A poster of our latest work, CrossRSS, a Stateless CPU-Aware Datacenter Load-Balancer

Today we will present a poster of our latest work, at CoNEXT’20 : CrossRSS! CrossRSS is a load-balancer that spreads the load uniformly even inside the servers. It uses knowledge of the dispatching done inside the servers, RSS, to purposely select less-loaded cores without any server modification, or inter-core communications on the server. Learn more by watching the short video!

The poster session will be held on the 4th of December, 2:30 CET on the Mozilla VR Hub

Extended Abstract ; Hub ; Video ; Poster-As-Slides

Dynamic DNS with OVH

It may not be a clear thing, but OVH allows to have your own Dynamic DNS if you rent a domain name, surely a better thing than the weird paid website from dyndns.org. I will explain how to handle the update with Linux using ddclient.

On the manager

Connect to https://www.ovh.com/manager/web/#/configuration/domain/ , select your domain name, and create a new dynhost with the button on the right.

Enter a sub-domain name such as “mydyn” (.tombarbette.be), and add the actual IP for now, or just for the time being.

Then it is not finished, you have to create a login that will be able to update that dns entry. Select the second button to handle accesses and create a new login.

Select a login, probably the name of the subdomain, the subdomain itself, and a password.

On the server

sudo apt install ddclient

Then edit /etc/ddclient.conf


Just do “sudo ddclient” to update once then “sudo service ddclient restart” to get it updated automatically.

May this be helpful to someone, personally I just forget it all the time so I wanted to leave a post-it somewhere.

Creating a dynamic and redundant array with LVM and MDADM

RAID5 allows to create an array of N+1 drives where N is the number of drives which will contain real data. The last drive will be used to store parity about the other drives (in practice, the parity information is stored by chunks across all drives and not only on one drive). RAID 5 allows to loose any of the drive without loosing the data thanks to the parity drive, and has a cheaper cost than RAID 1 where the usable data will be N/ instead of N-1.

MDADM is the tool of predilection to build a RAID5 drive. Given 3 disks, the command to build a raid 5 array is :

mdadm --create /dev/md0 --level=5 --raid-devices=3 /dev/sda1 /dev/sdb1 /dev/sdc1

Problem is, RAID5 drives are not easily splittable/shrinkable/resizable, the operation is complex and must be done offline. The solution is to use LVM on top of MDADM to build a big volume group which will be “protected” by RAID5 allowing to make dynamic paritions on it :

pvcreate /dev/md0
vgcreate group0 /dev/md0

And then create multiple, online-resizeable partitions with :

lvcreate /dev/group0 -n system -L 10G
mkfs.ext4 /dev/mapper/group0-system

lvcreate /dev/group0 -n home -L 50G
mkfs.ext4 /dev/mapper/group0-home

To resize a partition, one can do :

lvresize /dev/mapper/group0-home -L +10G
resize2fs /dev/mapper/group0-home

Which will add 10G to the partition, and resize it. It will work even with the system partition, without needing any reboot.


Enable Wifi N access point with hostapd

I use an odroid (a rasberry-pi like mini-pc but more powerfull) as a Wifi access point for my smartphone and my camera since quite a long time. I forgot that my USB Wifi dongle was compatible with Wifi N (only on 2.4Ghz), so my hostapd config file was :


Here is the speed result with iperf :

[ 4] local port 5001 connected with port 48727
[ ID] Interval Transfer Bandwidth
[ 4] 0.0-10.2 sec 18.4 MBytes 15.1 Mbits/sec

Normaly, this should be 56Mbits/s, but we know wifi is crap…

And to enable Wifi N :

hw_mode=g   #Yes, this is not an error. Wifi N builds on top of G ;)


And the speed result is now :

[ 4] local port 5001 connected with port 48754
[ 4] 0.0-10.1 sec 30.6 MBytes 25.4 Mbits/sec

Better, but still not the 150Mbits/s of wifi N… But it’s better !

ZSH : Open terminal where you left, for each session

There is some snippets for ZSH configuration which allow you to re-open the session in the folder where it was last closed available on the web. The problem is that you often launch 3 sessions at the same time, work on them and then quit/reboot/loose SSH connections/… So you will re-log 3 sessions which will start in the same last opened folder.

I propose a version allowing to keep the last folder per-session. Each ZSH session receive a number and write the current folder in a per-session file. When you open a new session it opens the file number associated to the session number.


