pleia2's blog Elizabeth Krumbach Joseph's public journal about open source, DevOps, beer, travel, pink gadgets and her life in the city where little cable cars climb halfway to the stars. Mon, 02 Dec 2019 23:19:18 -0800 en-US hourly 1 SV Code Camp, Datathon at UC Berkeley and GitHub Universe Mon, 02 Dec 2019 23:19:18 +0000 “Conference season” in the autumn for me is roughly the end of October through early November. I didn’t want to travel quite so much this year, and there were plenty of events local to me, so I ended up with an unexpectedly busy October and November, either traveling or doing local events several weeks in a row.

I kicked off my conference season with an internal event at the IBM Silicon Valley Lab, where I have an office. My team focuses on external advocacy, but we have finite resources and career development is frequently aided by giving talks, so we’re always seeking to encourage colleagues do external-facing work and advocacy. To help this, my internal talk was on open source software development, with a tie-in to the work that IBM Z has been doing in this realm.

My first external event this season was the Silicon Valley Code Camp in San Jose. I had never been to this event before, and it was over a weekend so I could only carve out time for the first day, but I’m glad I went. We had an IBM Z booth there, positioned next to the IBM Developer booth.

IBM crew. From the event photos collection, source.

My colleague Matt Cousens was out from New York, so along he, my boss Jeanne Brooks and I staffed the booth for most of the day, giving away mainframe stickers, books, and other goodies.

I also gave a talk on Developing for the Modern Mainframe, slides. The room was laid out in a way that made it easy to shift into a conversational-type talk, so with a couple dozen attendees it was easy to slip into a casual back and forth as I made my way through my slides. It was fascinating to see the range of experience in such a small audience, some folks having strong experience with Z and others just vaguely curious about what exactly mainframes are and what needs to be done specifically to develop on them. This diversity also allowed for a nice crew of allies in the audience, not just IBMers, but experienced folks who could chime in on some of the z/OS topics I’m not strong with yet. It was probably the most satisfying talk of the year enjoy-ability-wise, and I hope to participate in this event next year too.

Then there was a Datathon at UC Berkeley, which my colleague Sudharsana wrote about it here: Datathon for Social Good: IBM Z & UC Berkeley. Our role was to sponsor the event and provide key content, then eventually judge the outcomes from participants. In preparation, an environment was created on IBM Z that the students could log in to and use Jupiter Notebooks to interact with Z and run data analysis on their chosen data sets. The event began on Friday evening with an introduction and then a panel talking about what IBM Z was. I was one of the panelists, and it was interesting being on it with some of my colleagues from IBM and a representative from the State of California. My perspective really is quite different from those who have been working in this space for a long time. It was also at this event that I learned that most traditional students in college today aren’t very familiar with IBM as a company. Upon reflection, the reason I was so familiar with them was probably because I had IBM PCs in my youth. My first and second computers were both IBMs. But IBM no longer has a PC division, and much of their work is with enterprises, how would regular people have experience IBM today? I’m not sure.

The event continued on Saturday, during which we sat with the students to offer mentorship in case they needed it, and to wrap up the day with presentations and picking the winners. One of the strengths of the mainframe is the ability to quickly crunch data, so it was fascinating to see the students whose Datathon projects actually used that. As a result, we really honed in on projects that were (or planned on) using large data sets and/or processing a lot of real time data. The winners focused on student financial help, wildfire modeling, and homelessness support spending.

Later that week, we invited the winners to the IBM Watson office in San Francisco for a tour and some talks on AI and Machine Learning, along with a quick talk on Open Source on Z that I gave. That’s where I found the best IBM logo ever!

More photos from the Datathon and follow-up in San Francisco here:

Finally, I attended GitHub Universe in San Francisco in mid-November. It was a last minute thing for a very exciting reason: Travis CI now supports builds on Z! Alongside Arm and newly announced Power support, this is momentous. With this initial implementation, open source projects get builds for free, and it paves the way for paid support for other customers. Making it easy to build your software for architectures other than x86 is something I’m passionate about, so it was nice to be able to attend GitHub Universe at the Travis booth just after the announcement to talk about it. There I met with some folks from IBM Power too, who have done a lot of great work with open source projects that I hope to learn from and replicate. Our role there was offering support when people had questions, and a demo of the pipeline was given in the afternoon.

A few more photos from the event are available here:

And then I was off to KubeCon in San Diego! My last event of the year is Open FinTech in NYC next weekend. Phew.

Holiday cards 2019! Mon, 02 Dec 2019 14:52:04 +0000 Every year I send out a big batch of winter-themed holiday cards to friends, acquaintances, and anyone who made there way to this blog post somehow.

Caligula by the fireplace

Reading this? That means you!

Even if you’re outside the United States!

Even if we’ve never met!

Send me an email at with your postal mailing address and put “Holiday Card” in the subject so I can filter it appropriately. Please do this even if I’ve sent you a card in the past, I won’t be reusing lists from previous years.

Disclaimer: My family is Jewish and we celebrate Hanukkah, but the cards are non-religious, with some variation of “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings” on them.

House wrangling Thu, 28 Nov 2019 21:30:17 +0000 Owning a home is a never-ending project, and doing home improvements during the first year of adjusting to life with a tiny new member of the family has taken Herculean effort. But we’re making it through. Each weekend we pick another task, even if it’s completing a small task, like organizing the laundry room or making progress on a larger one, like getting closet doors installed.

