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Updated: 1 hour 13 min ago

Michael Fox: Ubuntu 14.04 Server and LXC

Thu, 2014-06-05 13:26

I am going to revive some older posts and attempt to perform similar work against Ubuntu 14.04 Server and LXC. Previously I had tinkered around with LXC on older Ubuntu release, now I want to do the same thing but on something newer.

So if things to go well, I should post some more content associated to Ubuntu 14.04 Server and LXC.

Stewart Smith: Performance impact of MySQL query cache on modern hardware

Thu, 2014-06-05 12:26

Recently, Morgan has been writing on deprecating some MySQL features and inspired by that while working on MySQL on POWER, I wondered “What is the impact of the MySQL query cache on modern hardware?”

We’ve known for over six years (since before we started Drizzle) that the query cache hurt performance. It was for that reason that the query cache was one of the early things to be removed from Drizzle, it just didn’t scale on multi core systems that  we were targeting.

So what about modern hardware? While working on MySQL 5.6 on POWER8, I enabled the query cache and ran a benchmark. Enabling the query cache reduced performance by an order of magnitude. I suspect the performance impact is even higher on MySQL 5.7.

My vote? Deprecate it. Deprecate it now, print a giant warning if it’s enabled and at some point just remove it. A single global mutex just doesn’t scale to 4 cores, let alone 24 cores at 8 threads per core.

Andrew Pollock: [life] Day 126: Seaworld

Wed, 2014-06-04 22:25

I wanted to do another trip to Seaworld before our annual passes expired, so today was the day.

Zoe woke up briefly last night around midnight, and the combination of the broken night's sleep and my cold hanging on made for a slower start than I'd have liked, but we still made it to Seaworld in time for the 11am Dora the Explorer show, so it was all good.

After that we went on the Vikings Revenge Flume Ride a couple of times and then determined that Zoe was still 5cm too short for the new Storm roller coaster. She is however now just tall enough to go on a "ride" with me where you basically pull yourself up using a rope and pulley and allow yourself to fall back down again. Exciting stuff.

I find that there's a massive gap in the program from 11am until 2:30pm, where it's difficult to find things to do. We had lunch and wandered down to the ropes area and mucked around for a bit and had a ice cream and eventually it was 2:30pm and we watched the Fish Detectives sea lion show, which I think Zoe didn't mind despite it requiring a bit of cajoling to get her to go to in the first place.

After that we had another couple of flume rides and then met Diego after the 3pm Dora the Explorer show.

It was about time to leave then, but we hadn't looked at the polar bears. Zoe had won a plush polar bear on an amusement after lunch, and so she wanted to show the baby polar bear her polar bear. The baby polar bear licked Zoe's plush polar bear through the glass, so that was cute. Zoe was pretty enthralled having a polar bear right up at face level for a while.

After that we finally made our way out. Zoe napped on the way back, and I dropped her off directly to Sarah's place.

It was a pretty good day out, but I find I don't like Seaworld all that much. There's a fairly limited selection of rides that Zoe meets the minimum height requirement for (and even then, a bunch were closed for maintenance) and the food seems expensive. I think the next time we go, I'll try to focus just on the animal encounters you can pay for. There's a few that are relatively inexpensive.

David Rowe: Electric Car Running Costs

Wed, 2014-06-04 17:29

While enjoying a coffee with my 18.5 year old daughter the other day I mentioned a friend’s car was for sale. At only $3,000 it seemed like a good deal. However then we started adding up the costs of running a car. She uses my EV all the time, so we decided to compare.

It occurred to me that my daughter is a pioneer – a young person who has done the majority of her driving in an EVs. She is making history.

I have been driving my EV for 5 years and 40,000 km so we have some long term data. Now my car is a recycled 23 year old carbon-burner, not one of the new breed of factory EVs. However I think the year-year maintenance would be about the same.

Annual running costs:

Item Infernal Combustion Electric Registration $700 $700 3rd party Insurance $130 $130 Servicing $700 $0 Repairs $300 $300 Fuel/Electricity for 15,000 km $1,800 $900 Total (annual) $3,630 $2,030 Total (weekly) $69.80 $39.04

Assuming Petrol is $1.5/litre, ICE car does 8l/100km, electricity is $0.3/kWh, EV does 0.2kWh/km. If you save up the $2k/year you save with your EV for 2 years you can install a PV array. Now it costs $0 for electricity and we are down to $1,130/year or about 25% of the ICE vehicle. You aren’t ever going to make petrol on your roof for free, and with depleting fossil fuel reserves it will be forever getting more expensive. It’s non-renewable so every litre you use means one less for your grandchildren.

The average income for my daughters peer group (most of them studying) is $200/week. They generally have old cars that need constant repairs. Nothing goes wrong with EVs. If it does, it’s trivial to fix. Only wearing parts are brakes and tyres. No servicing. They don’t pollute.

