Vienna Calling!

Last weekend I attended Linuxwochen Wien for the first time. I heard a lot about the event, so I totally wanted to go there. Now that I’m back from Vienna, I am a little disappointed – but nevertheless happy I went there.

The Austrian Linuxwochen (Linux Weeks) is a series of events all over the country. It started in Graz, but there is also Eisenstadt, Krems and Vienna. The event in Salzburg is delayed until further notice, Linz was canceled off this year (only the LUG meeting took place) and Klagenfurt seems dead for years. Overall not very encouraging, but we wouldn’t be Fedora if we were not to change that. So we brought 7 people to Vienna which were supported by two locals, Kevin and Volker. Both did an excellent job, even though they are (officially) no ambassadors. Together we submitted 16 talks and workshops. All were accepted, this is roughly one fourth of the 3 day program. I delivered two talks, one on Kolab and one on postscreen. Both went very well and I’m very happy about the feedback I received. Overall the talks and workshops were very interesting and the speakers very competent.

Fedora booth at Linuxwochen Wien

Fedora booth at Linuxwochen Wien

Fedora delivered a good show. We had by far the biggest and most professional stand and lots of goodies. As a special gimmick Miro had brought his 3D printer and as always it attracted a lot of people. The rest of exhibition however was not impressive. That’s a well know problem for events where the focus is on talks, but this one was worse: It was moved to a new building with more space on the hallways, but the number of exhibitors hadn’t really changed. The booths looked quite lost and there were hardly visitors as most people were attending talks. On Friday we had at least some students from the university showing up and hoped for more people over the weekend, but that was wishful thinking. Maybe it was bad promotion, maybe the weather or a combination of both.

Empty hallway at Linuxwochen Wien

Empty hallway at Linuxwochen Wien

The weather in Vienna was bad compared to Berlin, but on Saturday afternoon it changed and the rest of the weekend turned out to be very sunny. As there were not many visitors and we had more than enough people at the booth, later that afternoon I decided to go for some sightseeing. People told me Vienna is beautiful, but I hadn’t seen anything of that beauty. I have been to Vienna before, but usually it was just for transfer at the airport or on my way to Brno. So I went to the historic city center and I have to admit, it really is impressive. There are a lot of buildings from the imperial times of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy and also from the Art Nouveau (or ‘Jugendstil’ as we call it) era. I love Jugendstil.

Subway station 'Karlsplatz'

The subway station ‘Karlsplatz’ in Vienna – an icon of the ‘Art Nouveau’ era.

On Friday we had a social event. It wasn’t really a social event, instead we just went to a Chinese restaurant down the street for an ‘all you can eat’ buffet. We were around 30 people and I was lucky to sit next to Bernhard. We talked about packaging and he asked me if I could help him with continuous integration of rpm build. It turned out Bernhard is a FreeRDP developer and told him I’m the poor bastard maintainer of remmina in Fedora. Remmina is a GTK-based RDP, SSH, NX and Telepathy client, developed by the FreeRDP project. It’s powerful but in bad shape as FreeRDP is still a young project and constantly moving forward. Unfortunately there haven’t been stable releases for quite a while and backporting fixes is cumbersome. So we agreed that FreeRDP will try to maintain a ‘release’ branch in git, even if there are no actual releases, and we will help them with continuous integration. If Mads, our FreeRDP maintainer, agrees we will build and host nightly versions of Fedora’s freerdp and matching remmina packages. An interesting project and I’m looking forward to it.

My flight back to Berlin left very early on Sunday morning. I had to get up at 5 am, but it allowed me to be in Berlin at half past eight and enjoy a sunny Sunday after which I was very tired – but happy.

