Tuesday, November 22, 2011

help-bash@gnu.org is GO!

My favorite shell, and quite possibly yours, is now hosting an official user outreach mailing list for discussions related to using, scripting, learning, and more with the bash shell so join up!


Thursday, November 03, 2011

Public Fail .... I haz one

So, I haven't blogged in months as a side effect of being overly busy (I'm doing really good to knock out 5 hours of sleep a night right now). An unfortunate side effect of this enhanced "level of busy" is that I over commit my time without realizing it and simultaneously believe the self told lie that I have my time managed well..... here we go.

First, the fail. I recently was ping'd as an unresponsive maintainer on the Fedora devel mailing list and I would like to publicly take full responsibility, the fault was mine and I hate that it reached a point that someone had to post to the list in search of me. I will do my best to do better in the future. My apologies.

Next, why have I been so busy? .... Well, I'm glad you asked. About a year ago I started a new career at Dell which has been exciting and fun and I absolutely love my job, but as with all jobs there are times where your To Do list gets long in the tooth. The tooth is long and since about July we've been ramped up quite a bit for a number of different projects in my organization, one of which is an attempt to try and make what we do in Enterprise Solutions Engineering more community centric and more open as a process in forms of publications, communication, collaboration and the like. (Much more to come from that link in the not too distant future ... stay tuned!)

What else? Well, I'm also working on my Masters Degree in Computer Science with a focus in Information Assurance and Security, I am scheduled to graduate this December and I'm currently working on my Masters Project that I started over the summer which has been a daunting task but fun along the way because I get to incorporate cool tech from Fedora. Sadly though, this does not mix well with a normal persons sleep nor hobby schedule.

Next up, this one isn't a time cruncher but I thought it deserved honorable mention in the field of "what I've been up to" ..... In August I turned 25 and this year marked a decade of my use of Red Hat so I decided it was time to write my fanboi in ink, literally.

Moving on....

I got married on September 10, 2011 ... yey me!!! It was very exciting and wonderful but also a giant time sink for all the planning leading up to the event (there went more sleep) but I wouldn't have had it any other way and our wedding was perfect!

Once the fairy tale day was over I sadly had to snap back to reality, my final semester of Grad School started the week before my wedding, so as soon as the Honeymoon was over it was a mad dash for the books and I've been hammering out course work along side my Masters Project ever since (along with keeping up with my full time job). All the while I'm attempting my best to keep active in Fedora land, I've been able to update a couple packages, handle some bugs, offer some karma to updates and such but I've clearly not been holding up to par what I would like to and what I have in the past. I would like to do better and I will do my best to make it happen.

None of this is an excuse for my neglect to my responsibilities that I signed up for when I became a package maintainer but I wanted to first say I was sorry for my fail and also to provide a little background around factors contributing to my slip up. I just certainly don't want community members to think I was simply ignoring Fedora or my responsibilities because I am just as much a walking/talking fanboi as ever, I love the project, and I'll be here for a long time to come!

Thank you for your time,

P.S. - I'm on IRC roughly 8+ hours a day because I'm fortunate enough to irc while at work.... please feel free to ping me there if you feel I've missed an email or bug report that was directed at me. Many thanks! :)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Gnome3 from a XFCE user's perspective.

"Just tried GNOME 3 for 30 seconds. Prefer the old version. Will say bad things about GNOME 3 whenever it is mentioned for the next 5 years." - @1990sLinuxUser

I love this quote because it makes me think of many blog posts I read about Gnome3. I also really like who ever runs that twitter account because its quite entertaining.

I would like to take a moment to state this before we go any farther just so that people know my stance before we get anywhere:

Gnome3 is good, Gnome3 is damn good.

There's a large amount of people who dislike it and don't prefer it and I respect their right to their opinion but I honestly get a little annoyed by people who piss on the hard work of innovators.

Ok, now that's out of the way lets move on....