Our house is quite unusual, as I’ve talked about before, but one of the “smaller” things we noticed when we first looked at the house was the lack of closet doors in the bedrooms. Once we moved in, the reality of just how weird that was set in. It looks like the previous owners put up curtains, at least in the master bedroom, to cover the closets, since there were tension rods still up when we moved in. It’s unclear if anything was done in the other three bedrooms. Still, it was something we wanted to solve, so we ordered doors late last year, had them painted a few months ago, and are finally getting around to installing them. The first weekend we embarked on this project required us to go to the hardware store a couple times. About half the rails for the doors are installed now, so we’re getting there!

Another project we’ve been working on was getting the storage pod finally delivered and contents integrated into our home. The big part of this job was actually getting the storage pod delivered and emptied into a staging area in the garage so we could sort through it. First, we had to do some car shuffling. We learned that the space next to the house is indeed large enough for a car to park in it! And then were able to park the truck on the street for a couple days while the pod was parked on the driveway, with just enough space to squeeze my car in and out of the garage.

Then we had movers come over for a couple hours to empty it out. They brought a bunch of furniture into the house, so we now have a living room downstairs that actually looks lived in, and some pieces of furniture for the television in the upstairs family room to sit on, though we still lack a couch in that room, so watching TV in there isn’t feasible yet. We still have some work to do, the huge china cabinet that’s now in the living room needs some repairs before we actually put dishes in it, and it should be anchored to the wall in case of earthquakes or enthusiastic, climbing children. We also have some work to do to move stuff from storage totes to where they actually belong in the house, but first we need to establish those spaces, and I think much of that will happen slowly over the course of several months rather than being specific projects. I did bring my Sparc Ultra10 into my office though, even if I haven’t managed to find my Sun keyboard and mouse yet.

Another project has been preparing the roof for solar! I think I’ve mentioned before that the house was built in the 1956, so all the vents were haphazardly placed all over the roof. In order to install solar panels most effectively, several of them had to be moved. So we’ve worked with a few contractors to get the work done, and finally a couple weeks ago the work was finished with a roofer who came by to inspect and seal up any spots that needed it after the work of the plumbers and others. The actual solar work is a few months off due to there being a wait list, but I’m happy we’re finally able to move forward with it. We’ve been lucky that none of the rolling power outages in our area have hit us, but they have touched other parts of our town and we remain a little on edge about the possibility. Having solar panels to at least keep us going during the daytime will bring considerable peace of mind, and we’ve also been considering batteries.

And now the project that has suddenly usurped all others: baby-proofing. Many of the cabinets in the kitchen already have anti-child clips, so we just need to finish the rest. A gate needs to be installed at the top of the stairs, which we thought would be easy but the first one we bought conflicts with the railing on one side, so we need to go back to the drawing board there. Highest on our list is protection of gnarly wire farms around power outlets in rooms he frequents and securing some of the furniture to walls. His bedroom is where we’ve started the work, and the giant bookcases in my office will be next up. I think we have a solid plan and all the tools we need now, so we just need to carve out a weekend to finish it.

There’s still so much to do, and I’m trying to strike a balance between making progress on things and giving us all the rest and grace we need. We need to keep pushing forward on projects, but spending quality new family time together doing non-projects is important too.

LISA19 in Portland Thu, 28 Nov 2019 17:05:51 +0000 At the end of October I traveled up to Portland, Oregon to participate in LISA19.

LISA is a conference I’m very fond of because of the real focus on systems administration, rather than software development, and so there are typically more talks that are applicable to my trade. This year it was also particularly valuable due to the number of folks there who I discovered had administration experience with mainframes. Some still worked on them in the financial or government sectors, and were interested when I mentioned the DevOps tooling and open source efforts currently underway to improve automation and to make them feel like a more modern platform. It was a nice change from many of the 101 conversations I have with my typical Linux sysadmin peers who I’m talking to about being open to trying out the platform.

Talk-wise, I was really happy with their series of keynotes. The event kicked off with a keynote by Alice Goldfuss on “The Container Operator’s Manual” where she implored the audience to be more thoughtful about their adoption of containers. They aren’t a panacea, you need to consider the workloads appropriate for containers, and you need to hire a team that’s sufficiently large and skilled enough to manage the infrastructure. Thank you! Right after her talk, we heard from Rich Smith who, coming from the security community, was seeking to make a connection with the systems community on how we can better collaborate and serve users more effectively, and securely.

I think my favorite talk of the event was from Lisa Seelye on “Multi-Architecture Container Images: Why Bother, and How To” where she talked about the ability for containers to be built for non-x86 hardware and some of the challenges you bump into when you start building and using them for an architecture like Arm64. As she unpacked some containers that claimed to be built for Arm, her experience mirrored my own with s390x as you bump into inconsistent or incomplete architecture specifications and dependency issues. She did a nice demo of taking one apart and rebuilding it properly to run her Arm system, which was pretty cool. The conference has made the slides and video available on her talk page here.

One of the reasons I attended was to give a lightning talk! My topic was 20 years of Linux on the mainframe, a topic I’ve covered before, but it was a lot of fun to squeeze it into a 5 minute talk with auto-advancing slides where I had to distill the core of the story quickly. Slides will be familiar to anyone who has already seen the longer version of my talk, but you can see them here.

