• Archives

  • Categories:

  • Other profiles

OSCON 2019

Last month I had the opportunity to attend OSCON for the first time since 2015. It was nice to be back, the conference attracts a lot of great speakers, but it’s also a nice opportunity to see how the landscape has shifted when it comes to corporate sponsorship. Who has the big booths? Who has downsized? What are the top open source projects being promoted, and what products have come of them? This is all information you can infer from keeping up to date with tech news and broad open source community news, but it’s an experience to witness it first hand and see where companies really are investing.

My presence this year was all around LinuxONE, and I was joined by my colleague Leon Kiriliuk for our two days of booth duty at the event. Our push at these open source events is two-fold:

  • Tell developers and infrastructure engineers that mainframes still exist, and geek out over hardware with them
  • Invite them to create an account on the LinuxONE Community Cloud for a free virtual machine so they can test their applications there, and either start building for s390x, or publish they’ve tested it and it works

Given my long time interest in trying out alternate architectures, these are fun discussions to have, and with Leon there I learned a tremendous amount about the hardware that I wasn’t aware of before.

A short slide deck ran on rotation at the booth. The most popular slides were definitely the wall-of-logos showing a bunch of the open source software verified for LinuxONE, and the third slide which talks about the hardware. I made the deck available here: IBM_LinuxONE_-_OSCON.pdf (12M PDF)

Beyond the booth were talks. Aside from the general technical talks about various open source projects and products, I felt from the keynote that the conference had a trend around community building. It feels like just a few years ago that most companies investing in open source believed “people will just show up” if they build a compelling project. At minimum, most would invest in a couple developers who would review patches, but not much thought was put into actual development of the community. Today you see a lot more people employed as Developer Advocates (myself included) who are fully entrenched in the community and communicating improvements, and companies are taking community a lot more seriously. They’ve realized that real investment needs to be made in order to foster healthy communities that people want to contribute to and their customers gravitate toward, and the keynotes on the first day reflected that.

The second day of keynotes had a lot of discussion about where open source stands today and where it’s going. There’s have been several high-profile instances of re-licensing projects by companies who suddenly felt they can’t survive when large service providers start offering their projects as services on their platform. It was interesting hearing from speakers coming at this from different angles, from believing that new licenses and definitions are required, to simply developing a better understanding of how a company can thrive alongside large service providers.

Finally, it was really exciting to see the Faces of Open Source exhibit at the event. I had my picture taken for this last fall, when I was about 5 months pregnant! So I’ll admit, I hung out near the exhibit for a few minutes until I got to see my own smiling face. Bonus, it popped up alongside Mitchell Baker and Zaheda Bhorat!

Due to the arrival of my little one in January, this was the first generalist open source conference of the year I managed to get to, but it’s thankfully not the last. I’m off to the Open Source Summit in San Diego next week.

More photos available here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/albums/72157710021063781

Exclusively Pumping

As breastfeeding week (August 1-7th) comes to a close, I have finally gathered up the courage to write about a topic been very personal to me: exclusively pumping.

Exclusive pumping in the realm of breastfeeding means I don’t nurse, but my baby does get breast milk. Instead of nursing, I sit down five times a day (down from 8-10 in the early weeks!) and express milk with a breast pump. He is then fed from a bottle. I’ve been doing it seven months now.

But let’s step back a bit.

When I thought about all the things that would be difficult about having a child, feeding my child didn’t factor largely into it. After a lifetime of “breast is best” encouragements, I knew I wanted to feed him breast milk. At the recommendation of a friend of mine, I dutifully ordered my insurance-covered breast pump before our baby was born so I’d have time to learn how to use it before I went back to work and would have to pump during the day and when I traveled for work. Otherwise, I simply assumed I’d be nursing, and didn’t spend much time thinking about it. It’s a thing mammals do, how hard could it be?

Turns out it’s incredibly hard for some women, including me.

While I was in the hospital recovering from the birth, lactation consultants came around to make sure babies were properly latching. We thought it was going OK, but after going home it seemed like my little one was never getting enough. Along with some other issues, we ended up returning to the hospital so he could spend a couple days in the NICU. I won’t get into the emotional roller-coaster that was, but it was during this period that I learned how to use my breast pump at home so we could bring breast milk to the hospital for him. I saw the lactation consultants again while I was there so they could once again examine our form before going home, but we were bottle feeding him breast milk and supplementing with formula while in the NICU.

