DevConf.cz 2014

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Developer Conference 2014 is finally over. The last two weeks were damn busy for me. Just a week before the conference I went to FOSDEM and it wasn’t just attending. I organized a bus with 40 hackers between Brno and Brussels, accommodation for 6 Fedora people, and pretty much the whole Fedora booth at FOSDEM + producing 400 t-shirts for CentOS guys and bringing a lot of other stuff from Brno for various parties. When I returned I didn’t have time to rest because DevConf.cz was just a few days away. This in a combination with very little sleep meant that I had a complete physical meltdown on Wednesday. Not only was I dead tired, but I also got some flu/cold. Then I just focused on surviving till DevConf.cz because as the main organizer I just couldn’t simply back off. So I just worked and slept and removed all stuffing between it and it worked :)

We put DevConf.cz just one week after FOSDEM which as I described above almost killed me. But it also had a lot of benefits. Most importantly, people from overseas could come for both events and spend the week between on internal Red Hat meetings in Brno. And a lot of people did. I wondered how many attendees would come this year. Last year, it was around 700, but quite a lot of publicity on the Internet and people mentioning the conference indicated it could be much more this year which could be a problem because the venue is not very large and half of the campus is under reconstruction.

And we did have a lot of attendees. The number from DevConf.cz 2013 was exceeded within two hours and the total number of attendees for the first day was nearly 900. The total number of unique attendees for all three days was around 1000 which was a significant increase from the last year. Especially on Friday, we were hitting the capacity of the venue. Several talks were completely packed. For example the ones about Docker and OSTree where you couldn’t even get into the room if you came too late. I didn’t attend many talks and when I found time to attend one I was usually called back by an urgent problem. Nevertheless, the general feedback I heard from other people was that the talks had even better quality than last year. I really liked the Fedora Day which was the third day of the conference. This attracted a lot of people from the Fedora community and I could actually meet maybe more Fedora contributors at DevConf.cz than at Flock.

I can’t rate DevConf.cz because as the main organizer I’m biased, but from the organizer’s perspective the event went quite smoothly which was mainly due to tireless help of dozens of volunteers without whom the event wouldn’t be possible and I thank them for that.

And DevConf.cz 2015? I’m already thinking about that. We improve the event incrementally based on feedback from attendees to make the event better every year. Some of the proposed changes such as making the talk slots shorter to have longer breaks worked very well and we’ve already gathered new ideas for the next year. We also will have to assess the venue. The cooperation with the university is almost ideal, the location is also very good, but if we want to accommodate even more attendees next year we’ll have to have more space. The reconstruction will be finished in summer and then there should be mid-sized rooms for smaller talk or workshop tracks available. We will see. The only significantly larger venue in Brno is The Brno Exhibition Area which would be a huge cost jump up and I still find university campuses more appropriate for developer’s events.

P.S. Videos of talks from the three main tracks will be online within a few weeks. We’re working on it.

Talk on Docker (© Sirko Kemter)

DevConf.cz 2014 schedule is out!

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Last week, we published a schedule of Developer Conference 2014 that is going to take place in Brno on Feb 7-9th and I finally found time to write about it. The schedule looks IMHO very promising. There are around 100 speakers of 18 nationalities that will deliver 68 talks and 30 workshops and labs from 14 topics: cloud, databases, desktop, developer, Fedora, kernel, networking, security, server, software quality, storage, userspace, virtualization. The conference has been expanded into three days. The first two will be standard conference days packed with talks and workshops. The third day is devoted to Fedora. There will be Fedora-related talks in the morning and planning sessions and hackfests in the afternoon. BTW we still have available slots in the afternoon, so if you’d like to organize a session or hackfest, let us know.

But DevConf.cz won’t only be about talks and workshops. We’re also preparing a DevConf.cz party that will again be in the Fléda club. And there will also be a city tour with a great Canadian guide on Friday. And there are still more things in the works.

We have a special rate for conference participants in Avanti Hotel (and this time also in A Sport Hotel), but there are just a few left, so if you still don’t have accommodation, don’t hesitate.

devconf-logo

Fedora Project at LinuxCon Europe 2013

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I just returned from Edinburgh where we represented Fedora at LinuxCon Europe 2013. It was great three days. I arrived to Edinburgh Sunday evening and was welcomed by a typical Scottish weather – rain. Our local contact and host was Keiran Smith, a longtime Fedora ambassador and packager. Another ambassador representing Fedora at LinuxCon was Jon Archer who arrived in the middle of the first day, and Tony, a longtime local Fedora user who helped us fill the last position after one of ambassadors cancelled their trip to LinuxCon. There were much more Fedora contributors at LinuxCon: Tom Callaway, Ruth Suehle, Matthew Garrett, Thorsten Leemhuis, Daniel Veillard and others.

