SCaLE 15x

SCaLE 15x

This year was the 15th Annual SCaLE (Southern California Linux Expo) event where I was fortunate enough to both attend and speak at. While this is the 15th year of the, now very well known, conference; it was in fact my first time to attend. I spent majority of my time floating between working the Fedora, Red Hat, and OpenShift booths there in the Expo Hall. I had originally planned to spend more time at the Fedora booth than I did, but the OpenShift crew ended up short staffed because of unexpected travel issues of some of their team members so I filled in the best I could. As expected the interest in containers is at full tilt and people were very interested to see what is going on with OpenShift as it is a Kubernetes distribution with advanced features beyond core Kubernetes, and Kubernetes is easily the most popular container orchestration platform around right now. The Project Atomic Community manager, Josh Berkus was kind enough to lend his Sub-Atomic Cluster (Described in this two-part blog series: Part 1, Part 2) to the booth efforts and that made for some very engaging demos of what OpenShift can accomplish (even though the conference network left something to be desired, but this is nothing new). Over all I think we were able to provide event goers a solid booth destination in their Expo Hall travels.

Every conference I go to, I notice there's a specific "crowd profile" in terms of what motivates the participants to attend the conference, what their interests are, etc. Often times these are going to be things like hobbyist, enthusiast, professional/commercial, developer, sysadmin/ops, DevOps practitioners, and potentially (and often) some mixture of those categories. This particular conference was a really solid representation of community focused people and hobbyists which is always a cool crowd because everyone is genuinely interested and enthusiastic about the technologies being represented there. However, from a personal note, something I found rather interesting was the number of people who came by the Red Hat booth that had never heard of the company. This isn't entirely a new phenomenon depending on the "crowd profile" but it's definitely the first time I've seen such a proliferation of it at a specifically Linux conference. This is a weird change of pace for me as for the longest time, Red Hat was a name synonymous with Linux. However, as the company has focused more on the Enterprise with RHEL, the community focused Fedora and CentOS have filled in the void for the community user base and this was a primarily community focused event. Beyond that though, the number of people who had no idea that Red Hat is a major sponsor of and contributor to Fedora was surprising to me.

There are two primary reasons I think lead this situation. First, Linux is so high quality and pervasive these days that the percentage of people who used to get off in the weeds early and often with technical issues is fewer and far between. These systems level technology dives would quickly lead to someone becoming well versed in topics of their distribution and the reality of relationships between different entities (such as Red Hat and Fedora) within the scope of the community. This is no longer the case, Linux is so easy to use and so commonplace that most people don't need (and in many cases don't want) to dig into the nuts and bolts to the point of having a fundamental understanding about the resulting project that produces the Distribution they are using. I think this is great in a lot of ways, I think it's a standing ovation to the fact that Linux has "made it" and that we collectively in the upstream communities are providing quality software that attracts users of all kinds, technical or otherwise. The Second reason I think lead to this is that it poses an interesting problem in the world of marketing for both Fedora as an upstream and Red Hat as a company to properly communicate to users and potential users things that are interesting to them since Linux itself isn't inherently interesting to as wide of an audience as it once was due to popular tech trends shifting away from the system itself but instead to things you can run on top of the system (and recently in containers). Now, Red Hat has done a great job of making that message clear to it's customer base with material that covers the entire Red Hat Technology Portfolio. I also think that Fedora in recent years has been doing a really good job of showing off various features of each Fedora Edition: Workstation, Server, Atomic which highlights features beyond just the core distribution that are tailor made to specific users and potential users. We just need to continue to show up to user groups, MeetUps, and conferences with good representation to help spread the word. On that note, a massive thanks to the amazing Fedora Ambassadors. I'd also like to find a good way to get the message out to more users of various online and programming communities, something similar to Fedora Loves Python but for various Special Interest Groups within Fedora. Just food for thought.

Over all I think we're doing good work and doing a good job spreading the word, it's just interesting to see how trends in technology change, how the landscape changes, and trying to identify how we as a community need to adapt. Kudos to the whole Fedora Community!

I also had a chance to make some new friends from GNOME, EndlessOS, OpenSUSE, debian, and LinuxAcademy as a side effect of spending so much time in the Expo Hall. In typical Linux Community fashion, everyone was extremely friendly and I had a great time. :)

I spent most of my time working the booths, but I was able to make it to a couple sessions while the Expo Hall was closed. I've taken some notes on those below.

Kubernetes 101

Project Atomic's very own Josh Berkus did a wonderful overview of the Kubernetes architecture, walking the audience both through the various components of Kubernetes as well as how you would take a traditional application that would be deployed as a "monolith" all on a since physical or virtual machine with only vertical scaling into a multi-node orchestrated deployment of containerized services.

This talk was accompanied by multiple live demos using minikube (with a tip of the hat to minishift) in order to show how the concepts presented during the talk map to real world deployment and configuration within the cluster.

Patterns and Anti-Patterns in Docker Image Lifecycle

Speaker from JFrog talking about Docker image lifecycle management, using Artifactory as an example component.

The presentation begins with a poll of the room about who's using Docker in dev vs production. A primary point of concern is the concept of "trust" to know if there's enough integrity into the process and the images that you pull down to build your application or CI pipeline on top of.

"There is no platform without ecosystem" - Solomon Hykes (CEO Docker Inc.)

Do we have an existing pattern? Do we need to adapt it? CI/CD pipelines? (These are old news, this has been done for years)

The speaker mentioned a concept call the "The Promotion Pyramid" which could basically be turned on it's side and the layers of the pyramid by changed to boxes with arrows between them and it looks just like a production pipeline diagram.

Onward to Dockerfiles! The Dockerfile is extremely powerful, the problem is that it's a hammer and everything now looks like nails. Fast and cheap builds are not the way to go.

FROM fedora

RUN dnf install -y software-properties-common python
RUN dnf install -y nodejs

RUN mkdir /var/www

ADD app.js /var/www/app.js

CMD ["/usr/bin/node", "/var/www/app.js"]

The problem with this is that there's no versioning on anything so each build may or may not produce the same thing because each dnf command could install a different version of each component. You can use a SHA sum to refer to the image version but these are not human readable so it's kind of pointless or maintain your own base image.

Pattern to follow to fix this is to promote immutable binary files (Martin Fowler Immutable Server).

The promotion patterns between registries and repos it basically the only real way because the only way to "version" docker images is with tags and the tag has no concept of version numbers and you can only run one registry per host unless you use VirtualHosts and many daemons mapped to ports.

As a side note, the "promotion pipeline" is effectively the exact structure that Fedora Containers follow.

Fedora Work Session and Meetup

Open session to:

  • Work on development

  • Say Hello

  • Meet others

  • Ask questions about challenges you're facing

  • Share knowledge

  • Find out how to help

This was a really fun grass roots "Birds of a Feather" style session where everyone in the room made a big circle, went around and introduced themselves, and briefly talked about what they are using Fedora for. This spanned from Workstations and Cloud all the way to use with ARM boards in small embedded devices that are deployed out in the field. I had a great time learning what everyone was up to with Fedora and I want to thank Perry Rivera for setting it up and hosting. Perry was also kind enough to be taking notes and feedback based on everything that was discussed.

Closing time

I had a wonderful time (aside from not feeling 100% - I came down with a sinus infection the day before flying out to SCaLE), the event was fantastic and I really hope I get the opportunity to go back next year.

Until next time...