Thursday, October 31, 2013

EuroBSDCon Trip Report: Mike Ma

The next trip report is from Mike Ma:

I recently had a fantastic trip to Malta in late September, and I attended FreeBSD devsummit together with EuroBSDcon 2013 for 4 days in total. I would like to first thank the FreeBSD Foundation. As a GSoC student this year, I was supported by the FreeBSD Foundation to make the trip happen. The weather was incredibly nice, so I had some extra summer time there since I'm in rather a cold country. It was the first time for me to attend a FOSS conference, well, (not?) surprisingly, I was the only Chinese person there. It was totally different from the research conferences I have attended, where I always see a lot of Asian faces.

One big thing I did at the devsummit was to present my GSoC project during a "student session" . My project was about porting glusterfs. There were four GSoC student talks where we talked about our biggest achievement as well as the problems/difficulties we had. I didn't have time to do a demostration of my project, and I illustrated and explained the experimental results I had at that point. I got very helpful advice on how to improve and extend my experiments.  I was seeing a big performance drop when using glusterfs in comparison to using the underlying filesystem, and people suggested for me to see if there's a similar performance drop on Linux. Then I figured out that the performance gap was normal, so I'm now ready to submit my changes to GlusterFS. If everything goes through, I'll then make it appear in our ports tree.

The most interesting talk to me at the devsummit was lldb on FreeBSD. Ed Maste did a brief demo and I was quite impressed by the smarter and more powerful debugger. I talked to Ed afterwards saying I'm willing to join the project, and I've now set up all the environment. I'll first look at some build failures and start with fixing some entrance-level issues.

I also liked the ZFS session on the first day. It gave me information about various issues and features about ZFS.  Sadly, I didn't manage to go to ZFS talk at EuroBSDcon as I was doing my own presentation at the same time.

Gavin and Gabor helped the GSoC students a lot at the conference.  They were very nice to introduce us to developers related to our project and interests. I also had some random talk with many FreeBSD developers, such as hps@, jhl@, Ilya, etc.  I got to know their projects and some FreeBSD history.

For the future work, I have talked with my mentor Sean Bruno. We agreed to look at some PRs that he is in charge of, which could be a good start for me. I also talked to Pedro, the mentor of the FUSE GSoC project during coding time.  He's also maintaining ext2fs and I'm now looking at fast symlink for our ext2fs implementation.

So far, it's quite a mess as there's a lot to do. Hopefully I'll have to time to do everything I'm interested in.

Again, many thanks to Sean, everyone who helped me with my project, and everyone I met in the conference. And a huge thanks to FreeBSD Foundation for funding my trip.

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