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.

FUDCon Kuala Lumpur Day 1

I got up a little later than planned because it turns out that I am pretty jet-lagged after traveling for more than 24 hours. Nevertheless I managed to have breakfast before we had to leave. In front of the hotel, a shuttle bus was already waiting and quickly brought  us to the venue at UCTI. Everything is extremely well organized here, thanks to an outstanding job of the Malayan Fedora community.

Shuttle bus from the hotel to FUDCon venue

Shuttle bus from the hotel to FUDCon venue

When we arrived at the university, we quickly registered in order to get the vouchers for lunch and teatime. Because of the high number of registered participants, the vouchers are limited to 50 attendees (plus Fedora contributors and FUDCon volunteers) which are given away first come first served. While I’d love to pay just everything for everybody, it turns out that doing first come first served is very useful: Not later then 8:30 most attendees had shown up and registered, even if the official opening was not before  10:00 pm.

After a quick introduction and some announcements, I kicked of FUDCon with my keynote. I had mixed feelings because on the one hand I had to jump in for others, on the other hand I am proud to have the opportunity to speak to so many people.

Me giving the keynote

Me giving the keynote about "Leadership in leaderless organizations"

I didn’t want to start with something technical, but instead do something about community. My talk was about “Leadership in leaderless organizations”. Readers of The Starfish and the Spider probably know what I am talking about: Traditional leadership is – ideally – based on authority, elections or knowledge; In a less ideal world, it is based on birth, money or even fear. But none of these concepts work in an open system like FOSS in general and Fedora in particular as they don’t encourage participation. Still we do have leaders, but these people are not leading by any kind of formal authority but by example.

  • They don’t command, they guide.
  • They don’t demand, they encourage.
  • They don’t make rules, they help defining standards that people voluntarily subscribe to.

I finished my talk with a quote from an email Max sent me this morning:

“It may not always be pretty, and it may not always be easy, but
persistence wins.”

However the concept of open, decentralized organizations seemed completely alien to the majority of attendees. Most of them were students and only few have have worked in a FOSS project before. Nevertheless they were fascinated by the idea that something that chaotic can not only exist but be very successful. They had a lot of questions after I finished and we had a vital discussion before we started pitching the barcamp sessions

Pitching the batcamp sessions

Pitching the batcamp sessions

I was skeptic if it makes sense to have barcamps on the first day, but the idea was to not ‘waste’ talks because Friday was not supposed to be the most productive day anyway. Many people were not be able to attend on Friday and we had a long break after dinner (on Friday after dinner, people here go to the mosque). I still was skeptic when we started pitching, but it seems people were just afraid or ashamed of standing in front of an audience and making a proposal. Turns out I was wrong, and in the end we had so many sessions that we decided to go for slots of only 30 minutes.

FUDCon Barcamp schedule

FUDCon Kuala Lumpur barcamp schedule

I now think that starting the barcamps on the first day right after my keynote was a big win. We not only had a very interesting and productive day, we also had the perfect showcase for an open, autonomous and decentralized system: There was no leader, nobody made rules, yet we had no problems making decisions and respond to the problem of having too many talks. The open system always wins!

AFAICS the first day of FUDCon Kuala Lumpur was a big success. I am grateful to be here and I’d like to thank everybody who helped to make this happen. Stay tuned for more awesomeness from Kuala Lumpur!

FUDCon Kuala Lumpur Day 0

After a pretty long journey to Kuala Lumpur I finally arrived and checked in at the hotel. I met Tuan and Izhar. We went to the venue at the UCTI. I was glad to see that Izhar had a lot of volunteers helping him and everybody was busy preparing stuff.

FUDCon volunteers

FUDCon volunteers busy working

Goodie bags

Bags with goodies

We were not able to finish as the building was being closed at 9:30 pm and we had to leave. We decided to declare the biggest room in the Hotel the “Crew room” and continue working there. I did not join because there was not much I could help with and instead, I joined some of the volunteers for dinner. We had a good time sitting outside a nice restaurant. When I looked at my watch is was nearly midnight and I was happy that we left a little later. After the long journey I was pretty jet-lagged and I still wanted to blog and tweak the slides the slides for my keynote. I’ll let you know how it went.