That’s why she loves my EV.

Colin Charles: Downloading older releases of MariaDB

Wed, 2014-06-04 17:25

MariaDB has plenty of mirrors to download the latest versions of MariaDB. Typically mirrors carry the last couple of releases and the current release, but what if you wanted to access something much older?

You have two resources for the complete archive:

  1. - this is the official archive, but from what I gather, it can be quite slow
  2. - SkySQL provides a complete mirror and it is very fast so I would use this instead. 

Current download archives stand at 337GB. But you can feel free to test older releases, see when things got introduced, etc. 

Related posts:

  1. MariaDB in Red Hat Software Collections
  2. MariaDB 5.1.42 released!
  3. MariaDB 5.1.44 released

Russell Coker: Android Device Service Life

Wed, 2014-06-04 16:27

In recent years Android devices have been the most expensive things I’ve purchased apart from airline tickets and other travel/holiday expenses. As they are expensive I’d like to use them for as long as possible to get the most value for money. Also as I give my devices to relatives when they no longer work for me I’d like to avoid having relatives hassling me about their phone not working as desired. So I’ve been thinking about the features that I need to make it possible to use a phone or tablet for a long time.


The way Android works is that when an application in the foreground requests more memory background applications may be closed to free some memory. Android doesn’t use swap by default, there is some documentation on how to enable it (and it’s not difficult to figure out for anyone who has used Linux before) but generally it’s not done.

If you run a larger application the chances of apps closing in the background (causing delays when you switch back to them and possibly a loss of context if the app is buggy and doesn’t preserve all state) are increased. As a general trend apps tend to get bigger to provide more features and also because users who own newer bigger devices don’t complain as much about memory use.

Also to make things worse new versions of Android tend to use more RAM. So a phone that runs well can suddenly start performing badly when you upgrade to a new version of Android (which incidentally usually can’t be reversed) and upgrade to new versions of apps (which can’t be reversed through the Google Play Store).

The Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 was a very nice phone when it was released, it ran Android 2.1 very quickly. When I upgraded the Xperia X10s that my wife and I used to Android 2.3 (which was necessary to have the phone run as a Wifi access point) performance dropped considerably. The Android upgrade combined with newer larger apps means that those phones are barely usable now. 384M of RAM was plenty in early 2011 when I first used the Xperia X10 but it’s not nearly enough now.

Recently 2G of RAM has been the minimum for a mid-range or high-end phone. It seems difficult to imagine a new Android feature as compelling as the addition of Wifi access point support in Android 2.3 that would drive an upgrade to a future memory hogging version of the OS. It also seems difficult to imagine Android apps needing enough memory to destroy the performance of a phone with 2G of RAM. But then I couldn’t imagine the 384M in an Xperia X10 becoming inadequate or the 512M in a Samsung Galaxy S becoming barely usable either.


Until fairly recently storage in an Android device was divided into USB attached storage (a VFAT filesystem that could be directly mounted on a PC) and a Linux filesystem that was used for all internal operations of the phone. On such devices it typically wasn’t possible to change partition sizes without a lot more skill than most users possess and most of the storage space was reserved for USB attachment. If you only had a few Android apps and lots of photos, movies, etc then this worked well. But if you wanted to install larger Android apps then you would have big problems. Even with Android 4.x devices (which all seem to have a single filesystem) you can easily run out of space.

Modern games often take several hundred megs of storage. Games that take 500M+ for the Android package install (which also requires the same amount of temporary space for installation and upgrade) are common. Sometimes games download data files after they have been installed for a total size approaching 2G (such as The Sims Freeplay).

When I bought a Nexus 4 for my wife I got the version with 8G of storage because paying an extra $50 for the 16G version seemed unreasonable. 8G was fine for my wife, but when she got a new phone I gave the Nexus 4 to a relative who wanted to play The Sims and other big games. That relative isn’t so happy about having a limited number of games on their phone and I have to fix it when storage space runs out and things start aborting (when storage runs out the Google App Store program aborts and uses lots of space for temporary files).

I recently bought a tablet with 32G of storage and filled 16G on the first day (tablets are good for watching

TV and TV shows are big). Fortunately the tablet in question has a SD socket so that when space becomes a problem in a year or two I can buy an SD card and keep using it.

An unfortunate recent decision by Google was to prevent apps from being run from a SD card. So even if you have a device with a SD socket you still need to have enough internal storage for all apps and their private data. At 500M+ for a modern game that means a device with 8G of storage (which includes space for the OS) will be lucky to get 8 games installed.

If you want to use a phone to it’s full capacity (playing various media files, games, etc) then it seems that the minimum storage capacity would be 8G of internal storage and a SD socket. For a device without an SD socket (such as the Nexus 5 with 16G or 32G of storage) your future use will be limited. 32G is probably enough for a phone given that you can recode movies to use less space (the FullHD screen on the Nexus 5 is nice but 720p movies will probably look good enough). But the larger screens of tablets demand better video quality so the Nexus tablets are probably a bad choice due to lack of storage space.