Add somewhere in .zshrc :

mkdir -p ~/.cwd/
session_num=`pgrep zsh | wc -l`
function cd() {
builtin cd "$@";
echo "$PWD" > ~/.cwd/$session_num
echo "$PWD" > ~/.cwd/last
export cd
function cwd() {
if [ -e ~/.cwd/$session_num ] ; then
cd "$(cat ~/.cwd/$session_num)"
cd "$(cat ~/.cwd/last)"
echo "This is session #$session_num"

And at the bottom of the file :




Maybe you already know the program “top”, “htop” is its enhanced version. And is very usefull to see how your systems handle its load and where is the load.




You’ve got your CPUs load per core on top. Here I’ve got two processors with 8 cores each, and having hyperthreading activated, so 32 logical cores. The part in green is the percentage of time spent in your programs, and the read is the percentage of time spent in kernel. You also have the memory usage and programs.



Top – Remember…

Post it – What to save when reinstalling a server

More a post-it for myself, what to save when formatting or doing a major upgrade of my linux servers.


– database SQL – Saving /var/lib/mysql is possible but you’ll have to change some maintenance passwords. The easiest is to export your databases with the export function of phpmyadmin or with mysqldump.
– /var/svn – If you have an SVN server
– /var/www – Websites
– /etc – Configuration. Do not re-apply everything ! Choose only some config files for example :

  • /etc/dhcp/dhcpd.conf – Dhcp server config file
  • /etc/php/php.ini (can change according to linux distributions) – Php configuration
  • /etc/apache/sites-enbabled – Apache websites
  • /etc/apache/apache2.conf – Apache config
  • /etc/passwd /etc/shadow /etc/group – Users, groups, and passwords. But I may be a good idea to force everyone to change passwords at the same time, and to clean…
  • And many many mores…

– /home – If you want to keep user data. You should not have to save that when re-formatting your system because /home should always be another partition than the system “/” partition.
– ~/public_html – If not saving the homes, saves your local websites…


Any other ideas?

Home server : auto-shutdown if no other computers are running

I wanted to shutdown my linux home media server if there is no running computer on my network. So I wrote this little programs which reads all known ips from DHCP configuration and lease files and send a ping to them. If the ping respond, one PC of my LAN is up…

To re-start the computer in the morning, I use the BIOS RTC alarm (the thing you have by pressing F1 or ESC on reboot). You could also add a script/a program on each of your computers to send the magic packet to your home server to wake it by lan (see “wake on lan” on google).

This script can take any command. But if you want to do shutdown like proposed in the title, you can use :

sudo ./autoshut "poweroff"

Where is your local IP adress. To compile the program, simply use (after saving the code as “autoshut.c”) :

gcc -o autoshut autoshut.c

In my case, I wanted to launch the command only after midnight, so I used cron. Cron will launch that command every 5 minutes from midnight to eight o’clock. So if I stay up late, my server won’t shutdown if my own computer is not down too. That’s the whole purpose.

The line in my crontab :

0,10,20,30,40,50 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 * * * root /home/tom/autoshut/autoshut "poweroff"

Why do all that ? Energy consumption…

#include <stdio.h>
#include <stdlib.h>
#include <regex.h>
#include <string.h>

#define LEASE_FILE "/var/lib/dhcp/dhcpd.leases"
#define DHCP_CONFIG_FILE "/etc/dhcp/dhcpd.conf"

int in_array(char** ar, char* str) {
int i = 0;
while (ar[i] != NULL) {
if (strcmp(ar[i],str) == 0) return 1;
return 0;

char* extractIP (char* filename, char** list, int* listNum) {
FILE *pfile;

pfile = fopen(filename, "rb");

if(pfile == NULL){
printf("Sorry, can't open %s\n", filename);
return '\0';
regex_t reg;
int err = regcomp (&reg, "(10\\.[0-1]\\.0\\.([1-9]|[0-9]{2,3}))", REG_EXTENDED);
if (err != 0)
return '\0';
char ligne[255];

while(!feof(pfile)) {
fgets(ligne, 254 ,pfile);
int match;
size_t nmatch = 0;
regmatch_t *pmatch = NULL;

nmatch = reg.re_nsub;
pmatch = malloc (sizeof (*pmatch) * nmatch);
match = regexec (&reg, ligne, nmatch, pmatch, 0);
if (match == 0)
char *ip = NULL;
int start = pmatch->rm_so;
int end = pmatch->rm_eo;
size_t size = end - start;

char* str = malloc(sizeof(char) * 15);
strncpy (str, &ligne[start], size);
str[size] = '\0';