The new FAmSCo election guidelines

FAmSCo banner

After months of – sometimes controversial – discussion I am happy to announce the new FAmSCo election guidelines. For those of you, who did not follow the discussion, here is a brief summary of the three most important changes:

More continuity

Instead of electing all seats once a year, we follow the example of the Fedora Board and FESCo and elect half of the committee every 6 months or with every release of Fedora. FAmSCo will not change over sudden and new members can easily catch up with their new duties by learning from others.

Easier filling of vacant seats

Every committee is in danger of members becoming inactive. This can happen to all of us for various reasons such as our dayjobs or personal problems. Under the old guidelines, we had to wait until 3 members left – even with 2 left the committee is hardly operational – and then call a supplementary election – which never happened even though some FAmSCo’s had only 4 active members. Now we are filling vacant seats when necessary, either with runner-up candidates from the previous elections or by appointing new members.

Wider electorate

The ambassadors represent the whole Fedora Project, this is why now not only ambassadors are eligible to vote for FAmSCo, but everybody who has signed the Fedora Project Contributors Agreement (FCPA) and is member of (at least) one other group in the Fedora Account System (FAS) is allowed to vote. This will not only strengthen FAmSCo’s position but also help candidates who are active in other groups of the Fedora project.

Last but not least the guidelines have been massively cleaned up.

We think that the new guidelines are a big improvement and want them to come into effect as soon as possible. Therefor we will have a special election for Fedora 18 (the next regular elections were scheduled for F19). All 7 seats in FAmSCo will be open for election. In order to make the transition to the new alternating terms, the top 4 vote-getters will serve 2 Fedora releases, the bottom 3 will have to run for re-election after one release.

More about the upcoming ambassadors elections to come later this week as part of the general Fedora 18 elections announcement or on the elections wiki page. Please help us building a better, stronger and more active FAmSCo by casting your votes.

If you have feedback or questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. We are looking forward for your input on the Fedora ambassadors mailing list or in the ticket in FAmSCo’s trac.

FUDCon Blacksburg To-Do list

FUDCon is over and we made quite some progress in various areas. However, there is still a lot of work to do, because we need to implement everything we brainstormed and discussed. Here’s my personal To-Do list:

  1. Document the new spins process in the wiki and implement it in Trac.
  2. Finalize my draft of the new FAmSCo election guidelines.
  3. Sign keys from the keysigning event and send them out to their owners.

Please bear with me if it takes me some time to get everything done because I am pretty busy with my dayjob.

Board goals 2011 retrospective and what we can learn for the future

The Fedora Board had a meeting on Friday as part of FUDCon Blacksburg and one of the topics we dicussed were the strategic goals the board agreed on last year. The top three ranked ones were:

  1. Improve and simplify collaboration in the Fedora Community
  2. Improve and encourage high-quality communication in the Fedora Community
  3. It is extraordinarily easy to join the Fedora community and quickly find a project to work on.

While we all agree that these goals are worthy, we realized that are problematic:

  1. They are too vague. There is no immediate action that results from any of them.
  2. They are impossible to achieve. We can always improve and therefor never really reach them.
  3. They are hard to measure. Even if we make progress, we cannot measure it.
  4. They cannot be enforced.

I think I need explain the last one a little: In addition to the the individual goals we listed examples. In order to make it easy to join Fedora, all our teams should have some documentation about how to join them. It would be easy to have the Board reach out to all groups and say: “We decided you need documentation on how to join your team. Please have it written by next week and report back to us.” But that’s not how it works.

Instead of enforcing things, we rather need to encourage and enable people. This means that we need to provide tools and manpower to get things done. In this example we would try to liaise a new contributor with a volunteer from the Documentation project and somebody from the group in question. These three people make a perfect team: The new contributor will ask the questions, the group member can answer them and the documentation writer can document is all in nicely for future reference. A win-win situation for everybody: The group gets documentation and hopefully more contributors in the future. The docs writer gains more insight into other parts of the Fedora project and the new contributor can work on something useful right from the start.

