Monday, December 07, 2009

FUDCon - Day one : The awesomeness that is.

So Day one has come and gone. Let me put this simply, Fedora User and Developer Conference Toronto 2009 is epic freaking win. We have essentially destroyed the BarCamp style conference because there are too many interesting projects that are talk worthy going on within Fedora. There were so many proposed talks that the entire schedule got pushed back an hour and a half due to the pitch of talks and the voting on topics. The rooms were packed, some talks were pushed out to the back with standing room only if you didn't make it to the room on time and these were not small class rooms, this is quite a large university we're being hosted at.

There was also a lot of very cool efforts being put forth in order to do a "live FUDCon" for those of us Fedorans and all interested parties would be able to participate and get in on the FUDCon action from remote locations. We had irc transcribers for each session as well as audio/video for the rooms in which had the hardware/facilities to do so.

For those of you who were unable to attend, please feel free to check all the logs here:

I attended the "Observing Fedora with SystemTap" session during the first round of sessions which was quite impressive. You are now able to perform in depth analysis of any aspect of your system because there is support in the kernel for observing essentially everything and getting reports back. I loved this both from the systems admin side where I want to try and track down issues and bottlenecks as well as from the developer side because it could potentially make targeting down bugs very easy. I did the irc transcribing for that session so I highly recommend checking out the log

Second round of sessions I attended the State of X / State of the Kernel which was a presentation by X and Kernel hackers (respectively) that was quite enlightening to the future plans of kernel and X technologies and it continues to impress on how much is being done and how fast it is happening. The open source support for hardware, including things like USB3.0 (which is already there even though the hardware isn't out and nobody else has support for it), is incredible. I also irc transcribed that one, so I highly recommend checking those out also ;) ...

Third sessions round I went to the "Designing the future of Free Software Operating System User Experiences - GNOME Shell (Gnome3 UI)" session which honestly got me excited about Gnome again. I actually got so excited that I yesterday got in touch with one of the gnome-shell package maintainers and got myself approved as a co-maintainer and my idea is that since Gnome Shell is currently in Fedora 12 as a tech preview, and since we as Fedora are generally the first for everything I figured "why not push git snapshots of the latest features of the gnome-shell UI out to those who are interested in next generation user interfaces?" Yeah, I thought so too. Gnome3 will be a great advancement in user interaction with a computer, it is the first time (that I can think of) that anyone has ever completely attempted to redesing how a user interacts with their machine. There is no longer just the age old "let me click this button that sits in a panel that gives me a menu listing what applications I have access to". It is a completely new take on the world of desktop computing and its definitely a project to keep your eye on. I irc transcribed this one also ... check it:

Fourth round is up and I found my way over to Mo's "Designing UI mockups in Inkscape" which was extremely useful in so many ways. I actually used what I learned in her session later that night to throw together some mockups of an idea myself and herlo (irc nick on Freenode) were throwing around of Paul W. Frields pet project called PulseCaster ( So, not only was the session quite good and I almost immediately found a use case for the knowledge and techniques that I learned from the presentation but I also found a bug in Inkscape which I had others verify and we confirmed an already existing bug in bugzilla. I <3 FUDCon.

Last session of the day I walked into a session called "Moksha and Fedora Community -- Real-time web apps with Python and AMQP" which blew my mind. This is Web3.0 (not by definition, but that's what I'm calling it), Luke Macken and J5 completely just stepped over web2.0 and said "pffft, childs play" (well not really but in my mind I assume it went something like that). This session showed off technology that allows real time message passing in a web browser as well as "native" support for standard protocols. The project page is and I think everyone on the planet should take some time to go there and enjoy the demo, prepare to have your mind blown. Oh, and I also irc transcribed that one as well ... presentation slides found:

Ok, so sessions are done but we are in now way, shape, or form done. It is time for the "State of Fedora" speach by the Fedora Project Leader, Paul W. Frields. This is where our fearless leader takes the time to look back and look forward, take note and discuss what we've learned and what we can learn. It was a heart felt speach adressing a lot of things that are so great about our community and what makes Fedora so great. Paul also announced the codename of Fedora 13, which is Goddard (I probably mispelled that, sorry). This was a solid way to wrap up an amazing day.