When we finally brought our little one home for good, I had grown somewhat accustom to pumping, but I continued trying to get him to nurse. We then had family come into town for his bris and naming, so suddenly my house had gone from housing just my husband and me, to acting as home base to my mother, grandfather, aunt, and in-laws, close friend, plus a new baby! Even with the incredible support I got from my aunt who stayed with us for seven weeks, I found the fear of a return to the NICU, coupled with the stress of so many guests and not being able to get my little one to effectively latch to be too much. My husband would walk in to me in tears after another unsuccessful nursing attempt, and it was he who first suggested I stop trying to nurse and just pump. Pumping seemed to be working, and once the milk was expressed, it meant anyone could feed him!

It was a tough decision, and I felt like I was a failure, but my husband was right, pumping was working for me. I stopped trying to nurse and went the exclusively pumping route before I even knew it had a name.

Since then, I discovered the Exclusive Pumping website, along with the lifesaver of a Facebook group. I’ve also learned how difficult this first year is for a breastfeeding mother, regardless of how the breast milk gets in to your baby. Exclusively pumping has worked for me though, in addition to giving everyone the opportunity to feed him (and for me to get more sleep!), it’s allowed us to precisely track his intake (peace of mind after the NICU), caused minimal disruption when I go into the office or travel for work (milk is always from the bottle!), avoided expensive formula costs (though pumping supplies aren’t free), and allowed me to build up a healthy freezer stash so I may be able to provide him milk for longer than I’m actively supplying it (possible when nursing, but trickier to gauge how much to pump and store).

It’s not all great though. I’ve pumped in the back seat of our truck, on airplanes, at a half dozen airports, while I’m commuting, in my office, and in the lactation room of an office I was visiting.

Inside a Mamava pod at an aiport

Inside a particularly spacious lactation space at another airport

Five times a day I need to make time for it, and if I go more than six hours without pumping, I start getting pain that will last long after I finally am able to pump. I got mastitis once, which gave me piles of misery for days and a fever that lasted two days – all of which happened to land while my husband was on a business trip. I can’t take the birth control pill that best controls my migraines because it caused a drop in my supply so severe that I couldn’t keep up with demand and had to dip into the freezer supply. I still wake up in the middle of the night to pump, because dropping that session impacted my supply too much.

Knowing that a nursing mother has all the feeding equipment with her at all times, it’s incredibly frustrating when we’re out with the baby and we have to go home from a nice time out because I didn’t plan accordingly to bring my pumping supplies. It’s also made work travel challenging. I need to make plans ahead of time, from finding lactation space at a conference venue or office, to figuring out how I’ll keep the breast milk chilled until I can get it home (thankfully a perk from my employer is shipping it home each day!). I learned quickly not to be shy about it. I email conferences ahead of time about my needs when it’s unclear, and when I was visiting a remote office recently the co-worker who was hosting me helped me find the lactation room.

Pump parts cleaning while traveling, hotel bathrooms are not set up for this!

Then there is the cleaning of pump parts multiple times a day and the regular sterilization process. Some days I really wish I could take a pumping vacation, but that’s not how this works.

Fancy rack at home I have for drying parts

And did I mention that people were judgmental? Most days the comments of “why not just nurse?” and “you know, you could just use formula” cause an eye roll and quick brush off, because it’s none of their business, but other days it’s harder.

My little one is 7 months old today and I’m really proud of having made it this far. I’m aiming for a year of pumping, but there are days when I thinking about quitting and switching him to formula. Formula is a great way to feed your baby, and in spite of the prevailing breastfeeding mantra, the truth is, “Fed is best.” If I do need to stop my pumping journey earlier than I want, I’m going to remind myself that I’m a great mom for making it this far, and I’d be a great mom if I fed him formula from the start.

Off to a wedding in Florida

The last time I was in Florida for a wedding was 2014. It was one of my first epic travel months which included 2 conferences, 2 weddings, and my first trip to Paris. I thought I knew tired, but I can honestly say that this trip to Florida for a wedding was the more tiring one! It’s astonishing how much your life changes with a little one in tow. Still, we had a wonderful time on this trip and the wedding was beautiful!

