One of the early feature requests for minimega was a scheduler that would launch VMs across a cluster of machines as easily as VMs are launched on a single machine. In minimega 2.3, we introduced the concept of namespaces, which attempts to provide this functionality.


namespaces are a way to automatically pool resources across a cluster. Specifically, namespaces allow you to configure and launch VMs without worrying too much about which host that they actually run on. namespaces also provide a logical separation between experiments, allowing for multitenancy among cooperating users.

One of the design goals for namespaces was to minimize changes to the existing API. Specifically, we wanted to allow users to create the same scripts to run experiments on a single host and on a cluster of hundreds of hosts. To support this, there are minimal changes to the existing APIs (except behind the scenes, of course) and a few new namespace-specific APIs.

namespace API

namespaces are managed by the namespace API. For example, to create a new namespace called foo and set it as the active namespace:

minimega$ namespace foo

Now that the namespace foo is active, commands will apply only to resources, such as VMs, that belong to the namespace. In a clustered environment, a newly-created namespace includes all nodes in the mesh except the local node, which is treated as the head node. When there are not any nodes in the mesh, the namespace includes just the local node.

To deactivate a namespace, use:

minimega[foo]$ clear namespace

When run without arguments, namespace displays the available namespaces. If a namespace is active, namespace displays information about the active namespace instead:

minimega$ namespace
Namespaces: [foo]
minimega$ namespace foo
minimega[foo]$ namespace
Namespace: "foo"
Hosts: map[]
Number of queuedVMs: 0

start end  state launched failures total hosts

The displayed information includes the hosts that are part of the namespace, how many VM configurations have been queued so far (explained below), and the status of any schedules that have been started.

To make it easier to run commands that target a namespace, users may prefix commands with the namespace they with to use. For example, to display information about VMs running inside the foo namespace, any of the following work:

minimega$ namespace foo
minimega[foo]$ .columns name,state,namespace vm info
name     | state    | namespace
vm-foo-0 | BUILDING | foo

minimega$ namespace foo .columns name,state,namespace vm info
name     | state    | namespace
vm-foo-0 | BUILDING | foo

minimega$ .columns name,state,namespace namespace foo vm info
name     | state    | namespace
vm-foo-0 | BUILDING | foo

Finally, to delete a namespace, again use the clear namespace API:

minimega$ clear namespace foo

nsmod API

The nsmod API allows users to configure parameters of the active namespace such as which hosts belong to the namespace.

To add hosts to the namespace, use nsmod add-host:

minimega$ nsmod add-host ccc[1-10]

To remove hosts, use nsmod del-host:

minimega$ nsmod del-host ccc[1,3,5,7,9]

minimega only adds hosts that are already part of the mesh.

The nsmod API also allows you to control parameters of the scheduler such as how the scheduler determines which host is the least loaded. This is done via the nsmod load API:

minimega$ nsmod load cpucommit

See the Scheduler section below for a description of the different ways the scheduler can compute load.

Launching VMs

Launching VMs in a namespace is similar to launching VMs without namespaces. VMs are configured exactly the same as before -- with the vm config APIs. The only difference for users is queued launching. Specifically, when the user calls vm launch the specified VMs are not created immediately -- they are instead added to a queue. This queue allows the scheduler to make smarter decisions about where it launches VMs. For example, the scheduler could schedule VMs with the same VLANs or disk image on the same host.

Each call to vm launch queues a new VM:

minimega$ namespace foo
minimega[foo]$ vm launch kvm a
minimega[foo]$ vm launch kvm b
minimega[foo]$ vm info
minimega[foo]$ namespace
Namespace: "foo"
Hosts: map[]
Number of queuedVMs: 2

start end  state launched failures total hosts

Calling vm launch with no additional arguments flushes the queue and invokes the scheduler:

minimega[foo]$ namespace
shepherd: Namespace: "foo"
Hosts: ccc[1-15]
Number of queuedVMs: 0

start                                   end                                     state     launched failures total hosts
2016-03-22 18:04:50.217220992 -0700 PDT 2016-03-22 18:04:50.236229396 -0700 PDT completed 2        0        2     1

The scheduler, described below, distributes the queued VMs to nodes in the namespace and starts them. Once the queue is flushed, the VMs become visible in vm info.


The scheduler for namespaces is fairly simple -- for each VM, it finds the least loaded node and schedules the VM on it. Load is calculated in one of the following ways:

* CPU commit      : Sum of the Virtual CPUs across all launched VMs.
* Network commit  : Sum of the count of network interfaces across all launched VMs.
* Memory load     : Sum of the total memory minus the total memory reserved for all launched VMs.

These values are summed across all VMs running on the host, regardless of namespace. This means that the scheduler will avoid launching new VMs on already busy nodes if there are multiple namespaces are using the same nodes or there are VMs running outside of a namespace.

In order to allow users to statically schedule some portions of their experiment (such as when there is hardware or people in the loop), we have added two new vm config APIs:

* vm config schedule   : schedule these VMs on a particular node.
* vm config coschedule : limit the number of coscheduled VMs

These two APIs can be used together or separately:

minimega$ vm config schedule ccc50
minimega$ vm config coschedule 0
minimega$ vm launch kvm solo

Instructs the scheduler to launch a VM called solo on ccc50 and not to schedule any other VMs on ccc50.

minimega$ vm config coschedule 0
minimega$ vm launch kvm solo

Instructs the scheduler to launch a VM called solo on any node and not to schedule any other VMs on that node.

minimega$ vm config coschedule 3
minimega$ vm launch kvm quad[0-3]

Instructs the scheduler to launch four VMs called quad[0-3] on any node and not to schedule at most four other VMs on those nodes. Note: because of the way the least loaded scheduler works, quad[0-3] will most likely not be scheduled on the same node.

vm API

Besides the changes noted above to vm launch, many of the vm APIs are now namespace-aware. Specifically:

* `vm`info`
* `vm`flush`

These commands are broadcast out to all hosts in the namespace and the responses are collected on the issuing node. These are roughly equivalent to doing mesh send <hosts> vm info where <hosts> is the list of nodes in the namespace.

APIs that target one or more VMs now apply to VMs across the namespace on any host. This includes:

* `vm`start`
* `vm`pause`
* `vm`kill`
* `vm`hotplug`
* `vm`qmp`
* `vm`screenshot`
* `vm`tag`
* `vm`cdrom`

Note: because of the above changes, minimega now enforces globally unique VM names within a namespace. VMs of the same name can exist in different namespaces. However, minimega does not reuse VM IDs which means that vm kill 0 will kill all VMs with ID 0 on hosts in the active namespace regardless of whether those VMs belong to the namespace or not.

mesh API Changes

The mesh API has a minor tweak -- when a namespace is active, mesh send all now resolves all to hosts in the namespace rather than all hosts in the cluster.

cc API Changes

The cc API adds an implicit filter for VMs running in the active namespace.

host API Changes

The host API broadcasts the host command to all hosts in the namespace and collects the responses on the issuing host when a namespace is active. Otherwise, it only reports information for the issuing node.


The minimega authors

22 Mar 2016