Not sure I will attend Linuxwochen Wien next year, we have other awesome people to run the event. Personally, I learned some important lessons:

  • Talks are getting more professional and so is the target audience. When you give a talk, be professional – but don’t forget the fun!
  • Exhibitions on the other hand receive lesser attention. We need to think of new way to attract people and how to interacting with them. We need something more playful like the Fedora photo booth.
  • Renting an apartment is a good idea: Not only that it’s cheaper than a hotel, but more fun, too.
  • The people who told me Vienna is beautiful didn’t lie.

Thanks everybody for making Linuxwochen a successful event. A special thanks goes out to Sirko for being a perfect event owner. He took care of everything, not just the booth and apartment and he was a good tourist guide.

Don’t use a programming language for configuration

Dear developers,

please don’t use a programming language for configuration files. Seriously. Don’t. Just don’t. You are only making live hard for people.

Here is what my polkit custom desktop policy looked like in Fedora <= 17:

Identity=unix-group:wheel
Action=org.freedesktop.packagekit.package-install;org.freedesktop.packagekit.package-remove;org.freedesktop.packagekit.system-rollback;org.freedesktop.packagekit.system-sources*;org.opensuse.cupspkhelper.mechanism.*;org.libvirt.unix.*;dk.yumex.backend.pkexec.run
ResultAny=no 
ResultInactive=no 
ResultActive=yes

I think this is pretty straight forward, but some people found it confusing and too complex. So David rewrote it.

If you keep complaining about polkit configuration I'll rewrite it in JavascriptNow let’s see how the same looks in Fedora >=18:

polkit.addRule(function(action, subject) {
    if (subject.isInGroup("wheel") && subject.active) {
        polkit.log("action=" + action);
        polkit.log("subject=" + subject);
        if (action.id.indexOf("org.freedesktop.packagekit.package-install") == 0) {
            return polkit.Result.YES;
        }
        if (action.id.indexOf("org.freedesktop.packagekit.package-remove") == 0) {
            return polkit.Result.YES;
        }
        if (action.id.indexOf("org.freedesktop.packagekit.system-rollback") == 0) {
            return polkit.Result.YES;
        }
        if (action.id.indexOf("org.freedesktop.packagekit.system-sources.") == 0) {
            return polkit.Result.YES;
        }
        if (action.id.indexOf("org.opensuse.cupspkhelper.mechanism.") == 0) {
            return polkit.Result.YES;
        }
        if (action.id.indexOf("org.libvirt.unix.") == 0) {
            return polkit.Result.YES;
        }
        if (action.id.indexOf("dk.yumex.backend.pkexec.run") == 0) {
            return polkit.Result.YES;
        }
    }
});

What do we learn from this?

One doe not simply use JavaScript for config files

FAD EMEA wrap up

It turns out we have to leave early. Some people need to travel home and others have family duties – or both. Fortunately we worked hard and managed to complete our agenda.

For now, I just put all the results, todo items and open questions into the wiki. It’s still a rough draft, I will clean it up, format and elaborate it later today. Some of the most important decisions include:

  • We’ll make a Fedora Ambassadors Census. In previous years, we used to do this before this FAD: We ask all the local communities to report their state: How many (active) ambassadors are there, how many events did they attend and what is the overall situation for them.
  • We looked for new ways to bring people into the project. We have communities that are not officially part of the project, like local community websites, IRC channels or groups on social networks. We should actively try to recruit new contributors there.
  • Improve the new contributors experience: Once they joined Fedora, we should make sure new ambassadors can attend at least one major event to get to know other contributors. Mentors should have an eye on how people do within the first year and support them better.
  • Run country-wide ambassadors event: All countries should strive for an event that brings all ambassadors to a table at least once a year.

Still, the real work begins after this FAD. We need to implement what we discussed, whether this is in the wiki, in trac or on various events. But we have gotten a new boost for our community and we are very optimistic that it will have a big impact.

Thanks everybody for coming and especially to Gerold for making this event happen.

FAD EMEA Day 1

So we are sitting at Beuggen Castle and having some drinks after an awesome social event: A dinner in complete darkness at a restaurant called “Blinde Kuh” (“Blind cow”). If you have not yet had it, give it a try, it’s very interesting experience.

