Digital Catapult | Machine Intelligence Garage: the best-kept secret yet in the open

Introduction

I was at a meetup when Simon Knowles, CTO of Graphcore was giving his talk on the latest development at Graphcore and that is also where I met with Peter Bloomfield from Digital Catapult(@digicatapult). Peter was spreading the word about Machine Intelligence Garage which is an amazing opportunity created by a collaboration between the government and industry leaders like Google, Nvidia, AWS, etcetera to help startups and small businesses access compute resources which they would have otherwise never been able to get hold of.

Digital Catapult - Get Involved

Our conversation

Sometime later, we decided to have a chat discussing the usual questions like what is Machine Intelligence Garage, what is the history, why, how, who, when, and at what stage is the programme at and how do people get involved? As you would imagine, I found our conversation interesting and informative and hence decided to write about it and share it with the rest of us.

Mani: Hey, Peter great meeting you and learning about the initiative from Digital Catapult, can you please share with me the history about this initiative?

Peter: Hi Mani, thanks for dropping in! Our programme, Machine Intelligence Garage was born from a piece of research we conducted last summer. In this report, we explore barriers facing AI startups, and we wanted to test the hypotheses that: Access to the right data, technical talent and adequate computational resources were the main things holding startups back. We collaborate a bit on the first two barriers with government and academic institutes, like the Turing, but the Machine Intelligence Garage programme was designed to provide startups with access to cloud computing vouchers, novel chipsets and HPC facilities. It is through our brilliant partners that we can offer these resources.

Mani: Are there other sister and daughter initiatives or programs, related to Digital Catapult, that everyone would benefit knowing about?

Peter: We have a whole range of digital programmes, across three core tech layers (future networks, AI/ML and Immersive tech as well as some cybersecurity and blockchain initiatives). The full details of our opportunities can be found through the ‘Get Involved’ section of our website.

Mani: Who have been and are going to benefit from this setup that you have in place?

Peter: Our Machine Intelligence Garage programme is designed to benefit early-stage startups who are data ready and need compute power to scale faster. Our collaborative programmes provide opportunities for larger corporations to get involved with startups to address industry-specific challenges.

Mani: How much does this access cost and for how long are they available for access?

Peter: Everything we provide on the Machine Intelligence Garage programme is free to use. The programme was set up using public funding from InnovateUK and CAP.AI. We are able to deliver the compute resources through our work with a wonderful set of partners.

Mani: Can you tell us the process from start to finish?

Peter: When I meet a new company, I have a chat with them about the things they are trying to do, the infrastructure they currently use and the sorts of ML approaches they are using to solve the problem. If the company needs our support and are developing a product with commercial viability and have both strong technical skills and domain expertise I encourage them to apply. The application form asks questions about the product, training data, compute power requirements. If we like the idea, we invite a company to an interview and if successful onboard them with the most suitable resource. The process generally takes 3 weeks from the close of the application call to onboarding with a resource.

gathered-around-table-classic

Mani: What other benefits do startups get from being involved? Are you able to introduce them to partners who can help them run trials and give feedback on the products or services they are building?

Peter: We have a large network that we encourage all our companies to take advantage of. Digital Catapult is an innovation centre and meeting the right people at the right time is key to success for many startups. We run a range of workshops, from business growth and pitch training to deep dives to learn more about technical resources and we make sure our startups benefit from all of these. If a startup wants to put some of the new knowledge into practice we are always very keen to facilitate it!

Mani: This is a lot of information, are there any resources on your website that can help. Anything to sign up to, to keep in touch?

Peter: We have a general technology Digital Catapult newsletter (sign-up form at the bottom of the page) and an AI specific Machine Intelligence Garage newsletter (sign-up form at the bottom of the page). If a startup wants to chat about the programme, they can send me an e-mail: peter.bloomfield@digicatapult.org.uk. We announce all our calls and opportunity through our twitter account too @DigiCatapult.

Mani: Can you please touch on the specifics of what the startups will get access to and how it can benefit them?

Peter: We have three main resources available:

  • Cloud Computing vouchers, either through AWS or Google Cloud Platform

To find out the exact amounts and specifics of access, please do get in touch.

Mani: If someone needed to find out about the benchmarks between different compute resources available to the participants, who or where would they look for the information? Do you have a team that does these measurements on a daily basis?

Peter: We do our own benchmarking of the facilities available and our data engineer on the programme can advise on this, as well as point you in the right direction for more literature!

immersive-lab-entrance

Mani: I have been to the Digital Catapult HQ at 101 Euston Road, and was blown away with all the tech activities happening there, can you please share details about it with our readers

Peter: Digital Catapult was set up four years ago and is the UK’s leading innovation centre for advanced digital technologies.  We have seen a number of changes over the years but our core values of opening up markets and making businesses more competitive and productive remain. We are incredibly lucky to have some amazing facilities to help companies develop new products and services and get their products to market faster, including a nationwide network of Immersive Labs [see launch photos, photos in 2018], an LPWAN network and the new 5G Brighton Testbed.

Mani: Can you name a few startups that are currently going through your programs and the ones who have already been through it?

Peter: We currently have 25 start-ups on our programme. The reams are a range of sizes, some just 2 people, others 20+. The thing they all have in common is that they are developing some really exciting commercial products/solutions with deep learning and have an immediate need for the computational resources we offer. The full list of start-ups can be found on our cohort page on the Machine Intelligence Garage website.

Mani: I really appreciate the time you have taken to answer my questions and this has definitely helped the readers know more about what you do and how they can benefit from this great government-driven initiative.

