UI Update No. 1

Finally, after quite a bit of time working on HTML, (and with the completion of my Strengths of Materials exams) I’m back on task with Olympus. I’ve made a few minor changes to the web interface, including the addition of the Olympus symbol and a few deletions/modifications to the user options. I’m having a little trouble pushing to github after reimaging, but I’ll have my new code up tomorrow, and with vacation coming on and nothing else to do, I expect to be churning out UI changes over the next few weeks!

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Some HTML

I’ve begun to work on the front end of Olympus this week by delving into the world of HTML. This isn’t my first experience with webpages and HTML, but it will be the first time I’ve gone this far down the rabbit hole. Plugin development is on hold until I get some help with some of the more complex python-windows interactions, most of which seem to be best done using various downloaded modules to allow for communication. Until I get some help from some higher level programmers, I’m going to be adding functionality to the UI on the front end of Olympus.

Continued Python Digestion, Week 3

I successfully fixed my previous python problem! I’ve also made significant progress on my HDD space program, and on a new plugin to measure processor capacity and draw. I’m going to be enlisting the help of a fellow RCOS member or two to help me write this one, but progress is getting faster! Soon I’m going to move on to working on the Olympus front end as well as plugins.

Beginner’s Journey into the belly of Python

My name is James Kalfas; I’m new to the Olympus project, new to Python, and a mechanical engineer so this is my first major endeavor into the wide world of applied programming. I’ve been brought onto the Olympus project to work on the diversity of plugins that are available for use on the Olympus servers. So far, I’ve completed a program that will allow remote servers to send their current ram usage, available ram, and an optional % of total ram in use to the root server. Currently, I’m working on a similar program for total HDD usage. After that, I intend to move on to other hardware plugins, as well as integrating third-party programs such as ventrilo and minecraft into the plugin list.

James Kalfas

Beginning Development Once more

It has been almost a year since we started this project and for the last 9 months I began work on another project called Briefcase. But now that the summer is almost here again development will begin once more. Many of the bugs that existed in the last version will be fixed and we will start writing more default plugins for you to use. Possibly also create a create a compiled version of the python plugins so that they are less noticed in the overall system. I have learned a lot since I last worked on this project and there are many things to fix and make better. Gabe will be going off to work for Hasbro soon so a new person, James Kalfas, will be joining me on the fronted development. This will be fun, I am looking forward to developing this application once more.

– Asher

Saving configurations using the filesystem

Olympus is meant to be loaded in parts, allowing for many queries to be made to it at once without noticeable delay. This is achieved by having each element of a the configuration, for example a list of servers, stored using the file system instead of a configuration file. This allows us to load each individual file about the server without having to load the entire set of information about every server. As a result this will allow for the program to be completely scalable to hundreds or thousands of servers without slowing down the program much on runtime, though we are not able to test more then ten at this point in time. Another benefit of this system is that if a system admin wanted to copy a server configuration from one Olympus program to another it would be a simple matter of copying a file or folder over, and would not require any kind of configuration change within Olympus. If you wanted to write a program that messes with the configurations of servers or plug-ins it would be a simple manner of changing the contents of the files, though that it not thread safe yet.

To maintain file integrity and avoid serious race conditions the process of writing to these files is contained in a single core while the process of reading from these files is un-restricted. In the future this method will change to allow for multiple files to be written to at once without fear of corruption. This will be done using file write locks to prevent a file from being opened twice.

Thats all for now
-Asher

Promoting an Open Source Project

As completion of Olympus draws near its time to think about how to promote the project.  As a developer, one may be thinking that at the end of the project their work is finished.  This couldn’t be further from the truth.  To be a responsible citizen in the open source community one must not only create a project but then share it with the rest of the world.  Now how to do this exactly can seem like a project in and of itself, but after some quick research one finds that this is a common question among developers in the community.

After looking into it ourselves and getting tips from fellow open source members, we came up with the following Open Source Project Promotion Plan:

Step 1: Add project to a code repository –  We use github.  There’s also SourceForge and Google Code.  Take your pick.

Step 2: Add project to freshmeat – Another great software hub

Step 3: Maintain a blog and wiki for the project – its good to have a blog (like this one) and at the very least you can use github’s wonderful wiki feature

Step 4: Add Screenshots of your project – its true that pictures say a thousand words, screenshots of your project are a necessity for success

Step 5: Make it easy to install – if you want to make it popular make sure its easy to get running.  People want software that helps, not a battle.  For this we are looking into packaging for some popular Linux distributions.  For Windows you might look into NSIS

Step 6: Spread the word – Let your friends know about it. Use social media.  If you can, make a video of your project in action and put it on Youtube.  Just remember that the completion of your code is not the end of the project, its the beginning.

Writing Our Own Webserver Cont.

After much effort and debugging the UNIX (POSIX) version of the webserver is finally bug free enough to consistently send data across. As it is configured now you can only access the server if you are on the same network as it. This is to help against intruders accessing your file system. This will soon change so that anyone can access the server as long as they have the IP address but they will be restricted to a user defined root directory, from which they will not be able to escape (mwhahaha). After testing the first build of the webserver it was noticed that some of the files had large chunks missing from them.

The standard way to send data over an estabished socket connection is through the send() function
ssize_t send(int sockfd, const void *buf, size_t len, int flags);
When the server was first constructed I assumed that this function would send all the data you tell it to, however it does not. After much research it was figured out how to force the code to send all the data. The third version of the protocol finally worked and we are now able to send the required data flawlessly. The program currently uses the unix only fork() function and will eventually need to be rewritten for the windows build. Until then more plugins will be develped

Using jQuery, CSS3, HTML5 to create a usable frontend

Over the past two weeks much progress has taken place to the Frontend implementation to Olympus.  It was decided that the Web UI should be built with the future in mind.  Therefore, the project makes heavy use of modern web technologies – namely CSS3, HTML5 and the jQuery Javascript library.  CSS3 has been used generously in the details and styling of the Web UI.  HTML5 has not had as much emphasis, however the decision to use it has opened doors to increase the functionality of the project.  The open source jQuery library will be playing a major role in the project.  Aside from simplifying common tasks (ajax calls), the library allows for rapid development of functional UI.  It is the driving force behind the plugin ‘windows’ that appear within the interface as well as other details.  Thanks to the use of a modern web technology stack some possible future features for the Olympus Web UI include drag-and-drop functionality, hotkey/shortcut integration, offline-storage and the inclusion of geolocation into plugins.  Check back soon for progress.

Frontend Implementation

It was decided that the Web UI to Olympus should take the form of browser-accessed web pages.  At its core, each page uses ajax to serve the user content.  A user accesses a basic page from the root server and then live data is fed to the page through a series of ajax calls.  This cuts down on the need for a full-blown web server while at the same time providing the capability to serve real-time data.  A dashboard page loads a list of maintained remote servers.  The user can then click on a maintained server to see all of its plugins running in real-time, and if desired focus in on a particular plugin.