Check out how Project Calico is using Juju.

Installing OpenStack is non-trivial. You need to install a large number of packages across a number of machines, get all the configuration synchronized so that all those components can talk to each other, and then hope you didn’t make a typo or other form of error that leads to a tricky-to-debug misbehaviour in OpenStack.

And here’s the bundle with the nitty gritty.

On a side note I found this page interesting for those unfamiliar with Calico.

This title is kind of a misnomer, as of course, all this goodness is available to Ubuntu 14.04 users, so it’s more of a “Things that happen to line up with” Ubuntu 14.10.

More new items next week, hint hint!

Greetings folks,

The Juju Ecosystem team at Canonical (joined remotely by community members) recently had a developer sprint in beautiful Dillon, Colorado to Get Things Done(™).

Here are the highlights:

Automated Charm Testing

Tim Van Steenburgh and Marco Ceppi made a ton of progress with automated charm testing, here’s the prelim state-of-the-world:

Jenkins Jobs Fired off: 22

This enabled us to dedicate hours of block time of getting as many of those red charms to green as possible. The priority for our team over the next few weeks will be fixing these charms, and of course, gating new charms via this method, as well as kicking back broken charms to personal namespaces.

Ben Saller helped out by prototyping “Dockerizing” charm testing so that developers can test their charms in a fully containerized way. This will help CI by giving us isolation, density, and reliability.

Charm Tests are now launched from review queue to help gating based on tests passing.

Thanks to Aaron Bentley for supporting our efforts here!

Review Queue

The Charmers (Marco Ceppi, Charles Butler, and Matt Bruzek) dedicated time to getting through reviews. The whole team spent time creating fixes for the automated test results mentioned above. We’re in great shape to driving this down and not ever letting it get out control again thanks to our new team review guidelines: http://review.juju.solutions/

The goal was to help submitters and reviews know the where they are at in a review, and next steps needed.

Here are the numbers:

  • Reviews Performed: 189
  • Commits: 228
  • Charms Promulgated: 10
  • Charms Unpromulgated: 7
  • Lines of Code touched: 34109 (artificially high due to SVG icons, heh)
  • Reviews Submitted: 84
  • Energy Drinks: 80

Some new features:

  • Users can now log in with Ubuntu SSO and see what reviews they have submitted, and reviewed
  • Ability to query the review system and search/filter reviews based on several metrics (http://review.juju.solutions/search)
  • Ability for charmers to fire off an automated test of a charm on demand right from the queue. When an MP is done against a charm, we’ll now automatically reply to the MP with a link to the test results. \o/
  • You can now “lock” a review when you’re doing one so that the rest of the community can see when a review is claimed so we don’t duplicate work. (Essential for mass reviews!)
  • Queues divided and separated to highlight priority items and items for different teams

CloudFoundry

  • Improving the downloader/packaging story so it’s more reusable
  • Cory Johns developed a pattern for charm helpers for CloudFoundry; the CF sub-team feels this will be a useful pattern for other charmers. They’re calling it the “charm services framework”, expect to hear more from them in the future.
  • We were able to replicate the Juju/Rails Framework deployment of an application and compare doing the same thing on CF: https://plus.google.com/117270619435440230164/posts/gHgB6k5f7Fv
  • Whit concentrated on tracking changes to Pivotal’s build procedures.

Charm Developer Workflow

This involves two things:

“The first 30 minutes of Juju”

This primarily involved finding and fixing issues with our user and developer workflow. This included doing some initial work on what we’re calling “Landing Pages”, which will be topic based landing pages for different places where people can use Juju, so for example, a “Big Data” page with specific solutions for that field. We expect to have these for a bunch of different fields of study.

We have identified the following 5 charms as “flagbearer””: Rails (in progress), elasticsearch, postgresql, meteor, and chamilo. We consider these charms to be excellent examples of quality, integration with other tools, and usage of charm tools. We will be modifying the documentation to highlight these charms as reference points. All these charms have tests now, though some might not have landed yet.

Better tools for Charm Authors:

Ben, Tim, and Whit have a prototype of a fully Dockerized developer environment that contains all of the local developer tools and all of the flagbearer charms. The intention is to also provide a fully bootstrapped local provider. The goal is “test anything in 30 seconds in a container”.

