2012 – Day 2 (Tuesday)

This week I’m at, the southern hemisphere’s premier open-source conference. This year it is being held in Ballarat, about an hour’s travel from Melbourne. I’ll be documenting the trip and conference as much as I can given the limits of my enthusiasm and awakeness.

Tuesday 17th January:

Bruce Peren's Keynote
Bruce Peren's Keynote

Day 2 was full of a lot more great talks. First up in the morning was Bruce Peren’s keynote address. He talked a lot about trying harder to maintain the ideals we’ve worked for in the past. He says the fights we fought in the past, using our moral high-ground to our advantage, we might not win now because we have business groups (like Ubuntu and Redhat) speaking on our behalf… and businesses always have to put profit first.

After morning tea I saw two great kernel-related talks, the first by Jonathan Corbet and the second by Mathew Garrett. Jonathan basically gave a rundown of the Linux kernel development work that has happened over the last year, including the release of Linux 3.0 and for the first time ever, a kernel release having less source code in it than the last one (due to some cleanup work). Mathew Garrett gave a really impassioned talk on the good and evil of EFI. From what I gathered, the runtime services stuff offered by EFI is a great idea with a half-arsed implementation. On the other hand, the secure boot offered by EFI threatens to make open-source deployment to normal users a right pain in the arse… if it is possible at all. That’s a bit of a worry.

Greg Banks' "This Old Code"
Greg Banks' "This Old Code"

After lunch I watched a talk by Greg Banks (who works for Opera) on renovating old source code to get it up to scratch with modern systems. His examples came from the Cyrus IMAP server, and there was a heap of great tidbits of information there. The second talk after lunch was given by Robert Mibus from Internode, about how they are implementing reverse IPv6 DNS mappings for their customer. With a possible 4TB of mappings for each customer, they have to generate them on the fly… but no existing DNS server did this. So they wrote their own. One thing I was very interested in, being an Internode customer, is that I can request to get IPv6 reverse mappings delegated to my own DNS servers; something I have already put in a request for.

More trainspotting!
More trainspotting!

The second last talk for the day was about moving large amounts of data and essential services from one datacenter to another with no loss of downtime… an impressive feat! Given by a team from Mozilla, it detailed how they prepared for and moved thir crash reporting system from San Jose to Pheonix. The last talk I saw was given by Sarah Novotny about caching databases, and how the many caches on a system can sometimes work against each other. It covered performance benchmarking and monitoring as well, just to make sure everything is running fine.

Dinner this evening was at the Irish Murphy’s we visited the night before. While a bit unadventurous, I was with a group who hadn’t been there before, and the food was still quite excellent. I was happy. On the way back to the hotel I got to do a bit of train spotting as well, which made me quite happy. 😀

Quick Hosting Reviews

Over the last few years I’ve used quite a few different hosting providers, so I thought I would give a few quick reviews of them all, so I can share my experience with them.

Silentflame Web Hosting

During the time I was with Silentflame during 2007-2008, I was very happy. Although the service was a bit slow for me, I suspect that this was purely because I was on the other side of the world. The novel thing about this service is the fact that it gives away all it’s profits to charity. It’s a great idea, and one that I think we should see in more businesses (perhaps a tithe would be better though). No native IPv6 on their services yet, unfortunately.

DirectSpace Networks

I only had a VPS with DirectSpace for about a month or two, before I switched to a different provider. I was fairly happy with these guys, never had any issues that weren’t resolved promptly. The biggest criticism I had with my service was that the CPU allocation was too low. I had severe speed issues from the lack of time my processes had to run. No native IPv6 either.


I had a dedicated server with ServerPronto for around six months this year, and although I no longer have it, this server performed very well for me over the time I was with them. They do have a somewhat convoluted exit process (it involves filling out a paper form and sending it to them snail mail along with a copy of some ID) but this is no problem to navigate, and unlike what others are saying on the Internet, does not result in your identity being stolen and your credit card being abused. The main selling point of ServerPronto is the price, they are extremely cheap dedicated servers. That said, quality does not appear to be an issue. No unexpected restarts, hardware never failed, and the network is very fast. No native IPv6 here either.

The only reason I got rid of this server was that it was costing more than an equivalent VPS and I wasn’t really using it. I’ve since turned the money over to other VPS services, increasing the number of services I can test.

Nullshells Networks

I’ve used Nullshells Networks’ web hosting for a few years now, and I am extremely happy with the service. All the services I had with them (web and email hosting) have always worked flawlessly, and if I’ve had any queries, the owner of the business has been more than happy to help out. I have only two nitpicks; one is the lack of IPv6, and the other is the fact they use a self-signed SSL certificate. While the lack of signing of an SSL certificate is no technical problem, and while I’m savvy enough to check the certificate and add an exception, it is a bit unprofessional. I’m still using Nullshells for my web and email hosting.

For my full review of Nullshells from around a year ago, click here.

Mammoth VPS

Overall I’ve been very pleased with Mammoth VPS, which is an Australian-owned company with servers located in Sydney’s CBD. While they are more expensive than other offerings, this is simply because the bandwidth in Australia is much more expensive than it is in Europe or the USA, so this is no fault of Mammoth. I have had a few issues with unexpected reboots, but apart from messing with my uptime statistics, this is no real problem. It’s always nice to support local businesses, too. No native IPv6 yet, but almost nowhere does.


I’ve only had a BuildYourVPS (actually TOCICI) VPS for a couple of days now, but I wouldn’t recommend them, based on what I’ve experienced so far. When I first signed up, it took 4 rebuilds of the VPS before I could even log in via SSH. I’m assured this is not a regular thing, but I’d take care. After it was set up, the VPS did work very well. No CPU cloggage issues like on most other VPS providers. The network was extremely fast (as you’d expect from having the servers located in a US west-coast Internet exchange). One thing I did notice is that the server is behind a NAT. Fine, I guess, except that it makes some network configuration tasks a bit more confusing, and that the gateway IP they use is actually a special-use IP reserved for testing. Ouch! Zero marks for that one. On the up side, they do support native IPv6, albeit on request.

Edit 8/10/2010: After playing around a bit more with BuildYourVPS services, I’m happy to report that the issue with server builds has been fixed. All my other complaints were simply OpenVZ issues. Pending a few more weeks with the server, I’d be happy to give them a thumbs-up.