Minutes

BLUG MEET - AUGUST 2003

The monthly meet was held on 24th August,2003 on the eve of the Twelfth Birth Anniversary of LINUX. It was held at Satish Dhawan Auditorium at IISc campus and was attended by a record-breaking 210 persons. The meet was partly sponsored by the IPv6 Forum.

The BLUG co-ordinator Kartik N set the tone for the meeting with details about how the monthly meets have evolved over a period of time, now more focussed and themed meets being the order of the day. He also spoke about the highly successful annual Linux festivals in the form of LB/2001 and LB/2002 which evoked an overwhelming response from the Linux community.

The next speaker was Hanish Menon who focussed on the new version of the kernel,viz., 2.6 and its' additional features. In the older versions the kernel sub-systems had the control over processes in the form of large locks(Big Kernel Locks or BKL) which used to get released once the process got over.

In version 2.6 SMP operations are more fine-grained with each of the CPU's continuing and the central mechanism coming to play once in a way only. It also has pre-emption and decentralized run queues which are referred to as O(1) scheduling. It has the capability to manipulate the page tables instead of copying into physical memory area;this is referred to as "Zero Copy" mechanism. Further, it maintains Memory Pools to be used in emergencies.

The new features were dealt with in the form of what is in store for each category of users of a Linux System in the following manner:

For Developers
It provides a New Driver Model,Pre-emption,ZeroCopy,new Hardware Abstraction Layers(HAL),Block layer restructuring, and Linux Security Models(LSM) with extended attributes.

For Admins
The new model provides for independent handling of a cluster of machines in the form of Linux Virtual Servers. It also makes it possible to have configurable I/O schedulers and more efficient block device buffer cache management system.

Hanish Menon went on to further expand on the theme with exposition of the increased capabilities built into the Linux 2.6 version. As against the fixed priority levels with single run queues in the older versions, 2.6 provides greater flexibility in the form of separate run queues for each CPU and two run queue arrays, one for active processes and the other for expired processes. This makes it possible for short burst of activities to get priority by being placed in the active queue rather than "expired" one. Consequently such interactive tasks are accorded higher priority(nice) and more chance on CPU provided they do not hog the CPU.

Pre-emption in kernel space for User Processes: This aspect of the kernel was posed with as example of a process invoking a system call for writing to a disk. In the previous kernel versions it was being put to a wait queue. Now such tasks requiring low latency (UI Tasks)get priority.

The new kernel has also low level drivers required to run the kernel,higher driver required to support a specific board(ethernet,HDD,Sound, Video etc.), and UcLinux for non-MMU chips. It has enabled a new concept known as UML or User Mode Linux - Linux within Linux in user space.

The presentation was concluded with the following new features of the kernel. It has enabled testing at user level without corrupting devices and PlugnPlay, HotPlug, and Power Management. It provides a centralized repository of buses, devices, and drivers as well as Device Classes ( Network,Audio, and Video), independent of bus interfaces.


The next talk was by Gopi Garge about the forthcoming LB/2003 for which the dates as scheduled are December 2,3,4, 2003. It will feature Invited Talks numbering 72 in all, Display of OSS Products and BOFS. The talks would broadly cover the following categories :

  • Development
  • System Administration
  • User
  • Business
  • Community
The meet would include Refereed Technical Papers and expects participation from Government, both at State and Central levels. Apart from inviting Platinum, Gold, and Silver category sponsorship, BLUG invites sponsors for specific things such as bringing International Speakers, and business personnel, arranging for Internet availability at the seminar site.


The concluding talk was by Atul Chitnis about the BLUG Logo. The logo would be carried on T-shirts and caps. He expressed his deep regret for want of response from the community to design a logo. He said that only five prototypes were received out of which four were not suitable and the other was by a Manager of BLUG which could not be the choice for obvious reasons. Since the logo would be copyrighted,it cannot have the Tux in any form as part of it;may be a shadow of a penguin in the background at the most. He exhorted the Linux community to rise to the occasion and conceive of an eye-catching, easily reproducible logo before the next BLUG meet on the last Friday of September, 2003. These entries would be put up on BLUG web site for others to see and get inspired to act fast.

Further Atul spoke about the influence of BLUG on other LUG's in organising more focussed events. He also proposed that different individuals could take the initiative in organising multiple meets in a month on topics close to their heart as for example Linux in Education, Legality of Linux Usage vis-a-vis the SCO fiasco.


Lastly, the screening of the film " Revolution OS" took place and lasted for about an hour and a half. The film was a great inspiration to the Linux and Open source enthusiasts and presented authentic views from the original authors of Free Software and Open Source.

Murali P

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