September 15, 2014

Samsung Open Source Group’s Linux Kernel Updates and More from LinuxCon

LCNA 2014 kernel panel

Editor's Note: This is a guest blog contributed by the Samsung Open Source Group.

This year's LinuxCon & Kernel Summit North America were notable for several reasons, not the least of which included being able to see the scenic views of downtown Chicago through the hotel lobby windows!

Below, the Samsung Open Source Group will share our top highlights of the conferences, as well as look forward to what we can expect from LinuxCon Europe next month in Germany.

Linux Kernel Topics (of course)

There were a lot of kernel topics discussed (to be expected). One that came to the forefront in both the kernel summit as well as the LinuxCon Kernel Panel discussion was the kselftest effort that Shuah Khan, Senior Kernel Developer with Samsung's Open Source Group, has put forth and is now leading as the maintainer.

Samsung LCNA 2014 booth

The goal of the kselftest effort is to improve initial Kernel bring-up testing. To do this, the community believes tests need to run quickly, to serve as a basic sanity check, instead of a full-scale stress test.

Media was also a big kernel topic, including a presentation by Mauro Chehab, multimedia maintainer and kernel developer from Samsung's Open Source Group. He talked about the Kernel and userspace challenges related to build Linux support for wordwide digital TV support, showing the differences between the several standards.

The Kernel tinification project also generated a lot of discussion. The goal is to reduce the Kernel footprint, in order to allow it to run on really small devices. One of the issues was a question of what was actually driving this, because there is no clear hardware actually demanding it (yet).

Morten Rasmussen from ARM presented a report from the Energy-Aware Scheduling session and highlighted next steps. This work has been in progress for two years and is addressing concerns from the Linux kernel community. At the 2013 kernel summit, the need for a set of metrics and benchmarks to evaluate the energy-aware scheduler was identified. This year, two tools developed by Linaro are used to measure and evaluate the scheduler work. These tools are a good start and community feedback will determine how useful they are.

Certification

The Linux Foundation introduced certification for System Administrators and Engineers. The certification tests are available online for anyone to take anywhere, and are designed to evaluate the ability to solve real problems as opposed to testing an individual's theoretical knowledge of the subject matter. Beware, there are no multiple choice questions on these to allow for guess work. Staying true to the Linux ecosystem's choice and flexibility, these certifications provide choice of CentOS, openSUSE, or Ubuntu. This new certification program will enable employers to assess Linux talent when hiring or promoting their own engineers.

Gaming & Graphics

A talk by Keith Packard detailed the ways in which Valve had managed to utilize the Xorg display server for commercialization on their SteamOS gaming platform. The points that he showed proved that there are still companies interested in both leveraging and giving back to FOSS, and that gaming on Linux has never been in a better state than it is today as a direct result of the existing software stack.

A presentation co-delivered by Lars Bergstrom from Mozilla and Mike Blumenkrantz from Samsung's Open Source Group described the Servo parallel browser engine and its underlying programming language, Rust. The engine has been developed from scratch over the past several years with a focus on memory usage and adherence to existing web specifications. It's even more unique due to the project's decision to reuse an existing and much-used API for Guy-Martin-OSS-panelapplication embedding instead of attempting to create a new one.

Open Source Ethos

Even in a highly technical conference environment, sessions on how to utilize the Open Source Way, ethos and development processes attracted a good audience. Guy Martin, Senior Strategist from the Samsung Open Source Group moderated a successful & well-attended panel with open source community luminaries Jono Bacon, Karl Fogel, Leslie Hawthorn and Karsten Wade. The panel (Empowering Corporate Open Source Developers) proved entertaining for the variety of opinions presented, and had a large amount of audience participation as well.

Guy also presented a shortened version of his 'Developing OSS Leadership' training course, which he also gave at LinuxCon Japan. This was in the last time slot of the conference, and though he expected to be talking to himself and a few diehard Samsung team members, the talk was well attended, with an engaged audience that asked good questions and kept him after his presentation for almost 30 minutes to ask more detailed questions.

The Networking (Human, not Computer)

As always, some of the most useful interactions happened as part of the 'Hallway Track' – colleagues and friends finding a quiet corner to catch up, discuss the latest things they were working on, or just hang out.

Also, the event at the Museum of Science & Industry was a great time for everyone who attended. The exhibits were fun and educational, the food was delicious, and the indoor quadcopter flying around didn't result in any injuries or damages. :)

Looking Forward to Germany...

There are already some great sessions lined up for LinuxCon Europe in Germany, and the Samsung Open Source Group is excited to be a part of this, with Mike Blumenkrantz and Guy Martin reprising their sessions at this edition of the event.

Additionally, Dr. Ibrahim Haddad, Head of the Samsung Open Source Group, is planning an entertaining talk on open source compliance (yes, it can be entertaining!) and the Enlightenment for Linux (EFL) team will be well represented with numerous technical presentations, as well as their developer day co-located with the event.
Of course, it's Germany, so we hope our friends at the Linux Foundation are planning a special beer-themed social event... :)

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