I was also able to chat with the Fedora Project Leader about build systems for Fedora. My goal is to see public build systems that include the ability to build for s390x for all the major distributions. Ubuntu has Launchpad and Snapcraft, both of which support it. SUSE has the openSUSE Build System, which not only supports s390x, but builds for multiple distributions, making it a one stop shop for most needs. Still, people use what’s familiar to them distribution-wise and Matt pointed me in the direction of Copr, which doesn’t have s390x support yet, but this does seem to be the right place to be when I can carve out some time to reach out to see about how they can get resources to do so. And while on the topic, Fedora 31 came out during the conference too, and of course that has s390x support, and has since version 15 in 2011.

In all, it was probably one of the most rewarding conferences for me this year, and I’m really glad I went. Next year it’ll be in Boston in December and co-located with SRECon. It makes a lot of sense, there is considerable topic overlap and I think both events will be valuable to most attendees> Still, it will change the feel of the current standalone event, which is on the smaller side.

More photos of the event can be found here:

Autumn in the East Sun, 17 Nov 2019 20:04:17 +0000 At the end of September we flew out to Philadelphia to spend a couple weeks there. At least, that was the plan. The visit was extended to three weeks when I came down with a miserable stomach bug. Fortunately, that was the only catastrophe that occurred during the trip.

We decided to take a daytime flight on our way out, since Adam spent almost the entire overnight flight back in July awake. I think we’ll switch back though, July seems to have been a bit of an anomaly, he slept fine on the evening flight we took home. On Sunday, Adam and I met up with my friend Stephen and went to the Philadelphia Zoo! Adding this to the list, this was Adam’s third zoo, and his first time at the Philadelphia Zoo. It was a hot day, but not intolerably so, and we had a nice time catching up.

More photos from the zoo here:

Upon our return from the zoo, we all headed over to MJ’s sister’s house to catch the tail end of a birthday party for her. It was there that Adam was introduced to his first helium-filled balloon. He’s at an age where he enjoys dropping things on the floor, so letting go of a balloon and seeing it rise, rather than fall, was the source of endless giggles. He enjoyed it so much that we ended up taking a balloon home with us, hah!

Later that week I met up with my friend David at the Trolley Car Diner & Deli in Mt Airy. It’s a diner I’ve always wanted to visit due to the PCC they kept our front and was their namesake, but then I heard about their impending closure on October 15th, so it was now or never! Truly a bittersweet occasion, but it was a beautiful day so I was able to get some nice pictures. The food and company were good too.

More photos of the diner here:

One of the reasons I enjoy visiting this time of year is the weather. Autumn in Philadelphia is a beautiful time, so I was able to take Adam out for walks most evenings. We explored the park near our neighborhood for the first time and also took many walks around the neighborhood itself to admire the Halloween decorations that were already going up, and to count the faux turtles and tortoises that various neighbors put out as general yard decorations (we found five of them).

The other reason I like visiting at the end of September specifically is because my birthday is on the 29th! We spent the morning discovering a new waffle place near our house, where I indulged in a Kit Kat waffle (Kit Kat pieces inside and on top!). Danita was doing some baking that week and made me a delicious carrot cake, hand delivered one evening when we got to hang out and have pizza too. Crissi came over to babysit on my actual birthday so MJ and I could go out to dinner. As a special birthday treat, MJ took me to Morimoto in downtown Philadelphia. It has always been on my list, but this was the first time either of us had been. We went with the tasting menu, which was the right decision for our first visit, everything we had was excellent.

Rosh Hashanah also fell during our visit. We have been going to services at our home synagogue for the holiday for the past several years, so we were happy to be able to find a synagogue in Philadelphia that welcomed non-members for a family service. With little Adam in tow, an hour long family service was precisely what we needed. The service was filled with songs and young children, and then we went up to the sanctuary to hear the shofar, which Adam thoroughly enjoyed (it’s my favorite part too). We then headed out to New Jersey to have lunch with some family at our favorite Jewish deli in Cherry Hill.

Other visits including Adam and I heading over to New Jersey again to visit with some of my friends with kids, one of whom is just a few months older than Adam. True to being my child, Adam enjoyed playing with toys and meeting their cats. The other kids? Eh. Maybe when he’s older. We also discovered that one of my favorite places to eat in Bucks county has a semi-enclosed back area that seats you right next to the SEPTA train station, so when MJ and I made it out one evening alone for a dinner with some friends, we spend the evening watching the trains go by, including the Amtrak Acela!

Our au pair came with us on this trip to Philadelphia, but she decided to take her 2 weeks of vacation overlapping with half of our trip, so MJ and I also took some time off from work. The second week in Philadelphia it was just the three of us, and a road trip up to Rochester, NY for the wedding of one of my cousins. I have a lot of cousins, and I hadn’t seen her in years, but we’ve kept up via social media. I was really happy to be invited, and this marked Adam’s first proper road trip, six hours on the road! We got off to a bit of a rough start, but in general he was great. It helped that we drove in the evening, and so it was his natural time to snooze. We also decided to bring his Pack ‘n Play instead of depending on a crib from the hotel (which is often a Pack ‘n Play anyway!), and that worked out really well. We’ll likely continue to do so for trips where we don’t have to fly. I lived in upstate New York for a couple years after I left my childhood home in Maine in 2000, so going back was interesting. The wedding itself was outdoors, a risky gamble in early October in upstate New York, but one that paid off. The bride and groom were stunning and we had a lovely time. Our only mistake on this trip was neglecting to bring warmer clothes. The drive up was a chilly one, and though we keep Adam’s diaper bag fully stocked with blankets and hoodies, MJ and I were a bit chilly during our journey!