Our booth was between BlackDuck and oVirt&Gluster booths and was well attended. We prepared stickers, case badges, upstream community sticker sheets, badges, and Fedora Cloud flyers for LinuxCon attendees. They could also check out Fedora 19 and 20 on two laptops we had at the booth. We also wanted to showcase a Wayland session of GNOME in Fedora 20, but had problems with input devices, so the showcase was over very quickly :-)

LinuxCon is not an event to present Fedora to new end users although we met a lot of people who said that would try Fedora after visiting our booth and DVD ran out very quickly. LinuxCon is mainly about presenting Fedora to other open source projects, people from all kind of companies that are interested in Linux, and also about networking. For example, a director from one of very well known IT company (I don’t want to name) came to our booth and asked how they can cooperate with Fedora because so far their development only targeted Ubuntu, but they don’t like the direction Ubuntu has recently taken and would like to stick with someone who stays in the Linux pack. We were also recruiting new contributors. Eilidh McAdam, a developer of Lanedo, showed her interest in contributing in Fedora and she is already in the process to become an ambassador. And hopefully, she’ll be a valuable packager or developer, too.

Apart from LinuxCon, I really enjoyed Edinburgh. Keiran took us to several nice places in evenings including a really good Indian restaurant. I was really surprised how cheap Scotland had become for us. When I was there 9 years ago, 1  GBP was 55 CZK, now it’s only 30 CZK, so everything is almost twice cheaper. And beer is still only around 2.5 GBP :) I was also surprised how many Czechs I met in Edinburgh. The receptionist in my hotel turned out to be Czech, so I checked in speaking Czech. The dealer at our roulette table at the LinuxCon party was also Czech. The weather was not that bad after all. The last day was even sunny.

I’d like to thank Fedora Project for sponsoring accommodation and dinner for booth staff and the Linux Foundation for providing us with a booth and tickets for booth staff which are otherwise very expensive.

CC BY-NC 2.0 – Linux Foundation

Announcing Fedora Day at DevConf.cz

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I’d like to publicly announce Fedora Day that will take place at Developer Conference 2014 in Brno, Czech Republic on February 9th 2014. DevConf.cz is the largest Red Hat developer event in the world. The 2013 edition was attended by 700 people, there were over 60 talks and 30 additional labs and workshops in two days. Because there has been high demand for a winter Fedora planning event, we decided to extend DevConf.cz into three days and make the third additional day a Fedora Day which should be devoted to Fedora hackfests and planning sessions. DevConf.cz is an ideal event for this because there have always been a lot over 100 Fedora contributors at DevConf.cz anyway.

There will be around 6 rooms (each for at least 20 ppl) available for us at the university on Sunday Feb 9th. I created a wiki page where you can add your session and hackfest. If you have an interesting topic for a talk, you may consider submitting it to DevConf.cz Call for Papers which is open until December 1st. Talks will be on the first two days.

A new website for the 2014 edition of DevConf.cz is yet to be finished. We’re working on that. When it’s done, you’ll find all necessary info about the conference there (transportation, accommodation, schedule,…).

DevConf.cz 2014 is held one week after the largest FLOSS event – FOSDEM. We picked this date on purpose, so that people from overseas can come for both events. Here is a planned schedule of events:

Feb 1-2: FOSDEM 2014 in Brussels
Feb 3-6: Internal Red Hat meetings in Brno office and hackfests co-hosted with DevConf.cz (e.g. systemd hackfest)
Feb 7-8: Conference days of DevConf.cz
Feb 9: Fedora Day

Looking forward to meeting you at DevConf.cz! ;-)

FAD Prague 2013

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We’ve decided to organize the very first Fedora Activity Day in the Czech Republic – FAD Prague 2013. It will be co-located with LinuxDays 2013. The goals are Czech- specific. We’d like to work on a small handbook we can print and give away to users who’d like to start with Fedora. It should cover basics such as what is Fedora, why to use it, where to get it, how to install it, how to work with the system etc. In spare time, we’d also like to work on improving and updating our online Czech Fedora user handbook which is wiki-based, but can be converted to a PDF. It’s already pretty long, over 250 pages. On the second day, we’d like to work on Czech translations. Not only translations of Fedora-specific software, but also translations of upstream software which is included in Fedora. Czech upstream translators are going to have a meetup at LinuxDays and this could definitely be common ground.

The whole event is meant to be for participants with different level of knowledge and experience. Newbies are especially welcome because the FAd is a great opportunity to start contributing to Fedora. There will be experienced Fedora contributors around who can help them and point them to the right directions.