First, Gnome3 is pretty:

Gnome3 is good. Right out of the gate I have a lot of respect for the well thought out design with its clean and uncluttered desktop. I personally completely respect the lack of panel plugins, the lack of desktop icons, and the decision on the overview layout design for interacting with the desktop in a very intuitive fashion. Gnome3/Gnome-Shell set out to accomplish something and that was to make the Free Desktop easier to use, more productive, and to have a seamless user experience. I think these things have been accomplished with great milestones being etched into the landscape along the way. Many design decisions were made with the idea of current day work flow and user interaction in mind and I can't do anything but respect that. The new integrations with power management, NetworkManager, messenger, and notifications are nothing short of impressive and make for a solid user experience. The additions to the file manager are also highly welcomed and I think make for a far more user friendly file navigating experience. Not to mention the over all innovations in general human computer interaction: Of course we should use our computer peripherals simultaneously! It's wasteful not to. Gestures for window management? Yes, why not? is it faster to zero in on that tiny little box in order to maximize, unmaximize, or close a window or is it faster to click anywhere on that top bar and throw it into a side of the screen and let go? Go ahead and test it a few times with a stop watch, don't worry ... I'll wait ....

Good, you try it? Awesome. See how much faster that was?

The backlash from the community about things like this astound me. This isn't new, innovation in the Linux space isn't new by any means and the funny thing is that each great stride forward is always met with the same response: "Blasphemy!!! How dare you change $x" Think I'm crazy? Ask a KDE dev sometime how much heat they took over the rewrite. Ask Lennart how much crap he's taking over SystemD. Ask Matt Domsch how much crap he's taking over biosdevname. Go ahead, ask them and you'll get a similar response from each of them as you will from a Gnome3 developer and what amazes me is that they are so willing to take the punches and defend their stance. You know why they do? Because they believe in the tech and they know that in a year, the haters will be on to complaining about the next thing and everyone will simply be happier with the changes that they are driving which are being made for the better.

(Yes there were great strides before these I listed and there will be more tomorrow and they day after that .... these topics are relatively current and apply to the topic at hand so if I left out your innovation then I apologize for doing so and for the crap you put up with during the initial development and release of it.)

Alright, lets round this back to me being a XFCE user.... I've been a XFCE user since 2004 (no I'm not the most veteran user out there, if you've been using XFCE for longer, awesome ... good for you). I also really respect other desktop environments in their own right such as KDE3.x and KDE4.x, GNOME 2.x and 3.x, LXDE, as well as the vast amount of window managers turned quasi desktop environment but at the end of the day I always come back to XFCE because its my comfort zone and I like the way things are done in XFCE land. I like the strict standards compliance, the fact that I can rip and replace any one or many aspects of my desktop and replace it with another standards compliant piece of software that I thought was interesting, I love how light weight and simple it is and above all I love that it offers me the feature richness I desire while being discrete enough to not get in my way. Would I be upset if they completely dropped the current implementation and went with something wildly different like Gnome3? Maybe at first, but I wouldn't trash them for their efforts to innovate and I would certainly happily either adopt the new solution or find an alternative because there are a *LOT* of them out there and they are all waiting for a larger user base.

Moral of the story: Gnome3 is awesome but not my personal cup of tea and I'll be staying with XFCE for the foreseeable future.

Also, XFCE is pretty too :)

Congratulations to all those involved with the Gnome3 release!

Happy hacking to all and for anyone interested in Xfce 4.8 ... feel free to pop over to the Fedora 15 Nightly Compose page and grab yourself a bit bucket full of the Fedora Xfce Spin! :)


Texas Linux Fest 2011

This is sadly a week over due in the blog space, but last weekend (April 2, 2011) was the second annual Texas Linux Fest in Austin, TX. This year was night and day compared to last year in terms of turn out, venue and number of vendors with booths.

There were roughly right around 500-600 people at the event in the Hilton Downtown Austin and we filled their conference rooms right up. The Fedora booth was extremely busy! I even had a couple people from other booths come over and make comments on how busy we were which was a pleasant surprise from fellow exhibitors. Even during the "lunch break hour" (the sessions broke for lunch but the hall where the booths were hosted never had a shut down moment) the Fedora booth was a notably happening location in the exhibition hall. There were vendors from all walks of the Linux ecosystem there: Fedora, Red Hat, IBM, HP, Dell, HostGator, RackSpace, Softlayer, Webmin, Cloud.com, OpenStack, Novell/SLES, LinuxJournal Magazine, and many more (apologies to those who weren't listed ... that's just what I could remember off the top of my head a week later).

The usual swag were big hits, the Fedora buttons, ink pens, stickers as well as pressed media were in high demand and we had a box of Design Suite media left over from the SXSW event that had gone on two weeks before that were extremely popular as not many people knew it existed. Many of the conference attendees who showed interest in the Design Suite were either those who dabble in graphic design or have a friend who does it in more serious context and they've been looking for a good avenue to show off the FOSS alternatives to the proprietary tools these individuals currently work with.