We flew down from Philadelphia, arriving at the resort in Hollywood Beach where the wedding was held in the late evening and got all the fun stuff sorted out with our room to prepare for spending a couple days there with the little one (crib, refrigerator for milk). We didn’t rent a car for this trip, given the short stay and thinking we would have everything we needed. Alas, it turns out that with a little one that is never the case. We immediately realized we needed a few things and had to do a quick delivery order for them. Now we know. With kids, always rent a car unless we’re actually staying downtown somewhere where it’s easy to walk to a supermarket or pharmacy.

I was able to spend a lot of solo time with Adam on this trip. Saturday morning we went for a little walk and then ended up at the coffee shop in the hotel where I got an impressive avocado toast, and Adam tried to steal it from me.

The afternoons were spent as a family. Meeting with relatives for lunches, then spending time at the pool, which gave us the opportunity to introduce Adam to a pool for the first time! He was a bit fussy and uncertain at first, but he seemed to enjoy it after a few minutes as MJ and I held him there in the water.

On Sunday morning after a leisurely breakfast at the hotel restaurant with our au pair, Adam and I went for another walk, this time strolling further down the boardwalk. It was pretty hot out, so he mostly slept, which goes for most of the time we had him outside in the hot, Florida summer. Surprisingly though, it wasn’t much hotter than Philadelphia had been.

Sunday evening MJ and I attended the wedding, though I had to depart the reception a bit early to take over Adam care for the rest of the night. Monday morning was spent making a final visit to the pool before we packed up and headed to the airport in evening.

In all, a really nice, quick trip. It was nice to have a few meals with relatives, along with the wedding itself. I wish we could have stayed longer, but work beckoned, and I was on a plane the afternoon after we got home for a conference in Portland, OR.

Mainframes in Poughkeepsie

Last month I had the pleasure of visiting the mainframe mothership: the IBM offices in Poughkeepsie, New York. A number of folks I work with day to day are based there, there’s a test and assembly facility, and they have a client center where they show off technology, including mainframes!

There’s also an Amtrak station in Poughkeepsie, making the train a solid option coming from the townhouse in Philadelphia. My day started super early as I called a car to take me to the Amtrak station in Trenton. During that ride I learned that my driver was a Philly Linux member long ago, and he happened to mention MJ casually in the conversation. What a small world! We connected on LinkedIn. My 5:43AM train out of Trenton took me to Penn Station in NYC, where I switched to the line that would take me up to Poughkeepsie, putting me in town at 8:45AM, where my colleague Matthew Cousens picked me up.

Matt showed me around the office and let me use his office as a home base for the day as I flitted off to various meetings with folks. The first was with an IBM employee who didn’t actually work with us, my friend and colleague from HPE and OpenStack-land, Matthew Treinish! He lives not too far away and it was nice to have coffee and catch up before he headed back to work.

Around noon I rejoined current colleage Matt and we went to lunch and chatted about how I’m settling into my new role. I’m one of the few people on my team that was hired externally, so it’s always nice to get a chunk of time from team mates as I adjust to IBM culture and get familiar with all the tooling and processes.

After lunch he took me over the the test and assembly facility where they had a little museum set up.

Front and center was an IBM System/360. The s/360 is the granddaddy of all the mainframe stuff I do today and this was the first time I’d ever seen one in person!

But tucked away in the back was something that was perhaps even more impressive from a historical perspective: an early prototype of Herman Hollerith’s tabulator. Anyone familiar with computer history will know that Hollerith’s census machines play a key role in the birth of computing. What I learned from reading Building IBM is that IBM itself traces its roots back to these machines, since Hollerith was the founder of the Tabulating Machine Company, one of the companies that was merged into the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company in 1911, and renamed IBM in 1924.

First Punched Card Processor

Early prototype built by Herman Hollerith in the late 1880s for the first electrical punched card tabulator.

Back over in the client center, I got to meet some mainframe shells – including one that was just too tempting to pass up a photo of. It actually turned out to be a useful prop when I was at OSCON a couple weeks ago and people asked me how big a mainframe was. “Well, I’ll show you a picture!”