Even if there may not have been much progress of the strategic goals in the last year, I think we learned some very important lessons:

  1. Pick goals that can actually be achieved.
  2. Make sure you have a way to measure progress.
  3. Pick your favorite project and champion it.
  4. Don’t enforce guidelines but encourage and enable people.

Looking back at FrOSCon 2011

Last weekend the 6th FrOSCon took place in St Augustin. Once again it was a nice event, but this time we tried something new: A Fedora Activity Day (FAD) as part of the conference.

I arrived at St Augustin on Friday around 7 p.m.. A lot of people were already there and it was nice to meet a lot of friends and many of the typical suspects again. Unfortunately we could not yet build up the booth as Robert, who had the event box and the banners with him, was stuck in heavy traffic jam. When he finally arrived at half past 8 we quickly prepared the booth before we left for dinner with our friends from Xfce.

We decided to go to Bonn because Christian lives there and he recommended an Ethiopian Restaurant. Of course we were a little skeptic and made bad jokes (“Ethiopian? We’ll go home hungry!” and alike) but Roha Café has completely proven us wrong: Nice atmosphere, friendly people and awesome food that is eaten just with the hands by wrapping it in bread. We were nine people and ordered 3 different plates for 3 people each but we didn’t manage to finish them because we were completely filled up. Each of us had 2 drinks, some also had a delicious Ethiopian coffee after dinner and in the end the bill was ridiculously cheap (less than 14 EUR per person). So if you ever happen to be in Bonn, go to Roha Café.

Some of us wanted to go wild afterwards and decided to go for more drinks, but as FrOSCon opens doors at 8:15 a.m. on Saturday, most of us decided to go back to the hotel. I went to Cologne with Enrico because I stayed at a friend and commuted to St Augustin.

On Saturday we had a German Translation team leaders of GNOME, Xfce and LXDE. We had Hendrik Richter and Christian Kirbach from GNOME, Fabian Nowak and me from Xfce and me again for LXDE. Even though the meeting was a little short I consider it very successful. Our goal is to have consistent translations throughout the different desktops and it was nice to see we agree on so many things, even on tiny details. There is still a lot of work to do but harmonizing our translation guidelines is a first step in the right direction.

Saturday was the better of the two days: The number of visitors was lower than last year (somebody even said it was all time negative record) and Sunday was even worse than Saturday. I don’t think it was that bad, we had visitors at the Fedora booth most of the time, but Sunday definitely could have been better. Not only the exhibition, but also our FAD.

The FAD began at 10:00. Benedikt gave a talk about his “Fedora Home Server”. The title mimics the “Windows Home Server” and so does the feature set of the server. Of course you can add more services and the audience came up with interesting ideas. After that Robert delivered a talk about SELinux. It seems SELinux still causes people a lot of headache and thus a lot of people came to Robert’s presentation.

Robert giving his SELinux talk

Not many seats were left when Robert gave his SELinux Talk at FrOSCon 2011

Next up was Anreas with a talk about Func, the Fedora Unified Network Controller. It was perhaps the most entertaining talk because Andreas made a dry topic a lot of fun, especially when he started showing stuff on not on a demo machine but a real production environment.

After a short lunch break I gave two more talks, one about remixing Fedora and the other about RPM packaging. I hardly had the latter prepared, I just used the slides from one of my many previous talks about packaging and we made it more like a workshop. People liked this a lot: It definitely makes a difference if you just go through some slides or if you have a RPM package or a live CD ready at the end of the workshop. The audience was very experienced, most of them already were Fedora users or had at least used it, so we could even address advanced topics.

Having a FAD or a FUDCon as part pf another event is always a difficult decision. On the one hand a lot of people there, both contributors as well as visitors. The contributors don’t need to pay for travel again and you reach an audience that you would not reach with a Fedora-only event. On the other hand people get distracted by the main event. There are many other talks and so much to see. Because all contributors want to attend either the Fedora event or one of the other talks, it’s difficult to have enough booth personnel all the time. So if you you are hacking on something special and you just want to get things done ™ it is maybe better to meet somewhere in the middle of nowhere to not be disturbed.

