Attrition

This week was a hard one. The cutting edge seems like a much more elegant concept when you’re far away from it, knowing that somewhere smart people are chipping away at the unknown. These wise philosophers use measured accuracy and precision, planning every move and quickly reaping the fruits of their intellectual labours. Now that I’ve joined them on this frontier, I can tell you that this is not how things are at all.

This not to say that all researchers are like myself of course, I’m sure all of them are much more capable, intellectual people than I, with fantastic methodology. Of course, this doesn’t mean that they never run up against problems either, and this week, I’ve had my fair share of them.

It started with Shipyard. Shipyard can be thought of as something of a poster child for docker. Simply download a container and then you instantly have a full docker cluster management suite, without ever having to deal with any of its nasty complexities. However, this is assuming that you are running docker on a 64-bit host. If you are on a raspberry pi, then you have to compile everything yourself from a minimal armv7 Ubuntu image, not just for the application container, but for the separate Rethinkdb container too, Shipyard’s data store. I managed to get shipyard working, but it’s Rethinkdb component is running into compilation errors despite it’s supposed arm support. I struggled against this for a while, but rather than get bogged down and keep hitting my head against a brick wall, I decided to move onto Kubernetes.

Kuberenetes is a hotly anticipated management tool, developed by Google and used as part of their own internal Borg infrastructure. It handles the scheduling of a compute cluster using labels and pods, and is currently in pre-production beta. Unsurprisingly, the developers at Google haven’t yet made single board 32-bit micro computers one of their key targets yet, so compiling Kubernetes is bringing its own host of problems.

Two pieces of advice that I would give to anyone doing something like this is make sure you have at least a GB swapfile, and that you should be more than willing to try to fool the installer. Kubernetes required a golang:1.4 container to install, but as the default one is 64 bit, I instead downloaded and renamed a Raspberry Pi 2 targeted one.

This week has taught me that I have a daunting path ahead of me, one that has been trodden by few others (I found one guy on twitter but he didn’t document ANYTHING). I am not going to give up. Far from it, now I better appreciate the scale of this challenge ahead of me. All these in-alpha orchestration programs have reminded me just how important the education and research that this platform will provide will be. I cannot wait to dive back into the project in a weeks time.

End on a bright note, look at my new mug. See you next time.

It's official now!

It’s official now!

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