Peter: Thank you very much for coming in. It’s great to be able to reach a wider audience and grow our community! See you soon!

15307393344_f6881df22a_k

Closing note

I was shown around a number of facilities at their centre (two floors) i.e. the Immersive lab (yes plenty of VR headsets to play with), the server area where all the HPC hardware is kept (at low room temperature), a spacious conference room where meetups are held, a small library full of interesting books and also a hot-desking area shared by both internal staff, partners and friends of Digital Catapult/Machine Intelligence Garage. Looking at the two websites I found the news and views, events and workshops and Digital Catapult | MI Garage blog sites interesting to keep track of activities in this space.

immersive-lab-man-headgear

I’m sure after reading about the conversation, you must be wondering how you could take advantage of these facilities out there meant for you and ones in your network who could benefit from it.

Readers should go to the links mentioned above to learn about this program and how they can go about taking advantage of it, or recommend it to their friends in the community who would be more suitable for it.

Please do let me know if this is helpful by dropping a line in the comments below, and I would also welcome feedback, see how you can reach me, above all please check out to the links mentioned above and also reach out to the folks behind this great initiative.

 

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Building Wholly Graal with Truffle!

feature-image-building-graal-and-truffle

Citation: credits to the feature image go to David Luders and reused under a CC license, the original image can be found on this Flickr page.

Introduction

It has been some time, since the two posts [1][2] on Graal/GraalVM/Truffle, and a general request was when are you going to write something about “how to build” this awesome thing called Graal. Technically, we will be building HotSpot’s C2 compiler (look for C2 in the glossary list) replacement, called Graal. This binary is different from the  GraalVM suite you download from OTN via http://graalvm.org/downloads.

I wasn’t just going to stop at the first couple of posts on this technology. In fact, one of the best ways to learn and get an in-depth idea about any tech work, is to know how to build it.

Getting Started

Building JVMCI for JDK8, Graal and Truffle is fairly simple, and the instructions are available on the graal repo. We will be running them on both the local (Linux, MacOS) and container (Docker) environments. To capture the process as-code, they have been written in bash, see https://github.com/neomatrix369/awesome-graal/tree/master/build/x86_64/linux_macos.

During the process of writing the scripts and testing them on various environments, there were some issues, but these were soon resolved with the help members of the Graal team — thanks Doug.

Running scripts

Documentation on how to run the scripts are provided in the README.md on awesome-graal. For each of the build environments they are merely a single command:

Linux & MacOS

$ ./local-build.sh

$ RUN_TESTS=false           ./local-build.sh

$ OUTPUT_DIR=/another/path/ ./local-build.sh

Docker

$ ./docker-build.sh

$ DEBUG=true                ./docker-build.sh

$ RUN_TESTS=false           ./docker-build.sh

$ OUTPUT_DIR=/another/path/ ./docker-build.sh

Both the local and docker scripts pass in the environment variables i.e. RUN_TESTS and OUTPUT_DIR to the underlying commands. Debugging the docker container is also possible by setting the DEBUG environment variable.

For a better understanding of how they work, best to refer to the local and docker scripts in the repo.

Build logs

I have provided build logs for the respective environments in the build/x86_64/linux_macos  folder in https://github.com/neomatrix369/awesome-graal/

Once the build is completed successfully, the following messages are shown:

[snipped]

>> Creating /path/to/awesome-graal/build/x86_64/linux/jdk8-with-graal from /path/to/awesome-graal/build/x86_64/linux/graal-jvmci-8/jdk1.8.0_144/linux-amd64/product
Copying /path/to/awesome-graal/build/x86_64/linux/graal/compiler/mxbuild/dists/graal.jar to /path/to/awesome-graal/build/x86_64/linux/jdk8-with-graal/jre/lib/jvmci
Copying /path/to/awesome-graal/build/x86_64/linux/graal/compiler/mxbuild/dists/graal-management.jar to /path/to/awesome-graal/build/x86_64/linux/jdk8-with-graal/jre/lib/jvmci
Copying /path/to/awesome-graal/build/x86_64/linux/graal/sdk/mxbuild/dists/graal-sdk.jar to /path/to/awesome-graal/build/x86_64/linux/jdk8-with-graal/jre/lib/boot
Copying /path/to/awesome-graal/build/x86_64/linux/graal/truffle/mxbuild/dists/truffle-api.jar to /path/to/awesome-graal/build/x86_64/linux/jdk8-with-graal/jre/lib/truffle

>>> All good, now pick your JDK from /path/to/awesome-graal/build/x86_64/linux/jdk8-with-graal :-)

Creating Archive and SHA of the newly JDK8 with Graal & Truffle at /home/graal/jdk8-with-graal
Creating Archive jdk8-with-graal.tar.gz
Creating a sha5 hash from jdk8-with-graal.tar.gz
jdk8-with-graal.tar.gz and jdk8-with-graal.tar.gz.sha256sum.txt have been successfully created in the /home/graal/output folder.

Artifacts

All the Graal and Truffle artifacts are created in the graal/compiler/mxbuild/dists/ folder and copied to the newly built jdk8-with-graal folder, both of these will be present in the folder where the build.sh script resides:

jdk8-with-graal/jre/lib/jvmci/graal.jar
jdk8-with-graal/jre/lib/jvmci/graal-management.jar
jdk8-with-graal/jre/lib/boot/graal-sdk.jar
jdk8-with-graal/jre/lib/truffle/truffle-api.jar

In short, we started off with vanilla JDK8 (JAVA_HOME) and via the build script created an enhanced JDK8 with Graal and Truffle embedded in it. At the end of a successful build process, the script will create a .tar.gz archive file in the jdk8-with-graal-local folder, alongside this file you will also find the sha5 hash of the archive.