In addition to this, Adam Israel tackled some of our Vagrant development stories, that will allow us to provide better Vagrant developer workflow, thanks to Ben Howard and his team for helping us get these features in our boxes.

We expect both the Docker-based and Vagrant-based approaches to eventually converge. Having both now gives us a nice “spread” to cover developers on multiple operating systems with tools they’re familiar with.

Big Data

Amir/Chuck worked on the following things:

  • Upgrading the ELK stack for Trusty
  • Planning out new Landing Pages focused on the Big Data story
  • Bringing up existing Big Data (Hortonworks) Stack to Charm Store standards for Trusty, and getting those charms merged
  • Pre-planning for next phase of Big Data Workloads (MapR, Apache distributions)

Other

  • General familiarity training with MAAS, OpenStack on OBs and NUCs.
  • Very fast firehose drinking for new team members, Adam Israel, Randall Ross, and Kevin Monroe have joined the team.
  • Special Thanks to Jose Antonio Rey, Sebas, and Josh Strobl, for joining us to help get reviews and fixes in the store and documentation.
  • We have a new team blog at: http://juju-solutions.github.io/ (Beta, thanks Whit.)
  • Most of the topics here had corresponding fixes/updates to the Juju documentation.

ElasticSearch is one of those tools that’s just handy to have. When combined with Logstash and Kibana, you can use the “ELK” stack for all sorts of things.

One thing we’d like to see is to bring these capabilities to our users. So I’ve been working on bundling together some of our ElasticSearch resources in Ubuntu so we can bring them to the cloud, it looks like this:

This is a standalone ElasticSearch cluster. I’ve added a few things:

A Production-ready Stack

One of the nice things about this bundle is it uses our ElasticSearch charm. Right off the bat you’re getting a charm that we’re using in production today. That means it’s tested (see the included tests, and it also uses many of the modern techniques for writing a charm. In this case, Michael Nelson leveraged Ansible to do most of the heavy lifting. Our ability to consume multiple tools to get the job done is one of the nice things that we can support in charms, so if you prefer a certain tool, then by all means use it! It also just consumes upstream packages, so you’ll always have a fresh version.

Why ElasticSearch?

The major use of ElasticSearch is within Ubuntu’s Software Store for Unity 8. On Ubuntu Touch anytime a user is searching for and navigating the store they’re using ElasticSearch. ElasticSearch was chosen for a few reasons.

  • It allowed us to design the store where every category is basically a search term. This allows the team to dynamically generate categories based on certain criteria. For example a list of “Top 10 apps” might be different depending whether you are in the US or in China.
  • Since everything is designed around search, it lets the team “future proof” the Software Store for future categories and queries.
  • ElasticSearch was designed to scale much more than other solutions we looked at. ElasticSearch can be horizontally scaled by just juju add-unit with no extra configuration.
  • Since the team didn’t have to worry about learning how to make search it let them concentrate on the store itself and let ElasticSearch do the heavy lifting.
  • Since ElasticSearch is driving the backend, this will enable Ubuntu Phone partners to offer customized views on top of the existing store without having to do major engineering work around building a branded store.
  • Our team found the ElasticSearch documentation to be excellent.

The quick way to get up and running

Ok so let’s deploy this badboy. Assuming you’re brand new:

sudo apt-get install juju juju-quickstart
juju quickstart bundle:elasticsearch/cluster

At this point follow the ncurses menus to pick which cloud you want to deploy to and add your credentials and then Juju will bootstrap and start deploying ES.

Total deployment time will depend on where you’re deploying to, but on AWS US East 1 I can go from zero to cluster in about 10 minutes. By default I give you one Kibana node and one ElasticSearch node. For ElasticSearch we ensure you’re node has at least 4 CPU cores and 16GB of RAM. You can follow the instructions to load up the sample data and the other sample plugins I’ve included. Just go to the ip address of the Kibana unit in your browser and start searching:

Now you’re ready to horizontally scale:

 juju add-unit elasticsearch

To add a new node.

And that’s it

You now have an ElasticSearch cluster. Using the same best practices that we’re doing in production. Amir Sanjar and I are prototyping bundling the ElasticSearch Hadoop plugin in a bundle as well, though that’s not quite ready (testing and help wanted!).

