Josef “Jeff” Sipek

Usenix 2009, Part 2

As promised, here’s more of the day-by-day summary of Usenix ’09.


The last day of the conference. As before, I got to the place at 8:30, and had breakfast.

The first session, System Optimization, was interesting. It started with Reducing Seek Overhead with Application-Directed Prefetching. The idea is pretty obvious. You have a library that takes lists of future accesses from the application, and tries to prefetch the data while monitoring the application’s IO accesses. The first deviation from the prefetch-list causes an invocation of a call-back. This allows the application to specify a new prefetch list.

The second talk of the session, Fido: Fast Inter-Virtual-Machine Communication for Enterprise Appliances, was about a simple and fast way to have multiple VMs communicating. Their target was a collection of virtual machines running in an appliance box. Since the OSes were inherently trustworthy (before virtualization took off and even now, there was one OS that did everything), they achieve zero-copy by mapping all the other OSes into each address space. For example, suppose you have 3 VMs (red, green, blue), their address spaces would be something like:

Fido: address spaces

Each VM gets all the VM’s address spaces read-only, and its own read-write. Then a simple message can be exchanged to specify buffer addresses.

The Web, Internet, Data Center session wasn’t very exciting. The one talk that stuck in my head was RCB: A Simple and Practical Framework for Real-time Collaborative Browsing. What they did was some javascript-fu that synchronized the DOM trees between two (or more?) browsers.

The last session for the day (and the conference) was Bugs and Software Updates. It opened with The Beauty and the Beast: Vulnerabilities in Red Hat’s Packages. The authors did some crazy statistics and found that there was some correlation between packages’ dependencies and the number of vulnerabilities. Several audience members pointed out that publishing these findings may cause a feedback that completely maybe either exaggerate this correlation, or it may cause the developers to make dependency choices to make their software seem less likely to have vulnerabilities.

The second talk, Immediate Multi-Threaded Dynamic Software Updates Using Stack Reconstruction sounded interesting, but I really feel like I need to look at the paper first before drawing any further conclusions.

The last talk of the session, Zephyr: Efficient Incremental Reprogramming of Sensor Nodes using Function Call Indirections and Difference Computation, seemed like 2 talks in one. First, we were told about rsync protocol’s shortcomings, and how they fixed them, and then we were told about their function call indirection scheme to make the deltas smaller. This function call indirection sounded far too much like dynamically linked binaries, with GOT pointer and all that good stuff.

After a short break, the last invited talk began. The speaker was Wikipedia article: David Brin - a science fiction writer. He is one of those people that really knows how to present. He gives off an aura of knowing exactly what he’ll say next. I can’t tell for sure if he does know what he’ll say next, or if he merely has an idea where he wants to get to, and “improvises”; to get there.

I went back to the hotel, but got bored soon after. Not knowing what to do, I went for a walk. I just took the first street away from the hotel. It turned out to be a road that went considerably uphill toward the San Diego Medical Campus (or whatever it was called). After some exploring, I got some food (this was the only place I saw that had fast food joints, the hotel area was about as boring as it can get).


I woke up relatively late - 10am. I blame getting used to the pacific timezone (grr, just in time to fly back!). After packing up, and checking out, I ran into Swami. We went to get breakfast, and talked about all sort of stuff - grad school, conferences, the good ol’ days at FSL. After some time, he and another student from Wisconsin took off. I decided to go for a walk. I ended up in the same fast food place. There, I started typing up the previous blahg post. After about 2 hours of working my laptop, I went back and got a shuttle to the airport.

At the airport, I tried to do some work. Before long, I switched to reading a book. Shortly after, it was time to board. The flight itself was mostly uneventful. Sadly, the 2 hour layover in Charlotte, NC was painful. The free wifi that was there few days earlier disappeared. I survived it. Two-ish hours later, we landed at DTW. Due to some miscommunication, I ended up without a ride back to Ann Arbor. I managed to call up a friend that drove me back.


Atom feed for comments on this post.

Leave a comment

Powered by blahgd