A good day of playing around on the KVM guest from SiteOx.com running the latest Ubuntu 14.04 for Power.
(continued from my first impressions article)
First and foremost.. I am very impressed with how easy this has been. For the longer term, I'm working out how to get in and get out in a day, since I don't really want to be billed for a system just sitting there over time, but this looks pretty quick and easy to be able to provision, setup, copy files to, run/test/debug/tune/repeat, copy files back, and let go of the server. That makes a $3 investment for a one day extended set of experiments look pretty do'able.
The good folk at SiteOx were very responsive with problem tickets - which really were just simple questions - and they've already setup a DeveloperWorks Community just for questions, support, and hints/tips.
DeveloperWorks. Linux on Power at Site Ox.
Some quick observations from the day.
1. apt-get comes setup and ready to go. Adding packages was a breeze. I really appreciated that. The installation speed was quick - the connections looked pretty good - but I didn't do any specific performance measurements.
2. For the guest configuration, the setup of Power hardware threads (SMT mode) for the processor cores wasn't ideal for Power. The setup is currently only a single thread per core. As I mentioned yesterday, I purchased / ordered four processor cores - and got four CPUs. That really should come with SMT=4 turned on, this being a Power7 based server until Power8 is available. We are working with the teams to get this updated. In general, the user/admin of the system (each guest) should be able to control the SMT mode for his/her guest image.
3. I will reiterate yesterday's comment about the flexibility of Ubuntu being built for Power7 systems to enable teams to take advantage of older systems - but Ubuntu will *only* be supported on IBM's Power8 servers. You actually need a special version of the underlying firmware which enables KVM hosting, so for customers with existing Power7 or Power7+ systems, no, this simply won't be possible.
4. All of my go-to tools worked. oprofile, operf, perf, gcc, gedit, vi, sar, top, etc etc. I'm re-building the Ubuntu kernel now just to see how that works. Couple of install commands, and the build commands and it's off and running.
5. I did get a question from peers about running a desktop from the server. I never really do that for a server, but for curiosity sake pursued that a bit. It appears that Unity won't be supported (intentionally) for servers - Unity requires local 3D accelerators. Makes sense. I believe there are various threads going on to enable simpler alternative desktops which should work over an X connection. Not a high priority for me.
6. We're looking to get the Advance Toolchain from IBM automatically installed. That'll be good. It's easy to use and exploit.
7. Sometime over the next month or two or three (is that vague enough?), the IBM SDK is expected to be in beta mode for Ubuntu. That'll be really good.
8. scp (copying files) to/from the guest worked fine. For example, I can copy my test application to the guest. Play around - test - debug - compile again - tune a bit. And then scp the files back.
More pieces planned next week.
If you're looking for quick and easy access to a developer's platform to do some porting work, I would recommend you start thinking about this offering.
I do think for new ports, you'll want the IBM SDK with the migration tools, but in the meantime, this platform will provide easy access to a Power system and the latest Ubuntu server images.