Unfortunately, upon our return home I learned I had picked up a stomach bug. We were due to return home to California the next day, but I was in no condition to travel. In some ways I was grateful that MJ and I were both on vacation, since that allowed us to extend our trip by a week without any real impact to our schedules and MJ could take over the bulk of the baby care while I was sick. But it was pretty sad to be so sick while I was on vacation. And as a result of staying, we also ended up spending Yom Kippur in Philadelphia too. Instead of going to services, we opted for televised feed from another Philadelphia-based synagogue that we were familiar with for Kol Nidre, and also streamed services observing the conclusion of Yom Kippur the following evening.

Mostly the week was spent recovering from being sick, and then on the return to work remotely on Thursday and Friday. We had a few more meals out, including checking out a BBQ place nearby that a friend recommended that we’ll definitely be back to. On Saturday, October 12th, we finally returned to California!

A few more random photos from our visit are here:

I didn’t blog in October Mon, 11 Nov 2019 06:05:03 +0000 On June 4th, 2002 I wrote my first blog entry. It was on a platform long past its prime, though I imported it all to this self-hosted blog years ago. In a hilarious stroke of irony, my first blog post is entirely about how I probably won’t keep blogging, and here I sit over 17 years later as one of the few who still maintains a personal blog, let alone one that is in the format of a public diary.

As my life has changed over the years, the quality of my writing improved and I’ve become much more selective about what I write. It was only my love for history that kept me from deleting my oldest posts that show a naive 20 year old blabbering into the nothingness that was an anonymous internet pre-social media. I aired opinions about all sorts of things and wrote about random thoughts that came into my head, sometimes multiple times a day. My life was hella boring, but I managed to write. And keep writing.

In recent years, my blog has turned into a highlights reel. Instead of writing every day, my average has been closer to once a week. I write about conferences, trips, and brain dumps of the latest things going on with my life. I treasure my blog for capturing everything that I love about my life. I try to be honest, but I definitely have shifted to the positive and thoughtful with much of what I write now.

Through my difficult pregnancy and finally welcoming Adam into our lives, I didn’t miss a beat. My average this year dropped to writing every other week, but my blog is important to me.

I have written in my blog at least once every month since it started in June 2002.

Until last month.

I wrote no personal blog posts in October 2019.

At the end of October, while I was at LISA19, I had a moment of reflection about how I “haven’t blogged recently” but the conference was a whirlwind and I didn’t make time to pause. Perhaps if I had realized that the month would stand out like this I would have gone to bed a bit later one night during the conference just to knock out a quick entry about our trip back east at the end of September (a post that is still pending). But no, I enjoyed those child-free nights at the conference by sleeping, and as November swept me up in her cool clutches, I finally thought to skim through my archives and confirm what I suspected: I had never missed a whole month before.

So, why is this?

The obvious answer is the correct one: I had a child.

It’s more complicated than that though, since I did manage to keep up with my blog in those early months. Looking back since I last blogged on September 19th, I realized that I got sick enough to leave me bedridden for at least a day twice (stomach bug in early October, then a nasty cold last week). Being sick and recovering takes at least a week and a half, during which I don’t push myself and I make sure I get plenty of rest. Pushing myself was essential to keeping up with my blog and all the other things I do in my life after I finish work, mothering, and household chores.

I say “was” because I think I’ve reached another crossroads in my need to streamline my life. Before Adam joined our lives, I was accustom to the luxury of having large chunks of free time where I could “get in the zone” and accomplish a lot. I could let a “half hour free, here and there” go as not enough time to accomplish anything and crash on the couch to skim social media. I no longer have that luxury. That “half hour free, here and there” is often all I have without “pushing myself” and cutting into my much-needed sleep. I need to learn to be productive in half hour chunks.

So here goes. First is the realization. Now the commitment. I’m in! Now, I’m going to try a bit of time blocking to be very specific about what I want to do each day between end-of-day chores and dinner with MJ. With any luck, I’ll finally get that blog post about our visit back east at the end of September written soon.

P.S. Down time is important. I currently do have a slim budget for reading and watching TV, and it tends to be while I’m pumping breast milk outside of work hours. Being relaxed while I pump is important to my success, so that’s about 40 minutes a day (80 minutes on weekends) where I let myself relax to watch a show or read the latest chapter in a book. Also, I also fully intend block time every evening, but give myself some leeway to skip one if I really do just want to crash on the couch and browse social media. Parenthood is exhausting. My job is exhausting. Sometimes I just don’t have it in me to do anything productive. That’s ok, and I know it’s ok.