if (!in_array(list, str)) {
list[*listNum] = str;
printf("%s\n", str);




int ping(char* address) {

char cmd[30] = "ping -W 1 -q -c 1 ";
int ret=system(cmd);
printf("\nResultat : %d\n\n",ret);
return !ret;
TODO : maybe an option?
int checkCableStatus(const char* interface) {

int main(int argc, char** argv) {

if (argc <= 2) {
printf("Usage : %s Command Local-IP [Local-IP-2]\n\tCommand : a command to execute if ping does not work\n\tLocal-IP : Ip to ignore\n\tLocal-IP-2 : Optional second ip to ignore",argv[0]);
return -1;
int listNum = 0;
char** list = malloc(sizeof(char*) * 255);
extractIP(DHCP_CONFIG_FILE, list, &listNum);
extractIP(LEASE_FILE, list, &listNum);
int i = 0;
while (list[i] != NULL) {
if (strcmp(list[i],argv[2])!=0 && (argc==3 ||strcmp(list[i],argv[3])!=0)) {
if (ping (list[i])) {
printf("%s responded. Command aborted !\n",list[i]);


HDParm is a tool to manage your drives. The first section show you how to get informations about your drives, the second tells you how to make them sleep when they aren’t used (and so make power economy). If you’ve got a home server like me with the system on a SSD, with only your big files on the hard drives(s), you’ll want to do this.


Get disk informations

You’ve got to use “sudo” to gain super user privilege. Your disk are in the /dev/ folder, named sd* where “*” is a letter. To see the list of disk, one can type use “ls /dev/sd[a-z]“:
debserver % ls /dev/sd[a-z]
/dev/sda /dev/sdb /dev/sdc /dev/sdd /dev/sde


To display informations about one disk, you can use “sudo hdparm -i”


debserver % sudo hdparm -i /dev/sda

Model=WDC WD20EFRX-68EUZN0, FwRev=80.00A80, SerialNo=WD-WCC4M1067803
Config={ HardSect NotMFM HdSw>15uSec SpinMotCtl Fixed DTR>5Mbs FmtGapReq }
RawCHS=16383/16/63, TrkSize=0, SectSize=0, ECCbytes=0
BuffType=unknown, BuffSize=unknown, MaxMultSect=16, MultSect=16
CurCHS=16383/16/63, CurSects=16514064, LBA=yes, LBAsects=3907029168
IORDY=on/off, tPIO={min:120,w/IORDY:120}, tDMA={min:120,rec:120}
PIO modes: pio0 pio3 pio4
DMA modes: mdma0 mdma1 mdma2
UDMA modes: udma0 udma1 udma2 udma3 udma4 udma5 *udma6
AdvancedPM=no WriteCache=enabled
Drive conforms to: Unspecified: ATA/ATAPI-1,2,3,4,5,6,7

* signifies the current active mode


Make a drive sleep after some time

From the manual (man hdparm on the command line):

-S Set the standby (spindown) timeout for the drive. This value is used by the drive to determine how long to wait (with no disk activity) before turning off the spindle motor to save power. Under such circumstances, the drive may take as long as 30 seconds to respond to a subsequent disk access, though most drives are much quicker. The encoding of the timeout value is somewhat peculiar. A value of zero means "timeouts are disabled": the device will not automatically enter standby mode. Values from 1 to 240 specify multiples of 5 seconds, yielding timeouts from 5 seconds to 20 minutes. Values from 241 to 251 specify from 1 to 11 units of 30 minutes, yielding timeouts from 30 minutes to 5.5 hours. A value of 252 signifies a timeout of 21 minutes. A value of 253 sets a vendor-defined timeout period between 8 and 12 hours, and the value 254 is reserved. 255 is interpreted as 21 minutes plus 15 seconds. Note that some older drives may have very different interpretations of these values.


So “sudo hdparm -I /dev/sdb | grep level” will show the current spindown value, for Example:

debserver % sudo hdparm -I /dev/sdb | grep level
Advanced power management level: 254


sudo hdparm -S 25 /dev/sdb = spindown after 25*5 seconds.

sudo hdparm -S 245 /dev/sdb = spindown after (245-240)*30 minutes.


If you want to check the state to see if it works :

sudo watch -n 1 "hdparm -C /dev/sdb && hdparm -C /dev/sdc && hdparm -C /dev/sdd && hdparm -C /dev/sde"


You can use /etc/hdparm.conf to make it permanent:
/dev/sdb {
spindown_time = 60