In the early afternoon I met up with Jeff Bisti and Frank De Gilio to record an episode of Terminal Talk. It’s a mainframe-centric podcast, and I’ve been listening to the show since I learned about it a couple months ago when they did an open source on the mainframe edition of the show. It was an honor to be proposed as a guest on the show, especially given how new I am to all this territory, but that was actually the point of me coming in. I’m coming in from a traditional Linux Sysadmin on x86 machines background, so I bring a completely different perspective than the traditional mainframe crowd. The episode was released a few days ago: Elizabeth Joseph – Hyper Protect

After the podcast, it was time to head over to the little raised floor data center they have set up for customer tours. It has all the networking to keep it running, several storage servers, including arrays with spinning and solid state media, and a few robot-driven trap drives. In the fancy bit of the datacenter they have a z14 hooked up to an IBM DS8880 (hybrid storage) that you can poke at, which is the machine Esmeralda Quintana gave a tour of in this video, so it was fun to finally see it in person. I also got to touch the quantum computer (IBM Q)! Which I learned is the only quantum computer in the world running actual external workloads. So cool.

Before I left, I took the advice of Anthony Giorgio and stopped by Ross Mauri’s office to visit a clock.

But not just any clock, in a plaque at the base of it, the history of the clock is told:


This clock was manufactured in Endicott, New York, by the International Time Recording Company, one of the three companies that originally formed IBM. It stood in the anteroom of Thomas J. Watson Sr.’s Office at 50 Broad Street in New York City until 1930, when it was moved to IBM’s new headquarters at 270 Broadway. In 1938 it was moved to the executive floor of 590 Madison Avenue. The clock was moved to the Kenyon House in Poughkeepsie (then the laboratory for IBM’s computer development efforts) in the late 1940’s where it continued in operation until 1994.

This clock is weight driven with a mercury compensated pendulum for precision timekeeping. The weights are wound by an electric motor.

After a couple more meetings, I had to say goodbye to catch my 4:15PM train. The three hour train ride each way made it a pretty long day, and I made this visit a bit on a whim since I was spending time in Philadelphia anyway, but I’m really glad I did. It’s totally worth doing every once in a while.

More photos from my visit here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/albums/72157710022012742

The 4th in Philly

In what’s becoming an annual tradition, we spent the 4th of July in Philadelphia. This was little Adam’s second visit to Philadelphia, but the first time traveling there with our au pair, and of course his first 4th of July!

The trip out was a bit exhausting. We decided to take an overnight flight, thinking Adam would sleep through it like he has in the past. Alas, our almost 6 month old was no newborn, and the excitement of the airport and flight meant that he was awake during a good chunk of the flight. We’ll be adjusting future trips accordingly, only daytime flights from now on!

We spent nearly two weeks there visiting with family and friends, enjoying thunderstorms, and eating far too many desserts. I blame breastfeeding on my new insatiable sweet tooth, but Philadelphia rose to the challenge, between diners with full dessert cases and traditional bakeries our home was full of desserts the whole visit.

The trip began with the realization that little Adam’s bedroom is the sunniest room of the house. We didn’t notice during our visit in March, but with the sun coming up around 5:30AM in July, we were the proud parents of a baby who decided that he’d wake up at 5:30AM. Not only was that far too early, but it was the opposite direction of jet lag, and made for a particularly fussy first day. Cue emergency curtain shopping. I hit Amazon to grab the same blackout curtains I use in my home office in California, and MJ ran out to the hardware store to buy some tension rods until we could get around to properly install the curtains at a later date. Thankfully, that solved the problem!

The first week we were there I also got settled in to my work routine, which I discovered is easier on the east coast. I live on the western edge of where our team sits timezone-wise, so being on the east coast allowed me to have earlier meetings with my European team mates and no trouble joining calls that would otherwise land at 6AM California time. On July 3rd I went down to University City in Philadelphia to give my first presentation representing my new role as a Developer Advocate at IBM. I was joined by a colleague who made the trek down from New York and could answer questions I couldn’t about my topic of “Linux on Mainframes: Past, Present and Future”. Being an east coast audience, there were actually people there who had worked on mainframes and who had great questions about the state of Linux on them today. It was also a fun talk to prepare for and deliver. The intersection of history and computing is my sweet spot, and the open-source-before-it-had-a-name details I was able to dig up is fascinating stuff. Slides here: Linux_on_Mainframes-PLUG-July_2019.pdf (2.1M). I also made a visit up to the Poughkeepsie office for work during this trip, but I’ll be writing about that later.