As you can see, we’ve barely scratched the surface. Chuck Butler’s been reworking the Logstash charm for Trusty, we expect that to land soon. We plan to make the charm a subordinate, you can just plop it onto any unit. The idea is to enable people to put logstash’s indexer on every unit they can shove all they care about into ElasticSearch.

It’s been about a year since I started building my own Steam console for my living room. A ton has changed since then. SteamOS has been released, In Home Streaming is out of beta and generally speaking the living room experience has gotten a ton better.

This blog post will be a summary of what’s changed in the past year, in the hopes that it will help someone who might be interested in building their own “next-gen console” for about the same price, and take advantage of nicer hardware and all the things that PC gaming has to offer.

Step 1: Choosing the hardware

  • I consider the NVIDIA GTX 750Ti to be the best thing to happen in hardware for this sort of project. It’s based on their newest Maxwell technology so it runs cool, it does not need a special power supply plug, and it’s pretty small. It’s also between $120-$150 – which means nearly any computer is now capable of becoming a game console. And a competent one at that.

  • I have settled on the Cooler Master 110 case, which is one of the least obnoxious PC case you can find that won’t look too bad in the living room. Unfortunately Valve’s slick-looking case did not kick the case makers into making awesome-looking living room style cases. The closest you can find is the Silverstone RVZ01, which has the right insides, but they ruined the outside with crazy plastic ribs. The Digital Storm Bolt II looks great, but you can’t buy the case seperately. Both cases have CD drives for some reason, boo!

  • Nvidia has a great guide on building a PC within the console-price range if you want to look around. I also recommend checking out r/buildapc, which has tons of Mini-ITX/750Ti builds.

  • Another alternative is the excellent Intel NUC and Gigabyte Brix. These make for great portable machines, but for the upcoming AAA titles for Linux like Metro Redux, Star Citizen, and so on I decided to go with a dedicated graphics card. Gigabyte makes a very interesting model that is the size of a NUC, but with a GTX 760(!). This looks to be ideal, but unfortunately when Linus reviewed it he found heat/throttling issues. When they make a Maxwell based one of these it will likely be awesome.

  • Don’t forget the controller. The Xbox wireless ones will work out of the box. I recommend avoiding the off-brand dongles you see on Amazon, they can be hit or miss.

Step 2: Choosing the software

I’ve been using SteamOS since it came out. The genious about SteamOS is that fundamentally it does only 2 things. It boots, and then runs Steam Big Picture (BPM) mode. This means for a dedicated console, the OS is really not important. I have 2 drives in the box, one with SteamOS, and one with Ubuntu running BPM. After running both I prefer Ubuntu/Steam to SteamOS:

  • Faster boot (Upstart v. SysV)
  • PPAs enable fresh access to new Nvidia drivers and Plex Home Theater
  • Newer kernels and access to HWE kernels over the next 5 years

I tend to alternate between the two, but since I am more familiar with Ubuntu it makes it easier to use for, so the rest of this post will cover how to build a dedicated Steam Box using Ubuntu.

This isn’t to say SteamOS is bad, in fact, setting it up is actually easier than doing the next few steps; remember that the entire point is to not care about the OS underneath, and get you into Steam. So build whatever is most comfortable for you!

Step 3: Installation

These are the steps I am currently doing. It’s not for beginners, you should be comfortable admining an Ubuntu system.

  • Install Ubuntu 14.04.
  • (Optional) - Install openssh-server. I don’t know about you but lugging a keyboard/mouse back and forth to my living room is not my idea of a good time. I prefer to sit on the couch, and ssh into the box from my laptop.
  • Add the xorg-edgers PPA. You don’t need this per se, but let’s go all in!
  • Install the latest Nvidia drivers: As of this writing, nvidia-graphics-drivers-343.

After you’ve installed the drivers and all the security updates you should reboot to get to your nice new clean desktop system. Now it’s time to make it a console:

  • Log in, and install Steam. Log into steam, make sure it works.
  • Add the Marc Deslaurier’s SteamOS packages PPA. These are rebuilt for Ubuntu and he does a great job keeping them up to date.
  • sudo apt-get install steamos-compositor steamos-modeswitch-inhibitor steamos-xpad-dkms
  • Log out, and in the login screen, click on the Ubuntu symbol by the username and select the Steam session. This will get you the dedicated Steam session. Make sure that works. Exit out of that and now let’s make it so we can boot into that new session by default
  • Enable autologin in LightDM after the fact so that when your machine boots it goes right into Steam’s Big Picture mode.

