[IPython-User] ipython notebook server experience

Skipper Seabold jsseabold@gmail....
Wed Jul 11 10:56:44 CDT 2012

On Wed, Jul 11, 2012 at 11:36 AM, Matthias BUSSONNIER <
bussonniermatthias@gmail.com> wrote:

> Le 11 juil. 2012 à 16:08, Skipper Seabold a écrit :
> Hi,
> I had my first experience using the IPython notebook server in a
> classroom setting this week. The students mostly liked it, but I'm
> afraid they were mostly Python novices and I may have learned more
> than they did. In any case, I'm hooked and see many possibilities.
> Great work.
> Thanks for your kind words and your feedback.
> I'm curious about a couple of things. Is the same notebook intended to
> be run by multiple users connected to the same server?
> We plan on having simultaneous user being able to edit the same notebook
> at the same time,
> probably with a per-cell lock.
> Would it make sense to have an option for copy-on-open that could be set
> in global
> settings with the default to the current behavior?
> I don't really see the reason why, or not enough people will have the use
> of it.
> In the end we might allow to create a new notebook from an URL, otherwise,
> you just have to open a notebook and create a copy from the file menu.
Well my thinking is that with this set to copy on open/write, when each
user opens the notebook, it is no longer the same notebook. It is now
theirs. IIUC, with the cell locks, you would have users editing the same
file, just not overwriting each others changes?

> Relatedly and i don't know if this make sense, but is it possible to have
> these copied
> notebooks not show up in the directory ?
> Ie., I have a set of examples
> that can serve as templates, but no one is interested in seeing the
> copies of others or new files created by others in the list.
> All this is related to multiuser capability, but in your case (and
> generally with multi user), you wish to have
> user isolated in their home. Which is not the case right now.

Right. I give the whole server a scratch environment with limited

> Trying to get around with invisible files and so on is IMHO the wrong way
> to solve
> a bigger problem of multi-user on the same *server*. If you really want
> copy on write
> notebooks, it might be doable later when we'll have the possibly of
> choosing a backend to store
> the notebooks (PR in Progress), but I doubt this particular backend will
> be implemented by us.
You might want to have a look at nbcloud[1], which run the IPython notebook
> an amazon EC2.
With this each of your student will have its own notebook instance in its
> own Vm in the cloud.
> You could provide a small first notebook that download more notebooks in
> the current directory if needed.
Thanks I've seen this, though it's not exactly what I have in mind. I'd
prefer to maintain my own server. Devil's advocate here: It seems like to
me, and maybe I'm just totally misunderstanding, but a notebook server that
only serves well for one person is a bit of a misnomer. Why wouldn't I just
provide different user accounts where people could SSH into the box with
their own account and run the qt-console?

> I also saw fairly poor performance due to our server. I currently only
> have two virtual processors allocated on this machine. I'm curious
> what others have found to be satisfactory for notebook servers (or
> similar endeavors) with say 10-30 concurrent users. I can request more
> resources.
> As the notebook run as a particular user and there is non privileges
> separation, I doubt you'll find
> 30 person sharing the same account.

With nbcloud? Currently, I do have 30 people logged in to a single box with
the server being run by a single account.

> As for your resources problem, amazon EC2 is free for the first hundreds
> of hour I think[2], so your student can
> each get an account and could mess around without impacting others
> performances.
> The last thing I noticed is that the Clusters tab seemed to start and
> assign processes on its own. At least none of the students owned up to
> setting 100 processes and clicking start. Expected? Ghost in the
> machine? Or sneaky student?
> We never had any issues report on this,
> and the code is pretty strait forward,
> so my guess is the second one.
> Also, in my opinion, it would be great to have the first impressions from
> your students.
Things that might look obvious from our point of view might not make sense
> at all to new user.
> So don't hesitate if you have more feedback.

As I mentioned most of them had very little Python background. As is often
the case, I think they took to it faster than I did to be honest, since I
have more set ideas and context.

> Thanks again.
> --
> Matthias
> [1] nbcloud : https://notebookcloud.appspot.com/login
> [2] EC2 free : http://aws.amazon.com/fr/ec2/#pricing
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