SRMPDS at ICPADS conference in Taiwan

Had been to the ICPADS'07 (The 13th International Conference on Parallel and Distributed Systems) conference held in Taiwan.  The Virtualization Aware Job Schedulers for Checkpoint-Restart paper which I co-authored was to be presented at the SRMPDS'07 (Third International Workshop on Scheduling and Resource Management for Parallel and Distributed Systems) workshop, which was held in conjunction with ICPADS. The presentation was a unique experience as this was my first presentation to the research community as such. But a few tips from Badri, helped me to prepare well for the presentation. The presentation went well.

The conference itself was interesting. Meet a lot of interesting folks out there. Was quite a learning experience !!


The
Hsinchu city was very much like any other city. We went to a temple in the middle of city. Saw around the city hall, went to few hotels for  conference dinners and also city gate. Well the most interesting thing I noticed was that there were a lot of people riding small scooters (the scooty kind of bike which you see in India). They drove quite fast. Fortunately the conference organizers had warned us well in advance, so no mishaps occured. But was interesting to find another city where you have to be as careful as crossing a busy Bangalore street :-)

Another visit to Japan

It has been a few years since I went to Japan. Last month, I had to travel to Japan for the second time.

Most of the folks whom I know, have difficulty with Japanese food, well.. some how I like the food there. So typically do not carry any noodles pack. What impressed me the most last time, was the cleanliness. I still vividly remember the sight of a lorry-kind-of machine cleaning the roads using some form of soap water. Well.. really... was I dreaming.. don't know.. but the memory is still there. Whether it is true or not, the cleanliness is really distinguishable. Everything is spic and span. And considering the orderly fashion in which they arrange the garbage collection - you have to place a specific type of garbage out on a particular day of the week, like..say plastic garbage on Monday, paper garbage on Tuesday...etc - the cleanliness is a given. The underground train stations were impressive and if not traveling during rush hour, were really comfortable. 

It was in Japan that I "touched" snow for the first time :-) It snowed while I was there last time. It was also the first time I cooked on my own (barring a few times when I cooked during my scout camp days). Unfortunately, as there were no friends staying with me then, there is no proof of how tasty the food was ;-) Breakfast was typically some banana stuff, lunch from local Japanese hotels and dinner was typically from "KK kitchen".

That was my first international trip. Hence  was not sure on what all to carry. So finally I landed in Japan with a suitcase which did not have a trolley tyre..and of course the suitcase was heavy..so was mostly holding it with both hands. I still remember during my return trip to the train station, which was at a distance from the place I was staying, I literally carried  the  suitcase on my head :-( !!

Coming back to this trip. I did go sight seeing a bit. But other than that I was mostly at the hotel. Hotel had a sidewalk beside a river kind of body. Have got some nice photos taken by my friend Shree. Will post them soon.

30th Top 500 list

Its quite some time now since I updated my blog. A lot of travel and work since the last blog.
Now that holidays have set in here goes some blogathon....

30th Top500 list was announced recently. Lot of interesting stuff on the list. Top #4(117.9)  and #5(102.8) from HP ;-) this time around.

Here is the cynosure from the list:
For the first time ever, India placed a system in the Top 10. The Computational Research Laboratories, a wholly owned subsidiary of Tata Sons Ltd. in Pune, India, installed a Hewlett-Packard Cluster Platform 3000 BL460c system.

Cool.. :-)

Here is the link for the interested: http://www.top500.org/blog/2007/11/09/30th_edition_top500_list_world_s_fastest_supercomputers_released_big_turnover_among_top_10_systems


Xen 3.0.4 and some experiments

I have been trying to run Xen on some machines. Here are some points which I had to learn the hard way (mostly because I was trying things on a messed up system, so most of the below stuff may not applicable to typical systems):
  • The initrd of Xen may not have the disk driver that is required for your system. Hint: Use --preload option of "mkinitrd" to get your disk driver loaded before other modules.
  • Xen console uses /dev/pts/*. So make sure devpts is mounted. Hint: Fedora uses will have it already mounted via mention in /etc/fstab.
  • Xen "xenstore -ls" gives you better understanding of the devices which the xen dom U uses. Very useful while debugging issues with xen devices, such as consoles.
  • Looks like DomU kernels are not packaged and placed for Fedora et. al. Just get the src installed and compile the domU kernel using - make KERNELS="linux-2.6-xenU"

