Open Source Backup Conference – Impressions


After 4 years I finally managed to visit this conference.

The former Bacula conference ended up with a rename to “Open source
backup conference” recently and, under the new name, took place in Cologne
on Wednesday.
The idea of the rename was to extend the scope to other open source backup
solutions than just Bacula and it’s younger cousin Bareos.
This worked out pretty well, my personal highlight was a talk on an entirely
different software named “relax and recover” (rear). It’s a Linux-only system
like Ignite for HP-UX or mksysb on AIX, covering emergency restores of critical
systems.
This kind of software is tuned to store the recover images on different media
and to be highly reliable at the time of restore, even if confronted with a
blank or different system. So it’ll do things beyond what normal backup
software handles, i.e. setting up your Raid devices.

The story about Bareos is an interesting and sad one – apparently Bacula, in
it’s open source form is halfway dead. There aren’t any recent commits in the
git tree and there was even an incident where a new feature was pulled out of
the OSS version so it only became available to the users of the commercial fork.

The people / companies behind Bareos are more OSS-minded than this and made sure
the feature set is much closer of the enterprise bacula version.

As a user, thats of course great, stuff like lighter compression algos or the
“relaxed” SSL mode are quite interesting from a practically minded point of
view. They also used a lot of time to remove stale code and are now looking at
ways to move forward.

A nice and well designed build chain ensures the code you download will actually
work by doing a really large bunch of regression testing in various stages.

There was also a nice talk by someone from (or related to) NetAPP who managed
to show off a really well-designed largescale backup system without delving
into marketing *at all*. Still, I got shiny eyes once he mentioned there’s an
equallogic array that offers native infiniband storage access.

What impressed me is that the Backup community there is far friendlier than i.e.the monitoring community. There was no visible competition among the different
companies.
Well. Save for the one guy from collax community server who set the low point
by doing a 3-4 minute talk about his product during the presentation of another one. He did a good job of making sure I’ll recommend people to avoid his stuff.

My own talk on Monitoring Bacula was quite fun for me, and generated many
really interesting questions. I slipped at one time by giving a very personal opionion on old stale Perl code 🙂

The feedback in itself was split, some people were unhappy since, well, I
presented the current state of affairs: “Bugs, bugs, bugs” and others who were
motivated to improve things. I stuck with the second group, or actually, they
more or less trapped me in a corner later on, discussing ways how to add crucial checks, etc.
It seems we’re on a way forward to improve the monitoring a lot.
Doing a lot of basics like collecting all the old checks in one place is the
thing I started on.

 

After that I ended up with a Bacula book which is awesome since it’ll help me debug some issues and even has a nice chapter on pool management.

Ah, yeah, that was something I missed – there was little exchange about best
practices, like “how do you name your pools, how this, how that”.

That was just perfect at the OpenNebula Conference the next day. By then I’d also gotten a few valued hours of sleep.

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