In case of a Docker build, the same folder is called jdk8-with-graal-docker and in addition to the above mentioned files, it will also contain the build logs.

Running unit tests

Running unit tests is a simple command:

mx --java-home /path/to/jdk8 unittest

This step should follow the moment we have a successfully built artifact in the jdk8-with-graal-local folder. The below messages indicate a successful run of the unit tests:

>>>> Running unit tests...
Warning: 1049 classes in /home/graal/mx/mxbuild/dists/mx-micro-benchmarks.jar skipped as their class file version is not supported by FindClassesByAnnotatedMethods
Warning: 401 classes in /home/graal/mx/mxbuild/dists/mx-jacoco-report.jar skipped as their class file version is not supported by FindClassesByAnnotatedMethods
WARNING: Unsupported class files listed in /home/graal/graal-jvmci-8/mxbuild/unittest/mx-micro-benchmarks.jar.jdk1.8.excludedclasses
WARNING: Unsupported class files listed in /home/graal/graal-jvmci-8/mxbuild/unittest/mx-jacoco-report.jar.jdk1.8.excludedclasses
MxJUnitCore
JUnit version 4.12
............................................................................................
Time: 5.334

OK (92 tests)

JDK differences

So what have we got that’s different from the JDK we started with. If we compare the boot JDK with the final JDK here are the differences:

Combination of diff between $JAVA_HOME and jdk8-with-graal and meld will give the above:

JDKversusGraalJDKDiff-02

JDKversusGraalJDKDiff-01

diff -y --suppress-common-lines $JAVA_HOME jdk8-with-graal | less
meld $JAVA_HOME ./jdk8-with-graal

Note: $JAVA_HOME points to your JDK8 boot JDK.

Build execution time

The build execution time was captured on both Linux and MacOS and there was a small difference between running tests and not running tests:

Running the build with or without tests on a quad-core, with hyper-threading:

 real 4m4.390s
 user 15m40.900s
 sys 1m20.386s
 ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
 user + sys = 17m1.286s (17 minutes 1.286 second)

Similar running the build with and without tests on a dual-core MacOS, with 4GB RAM, SSD drive, differs little:

 real 9m58.106s
 user 18m54.698s 
 sys 2m31.142s
 ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ 
 user + sys = 21m25.84s (21 minutes 25.84 seconds)

Disclaimer: these measurements can certainly vary across the different environments and configurations. If you have a more accurate way to benchmark such running processes, please do share back.

Summary

In this post, we saw how we can build Graal and Truffle for JDK8 on both local and container environments.

The next thing we will do is build them on a build farm provided by Adopt OpenJDK. We will be able to run them across multiple platforms and operating systems, including building inside docker containers. This binary is different from the GraalVM suite you download from OTN via http://graalvm.org/downloads, hopefully we will be able to cover GraalVM in a future post.

Thanks to Julien Ponge for making his build script available for re-use and the Graal team for supporting during the writing of this post.

Feel free to share your feedback at @theNeomatrix369. Pull requests with improvements and best-practices are welcome at https://github.com/neomatrix369/awesome-graal.

Learning to use Wholly GraalVM!

I'm still learning by michelangelo

Citation: credits to the feature image goes to Anne Davis  and reused under a CC license, the original image can be found on this Flickr page.

Introduction

In the post Truffle served in a Holy Graal: Graal and Truffle for polyglot language interpretation on the JVM, we got a brief introduction and a bit of deep dive into Graal, Truffle and some of the concepts around it. But no technology is fun without diving deep into its practicality, otherwise its like Theoretical Physics or Pure Maths — abstract for some, boring for others (sorry the last part was just me ranting).

In this post we will be taking a look into the GraalVM, by installing it, comparing SDK differences and looking at a some of the examples that illustrate how different languages can be compiled and run on the GraalVM, and also how they can be run in the same context and finally natively (more performant).

GraalVM is similar to any Java SDK (JDK) that we download from any vendor, except that it has JVMCI: Java-level JVM Compiler Interface support and Graal is the default JIT compiler. It can, not just execute Java code but also languages like JS, Ruby, Python and R. It can also enable building ahead-of-time (AOT) compiled executable (native images) or share library for Java programs and other supported languages. Although we won’t be going through every language but only a selected few of them.

Just to let you know, that all of the commands and actions have been performed on a Ubuntu 16.04 operating system environment (should work on the MacOSX with minor adaptations, on Windows a bit more changes would be required – happy to receive feedback with the differences, will update post with them).

Practical hands-on

We can get our hands on the GraalVM in more than one way, either build it on our own or download a pre-built version from a vendor website:

  • build on our own: some cloning and other magic (we can see later on)
  • download a ready-made JVM: OTN download site
  • hook up a custom JIT to an existing JDK with JVMCI support (we can see later on)

As we are using a Linux environment, we it would be best to download the linux (preview) version of GraalVM based on JDK8 (> 500MB file, need to Accept the license, need to be signed in on OTN or you will be taken to https://login.oracle.com/mysso/signon.jsp) and install it.