Screen Size and Resolution

I have previously written about the sizes of devices and how they may be used by people of various ages [1]. That should be of use for anyone who plans to use their old phone as an educational device for their children (which appears to be very common). But apart from that I can’t think of any reason why size would suddenly make an old phone obsolete. Only young children will have their hands change size in any significant way.

Resolution also shouldn’t be a huge problem, the 480*854 screen on the Xperia X10 is fairly good for a 4″ screen. While a higher resolution makes text more readable at a small size for most users the availability of a higher resolution screen isn’t going to make their old phone obsolete.


The only Android devices I owned that appeared to develop CPU speed issues late in life were the Xperia X10 phones, and that might be more due to RAM limits and the OS upgrade. All the other devices were either obviously slow at purchase time or are still performing well now.

CPU speed may make it difficult or impossible to play new games, but shouldn’t affect other uses of a phone or tablet.


It seems to me that if you want to use an Android device for more than 2 years then storage capacity should be a major factor in choosing which device to purchase. It seems that lack of storage space is in many cases the main factor that makes older devices annoying or impossible to use.

Related posts:

  1. Cheap Android Tablet from Aldi I’ve just bought a 7″ Onix tablet from Aldi....
  2. Choosing an Android Phone My phone contract ends in a few months, so I’m...
  3. Standardising Android Don Marti wrote an amusing post about the lack of...

Julien Goodwin: An efficient, yet high performance, PC

Wed, 2014-06-04 02:28
A thread currently ongoing on the LUV list about RAM and swap had me thinking about how to create a desktop system capable of high performance that idles with low power usage.

The way I think that would actually work is to split a system in two. First, a main system containing:

  • A dual-core 64-bit ARM CPU (the 64-bit ARM is now standard, but will take a while to make it to mass production)

  • A few SATA ports, at least two 6Gb

  • A basic 3D GPU, a laptop-level NVIDIA or AMD chip is probably right here, needs to be capable of driving four simultaneous displays and/or two 30" monitors

  • A *good* 1Gb ethernet NIC, capable of sustaining wire-speed transfers

  • Capable of taking 16GB of RAM, normally 4GB or 8GB for this sort of system

This should easily be doable in less then 30 watts, and, for most operations would not be obviously different from a larger system.

Next, sitting off across a PCIe link (at least 10Gb/sec, so x4 if Gen1), a simple, yet high performance system with a "single-board" system, containing:

  • A high end Intel (eg. Core i7 39xx) or AMD (Bulldozer) cpu

  • As much RAM as they can take, could be 32GB or more

  • BIOS would be LinuxBios to allow fast booting and shutdown

And that's it, all IO would be via the PCIe bus back to the main ARM system. A simple job scheduler on the ARM side could then allow jobs needing high performance to spin up the big system, and after all jobs complete and the big system goes idle, shut it down again.

I have a hefty Intel system (Core i7, 12GB RAM) on my desk at Google, and, for some network simulation jobs this can max-out my system for a few minutes, but the other 99% of the day a much smaller system would be more then enough.

Julien Goodwin: Gnome3

Wed, 2014-06-04 02:28
Last weekend Debian Testing got Gnome3, and because I was bored waiting for my shift to start (pretty much all of Google NetOps Sydney was in Mountain View for the week so we had to cover Sydney hours from Mountain View, that means 5pm - 1am shifts, not *quite* as bad as you'd think) I decided to upgrade. Apart from my laptop's SSD going read-only in the middle and breaking X the upgrade went fine.

Unfortunately the default Gnome3 interface is simply unusable, I tried for a few minutes to open my normal programs and just failed.

The fallback interface on the other hand is close enough to Gnome2 that after a few hours of tweaking (very little of my settings stayed), and with the aid of the un-official Tweak Tool I've been able to get a session I'm fairly happy with.

Things I still don't like though are:

  • Having to alt-right click on panels to get to the settings

  • A bunch of settings were lost on the upgrade from gnome2

  • The new "Cantrell" font is barely distinct when bold, this makes many things that rely on bold to distinguish states unusable (eg, Thunderbird), otherwise I actually like the font, and was disappointed to switch back to Bitstream Vera

  • No dark GTK theme, this is fixed in 3.2, but that's not yet available in Debian (although the theme package is in experimental it's uninstallable due to broken depedency chains)

  • Lack of support for classic screen savers. I love the unicode screen saver, but only "blank screen" is offered, and badly implemented at that

  • The inability to disable evolution and telepathy. I don't use either, and particularly evolution likes to do stupid things to my session. (I also don't like the update notifier, but that's minor)

  • Also need to find a way to disable gphoto2 stealing my iPhone when it's plugged in, it should *always* go to VMware

Julien Goodwin: "The Limoncelli Test"

Wed, 2014-06-04 02:28
Tom Limoncelli (of "Time Managment for Systems Administrators" fame) recently posted The Limoncelli Test: 32 Questions for Your Sysadmin Team, it's a great start, but I have a few things I'd add (and his comment form is broken).