Alright, that was Saturday. Stay tuned, I will report on Sunday (which was also awsome). I will probably report a little on today as well, but today seems to be at least somewhat consumed by attempting to get my blog updated to reflect the awesomeness that is FUDCon.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Community and the Loyalty that follows.

I would like to start with a statement: I eat, sleep, and breath Fedora.

In my time within the Fedora community I've grown to love everything that the project is and stands for. Its offered me opportunities to learn new things and give back to the community as I am able to. I've also grown a large amount of loyalty to the project. There's another aspect of the Fedora world that is disjoint but still very closely related: RedHat.

I am a RedHat Enterprise Linux administrator by day, this is how I pay the bills. Though there is another part of that which I have grown into, the community. The RHEL and Fedora communities definitely merge at some point and its amazing to see. We see projects like EPEL[0] that attempt to broaden RHEL's horizons and past projects like Fedora Legacy[1] that attempted to bring the Fedora world a longer life span much like RHEL's. Disjoint but very much related.

Back to loyalty, I recently made a post[2] about RHEV being a failure becuase it required Windows in order to run the RHEV-M portion of the product and I was promptly chastised for it as you would expect any loyal community to do. I was spoken to by both RedHat community members as well as Fedora community members, including but not exclusive to some of those that bridge the gap, and at first I was defensive.

I had to step back and ask myself though, why be defensive? Have I not faught this fight before? Have I not defended the decisions of those within my community have made, just as these members are doing?

Then it dawned on me, I'm not being flamed or shunned. This is my community, these are my people and as I am theirs and they are simply trying to show me that I'm making a mockery of nothing.

I was upset because RedHat had released a product that required a Windows box in order to use the full feature set, but this is a temporary issue and there was no revert in functionality and nothing was being taken away from me. This was simply another example of the tried and true methods of RedHat purchasing an emerging company and opening their once closed software such that the world of F/OSS may benefit.

As our favorite Hello Kitty touting community member put it: "if Red Hat had never released the product you would not have access to the feature AT ALL. now you can access it with windows, and a little later with linux." She is absolutely correct.

Did I over react? Yeah, probably. Should I have? No, probably not.

This is where I find myself, as a loyal community member to both Fedora and RedHat. Even though I stand within these divides I somehow overlooked the processes I know and understand that must be taken. In my dayjob I know these enterprise decisions well, our vendors paint us the picture of the race to market constantly. So why do I get angry when RedHat does something that every other company does? I sometimes forget RedHat is a company and companies need to make money for themselves, for their shareholders, and just in general to move forward. I forget sometimes RedHat is a company because of their embrace into this community, their shared loyalty with their community, and their epic (yeah, that's right... I said epic) list of contributions to this community.

For sake of my loyalty, I apologize for my oversight towards the process.

In Fedora we trust.



Get to know a Fedora Ambassador or User

Name: Adam Miller
IRC Nickname: maxamillion
IRC Channels: #yum #linode #centos-devel
#fedora-noc #fedora-mini #fedora-bugzappers
#fedora-qa #fedora-spins #fedora-kde
#fedora-campusamb #fedora-ambassadors
#fedora-admin #fedora-devel #fedora-python
#epel #rhn #rhel #centos #fedora #xfce
#Cyanogenmod #moksha
Location: Huntsville, TX USA (Sam Houston State University)

Friday, September 04, 2009

RHEV - The RedHat failure not soon to be forgotten

Lets take a moment to look at Open Source Virtualization, there's Xen, OpenVZ, UML, KVM, and VirtualBox. Now for the datacenter you're really only looking at Xen or KVM (though OpenVZ seems to have a little bit of a following in the datacenter, its not an "Enterprise" offering from the big companies). Xen is on its way out, lets be honest, it has moved further away from the upstream
kernel as time goes on and Citrix is Microsoft friendly so people will embrace the FUD. What's left? Oh, KVM.

KVM is a really cool concept, I'm a big fan of turning the linux kernel into a hypervisor. That's just a really cool idea and has apparently proven itself to be quite useful and in some reports it is claimed to be faster than Xen so all the better. RedHat buys Qumranet, good move, now what? Lets write an Open Source Virtualization Suite that rivals the likes of VMWare ESX/ESXi + vSphere such that everyone in the world can enjoy the benefits of virtualization without being bound to closed source software from companies like VMWare. Again, good move. So what next? Lets force our Open Source faithful as well as all our customers to run a Windows box in order to use this pleasant administrative interface that front ends our completely Open Source Virtualization Environment. Wait ... what? You're kidding right? Nope.

