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Xen Hackathon: Thank You!

It took me a while to write up my impressions from the first Oracle hosted Hackathon last week: I have to apologize for not being timelier. First, I wanted to thank Oracle for hosting the event and providing a beautiful venue in Santa Clara. Special thanks go to Doan Nguyen who did all the hard preparation work and to Konrad Rzeszutek Wilk who coined the cool event slogan “BE ZEN HACK XEN”, which miraculously ended up on the Hackathon T-Shirts.

Rather than write down my impressions only, I asked a few of the attendees to let me know their impressions. Not everybody provided the input in time: if you attended and want to add, just comment to this post.

Ian Campbell: I had a variety of very useful and interesting conversations on a number of topics. This is by no means a complete list! Especially interesting was a demo and code run through hybrid guest support (that is PV guests in a lightweight hardware container) developed by Mukesh Rathor. I am very interested in seeing these patches get into Xen!

Another discussion which sticks in my mind was a whiteboard session, working out the mechanism by which toolstacks based on libxl can expose the ability play dirty memory tricks (paging, sharing, ballooning etc.), which resulted in Andres Lagar-Cavilla making a more detailed proposal to the xen-devel list.

Further highlights were discussions on PV block protocol enhancements as well as the general state of FreeBSD support for Xen with Justin Gibbs. It was also very interesting to hear about Zhigang Wang’s plans for building a toolstack using libxl and a demo of how to set up Gluster from Eco Willson.

Stefano Stabellini: I had a great time interacting with Xen users that exploit Xen in ways we haven’t seen before. I had some good conversations with distinguished FreeBSD and Solaris developers on how to improve performances for their operating systems when running on Xen as PV on HVM guests.

And I certainly enjoyed watching Dom0 hybrid boot: thanks for Mukesh for all his hard work! Going through the changes he made to Xen and Linux, line by line, made me realize how difficult this project must have been, so it made the demo even more impressive.

Overall it has been a remarkable experience that has shown how high is the interest in Xen and how diverse the new development directions for the platform. All key ingredients for a healthy community.

I have met some Xen developers that I have not met before and also some Xen users! Of course there were also familiar faces. Given that I am not a developer myself, code reviews, demos and architecture discussions are interesting to watch but not my domain. For me, the highlight of the Hackathon was to actively work on the new Xen website with the web developers from Vertualize . We also managed to engage some of the Xen developers and users in the process. We made quite a lot of progress on the new look and feel, on lots of new Xen Pandas, on the navigation of the site, choosing and configuring the right set of plug-ins and much more. I will share some of the outcome of this work in the coming weeks and hopefully we will also be able to show live preview versions of the new site. Some of the more difficult questions, such as should we replace the user mailing lists with user forums are still open.

Thanks again to everybody who attended and made the event a success!


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