Thanks to @LRW3bb for taking a photo during my presentation! (source)

We spent the 4th of July out to dinner with the family. The next day I had off from work and had the delightful chore of taking the car into the shop for it’s annual tune-up. That afternoon I took Adam to Build-A-Bear to get him a couple bears to celebrate turning 6 months old (as if I needed an excuse).

Over the weekend we took a drive over the river to New Jersey to meet up with our friends Mike, Jess and their kiddos. We had a great lunch together and then stroll around the mall as we waited for the thunderstorms to relax some so we wouldn’t get soaked on the walk to the car. Dinners are trickier now though, we traditionally would have dinner out with our friends Tim and Colleen while in town, but Adam’s 7:30PM bed time precludes us from doing that now unless we have his grandparents over to baby sit. So we just changed our plans some, Tim and Colleen came over to our house and joined us for a pizza night one night just as Adam was getting ready to go to sleep. The following week my friend Crissi came over for a few hours in the evening, during which we enjoyed some delivered food and then she helped me with my measurements and on dress suggestions so I could custom order some new clothes. I can’t begin to say how grateful I was for this visit from her, I hadn’t been feeling great about myself since the pregnancy, but being able to order some dresses that actually fit me and are flattering to my new shape is a huge help.

Our trip concluded by re-packing up to head to Florida to attend the wedding of one of MJ’s cousins. It was a bit of a stressful transition, I had packed for the Florida trip 2 weeks earlier when we left California, but I missed a few things and we had to scramble a bit to get everything we needed. Still, I think going to Florida directly from Philadelphia instead of coming back to California was the right move.

Our next family trip back east will likely be at the end of September, and attached to another wedding! This time for one of my cousins in upstate New York. But for now I’m enjoying not having to pack up the kiddo into an airplane for the next couple months.

Life and my return to work

It’s been a couple months since I’ve been able to sit down and do a proper blog post about generic life stuff. That’s entirely due to how exhausting life is now. I have to wake up much earlier than I used to due to Adam’s immutable schedule (why don’t kids sleep in?) and in my new job I have meetings starting around 8AM Pacific anyway. I schedule 9 hours for work each day so I have the space to be flexible when an appointment pops up on my calendar. After work I get my 2.5 hours of quality time with Adam until he goes to bed, then there’s chores and dinner before I can finally go to bed myself, which frequently doesn’t happen until 11PM. Weekends aren’t much better since the kiddo needs a lot of attention and it’s also when I get caught up on the big chores like laundry and mail.

In a lot of ways, I’m really lucky. Having an au pair sharing our home with us means we don’t need to run around and get Adam ready for day care and deal with getting him there and back. Working from home a good chunk of the time when I’m not traveling gives me a considerable amount of flexibility with my schedule, and actually allows me to work more than if I had a daily commute. We have the financial freedom to get prepared meals for dinner, so I only really need to bother with breakfast and lunch, which are easy. We have a service come in to clean the house every other week, so while I do have a bunch of chores to keep the house running day to day, cleaning toilets isn’t one of them.

But what severely lacking is personal time. The only reading and TV watching I do now is while I’m expressing breast milk, which is 20 minutes at a time 3 times a day (I do it 5 times a day, but 2 of those are while I’m working!). I’ve tried to read before bed like I used to, but I’m so tired by the time I get to bed and I really need to sleep. All of my personal projects have been gathering dust. Open source projects I’m involved with only get a small sliver of my time. Even personal email has been piling up in a way I’m not accustom to.

Still, while I know I’ll never again have the glorious swaths of free time I enjoyed before we had a child, but I think things will get easier once little Adam drops his middle-of-the-night feeding and is slightly more self-sufficient.

But enough with the preamble, I went back to work at the end of April! I have an office now, which taught me that it wasn’t specifically offices that I hate working in, but open floor plans. I look forward to my days at the lab, even if my commute is 3 hours (1 hour in the morning, 2 hours to get home).

I was able to celebrate my first Mother’s Day as a mother back in May! I now understand why so many mothers want to trade a fancy brunch for sleeping in. I did partake in a bit more rest than usual, then was surprised by roses and some small gifts from the family. We went to a brewery for a leisurely lunch and sat outside, which was wonderful and not stressfully busy like all the brunch places would have been.

