Friday, October 22, 2010

UDS-N Call for participation

The Ubuntu Developer Summit (UDS) is the event in which the Ubuntu community discusses and plans the upcoming Ubuntu release. UDS Natty begins Monday, October 25th (this monday) outside of Orlando, FL, USA. If you're in the Orlando area, this event is free, and open to anyone.

If you've not yet made plans to attend physically, then its unlikely that you'll be present in the rooms. However, the Canonical IS does an outstanding job of making remote participation possible. For more information, on how you can participate remotely, read the Remote Participation document. In short, you join an IRC channel, listen to a live high quality audio stream from the room, and can see edits to a live gobby document.

The comprehensive list of all sessions is available through the summit schedule, or a filtered list of only the 'Cloud track'.

Some of the sessions that I personally am interested (ok, interested *and* leading) in are:
  • cloud-server-n-cloud-images: Here we'll discuss how we can make the Ubuntu Images on EC2 or UEC better. If you've used them, then we're interested in your feedback.
  • cloud-server-n-image-rebundle: Here we'll discuss possible improvements in the rebundling process. Ie, how can you take one of the Ubuntu images, and customize it and turn it into your own AMI. This is a common operation, and unfortunately, one that has some sticking points. If you have other ideas for "cloud utilities" this is the place to bring them up.
  • cloud-server-n-desktop-images: Ubuntu has made desktop images available on ec2 in a "tech preview" like manner for 2 releases. We've not fully supported these images, but a version of the cloud images with a remote-desktop interface is a common request. If you want to see what it might look like, try out the free Edubuntu demo using NX
  • cloud-server-n-cloud-init: Here we'll discuss improvements to cloud-init or cloud-config. If you've customized images via user-data, then you've used cloud-init. How can we make it better ?
  • cloud-server-n-ubuntu-trial: We threw together awstrial fairly quickly, and with the 10.10 release, we allowed anyone interested to Try Ubuntu Free. We got a great response and we see lots of ways this can be used. Come and let us know what you think

There are loads of other interesting sessions. If 'Server' or 'Cloud' isn't your thing, there are other tracks that might peek your interest.

How to rebundle Ubuntu 10.10 (Maverick Meerkat) EBS root

There was a post on the ec2ubuntu list regarding a problem the poster had with re-bundling a Ubuntu 10.10 instance. The poster followed another blog entry. I responded to the post, but figured that a blog entry might reach a larger audience.

The simple summary of my long winded post is this:
    To rebundle an EBS root image, use ec2-create-image.

If you've launched one of the Official Ubuntu 10.10 Images and modified it a bit, the best way to create a new AMI with the modifications in it is to:

1.) stop the instance (do not terminate it)
2.) "create-image"
3.) wait for your new AMI to become available and run your new instance

Note, that all of the above steps can be done from the EC2 console as well as by using the command line tools. I don't think I previously realised how nice this api call is.

The reason that the title of this post includes 'Ubuntu 10.10' rather than just "Ubuntu", is that releases of 10.04 and earlier do not utilize pv-grub. If you're re-bundling one of those images, you have to take additional steps to get a new kernel upgrade. You really should take those steps, as kernel upgrades include important security fixes, and newly created AMIs should always be created with the most recent kernel available.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Try out Ubuntu Server 10.10 on EC2 for FREE!

I'm mostly disappointed that it wasn't my idea. Dustin deserves all the credit. The implementation (awstrial) was a fairly straightforward programming exercise. I don't mean at all to discount the work of the others who contributed to the awstrial project, and I had a blast in my first django experience, but the idea was the brilliance.

What idea ? The idea to allow anyone to try out Ubuntu 10.10 on EC2 for free for 55 minutes. No hardware is needed. While you're waiting for your desktop or server ISO to download, you can give a test drive to the server. You'll have 170Gb disk, 2G memory, and a very high speed internet connection with local LAN access to Ubuntu mirrors.

You do not need an AWS account or a credit card.

Here is how it works:

  • Sometime on Sunday, October 10, 2010 Ubuntu 10.10 (Maverick Meerkat) will be released.
  • At that point, and a limited time following, you'll be able to go to and launch an instance.
  • wait 3 minutes or less
  • ssh to the instance
  • do something
  • 55 minutes after launch, your instance will be terminated

In order to take part in this, you'll need to have a or Ubuntu Single Singon account. If you don't have one, then create one. If you're reading this, you probably have ssh keys in a file called ~/.ssh/, so go to and paste those keys in.

Now, back to the 'do something' item above. What should you do?

Heres some suggestions, but I'm certain that you're more creative than I am.
  • Check if a bug you opened (or were annoyed by) in 10.04 LTS is still present. If it was fixed, then make sure the bug in launchpad is marked 'Fix Released'.
  • Take Postgres 9.0for a spin, thanks to Martin Pitt's PPA builds
  • run 'rm -Rf /' just to see what happens.
  • Find something that is broken. Open a bug, using 'ubuntu-bug'.
  • Hack on awstrial

Whatever you do, I hope you enjoy taking the "Official Ubuntu Image" for a spin. Do something cool, blog about it, tell people how easy it was.