Ubuntu on the new LinuxONE III Thu, 19 Sep 2019 09:00:30 +0000 A few months ago I visited the IBM offices in Poughkeepsie to sync up with colleagues, record an episode of Terminal Talk, and let’s be honest, visit some mainframes. A lot of assembly still happens in Poughkeepsie, and they have a big client center with mainframes on display, including several inside a datacenter that they give tours of. I was able to see a z14 in operation, as well as several IBM LinuxONE machines. Getting to tour datacenters is a lot of fun, and even though I wouldn’t have meaningful technical interactions with them, there’s something about seeing these massive machines that I work with every day in person that brings me a lot of joy.

Now I have to go back! On September 12th, the newest mainframe was announced, the IBM z15 and accompanying Linux version, the IBM LinuxONE III. To celebrate, I joined my colleagues in the IBM Silicon Valley lab for a launch event watch party and, of course, cake.

I wrote a more in-depth article about the hardware of this machine for work here: Inside the LinuxONE III. The key thing about it is that we’ve gone from two versions of the LinuxONE (Rockhopper II and Emperor II), to just one, but one that fits inside a 19” rack space like the Rockhopper II did and is expandable to up to four frames.

The processors are 5.2Ghz each, and in a fully decked out configuration one of these 4-frame systems can have up to 190 processors and 40 TB of RAM. It’s a massively powerful machine. Add in on-chip crypto that we’ve come to know and love on the mainframe, you have a really impressive data processing powerhouse.

Now, I was brought on to the Z Ecosystem team because of my background with Linux, both in the Ubuntu community and broader experience with distributed systems, including OpenStack and Apache Mesos. That’s because these mainframes don’t just run z/OS. The LinuxONE series of machines, the first of which was released in 2015, are exclusively Linux. Last week I wrote an article over on about How Linux came to the mainframe, where I talk about how this came to be. This morning the second part of that article was published, Linux on the mainframe: Then and now, where I explore the formal entrance of major distributions into supporting the mainframe architecture. Ubuntu joined that fold with an announcement in 2016 that Ubuntu 16.04 had support for the mainframe (s390x architecture). Today, Ubuntu boasts the most s390x packages of all the officially supported distributions.

All recent release of Ubuntu have supported s390x, so while they recommend the LTS releases, you can happily use Ubuntu 19.04 today to get the latest packages, and there are even more improvements in store for Ubuntu 19.10 coming out next month. When I chatted with Frank Heimes, who runs the Ubuntu on Big Iron blog (which you should totally check out!), he highlighted the following this for me with regard to Ubuntu support:

  • Special emphasis is put on kernel, KVM, hardware counters and security, allowing one to make use of z15 and LinuxONE III faster and enlarged number of processors with new CPU capabilities, facilities and larger caches, increased memory and IO throughput
  • Support for hardware cryptography, which he talks about in this blog post and the associated whitepaper: Hardware cryptography with Ubuntu Server on IBM Z and LinuxONE
  • Support for deployments on LPAR, z/VM, KVM, LXD, Docker and kubernetes (CDK), with installation media available as ISO, Cloud or container images.

It was also interesting for me to learn that their MAAS KVM product has been built for s390x, which I’ll point you to the Ubuntu on Big Iron blog for again, for one of Frank’s posts this month on the topic: MAAS KVM on s390x: Cross-LPAR walk-through. There have also been collaborations in the works to create proof of concepts around security, including Digital Asset Custody Services (DACS), which you can explore in more detail in this article from August: Digital Asset Custody Services (DACS) aims to disrupt the digital assets market with a secured custody platform.

For Ubuntu, s390x isn’t just another checkbox architecture that’s being supported. Just like the other officially supported distributions, there are whole teams within Canonical who are spending time making thoughtful and innovative solutions that specifically target the power of the mainframe. The following is their Design Philosophy for Ubuntu Server on IBM Z and LinuxONE, via Frank’s Ubuntu Server for IBM Z and LinuxONE slide deck (4.2M PDF):

  • Expand Ubuntu’s ease of use to the s390x architecture (IBM Z and LinuxONE)
  • Unlock new workloads, especially in the Open Source, Cloud and Container space
  • Consequentially tap into new client bases
  • Exploit new features and components faster – in two ways:
    • hardware: zEC12/zBC12 and newer
    • software: latest kernels, compilers and optimized libraries
    • Provide parity with other architectures
    • Release parity
    • Feature parity
  • Uniform user experience
  • Close potential gaps
  • Open source – is collective power in action
  • Upstream work and code only – no forks
  • Offer a radically new pricing approach (drawer-based pricing) but also an entry-level pricing based on the number of IFLs (up to 4 IFLs)
  • Of course we don’t have mainframes in our garages (even as an IBM employee, I’ve asked!). So as developers, our access is somewhat limited. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t build your Ubuntu .deb or snap for s390x! As I wrote about back in June, you can build your PPA for s390x with the clicking of a simple checkbox in the Launchpad UI for PPAs.

    Similarly, you can also build snaps for the s390x architecture. These build systems reside on a mainframe that Canonical hosts in their datacenter, so you don’t even need access to a mainframe yourself to build for it.

    But if you want to be extra sure your application runs on s390x, IBM has made a LinuxONE Community Cloud which gives users a VM running on a mainframe in New York for 120 days! You can try out your application on one of those, and then be confident it works when you submit it to the PPA or snap build system. Unfortunately the only options right now for OS are SLES and RHEL, but Ubuntu support is in the works. Beyond this cloud, we’re also working to get an open source developer cloud launched, but in the meantime you can reach out to me directly ( if you’re interested in some longer-lived VMs for your open source project, or generally want to talk about how you can get more VMs for testing, CI systems, and more.