We’ve had some house projects going on. The one I took the lead on was getting our yard sorted out. Between my inability to do gardening while pregnant, and then the chaos of having a newborn, the yard turned into a jungle! After calling around, I finally found a service who would come out to spend a couple days getting it in order. Next I just need to find someone to maintain it, since as much as I want to do it myself, I am struggling to find the time.

MJ is taking the lead on getting our roof prepared for solar panels to be installed, which is a multi-phase effort to get a bunch of things moved and then a roofer in to tidy it all up before the solar guys come out. He also plans on installing the closet doors we finally got painted and are sitting in our garage.

We also had some family photos done. We met up with the photographer who also did our engagement, wedding, and my professional head shots. The original plan was just for MJ to get head shots, but I added in family photos since I figured it would be a nice opportunity. We went up to San Francisco to meet her, took Adam to the beach to start the photos (beautiful place, but windy, cold and in retrospect, not the best idea) and then over to the Palace of Fine Arts (a better idea!). We got some good pictures, but it was a tiring day for us all.

Another weekend was spent closer to home, with MJ’s friend Matti in town we made a short walk to the Castro Valley downtown to enjoy the annual car show. I took lots of pictures and daydreamed about what classic car I’d love to own some day. It was a warm day and Adam slept through most of it as we strolled down the boulevard.

More photos from the car show are here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/albums/72157709126865576

The next weekend MJ brought Matti to the airport and headed off to do some work while Adam and I met my friend Nathan at the San Francisco Zoo for Adam’s first zoo visit! I thoroughly enjoyed getting to visit with a friend, but quickly realized how difficult it is now to have meaningful conversations with a six month old in tow. Adam is a great baby, but his age means he needs a lot of attention, so our conversations were often interrupted and staggered. Fortunately Nathan took it in stride and insisted he still had a great time when I later apologized for having my attention split so much.

I didn’t take many photos at the zoo, but there are a few: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/albums/72157709210306098

This takes us to the end of June, when we hopped on a plane and went to Philadelphia for a couple weeks, and then on to Florida for a wedding.

Looking at how much we have been doing these past couple months, I should probably cut myself some slack regarding how little I feel like I’m getting done. It’s not always easy, but we’re still having fun and getting out there as we adjust to life with the newest little member of our family.

Building a PPA for s390x

About 20 years ago a few clever, nerdy folks got together and ported Linux to the mainframe (s390x architecture). Reasons included because it’s there, and other ones you’d expect from technology enthusiasts, but if you read far enough, you’ll learn that they also saw a business case, which has been realized today. You can read more about that history over on Linas Vepstas’ Linux on the IBM ESA/390 Mainframe Architecture.

Today the s390x architecture not only officially supports Ubuntu, Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES), but there’s an entire series of IBM Z mainframes available that are devoted to only running Linux, that’s LinuxONE. At the end of April I joined IBM to lend my Linux expertise to working on these machines and spreading the word about them to my fellow infrastructure architects and developers.

As its own architecture (not the x86 that we’re accustomed to), compiled code needs to be re-compiled in order to run on the s390x platform. In the case of Ubuntu, the work has already been done to get a large chunk of the Ubuntu repository ported, so you can now run thousands of Linux applications on a LinuxONE machine. In order to effectively do this, there’s a team at Canonical responsible for this port and they have access to an IBM Z server to do the compiling.

But the most interesting thing to you and me? They also lend the power of this machine to support community members, by allowing them to build PPAs as well!

By default, Launchpad builds PPAs for i386 and amd64, but if you select “Change details” of your PPA, you’re presented with a list of other architectures you can target.

Last week I decided to give this a spin with a super simple package: A “Hello World” program written in Go. To be honest, the hardest part of this whole process is creating the Debian package, but you have to do that regardless of what kind of PPA you’re creating and there’s copious amounts of documentation on how to do that. Thankfully there’s dh-make-golang to help the process along for Go packages, and within no time I had a source package to upload to Launchpad.

From there it was as easy as clicking the “IBM System z (s390x)” box under “Change details” and the builds were underway, along with build logs. Within a few minutes all three packages were built for my PPA!