  • Can the loss of any single team member (eg, "hit by a bus") be handled with no operational impact (ie, projects may be delayed, but no services expected to fail).

  • Think of SPOF's as per-service not per-system

  • Are internal requests also in the ticket system, if only external stuff is in it you're not tracking a large amount of work

  • Do you only have *one* ticket system for everything? Most of the better systems (eg, Atlassian JIRA) can do complex workflows reducing the need for separate systems

  • Do you keep a repository of the install media for all currently deployed systems. This includes things like firmware upgrades, OS images, etc. Not just the latest version, but of *all* currently deployed versions.

  • Do your laptops have fully-encrypted drives to prevent release of private data. On recent hardware there's *no* performance hit for this with spinning disks, and minimal with SSD's, and it solves so many problems. Having a policy that no such data gets on laptops may help, but isn't enough.

  • Does your configuration system keep it's config in an RCS. Just having central config isn't enough, it needs to be revision control so you can roll back, and have history to know when something changed.

  • For core networks and other critical systems N+2 might be needed, if failure during a maintenance would immediatly cause serious issues (DNS is a prime example in many cases). You may also need to consider having one system use different software to prevent something like a BIND exploit take out everything.

  • Don't do the popular thing ("Cargo Cult Systems Administration"). Google does things that make sense for *LARGE* clusters, not a single-server site, many of the hip new programming things might not be deployable at needed scale (either down or up, programming techniques have a scale band). Virtualisation makes little to no sense for clusters (depends on the app).

Julien Goodwin: Thoughts on Juniper's new switch introductions

Wed, 2014-06-04 02:28
So Juniper have released new switches, what's my view?

Lets go from small to large.

That means starting off with the EX2200-C, a 14-port Gig-e switch, with the last two ports being copper / SFP combo. Fanless and with an optional 100W of PoE this promises to be a wonderful access switch, with its only real disappointment being the lack of a model with 10g uplinks, most likely not done to avoid cannibalizing sales of the higher end when used as 10g fanout switches (at this point the cost of the chips would be minimal, although overall integration might still have increased the cost too much). It even does "enterprise" routing (ie, OSPF & RIP, but no IS-IS or BGP, no dynamic routing of IPv6 either). This would be a wonderful replacement to the switch running my home network in Melbourne (a generic Chinese brand 12-port PoE switch), and if the price (and shipping time) is right I may well put one in there. If the price is exceptional I might even grab one for my place in Sydney, not that I currently use any copper ports at all here.

Next up the chain is the EX3300 series, essentially a simple upgrade of the EX3200, just with four 1/10g combo SFP+ uplinks. The hardware looks wonderful, but the software is the problem here with it using the EX2200 line, not the EX3200/4200 line, so again no v6 dynamic routing or BGP. Also at only 8k routes and 4k ARP entries this is a shrink from the 3200. So if you only need L2 this could be great, but buying an L3 switch that can't do IPv6 (in a useful way) in 2011 is beyond stupid, no matter how much you might not care about IPv6 today. The real curve ball here is integrating Juniper's VC stacking, albeit in the slower version using 10g ports and limited to six switches at maximum. I'm not so sure how useful this is once the software limitations start hitting. The real test will be if Juniper allow these to be used as Qfabric management switches.

Finally, there's the switch that makes no sense to me, the EX6200, which seems to simply be a cheaper build EX8208 with PoE support. It *is* more then that, really targeted as a Cisco Catalyst 4500 replacement. Again the lack of 10g is strange, with only the fabric / control modules having any. There isn't even a 4x 10g line card (at least for now), or any line cards other then 48-port gig-e. Again this is aimed at "enterprise" (and access at that) with similar shrunk limits from the original EX line. Even the software is still neutered, with BGP, IS-IS and IPv6 simply listed as "roadmap" features, making this useless for many.

So in short one nice compact access switch, one nice 1ru switch let down by software, and one chassis switch let down by lack of 10g and software.

Julien Goodwin: Juniper Qfabic, what's missing?

Wed, 2014-06-04 02:28
Juniper have finally released Qfabric, and although it's only day one there's a few things that, for me, are missing before this becomes a really nice solution.

Given that my job allows me to not care about datacenter networks these days this is a somewhat academic exercise, but I still think about them.