    If you had asked me a year ago to talk about mainframes, I would not have had much to say, but I’m really excited to be part of this story now. The machines themselves are impressive, the efforts that distributions like Ubuntu are putting into them is quite exceptional, and it’s really fun learning about a new architecture. And speaking of other architectures, s390x isn’t the only architecture Canonical works with IBM to provide support for. As noted on the Ubuntu on IBM partner page (which is worth checking out anyway), you’ll see there’s a lot of work being put in around POWER too.

    Adam’s first MUNI Heritage Weekend Sat, 14 Sep 2019 18:49:29 +0000 I attended a couple MUNI Heritage Weekends while I lived in San Francisco, but I didn’t attend the one last year due to being pregnant, and I was going to skip this one due to having the little one in tow. However, we both got the rare good night sleep Friday night, I wanted to go, and I was eager to begin introducing little 8 month old Adam to my beloved old streetcars.

    We took BART up to the city and arrived just as things began. Unlike the last one I attended in 2016, this was a much bigger and more populated affair. Several booths were set up to promote various organizations related to transit and trains, a fake cable car had been brought into the plaza for people to climb up on and take pictures with, which we availed ourselves of.

    After the picture, we made our way over to the vintage buses which were doing 20 minute loops toward North Beach. The old 2230 bus was about to depart, so we selected that one.

    Volunteers happily helped lift Adam’s stroller into the bus, and we were off. As we rode along I realized that this was Adam’s first bus ride, and while I’m not sure I’d say he had fun (based on his expression throughout the ride I texted MJ a picture with the caption “recreational bus rides? Mom, ur so weird”).

    By the end of the ride he was dozing, which lasted as we returned to the plaza and walked around a bit. I made a stop at the San Francisco Railway Museum & Gift Shop right there where they were selling some vintage pins, which I happily scooped up.

    We then did a bit more walking around the plaza waiting for street cars to come by, which is when we got our second look of the day at the old 578, built in 1896, making it the oldest streetcar still in operation in the world.

    Always a crowd-pleaser, we also saw the 228 boat tram. I was a little disappointed to miss the 737 which I’ve never seen in operation (only parked in the barn), but we also got to see the lovely 496 from Melbourne, another one of my favorites.

    As the afternoon crept up on us, it was time to meet MJ for brunch! He’s been working a lot, including over weekends, so it was nice for the three of us to spend a nice brunch in the city together.

    It was nice to go out and have everything go well. Adam was in a good mood, he got in a couple on-the-go naps, and though he was quite lively at brunch, making for several baby hand-offs as we each attempted to finish our meals, he was happy. You have this vision in your head about what it’s like to have a little baby sidekick you can carry around with you, and then there’s the reality of making sure he’s always fed, changed, slept enough, and a bunch of other things to juggle in your mind while you’re out. I’m glad I went up into the city that Saturday, but it was still a tiring affair.

    Sunday began by walking the couple blocks into town for the Castro Valley Fall Festival. It’s probably the most vendor-filled event we’ve been to thus far in town. Lots of vendors selling all kinds of interesting things, plus local businesses, non-profit organizations, and schools representing their place in our town. We got some food to nibble on as we walked around, Adam enjoyed looking around for a while, but I think ended up getting a little bored being pushed around in his stroller for so long in the warm weather. It was nice getting out and mingling with the neighbors and getting more familiar with our town, if only for a couple hours.

    The rest of the day was spent making our first attempt at getting the closet doors installed. It turns out we needed a few more tools, but in the meantime we were able to continue a project started a few weekends ago to start hanging pictures around the house. We got my A New Hope script page hung in my office! And MJ made a valiant, but ultimately failed, attempt to hang my MUNI signs on the door going into my bathroom from the office. We’ll try that one again soon when we have the right equipment to hang it solidly on the door.

    This weekend is much quieter. We have some home improvement tasks to complete and a bunch of little things to wrap up before our trip to Philadelphia next Saturday. We’re also going to get our flu shots (well, Adam gets his on Tuesday), so we’re all set before we start traveling. Looking forward to our visit back east, most notably we’ll be doing our first little road trip with Adam up to Rochester for my cousin’s wedding in early October.

    Open Mainframe and Open Source Summits 2019 Thu, 12 Sep 2019 00:08:46 +0000 At the tail end of August I had the opportunity to head down to San Diego for a few days to attend the Open Source on the Mainframe Mini-Summit and Open Source Summit North America.

    I had never been to an event put on by the Open Mainframe Project and saw it as a nice opportunity to quickly get up to speed on the open source work happening on the z/OS side of things. The event didn’t disappoint.

    The talks began with an introduction from John Mertic on the general open source ecosystem for mainframes and the value that open source brings to the ecosystem (slides). Joe Winchester followed his presentation with a talk where he dove into some of the stats of the modern mainframe and specifically into Zowe. I had heard the project name before, but this even was the first time I actually got a glimpse of it, which began in Joe’s talk (slides) and continued in a talk about Zowe specifically by Thomas Mcquitty.

    Zowe is really where the modern mainframe open source tooling shines, as described on the website:

    “Zowe offers modern interfaces to interact with z/OS and allows you to work with z/OS in a way that is similar to what you experience on cloud platforms today.”