Now, mine was the most simple Go application possible, so when coupled with the build success, I was pretty confident that it would work. Still, I hopped on my s390x Ubuntu VM and tested it.

It worked! But aren’t I lucky, as an IBM employee I have access to s390x Linux VMs.

I’ll let you in on a little secret: IBM has a series of mainframe-driven security products in the cloud: IBM Cloud Hyper Protect Services. One of these services is Hyper Protect Virtual Servers which are currently Experimental and you can apply for access. Once granted access, you can launch and Ubuntu 18.04 VM for free to test your application, or do whatever other development or isolation testing you’d like on a VM for a limited time.

If this isn’t available to you, there’s also the LinuxONE Community Cloud. It’s also a free VM that can be used for development, but as of today the only distributions you can automatically provision are RHEL or SLES. You won’t be able to test your deb package on these, but you can test your application directly on one of these platforms to be sure the code itself works on Linux on s390x before creating the PPA.

And if you’re involved with an open source project that’s more serious about a long-term, Ubuntu-based development platform on s390x, drop me an email at lyz@ibm.com so we can have a chat!

Red Hat Summit 2019 in Boston

In early May I had the opportunity to attend the Red Hat Summit in Boston. I’ve gone to a lot of Linux conferences and have participated in events in the Red Hat arena for some time but it occurred to me that I’d never actually been to a Red Hat Summit! The first thing you learn about it is that it’s a huge event. It’s also an event that draws a spectrum of people. It’s very customer-driven, but you also have long-time Linux enthusiasts, and so many of them bring real heart to the event. I had some wonderful tooling discussions with infrastructure professionals like myself.

The keynotes were enjoyable. Several features customers who have found success with solutions provided by Red Hat, and there’s still a commitment to open source. It was also interesting to hear from IBM CEO Ginni Rometty. Now, obvious disclaimer, I now work for IBM, it was my second week on the job. I had been paying attention to IBM’s plans to buy Red Hat, but I have no insider knowledge, so it was great to hear directly from Ginni, on a public stage, that there was a commitment to making sure Red Hat is empowered to keep doing what they do to succeed.

My goal for this event was to meet with some of my new IBM colleagues, connect with contacts from previous roles, and spend time at the IBM booth learning more about LinuxONE and the resources we had available for the Linux on Z community. I met and exceeded all of these goals, squeezing in some meals and making really valuable contacts at this event, including folks inside of IBM who I’d be working with moving forward.

While on booth duty, I learned about the LinuxONE Community Cloud and had great chats with the fellow who runs it. I got to read LinuxONE for Dummies back at my room the first evening so I could re-join the booth the next morning equipped with enough knowledge to be useful (or dangerous!), so it was fun to chat with folks who were interested in learning more about what LinuxONE is.

It was also nice to get confirmation so early in my new role as to what developers, and infrastructure professionals like myself, want to hear about with regard to LinuxONE. Folks I work with are fascinated by the alternative architecture, and ease with which Linux can run on it. They also want hardware-driven crypto, and appreciate the decades of expertise in building isolation and security. I also quickly learned that lot of the strengths that mainframes have, and were developed to solve problems in the past, are evergreen and are solving new problems today. I really enjoyed this article by Misty Decker (now a colleague!) on the topic: When the Past becomes the Future.

I also got to meet up with some friends at the event and have a bit of non-work fun. I first met my friend Stephen in an Ubuntu IRC channel a decade ago and we now meet up at all kinds of Linux events, so it was fun to go to the closing party together, even if it was chilly!

It all was an incredibly energizing way to kick off my second week. I was able to get back to my first week “in the office” with a pile of ideas for moving forward, and both materials and connections to start realizing them.

More photos from the event here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/albums/72157709126780038

IBM TechU 2019 in Atlanta

On April 30th I started my new job with IBM! Due to the timing, my week was spent at the IBM Systems Technical University (TechU) in Atlanta.

I was actually born in Atlanta, but I hadn’t been back since my family moved to Maine before my sister was born. I didn’t get to see much of the city, but it was interesting being back there.

The event itself was a waterfall of knowledge and connecting with new people. I finally met my boss in person for the first time, and had dinner with her and two of my new colleagues. I chatted with long time IBM customers and partners, met other people working on the LinuxONE mainframe platform and Linux on Z, spoke with students who were incorporating IBM technologies into their latest work. I also got to meet a z14 mainframe in person! Every one of these things made the event an exceptional way to on-board.