The first day of FAD EMEA turned out to be very productive. We managed to discuss a lot of topics, most importantly:

  • Event planning for 2013. We want to attend 31 events, and for most of them we already have event owners.
  • Budget planning for 2013. Based on the list of events, we’ll spend 11.700 EUR. Sure, this is a lot of money, but we want really to rock at a lot of places and our draft is very conservative.
  • Sponsoring and reimbursements: While FAmSCo has already achieved a lot, we need to do a better job in explaining contributors how to get money easily and how to effectively track all requests.
  • Swag shipping and event box: We think it does not make sense to ship a complete event box within Europe, instead continue shipping what we really need. But this needs improvements: Better tracking of who has what and more ‘bases’ in different countries.
  • Swag production planning: We have a lot of new ideas for awesome swag and need to follow up with getting different quotes and making desisions.

I am going to add all relevant info to the wiki later, because a lot of the topic we discussed needs to be followed up. Tomorrow we’ll have some more discussions, but given that we are already more than half way through the agenda, we should have some time left to document and implement our results. This mainly is wiki gardening an improvements in our trac instance.

Stay tuned for another blog post before I fly home tomorrow.

Fedora elections about to end – vote NOW!

Fedora LogoIn case you did not yet cast your vote in the current Fedora elections, please do so now! The voting period closes promptly at 23:59:59 UTC on the 7th. Yes, that is today!

As a special bonus, you most Fedora contributors this time should be allowed to vote for FAmSCo, too – even if they are not (yet) a Fedora ambassador. I have been working hard on the new FAmSCo election guidelines and therefor I want all of you to vote! Now!

FUDCon Kuala Lumpur Day 3

This morning I arrived back in Berlin and directly went from the airport to the office. Now I am home and about to summarize the last day of FUDCon Kuala Lumpur 2012.

Just like the other days we started at 10 am, but this time not as many people were around as on Friday or Saturday. And the people who were present seemed a little tired – I guess that was because of FUDPub the night before.

FUDCon KL 2012 day 3 schedule

FUDCon KL 2012 day 3 schedule (before the re-pitch)

In the big auditorium Praveen presented his “RPM Packaging basics” talk and Ankur gave some additional background. After that it was my turn with the “Advanced RPM packaging” workshop, but again I had the feeling that many people in the audience still needed more basics before we could move on. So I did a live demo and packaged a simple package (Beaver) from scratch. Within 20 minutes we created a fully Fedora packaging guidelines compliant package to prove that packaging really is not rocket science. I then used the remaining 40 minutes for advanced topics and showed some of my spec files that contain cool tricks and evil hacks, so even long time contributors could still get some inspirations.

But something was wrong. I mean, there was nothing really wrong, but people seemed a little lethargic. The lecture rooms were pretty empty and instead attendees hung out on the hallways. Therefor we decided to make a hard cut and knock the schedule on the head. After the lunch break we gathered in the auditorium and pitched all talks again. But not only that: We took barcamp to the next level: After pitching the already prepared sessions we asked what people actually wanted to hear about. You want SELinux? You want systemd? You want video and image editing on Fedora? If somebody volunteered for a session, we added these sessions, too. The result was a much better schedule than before. The number of talks and workshops was still the same – in fact it was even slightly higher – but suddenly people showed up in the right talk instead of wondering around or handing out. The pitch had given everybody a new boost.

Great attendance

Great attendance at the 3rd day of FUDCon

At 4 pm we met for the closing ceremony. Eric’s Abu Mansur Manaf’s closing keynote turned out to be a real highlight. Without any notes or slides and in just 15 minutes he summarized many ideas of FOSS in a way that surely made a permanent impression on many people. Just the right thing before people leave again for their local communities in Asia and around the world.

