Dev-Jam 2015 – Magical Number 10

We are just about a month away from one of my favorite weeks of the year: The OpenNMS Developer’s Jamboree, or Dev-Jam.

This is the tenth one we’ve had, which is hard for me to believe. I think it is a testament to the community around the OpenNMS Project that we can have these year after year (and not a testament to the fact that I’m quickly becoming an “old guy”).

We have people from all over the world who contribute to OpenNMS, and for one week out of the year we get together to hack and hang out. It was an “unconference” before such things were popular.

The first one was held at the Pittsboro OpenNMS HQ in 2005, but we quickly learned that we needed a bigger venue. The requirements for a successful Dev-Jam are as follows:

  • A room big enough to hold everyone
  • Fast Internet
  • A place for everyone to sleep
  • Food

We found a great home for Dev Jam at the University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities campus in Minneapolis, specifically in a dorm called Yudof Hall. We lease the downstairs “club room” which is a large rectangular room that is big enough for our crowd. On one side is a kitchen and on the other side is an area with a television and couches. In the middle we set up tables for everyone to work.

We also get rooms in the same dorm, so people can come and go as they please. Some people like to get up in the morning. Others stay up late and don’t come down until noon. The campus offers a number of places to eat, and in the evening we can walk to a restaurant for dinner and drinks. We try to see a Twins game while we are there as well as take a trip to Mall of America.

This will be the first year that access to the light rail system is available from campus, which will make getting around so much easier.

For those of you who haven’t spend a lot of time embedded with an open source project, you probably don’t understand how much fun an event like this can be, or why just writing about it makes me eager for June to arrive. Technically I’ll be at work, but it is unlike any other job I’ve ever had.

If you would like to come, we still have a few places left. Check out the Registration page for more information. Everyone is welcome, but be advised that this is a “code” heavy conference with little formal structure. For more casual OpenNMS users, there is the User’s Conference in September.

Hope to see you at Dev-Jam, and if not there, at the OUCE.

2014 Dev Jam – Day 6

Friday was pretty much the “Dev Jam Results Show”. Mike suggested that the various teams get together and present their work. He recorded it live from his iPhone using Ustream and the raw (and I mean raw) video is available for your viewing pleasure.

The first stream covered the following topics.

Ben, Ron and Matt R. – AngularJS based webUI

That OpenNMS could use a new user interface is a given, and the decision was made to base it on a technology called AngularJS. The first demo shows off some of the work that was done to build a framework for the new GUI.

This includes a “plugin” architecture that will make it easy to add functionality to the system as well as to embed existing code that, while not written in Angular, is still useful. Ron even managed to get KSC reports to run under the new code, complete with dynamic updates.

Work that still remains to be done include formal authentication (currently the new GUI just gets a session cookie from the old one) as well as a greater granularity for ReST permissions, as now normal users get a lot of data and admin users get all the data. This would be very useful for things like multi-tenancy.

Alejandro – Requistion Manager

When we wrote the provisioner, we knew we had something special as no other management system seems to take discovery as seriously as OpenNMS. As more and more people find novel ways of using this system, we realized that the user interface could use some improvement. In this section Alejandro demonstrates the changes he has made to the interface for creating and managing requisitions, also built on Angular.

Craig Gallen – High Frequency Trader GUI

Those of you that follow OpenNMS in the news might have seen a press release a couple of weeks ago from a financial trading services company called TMX Atrium Networks. Dr. Gallen, our man in the UK, worked with them to build an interface for monitoring latency across the network.

Matt and Eric – newts

Yesterday I talked about the New Time Series database that we are building as the data storage backend for OpenNMS. I lifted a lot of that from this portion of the demonstrations. The ability to have an incredibly fast and highly scalable data store is key for our goal of making OpenNMS the de facto network management platform of choice.

The second video stream features a talk about “snee-po”

Seth – SNMnepO

SNMnepO, or OpenNMS spelled backwards, is a project to create a distributed data collector with horizontal scalability. The idea is to add data collection to our remote poller, and Seth’s demonstration shows data collection being performed with the collectd process disabled.

Coupled with the newts data storage backend, this new distributed collector will insure that OpenNMS can scale to meet any data collection needs in the future.

The final stream focuses on work being done by our German team.

Christian – Outage Timeline

Christian demonstrates the new outage timeline that I talked about earlier in the week.

Dustin – RRDtool export via ReST

Dustin shows a new feature that exposes collected data from the RRD files via ReST. This can allow for another integration point where collected data can easily be used by other applications.

Ronny – PRIS

The last demo was done by Ronny (presenting work that was also done by Dustin) on the Provisioning Integration Server (PRIS). As mentioned above, the ability to tightly integrate OpenNMS with provisioning systems is a key feature of the platform. Originally done to integrate with OCS Inventory NG, the system has been extended to allow for integration with pretty much any system.