We’re using Valve’s xpad module instead of xboxdrv because that’s what they use in SteamOS and I don’t want to deviate too much. But if you prefer about xboxdrv then follow this guide.

  • Steam updates itself at the client level so there’s no need to worry about that, the final step for a console-like experience is to enable automatic updates. Remember you’re using PPAs, so if you’re not confident that you can fix things, just leave it and do maintenance by hand every once in a while.

Step 4: Home Theater Bling

If you’re going to have a nice living room box, then let’s use it for other things. I have a dedicated server with media that I share out with Plex Media Server, so in this step I’ll install the client side.

Plex Home Theater:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:plexapp/plexht
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ppa:pulse-eight/libcec
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install plexhometheater

In Steam you can then click on the + symbol, Add a non-steam game, and then add Plex. Use the gamepad (not the stick) to navigate the UI once you launch it. If you prefer XBMC/Kodi you can install that instead. I found that the controller also works out of the box there, so it’s a nice experience no matter which one you choose.

Step 5: In Home Streaming

This is a killer Steam feature, that allows you to stream your Windows games to your new console. It’s very straight forward, just have both machines on and logged into Steam on the same network, they will autodiscover each other, and your Windows games will show up in your Ubuntu/Steam UI, and you can stream them. Though it works suprisingly well over wireless, you’ll definately want to ensure you’ve got gigabit ethernet if you want to stream games 1080p at 60 frames per second.

Conclusion

And that’s basically it! There’s tons of stuff I’ve glossed over, but these are the basic steps. There’s lots of little things you can do, like remove a bunch of desktop packages you won’t need (so you don’t need to download and update them) and other tips and tricks, I’ll try to keep everyone up to date on how it’s going.

Enjoy your new next-gen gaming console!

TODO:

  • You can change out the plymouth theme to use the one for SteamOS - but I have an SSD in the box and combined with the fast boot it never comes up for me anyway.
  • It’d be cool to make a prototype of Ubuntu Core and then provide Steam in an LXC container on top of that so we don’t have to use a full blown desktop ISO.

Prentice Hall has just released the 8th Ed. of “The Official Ubuntu Book”, authored by Matthew Helmke and Elizabeth K. Joseph with José Antonio Rey, Philip Ballew and Benjamin Mako Hill.

This is the book’s first update in 2 years and as the authors state in their Preface, “…a large part of this book has been rewritten—not because the earlier editions were bad, but because so much has happened since the previous edition was published. This book chronicles the major changes that affect typical users and will help anyone learn the foundations, the history, and how to harness the potential of the free software in Ubuntu.”

As with prior editions, publisher Prentice Hall has kindly offered to ship approved LoCo teams each (1) free copy of this new edition. To keep this as simple as possible, you can request your book by following these steps. The team contact shown on our LoCo Team List (and only the team contact) should send an email to Heather Fox at heather.fox@pearson.com and include the following details:

  • Your full name
  • Which team you are from
  • If your team resides within North America, please provide: Your complete street address (the book will ship by UPS)
  • If your team resides outside North America, you will first be emailed a voucher code to download the complete eBook bundle from the publisher site, InformIT, which includes the ePub/mobi/pdf files.

If your team does reside outside North America and you wish to be considered for a print copy, please provide:

Your complete street address, region, country AND IMPORTANT: Your phone number, including country and area code. (Pearson will make its best effort to arrange shipment through its nearest corporate office.)

A few notes:

  • Only approved teams are eligible for a free copy of the book.
  • Only the team contact for each team can make the request for the book.
  • There is a limit of (1) copy of each book per approved team.
  • Prentice Hall will cover postage, but not any import tax or other shipping fees.
  • When you have the books, it is up to you what you do with them. We recommend you share them between members of the team. LoCo Leaders: please don’t hog them for yourselves!

If you have any questions or concerns, please directly contact Pearson/Prentice Hall’s Heather Fox at heather.fox@pearson.com Also, for those teams who are not approved or yet to be approved, you can still score a rather nice 35% discount on the books by registering your LoCo with the Pearson User Group Program.