1. Common XRE - Juniper now has several external routing engines, the QFX3100 (for Qfabric), the XRE200 (for EX8200), the JCS1200 (For T-series and TX-Matrix plus this one is an IBM blade chassis). As they are all so similar why not make them one SKU with multiple software loads (ideally including a BGP route reflector, something Juniper operators are crying out for, but the only official option, the JCS1200 is too physically large and expensive for)

2. Single-box management plane switch. Build a big box with just the needed gig-e ports and a single pair of power supplies, even if it's just four EX4200's internally it would make things neater.

3. MX/SRX5k interface module. Make a four-port 40g module for the MX and SRX5k that directly uplinks into Qfabric, even if it's really most of a Qfabric node from the Qfabric side, and some weird aggregate interface from the MX/SRX side. This would allow external connectivity and security to live closer to the fabric. A node module that's four 40g up to the fabric and four 40/4x10 combo ports would also work, although may not be worth producing

4. Offer a fibre control plane option. Currently the management network is copper only which limits the furthest rack to 100M (by copper run) from the fabric interconnect (assuming the management switches are nearby the fabric interconnect). Going to multimode switches the limitation to 150M on OM4 due to 40g limits. If you were able to use single mode for both this would essentially eliminate cable distance as an issue. The real win here is the elimination of bulky copper runs, which also eliminates cross-rack copper, something important to avoid for some situations

5. A 4RU(ish) interconnect, to support ~32 nodes. This would be enough for plenty of situations, and allow a fully redundant setup in less then half a rack (for control switches, directors, and interconnects). Building anything smaller is probably not worth it. (Juniper has stated that "smaller" interconnects are coming, but no solid sizes have been announced). These days that would buy at least 32 racks (redundantly connected) of blade chassis, which, once they're running hypervisors is a huge amount of capacity (and power for that matter) that would suffice for many situations.

Julien Goodwin: Ultimate optical platform for metro/regional core transport

Wed, 2014-06-04 02:28
So I now work at Google, one of the largest global data networks. Among other things this has meant I've quickly had to learn a lot about optical (DWDM) systems in the real world. Between the various ones we, and carriers we work with deploy I've had to learn the basics of a bunch of optical systems and see one big thing they're all ignoring.

Photonic switching (the high density kind, 40x40 and larger). Essentially a DLP chip (think projectors) used as a light-router. Combined with already existing, but largely unused things like commodity tunable optic modules to allow existing routers to speak DWDM wavelengths natively.

Once combined with the giant MPLS switches about to hit the market (at least Juniper's PTX), or MPLS capable large routers (Juniper T series, Cisco CRS, Brocade NetIron) the need for very high number of individual links starts to become a real pain when having to manage even just the cabling.

Before I spell out this idea, just a little disclaimer, I know of no (announced) commercial system that is similar to this, nor am I aware of any proposed similar system being pitched to my employer or other location where I could be expected to be aware of it. This is also not some secret Google internal project (well, that I'm aware of). A quick search shows one related research attempt, but nothing really close.

The holy grail for optical transport in IP/MPLS networks is a fully optical DWDM system, leaving all the intelligence in the routers (or a centralised control plane), while removing the need to manage the bandwidths of a line system (transceivers, multiplexers, etc.). It also allows pre-cabling everything at initial installation letting wavelenghts be brought up as needed remotely. If the router optics are tunable this even allows shifting channels with only a few seconds outage for the re-tune.

As tunable optics, filters, and photonic switches have now been in the market for several years the core components for this are ready, they just need to be combined.

The flow of my 1 degree terminal system is:


  1. (Optional preamp with tunable filter for long haul)

  2. Trunk Fibre in

  3. Monitor split (50% pass)

  4. Management channel drop

  5. 40/80/160 channel demux

  6. Photonic switch

  7. Patch port

  8. Fibre out to coloured / tunable optic on router


  1. Fibre in from coloured / tunable optic

  2. Patch port

  3. Tunable filter and attenuator (Band protection, power matching)

  4. Photonic switch (for a 1-degree site this really just buys loopback)

  5. Optical mixer (potentially inside the photonic switch)

  6. Power amp (Likely RAMAN/EFDA combination)

  7. Management channel merge

  8. Monitor split (99% pass)

The multi (3+) degree wavelength router:

  • N inbound trunks & demux, same as 1-degree up to photonic switch

  • N outbound trunks same as 1-degree from filter, skip switch

  • M wavelength conversion transponders. These would be electronic (two tunable XFP / SFP+'s in a trivial media convertor design) but only in line when conversion actually needed. If and when pure optical wavelength conversion breaks out of the lab these could be used instead.

The photonic switch in this case needs to be much larger in this case, 200 inputs probably being the minimum to handle the expected transit plus transponder traffic.

