Monday, March 30, 2009

The unsung heroes of EclipseCon

We all heard about how Econ '09 was great, and how Bjorn is a superhero.  But Bjorn cannot pull off such a great conference alone.  I wish to highlight a few behind-the-scenes people that helped make '09 such a great conference.  In no particular order:

- The Blue Shirt people.  You probably didn't even notice them, but they keep the roof from falling.

- Scott Rosenbaum and the program committee.  Your hard work shined in the richness of the program.

- Nathan & Ian.  I mocked Ian's TwitterVision incessantly here in the office, but in the end, I admit it was really, really cool.

- The presenters and speakers. They didn't just read slides; they gave us hands-on, they walked amongst the audience, they made us laugh, think and learn.

What a great conference it was!

git off my lawn: DVCS discussions at EclipseCon

There was a lot of discussion surrounding the DVCS topic at EclipseCon.  Everything from Panels to Talks to BoFs to bar fights. Well, no bar fights, really.

In the end, at the second of two BoF sessions, small-ish group of people managed to come up with what looks like 'a plan'.  Doug Gaff took some notes, including 'the plan', and I think he'll be posting those to the Wiki shortly.  cc yourself to bug 257706 if you haven't done so already, and someone will post links to the Wiki minutes as they become available.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Person of the Week award

There is definitely a buzz about EclipseCon 2009 so far.  Folks are telling me the content is great, the organization is awesome and the ambiance is friendly.  The one single "complaint" I've heard so far is that everyone hears about this Bjorn Freeman-Benson guy, but they don't know who he is.

If you see the man above in the halls of EclipseCon, give him a thumbs up!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

CDO has a really nice project website

Clean layout, nice icons, not too much text.  Also, notice how the sub-pages re-use the icon from the main page for better association.  On sub-pages, the left navigation is nicely done and the graphics headers are a nice touch.

Awesome work!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Need to move files? Consider a jet.

Sunday morning I'll be leaving Ottawa with a 350 GB hard disk we all call ''.  This disk will be used for the EclipseCon download mirror.

So which is faster, moving the data over the 'Net or carrying it on a plane?

The entire Ottawa->Hilton trip is about 8 hours. 350 GB in 8 hours is about 12.4 MB/sec, or roughly the practical throughput of a 100 Mbps Ethernet cable.

Considering I don't have a dedicated Ethernet cable from Ottawa to Santa Clara, I think the jet will do the job quite well.

With Gigabit Ethernet, on the other hand, ...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Lynn has a blog!

For the last three years I've been trying (unsuccessfully) to get Lynn, our marketing events manager, to blog.  Excuses kept coming up, and none of them made any sense.

Yesterday she asked me if I was going to blog about the website usability testing we'll be conducting at EclipseCon, and that was it. I totally lost it.

I highjacked her keyboard and created a blog for her.  She'll be joining us on Planet Eclipse real soon now.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Eclipse BitTorrents?

Antoine made me do it, I swear.

I set up Osprey, a BitTorrent permaseed/tracker developed by iBiblio.  It's still in its early stages, but you can see what it looks like (and even seed a download).

Please help me test this thing:

Eclipse SDK 3.4.2 torrents

Friday, March 13, 2009

Server performance -- solving disk bottlenecks

In February we added lots of disk space to the server farm.  There were two reasons for this:

  • We were running out.

  • Our current disk arrays were doing too much, hurting disk performance.

How do you know if your disk systems are too busy?

  • look at the activity lights on the drives.  Two of our 7-disk array's lights were mostly on all the time.

  • look for excessive IO Wait time using top.  Clear indications are high wa% as well as processes in the D state.

Disk bottlenecks at occur because so many files need to be read and updated at any given time that the disk heads are constantly moving (seeking).

How do you solve a disk seek bottleneck like this?

  • Avoid going to disk altogether by adding RAM [1]. Unused RAM is used for write buffers and file cache.  Adding 8, 16 and even 32 GB of RAM can make a sluggish system run like new.

  • Add disk spindles [2].  One disk can only seek so many files at a time, so the more disks in your array, the faster the seek times.

Our budget was quite tight, and I needed to solve both the low disk space and high disk seek problems with minimal money. I opted for a 16-disk array of 750G SATA drives, but no additional RAM.  Although SATA drives are typically slower than their high-end SCSI counterparts, they are much, much cheaper, allowing you to get lots of disk space and awesome seek performance from a higher number of drives.

Since implementing the new array, disk wait time went from a whopping 50%  to 12% on our file server, and from 40% to 2% on the build server.  Money well spent!

[1] If performance is critical, consider using a ramdrive for frequently accessed files.  Beware of writing there, though.

[2] Solid-state drives will definitely help out here, as soon as they become more accepted and available in entreprise-class hardware and environments.

Monday, March 02, 2009

One hundred hard drives

If there's a lot of buzz around Eclipse lately, it may be because of all the hard drives spinning.  With the new storage we added last week, we have passed the 100 hard drive milestone.

In related news, 2 hard drives have failed recently and had to be replaced.  There is no love for moving parts.