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    SubjectRe: An Andre To Remember
    On Fri, 2012-07-27 at 13:56 -0400, Jeff Garzik wrote:
    > An Andre To Remember
    > July 2012
    > Linux lost a friend and advocate this month. Though never a household
    > name, Andre Hedrick had a positive impact on everyone today running
    > Linux, or using a website, with any form of IDE (ATA) or SCSI storage
    > -- that means millions upon millions of users today.
    > For a time, Andre interacted with practically every relevant IDE
    > drive and controller manufacturer, as well as the T13 standards
    > committee through which IDE changes were made. He helped ensure
    > Linux had near-universal IDE support in a hardware era when Linux
    > support was a second thought if at all. As the Register article[1]
    > noted, with CPRM and other efforts, Andre worked to keep storage a
    > more open platform than it might otherwise have been.
    > [1]
    > Andre also played a role in IDE technology coalescing around the idea
    > of a "taskfile", which is IDE-speak for an RPC command issued to a
    > disk drive, and the RPC response returned from the drive. It was
    > very important to Andre that the kernel have a "taskfile ioctl",
    > an API enabling full programmable access to the disk drive. At the
    > time, a more limited "cmd ioctl" API was the best option available,
    > but Linux's cmd ioctl did not give users full and complete access to
    > their own disk drive.
    > Andre's taskfile concept was a central component of the current,
    > rewritten-from-scratch Linux IDE driver "libata." libata uses an
    > "ata_taskfile" to communicate with all IDE drives, whether from a
    > decade ago or built yesterday. The taskfile concept modernized
    > IDE software, by forcing the industry to move away from a slow,
    > signals-originated register API to a modern, packetized RPC messaging
    > API, similar to where SCSI storage had already been moving.
    > I spent many hours on the phone with Andre, circa 2003, learning all
    > there was to know about ATA storage, while writing libata. Andre could
    > be considered one of the grandfathers of libata, along with Alan Cox.
    > I became friends with Andre during this time, and we talked a lot.
    > Andre was unquestionably smart, driven and an advocate for Linux user
    > freedom.

    Hi Jeff,

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts + memories of Andre.

    As we grieve this extreme loss, I'd like to try to share some of my own
    experiences with Andre that will hopefully help others to begin to
    understand the kind + generous type of person that Andre really was, and
    just some of his staggering technical feats + accomplishments that can
    be talked about publicly today.

    Along with Andre being involved in the history of libata and IDE/ATA
    development, those of us in the Linux kernel storage development
    community also know, he was also instrumental in creation of the
    original out-of-tree PyX iSCSI target code that's now in mainline.

    In summer 2002, I sitting next to Andre when he coined the term 'IBLOCK'
    after drawing a rough sketch on a notebook after an idea in Walnut
    Creek, California, and the name ending up sticking.. The interesting
    development bits really started to unfold in the spring of 2004 when we
    finally managed to get drivers/ide/ export working with iscsi-target on
    x86 using 2.4.x code.

    That quickly unfolded into a Sony Playstation-2 (MIPS EE) port using IDE
    disk DMA mode + network PIO on 2.2.x era kernel code capable of
    streaming multiple DVD quality streams to hungry iSCSI clients..

    Left to my own devices for hardware hacking, I managed to turn our first
    disassembled PS2 into a broken parts machine (whoops) but Andre was
    going to made sure that it was not going to happen again.. I bought
    another PS2, and he was the person who soldered wires to the handful of
    tiny via pin-outs to access the one-way serial output for EE boot
    information last at night, while I worked on the necessary kernel bits
    needed for bring-up of the PS2 specific IDE backend target driver. (The
    PS2 IDE driver required contiguous memory for IDE DMA ops to function
    via a single struct buffer_head (TCQ=1) on the non-cache coherent MIPS
    based platform.)

    He carefully made physical space in the machine's cramped chassis, using
    sticky pads where necessary to hold the small PCB containing a simple
    ASIC doing the conversion of the signal into PC RS-232 serial output.
    He made it look completely flush, like exactly how it was supposed to
    come from the factory. Or you know, from the magical place near the old
    Bell Labs R&D center where new development kits for cutting edge tech
    are born.

    CBS Sunday Morning even did a story on Andre and his family in the
    summer of 2004 while all of this was going on.. Not for the PS2
    iscsi-target or any other code of course, but for the fact that he was
    chosen by EBay to represent California small business as part of a group
    that lobbied in Washington DC. The reason that E-bay chose Andre is
    because he built PyX using recycled server + storage hardware bought
    from E-bay, including the family Mini-van often used to cart gear
    between home, and even him driving the PyX team right up to the service
    entrance of the Moscone Center show floor in downtown San Francisco.

    So we managed to get iscsi_target_mod up + stable with three different
    concurrent Linux x86, MSFT x86, and LinuxPPC laptops watching three
    different DVD videos just in time LinuxWorld West that August. All of
    the hard work was leading up to a public demonstration in prime
    real-estate of the Unbreakable Linux pavilion at the entrance to the
    hall for PyX to have a hance to really show it's stuff. The real-estate
    at the expo was also comped by Oracle out of respect for Andre's work on
    the Linux kernel.

    I did not sleep for one second the night before the show, and was so
    excited to be with Andre to show-off this particular demo to all of the
    people at the expo. I was part of a hard-earned demo that was going to
    change the world with *the* Linux IDE guy!!

    Andre was there that first day wearing a suit jacket + dockers + cowboy
    boots (what he usually wore to conferences when doing serious buisness)
    and it was one of the times during PyX that he really genuinely seemed
    happy. People where flocking to come and talk to *him*. All of the
    people walking by who stopped and saw the demo that summer who knew
    Andre, understood that he pulled off something very special. It was the
    type of technology that even seemingly non-technical people are quickly
    attracted to (especially younger people), and like a piece of technology
    to those who don't understand it, or have had it explained in an
    accessible manner, becomes indistinguishable from magic.

    But for Andre at the show that summer, I noticed it wasn’t so much about
    the tech itself (and really did love the tech), or the social events, or
    even about trying to work out some business angle for PyX, or anything
    like that..

    He was on the show-floor doing the thing that he really loved to do, and
    people he had never met before where coming up in waves wanting to talk
    to *him*. Andre was always quick to greet new people at a technical
    level that they could understand, and would also do his best when a
    person came to him asking for help regardless of context.

    Even if it was just a young programmer asking too many questions for a
    trade-show about how the demo actually worked, while serious looking
    business people waited impatiently behind.. Andre always took the time
    to try to impart some of his own hard-earned knowledge and wisdom to
    others with a hungry mind, also regardless of context.

    I'm really going to to miss Andre very much, and my deepest thoughts go
    out to his family + friends during this very difficult time.


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