Abu Mansur Manaf on stage

Abu Mansur Manaf giving his awesome closing keynote

But there was one more thing to do: The raffle for the 2 Samsung Galaxy Tabs which UCTI  OSCC-MAMPU generously donated. I was the lucky one to do the lucky draw and I was even more lucky when I draw the first price: One of the lucky winners (or even both?) was one of the volunteers. They have done an amazing job with this FUDCon and I think they all deserved to win a prize, even if we didn’t have so many giveaways.

FUDCon KL 2012 volunteers

The FUDCon KL 2012 volunteers

I am glad and grateful I have gone to Kuala Lumpur. I met old friends again, met many people I wanted to meet in person for a long time and last but not least became acquainted to many new and true friends. Their geniality and hospitality is outstanding and I learned a lot from them. The most important lessen I have learned: Even if the APAC community may be small compared to NA or EMEA, it’s alive and kicking. I am sure we will hear more from them in the near future and I am looking forward to FUDCon APAC 2013. No matter where it is, count me in!

FUDCon Kuala Lumpur Day 2

Yesterday was the second day of FUDCon Kuala Lumpur 2012 and the first day with scheduled talks. After the first day with barcamps I was curious to see how talks work out.

We arrived at 9 and until 10, a lot more people arrived. And when I say a “lot I” mean a lot. People were coming in waves as many of them were whole classes of students. Whenever a new bus arrived, we had a long queue at the registration desk, but people waited patiently.

Queue at the FUDCon registration desk

The queue at the FUDCon registration desk

Joshua started the day with his talk about increasing participation in FOSS projects. It was an awesome talk and even if I am doing community building for quite a while now still learned some new things.

Joshua giving his talk

Joshua giving his talk at FUDCon KL 2012

The day continued with talks and the attendance overall was pretty well. However topics and target audience did not always match. We had a whole lot of people who are not (that) familiar with Linux or Fedora and when they found themselves in a talk that was too technical for them, they looked a bit confused and lost. Fortunately they all knew the “Rule of Two Feet” and simply left one talk and attended another.

At 4 pm we had the usual tea break and after that, everybody gathered in the big audience for lightning talks. Again the start was a little sluggish but after I gave a quick talk about LXDE (which is amazingly popular here in Asia), people quickly continued and we had a lot of good and very funny talks.

FUDCon KL 2012 day 2 schedule

FUDCon KL 2012 day 2 schedule

At some point we had to make a hard stop because we were running out of time and still needed to do the lucky draw. Participants of the FOSS survey which we did in cooperation with UCTI could win some nice prices. There will be another raffle today and this time we even can give away two brand new Galaxy Tabs and I hope I will win one of them.

After that, we left for FUDPub. Again we had a shuttle bus that took us directly to the hotel where FUDPub was taking place. This FUDPub was different, it was more a FUDDinner or FoodPub as there were tons of food but no alcoholic drinks. While everything is pretty affordable here in Malaysia, alcohol is very uncommon and therefor expensive. The food was extraordinary and after we finished dinner, two amazing Fedora (TM!) cakes arrived.

Cake with Fedora logo

Logo usage guidelines compliant Fedora (TM) cake

People decided it was on me as Beefy Miracle (I was waring my hotdog costume again which caused a lot of fun) and in Izhar as the main event organizer to cut the cake. I gave away the first piece to Kushal as he said he wanted to feed Izhar. I should not have done this, because instead of feeding Izhar, Kushal smashed it right into Izhar’s face. This was the beginning of a huge cake fight that hardly left anybody out and pretty much messed up the room. I think they will charge us extra for cleaning but at least nobody got injured. ;)

Group photo after the big cake fight

After the big cake fight (and some cleaning up)

An awesome day of FUDCon has come to an end and now I am looking forward for day three which is just about to start. I’ll have to leave this afternoon after the tea break because my plane leaves this evening. Hopefully I find the time to blog about day 3 at the airport before I take off.