Devconf India 2018

During the first week of August (4,5) Linaro India team took part in the Devconf India 2018 conference held at Christ University, Bangalore. This blog summarises the Conference overall, participation from Linaro and how it turned out to be a huge success.

DevConf India 2018 is the second free annual community conference sponsored by Red Hat for Developers, System admins, DevOps engineers, Testers, Documentation writers and other contributors to open source technologies. It is a platform for the local FOSS community participants to come together and engage in the knowledge sharing through technical talks, workshops, panel discussions, hackathons and such activities.

Coming to know about this conference during the kernel meetup held in Bangalore, we Linaro India folks decided to take part in it by presenting some talks. After some internal discussions, we decided to submit some talks based on the individual expertise. Overall 6 talks were submitted, which includes BoF, IoT, Security and Platform tracks. We got the confirmation e-mail around the 3rd week of June stating that all of our sessions got accepted. Everyone were delighted and started preparing the presentation for the respective sessions.

Conference Layout

The two day conference started with a keynote on both days at 9 AM, accompanied with talks/workshops and ended with a closing keynote at 5 PM. The organizers have taken care of the travel and accommodation for outstation Speakers, which showed how well they value their guests. The accommodation was done in the IBIS hotel which is 10 Kms away from the Conference venue and there was a bus which took the speakers from Hotel to the Venue by 8 AM. Since most of the Linaro India folks are based in Bangalore, they came on their own. Only a few outstation folks, Mani and Siddhesh stayed in the hotel.

The registration began by 8 AM at the Main Auditorium block and we got our goodies and respective badges. The essence of the conference was, there was no registration fee for attendees. This made it very easy for the people to attend the conference at huge mass.

After collecting the badges, we gathered in the lobby where we get to meet people from different companies and made a good connect. By 9 AM, we entered the opening keynote speech. The keynote started with a glorious classical Indian dance followed by the speech from Ric Wheeler of Red Hat. He spoke about how Open source is better for companies/businesses, communities and developers. The keynote gave a brief overview of the Open Source philosophy and how one can benefit from it.

Once the keynote session ended, we headed to the sessions we registered.

Linaro Session Summary

Below are the sessions handled by the Linaro India folks:

96Boards - What is it and how to collaborate?

Link to Presentations:

  1. 96Boards

Mani started the session with an introductory slide about what he does in Linaro/96Boards. Then he introduced the 96Boards initiative started by Linaro way back in 2015, when the ARMv8 silicons were starting to come out. The motto of the 96Boards initiative is to give access to latest and greatest ARM technologies in the hands of the developer community. It consists of 32bit and 64bit development boards based on ARM architecture in Cortex-M and Cortex-A families.

He then talked about the different specifications of the 96Boards platforms such as CE (Consumer Edition), EE (Enterprise Edition), and IE (IoT Edition). One notable thing about 96Boards is that, it mandates the board vendors to open both HW and SW layers for the community. That involves publishing the BoM, Schematics, HW User Manual, SoC Reference Manual and so on. This will give opportunity for both HW and SW developers to get started with the development.

Along with the 96Boards platform, Mani also introduced the Mezzanine ecosystem, which is nothing but the add-on boards for interfacing the sensors/actuators to 96Boards. There was a slide full of the different Mezzanine boards which were available in market today. As he mentioned, the mezzanines are designed to be board agnostic and it can be expected to function across all of the boards of the same category.

Next he talked about the opportunities offered by the 96Boards initiative to companies and individuals for taking part in the open source ecosystem. He mentioned the process of developing a 96Board according to the specification and how to get it into the hands of developers.

The final section involved some of the initiatives started by the 96Boards team itself and that included OpenHours show, Mezzanine Community, Project repository, Women in STEM, OpenSource Academics, University Engagement and much more. Once the talk was finished, the audience asked lot of questions on how to get involved,

Finally he ended the talk with all social media handles of 96Boards and encouraged the audience to follow to get to know more about 96Boards.