Follow the installation information on the download page after unpacking the archive, you will find a folder by the name graalvm-0.30 (at the time of the writing of this post), after executing the below command:

$ tar -xvzf graalvm-0.30-linux-amd64-jdk8.tar.gz

Eagle eyeing: compare SDKs

We will quickly check the contents of the SDK to gain familiarity, so let’s check the contents of the GraalVM SDK folder:

$ cd graalvm-0.30
$ ls

GraamVM 0.30 SDK folder contents

which looks familiar, and has similarities, when compared with the traditional Java SDK folder (i.e. JDK 1.8.0_44):

$ cd /usr/lib/jdk1.8.0_44
$ ls

JDK 1.8.0_44-folder-contents

Except we have quite a few additional artifacts to learn about, i.e. the launchers on the VM for the supported languages, like FastR, JS (GraalJS), NodeJS (GraalNodeJS), Python, Ruby and Sulong (C/C++, Fortran).

Comparing the bin  folder between the GraalVM SDK and say JDK 1.8.0_44 SDK, we can see that we have a handful of additional files in there:

graal-0.30-bin-folder

(use tools like meld or just diff to compare directories)

Similarly we can see that the jre folder has interesting differences, although semantically similar to the traditional Java SDKs. A few items that look interesting in the list are Rscript, lli and ployglot.

Now we haven’t literally compared the two SDKs to mark elements that are different or missing in one or the other, but the above gives us an idea about what is offered with the pre how to use the features it provides – well this SDK has them baked into it the examples folder.

If the examples folder is NOT distributed in the future versions, please use the respective code snippets provided for each of the sections referred to (for each language). For this post, you won’t need the examples folder to be present.

$ tree -L 1 examples

examples-folder-content

(use the tree command – sudo apt-get tree to see the above, available on the MacOSX & Windows)

Each of the sub-folders contain examples for the respective languages supported by the GraalVM, including embed and native-image which we will also be looking at.

Exciting part: hands-on using the examples

Let’s get to the chase, but before we can execute any code and see what the examples do, we should move the graalvm-0.30 to where the other Java SDKs reside, lets say under /usr/lib/jvm/ and set an environment variable called GRAAL_HOME to point to it:

$ sudo mv -f graalvm-0.30 /usr/lib/jvm
$ export GRAAL_HOME=/usr/lib/jvm/graalvm-0.30
$ echo "export GRAAL_HOME=/usr/lib/jvm/graalvm-0.30" >> ~/.bashrc
$ cd examples

R language

Let’s pick the R and run some R scripts files:

$ cd R
$ $GRAAL_HOME/bin/Rscript --help    # to get to see the usage text

Beware we are running Rscript and not R, both can run R scripts, the later is a R REPL.

Running hello_world.Rusing Rscript:

$ $GRAAL_HOME/bin/Rscript hello_world.R
[1] "Hello world!"

JavaScript

Next we try out some Javascript:

$ cd ../js/
$ $GRAAL_HOME/bin/js --help         # to get to see the usage text

Running hello_world.js with js:

$ $GRAAL_HOME/bin/js hello_world.js
Hello world!

Embed

Now lets try something different, what if you wish to run code written in multiple languages, all residing in the same source file, on the JVM — never done before, which is what is meant by embed.

$ cd ../embed

We can do that using the org.graalvm.polyglot.context  class. Here’s a snippet of code from  HelloPolyglotWorld.java:

import org.graalvm.polyglot.*;

public class HelloPolyglotWorld {

public static void main(String[] args) throws Exception {
 System.out.println("Hello polyglot world Java!");
 Context context = Context.create();
 context.eval("js", "print('Hello polyglot world JavaScript!');");
 context.eval("ruby", "puts 'Hello polyglot world Ruby!'");
 context.eval("R", "print('Hello polyglot world R!');");
 context.eval("python", "print('Hello polyglot world Python!');");
 }
}

Compile it with the below to get a.class file created:

$ $GRAAL_HOME/bin/javac HelloPolyglotWorld.java

And run it with the below command to see how that works:

$ $GRAAL_HOME/bin/java HelloPolyglotWorld
Hello polyglot world Java!
Hello polyglot world JavaScript!
Hello polyglot world Ruby!
[1] "Hello polyglot world R!"
Hello polyglot world Python!

You might have noticed a bit of sluggishness with the execution when switching between languages and printing the “Hello polyglot world….” messages, hopefully we will learn why this happens, and maybe even be able to fix it.

Native image

The native image feature with the GraalVM SDK helps improve startup time of Java applications and give it smaller footprint. Effectively its converting byte-code that runs on the JVM (on any platform) to native code for a specific OS/platform — which is where the performance comes from. It’s using aggressive ahead-of-time (aot) optimisations to achieve good performance.

Let’s see how that works.

$ cd ../native-image

Lets take a snippet of Java code from  HelloWorld.java  in this folder:

public class HelloWorld {
public static void main(String[] args) {
System.out.println("Hello, World!");
}
}

Compile it into byte-code:

$ $GRAAL_HOME/bin/javac HelloWorld.java

Compile the byte-code (HelloWorld.class) into native code:

$ $GRAAL_HOME/bin/native-image HelloWorld
 classlist: 740.68 ms
 (cap): 1,042.00 ms
 setup: 1,748.77 ms
 (typeflow): 3,350.82 ms
 (objects): 1,258.85 ms
 (features): 0.99 ms
 analysis: 4,702.01 ms
 universe: 288.79 ms
 (parse): 741.91 ms
 (inline): 634.63 ms
 (compile): 6,155.80 ms
 compile: 7,847.51 ms
 image: 1,113.19 ms
 write: 241.73 ms
 [total]: 16,746.19 ms

Taking a look at the folder we can see the Hello World source and the compiled artifacts:

3.8M -rwxrwxr-x 1 xxxxx xxxxx 3.8M Dec 12 15:48 helloworld
 12K -rw-rw-r-- 1 xxxxx xxxxx     427 Dec 12  15:47 HelloWorld.class
 12K -rw-rw-r-- 1 xxxxx xxxxx     127 Dec 12  13:59 HelloWorld.java

The first file helloworld is the native binary that runs on the platform we compiled it on, using the native-image command, which can be directly executed with the help of the JVM:

$ helloworld
Hello, World!