Extra bits:

  • Use some spare ports on the photonic switch to allow (remotely triggered) hard loops on the line system to aid link troubleshooting

  • The management port is just one locked wave (possibly 1300nm) running ethernet

  • If there was any way to usably have an ODTR permanently hooked to the trunk TX/RX fibres (not permanently running, but automatic on failure of management channel) that would be ideal

  • The trunk side of things could simply be a JDSU "AON Super Transport Blade" with the WSS removed

  • The Glimmerglass photonic switches are the obvious candidates for switches, although they only go to 192x192 with simple design a CLOS tree should allow expansion to N-degree M-wavelength systems

If used as a metro system this could even not need the amps or attenuators, making this a purely passive system, yet fully switchable. IF you trusted the optics enough (or just accepted the occasional interference) you could drop the filters as well, reducing this to an off the shelf optimux going into an off the shelf photonic switch (although the cabling load would kill it if you tried to build it like that).

In theory a 40 wave, 1 degree terminal built against this should easily fit in 6RU or less, and cost much less then the active systems of today (albeit more then the fixed passives of today). A 4 degree interconnect should fit in 8-10RU plus any space needed for wavelength converting transponders.

Julien Goodwin: Moving to Sydney

Wed, 2014-06-04 02:28
On July 4th I start my next great challenge as I start a new operations job in Sydney at Google (office is in Pyrmont next to the casino for those who may not know).

More then just leaving my job of just over three years at Editure (MyInternet / SchoolsNet for the Melbourne old-guard) it means leaving Melbourne entirely, something both exciting and quite scary.

In the past I've not been a fan of Sydney, but a few needed trips over the past year have gotten me over that and I've come to appreciate Sydney as a different but interesting city; I doubt I'll ever love it as I do Melbourne but I think I can enjoy living there.

Possibly the best part of this move is the opportunity to live in a more sane location and rid myself of much of my current 3 hour (~90 minutes each way) commute. I'm hoping to eventually rent a place in (probably) Glebe and walk or bike to work. Unfortunately the experiences of a former coworker show that it's not practical to rent in Sydney without being physically present so I still need to find a solution for the first few weeks (any pointers greatly appreciated). Not being a driver either means that setting up a place will be "interesting".

It will also be great to get to know a bunch of people that I only ever meet at the yearly, OSDC, and SAGE-AU conferences, starting, most certainly with the SLUG crew. If you're a Sydney-type I'd love to know what else goes on that I should know about.

Julien Goodwin: New Years Eve Video's

Wed, 2014-06-04 02:28
Two video's I made on New Years Eve.

First, the state of my networking lab:

Second, here's my main home reference rolling over to the new year, as well as some other quick clock info.

If you're interested in learning more about timing my OSDC 2010 presentation on the topic is available at blip.

Julien Goodwin: JunOS version comparuson

Wed, 2014-06-04 02:28

Recently I've been cleaning up my OS image collections of my Cisco and Juniper kit. Doing version comparison in IOS is a right pain in the a@#, but JunOS is fairly simple, albeit beyond the built-in sorting capabilities of most languages. So here's a simple PHP function, suitable for the usort family of functions that sorts by release version.


function compare_junos_versions($v1, $v2) {

    // Quoth the manual:

    // The comparison function must return an integer less than, equal to,

    // or greater than zero if the first argument is considered to be 

    // respectively less than, equal to, or greater than the second.

    $regex = '/([1-9]?[0-9])\.([0-9])([RS])([0-9]+)\.([0-9]+)/';

    preg_match($regex, $v1, $c1);

    preg_match($regex, $v2, $c2);

    // Major

    if ($c1[1] > $c2[1]) return 1;

    if ($c1[1] < $c2[1]) return -1;

    // Minor

    if ($c1[2] > $c2[2]) return 1;

    if ($c1[2] < $c2[2]) return -1;

    // Release / Service

    if ( ! ($c1[3] == $c2[3])) { // By far the common case is both are release

        if ($c1[3] == 'S') return 1;

        if ($c2[3] == 'S') return -1;


    // Revision

    if ($c1[4] > $c2[4]) return 1;

    if ($c1[4] < $c2[4]) return -1;

    // Build

    if ($c1[5] > $c2[5]) return 1;

    if ($c1[5] < $c2[5]) return -1;

    // And I guess they're equal

    return 0;



Julien Goodwin: Leonard Cohen - Democracy

Wed, 2014-06-04 02:28

Inspired by seeing Leonard Cohen playing at Rod Laver last Friday (and Crowded House there the week before) here's a few things that I wish more bands would do to make their concerts a more memorable experience.

  • Simplify the lighting, yes automated moving lights are now cheap, however simple colour washes and the (very) occasional static gobo logo can serve very well, a simple chase can add more then enough movement.
  • Run the sound only as loud as it actually needs to be. Here's one where rock/pop concerts will always fall down due to the more engaged audience.
  • On sound, it should be clear, try for a minimum of effects and reverb (obviously this is after anything used as an effect in the songs), EQ should only be used for aiding clarity and cleaning frequency response. People want to head the subtle nuances in the performance.
  • Finally, to the performers, if you can find great players / singers, who can get into a groove, and don't feel the need to "show off" with solo's that guarantees a memorable performance.
  • And if you're not contributing to the music get off the stage.

