Gnunify Day 1

Hi all,
This post would attempt to talk about couple of talks I attended at GNunify Day 1 as I had missed Day 0.

The first blooper was that this time there were only two tracks 😦 for both Day 0 and Day 1 of GNUnify ’12. I was thinking like always it would be held on Saturday and Sunday (as it usually used to be) but this time the gods had other things planned. Anyways missed Day 0, of all the talks, the one I missed the most is the one about BTFRS by Neependra Khare . While there is a video in YouTube which is being much talked about (which I need to see probably tonight or tomorrow night).

Either way I was not satisfied by either the number of talks or the lowish number of workshops and the whole ‘REGISTRATION’ process that some of the students had to go through. That’s also partially the reason it has taken me a bit of late in blogging about the event. I have been going through the FOSDEM talks in my free time as I didn’t get my allocated fix in GNUnify 🙂 . More on that maybe some other time.

The two talks I did attend on the Day 1 were ‘Intro to Puppet’ by Aditya Patawari and ‘Convert your old laptop to a useful network device’ by Mr. Arun Khan, with one leaving me unsatisfied and the other a bit envious but then I’m getting a bit ahead of myself.

The first talk of ‘Intro to Puppet’ by Aditya Patawari leaved me much wanting. Before I get further into it, coincidentally a friend, Mr. Arun Tomar had also had a talk about a rival product called ‘Chef’ which seems to be the new kid on the block. Now if I understood the basic concept it’s about an issue which plagues all sysadmins and is a boring job.

How to set identical systems having same class of privileges to large number of people? In case of software development companies where you have anything from 10 to 1000+ and above systems it becomes increasingly harder to maintain systems if you go manually. Even if there were 100 sysadmins they would just be tearing their hair out. It just won’t scale. Add to that it is not good to have either same hardware architecture or/and same Operating Systems throughout the whole company from a security perspective. So one can use either Puppet/Chef to do the needful. From what little I could understand Puppet has a client/server architecture and can scale horizontally, in the sense you could have multiple Puppet servers (a.k.a. masters) tending to a bunch of machines. Now it seems it has been business for a long time (I do remember Fedora guys raving about it few years ago) and hence there are a bunch of ready-made recipes for common things (like installing a bunch of server services and things). He did show how a simple recipe would look like and what things he needs to take care.

What I was disappointed with are two things :-

a.From what little I understand of GNU/Linux, a tool is supposed to do only one thing and one thing only. What I did find lacking from whatever was shared a lack of modularization. For instance it would be a killer thing if there was some kind of Monitoring system module which could be attached to Puppet.Maybe something like Puppet+Nagios/RRD whatever. If there was a modular way it would be easier for sysadmins to pick and choose the tools they are comfortable with. Although I have to admit I have no idea as to how much load does Puppet has/gets to when doing 10 machines,100 machines etc. Having no idea of the state of any service on any machine just does not make sense to me.

b.Another thing which was not mentioned is about Puppet’s own QA. Are there any specific tools within Puppet to see if Puppet is doing alright? I have no idea if they have or not.Maybe something for Aditya to look into the next time he gives a talk.

c. One of the most interesting aspect to me would have been the move from GPL to an Apache type license but guess either he didn’t find that interesting or didn’t know a way to put it across, either way it would have made things a bit more richer.

That was about that talk. The next one was Mr. Arun Khan’s ‘Convert your old laptop to a useful network device’. It was an interesting and somewhat of an idealistic talk.While many of the ideas were at the back of my mind, it was interesting to say the least.It can be frustrating though if you want to things similar to what were eschewed and you don’t have/can’t get access to the materials. For e.g. Arun mentioned about getting a router which supports OpenWRT out of the box (don’t remember if the device was already rooted or Arun Rooted it) although do remember Arun’s cautioning students as bricking can happen.

Somehow remembered the Airjaldi course which I might at least see the next time I’m going to Himachal. For people they provide a real service.

What I felt lacked from the schedules is nothing for the novices it seemed this time around. Nothing for people who don’t know GNU/Linux or who haven’t even heard the term. I also heard complaints from few students who saw they were empty chairs during the workshop on the first day but students were not allowed to sit there because they had not pre-registered. This I heard from students on the second day and if it really happened then the organizers need to take care because students come from all over the city (and maybe even beyond). Getting this kind of reception is not good.

I did go to Wikipedia Hackathon but didn’t stay there for long apart from meeting friends. Didn’t go to the Wiki Academy as it would probably be the same things for me. It would have been interesting if there was a talk about controversial topics such as the one brewing around the South Tibet/Arunachal Pradesh article on Wikipedia or some of the sock puppet talk going on recently within the India mailing list. I do have some ideas about the latter but that probably is a topic for another day.

That’s all for now for my day 1 stuff. Till l8er 🙂

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