So the office where I work has a site license for RHEL, lets just say that we weren't a mixed OS environment which would be completely feasible seeing that we have a site license. So you're trying to tell me that my CIO cut a FAT check to your company for a site license of an Operating System (as well as a nice repository full of software) and now I have to go elsewhere for another Operating System (that is closed source no less) in order to run your next generation Virtualization Suite? Kiss my ass.

If I were to roll out Open Source Virtualization tomorrow on RHEL, it would be RHEL 5.4 KVM + Convirture[0] not RHEV because I don't have a Windows box in sight.

I've heard rumors floating around that the plan was "get to market fast, port to Java later for cross platform". That's awesome, but in the mean time you're pissing people off and last time I checked its not good to make those who pay your bills angry. I'm not giving up on RedHat, I still really respect them as a company in many many ways (many thanks for all the sponsoring of Fedora!) but I feel like they really dropped the ball on this one, come on guys:

"We will be the leader in Open Source Virtualization" -
Brian Stevens (CTO & VP, Engineering)

Yes, you will but you need to work on moving the management end to an Open Source platform so your statement doesn't seem loaded.





Friday, July 03, 2009

Firefox: The progression of popularity and the stigma of the Geek.

Lets take a moment and look back about 5 years at the state of the GNU/Linux desktop from an emerging web based world. There was really only two web browsers worth mentioning, Mozilla and Netscape (which in hindsight were essentially the same thing). The problem? They were heavy set in terms of the resources they required, so what happened? Mozilla released Phoenix, and it was amazingly fast and nobody could believe how quickly it would fire up and run on their old Pentium II machines that they slapped Linux on in an attempt to breath some life back into them.

At the time only those "in the know" were running the browser but it was quickly gaining steam just in time for a name change to Firebird due to angry people with trademark hooks on the name and for a decent amount of users this caused enough confusion for there to be a riff in its general usage but as time progressed and users were aware of the name change things were back to normal. Forums were booming with the merits of the browser as the popularity gained, it was insane how fast your browser could be. It truly raised the bar for expectations of what users compared all other browsers to. Now that we've gotten some happy users, lets go ahead and change the name again. This time the Firebird database people are upset so Mozilla politely obliged and changed the name again. Thus, Firefox is born and the web browser revolution is under way. Firefox hits the ground running with features no one can compete with, it is wildly extendible, is "secure" (I always use that word with a grain of salt), open source, and its fast. This is truly innovation that will go down in the history of computing.

Lets fast forward to today and walk into a room of GNU/Linux aficionados and ask "What's your opinion of Firefox?" and as we make this inquiry let us remember that this was the same demographic that half a decade ago was singing the praises of the now main stream browser. The responses you will receive are probably going to be something along the lines of "I don't use FirefoxOS", " pwns Firefox in the face", or "Bloatware is annoying". What happened? Geeks are fickle creatures, that's what happened. We love the latest and greatest tech that nobody else is using because its new and shiny, its fast, it shows promise, and because nobody else is using it we are somehow elite for doing so. What about when that new shiny tech reaches maturity and succeeds in a big way? Firefox happens.

Here's the reality of the situation, yes webkit is cool as hell from a geek standpoint because its new and its shiny but Firefox is tried and true, it supports all the latest and greatest web tech, is popular as hell, its well supported, stable, "secure" (remember that grain of salt), cross platform, fast, extendible as ever, open source, and it just flat out works. I'm not saying you should turn your nose up at webkit in any way, shape, or form because it truly is the new shiny tech that shows a lot of promise. But I'm tired of people bitching and moaning about Firefox's "issues" when all the arguments I have heard thus far are simply cases of a Geek stigma haunting what is now too mainstream to be "cool" or "l33t" enough for those of us who pride ourselves on our technological prowess.

