warning: Creating default object from empty value in /usr/home/randalldross/Websites/randall.executiv.es/modules/taxonomy/taxonomy.pages.inc on line 34.


An Invitation to Develop for the Future

TL;DR: Get started with OpenPOWER, help build a better future, and win prizes.

"I like things just the way they are. Let's keep computer architectures stagnant. Let's ensure that everything is powered by the same chip."


I have to confess: I never liked Monopoly. I'm not a fan of board games in general, but Monopoly has a "special place in my heart"; a place reserved for all those horribly brutish things (and behaviours) that shouldn't exist.

But how do we create a world where we are free from a "winner-takes-all-at-the-expense-of-everyone-else" mentality? In the world of software we open the source, we make projects inclusive, we remix each other's code, and we share.

So why aren't things like this in hardware? Why do we accept, even if tacitly, a world where we're "railroaded" into a single monolithic platform?

We shouldn't. But despite everyone's best intentions, it's often difficult to get started with something new and disruptive. As a result, we stick to the tried-and-true: the easy path. In order to get to a new technology, it is reasonable to need and expect an on-ramp and a bit of help. Ubuntu did exactly that by making it easy for anyone to install a free system and to help build and shape it in a friendly and inviting community.

And, in the way history sometimes rhymes, the fine folks at the OpenPOWER Foundation are making it easy to get started with hardware that is collaborative and forward-looking. We're offering free use of OpenPOWER systems and also prizes to encourage people to tinker and build interesting projects that showcase the values (and value) of an open hardware platform.

I encourage you to join, participate and learn. There are prizes to be won and a brighter future to build. Let's get started.

The Line That Divides

"You're crazy. That will never work!

Recently, Mark Shuttleworth gave a keynote presentation where he talked about entrepreneurship, lunatics, "things" that are on the internet, and the nature of modern software.

(Click the image above to watch Mark's presentation.)

Key takeaways:

  • Successful entrepreneurs and innovators live on the left side of the vertical line depicted in the graph. The curves on the chart represent the level of acceptance of an idea (or product) into society.
  • Do what is crazy now. If people already accept your idea, it's too late.
  • Products that create relationships with their owners are the most powerful.
  • The best early IoT business ideas are likely for toys and entertainment devices,
  • Snappy!

In my (time) travels, I've heard my share of "That's a crazy idea. It will never work." Since, most of my travels recently have been in support of Ubuntu on OpenPOWER, Mark's message struck a particular chord with me. The notion of a ragtag group of dreamers taking on a hardware monopoly seems by most to be "crazy". They think OpenPOWER is downright nuts!

I'm not concerned. In fact, I'm encouraged by this. I can think of two watershed events I've witnessed that support Mark's thesis . What seemed crazy in 1998 is now everywhere (Hint: AAPL). What seemed a fad in 1994 is now the fabric of modern communications (Hint: the Internet.)

The "sane" people in 1994 were betting on America Online (AOL) running on Disk Operating System (DOS), or a Graphical User Interface (GUI) shell bolted onto DOS, which I won't name. I vividly remember their passion for the status quo. Their vision didn't end well.

So, in 2016, do you think the idea of an alternative and open hardware ecosystem like OpenPOWER is a crazy one? Do you think it's crazy to be building Ubuntu for it?

The answer probably depends on which side of the line you ask.

OpenPOWER in Two Clicks

Hello friendly Ubuntu developers.

Do you have software in a Personal Package Archive (PPA) on Launchpad? It just got super easy to build it for OpenPOWER!

OpenPOWER is the future. Future is now. You can be part of it.

Head over to Launchpad and do this.

Visit the main web page for your PPA. For example:

Follow the “Change details” link. Enable OpenPOWER by checking the box "PowerPC64 Little-Endian (ppc64el)"

More information can be found at the Launchpad blog here:

Thanks Colin Watson, and many other fine folks in Canonical including our wonderful sysadmins for making this a day to celebrate!