As you might expect, Leonard Cohen got all of these, Crowded House were too loud and had a few bits of gratuitous lighting, but otherwise hit them. That's why I was happy with both concerts.

Julien Goodwin: The "Qantas Feedback Panel"

Wed, 2014-06-04 02:28
I was invited by Qantas to join their feedback panel, and despite recent service being fairly unimpressive (Given that I flew one one of the very last flights before the grounding, and two the day the took to the air again that's not surprising) I decided to give it a try.

After my flight to Melbourne for Christmas I got a link to a survey, in it they asked a few questions about service on the ground and in the air. However instead of using text boxes they decided that a 1-10 value was sufficient.

They also rate limit the survey to (based on a forum posting somewhere) not more often then once every 10 days. This means that after my flight back to Sydney, in which many more things went wrong, and right, then normal there was no way to let them know through this channel.

I think both of these are wrong, if I was doing it I would ask five questions (based on their existing questions):

  1. What, if anything, impressed you with your experience when booking, and on the ground?
  2. What, if anything, disappointed you with your experience when booking, and on the ground?
  3. What, if anything, impressed you with your experience in the air?
  4. What, if anything, disappointed you with your experience in the air?
  5. Any other feedback about this flight?

And in addition to mailing (do it as one mail for all flights at the end of a round trip if it's for a week or less) make the link available as a "give feedback on a recent flight" link for all Frequent Flyers. Perhaps give some nominal bonus (miles/status credits) to people who give feedback that Qantas are able to take action on.

Yes using free text requires more time to review, but it's needed if they really want feedback. Even one person should easily be able to handle 100 requests that need to be examined and passed on for action, or many times that for ones that say nothing specific (or simple things like "the baggage service in SYD is very slow") per day.

Julien Goodwin: The obliagatory 30000' post

Wed, 2014-06-04 02:28
I'm on a plane cruising over the pacific ocean, so it must be time for another instalment of "Julien writes a blog post about a Cory Doctorow book while sitting in (premium) economy on-board a Qantas jet flying to/from the US".

First of all, the Qantas A380.

It's an interesting aircraft, unlike the 747 it lacks that massive sense of power on a fully loaded take-off roll. Overall it's a nice plane, but I still hold a torch for the 747. It is quieter which is nice as I somehow lost my custom earplugs. Premium economy is about the same as in the 747, except it's upstairs which ads to the privacy (despite requesting upgrades to business on both outbound and return I failed to win the upgrade lottery although I did luck out with an empty seat next to me on the way out). The bathrooms seem smaller then on the 747, although given that it's over two years since I've flown on one of those that could just be wishful thinking. The entertainment system seems like a small, but nice, improvement over the 747. One thing that makes me very sad however is that Qantas (or possibly one of the aviation regulators that they're beholden to) felt the need to keep lit "no smoking" signs, which doesn't help people like me sleep with all those extra points of fairly bright light. However for some strange reason the in-seat power doesn't seem to work for my thinkpad (tried multiple chargers both 60w and 90w, one of them [the 90w] nearly brand new, with both Australian an US plugs), fortunately this one still gets over five hours of battery life even though it's coming up on 18 months old with the original battery. (Update: of course when the flight attendant tried it worked fine, go figure), of course then the plane decided we're on a landing trek and turned all the lights on and killed seat power which took a few minutes to resolve.

It's a real shame that Qantas don't offer the SYD-SFO service any more, evidenced solely by the number of people connecting from bay-area flights there's still demand for it, and Qantas did state it was a profitable route, I hope when more A380's come that they'll reintroduce it as a 747 route.

I also feel obligated to give a shout out to the cute PM from Oracle with whom I had a nice chat in LAX while waiting to board (another Aussie working in the valley).

As I've been in the states for a few weeks I've done a bunch of shopping, picking up a few things that are unavailable, or just too expensive in Australia.

The item longest on my list was a Unicomp keyboard, particularly the version with the inbuilt trackpoint (or whatever female body part you prefer to call them). It's so nice to have a solid keyboard again, and I'll certainly enjoy having a good keyboard to work off, Google offers a decent variety of keyboards for their staff, but none were ones I was particularly happy with.

Next comes a slightly odder one, Pelican, well known for making hard cases came out a year or so ago with their "1510 LOC" which is a 1510 case (supposedly the maximum dimensions for a carry-on bag, not that anyone respects that) but with inserts that make it into a small overnight case, with a neoprene laptop sleeve in the lid, it's a very nice combination, and (hopefully) somewhere below me is mine carrying many of my newly acquired gadgets.