Even though we gain performance, we might be loosing out on other features that we get running in the byte-code form on the JVM — the choice of which route to take is all a matter of what is the use-case and what is important for us.

It’s a wrap up!

That calls for a wrap up, quite a lot to read and try out on the command-line, but well worth the time to explore the interesting  GraalVM.

To sum up, we went about downloading the GraalVM from Oracle Lab’s website, unpacked it, had a look at the various folders and compared it with our traditional looking Java SDKs, noticed and noted the differences.

We further looked at the examples provided for the various Graal supported languages, and picked up a handful of features which gave us a taste of what the GraalVM can offer. While we can run our traditional Java applications on it, we now also have the opportunity to write applications that expressed in multiple supported languages in the same source file or the same project. This also gives us the ability to do seamlessly interop between the different aspects of the application written in a different language. Ability to even re-compile our existing applications for native environments (native-image) for performance and a smaller foot-print.

For more details on examples, please refer to http://www.graalvm.org/docs/examples/.

Feel free to share your thoughts with me on @theNeomatrix369.

Truffle served in a Holy Graal: Graal and Truffle for polyglot language interpretation on the JVM

03 Hotspot versus GraalVM

Reblogging from ZeroTurnaround’s Rebellabs blog site

One of the most fascinating additions to Java 9 is the JVMCI: Java-Level JVM Compiler Interface, a Java based compiler interface which allows us to plug in a dynamic compiler into the JVM. One of the main inspirations for including it into Java 9 was due to project Graal — a dynamic state-of-the-art compiler written in Java.

In this post we look at the reasons Graal is such a fascinating project, its advantages, what are the general code optimization ideas, some performance comparisons, and why would you even bother with tinkering with a new compiler.

Like everyone else we were inspired by the vJUG session by Chris Seaton on Graal – it looks like a great tool and technology and so we decided to play with the technology and share it with the community.

…you can read the rest at ZeroTurnaround’s Rebellabs blogs


 

In case, you are wondering what some of the ASCII-art images in one of the paragraphs is about, here’s a bit of explanation, hopefully it will clear up any doubts.

How does it actually work?

A typical flow would look like this:

02-a Program to machine code diagram (excludes expansion)
AST → Abstract Syntax Tree  (explicit data structures in memory)

We all know that a JIT is embedded inside HotSpot or the JVM. It’s old, complicated, written in C++ and assembly and is fairly hard to understand. It is a black box and there is no way to hook or link into the JIT.  All the JVM languages have to go through the same route:  

02-b Program to machine code diagram (via byte-code)

(ASM = assembly)

The flow or route when dealing with traditional compilers and VM would be:

02-c Program to machine code diagram (via JIT)
But with Graal, we get the below route or flow:

02-d Program to machine code diagram (via AST)
(notice Graal skips the steps that create byte-code by directly generating platform specific machine code)

Graal basically helps moving the control-flow from Code to the JIT bypassing the JVM (HotSpot, in our case). It means we will be running faster and more performant applications, on the JVM. These applications will not be interpreted anymore but compiled to machine code on fly or even natively.


I hope you enjoyed the read, please feel free to share any constructive feedback, so we can improve the material for the community as a whole. We learnt a lot while drafting this post and hope the same for you.

Original post by @theNeomatrix369 and  @shelajev !

Containers all the way through…

In this post I will attempt to cover fundamentals of Bare Metal Systems, Virtual Systems and Container Systems. And the purpose for doing so is to learn about these systems as they stand and also the differences between them, focusing on how they execute programs in their respective environments.

Bare metal systems

Let’s think of our Bare Metal Systems as desktops and laptops we use on a daily basis (or even servers in server rooms and data-centers), and we have the following components:

  • the hardware (outer physical layer)
  • the OS platform (running inside the hardware)
  • the programs running on the OS (as processes)

Programs are stored on the hard drive in the form of executable files (a format understandable by the OS) and loaded into memory via one or more processes. Programs interact with the kernel, which forms a core part of the OS architecture and the hardware. The OS coordinate communication between hardware i.e. CPU, I/O devices, Memory, etc… and the programs.

 

Bare Metal Systems

A more detailed explanation of what programs or executables are, how programs execute and where an Operating System come into play, can be found on this Stackoverflow page [2].

Virtual systems

On the other hand Virtual Systems, with the help of Virtual System controllers like, Virtual Box or VMWare or a hypervisor [1] run an operating system on a bare metal system. These systems emulate bare-metal hardware as software abstraction(s) inside which we run the real OS platform. Such systems can be made up of the following layers, and also referred to as a Virtual Machines (VM):

  • a software abstraction of the hardware (Virtual Machine)
  • the OS platform running inside the software abstraction (guest OS)
  • one or more programs running in the guest OS (processes)

It’s like running a computer (abstracted as software) inside another computer. And the rest of the fundamentals from the Bare Metal System applies to this abstraction layer as well. When a process is created inside the Virtual System, then the host OS which runs the Virtual System might also be spawning one or more processes.

