The Journey to OpenShift Community Day Boston
“Go to more conferences,” suggested Adrian Cole, founder of the jclouds project. Adrian was a college buddy of mine, and my first Unix mentor. He and I worked together at our small college’s IT department. At last year’s Eclipse Developer’s Conference in Reston, VA, I got a chance to catch up with Adrian. There he introduced me to Luke Kaines, founder of Puppet Labs. Luke bought me a beer for my work on the SST Security Toolkit (SST), a project that Sun Microsystems open sourced and that I maintained ((SST was something of a standard in Solaris’ heyday; formerly called JASS, it was an extensible utility for auditing and hardening systems. It could be run as part of the JumpStart process (a Solaris network deployment framework), or could be invoked from the command line. Another nifty feature was its undo capability. It was, perhaps, the largest Bourne Shell program that I have ever seen, and for an admin trying to lock down a Solaris box, it was a Godsend. The SST open souce community and I had plans to re-write the tool in KSH93, but it never happened partly due to my busy consulting schedule, but also due to Oracle’s complicated relationship with Open Solaris. The project page is gone now, and its functionality will someday be replaced by OpenSCAP, but for anyone with a historical interest in SST, I’ve made it available on my GitHub at github.com/jason-callaway/sst.)). Beer, it occurred to me, is like the currency of open source volunteer work. Hey, thanks for writing that code, have a beer – it’s actually not a bad deal, as most open source contributors would be coding anyway.
At dinner that night, Adrian regaled me with tales of his busy conference schedule. OSCON in Portland, JavaOne in his adopted hometown of San Francisco, other Java conferences across Europe, and a host of user groups. Open source is about community, he told me, and you can be most effective if you actually meet the community you’re working with. You’re asking for their time when you ask them to contribute to your project, he said, the least you can do is buy them a beer now and again.
One of my consulting clients is interested in running a private Platform as a Service (PaaS). They wanted something free and open source, so I did a quick market analysis. The three tools that stood out were OpenShift by Red Hat; Cloud Foundry, an Apache Foundation project that was started by VMware; and Cloudify by Gigaspaces.
OpenShift really caught my attention because it doesn’t use VMs as the fundamental application container. Rather, it uses a construct called a ‘Gear’ that isolates application space with SELinux and limits system resources with cgroups. SELinux has been a professional interest of mine since my work on Trusted Solaris – a Multi Level Security (MLS) OS. SELinux can implement MLS labeling on Linux OSes, although it has a broader scope due to its type-enforcement focus. OpenShift uses SELinux labeling, although it’s not technically MLS – more on that later.
For two weeks I ate, breathed, and slept OpenShift. Pore over the vendor site? Check. Read all the blogs I could find about it? Check. Learn how to deploy it on EC2? Check. Demo it to my consulting client? Check. Google alerts? Check. Twitter?
On Twitter, I found @pythondj, an OpenShift Evangelist from Red Hat.
Shipping Up To Boston
Early Sunday morning, I flew out of Baltimore to Boston. It’s a trip I’ve made before. The flight is very easy; you practically begin descending as soon as you reach cruising altitude. There was a young couple next to me and my colleague Steve, who was also attending the conference. The couple had a two-month-old baby boy. He seemed inconsolable before the plane taxied out. His parents gave him a bottle and he settled down. Poor little guy was hungry. I knew how he felt. I was starving.
When we touched down, Steve and I decided to check out the hotel before we got some food. The lights near the Sheraton Boston Hotel were out and police officers were directing traffic. In hindsight, I was probably too hungry to consider the implications of this. In the hotel parking garage, Steve and I were unable to talk over the deafening roar of an industrial generator somewhere nearby. Still, I didn’t think about it; check out the hotel, get food – this sequence was the only thing on my mind.
The lobby was dark and hot. Emergency lighting had been set up, and conference attendees were huddled around power strips. Ah, the generator, I thought.
Power was out in Boston.
I asked the guy with his back to the camera if the events were still on for the day. He didn’t know. Steve and I set back out in search for food.
For The Love of Toast
It was early Sunday morning. Most restaurants weren’t open yet. Of course it didn’t matter because there was no power, so the restaurants wouldn’t have opened anyway. We drove until we started to see working traffic lights, and ended up in Cambridge. A Google Maps search for ‘brunch’ located the nearest hope for food – a place called ‘The Friendly Toast.’
Toast? I’d eat toast, or… anything. We headed in. I was reminded of the show, ‘American Pickers.’ I’m pretty sure the decorators were fans, which is cool — I am as well.
“What’s good here?” I asked the waiter. He pointed me to something called ‘Ole Miss,’ and described it – far too quickly for me to catch it all – something about eggs, chipotle, “I’ll take it.”
I must admit that I was apprehensive when he put the Ole Miss in front of me.
So what he said was chipotle sweet potatoes. Interesting.
I inhaled it. There were sausage patties lurking under the eggs, and the titan-sized piece of toast somehow seemed to complement the homefries. Foodies might scoff, but it was good.
Steve and I sat outside for a while to kill some time, unsure if we even had an event to attend.
I was beginning to fall into a toast-induced coma when Steve suggested checking Twitter to see if the Community Day had been canceled.
Conference? Check. We got in the rental car and headed back to Boston.