Here are some linux tips related to initrd which comes very handy (aha.. finally i have documented it here, so no more google searching every time i need it ;-))
  • To create an initrd image, run the following in the directory which will become the root of the image:
    •  find . | cpio -c -o | gzip -9 > initrd.img
  • To extract the initrd image, run the following:
    • cat initrd.img | gunzip | cpio -ivd

Visit to San Antonio

Had been to San Antonio, Texas for an internal conference, for a week. I met Abraham Lempel of the LZ compression algorithm fame. Talking to him was indeed a very heart warming experience - to find such great technical giants to be humble and down to earth. Went out a bit during the spare time (which was of course rare !). Visited the Tower of Americas and the 4-D show at the same venue. The 4-D experience was a good one, there were lot of 4 dimensional experience such as smell (?) and feeling of water etc. Also went to Riverwalk, Sea World and Alamo.





















Travel to and from US, was tiresome and mostly boring. Could not do anything other than sleep and watch movies. Well.. I made most of movie watching time - Casino Royale, Holiday, Music and Lyrics were few of them.

Well now back to Bangalore.. the sweet home :-)


Once again - rainy days

I like rain. Rain, is what I enjoy the best among the gifts of nature. So when it rained last week (first few rains of the season in Bangalore) I was very happy. That rain brought some relief to lonely times without my "better-half" (as she is on travel). Although the first rain was bringing the dust and dirt of bangalore skies down on my light colored shirt, I was still feeling the touch of nature, the soothing, caring touch... pouring down as some sort of blessing. People driving along must have thought - what a crazy man smiling (the kind of 70mm smile, if you know what it means ;-) ) driving in rain...Well I like driving in rain..I still remember on the day of my marriage, I had started out for my  temple visit on the scooter (before starting to the marriage venue) and rain started pouring.. that was really golden, that moment when you feel nature is giving you what you want on one of the most important days of your life..the amazing thing was that the rain lasted on for a few minutes, just felt so much like it came for me. Watching the rain drops falling I can spend a long time... thinking of how beautiful it is, just like the song of birds, the rising sun, .... just like all other gifts of nature..its so beautiful.

Using the latest "octave" package

I was trying to use the latest octave - 2.9.9. Most of the commands from the the older version of octave does not work with this. I finally had to use __gnuplot_raw__  to get the desired effect. Also remember that the default print.m from octave uses png image with "large" size which leads to weird graphs. Use the "small" specification for png images.

New to octave ?
For folks who are new to octave: Octave can be used to create graphs very quickly,  in addition to other numerical computations you can do with it. It uses the gnuplot package under its skin and hence we can give raw gnuplot commands, which is what I did by using the __gnuplot_raw__. Look into the following link for more details on the package: http://www.gnu.org/software/octave/.

A very handy tool for any researcher who wants to get quick plots out of data.
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Upgrading to Xen FC6 and kmail to thunderbird move

After a long time, took time to upgrade one of my systems to Fedora Core 6.  I did the xen based installation, which now comes by default with FC6. One problem which I faced was that the system would hang, with monitor going to off mode, while booting. A bit of google and found the reason - seems like some bug with xorg was causing the monitor to go to a weird state. I updated the xorg* packages using yum and every thing was back to normal.

I have been searching for an easy way to migrate my kmail mails to thunderbird. Have been using thunderbird for imap based stuff a lot, but not in daily use. Now I  have decided to use thunderbird by default because of the search speed it gives. The FAQ at thunderbird site did say about converting maildir (format which kmail by default stores the mails) to mbox (which thunderbird stores mails) using the kmail application. But now after the new install, there is no more kmail on the system...oops.. now what.. Well more googlies.. and I figured out that maildir2mbox tool which apparently comes with qmail can be used. But then I was looking for an out-of-the-box solution. Finally came across this link: http://www.systemsaligned.com/content/view/18/19/. The site offers a script built over the maildir2mbox binary. The good part is it also provides that binary for download. I did some experiments with my TO-CC filtered folder and it seems to be working pretty nicely. So lets see.. in the coming days I will do kmail to thunderbird migration of more folders.