Virtual Systems

Container systems

Now looking at Container Systems we can say the following:

  • they run on top of OS platforms running inside Bare Metal Systems or Virtual Systems
  • containers which allow isolating processes and sharing the kernel between each other (such isolation from other processes and resources are possible in some OSes like say Linux, due to OS kernel features like cgroups[3] and namespaces)[4]

A container creates an OS like environment, inside which one or more programs can be executed. Each of these executions could result in a one or more processes on the host OS. Container Systems are composed of these layers:

  • hardware (accessible via kernel features)
  • the OS platform (shared kernel)
  • one or more programs running inside the container (as processes)

Container Systems

Summary

Looking at these enclosures or rounded rectangles within each other, we can already see how it is containers all the way through.

Bare Metal Systems
Virtual SystemsContainer Systems

There is an increasing number of distinctions between Bare Metal Systems, Virtual Systems and Container Systems. While Virtual Systems encapsulate the Operating System inside a thick hardware virtualisation, Container Systems do something similar but with a much thinner virtualisation layer.

There are a number of pros and cons between these systems when we look at them individually, i.e. portability, performance, resource consumption, time to recreate such systems, maintenance, et al.

Word of thanks and stay in touch

Thank you for your time, feel free to send your queries and comments to @theNeomatrix369. Big thanks to my colleague, and  our DevOps craftsman  Robert Firek from Codurance for proof-reading my post and steering me in the right direction.

Resources

Adopt OpenJDK & Java community: how can you help Java !

Introduction

I want to take the opportunity to show what we have been doing in last year and also what we have done so far as members of the community. Unlike other years I have decided to keep this post less technical compare to the past years and compared to the other posts on Java Advent this year.

inthebeginning

This year marks the fourth year since the first OpenJDK hackday was held in London (supported by LJC and its members) and also when the Adopt OpenJDK program was started. Four years is a small number on the face of 20 years of Java, same goes to the size of the Adopt OpenJDK community which forms a small part of the Java community (9+ million users). Although the post is non-technical in nature, the message herein is fairly important for the future growth and progress of our community and the next generation developers.

Creations of the community

Creations from the community

Over the many months a number of members of our community contributed and passed on their good work to us. In no specific order I have enlisted these picking them from memory. I know there are more to name and you can help us by sharing those with us (we will enlist them here).  So here are some of those that we can talk about and be proud of, and thank those who were involved:

  • Getting Started page – created to enabled two way communication with the members of the community, these include a mailing list, an IRC channel, a weekly newsletter, a twitter handle, among other social media channels and collaboration tools.
  • Adopt OpenJDK project: jitwatch – a great tool created by Chris Newland, its one of its kind, ever growing with features and helping developers fine-tune the performance of your Java/JVM applications running on the JVM.
  • Adopt OpenJDK: GSK – a community effort gathering knowledge and experience from hackday attendees and OpenJDK developers on how to go about with OpenJDK from building it to creating your own version of the JDK. Many JUG members have been involved in the process, and this is now a e-book available in many languages (5 languages + 2 to 3 more languages in progress).
  • Adopt OpenJDK vagrant scripts – a collection of vagrant scripts initially created by John Patrick from the LJC, later improved by the community members by adding more scripts and refactoring existing ones. Theses scripts help build OpenJDK projects in a virtualised container i.e. VirtualBox, making building, and testing OpenJDK and also running and testing Java/JVM applications much easier, reliable and in an isolated environment.
  • Adopt OpenJDK docker scripts – a collection of docker scripts created with the help of the community, this is now also receiving contributions from a number of members like Richard Kolb (SA JUG). Just like the vagrant scripts mentioned above, the docker scripts have similar goals, and need your DevOps foo!
  • Adopt OpenJDK project: mjprof – mjprof is a Monadic jstack analysis tool set. It is a fancy way to say it analyzes jstack output using a series of simple composable building blocks (monads). Many thanks to Haim Yadid for donating it to the community.
  • Adopt OpenJDK project: jcountdown – built by the community that mimics the spirit of ie6countdown.net. That is, to encourage users to move to the latest and greatest Java! Many thanks to all those involved, you can already see from the commit history.
  • Adopt OpenJDK CloudBees Build Farm – thanks to the folks at CloudBees for helping us host our build farm on their CI/CD servers. This one was initially started by Martijn Verburg and later with the help of a number of JUG members have come to the point that major Java projects are built against different versions of the JDK. These projects include building the JDKs themselves (versions 1.7, 1.8, 1.9, Jigsaw and Shenandoah). This project has also helped support the Testing Java Early project and Quality  Outreach program.

These are just a handful of such creations and contributions from the members of the community, some of these projects would certainly need help from you. As a community one more thing we could do well is celebrate our victories and successes, and especially credit those that have been involved whether as individuals or a community. So that our next generation contributors feel inspired and encourage to do more good work and share it with us.

Contributions from the community

contribution_header-700x325In a recent tweet and posts to various Java / JVM and developer mailing lists, I requested the community to come forward and share their contribution stories or those from others with our community. The purpose was two-fold, one to share it with the community and the other to write this post (which in turn is shared with the community). I was happy to see a handful of messages sent to me and the mailing lists by a number of community members. I’ll share some of these with you (in the order I have received them).