Ubuntu at Mobile World Congress 2015

Ubuntu was in "full force" at this year's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last week.

I was very happy to see the awesome booth we had, (which helped offset my disappointment about not being there. Hopefully next year ;)

Check this out!

What I always enjoy about booth duty at conferences is that moment when people walk up to our booth and say "Hey, I've been enjoying Ubuntu on my laptop for years. It's amazing! Thank you for working on it." It's encouraging and makes up for those days "in the salt mine" when I feel we have so far to go before Ubuntu, Juju, MAAS, Landscape, Snappy Core, and many more become household words.

If you dropped by the booth or just walked by it casually, I'd be interested in what you saw, what you liked, what you wish you would have seen, any impressions of the show...

And, to provide an example, here's what one booth visitor had to say:

    "And, for the record, the entire team at the stand were beyond amazing. Incredible, lovely, talented people with amazing knowledge. The new phones and OS are excellent. it nearly killed me that I couldn't buy one immediately. Keep your eyes on BQ.com for their flash sales on handsets. The basic model is excellent and amazing for the money, the premium model will be available in a few months and is a larger, sleeker device. I'd flash my device to the OS today if I could, but I'll wait until I can buy the real thing. A flash sale is about a week away, and one week per month at the moment. It's a handheld, fully functional version of Ubuntu which operates in a really impressive touch mode normally, and seamlessly switches to full desktop mode with the connection of a bluetooth mouse / keyboard. I am in love."

(see http://www.reddit.com/r/Ubuntu/comments/2xto6a/i_was_at_the_canonical_st...)

Were you there? Please share your story in the comments or email me at randall (at) ubuntu (dot) com

On Writing Software for OpenPOWER

We live in exciting times!

Not only do we now have an Ubuntu Phone, but we also have Ubuntu running quite nicely on the OpenPOWER platform (which is based on the POWER8 architecture).

You might be thinking "So, where are you going with this?" I'm glad you asked :)

In just a couple weeks, the very first OpenPOWER Summit will start. Everyone who's involved in the OpenPOWER community will be making the trek to sunny San Jose, CA. If you're writing (or thinking about writing) software that is targeted for the OpenPOWER platform, then you'd be crazy *not* to be there!

During the OpenPOWER Summit, the fun folks that bring you Ubuntu will be hosting a session entitled the "ISV Roundtable". This session is designed to connect people who have great ideas that would benefit from OpenPOWER to the people who can help make them reality.

Are you thinking of writing, tuning, or porting (it's super easy) software to benefit from OpenPOWER? This is the session for you.

Are you looking for the "next big thing"? You've found it.

I'd love to see you there!

Contact randall (at) ubuntu (dot) com

What Does Getting Thrashed Feel Like?

Ubuntu runs on POWER8. That's likely not news to many of you. But what hopefully is news, is that you're not allowed to say "So what?" any more. (Call it "Randall's Rule of POWER"). By doing so, you discount that which can power the future.

Remember the future?

I recently stumbled on a fresh analysis of IBM POWER8 vs "something else". Here's what stood out, and what one author has called a "thrashing":

POWER8 offers:

  • 8 threads per core (compared to 2)
  • twice the amount of L2 Cache memory per core
  • almost twice as much L3 Cache
  • a L4 Cache using buffer chips (compared to no L4 cache)
  • much higher clock speeds
  • 12 sockets for Coherent SMP (compared to 2)
  • 8 core systems at less than 50% the cost of "something else" having 12 cores.
  • 12 core systems at around 70% of the cost "something else" having 18 cores

You can read the whole article here, for free: https://www.business-cloud.com/articles/news/ibm-power8-thrashes-intel-xeon

If you're a developer, you might be excited by these specs. Get your code executing as fast as possible (but no faster.)

And if you're not a developer then maybe you'd be excited to run your business (or your institution, or your organization) on hardware that's cheaper, faster, and more future-oriented.