I focused on talks that would lend themselves to my specialties in Linux on Z and cryptography, so I attended talks about some of the work being put into Ubuntu support, and another on Suse Linux Enterprise Server (SLES). I am glad I attended these sessions, because it was at them that I noticed a gap in our messaging that I’d be very good at filling. The sessions talked a lot about Linux, the features of the distributions, and touched upon how they were working to leverage the benefits of the mainframe. Both talks seemed pretty geared toward mainframe admins who were looking at or dabbling in Linux as another OS in their fleet. This didn’t speak to the Silicon Valley Linux systems administrator that I am, or developers who were already deep into the latest technologies. That’s the story I need to be working on in my new role.

In my new role I’ll also be working to promote some of the things that Linux on Z has made possible with regard to data encryption. With encryption technology built into each processor, and additional cryptographic express cards available, the platform allows an organization to Pervasively Encrypt all of their data. Data at rest on the harddrive, data in flight that’s being served up and protected with SSL. That said, I knew very little about this on my first week, so with little more than the term “Pervasive Encryption” I went to a few talks to get me sorted on the basics.

I also went to a talk that specifically talked about Hyper Protect, IBM’s encryption offering in IBM Cloud. You have to be clever or familiar with IBM’s terminology for this space to figure this out, but Hyper Protect is powered by IBM Z. That means there are mainframes in the IBM Cloud!

This whirlwind tour was far too much to absorb at once, but looking back at my notes a month later I was able to make the connections between what I was first exposed to then, and all the training videos and documents I’ve been watching and reading as I get up to speed day to day. I also learned a lot about the resources IBM has available for learning about the technologies, both internally and externally. I been making my way through Red Books and Red Papers related to what I’m learning about. I also went to a talk about how OpenStack is being used to manage VMs on LinuxONE machines, and during which they discussed some of the history around the efforts to control z/VM with OpenStack, and the origin of the open source cloud connector for z/VM.

I thoroughly enjoyed the conference, and I was really thrilled to get back out to events. Looking forward to more!

Visiting relatives on the road

The first two weeks of my new job had me away from home, first in Atlanta and then up in Boston. I have family in both areas, so I made sure to visit with them while I was in town.

First, in Atlanta I got to visit with my father’s brother, my Uncle Paul, and his family. With them in Georgia and my family up in Maine, we never saw much of each other, but bringing our lives closer together is one thing we can thank social media for. Furthermore, my cousin just had a baby! So I was eager to share some new mother kinship time. But first, I had to enjoy the moment where I was attending an IBM conference and meeting up with my uncle who spent a nice chunk of his career at IBM.

Over lunch I got to meet my cousin’s little one and catch up with my uncle, aunt, and cousin. I had a nice time and I’m really glad they were able to make the trek down to see me, especially with a newborn in tow!

My next trip took me to Boston for my first work trip where Adam and our au pair joined me. It’s a configuration I’m not likely to repeat often, conferences are hectic and extremely long, a simple eight hour day won’t do. In order to handle care for Adam, I not only had our au pair cover the day, but MJ’s best friend come over a couple nights to look after him while I went to evening events, and one evening was covered by my mother and sister who came down from Maine. That day also gave my sister and nephew an opportunity to finally meet little Adam! And I was able to carve out a couple hours before the conference to go to the New England Aquarium with them.

At the aquarium I discovered that Adam seems to like turtles. He was pretty memorized when he saw the sea turtles passing by in the large tank. His grandma bought him a turtle stuffed toy on our way out at the gift shop to remember the occasion. Getting some quality time with my nephew was a lot of fun, and I’m glad he was able to spend time holding and helping with his new little cousin.

Naturally they were wonderful with little Adam while I went off to attend evening keynotes and meet up with some people before returning to my room for the night. And Adam slept very well during the trip, only getting up once over night to eat, and pretty much sticking to California time, which allowed me to have a little time with him before I went to bed, and then could depart my room in the morning for the conference before he woke up. It was an exhausting week, especially once travel across the country with a connection was figured in, but it was totally worth it to squeeze in as much as we could.