much more sense from a community contribution point of view, which Ian Clatworthy summarizes quite well in his paper "Distributed Version Control Systems - Why and How". In a way I deliberately give away some of the control over my project. And I must say I like how Launchpad integrates the various available subsystems like blueprints, code branches and bug reports - things are much better connected and they provide useful workflows that make the entire system much more productive to use than e.g. SourceForge.
I still provide downloads of released versions from my own site (as does MySQL), but mostly because I actually did not know until recently that Launchpad offered this kind of service - I will look into that for the next release. I am more interested in making sure that my users have easy access to properly packaged versions of my project for their operating system of choice. Therefore I work closely with the packagers from various distributions and make sure they integrate new releases quickly. In addition to that, I make use of hosted services like the OpenSUSE Build Service, which automatically provides package repositories for a number of platforms. I aim for wide distribution on as many channels as possible, instead of trying to be the sole provider of my product. This brings me to another point:
Downloads stats are overrated
Direct downloads from your project's web site usually are only one part of the distribution system. I believe that being included in the various Linux or other Open Source Operating System Distributions (e.g. Free/OpenBSD, OpenSolaris, etc.) plays a much bigger role in gaining popularity and reaching more users. Most users usually go with what they get as part of the package, as the distributor usually has taken care of a tight integration and proper packaging of your project within his own product and also takes care of providing updates and fixes.
Unfortunately it's almost impossible to gather any detailed intelligence about the number of users of a project this way, as distributions usually don't keep track of (or don't disclose) their download figures and which packages on their releases are the most popular. Debian's Popularity Contest is probably the only exception to this, but it's unclear how reliable that information is. Here I must agree with Matt again, if we just look at project hosting services acting as download providers only and include distributions in this equation:
As open source becomes more commercial, someone is going to need to step up to offer such visibility into these hosted services, or we're going to find the hosted services proving useful for ever decreasing amounts of time.
I guess we all would love to know more about the users that don't download a package from our site, but go with the one provided by their distribution of choice instead or download it from somewhere else. But so far, this is a blank spot on our radar screen.
Another caveat that results from these multiple distribution channels: just looking at your own download stats may actually give you a skewed picture of your user base, particularly if you look at the platforms (which will probably be dominated by Windows or Mac OS X, as these OSes usually don't ship your code as part of their own product).
So instead of trying to force downloads through a single instance only, I think it's much more important to ensure widespread distribution and a top-notch first hand experience. If users like your product, they are much more inclined to consider coming back and purchasing something from you than if you annoy them by making your product hard to download and install or require them to register before they can obtain a copy of your product. It's all about lowering the barriers as much as you can, even if you have to give up some control in exchange.
Wednesday, June 25. 2008
This will hopefully make it easier for contributors to work on the code and share their modifications with others, removing me as the bottleneck for applying and testing patches for new releases. I chose Bazaar primarily because I wanted to get some more hands-on practice with it, now that the MySQL Server source trees have been transferred to it as well (see Kaj's announcement for details).
As mylvmbackup is closely related to the MySQL Server project, it made sense to choose the same platform and enjoy the cross-pollination effects and the infrastructure that Launchpad provides. Additionally, the distributed nature of Bazaar makes it more convenient to work with the code history and commiting changes locally without having to be online and connected to the SVN server.
The "trunk" branch is now hosted on Launchpad. I assume that I will soon open up a development branch, that will receive heavier modifications first. I also plan to use the site for bug tracking and keeping track of feature requests (via Blueprints).
To create a local branch of the "trunk" repository, you can use the following command:
bzr branch lp:mylvmbackup
I also maintain a copy of that branch on my home server, just in case: http://www.lenzg.net/bzr/mylvmbackup/
To avoid confusion, I removed the Subversion repository on http://www.lenzg.net. Please use the Bazaar tree on Launchpad from now on. Thanks!
Monday, June 23. 2008
While we're on the topic of Bazaar - this week I got informed by the organizers of the FrOSCon 2008 conference that they accepted two of my talk proposals: one session will be an introduction to this source code management system (what a coincidence), the other one will be an introduction to OpenSolaris for Linux users, explaining some of the underlying technologies and how they differ from what a seasoned Linux user may be accustomed to.
And no, I have not given up on using Linux - quite the contrary! I have been very impressed by the latest OpenSUSE 11.0 release and already run it for since quite some time on several of my work systems. In fact, I already convinced several colleagues of mine to give it a try as well! I am amazed by the speed and "out of the box experience" of this version and I actually plan to install it on my Genesi Pegasos PowerPC machine as well, replacing Debian on there. But as a Sun employee, I of course have to familiarize myself with the other products and projects that we're involved in. And on the Server side, Solaris does have a few interesting features that Linux currently lacks. But I digress.
I look forward to speaking at FrOSCon again - it has been a great conference in the past two years. Very well organized, nice venue, a relaxed atmosphere and excellent technical sessions and speakers.
Other MySQLers submitted talks as well - for example, Giuseppe will give a presentation titled "MySQL Community How To", Susanne will give a PostgreSQL tutorial and others will participate in the separate PHP subconference. Don't miss it - this year's FrOSCon will take place on August 23rd&24th in St. Augustin, Germany (close to Bonn). For the first time, we will also try to set up a MySQL project table. So if you are there, make sure to stop by and have a chat with us!
Thursday, June 19. 2008
While BitKeeper is an excellent tool and served us well the past eight (!) years, I was quite annoyed when BitMover decided to remove the fully functional free BitKeeper client, which effectively put our development back into a Cathedral: even though our source trees remained accessible via bkbits.net, the crippled bk client was only capable of cloning and pulling new revisions from there - it was not possible for an external developer to commit changes locally or to create patches. This turned out to become a severe roadblock for users that wanted to participate in the development of the server. While some of our other internal projects (like the documentation, connectors and GUI tools) moved to Subversion, this was not that easily doable for the MySQL Server source trees. Lots of internal processes and tools had been tightly coupled with the source code management and there never seemed to be the right time to make the switch, which potentially could have disrupted the ongoing development work.
By moving to a truly open, distributed revision control system, it will become much easier for external contributors to work on patches and maintain modifications or enhancements outside of the main MySQL Server source trees. In fact, work has already begun! When I look at the various repositories hosted on Launchpad.net, I already notice several source trees that are not maintained by MySQL Engineers, e.g. Marc Callaghan's Google patches, Percona's work on microsecond resolution or a branch of MySQL 5.0 that is maintained and used by the folks from Wikimedia. I too helped publishing a source tree today - Holyfoot's work on improving the GIS functionality is now also available from there! In addition to the MySQL Server, many other MySQL-related projects are hosted on LaunchPad. And by utilizing services like the fabolous OpenSUSE Build Service, it's actually quite easy to provide readily installable packages of these as well!
I hope this change will significantly lower the barriers for external contributors and make it easier for our own developers to merge and accept changes that have been created by others and received sufficient community testing. This is much more convenient than having to apply a patch that was posted a long time ago and may have already been abandoned by the contributor or suffered from bit-rot. Being able to maintain a patch within a live tree that can be kept in sync with the main repository is one of the great features of distributed revision control (and which I think is one of the technical reasons why the Linux Kernel development model works so well).
Kudos to everybody involved in making this happen!
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