 

Sebastian Daschner:

I don’t know if that counts as contribution but I’ve hacked on the
OpenJDK compiler for fun several times. For example I added a new
thought up ‘maybe’ keyword which produces randomly executed code:
https://blog.sebastian-daschner.com/entries/maybe_keyword_in_java

Thomas Modeneis:

Thanks for writing, I like your initiative, its really good to show how people are doing and what they have been focusing on. Great idea.
From my part, I can tell about the DevoxxMA last month, I did a talk on the Hacker Space about the Adopt the OpenJDK and it was really great. We had about 30 or more attendees, it was in a open space so everyone that was going to any talk was passing and being grabbed to have a look about the topic, it was really challenging because I had no mic. but I managed to speak out loud and be listen, and I got great feedback after the session. I’m going to work over the weekend to upload the presentation and the recorded video and I will be posting here as soon as I have it done! :)

Martijn Verburg:

Good initiative.  So the major items I participated in were Date and Time and Lambdas Hackdays (reporting several bugs), submitted some warnings cleanups for OpenJDK.  Gave ~10 pages of feedback for jshell and generally tried to encourage people more capable than me to contribute :-).

Andrii Rodionov:

Olena Syrota and Oleg Tsal-Tsalko from Ukraine JUG: Contributing to JSR 367 test code-base (https://github.com/olegts/jsonb-spec), promoting ‘Adopt a JSR’ and JSON-B spec at JUG UA meetings (http://jug.ua/2015/04/json-binding/) and also at JavaDay Lviv conference (http://www.slideshare.net/olegtsaltsalko9/jsonb-spec).

Contributors

contributorAs you have seen that from out of a community of 9+ million users, only a handful of them came forward to share their stories. While I can point you out to another list of contributors who have been paramount with their contributions to the Adopt OpenJDK GitBook, for example, take a look at the list of contributors and also the committers on the git-repo. They have not just contributed to the book but to Java and the OpenJDK community, especially those who have helped translate the book into multiple languages. And then there are a number of them who haven’t come forward to add their names to the list, even though they have made valuable contributions.

From this I can say contributors can be like unsung heroes, either due their shy or low-profile nature or they just don’t get noticed by us. So it would only be fair to encourage them to come forward or share with the community about their contributions, however simple or small those may be. In addition to the above list I would like to also add a number of them (again apologies if I have missed out your name or not mentioned about you or all your contributions). These names are in no particular order but as they come to my mind as their contributions have been invaluable:

  • Dalibor Topic (OpenJDK Project Lead) & the OpenJDK team
  • Mario Torre & the RedHat OpenJDK team
  • Tori Wieldt (Java Community manager) and her team
  • Heather Vancura & the JCP team
  • NightHacking, vJUG and RebelLabs (and the great people behind them)
  • Nicolaas & the team at Cloudbees
  • Chris Newland (JitWatch developer)
  • Lucy Carey, Ellie & Mark Hazell (Devoxx UK & Voxxed)
  • Richard Kolb (JUG South Africa)
  • Daniel Bryant, Richard Warburton, Ben Evans, and a number of others from LJC
  • Members of SouJava (Otavio, Thomas, Bruno, and others)
  • Members of Bulgarian JUG (Ivan, Martin, Mitri) and neighbours
  • Oti, Ludovic & Patrick Reinhart
  • and a number of other contributors who for some reason I can’t remember…

I have named them for their contributions to the community by helping organise Hackdays during the week and weekends, workshops and hands-on sessions at conferences, giving lightening talks, speaking at conferences, allowing us to host our CI and build farm servers, travelling to different parts of the world holding the Java community flag, writing books, giving Java and advance-level training, giving feedback on new technologies and features, and innumerable other activities that support and push forward the Java / JVM platform.

How you can make a difference ? And why ?

make_a_differenceYou can make a difference by doing something as simple as clicking the like button (on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc…) or responding to a message on a mailing list by expressing your opinion about something you see or read about –as to why you think about it that way or how it could be different.

The answer to the question “And why ?” is simple, because you are part of a community and ‘you care’ and want to share your knowledge and experience with others — just like the others above who have spared free moments of their valuable time for us.

Is it hard to do it ? Where to start ? What needs most attention ?

important-checklist The answer is its not hard to do it, if so many have done it, you can do it as well. Where to start and what can you do ? I have written a page on this topic. And its worth reading it before going any further.

There is a dynamic list of topics that is worth considering when thinking of contributing to OpenJDK and Java. But recently I have filtered this list down to a few topics (in order of precedence):

We need you!

With that I would like to close by saying:

i_need_you_duke3

Not just “I”, but we as a community need you

This post have been re-blogged from the Java Advent Calendar 2015 site. Many thanks to its organisers and writers.

This post is part of the Java Advent Calendar and is licensed under the Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution license. If you like it, please spread the word by sharing, tweeting, FB, G+ and so on!

My first couple of months at Codurance

Some background

Five Characteristics of a Great Company CultureSome of you may know me from the various meetups in the city, especially my attendance at a number of LJC and LSCC meetup events. Attending these events I learnt about various conferences like Devoxx, SoCraTes, JAX LondonJava2Days, OpenFest, and I ended up attending and later presenting on various topic including Adopt OpenJDK.

During this time I met a lot of people with various levels of experience and my interest and urge to learn more about the Java/JVM platform, Code Quality, Software Design, XP Practices, Software Craftsmanship, etc…, were on the rise and saw no end. And whilst attending these events I came across Sandro and Mash, who were in those days hosting LSCC events. I went to many of LSCC events, especially liked the hands-on sessions (which are still my favourite).