    There’s a web-based GUI that gives you a kind of “desktop” that allows you to interact with the system and data in a way that’s more natural to those of us with an x86 background. There’s a CLI which opens a whole world of scripting and automation possibilities. Having this tool be open source has fostered an active community spanning a bunch of different companies and organizations contributing to both the core of the tool, as well as third party plugins and other support. Coming from the x86 world, I have certainly come to expect this level of flexibility with my Linux-based infrastructure, so it’s refreshing to see it come to z/OS too.

    The event concluded with a series of Lightning talks, one of which was from Jeff Reser of SUSE who brought Linux to this event! It was nice seeing a talk on the Linux side of things, and I did learn something new: SUSE has had a release for s390x longer than anyone else (slides).

    More photos from the mini-summit here:

    Immediately following the mini-summit I headed over to an event being put on by the San Diego Red Hat Meetup group. It was nice syncing up with some folks about upcoming articles I have coming out on, and to chat about s390x ports of Linux software. The talk for the event was given by Ben Cotton on Fedora and the future of operating systems where he talked about some of the new technology they’re trying out with Fedora to modernize management of software on the operating system.

    At the Open Source Summit the next morning I attended the keynotes. While we were at the mainframe summit the previous day, my friends over in POWER had their own event and some big announcements around the open sourcing of key parts of the POWER processor, and this was highlighted during the keynotes. Mainframes did have a spot too, with a quick mention of the summit, Zowe and some of the other active projects in the Open Mainframe Project.

    My focus at this event was the booth and letting developers we met at the event know about the LinuxONE Community Cloud so they could take the first step towards seeing if their application would run on the s390x architecture. It was also a nice opportunity to sync up more casually with several of my colleagues who work out of different IBM offices than I do.

    The LinuxONE crew!

    Beyond the booth, I met up with several people during this event, including folks who are exploring porting their applications to other architectures. One of the things I realized upon talking to them was how important getting the job-runners ported to s390x is. Access to the platform is one thing, but if their CI/CD tooling won’t run on the virtual machines we provide to the community they’re left pretty stuck.

    More photos from the Open Source Summit here:

    All the work stuff aside (even thought that is fun too!), I thoroughly enjoyed the event party at the famous USS Midway aircraft carrier. This is the second aircraft carrier museum I’ve been to, the other being the USS Hornet in Alameda. I’d love to go back to the Midway some time though, it’s a huge ship and only a subsection was open during the event party.

    More photos from the USS Midway here:

    A refrigerator, plums, and family visit to SF Mon, 02 Sep 2019 05:16:21 +0000 This summer has been different one for us. We’ve had plans a lot closer to home now with little Adam, and we don’t go on as many adventures. Gone are most of our jaunts to San Francisco for brunch, and weekends in wine country. This past week I sadly canceled our two wine club memberships, since our wine rack is completely full and we weren’t taking advantage of our other member benefits. We do still get out to some places though, and as exhausting as the adventure days are with a baby in tow, I always appreciate that we have had the opportunity to frequently introduce him to new things.

    Now stepping back to where I last left off in generalist life blog posts, in the end of June our refrigerator started to die. It came with the house, and upon inspection I learned that it was manufactured in 2003, so it had a pretty average run as far as modern refrigerators go. It was unfortunate though, we had hoped it would last until we did our kitchen remodel so we could get our forever refrigerator. We also can’t survive without a refrigerator, the day it stopped working I ran out to Home Depot and picked up the biggest mini-fridge I could find so that Adam’s milk wouldn’t spoil, and was suddenly grateful for the freezer that came with the house, which had just been sitting unplugged in the garage. That was plugged in and all the frozen and refrigerated milk was saved! Finally, the timing was poor. We were just about to leave for our July visit to Philadelphia, so we ended up flying out and leaving the old refrigerator in place, and didn’t get it replaced until a full month after it died. Getting the replacement delivered was a trial as well, our kitchen is on the second story and it took three delivery attempts and several phone calls until they finally sent a big enough crew to get it up the stairs to our kitchen.

    In July I also received my vanity license plate. I almost got one when I lived in Pennsylvania, but until just a couple months ago, I didn’t have my own car here in California to put one one. I went with the environmental one, and it came out beautiful!

    This summer we’ve been frequenting the Castro Valley Farmers’ Market in the nearby BART parking lot on Saturdays. The fresh strawberries, raspberries, and pluots have been a real treat. We haven’t needed to go far for all our fruit though, in addition to oranges and limes growing on our neighbors tree that looms over our entry pathway, we discovered that a tree in our back yard produces little plums! This is the second year in our house so you think I would have noticed a plum tree last year, but I was pregnant and dealing with pretty serious morning sickness, so I had help with the yard work and food was the last thing on my mind. They’ve been yummy this year though! Especially when I can make the time to chop them up and put them in a fruit salad.

    Adam has been enjoying fruit too, in July he started on solid foods! Well, Gerber 1st foods which are mostly pureed fruits and vegetables. It took a couple days for him to get the hang of eating, and he still makes a mess even being spoon fed a month in, but he does seem to enjoy foods quite a bit, and last week he got his first meats in the form of pureed chicken meals.

