From the Canyon Edge -- :-Dustin

Thursday, September 29, 2016

OpenZFS Developer Summit Keynote: Everything Old is New Again...But Better!

On Monday this week, I was afforded the distinct privilege to deliver the opening keynote at the OpenZFS Developer Summit in San Francisco.  It was a beautiful little event, with a full day of informative presentations and lots of networking during lunch and breaks.

Below, you can view my slides, download the PDF, or watch the talk (starts at 31:10) and demo in its entirety.

Hopefully you'll enjoy the demo -- especially the most interesting raw tracing system new in the Ubuntu 16.04 LTS Linux 4.4 kernel, something called The Berkeley Packet Filter, or "BPF" for short.  I used a series of open source utilities from Brendan Gregg (from Netflix), called iovisor/bcc.  Quoting the on Github:

BCC is a toolkit for creating efficient kernel tracing and manipulation programs, and includes several useful tools and examples. It makes use of extended BPF (Berkeley Packet Filters), formally known as eBPF, a new feature that was first added to Linux 3.15. Much of what BCC uses requires Linux 4.1 and above.
I'll follow up this post with another one, formally introducing BPF and how to install and use bcc in Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, if anyone is interested...


Monday, September 26, 2016

Container Camp London: Streamlining HPC Workloads with Containers

A couple of weeks ago, I delivered a talk at the Container Camp UK 2016.  It was an brilliant event, on a beautiful stage at Picturehouse Central in Picadilly Circus in London.

You're welcome to view the slides or download them as a PDF, or watch my talk below.

And for the techies who want to skip the slide fluff and get their hands dirty, setup your OpenStack and LXD and start streamlining your HPC workloads using this guide.


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

HOWTO: Launch an Ubuntu Cloud Image with KVM from the Command Line

I reinstalled my primary laptop (Lenovo x250) about 3 months ago (June 30, 2016), when I got a shiny new SSD, with a fresh Ubuntu 16.04 LTS image.

Just yesterday, I needed to test something in KVM.  Something that could only be tested in KVM.

kirkland@x250:~⟫ kvm
The program 'kvm' is currently not installed. You can install it by typing:
sudo apt install qemu-kvm
127 kirkland@x250:~⟫ 

I don't have KVM installed?  How is that even possible?  I used to be the maintainer of the virtualization stack in Ubuntu (kvm, qemu, libvirt, virt-manager, et al.)!  I lived and breathed virtualization on Ubuntu for years...

Alas, it seems that I've use LXD for everything these days!  It's built into every Ubuntu 16.04 LTS server, and one 'apt install lxd' away from having it on your desktop.  With ZFS, instances start in under 3 seconds.  Snapshots, live migration, an image store, a REST API, all built in.  Try it out, if you haven't, it's great!

kirkland@x250:~⟫ time lxc launch ubuntu:x
Creating supreme-parakeet
Starting supreme-parakeet
real    0m1.851s
user    0m0.008s
sys     0m0.000s
kirkland@x250:~⟫ lxc exec supreme-parakeet bash

But that's enough of a LXD advertisement...back to the title of the blog post.

Here, I want to download an Ubuntu cloud image, and boot into it.  There's one extra step nowadays.  You need to create your "user data" and feed it into cloud-init.

First, create a simple text file, called "seed":

kirkland@x250:~⟫ cat seed
password: passw0rd
chpasswd: { expire: False }
ssh_pwauth: True
ssh_import_id: kirkland

Now, generate a "seed.img" disk, like this:

kirkland@x250:~⟫ cloud-localds seed.img seed
kirkland@x250:~⟫ ls -halF seed.img 
-rw-rw-r-- 1 kirkland kirkland 366K Sep 20 17:12 seed.img

Next, download your image from

kirkland@x250:~⟫ wget                                                                                                                                                          
--2016-09-20 17:13:57--
Resolving (, 2001:67c:1360:8001:ffff:ffff:ffff:fffe
Connecting to (||:80... connected.
HTTP request sent, awaiting response... 200 OK
Length: 312606720 (298M) [application/octet-stream]
Saving to: ‘xenial-server-cloudimg-amd64-disk1.img’
100%[=================================] 298.12M  3.35MB/s    in 88s     
2016-09-20 17:15:25 (3.39 MB/s) - ‘xenial-server-cloudimg-amd64-disk1.img’ saved [312606720/312606720]

In the nominal case, you can now just launch KVM, and add your user data as a cdrom disk.  When it boots, you can login with "ubuntu" and "passw0rd", which we set in the seed:

kirkland@x250:~⟫ kvm -cdrom seed.img -hda xenial-server-cloudimg-amd64-disk1.img

Finally, let's enable more bells an whistles, and speed this VM up.  Let's give it all 4 CPUs, a healthy 8GB of memory, a virtio disk, and let's port forward ssh to 2222:

kirkland@x250:~⟫ kvm -m 8192 \
    -smp 4 \
    -cdrom seed.img \
    -device e1000,netdev=user.0 \
    -netdev user,id=user.0,hostfwd=tcp::5555-:22 \
    -drive file=xenial-server-cloudimg-amd64-disk1.img,if=virtio,cache=writeback,index=0

And with that, we can how ssh into the VM, with the public SSH key specified in our seed:

kirkland@x250:~⟫ ssh -p 5555 ubuntu@localhost
The authenticity of host '[localhost]:5555 ([]:5555)' can't be established.
RSA key fingerprint is SHA256:w2FyU6TcZVj1WuaBA799pCE5MLShHzwio8tn8XwKSdg.
No matching host key fingerprint found in DNS.
Are you sure you want to continue connecting (yes/no)? yes

Welcome to Ubuntu 16.04.1 LTS (GNU/Linux 4.4.0-36-generic x86_64)

 * Documentation:
 * Management:
 * Support:

  Get cloud support with Ubuntu Advantage Cloud Guest:

0 packages can be updated.
0 updates are security updates.



Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Howdy, Windows! A Six-part Series about Ubuntu-on-Windows for

I hope you'll enjoy a shiny new 6-part blog series I recently published at
  1. The first article is a bit of back story, perhaps a behind-the-scenes look at the motivations, timelines, and some of the work performed between Microsoft and Canonical to bring Ubuntu to Windows.
  2. The second article is an updated getting-started guide, with screenshots, showing a Windows 10 user exactly how to enable and run Ubuntu on Windows.
  3. The third article walks through a dozen or so examples of the most essential command line utilities a Windows user, new to Ubuntu (and Bash), should absolutely learn.
  4. The fourth article shows how to write and execute your first script, "Howdy, Windows!", in 6 different dynamic scripting languages (Bash, Python, Perl, Ruby, PHP, and NodeJS).
  5. The fifth article demonstrates how to write, compile, and execute your first program in 7 different compiled programming languages (C, C++, Fortran, Golang).
  6. The sixth and final article conducts some performance benchmarks of the CPU, Memory, Disk, and Network, in both native Ubuntu on a physical machine, and Ubuntu on Windows running on the same system.
I really enjoyed writing these.  Hopefully you'll try some of the examples, and share your experiences using Ubuntu native utilities on a Windows desktop.  You can find the source code of the programming examples in Github and Launchpad:

Friday, June 24, 2016

HOWTO: Host your own SNAP store!

SNAPs are the cross-distro, cross-cloud, cross-device Linux packaging format of the future.  And we're already hosting a fantastic catalog of SNAPs in the SNAP store provided by Canonical.  Developers are welcome to publish their software for distribution across hundreds millions of Ubuntu servers, desktops, and devices.

Several people have asked the inevitable open source software question, "SNAPs are awesome, but how can I stand up my own SNAP store?!?"

The answer is really quite simple...  SNAP stores are really just HTTP web servers!  Of course, you can get fancy with branding, and authentication, and certificates.  But if you just want to host SNAPs and enable downstream users to fetch and install software, well, it's pretty trivial.

In fact, Bret Barker has published an open source (Apache License) SNAP store on GitHub.  We're already looking at how to flesh out his proof-of-concept and bring it into snapcore itself.

Here's a little HOWTO install and use it.

First, I launched an instance in AWS.  Of course I could have launched an Ubuntu 16.04 LTS instance, but actually, I launched a Fedora 24 instance!  In fact, you could run your SNAP store on any OS that currently supports SNAPs, really, or even just fork this GitHub repo and install it stand alone..  See

Now, let's find and install a snapstore SNAP.  (Note that in this AWS instance of Fedora 24, I also had to 'sudo yum install squashfs-tools kernel-modules'.

At this point, you're running a SNAP store (webserver) on port 5000.

Now, let's reconfigure snapd to talk to our own SNAP store, and search for a SNAP.

Finally, let's install and inspect that SNAP.

How about that?  Easy enough!


Monday, June 20, 2016

HOWTO: Classic, apt-based Ubuntu 16.04 LTS Server on the rpi2!

Classic Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, on an rpi2
Hopefully by now you're well aware of Ubuntu Core -- the snappiest way to run Ubuntu on a Raspberry Pi...

But have you ever wanted to run classic (apt/deb) Ubuntu Server on a RaspberryPi2?

Well, you're in luck!  Follow these instructions, and you'll be up in running in minutes!

First, download the released image (214MB):

$ wget

Next, uncompress it:

$ unxz *xz

Now, write it to a microSD card using dd.  I'm using the card reader built into my Thinkpad, but you might use a USB adapter.  You'll need to figure out the block device of your card, and perhaps unmount it, if necessary.  Then, you can write the image to disk:

$ sudo dd if=ubuntu-16.04-preinstalled-server-armhf+raspi2.img of=/dev/mmcblk0 bs=32M
$ sync

Now, pop it into your rpi2, and power it on.

If it's connected to a USB mouse and an HDMI monitor, then you'll land in a console where you can login with the username 'ubuntu' and password 'ubuntu', and then you'll be forced to choose a new password.

Assuming it has an Ethernet connection, it should DHCP.  You might need to check your router to determine what IP address it got, or it sets it's hostname to 'ubuntu'.  In my case, I could automatically resolve it on my network, at ubuntu.canyonedge, with IP address, and ssh to it:

$ ssh ubuntu@ubuntu.canyonedge

Again, you can login on first boot with password 'ubuntu' and you're required to choose a new password.

On first boot, it will automatically resize the filesystem to use all of the available space on the MicroSD card -- much nicer than having to resize2fs yourself in some offline mode!

Now, you're off and running.  Have fun with sudo, apt, byobu, lxd, docker, and everything else you'd expect to find on a classic Ubuntu server ;-)  Heck, you'll even find the snap command, where you'll be able to install snap packages, right on top of your classic Ubuntu Server!  And if that doesn't just bake your noodle...


Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Changelog Podcast -- Ubuntu Everywhere

I had the honor and privilege a couple of weeks ago, to participate in a recording of The Changelog, a podcast dedicated to Open Source technology.

You can listen to it here.

These guys -- Jerod and Adam -- produce a fantastic show, and we covered a lot of ground!

Give it a listen, and follow the links at the bottom of their page (their site is hosted on Ubuntu, of course!) to learn more.