Summer Is Coming

It’s been a long time since I blogged - it’s already nearly 5 months into the year and I haven’t put any words to the keyboard yet - and I have a metric tonne of things to share.

I’ll just jump right in.

CKI was a hoot and a half this year. The Lakshmi Narayan Mittal Institute of Information Technology - in Jaipur - hosted India’s very own Akademy in the first week of March. Because I stay just two hours away from Jaipur, I just had to be there, and so proposed two talks. By February both had been accepted, and it suddenly dawned on me that a year after starting to contribute to KDE I’d finally meet some of the people - whom I only knew from their IRC nicks - in person.

CKI turned out to be a mixed bag for me. Both the talks went incredibly well. Or so I hear - I was drugged out of my mind because I fell ill the moment I reached the venue. My memory of the event is just limited to the talks themselves, a hurried photoshoot (because the sun was very very roasty), and a visit to the medical center on campus where they confirmed I had an elevated blood pressure, a temperature of 104.5 degrees Fahrenheit, and a racing pulse. Of the two and a half days I spent giving talks and meeting so many people, I seem to remember only 3 hours worth of events. Which is surprising, since I only slept for a total of 3 hours over the entire weekend. Yes, I had insomnia too, because the fever and the hypertension clearly weren’t enough.

Quick change of plans, an early morning double-decker train ride to Delhi, a last-minute first-class ticket on the Calcutta Rajdhani Express, and post-event I race home to get checked by specialist doctors. It turns out I have a pretty severe upper respiratory tract infection. I live to tell the tale.

Sagar, Shivam and co. put together an incredible event though, worthy of every single bit of praise you can throw at them. There are pictures. Lots of them. Here.

Server Love

I managed to get a ton of work done on the Sysadmin side of KDE.

First, we managed to kill of for good. It used to run ChiliProject - which has been discontinued and no longer provides security updates - and used to be a constant source of headaches for the syasadmins, with the seemingly endless HTTP 500 ISEs we’d generate. After it went down in the middle of CKI - and resulted in a few embarrassing moments in the middle of talks - we decided it had to go.

One of projects.ko‘s more important features was that it would generate an XML file with metadata about all of KDE’s projects that could be used by multiple teams: the CI guys to do automated build testing, kdesrc-build to build KDE projects from source, the i18n guys to properly map translation branches and so on. So when I was at home recuperating from my infection I wrote a set of scripts that generated this data from another source - the sysadmin/repo-metadata.git repository - that we set up just for this purpose. The first weekend after I returned to college, Ben and I killed off projects and replaced it with our homebrew solution. It worked at the first try.

Of course, with my college blocking SSH I had to use scm as a jump host and that let to another set of funny things - but that’s another story.

Killing projects wasn’t enough though - kde_projects.xml is a gargantuan file that takes nearly 10 seconds to generate, and drains a lot of bandwidth. So I started working on an API service that should replace it, and I hope to get it finalised over the summer.

Finally, we finished the minimum required feature-set for Propagator (for KDE’s purposes), but we’re pushing to make it a fully featured product that other folk could use too. One of my CKI talks was centered around Propagator, and spoke of what’s next. And this brings me to the next topic.

Google Summer of Code

KDE, as usual, is participating as an organisation in Google Summer of Code this year. Sysadmin got lucky this year - of the 37 slots that we got from Google, we were able to devote 3 to Sysadmin.

One of those slots is going to be for a project which I’ll be mentoring. The project is a mish-mash of stuff to improve things on the Sysadmin side - but most of it is centered around making incremental improvements to Propagator. I’m excited to be able to work with Priya Satbhaya on this. Ubuntu 16.04 LTS is here, I have very few things left to take care of on the Ops bit of DevOps, and Priya will take care of the Dev angle. At any rate, we should be able to start dogfooding Propagator mid-July onwards.

I’m also mentoring a second project, and that project excites me for a different reason. The project is based around adding a staging area for doing file operations on discontinuous selections in Dolphin. I’m excited about this because it’ll be a terrific feature to have, and because I know nothing about Dolphin’s codebase myself. This is going to be very different mentoring experience for me, because with Arnav Dhamija I’m going to be learning from my student, not the other way round. Of course, I have Pinak to help me out, and the entire 3000+ strong Kommunity to help Arnav out with advice on code. I have my hopes set pretty high on this project too.

My Summer Plans

Finally, I have some summer plans of my own. I’ll be based out of Gurgaon during June and July, working as a DevOps Engineering Intern at 1mg (formerly HealthkartPlus), where I’ll be working on tests and deployment automation, and other challenges that crop up while I’m around.

And because I’ll be in the Delhi area and making some bucks, I hope to be able to take a few holidays. I really want to ride on the Gatimaan Express (India’s only 100mph train) and see Agra afresh. I may also probably pop over to Landour-Mussourie and try to meet Ruskin Bond. Much of my sanity in my misspent childhood was preserved only by reading his stories, and trying to write in his style. I want his autograph.

So I guess I’ve written enough now. It’s 5 AM IST, and I should get some sleep. Until next time!