Chameleon Changelog for February 2019

Great news in Chameleon-land!

We were busy meeting with you all at the Chameleon User Meeting in Austin, but in between gorging ourselves on Texan BBQ and Mexican food, we conjured up some new things for you to enjoy. (If you typically stop reading at the first paragraph, then just skip to filling out our new user survey for 2019, which will help us prioritize what shiny new hardware to purchase and what features to work on.)

Easier debugging of BYOC networks. If you’ve tried to create a network using a custom OpenFlow controller a la our Bring-Your-Own-Controller (BYOC) capability, you may have encountered some issues debugging your OpenFlow controller (they can be finicky!) To assist you in this, we’ve published some live metrics for our Corsa DP2000 switches for all Chameleon users to use and refer to. You can log in to the Chameleon Grafana server to see raw packet counts across switch ports--useful for knowing if traffic is properly flowing out of your controller or across your network! We hope to add more useful dashboards to this Grafana interface in the future so you have better insight into the goings-on of the various Chameleon sites. To learn more, check out the documentation on this feature.

More features for your Jupyter notebooks. You can now write a Notebook using the Bash scripting language: very handy if you don’t want to use the Python APIs to interact with Chameleon and would rather just use the CLI that you’re used to. In case you don’t believe us, try out one of our example Notebooks describing how to set up a BYOC networking experiment! Additionally, you can now easily check out Git repositories into your notebook environment, allowing you to save your Notebooks to GitHub to take advantage of version control, or perhaps to pull in other files from other remote repositories. Stay tuned for a blog post highlighting some potential workflows integrating Jupyter Notebooks with GitHub!

CH-CH-CHanges (to your project names). Ever wished you could change your project name from its default machine-readable “CH-XXXXXX” designation to something meaningful to you, like the name of your cat (Mr. Meowmix) or perhaps your favorite food additive (Red 40)? Well, consider your wish granted. You can now add a project nickname in the Chameleon Dashboard. This nickname will then show up throughout the user interface and you can also use it when authenticating via the CLI. You may need to update your RC files to include the updated project nickname.

Experiment automation at TACC. Last month we announced the ability to set up your lease such that it launches an appliance for you automatically when the lease starts -- but it was only available at the UC site. This feature is now also available at TACC. To learn more about how you can use this feature to automate your experiment workflows, check out this section of our documentation.

Turning up the Heat on Ubuntu. We had a long-standing limitation where you could not launch complex appliances on Chameleon if you were using an Ubuntu base image. This was not obvious and certainly not ideal, so we sorted this out this month. Now if you’re using either the CC-CentOS7 or CC-Ubuntu16 image, you can use any complex appliance in our catalog. Limitless freedom!

Usability improvements for PIs. Sometimes you want to use Chameleon for a class or for a workshop. It can be really annoying to manage the members of the project in that case, because our UI would only show some garbled auto-generated usernames instead of anything useful, like their name or email address. Those days are over! We now show you more relevant information in this part of the UI to help you out. Also, we made a change to alleviate any potential Zuteilungfristablaufsangst (an archaic German word for “fear of one’s allocation expiring”): we now show you if your pending allocation renewal has already been approved, so you know that your project will remain active.

A new survey for a new year. After gathering feedback during the User Meeting, we wanted to follow up with a few specific questions and give those of you who were not able to attend the meeting a chance to provide input about what hardware we should buy, and what we should prioritize. You can access the survey here. Please provide your feedback by March 15. Thank you in advance for your participation!

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