Dell also had a booth across the way from us and they were giving away a laptop at the end of the day. One of our fellow Fedora Ambassadors (Julio Villarreal) ran over and fired up some Fedora on it and the Dell reps who were there were good sports about it and let it run on there all day which I thought was another night avenue to show off some Fedora goodness.

I was also extremely excited to see so many new faces in the crowd, the volume of Linux users who were likely in high school or fresh into the college scene that were very interested in what Fedora is up to and has to offer was refreshing and I hope to see many of them become key players in the Fedora of tomorrow. The OLPC XO was a big hit as was my Genesi EfikaMX Smartbook that I brought along with me to show off what the Fedora ARM development team has been hard at work at (very big special thanks to Dennis Gilmore for putting up with my ultra ARM-noob self while trying to make that thing work in time for the conference). On the topic of Fedora ARM, there was a PandaBoard booth at the conference and a few of their booth exhibitors came over to check out Fedora ARM running on the smartbook and to ask questions about the efforts that were ongoing. They were very impressed!!

There were a number of users who were interested in the alternate desktops (LXDE was extremely popular) available on the installation DVDs that were on the booth table. We gave away roughly 500+ pieces of media, probably 200-ish case badges, similar amount of stickers, all of the buttons (think there were 150-200 of those), all of the stickers left over from SXSW, and a hand full of balloons and temporary tattoos.

The Fedora booth was stationed right next to the Red Hat booth which as I've expressed before I think is a very powerful statement to have us standing next to one another but as our own separate entities. Many times we at the Fedora booth were asked about the relationship with Red Hat as well as if we were Red Hat employees. None of us at the booth this year were "Hatters" and that came as a surprise to a number of the conference attendees but we still the same enjoyed explaining the heritage of the community centric Fedora and its long time relationship to Red Hat. Those talking points I felt were very effective in explaining many things that people "on the outside" don't 100% understand.

All in all I would have to say it was an excellent conference and I can't wait for more like it so that we can go out and show off the awesomeness that is Fedora!


Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Ask not what your distro can do for you, but what you can do for your distro.

I've had a lot of mixed feelings in the recent Fedora Community rivalries that have spawned as there are sentiments I agree with and disagree with from both sides but I haven't been happy with how some of the messages have been expressed. Today there was a blog post from spot that addresses many things of that nature. As I read this post I was reminded of a famous quote from John F. Kennedy's January 20th 1961 Inaugural Speech and I feel it applies today still to our Country but also in recent times to Fedora. We live in a community centric culture that is heavily based on merit, those who are willing to put in the time and effort are rewarded with the respect of their peers. We do also, however, exist in a community based around freedom and that affords each of us as contributors to contribute our time, effort, and skills to what we want to. Nobody can dictate how you spend your free time, period.

I'm tired of the fighting. Either come up with a solution and go with it, or just stop. I am directing this at both sides of the qualms too, don't think I'm taking sides or that anyone from one side hasn't done something that has angered the other. We're dividing ourselves and I don't see how its helping anyone individually or Fedora as a whole. So please, "Ask not what your distro can do for you, but what you can do for your distro."


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Fedora 14 Xfce Spin with Compiz on top

I was recently using my favorite Fedora Spin and I realized that there was one key thing I missed about Compiz vs. Xfwm4 (now mind you I think Xfwm4 is an amazing window manager ... but this was an itch that needed scratching), it wasn't the desktop cube, the minimization animations, or any of the many wonderful compiz-fusion plugins. It was the Compiz Scale feature. It's one of those things that I find myself using quite often because of how busy my desktop gets. I am a big fan of Compiz and have been for some time but there isn't any official built in support for Compiz in Xfce 4.6.x (current stable version in Fedora as of the writing of this blog post) so I wanted to find a way to add in Compiz into Xfce in a somewhat "seemless" or "integrated" way. Here's a short write up of what I did and I hope someone is able to use it as a basis to their own path to finding a comfy desktop.

Install packages (as root):

yum -y install compiz compiz-fusion ccsm emerald emerald-themes

These packages will install and give you the CompizConfig Settings Manager as well as compiz "core" and the compiz-fuzion plugins/extensions along with the emerald window decorator which is necessary if you want to have custom window decorations without relying on other Desktop Environment integration pieces.

At this point we will likely want to attempt to run Compiz and make sure we can actually run it:


This should replace Xfwm4 with Compiz, if not there is likely an error and in that case you will need to diagnose the issue as well as solve it before continuing.