Lets try to be Geeks and be happy for that which emerges from our depths as a great mainstream success in the user share market.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Campus Ambassador Presentation: Introduction to Fedora

I recently gave a presentation over Fedora Infrastructure to the Sam Houston Association for Computer Scientists (Sam Houston State University student organization for the CS department) and I had quite a bit of fun with it (though some of the audience seemed a little overwhelmed as they are college students and this is a bit enterprise level for them, but I think it was very important to introduce such a system to them). I appreciate the Fedora Infrastructure in a big way because being a systems administrator is how I pay the bills and I have an incredible appreciation for what the Fedora Infrastructure team does on a daily basis to keep Fedora as a whole working smoothly.

I started out in a large class room with a big white board and a projector hooked up to my Fedora 10 (Xfce Spin) powered laptop. With dry erase marker in hand I began to boggle the student body's minds. Here is a brief overview of what I covered. (It's not entirely brief, but I covered a LOT of material in the hour I spoke so I tried to sum up where I was able in my Ambassador Report)

Key points:
- What is infrastructure? -> Infrastructure in terms of fedora is a series of integrated tools that drive fedora forward and creating an extremely powerful development environment.
- Why does infrastructure matter? -> Infrastructure matters because without it the development cycle would largely be chaotic, with it we can bring procedure and structure.
- Fedora Infrastructure Team has a motto that is posted in the topic line of their irc channel, it is "We run the servers that run Fedora" and this is largely true because without the infrastructure, not much happens. The infrastructure team, just as the development team, is made up of volunteers who are willing to contribute their time towards the greater good of the project as a whole.
- Core Components of Infrastructure -> FedoraHosted, Koji, Bodhi, BugZilla (I felt this deserved inclusion even though its not managed by Fedora Infrastructure team), Fedora Account System, Package Database, Mirror Manager, Smolt, Planet, Fedora People. (I completely forgot fedora-cvs in my slides but there was a white board on the wall that I was drawing how the entire Infrastructure fit together and was able to add it on the fly.)
- What does it mean to me? -> As a developer, contributor, or even just as a user these are the components that are relied upon to keep everything functioning. We need a build system for new packages, we need an update system, we need a bug tracker, we need a place for new packages to be submitted, we need web space for miscellaneous Fedora work including but not limited to the new package review request procedures. This makes it all possible.
- Fedora Hosted -> What would be considered "upstream", this part of the Infrastructure allows developers to host their project with a ticket tracking system, a version control system, and a wiki. Each piece is extremely useful for a collaborative development environment and offers the developers choice in cvs, bzr, svn, git, or hg.
- Fedora CVS -> I know I don't have a slide on this, many apologies to all, I really can't believe I did it, but I did cover it. This is the place where packagers upload packages for inclusion into Fedora, package patches are stored here, and builds are spawned from here.
- Koji -> If you're a packager then this is an element you will get quite cozy with, it provides a build system to submit packages to. Koji offers a web front end that will allow for yourself and others to monitor the status of your build, the logs, obtain the resulting package or source package, also allows for what are called "chain builds" (I went into a quick overview of this on the board), and offers a grounds for the package to be built on multiple architectures in one wonderfully automated swoop.
- Bodhi -> Provides for an update management interface, integrates with bugzilla, will push based on karma, allows for tagging of update type and can recommend reboot for users who use PackageKit. Also provides statistics on updates. This is the system that pushes out to the mirrors.
- Bugzilla -> Place to file a bug against any component of Fedora, it allows for keeping all related parties up to date on current happenings of a bug.
- Fedora Account System -> Where so much magic happens its amazing, this is truly where the integration of the entire system comes to light. When you create a Fedora Account you are able to be granted privileges to any other component of the Infrastructure. The Account system will keep track of user information, group memberships, permissions, security keys, among other useful information.
- Package Database -> This is not only a user searchable database for those on the web, it is also a web based management interface for access to different packages. It ties in information with fedora-cvs, bodhi, koji, and bugzilla as they pertain to the package. This is a wealth of information that I've never experienced in other development environments.
- Mirror Manager -> Package updates are pushed through here, mirrors are literally managed (name kinda implied that one) and it provides a quite impressive management interface to those who want to run a mirror of their own either public or private and fine grained choice of what "branches" of the repositories to host.
- Smolt -> Statistical accumulation of hardware information. I personally think this is quite unique in the sense that anyone can go and check what hardware is popular and from what vendor which I can only imagine to be valuable information to those who develop kernel and system level components of the GNU/Linux platform and most notably for Fedora.
- Planet Fedora -> Aggregate blog posting, great place to get news on what is currently happening in the Fedora world (or planet if you prefer).
- Fedora People -> This is where contributors can post whatever they need in a web accessible location for current work, no matter if it is documentation, art, a package, or other piece of the grand Fedora puzzle. This is the place for it.
- How is it all developed? In an open source environment, by the community, in a collaborative and innovative manner... just as it should be.
- Technologies used to develop the Infrastructure -> Python, TurboGears, Kid, Genshi, SQLAlchemy and Cheetah.

