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!

Meet you at the Desktop Summit

Desktop Summit 2011 BannerI initially planed to go to the Desktop Summit on Thursday because of our Kolab track on Friday, but then I changed my mind because of the talks and the Lightweight Desktop Summit, the annual meeting of the LXDE Foundation. I arrived at Berlin at 3 pm and was at the venue at 4 o clock. It is nice to see so many friends and a lot of Fedora and Red Hat contributors here. If you are not yet in Berlin come here NOW!

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.

FUDCon Tempe day 1

It’s already the second day of FUDCon and I am writing about yesterday. I was just too busy to blog.

We have way more sessions than we have slots, so many talks were merged. Yesterday I attended

  1. Fedora on ARM / Paul Whalen — Fedora on OLPC / M Langhoff: A very interesting talk. ARM will definitely become more important in the near future, not only for OLPC but also for Fedora. Just think of all the tablets out now.
  2. Future Fedora and Reducing Bureaucracy / Max Spevack and the Fedora Board: A productive session, we identified a lot of problems, but unfortunately we did not come to solutions how to reduce red tape.
  3. What have you done for me lately? / Pam Chestek, Richard Fontana: A talk on Red hat legal. I was really interested in this one because when I think of Red Hat legal, there are not many things coming to my mind that they have done for us lately – except helping to destroy Fedora EMEA e.V. and presenting us with an unacceptable Trademark License Agreement. Best quote in this talk was from Pam: “I am not allowed to answer that one”. Not the answer and the level of transparency I do expect in a free software community project, but as Richard explained we need to keep in mind that a lawyer has to serve his clients and the client of Red Hat Legal is not Fedora. Sad but true. On the positive side I’d like to mention that both Pam and Richard have already adjusted some parts of the TLA and are very open to more changes.
  4. The Future of Spins / Jared Smith: For me as maintainer of two spins, this one was important, especially now that there is a proposal to switch to  a full anaconda environment for the default installation. The scope of this proposal is still not quite clear, but it will impact the the spins in some way. And even with this proposal there are enough problems with the spins at the moment. Most problems can be addressed on a technical level, say in anaconda, but others are problems in governance and we will have to look into our spins process and give the spins SIG a more powerful mandate.

My preliminary schedule for today  looks like this:

  1. AppStream and 10ish Things You Didn’t Know about Yum / Florian Festi and James Antill
  2. Writing SELinux Policy / Dan Walsh
  3. The Next Big Fedora Engineering Project / spot

After lunch we will start our hackfests. Looking forward to start because there is plenty of work for Xfce 4.8 in Fedora 15.

Spins suck!

Life is hard when you are maintaining a Fedora spin. Why? Because spins suck, at least that’s what I was told. Instead of focusing on the spins, we should rather work on the installer and have a everything in there:

If I want KDE or LXDE, it should be part of the installer.

Actually Xfce and LXDE are already part of the installer, they are just not on the install media. But when you suggest to include them in the DVD, then the same person tells you that:

You’re only thinking about you and your images aren’t you? What happens when we put your stuff on the DVD?

As a spin maintainer, you can’t do right. :(

A new start for the Xfce SIG

It’s not that the Xfce SIG did a bad job during the Fedora 12 development cycle. Far from it! We did very well: The F12 Xfce Spin is the best release so far and according to Christian, one of the Xfce developers, it’s the “most complete and most Xfce’ish Xfce live cd” he has ever seen.

But we felt like we could make things better. Currently most decisions are made by the maintainers (Kevin, Adam and me) ether on IRC or by mail. Of course we listen to feedback we get from users, but we want decision-making to be more transparent. That’s why we now have a mailing list of our own: The Fedora Xfce List, a place where users and developers meet.

We also want to revive the Xfce SIG IRC meetings. We did that in the past but somehow we didn’t find the time to do it regularly. In order to find a time that fits everyone, I started a poll. If you are interested in joining our meetings, please respond here.

So if you are using Fedora and are interested in Xfce