LISA 2010 - Fraser's attendee notes

LISA '10: November 7-12, San Jose CA

Training Sessions Attended

Nagios: Advanced Topics

Instructor: John Sellens, SYONEX

Nagios is a very widely used tool for monitoring hosts and services on a network. It's very flexible, configurable, and can be extended in many ways, using home-grown or already existing extensions.

This tutorial will cover the advanced features and abilities of Nagios and related tools, which are especially useful in larger or more complex environments, or for higher degrees of automation or integration with other systems.

Topics include:

  • Theory of operation
  • Configuration for more complex environments
  • Plug-ins: Their creation, use, and abuse
  • Extensions: NRPE, NSCA, NDOUtils
  • Add-ons: Graphing, integration with other tools
  • Abuse: Unexpected uses and abuses of Nagios

Databases: What You Need to Know

Instructor: John Sellens, SYONEX

Databases used to run almost exclusively on dedicated database servers, with one or more database administrators (DBAs) dedicated to their care. These days, with the easy availability of database software such as MySQL and PostgreSQL, databases are popping up in many more places and are used by many more applications.

As a system administrator you need to understand databases, their care and feeding. This course provides an introduction to database concepts, use, and implementation, specifically aimed at system administrators.

Topics include:

  • An introduction to database concepts
  • The basics of SQL (Structured Query Language)
  • Common applications of databases
  • Berkeley DB and its applications
  • MySQL installation, configuration, and management
  • PostgreSQL installation, configuration, and management
  • Security, user management, and access controls
  • Ad hoc queries with standard interfaces
  • ODBC and other access methods
  • Database access from other tools (Perl, PHP, sqsh, etc.)

ZFS: A Filesystem for Modern Hardware

Instructor: Richard Elling, Nexenta Systems

File systems developed in the mid-20th century were severely constrained by the storage hardware available at the time. ZFS was conceived with an eye toward the hardware of the future and how storage will evolve. This presented an opportunity to rethink how file systems use storage hardware. The result is a new way of managing data which can evolve as the hardware changes while remaining compatible with earlier notions of file system use. Along the way, new concepts such as the Hybrid Storage Pool provide new opportunities for optimization, efficiency, and data protection. In this tutorial, ZFS will be examined from the bottom up, to build a solid understanding of the data-hardware interface, and then from the top down, to provide insight into the best ways to use ZFS for applications.

Topics include:

  • Evolution of hardware and file systems
  • Storage pools
    • RAID data protection
    • Import/export and shared storage
    • Pool parameters and features
    • On-disk format
  • Data sets
    • Volumes
    • POSIX-compliant file systems
    • Snapshots
    • Replication
  • Practical considerations and best practices
    • Deployment and migration
    • Virtualization
    • Sharing
    • Performance, observability, and tuning
    • Data protection
    • Hybrid storage pools
    • Backup, restore, and archiving

Selected notes on ZFS

Configuration Management Solutions with Cfengine 3

Instructor: Mark Burgess, Cfengine, Inc.

Following a complete rewrite of Cfengine with its popular new syntax and powerful pattern matching capabilities, this full-day tutorial presents an introduction suitable for new users, as well as for users of Cfengine 2.

The tutorial is peppered with configuration examples, which can now be self-contained and modularized to an unprecedented degree in the new language.

Topics include:

  • Moving from ad hoc scripts to automation
  • The importance of convergence
  • The promise model
  • Templates and data types
  • Quickstart configuration
  • Creating configuration libraries
  • Upgrading from Cfengine 2
  • Example configurations and demos
  • Achieving compliance with standards and regulations
  • Cfengine on Windows and the registry
  • Monitoring and self-healing
  • Brief overview of the community and commercial Cfengine roadmap

Linux Performance Tuning

Instructor: Theodore Ts'o, Google

The Linux operating system is commonly used in both the data center and for scientific computing applications; it is used in embedded systems as small as a wristwatch, as well as in large mainframes. As a result, the Linux system has many tuning knobs, so that it can be optimized for a wide variety of workloads. Some tuning of the Linux operating system has been done "out of the box" by enterprised-optimized distributions, but there are still many opportunities for a system administrator to improve the performance of his or her workloads on a Linux system.

This class will cover the tools that can be used to monitor and analyze a Linux system, and key tuning parameters to optimize Linux for specific server applications, covering the gamut from memory usage to filesystem and storage stacks, networking, and application tuning.

Topics include:

  • Strategies for performance tuning
    • Characterizing your workload's requirements
    • Finding bottlenecks
    • Tools for measuring system performance
  • Memory usage tuning
  • Filesystem and storage tuning
  • NFS performance tuning
  • Network tuning
    • Latency vs. throughput
    • Capacity planning
  • Profiling
  • Memory cache and TLB tuning
  • Application tuning strategies

Issues in Infrastructure Design

Instructor: Lee Damon, University of Washington

This intermediate class will examine many of the background issues that need to be considered during the design and implementation of a mixed-architecture, mixed hard- and virtual-architecture, or single-architecture UNIX environment. It will cover issues from authentication (single sign-on) to the Holy Grail of single system images.

This class won't implement a "perfect solution," as each site has different needs. We will look at some freeware and some commercial solutions, as well as many of the tools that exist to make a workable environment possible.

Topics include:

  • Administrative domains: Who is responsible for what, and what can users do for themselves?
  • Desktop services vs. farming: Do you do serious computation on the desktop, or do you build a compute farm?
  • Disk layout: How do you plan for an upgrade? Where do things go?
  • Free vs. purchased solutions: Should you write your own, or hire a consultant or company?
  • Homogeneous vs. heterogeneous: Homogeneous is easier, but will it do what your users need?
  • Where does virtualization fit in?
  • Extending your infrastructure into the clouds
  • The essential master database: How can you keep track of what you have?
  • Policies to make life easier
  • Push vs. pull
  • Getting the user back online in 5 minutes
  • Remote administration: lights-out operation; remote user sites; keeping up with vendor patches, etc.
  • Scaling and sizing: How do you plan on scaling?
  • Security vs. sharing: Your users want access to everything. So do the crackers . . .
  • Single sign-on: How can you do it securely?
  • Single system images: Can users see just one environment, no matter how many OSes there are?
  • Tools: The free, the purchased, the homegrown

Zenoss Open Source Monitoring

Instructor: Russell Briggs, Zenoss

Today's data centers are more dynamic than ever before. New hardware appears and disappears regularly, servers are virtualized and move in and out of the data center. Fortunately there is an open source tool that makes this all manageable and allows you to monitor your network, wherever it is. Zenoss Core is a free and open source (GPLv2) IT monitoring solution written in Python that has been downloaded over 1 million times and used in over 25,000 organizations worldwide. Zenoss delivers the functionality to monitor the health and performance of networks, servers and applications through a single, integrated software package. At the heart of Zenoss is a dynamic unified model of the entire IT environment, which allows system administrators to manage and monitor the ever-increasing complexity of their environments. The demonstration will cover Zenoss' capabilities and discuss how the large and active community around Zenoss gives it an advantage over closed-source alternatives. More information about Zenoss Core can be found at:

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