Slides available here.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

First ever Fedora Ambassador Tech Talk

Gave my first tech talk as a Fedora Ambassador, I presented to the student organization at the University I attend known as "Sam Houston Association for Computer Scientist" (SHACS for short). I wanted to introduce my fellow classmates to the wonders of open source, Linux, and most notably: Fedora. I was lucky enough to have received an Ambassador Kit from my sponsor so that I was able to hand out free media, buttons, stickers, and a couple t-shirts to those in the audience who were already on the Fedora band wagon and were just interested to hear what I had to say. This was a big hit, I thank inode0 for my kit.

Key Points that were covered:

* What is open source?
- Open source is software such that you can download, modify, and redistribute its source code as per the license it has been released under.
- Open source != freeware, open source is not inherently "free as in beer" that is just a common side effect. (Case and point: Red Hat Enterprise Linux)

* What is Linux?
- Linux is a kernel that is coupled with the GNU userspace along with thousands of open source projects to provide a full featured operating system, and in the end is commonly referred to as "Linux" for short hand.
- Linux is currently the largest open source project of its kind and supports more hardware than any operating system in the history of computing (Thanks to Greg K-H for that zinger of a quote)
- Linus Torvalds wrote and released the first version of Linux as a sophomore in college (this is the time to develop and innovate in an open environment, we are the future)

* What is Fedora?
- Fedora is many things, it is a distribution of Linux, it is a community, it is an infrastructure, it is an outlet for ideas to come to life in ways that did not used to be possible.
- Fedora is a place to jump in and get involved in all stretches the Linux and open source world, it is a place to bring your interests, your talents, and your concepts in order to contribute to the greater good.

* Why should you care?
- Fedora means a lot to me because its a project that makes a point to work with upstream open source projects in an attempt to better the open source world as a whole. Its development process reflects this and if/when you get involved you will see this too.
- We are all computer scientists, we are all college students (or professors), and now is the time to get out there and do something with our knowledge, and do it in an open manner.
- Now is the time to truly innovate and do so out in the open (Notice I keep saying this? Hint, Hint).
- We owe it to ourselves, we owe it to our community of developers and users, and we deserve better than the proprietary wares that have been peddled onto us for so many years.

* Who uses Fedora?
- Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux. Runs Fedora
- IBM Roadrunner, fastest supercomputer on the planet. Runs Fedora
- NASA and the FBI. Run Fedora.

* How to get involved?
- The wiki covers all sorts of documentation on how to get involved. I am planning another talk on how to get involved covering everything from making a Fedora Account to getting a package accepted by Fedora all the way to pushing it out to the repositories through the wonderful infrastructure that is available.

* How to get/give help?
- Referenced the audience to the wiki page on communications, discussed the different roles each mailing list plays as well as irc channels.

Ended with a QA section.

Special thanks to Max Spevack for his slide show that I based mine off of and also for maintaining the statistics, I covered them in my slides and it was nice to have real world numbers to show. The map was also a big hit, graphical goodness is always fun.

EDIT: Forgot to upload the presentation slides, now available here.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

To Twitter or not to Twitter...

So... I haven't posted in ages and its mostly a time constraint, I'm busy all the time but I hope to post here more often in the near future as a do more concurrent programming research for my professor. I have however started to twitter. I always said that I wouldn't, but I did and I promised myself it would only be for things that don't suck (mainly technical posts). The only reason I did get a twitter account is because I have a T-Mobile G1 with the almighty Android OS and there's a twitter client in the Market. So I can quickly post from where ever, when ever, while I'm doing what ever. Which makes it nice. Hope to post half decent cognitive thoughts in the near future, laters.