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2005 USENIX Annual Technical Conference



Location: Invited Talks Sessions will take place in Salon F.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005
11:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m. Wednesday

Computer Simulations of Thermal Convection and Magnetic Field Generation in Stars and Planets
Gary Glatzmaier, University of California, Santa Cruz

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Global 3D computer models have produced numerical simulations of convection and magnetic field generation in the liquid interiors of terrestrial planets like the Earth and giant planets, like Jupiter. The structure and time-dependence of the large-scale magnetic fields outside the core in Earth simulations resemble the Earth's field to first order and the surface zonal wind profiles in giant planet simulations are beginning to resemble Jupiter's banded zonal wind profile. Examples of such 3D simulations will be presented together with much higher-resolution 2D turbulent simulations, which suggest we are still far from having a robust understanding of the internal dynamics of planets.

2:00 p.m.–3:30 p.m. Wednesday
DDoS Defense in Practice and Theory
Eddie Kohler, University of California, Los Angeles, and Mazu Networks

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Depending on whom you ask, distributed denial of service attacks are either a nuisance, or avoidable today using commercial tools, or so fundamental as to require rearchitecting the Internet. So how serious is the problem, and what can we do? This talk will attempt to answer these questions with a tour of the current DDoS landscape, including commercial and research-grade solutions and experiences from the trenches.

4:00 p.m.–5:30 p.m. Wednesday
Massively Multi-player Games and the Systems That Love Them
Mark Wirt,

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Massively multi-player games (MMOs) are persistent-state worlds with thousands to hundreds of thousands of participants. Predictions about the growth of the market vary, but the trend is unambiguous: these games are becoming an increasingly important form of experience and entertainment, and players are flocking to them world-wide.

From their natal inception (so-called "Multi-user Dungeons" running on time-shared computers) to today, MMOs have always presented interesting challenges to programmers, computer scientists, and systems administrators. To service today's player, fully-distributed systems of hundreds of computers must be constructed to manage these games and provide low-latency, complex environments for thousands of simultaneous players. And unlike stateless protocols (such at HTTP), the state of the player, game, and connection must be meticulously maintained. Deploy such a system in an environment where thousands of bright users are actively trying to cheat and/or break the system, and one is immediately presented with a challenging set of problems.

This talk will discuss the challenges of writing and deploying MMOs, some of which are relatively unique to the domain. Some of these challenges include the creation of on-line, functional economies and societies; deploying distributed transactional systems; creating highly synchronized state distribution systems; security; and the management of these systems (including software deployment, version management, updates, etc.)

Thursday, April 14, 2005
9:00 a.m.–10:30 a.m. Thursday
Invited Talks Track
Spencer Shepler, Sun Microsystems

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With NFS version 4, the IETF has provided the first openly defined filesystem protocol. NFSv4 draws upon previous versions of NFS along with characteristics of other distributed filesystems to provide a useful, flexible framework for today's client and server environments. NFSv4 provides strong security through the use of either Kerberos V5, SPKM-3, or LIPKEY. NFSv4 combines the previously disparate set of protocols surrounding NFS into a single protocol. NFSv4 also allows for adaptation to future needs via minor versioning. The details of these features and the rest of the protocol will be reviewed as well as the performance characteristics of today's NFSv4 environment.

Under the Hood: Open Source Business Models in Context
Stephen R. Walli, Consultant

People debate regularly about whether or not open source software is "good for business," and how one makes money on something given away "for free." They raise concerns over the commoditization effects and portray a gloomy future where open source software will "eat its way" up a stack of functionality until software is valueless.

This talk looks at historical open source companies, then steps back to look under the hood at a broader business context for the dynamics at work to provide a business model for open source software. Part of the story behind Microsoft's community projects will be told along the way.

11:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m. Thursday
10–20x Faster Software Builds
John Ousterhout, Electric Cloud, Inc.

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Almost all software projects with more than a few dozen developers are plagued by slow builds that sap productivity, extend release schedules, and impact product quality. Parallel builds offer the potential of significant speedups, but previous attempts at parallelizing builds have had only modest success, primarily due to the lack of complete dependency information. In this talk I will present the architecture of Electric Cloud, a gmake-compatible build system that uses clusters of inexpensive servers to run massively parallel builds. The key to the Electric Cloud approach is that it deduces dependencies on the fly by monitoring file accesses during the build, so that it knows when it is or isn't safe to run build steps in parallel. I will also describe other aspects of the system, such as its versioning network file system and its use of peer-to-peer protocols for moving file data efficiently. Finally, I will compare Electric Cloud to other approaches such as distcc.