In terms of new gadgets I picked up the two newest form of Amazon's Kindle, neither available outside the US, the Touch and the Fire. I've never owned an e-Reader of any sort before so these are new to me. My general view is that the fire, for anyone outside the US is a waste of money (unless you want a 7" tablet for custom apps, which was my plan). The touch on the other hand is a much nicer device, only let down by its lack of physical page-turn buttons, and well worth the US$100 price. (For more of my view on the fire see the Delimiter review and my comments on it)

I picked up a FitBit Ultra for a friend and decided to try one myself, not a bad little unit, but once I've got my typical daily stats I suspect the novelty will wear off and I'll not bother with them, the sleep tracking I gave up on after less than half a night due to the uncomfortable wrist band.

The rest of my purchases were fairly minimal, a couple of random bits from a Frys trip and other odd pieces from the Amazon order.

As mentioned I was in the states for a few weeks, only a few days short of a whole month. My trip started with a big off-site for all of NetOps (and associated groups) down in San Diego, of which many of us from Sydney missed much of due to the need to cover our Sydney shifts combined with an unexpected critical update we had to roll out across many of our devices. I will say that even the basement of a five star hotel is a nice place, and ordering many hundreds of dollars of room service on the company is oddly fun.

Given the number of (staff) visitors Google has in Mountain View they've bought up a bunch of corporate apartments which was my home for this trip, combined with the Google shuttle bus' for commuting, and that I ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the office nearly every day (notable exceptions were the days around Thanksgiving when much of the campus shut down) during the week this allowed me to have eyes only for the company. But even with this I don't think I'd actually move there, this trip reinforced for me that outside a few major cities it's close to impossible to live in the states without having a car, and an inability to get to all sorts of places would get to me very quickly. It is annoying however that the en-suite bathroom in my corporate apartment was at least twice the size of the bathroom in my apartment in Sydney.

All this has been a nice distraction from actually writing about Cory's book "With a little help". This is a short story compilation so it's hard to actually give a good review of the content given its varied nature. The story on what Google could be like if we/they actually tried to be evil was scary, not least because I started thinking about the interesting technical challenges that would be involved, only to see Cory's note at the end suggesting that interest in the challenges as one plausible way that Google might head down that slope. One thing that I can comment on however was the physical aspect, I bought the hardbound version and am actually somewhat disappointed with it as a *book*, it's beautiful, but not quite as good as a typical machine binding, also the paper is a little too thick to be a nice read, but does give it some gravitas as a trinket.

Julien Goodwin: JunOS apply-groups

Wed, 2014-06-04 02:28
Ivan Pepelnjak has recently been playing with JunOS, and was wondering how people configure various things.

Here's how to use Juniper's built-in groups feature to make configuring backbone interfaces in an IS-IS+MPLS environment trivial (and I've thrown in IPv6 for free). This is not a complete config (notably IS-IS I've left out as I'm too tired to write that as well).

One other trick I've included is using groups to set your own defaults, in this case the frame scrambler for SONET links.

groups { BACKBONE { interfaces { <*> { mtu 2000; unit 0 { family iso; family inet6; family mpls; } } } } SONET-DEFAULTS { interfaces { <so-*> { sonet-options { fcs 32; } } } } } interfaces { apply-groups SONET-DEFAULTS; ge-0/0/0 { apply-groups BACKBONE; unit 0 { description "A Backbone link"; family inet { address; } } } so-0/1/0 { apply-groups BACKBONE; unit 0 { description "Another backbone link"; family inet { address; } } } } protocols { rsvp { interface all; interface fxp0 { disable; } } mpls { interface all; interface fxp0 { disable; } } }

Andrew Pollock: [life] Day 125: Kindergarten, startup stuff, doctor

Tue, 2014-06-03 21:25

I had a busy day today. Zoe was up moderately early, and so we were able to get to Kindergarten (by car on account of her persistent cough) relatively early.

After I got back home, I got stuck into some more modules for my real estate licence course, and then jumped on a bus to the city to have lunch with a guy one of the mentors at River City Labs had introduce me to.

Lunch proved to be very illuminating, and I've got a couple more introductions lined up from it to discuss things further. I'm pretty excited about this particular idea if I can cut through all of the red tape and government bureaucracy.

I took a taxi home, and the whole trip in and out worked out much cheaper than yesterday's $50 parking extortion, so I think a bus + taxi is a pretty good compromise.

I had a little bit more time before I had to go to Kindergarten, so I knocked out some of the assessment for the current module I'd been working on, and then drove to Kindergarten.

We had to spend a bit of time trying to track down one of Zoe's socks before we left, and then we headed over to the doctor to get Zoe's cough looked at. Zoe has a memory like an elephant, and remembered that this was where she got her flu shot, and wanted to know if she was getting another needle today. Once I reassured her she wasn't, she was fine.

The appointment went fine, and we did a spot of shopping on the way home.

We had a pretty uneventful evening.