Considering that these demonstrations were pretty much ad hoc, I was delighted to see how much was accomplished in just a week. It is one of the main reasons I look forward to Dev Jam every year.

We celebrated that evening with a trip to Republic.

Let’s just say the evening went a little downhill from there, but I did manage to make it back to the dorm.

2014 Dev Jam – Day 5

Thursday turned out to be picture day. We had some people leaving a little early so we decided to get our group picture done in the morning. Recently the school added a new Goldy Gopher statue near our dorm, so it was the logical place for a photo.

It also worked out that Goldy would fit in a 3XL OpenNMS shirt (grin)

I even took the opportunity for one of them there “selfie” thingies:

Don’t expect to see many more, but I was told it would be “ironic” (grin).

There was some real work done as well. We are getting much closer to a 1.0 release of newts (, the NEW Time Series database built on Cassandra. The speed is pretty amazing, with sustained writes of 50K+ data points per second.

For testing we’ve been using some weather data that contains 1.2 billion data points, but even at 50K per second it takes six hours to import.

Note that this was done on Matt’s laptop and one Cassandra node. On server hardware it should be much faster, and Matt and Eric have worked very hard to make it linearly scalable: two nodes are twice as fast, four nodes are four times as fast, etc.

The whole Internet of Things paradigm requires the ability to manage massive amounts of time series data and we are getting close to making it a reality.

I am also dealing with the reality that I ate way too much pizza in the last 24 hours. Thanks to Chris Rodman and the good people at Papa John’s Pizza, we had a pizza feast:


2014 Dev Jam – Day 4

First let me interrupt this blog post with a special announcement. A rather onerous security bug was discovered in OpenNMS that would allow any authenticated user to access pretty much any file on the system.

We felt it was bad enough to actually create a fix in the 1.10 branch as well as in the current stable, 1.12, so please consider upgrading at the earliest possibility.

Hat tip to Martin Laercher for reporting it.

Wednesday marked the halfway point in the week, and everyone seems to be in a good groove. With everyone able to work together in person, a lot of nifty things are getting done, including an upgrade to the latest version of Drools Expert.

The integration of OpenNMS with Drools allows for very powerful alarm correlation, and by migrating to Drools 6.0.1 it just got more powerful.

Wednesday also marked the day of the Twins game. For the past two years we’ve taken everyone to the Twins ballpark to watch a major league baseball game. It’s a beatiful place for baseball:

although they usually stuck us in far right field. Also, for the last two games the Twins played the Royals, and lost both times.

This year they put us in far left field:

and the Twins faced the Brewers. Since Milwaukee is close to Minneapolis there were a lot of Brewers fans in the stands, but the home team pulled it out for the win.

We got our name on the big board, too, which was cool, and Jeff was quick enough to catch a picture.

2014 Dev Jam – Day 3

By Tuesday things are pretty much underway. People have divided up into teams and are busy working on various improvements to OpenNMS.

All of this is managed by Bamboo, our build and test system. We have a dashboard view of the status of each branch: green means good and red is bad.

Last year DJ was working on a Raspberry Pi controlled stoplight, and it is now complete and tied into Bamboo. Again, green means good and red means bad, but it also pulses when building.

Tuesday evening we decided to head to Mall of America for some blatant consumerism (and dinner). I hired a school bus to drive us there, and while a “short bus” might have been more appropriate for this crowd, we had too many people to fit.

As part of the evening’s festivities, we attended a Star Trek exhibition at the Mall.

It contained a number of costumes and props from the various Star Trek television series and movies. It wasn’t too amazing but it was fun, and folks seemed to enjoy it.

2014 Dev Jam – Day 2

The conference kicked off Monday morning. I did a general introduction and then handed it over to Matt (Brozowski), who in true un-conference fashion turned it over to the group.

One perennial topic with respect to OpenNMS has been to improve the GUI. One technology we are considering is AngularJS, so after the initial session a group of guys went across campus to one of the tech center classrooms so that Matt (Raykowski) could do a presentation on it.

But not all of the great things that come out of Dev Jam have to be on such a grand scale as “a new GUI”. Markus showed me a very useful feature called “Outage Timelines” that is already complete:

It allows to you quickly see the impact of outages in the last 24 hours. It will definitely be in the next major release and might even make it into the next 1.12 version.

For dinner Monday night I had Brasa cater once again. Even though I backed off on the size of the order, we tend to have a lot of leftovers so I figured it was best to have it early in the week. It was amazing as usual.

After dinner I had to walk some of it off, so I wandered around campus. The sky was threatening to storm, and the sunset against the Weisman Art Museum was beautiful.

So far the vibe at this years conference has been even more positive than usual. This is a week that reminds me why we work so hard the rest of the year. While OpenNMS isn’t a huge project, the people involved, myself exempted, are giants. It’s great to be able to spend time with them, no matter how brief.