2:00 p.m.–3:30 p.m. Thursday
Invited Talks Track
Thin Clients: Past, Present, and Future
Jason Nieh, Columbia University

Exponential improvements in networking and the management cost and complexity of PCs are driving the reemergence of thin clients. But this is not a return to the past of dumbed-down terminals interfaces and limited functionality. Modern thin clients can provide rich PC application functionality and enable new application services while simplifying system administration and improving system security. These benefits arise from a model of running all application logic on servers which then simply send display updates to the clients. I will examine how thin clients can address today's IT infrastructure problems and I will then discuss challenges and opportunities.

Mac OS X Tiger: What's New for UNIX Users?

Dave Zarzycki, Senior Engineer, BSD Technology Group, Apple Computer

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Mac OS X "Tiger" contains hundreds of new features, many of them in the open-source UNIX "underpinnings" of the system. This talk will discuss new features in the Kernel, new support for rapid indexing and searching of filesystem data, extended file attribute management, strategies for increased performance and 64 bit application support, various software development tool updates, and Tiger's new subsystems for application logging and daemon/service control.

4:00 p.m.–5:30 p.m. Thursday

Enhancing Network Security through Competitive Cyber Exercises
Colonel Daniel Ragsdale, Ph.D., United States Military Academy

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The security of our information systems is constantly under attack. We propose that to make them safer, we should attack them even more. Setting up a competition where two or more sides try to defend their network against an adversarial team will provide an outlet for new and emerging defensive technologies and techniques. This competition will provide an environment where new defensive tactics can be deployed against real hackers. Two similar events that have been publicized recently are the DEFCON "capture the flag" competition and the military Cyber Defense Exercise. The two competitions follow different paradigms. The DEFCON event set all teams to be both attackers and defenders, while the Cyber Defense Exercise focuses the teams on defensive operations only.

The Cyber Defense Exercise (CDX), an annual competition between students at the five U.S. Service Academies, has developed into an extraordinary exercise where defensive technologies are implemented and tested. During the four years that this exercise has been conducted, the skill and the knowledge levels of the participants has improved so dramatically over the past three years that the CDX has become an excellent testing ground for new and emerging concepts in information assurance.

Friday, April 15, 2005
9:00 a.m.–10:30 a.m. Friday

Linux and JPL's Mars Exploration Rover Project: Earth-based Planning, Simulation, and Really Remote Scheduling
Scott Maxwell and Frank Hartman, NASA JPL

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NASA/JPL's Mars Exploration Rover project is the first time a JPL flight project has used Linux systems for critical mission operations. Scott Maxwell and Frank Hartman, two of MER's rover drivers, also wrote the Rover Sequencing and Visualization Program (RSVP), the Linux-based software used on Earth to drive Spirit and Opportunity. Scott and Frank will discuss the software they developed, as well as their experiences using Linux to drive two vehicles across the Martian terrain, a hundred million miles from Earth.

11:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m. Friday

Possible Futures for Software
Vernor Vinge, Hugo award-winning sci-fi author of the Across Real Time series, The Witling, True Names, and A Fire Upon the Deep

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No one knows what software technology will be in twenty years. However, there are variables that will probably drive the outcome, for example, hardware improvements, success at managing large projects, and demand for "secure computing". In this talk, I consider four scenarios for the software future, based on different values for these drivers. There are things to love and things to loathe in these scenarios, but consideration of their various onset symptoms could be helpful in adapting to (or affecting) what really happens in our future.

2:00 p.m.–3:30 p.m. Friday

Flying Linux
Dan Klein, USENIX

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We all know that "Linux is better than Windows." Few intelligent people would board a fly-by-wire airplane that was controlled by Microsoft Windows. So how about Linux? When your life is at stake, your attitudes change considerably. Better than Windows, yes—but better enough? This talk will look at what it takes to make software truly mission-critical and man-rated. We'll go back to the earliest fly-by-wire systems—Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo—and look at such diverse (but critical!) issues as compartmentalization, trojans and terrorism, auditing and accountability, bugs and boundary conditions, distributed authoring, and revision control. At the end of this talk, what you thought might be an easy answer will be seen to be not so easy.


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Last changed: 20 May 2005 aw