Next we will need to edit the following file with your favorite text editor. If you don't have one I'll recommend the light weight IDE called Geany that comes with the Fedora Xfce Spin by default and is located in the Xfce Menu as follows Menu->Development->Geany. This recommendation comes mainly from the fact that it is easy to use for those not familiar with such editors as vim or emacs and this file is XML which Geany supports syntax highlighting for:

geany ~/.config/xfce4/xfconf/xfce-perchannel-xml/xfce4-session.xml

In this file you will need to find the section that looks like this:

<property name="Client0_Command" type="empty">

And edit it to look like this (i.e. - delete the above and insert the following in its place):

<property name="Client0_Command" type="array">
<value type="string" value="compiz-manager">

At this point you should be able to log out and back in and Compiz will have replaced Xfwm4 as your default Window Manager without any need to do strange "hacks." Thus demonstrating some of the power of standards compliant software and the ability to be interchanged based on preference or personal requirements.

I would like to take a moment to thank the Xfce Developers and Fedora Community for making things like this possible and allowing me to create the best desktop environment for me by using simple customizations/configurations. I'd like to thank Kevin Fenzi as well as Christoph Whickert for doing so much of the heavy lifting in respect to the Xfce Spin and everyone as a whole for allowing me to be part of the process, its moments like this where I truly appreciate the power of FOSS and the communities that form as a result. Long live Fedora!


Monday, January 03, 2011

New Year, New City, and the Start of a New Career

It has been far too long since I have posted to the world about happenings relevant to myself and to that of the Fedora world so I will attempt to recap a bit.

Where have I been and where did I go?
I left the humble little town of Huntsville, TX which is the location of Sam Houston State University. It is also where I earned my Undergraduate Degree in Computer Science, where I am continuing to pursue my Masters Degree in Information Assurance and Security via correspondence, and where I have spent the last three years working as a Red Hat Enterprise Linux Systems Administrator. While my time there was good, it was clearly time for me to move on so I began looking around for position openings at companies I was interested in working for. I was fortunate enough to get a recommendation from a fellow Fedora Community Member for a position as a Systems Engineer at Dell Incorporated. I was called in for an interview and I will assume I did well because I was later offered the position which I was extremely excited to accept. I now wear a Dell Badge and I wear it with pride, I'm privileged to get to work in a R&D lab on GNU/Linux technologies powered by Dell hardware (yes I have a Fedora machine on my workbench in the Lab). I'm really bad with words so I'll leave it at this: I absolutely love my new job. As a side effect of the new job I relocated to Austin, TX and I again find myself without the literary skill to explain my enjoyment of this town as a whole so I will again say this: I love this town.

What about Fedora? You mentioned Fedora!
I was very sadly out of the loop for pretty much the entire Fedora 14 cycle and I would like to apologize to appropriate parties for that. I am currently working on getting some priorities in line as well as having purchased a new laptop with a bit more power under the hood so that I can do more QA work in VMs. Fedora 15 will hopefully be something I can contribute more time to. I'm regaining interest in the Xfce world after my tangent off to both KDE and Gnome (I'm really just a DE nomad these days, I respect the power and offerings of all three major contenders) so I hope to find myself on the list of co-maintainers of the Xfce Spin once again and with any luck I can find myself there for the ongoing future. I've also in the last week been working on getting my EPEL responsibilities up to date with the latest EL6 release and I'm happy to see that not only is fedpkg proving to be amazing but also that there is an Olive Branch of sorts being extended to active EPEL maintainers lacking a RHN subscription for those interested in supporting EL6 for at least the time being while RHEL clones get up to speed. While this might not remain permanent, it is nice to see those within the firewall seeing the value and user base of EPEL desiring the community supported packages. I personally have two subscriptions that I use at the house because not only am I a big Red Hat fan but I'm always preaching that I don't mind paying for good software and chose to vote with my dollar. That being said, I don't think contributors should necessarily be expected to follow that same guideline so I like that steps are being taken to provide contributors with the necessary tools.

Well .... that's where I'm sitting these days, my apologies for my ramblings if they make little sense. My blog often flows from mind to keyboard without much of a writing fundamentals filter so for my imminent grammatical errors please be kind.

P.S. - For those who have requests in for a couple of my packages to be updated, I am working with them. There's one most notable which is Pida, its upstream release structure has changed a little so I'm going to be spending a little time getting familiar with the new code before slinging packages out.

Night all,