2014 Dev Jam – Day 1

Sunday marks the official start of Dev Jam, as people begin to arrive for the conference. This year we have 26 people from four countries (since Alejandro now works for us in the US, I’m not counting Venezuela).

As the conference grows it is becoming harder and harder to fit it into everyone’s schedule, so we use that most democratic of processes: the vote. Once the University gets back to us with available dates, we have people vote on both their preferred week and which other weeks they could attend. We then choose the one that accommodates the most people. Unfortunately, this year the best week caused hardship for a number of long time attendees, so people like Antonio couldn’t make it. I’m hoping we find a better fit next year.

With the exception of a couple of delayed flights due to the weather (Minneapolis has recently been experiencing a lot of rain, often resulting in flooding), everyone got here safely and we gathered at the Town Hall Brewery for dinner.

Most people tried the beer (I had water, this week is pretty rough on my diet as is) but Ben discovered a “whiskey tasting flight” that he said was both good and a good value. All in all, it was a nice way to kick off the week.

2014 Dev Jam – Day 0

It’s time once again for the OpenNMS Developer Jamboree, Dev Jam, conference. This is an event I look forward to every year, and this year marks our ninth gathering in ten years.

The first Dev Jam was held in 2005 at my house, and we soon moved to the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities campus. UMN allows us to rent rooms in the Yudof Hall dormitory, as well as the “Club Room” in the basement. The Club Room is a large, rectangular room with couches and a TV on one end and a kitchen on the other. In the middle we set up tables for laptops. There is excellent bandwidth and a nice view of the Mississippi off the deck. Since the rooms are in the same building, people can come and go as they please and we are free to spend the week working together to make OpenNMS the de facto management platform of choice.

Even though technology makes managing distributed teams a lot easier, nothing beats some serious face to face time.

I came up on Saturday, and I hate traveling on Saturdays. It seems like it is amateur hour at the airport, and this trip was no exception. The lady in front of me at the TSA pre-check line seemed amazed that the agent might ask for ID, and she felt free to take her time digging it out of her purse and putting it back (as the line grew behind her). A number of people seemed to view the moving walkways as “rides”, although I can’t see the appeal. Finally, there was a woman in front of me in the plane who seemed determined to find the owners of every bag in the overhead bin (the plane was full and so people in the back had stored their belongings in the front so it looked like they may have been forgotten).

Yeah, I know, #firstworldproblems, but if I can’t vent on this blog I’d probably go postal.

The rest of the day went smoothly. Mike had laid in with provisions, completely filling his car.

It included 14.7 pounds of M&Ms (mainly peanut). We are the OpenM&Ms project after all.

I brought along two cases of Cheerwine, which is a locally made soft drink that a lot of the team likes. My friend Donnie was convinced that after the delicate handling by the airline staff my box would arrive as a pink, soggy mess, but it managed to get there only slightly molested by the TSA. I guess shipping 44 pounds of soda by air was unusual enough to warrant extra inspection.

In addition to the facilities at UMN, the area offers a lot of dining choices. This trip Mike took us to Republic, a gastropub across the river. It was nice, and I enjoyed it enough to suggest we return on Friday with the whole team. I had the Left Hand Nitro Milk Stout, which was tasty and reminded me of Guinness.

Most of the gang arrives on Sunday, but things seem poised for another great conference.

Dev-Jam 2014 Registration Now Open

Hot on the heels of the OpenNMS Users Conference in April comes another one of my favorite events: DevJam!

DevJam was started in 2005 when I invited anyone who could to come visit us in lovely Pittsboro, North Carolina. You get here and I would feed you and give you a place to crash at my farmhouse and we’d just spend the week hacking on OpenNMS.

We had seven people at that first meeting, and we realized that there were some logistics issues to work out. We needed better bandwidth and the ability for people to set their own schedules.

So the next year we moved it to the University of Minnesota, since Mike Huot (OGP) happened to live there and arranged for us to get a nice conference room as well as access to the dorm so that people could come and go as they pleased. We’ve repeated that formula for the rest of the years except two. One year we went to Georgia Tech, and the DevJam in 2009 was canceled due to the fact that it was a very tight year for us in the beginning and we didn’t think we could afford it.

Now I don’t believe I could afford to miss it.

DevJam is aimed specifically at developers working on OpenNMS, or those that want to work on OpenNMS code. It’s not a users conference per se (although all the people that come naturally use OpenNMS), and it tends to be very technical. It is very much an ad hoc or “unconference” in that a lot of the agenda is made up as we go along, but everyone seems to have a great time, we all learn a lot, and a lot gets accomplished.

If you want to learn a little more about it, check out this audio documentary created during last year’s event.

Last year we also sold out the conference, with 31 people in attendance. I added a few more rooms this year, but if you are interested please either register or let us know so we can hold you a spot.

It should be another amazing week and I can’t wait until the first week of June.