Kernel BoF

Link to Presentations:

  1. Linux Audio
  2. EAS
  3. RISC-V
  4. VLA Removal
  5. KVM Guest Memory Footprint

Vaishali Thakkar, a kernel hacker from Bangalore hosted this 3 hour session where a number of Linaro developers participated. Amit Kucheria talked about the Energy Aware Scheduler in the Linux kernel and took questions on the scheduler and power management. This was followed by Siddhesh Poyarekar with a 5 min talk about RISC-V and its state in the Linux kernel with a call to contributors on behalf of kernel contributor Atish Patra.

Vinod Koul then followed up with a description of the audio stack on Linux based systems and Allen Pais from Oracle followed by talking about the recent VLA removal effort in the Linux kernel. Pankaj Gupta from Red Hat concluded by talking about memory optimizations for KVM guests.

The kernel BoF was a packed house with people sitting on the floor and standing in corners to get a piece of the action!

mcpu: Journey to the last cycle of perf

In this session Siddhesh did a quick introduction of the CPU and its internal structure and pipelines and then dug into what happens behind the scenes of the mcpu flag to take advantage of the internal design of CPUs to get the last cycle of performance out of the system. This 30 min talk was a prelude to the toolchain BoF where participants could discuss specifics of these designs and how compilers tackle them.

Toolchain hackers BoF

This is a BoF for current and aspiring toolchain developers focussed on people who are currently working on compilers, runtime libraries or debuggers or are interested in working on or contributing to any of the major toolchain projects such as gcc, llvm, gdb, glibc, valgrind, etc. Contrary to assumptions, the session attracted an almost full house to begin with and discussions were very animated ranging from details of how specific areas of toolchain such as IFUNCs work to governing structures and licensing differences of llvm and gcc. Siddhesh also did a call for contributors for gcc and glibc and there were a few participants who were interested in taking the plunge, which was heartening to see.

Understanding Hardware Vulnerabilities

This was a free form discussion on hardware vulnerabilities and their impact. We looked at some basic concepts like CPU caches and other features, RAM design and side channel attacks and use that knowledge to get a better technical understanding of vulnerabilities such as Rowhammer, Meltdown and Spectre. Although the session was moderated by Siddhesh, there were valuable contributions from security experts such as Huzaifa, kernel hackers like Bhupesh and many from the audience.

AOSP BoF

Link to Presentations:

  1. AOSP and Project Treble
  2. Deep Dive into Binder

This Android Open Source Project (AOSP) BoF was an attempt to kickstart a meetup of fellow platform developers building AOSP devices. A meetup wherein AOSP developers can meet and exchange ideas, learn from each other’s past experiences and hopefully collaborate on common solutions. This BoF, hosted by Amit Pundir, had no specific agenda just like any other BoF but there were few interesting small talks prepared by the attendees. After a small round of introductions, Vishal Bhoj started with a talk on introduction of AOSP and its evolution from infamously fragmented platform to project Treble. This talk generated a lot of interest, with attendee developers sharing their own experience and pain working around device specific issues. Harsh Shandilya, a recognised XDA developer, shared his AOSP and Treble experience and answered few questions around custom ROM development. This was followed by a talk on Android Automotive by Allen Pais, wherein he shared his experience and findings of diving into AOSP Automotive framework and services. Prasanna Kumar followed with next talk on Binder and its inner workings. After Binder talk, BoF was open for general discussion and QA.

Final Thoughts

The conclude, it was a great 2 days for Linaro India engineers who attended Devconf.in. As remote employees living in different parts of India, they only get to meet each other twice a year and that too at overseas locations during Linaro Connect. Meeting in person in their home country and sharing a meal together added to the memories of a great conference.

Speaking of meeting at overseas locations, Linaro Connect YVR18 is right around the corner! YVR18 has an action packed week with sessions for all technical interests in the Arm ecosystem with experts from Linaro and the Arm ecosystem available for you to talk to. See you all there!