About Me and Résumé

Welcome to this page dedicated to information about me. I try to keep the information here up-to-date, the current state is from late 2018/early 2019.

About Me

I am Benjamin Block, BSc and MSc in Computer Science. I am working as Linux Kernel Developer for the IBM Deutschland Research und Development GmbH, a subsidiary of the international corporation IBM. My area of work is Storage Area Networks (Fibre Channel based) and the Linux Storage Stack on IBM’s Mainframes (IBM Z).

My previous work experiences include both user- and kernel-space development, especially on Linux, and in open source projects. I have solid technical skills and the ability to successfully work independently, as well as in big international teams.

Currently I am living in Stuttgart in Germany.

Contact Data

You can reach me best via eMail to: .

If you want to use PGP encryption or verify a signed eMail from me, the fingerprint for my personal key is: 0x96102BB82E176F6523626DF246E04E0567A32E9E (0x67A32E9E on keyserver; make sure you see this and the linked page using https, to have at least some form of assurance that the key is authentic).

It may also happen that you get a eMail from the address provided to me by my employer, or you want to send a message there instead. The current fingerprint for that PGP key is: 0x77EC4FB707C7117217DB9B63F336041A81C06135 (0x81C06135 on keyserver).

Résumé

Experience

June 2015 - Currently

Linux Kernel Developer, IBM Deutschland Research und Development GmbH, Böblingen.

  • Part of the Linux Kernel Development Team for IBM’s Mainframe architecture s390x (IBM Z);
  • Development and Co-Maintainership of the Linux Kernel Driver zFCP (SCSI over Fibre Channel in Storage Area Networks), and low level tooling to support interfacing with this driver;
  • Providing technical support for customers with problems in their storage stack, as well as holding customer facing presentations and webcasts.
August 2014 - January 2015

Degree Candidate, Siemens AG, München.

  • Worked as part of the Open Source development of the Jailhouse hypervisor;
  • Researched the benefits and drawbacks of the hardware feature Intel TXT;
  • Implemented experimental support for it in Jailhouse;
  • Successfully finished my Master's thesis.
April 2013 - June 2014

Student, Rhode & Schwarz GmbH & Co KG (ipoque), Leipzig.

  • Worked in the development team for a Linux Kernel based network-traffic management system (ipoque PRX);
  • Backported several drivers: coretemp, pkgtemp, mpt2sas, benet;
  • Did research on alternatives for the Intel DPDK to transport Ethernet frames as efficiently as possible to a userspace application and how to integrate them into an existing packet-retrieval layer; as a result implemented a AF_PACKET based extension for the packet-retrieval layer that was later used in production.
June 2011 - September 2011

Internship, Advanced Micro Devices GmbH, Dresden.

  • Integrated the Lightweight Profiling extension (LWP; a feature of certain AMD microprocessors) into the Linux-perf subsystem. The latest patchset was submitted on lkml here: https://lkml.org/lkml/2011/12/16/225.
August 2009 - January 2010

Internship, IBM Deutschland Research und Development GmbH, Böblingen.

  • Worked as a student in the Data Warehousing team and contributed to the development of a query-acceleration extension for DB2 on z/OS;
  • Designed and implemented test applications to verify the correct processing of sql-queries by the acceleration engine.

Academic and Professional Education

2011 - 2015

Master of Science in Computer Science, Hochschule für Technik, Wirtschaft und Kultur Leipzig.

  • Final grade: 1.1 (grading scale from 1 (best) to 5 (worst)), graduated with honors;
  • Master’s thesis: “Evaluation of Intel Trusted Execution Technology for Use in a Partitioning Hypervisor”, graded with 1.0, rewarded with the Prize of the Univeristy: Download as PDF.
2007 - 2011

Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, Westsächische Hochschule Zwickau.

  • Final grade: 1.3 (grading scale from 1 (best) to 5 (worst)), graduated with honors;
  • Bachelor’s thesis: “Scheduling für Mehrkern-Prozessoren” (Process Schedulers in Multi-Core Environments), Graded with 1.0.
2004 - 2007

Technischer Assistent für Informatik, Grundigakademie Gera.

  • Final grade: 1.1 (grading scale from 1 (best) to 6 (worst));
  • With additional exams and internship to receive the university of applied sciences entrance qualification.

Professional Skills

Software Development Languages
  • Very good skills in: C, C++, Python, Bash/SH, Latex, Make
  • Good skills in: Java, HTML/CSS
  • Basic skills in: Go, x86_64 and s390x Assembly
  • Outdated: Haskell, PHP, Delphi, Clojure, Fortran, Cobol
Skills in System Programming
  • Very good knowledge of Linux/GNU (Gentoo, RHEL, SLES, Ubuntu, Fedora) and its Operating Systems Kernel.
  • Professional experience in programming new, backporting, and maintaining existing drivers for the Linux Kernel.
  • Very good knowledge of the s390x system architecture (IBM Mainframes, IBM Z).
  • Very good knowledge of the x86_64 system architecture, including function and programming of virtualization extensions like VT-x.
  • Professional experience in working with network frameworks like the DPDK or Netmap.
Skills in System Administration
  • Very good knowledge of Linux/GNU (Gentoo, RHEL, SLES, Ubuntu, Fedora), including container amd virtualization techniques like LXC and KVM+QEMU.
  • Good knowledge of Windows.
Natural Languages
  • Native Speaker: German
  • Fluent Speaker: English

Extracurricular Activities

zLug e.V. Since 2007 I was a member of the Zwickau Linux User Group e.V., till it disbanded in 2017. Since 2010 I was also treasurer for the group. I organized several activities, talks and helped to manage the group in general.
Studium Generale During the studies for my Bachelor’s degree I organized a module about Linux/GNU for our extracurricular studies.

Professional Objective

I enjoy and seek challenging tasks in system programming, the opportunity to study and apply new technologies, and I look for the freedom to work with and contribute to open source projects.

Private Interests and Activities

In my private life I am also very much a computer nerd. I love playing computer games with a group of friends. I have been playing Guild Wars 2 for several years now (active in several PvP raiding guilds), and before that I used to play Scherbenwelten for more than a decade (active in the same guild all that time).

I also try to keep some private programming projects going, as you can see on the site Projects. I have to admit though, to my own large dismay, next to my normal day job, I lack some motivation for these small projects.

I administrate a small Linux server for some guilds I am/was member in through my gaming, as well as for my private needs.

On the matter of other nerdy hobbies, I also play regularly in a Pen and Paper role-playing group. At the moment we are playing Splittermond, a German system in a fantasy setting.

In the time left over, during my way to/from work and during travel in general, I enjoy reading fantasy and science-fiction novels, such as Malazan Book of the Fallen, The Wheel of Time and The Culture. I also enjoyed some of the classics like Moby-Dick or A Tale of Two Cities, but I more often stay with modern novels.

For my health I go to the gym two times a week.