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.

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!

Chemnitzer Linux-Tage 2011 revisited

Last weekend I attended the Chemnitzer Linux-Tage 2011, one of the biggest community events here in Germany. The reason I didn’t blog about it earlier is simple: I didn’t know what to write except: It was like every year.


Banner at the entrance of Chemnitzer Linux-Tage 2011

Banner at the entrance of Chemnitzer Linux-Tage 2011. Photo by Jörg Simon

This doesn’t mean that the event was bad, by far not. It was just as great as every year. You really can rely on the CLT people, they have a fantastic group of volunteers to help out at the event. They take care of everything, no matter what it is. The catering was extraordinary once again, especially on the social event on Saturday evening.

I would have liked to party harder, but I had to give my Kolab talk on Sunday morning, so I went back to the hotel early. Why do I always get the slots on the morning after the social event? Happened to me at FOSDEM 2009 and OpenRheinRuhr 2010 already. :(

As every year I met quite a lot of people at Chemnitz, way too many to name them all. The Fedora team consisted of Jörg, Robert, Fabian, Sven, Jens and me (obviously). With Michael and Dominic two more Fedora contributors were helping at the Xfce booth but unfortunately our Czech friends from Red Hat Brno could not join us.


Exhibition and Fedora booth at Chemnitzer Linux-Tage 2011

Exhibition and Fedora booth at Chemnitzer Linux-Tage 2011. Photo by Jörg Simon

I managed to get rid of a lot of media. I had 7 boxes with me, roughly 700 discs. One box was picked up by Vinzenz for Augsburger Linux Info day next week and two are for Gerold for the Linux Days Graz in April. Fabian was so kind as to take them with him and drop them off at Gerold’s on his way home to Switzerland. The other 4 boxes were mostly distributed at CLT and the rest was given to somebody for another event. I like really this distribution method: Fast, effective and inexpensive.

On the negative side we have the “Battle of the distributions” on Saturday. It was not really a battle because the different distros (Debian, Fedora, Mandriva, OpenSUSE, Pardus and Ubuntu were not fighting but rather showing how to manage a particular task with their latest release. The first exercise was how to view YouTube. As we all know YouTube doesn’t run with gnash, so this means installing the proprietary Adobe Flash plugin. :(

I have to admit that it’s a typical problem beginners are facing, so it is a valid exercise, but it’s not really a good example to compare the quality of the distributions. If the first thing on a free software event is to install unfree software, something is wrong.

The winner was Ubuntu here, they have patched the Firefox plugin finder to not only find the Flash plugin but also to install it through apt. On the other hand Ubuntu had some problems later when somebody asked how to revoke the sudo privileges of the first user (only possible on the console). Fedora also didn’t do that bad: I had to go to the Adobe homepage, but at least they offer a yum repository, so we could do a completely graphic click-through install and will get updates later.


The 'Battle of Distributions'

The 'Battle of Distributions'. Photo by Jörg Simon

Unfortunately this was not only the first but also the only exercise because things got a little chaotic afterwards. The Pardus guy managed to completely screw up his machine before the competition started, so he had to reinstall it while we were already doing the Flash exercise. We skipped him and when we all were finished, it was his turn. He still hadn’t finished his install, but he had all the time in the world to show their first-run wizard and configure icons, wallpapers and some more stuff, before the wizard crashed. So he went through it again and when he was done, there was nothing left to do because Pardus delivers all kinds of questionable proprietary software out of the box. They even package Windows Binaries for wine!

To me Pardus was clearly the looser, their X crashed every time when it was switched to the big screen, but the Pardus guy managed to turn failure into a win: The more problems he had, the more time he had for telling how great Pardus is. The presenter was to kind to interrupt him, so it became a Pardus show. Fedora at least got some extra attention when I was to tell something in SELinux and I was told that my presentations were pretty convincing, but other great distributions like Debian only had 5 minutes to show their work.

Apart from this Chemnitz was really great again – but you don’t expect something different.

(Thanks to Jörg for his blog posts and his photos and to Fabian for his event report)


Finally – and right in time for CLT – the Fedora 14 Media for EMEA have arrived!

Fedora 14 media for EMEA

The Fedora 14 media for EMEA

I was shocked :shock: when the guy opened his truck and revealed an euro 6 pallet. I didn’t expect 3000 media to be so much! Last time I got 1600, but they were in 4 parcels of 4 boxes each, much easier to handle.

Anyway, the delivery is huge and I want to get rid of it ASAP. I will start the primary distribution to several key points in different European countries this week.

If you are a Fedora contributor in EMEA and you are doing an event, please make sure it is listed in the wiki. Once you have a wiki page, file a ticket in the EMEA Swag Tracker and directly assign it to me (cwickert). I will either take care of the ticket myself or reassign it to the ambassador that serves as your closest key location. Make sure to mention

  • the event,
  • your shipping address,
  • the types and amount of media (we have GNOME desktop live CDs 32 bit, install DVDs 32 and 64 bit, 1000 pieces each)
  • and the latest date of delivery.

Have fun and spread Fedora!

Update: Actually it’s not 3000 but 3118 media, this means we got 118 for free. ;)


From Fedora’s GNOME 3 feature page:

Where has the appearance capplet gone?
GNOME 3 is deemphasizing user customization, or ‘theming’ in favour of a ‘just works’ and ‘slick out of the box’ approach. Therefore, theme changes are no longer exposed in the core configuration UI, except for accessibility themes such as ‘High Contrast’ or ‘Inverse’, which are available in the ‘Universal Access’ panel.

‘Deemphasizing’ is a nice word, isn’t it? Makes sound things so friendly:

The Chinese government is deemphasizing ‘human rights’ or ‘individual freedom’ in favor of a ‘just works’ approach.

Who said I cannot be diplomatic? ;)