Nevertheless I think this FAD was worth it: It was not a hack fest but more like a one day mini-FUDCon full of talks and as such it makes perfectly sense to have it at FrOSCon: FrOSCon is famous for it’s talks while the exhibition is secondary. We managed to address a new audience and raised awareness for Fedora.

I’d like to thank all Fedora contributors who helped us to make FrOSCon 2011 a successful event, namely (and in no particular order)

  • Benedikt for his 1st Fedora talk
  • Raphael for doing booth service
  • Dominic for his dry humor and for delivering Fedora swag to Hamburg for Software Freedom Day
  • Christian who also is part of the FrOSCon team and helped us a lot with the organization
  • Sven for doing endless hours of booth service while we held our FAD
  • Jens for coming to St AUgustin and helping out even though his spare time is very rare
  • Sirko for the FAD posters and the Inkscape workshops
  • Gerd for showing up so I finally had the chance to finally meet my sponsoree in person after 2 years
  • Andreas for his brilliant and entertaining talk about Func
  • Robert for bringing all the booth material to St Augustin and delivering his SELinux talk
  • Sandro and Marcus for showing up although they were not officially part of the Fedora team this year
  • Zoltan for sending us flyers and Cheat Cubes
Leonie playing with a Fedora CheatCube

Leonie is playing with a Fedora Cheat Cube. It's never to early to start with Fedora!

Linux New Media to ship thousands of Fedora DVDs

F15 Multiboot DVD
F15 Multiboot DVD with GNOME and KDE

As some of you might know I started writing for the German Linux Magazin in April. I am now in the lucky position to know quite a few people at Linux New Media and one of them asked me if I had an idea for the DVD they ship with their magazine. Of course I had: A Fedora Multiboot DVD.

First the editors were a little skeptic: Fedora is not that popular in Germany and many people still think it’s too bleeding edge, so Linux Magazin usually ships with save bets like Ubuntu or OpenSUSE. But when I told them about the new amazing features of our Multiboot media such as automatic detection of the CPU architecture and offered them to do a custom German spin, they agreed. So I made a prototype and it has taken a shine to them. 3 days later they asked for an English version, so it now ships not only with the German Linux Magazin but also with the English Admin Magazine. Look out for it in

  • Germany: Linux Magazin is in stores as of today.
  • UK and other European countries: Admin Magazine 04/2011 to be released on July 17th.
  • North America: Admin Magazine to be released on August 12th.
  • Australia and New Zealand: Admin Magazine to be released on September 12th.

I was told not to mention the exact number of media but trust me, it’s huge. It’s more media than the ambassadors produced for the last 3 or 4 Fedora releases worldwide.

And yes, I am fully aware that this media violates several guidelines and policies.

  • It is a re-spin with updates included. We usually don’t to this but to conform to legal requirements, I uploaded the list of source packages to the correcponding-source git repo.
  • It is a custom spin because the package selection is slightly different from the usual GNOME and KDE spins: It includes LibreOffice and for space reasons I had to leave all games out.
  • The isolinux background is the Fedora 15 one but branded with the logo of Linux/Admin Magazine. However this only affects the DVD but not installed systems.
  • I dared to call GNOME “GNOME” instead of “Desktop” in the boot menu. I guess I should just have called it “Desktop” and tell confused people to mail advisory board list to complain.
  • I didn’t ask the Spins SIG but as the Spins Wrangler I ‘approved’ it myself. There really was no time for discussions, the images had to be ready and shipped to Munich in less than 36 hours.
  • I didn’t ask the board either. I know how discussions on a board level tend to become and there really was no time.

Speak up if you think I have done harm to the Fedora Project!

Video thumbnails in Thunar

As you might know thumbnails in Thunar are generated with tumbler. For obvious reasons the tumbler package in Fedora cannot include the tumbler-ffmpeg plugin. By popular demand I now rolled an add-on package called tumbler-freeworld. When installed, this is what it looks like:

Video thumbnails in Thunar

Video thumbnails in Thunar using the tumbler-ffmpeg plugin

If you are a packager at RPM Fusion, please review the package. Fedora’s Xfce users will appreciate your help.