Future is now! Check out and join OpenPOWER to get involved. http://openpowerfoundation.org/2015-summit/

Image CC BY-SA 2.0 by Torley, https://www.flickr.com/photos/torley

Are You Bullish on OpenPOWER?

Earlier, I blogged about my belief that OpenPOWER represents the next big disruption in the server space. Turns out I'm not alone. Check out what another author has to say:

    "My personal belief is probably obvious, and I believe this has an excellent chance of success, and is the greatest threat to Intel and x86 in the server space. The technology is excellent, the degree of freedom partners have extraordinary and the partners strong and well-respected. We should also consider the importance of China, and IBM's partnerships there. While there's no such thing as a sure thing, this comes pretty close for me; the argument for it is compelling on so many levels."

The rest of the article is here, and it's worth a read:

The Future is Open, and It's POWERful

Are you content with the status quo in technology? I'm not.

Years ago, I became aware of this little known (at the time) project called "Ubuntu". Remember it?

I don't know about you, but once I discovered Ubuntu and became involved I was so excited about the future it proposed that I never looked back.

Aside from Ubuntu's "approachable by everyone" and "free forever" project DNA, one of the things that really attracted me to it was that it had the guts to take on the status quo. I believed (and I still believe) that the status quo needs a good disruption. Complacency and doing things "as they always have been" just plain hurts.

In those days, the status quo was proprietary software and well-meaning but inpenetrable (to the everyday person that just wanted to get things done) free and open source software. I'm happy that we've collectively solved the toughest parts of those problems. Sure, there are still issues to be resolved but as they say, that's mostly detail.

Fast forward to today. Now, we are faced with a hosting (or call it cloud infrastructure if you wish) hardware landscape that is nearly a perfect monopoly and is so tightly locked down that we can't solve the world's big problems.

Spotting an opportunity to create something better and to change the world, a bunch of people rallied together to create

Click to learn more!Click to learn more!

Not surprisingly, Ubuntu joined and became a partner early on. And today, another one of the most famous disruptors has joined: Rackspace. In their words,

"In the world of servers, it’s getting harder and more costly to deliver the generational performance and efficiency gains that we used to take for granted. There are increasing limitations in both the basic materials we use, and the way we design and integrate our systems."

So here we are. Ubuntu, Rackspace, and dozens of others poised once again to disrupt.

It's going to be an interesting and fun ride. 2015 is poised to be the year that the world woke up to the true power of open.

I'm looking forward to it, and I hope you are too. Please join us!

Make Charm Debugging Easier, with DHX

Juju makes things really simple.

But, like you, I'm not content to stop at simple. I'm always looking for ways to make things even simpler so that I have more time to work on tough problems (e.g. spreading Ubuntu in my city.)

Today my colleague Corey Johns pointed me to DHX, a cool plugin for Juju that he developed. Even simpler!

I hope you find this useful.

Click to learn more!Click to learn more!

And please remember to thank Corey for his excellent work.


A while back, as part of my new role, I began looking for opportunities to:

  1. Challenge the status quo, and,
  2. Connect people together that want to solve big problems.

(Luckily, the two are closely related.)

Recently, I was introduced to some fine folks at SiteOx in Franklin, TN (that's just outside of Memphis) that happen to have some really fast POWER8 systems that provide infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS).

I mentioned that previously unknown tidbit to some of my colleagues (who are are awesome Juju Charmers) to see if/how the service could be used to speed Juju Charm development.

As it turns out, it can! In case you missed it, Matt Bruzek of Juju Charmer fame, figured it all out and then wrote a concise guide to do just that. Check it out here, and then...

Click the button to feel the POWER!Click the button to feel the POWER!

Thanks Matt, and thanks SiteOx.

Tip Jar

Liked one of my articles? Please consider clicking the "Donate" button above

Namecoin (NMC) is also appreciated:

Thanks! Your support helps keep this site free and interesting.

An Ubuntu show right from Vancouver!

Real Local Community