I also noticed that many things I learnt at such events and conferences wouldn’t always be immediately recognised or accepted at the workplace. And moving to another work environment didn’t always solve this problem fully. I found that I wasn’t learning what I wanted from my peers and the things I learnt from the community I couldn’t apply at work. Besides very few were really in tuned with what the community was about. So one fine day I decided to take charge of my career and make a serious decision and take up the Apprenticeship program offered by Codurance and go through the process.

I was urged to go this way after being inspired by Sandro’s book: The Software Craftsman, attending all the SoCraTes UK conferences, and meeting with developers who valued and took pride of their work namely their craft.

I was urged to go this way after being inspired by Sandro’s book: The Software Craftsman, attending all the SoCraTes UK conferences, and meeting with developers who valued and took pride of their work namely their craft.

Where we are just now

It’s now been nearly two months since I have been working for Codurance, a formidable force. And so it’s also about time that I share my experiences with my fellow mates and the community around me.

During my first few weeks at Codurance, I have been busy learning various things that have been chalked out for becoming a craftsman.

When working on a kata or learning a concept, we paired or did what is known as ‘mob programming’ along with other apprentices and craftsmen. And most of the time used the pomodoro technique. Time boxing our work in intervals is something done both in groups and working individually. We would have a lot of discussions and retrospectives after working on a problem or writing some code from scratch.

Structure of my program

We used an internal tool based on the concept of Impact Mapping. I soon got interested in it when I saw my colleague Franzi (who is now a craftswoman) had used it to plan out her Apprenticeship route. Such a tool helps map out our goals and the tasks we need to perform to achieve it. And this can differ from person-to-person, depending on what they want to work on (driven by the Apprentice).

My mentor and other craftsmen reviewed them to get an idea of what I wanted to achieve for myself. And then its up to me to apply my own drive and perseverance to achieve the individual stories. My mentor and I meet and talk informally on a regular basis, many times pairing on a kata or a project or on the white board trying to get my head around a concept.

Days in the life of an Apprentice

I found the working hours quite flexible, remote working is also an option (when you are on the bench or if the client allows, if you are in a project). Our co-founders are understanding and compassionate about our individual situations.

Meetings are at their minimum, except for a weekly Apprentices meeting (run by an Apprentice and guided by at least one Craftsperson) and a bi-monthly company-wide catchup.

The Apprentices meetings are full of fun — we are accompanied by at least one Craftsperson, who disperses their knowledge and experience from a wide variety of topics designed to help us in the journey and fill the gaps in our knowledge and experience.

A bi-monthly catchup involves sharing of knowledge via lightning talks, discussions and pairing sessions on pet projects over pizzas and beer (and of course veggies and non-alcoholic beverages for the teetotalers).

Katas, code reviews, mob programming and projects make up a learning week – all of these done individually or when pairing with another.

Katas

On a daily basis I have worked on different katas or try to solve the same kata in various different ways (using different testing and refactoring approaches). This in turn gave me better insights into designing and refactoring techniques. Trying to solve the same problem in different ways has a positive impact on our problem solving skills especially when writing code. In my case I also learnt how to use the different libraries and methods to write tests. I would like to cite Samir, thanks to you, for the suggesting this approach during the first week of my Apprenticeship.

Code reviews

Just last week we did a group code review and time-boxed ourselves, performed a retrospective at the end of each interval and ensured we delivered a good chunk of the feedback before close of play. Such regular code review exercises are helping all of us learn about how to code better as we are not only learning from feedback from the tools we used, but also through exchange of feedback from our peers who were involved in the group code review session.

Software Design, Specification Gathering & Communication

Recently we had an interesting mob-programming session where we were trying to model and write a game. At the end of the session, we had a retrospective, discussing the things we did well and didn’t do well. Each of the apprentices and craftsmen were performing a specific role i.e. Developer, Domain Expert, etc… We learnt in retrospective, about areas where we could have done better and should focus on. That any test written gives immediate feedback about how well we have understood the domain and if we were taking the right approach. Why a certain approach when starting a project is more advantageous than another approach. What questions to ask and why it is important to ask the right questions to the domain expert or to give the right level of information to another developer and vice-versa. Sandro has described this process in detail in his blog post recently.

Fun, socialising and sharing

I found our office environment to be conducive to learning, sharing and collaboration. We even have a pairing rota that we use from time-to-time to record or suggest pairing sessions during the week.

We share links to events, conferences, tweets, interesting articles, videos, blog posts, etc… via slack, document discussions and brain dumps via Google doc, huddles during lunch- and tea- breaks to talk about anything we are working on. Thanks to the library of printed and digital books to our disposal, the huge collection of blog posts and videos on our site.

The apprentices and some craftsmen have collectively started a social event which of course happens every Friday, sometimes it’s dinner at a nearby restaurant, while at other times an indoor movie over snacks and drinks at our office premises.

It is worthwhile and that’s why we are here

It is a privilege to be able to work alongside very experienced craftsmen from our industry. We are very lucky and thankful to have the opportunity to be guided and mentored by talented and like minded developers.

This is my first job where the company has a completely flat hierarchy and where we share similar values.

greatCompanyCulture

Closing note

Work is fun and learning is enjoyable when we love what we do and are amongst friends with similar goals and aspirations.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post and I hope it was interesting. Looking forward to write more and share such experiences in future posts.

Many thanks to Sandro, Tomaz, Alex, Franzi and David for all the feedback provided for this blog post.