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!

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.

Xfce 4.8 for F14 now ready

I have updated my Xfce 4.8 repository at and it is fairly complete. Some packages however are now obsolete:

  • thunar-shares-plugin: dead upstream, would needed to be ported from thunar-vfs to gvfs.
  • xfce4-remmina-plugin: remmina now has a generic trayicon, however the new version is only available in F15 or my remmina backports repo.
  • xfce4-stopwatch-plugin: dead upstream, uses old panel API.
  • xfce4-volstatus-icon: dead upstream, uses HAL. I might revive it nevertheless because I find it useful and porting to exo-1 is not that hard.
  • xfce4-xfapplet-plugin: dead upstream, uses old gnome-panel API and handles only bonobo-based applets but not new dbus based ones. With GNOME 3.0 there is not much future for panel applets anyway.

If you can live without these plugins, you are invited to upgrade your F14 installation to Xfce 4.8. Please note that you will have to remove the plugins before you upgrade because Thunar and xfce4-panel do not yet obsolete them. We will do this for F15 Beta and then do more upgrade tests in order to provide a smooth upgrade.

Have fun and don’t forget to provide feedback. You can do this here in the comment section or – even better – on the Fedora Xfce mailing list.

Looking back at CLT 2010

Yesterday I came back from Cologne, where I stayed a night at Enrico’s before taking the train back to Münster. After I arrived home, my customers kept me busy, but now I have some time to blog about the Chemnitzer Linux-Tage (Chemnitz Linux Days) last weekend.

Let’s start from the beginning: On Friday I took the train to Dortmund where I met Bert, Yakoov and Gregory. Bert gave me a ride to Chemnitz. When we checked in at our hotel, we met Jörg, but he was in a hurry to get back to his parents, who live not far away from Chemnitz. After the check-in we met with Sven and his friends at the Ratskeller to have some delicious food. Thorsten called me and showed up just a little later and half an hour later the Xfce people arrived too. While I already knew most of them because I met Enrico last year at OpenRheinRuhr and Dominic, Michael and Simon happen to be Fedora contributors too, I was very pleased to meet Fabian Nowak. I know him for quite a long time, but we never met in person.

After finishing our meals we walked over to the Turmbrauhaus (Tower brewery) for some beers. There were quite a lot of people from different projects there, CentOS, Debian and the FSF just to name a few. They all were sitting around a really long table, chatting, drinking and having fun. In another room Jörg Schilling had dinner with two lawyers friends.

The next morning we arrived at the university where the CLT takes place. Robert and Jörg already built up the booth on Friday, so there was not much left for us to do. I decided to have breakfast first. The catering at CLT is really impressive, people even call it the “Chemnitz Catering Days with Linux talks“.

Fedora at CLT 2010

The Fedora booth at CLT 2010

The Fedora booth was pretty busy all day, so I didn’t manage to attend any talks or help the at the Xfce booth. I talked all day long, it was loud and crowded, and in the evening at the social event I nearly lost my voice. The problem was that I had to give my LXDE talk on Sunday. So I left the social event early and got back to the hotel with Jens to cure my voice.

On Sunday I was much better again. Although speaking loud was exhausting, I managed to do my talk and it seems people liked it. After the talk a lot of the visitors came up to the Fedora booth in order to get the Fedora LXDE spin on a USB key. Next year we should also do an Xfce talk to gather more attraction.

After the first round of people was served with USB keys and live media, I burned some Xfce media and headed over to the Xfce booth. I felt really bad because I could not spend that much time on Xfce, but I know that they had enough people to do well. Nevertheless I would have liked to spend more time with Enrico, Fabian and the people from the Fedora Xfce SIG.

Later that afternoon I had to repair the display connector of the Fedora video beamer and I needed a tong. Instead of asking all kinds of people for a tong I went straight to the debianforum.de booth and of course, they had what I was looking for. Debianforum.de never disappoints you! It was also nice to meet the guys from Debianforum.de again. The first time I met Sebastian in person was last year at Chemnitz and I owe him and his forum so much.

Another person that I was happy to meet is Sirko. He used to be part of the CLT organization team, but last year they had some disagreements. I cannot comment on that, I was just lucky to see Sirko again.

As you can see: Chemnitz Linux Days are a place to meet the German Linux community. I even think it is the best Linux community event in Germany. I enjoyed it last year, I enjoyed it this year and I will definitely go there again next year:

But there were also two things I did not like:

  • Simon’s talk about OSSTMM and the Fedora Security Spin was rejected although it would have fitted perfectly into the forensics track.
  • The German Federal Foreign Office rejected Hiemanschu‘s visa for no reason. It would have been awesome to have Hiemanschu at the event because then the three people involved in the F13 Security Spin (Jörg, Hiemanschu and me) would have been gathered at one place.

Anyway, there is nothing we can do about these problems, so let’s focus on the positive aspects. For me the two most important things are

Xfce at CLT 2010

The Xfce community at CLT 2010

  • The large number of Fedora contributors at the Xfce booth also proves that we are doing a good job with the Xfce SIG. The number of Xfce users in Fedora is growing and so is the number of Fedora users in the Xfce community, for example in the IRC channels. I’m looking forward to Xfce 4.8 because I’m sure the new release will help us to make Xfce even more attractive.

Looking forward to rock Chemnitz next year with Fedora and Xfce. Maybe we will even haven an LXDE booth, who knows?