    Our own meals have taken a drastic turn this year. We used to eat out a lot and now we’re finding ourselves doing take-out most nights. Thankfully California has a vast assortment of cuisines, so we are have a nice selection, but we have missed actually going out and having dinner together. We ultimately do want to institute a regular “date night” where we hire a babysitter and go out, but for now we were happy to enjoy a single sushi date night in San Francisco in early August at our favorite sushi place. And stopped for donuts afterwards.

    The big event for August was my sister Annette and her son, my nephew, Xavier, coming into town for nine days. They had never been to California and were eager to get some time with little Adam, and we needed some childcare coverage for Adam while I took a work trip down to San Diego. The timing worked out for all of us before Xavier had to go back to school, so they arrived on August 16th and stayed through the 25th.

    Saturday the 17th, the first day they were in town, I gave them a quick walking tour of downtown Castro Valley so they could find their way around while I was gone. We then all piled into the truck and made our way to the Oakland Zoo. I had been there before, but it had been several years and they made some significant changes since I was there, most notably the addition of a California trail section of the zoo that you take a gondola to!

    Of course the San Francisco Zoo will always be my local zoo, even with Oakland now significantly closer, but Oakland does also have the added benefit of having elephants! So we swung by them, and the giraffes, a bunch of monkeys, and the California trail concluded with some bears. It was a tiring day, and Adam was getting fussy about the heat toward the end, but I’m glad we went. We also made sure to hit the gift shop, where Xavier and Adam got matching African painted dog stuffed toys, which Adam now adores.

    The next day I wanted to take them to San Francisco for the standard tourist visit, but I think we were all pretty tired from the previous day zoo adventures, and I was struggling with logistics of getting baby around everywhere. I did want to show them BART though, so they’d be prepared to take it on their own while I was gone if they wanted to spend a day in the city on their own. So we did a quick mini-visit to the city. Popping out at the Embarcadero BART station, they got a glimpse of the California street cable car, along with a bunch of street cars going by. We walked through the vendors in the plaza across from Ferry Building, and then had brunch there at Ferry Building before taking a walk along the bay. Our visit concluded with a stop at the little San Francisco Railway Museum, which we all enjoyed. It was then back on BART to head home. I think it ended up being the perfect sized trip for the day.

    My week was spent going to the office on Monday, and then on Tuesday flying to San Diego for the Open Source Summit, which I attended through Friday and will write about later. MJ picked me up at the airport and we had a late dinner with my family.

    The next day, on Saturday, ended up being our big San Francisco trip. It started off much the same as the previous Sunday, but instead of stopping at Ferry Building we started walking up to Pier 39. However, we quickly detoured when I saw an opportunity to skip walking and take a water taxi! I’d never been in one before, but I thought a boat ride would be a much more enjoyable way to experience the bay, and they had no problem with us bringing Adam’s stroller on board. Now, I do admit a bit of apprehensiveness around going on a little boat in the bay with my 7 month old, but I kept telling myself that I surely would have heard about it if tourist boats were sinking in the bay all the time (or ever). I was right about it being fun, and it was Adam’s first boat ride!

    The boat stopped at Pier 39, where everyone else got off, but we decided to take it all the way up a bit past Fisherman’s Wharf – our own private tour! The boat operator was kind enough to take us in a few little spots, and we got to see some sea lions. Adam took it all really well, giggling when the waves got big or water sprayed on his feet. At the conclusion of our journey we made our way through the crowds at Fisherman’s Wharf and then had lunch at Boudin. It was then that the four of us walked to Pier 39 to meet up with MJ, who had driven up after completing some work for the day. We saw the sea lions there at the pier, ate some donuts, went on the carousel (Adam’s first time!), and stopped at Build-A-Bear so Xavier could get a dragon.

    We then all piled into the car for a quick visit to the Palace of Fine Arts, and then over the Golden Gate Bridge! Our favorite place to see the bridge is from Fort Baker, so we brought them there and I hung out with a sleepy Adam in the car for a bit, then put him in a baby carrier for the second half of our adventure around Fort Baker to get some good views of the city and the bridge. I’m glad we were able to make this part of the trip happen for them, the fog made the bridge difficult to see from Pier 39, and what’s a visit to San Francisco without seeing the Golden Gate Bridge?

    My sister and nephew left on a 7AM flight back to Maine the next morning, leaving MJ, Adam and I with a pretty standard Sunday together.

    This Labor Day weekend has been relatively uneventful. On Saturday I spent the morning cleaning up the fruit in the back yard (so many plums!) so they are composted rather than rotting on the ground and attracting unwanted critters. I also installed a hose we recently bought to replace the ones we have which were old and if not already cracked, were getting there. Today I made major progress in getting some bits of our house organized that have languished since I got pregnant last year. Our laundry room looks 10x better now, and an unused closet now has a Metro rack we brought up from the garage and we’re able to stash a bunch of stuff in there now. We’ve also enjoyed brunches Saturday and Sunday. I hope to get some more organizing done tomorrow, but we’ll see what Adam thinks of that idea.

    September is shaping up to be a busy one for me at work, and at the end of the month we’re planning a visit back to Philadelphia for a couple weeks, including during Rosh Hashanah, when I’ll be taking about a week and a half off from work to observe the holidays and spend time with family. We’re also going to be doing a little road trip up to Rochester for my cousin’s wedding, which I’m really looking forward to.