Fedora Packaging Workshop in Brno

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Wanna learn how to create an RPM package and what to do to get it in the Fedora repositories? We’re organizing another Fedora packaging workshop. It’s going to take place in Brno office of Red Hat on October 9th. It’s a one-day workshop that starts at 10am and ends at 6pm. The workshop mentors are one of the most experienced Fedora/RHEL packagers – Stano Ochotnický, Miroslav Suchý, Ondřej Vašík, and Jaroslav Řezník. So don’t hesitate and sign up, the capacity is only 20 participants! ;-)

Date: Wednesday, October 9th, 2013
Time: 10am to 6pm
Venue: Brno office of Red Hat, Purkynova 99/71, Brno, Czech Republic
Capacity: 20 participants
Registration: please fill out this form
Language: either Czech or English (will be decided at the beginning of the workshop. It depends if there will be any foreign participants)
Admission: Free
Requirements: a laptop with either Fedora or RHEL
Previous experience: no experience with packaging required

packaging-workshop

What Desktop Environments Are Czech Fedora Users Using in 2013?

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Last year, I published stats of what desktop environments Czech Fedora users are using. The data came from a survey which was done by the most popular Czech Linux magazine Root.cz. They did the survey again this year and made all the data available. By running queries on this data, you can actually do interesting statistics. But first the most important outcome of the survey: popularities of Linux distributions among Czech desktop users:

2013: Ubuntu 58.1%, Debian 26.8%, Fedora 16.9%, Mint 16.3%, Arch 10.1%, openSUSE 9.7%, Gentoo 6.9%, RHEL 3.8%, Mageia 2.5%, Slackware 2.3%, Mandriva 2.2%, Sabayon 1.4%, PCLinuxOS 0.8%, SLED 0.4%, others 7.1%

Last year (2012): Ubuntu 53%, Debian 17%, Fedora 12%, Mint 10%, Arch 9.5%, opensuse 9.5%, Gentoo 6.7%, Mandriva 1.8%,…

Source: root.cz

As you can see, Fedora remains the third most popular distribution after Ubuntu and Debian. The first four distributions have gained, but partly only optically because users could choose more distributions and apparently they were a bit more “promiscuous” than in the last year. For example, Ubuntu got 58.1% which is more than the last year, but it’s just 35% of the sum of all shares while it was 44% last year. DEB vs RPM is 101.2% vs 36.5% which is a better ratio than the last year’s: 80 vs 22.4%.

And now to the desktop stats. Popularity of desktop environments among Fedora users has always been a hot topic. We don’t really track what packages users are using, so no one really knows. The data from the survey surely don’t reflect the reality 100%. The survey was done among Czech users and doesn’t cover users “who don’t care” (like our moms, dads, grandparents who use Linux, but don’t read any Linux magazines or participate in surveys). On the other hand, users “who care” are interesting the most to us and 4745 users participated which is a large statistical sample. The stats from the last year can be found here. Unfortunately, they’re not very comparable with this year’s numbers because this year users could choose more than one desktop, last year they couldn’t.

fedora-desktops-2013The chart above shows popularities among all Fedora users including those who indicated that they were using other distributions, too. That’s why Unity has a significant share although it’s not even available for Fedora. It’s interesting to compare it with answers that come from users who use just Fedora, not any other distribution (die hards :-) ). They were approx. 1/3 of all Fedora users.

desktop-fedora-ubuntuLike last year, I compared it with Ubuntu numbers (also users who only use Ubuntu). As you can see, GNOME 3 stands out even more and achieve a number that is close to the share from the last year when users could only choose one desktop. KDE 4 is around 25%. Xfce has apparently gained some share among both broader and core Fedora user base. GNOME 2/MATE still has its user base, somewhere below 10% (similar to the last year’s numbers). LXDE has also gained a bit, but it’s apparently much more popular on Ubuntu than on Fedora. As you can see, Unity got completely filtered out which makes sense because if it’s not available for Fedora it can be hardly used by Fedora-only users. Cinnamon is also significantly more popular among users who use Fedora just as one of their distributions. Apparently, who wants Cinnamon, goes for Linux Mint because it doesn’t have a large share among Ubuntu users as well (BTW it has a 59% share among Mint-only users).

I will bring some more stats when I find time again. For example how Fedora market share changes with the age of users or their experience.

Spring Season 2013

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I haven’t written a blogpost for a while. It was mainly because I was too busy with all the events I organized or attended in the last three months. So here is a little recap:

  • Feb 23-24 – DevConf.cz 2013 - this is an event that took weeks of my life. I was the head of the organizing team and we went really large this year. There were almost 100 talks, workshops and sessions. We counted around 700 attendees and we haven’t had any significant problems, so success.
  • March 2-3 – InstallFest 2013 – this is a traditional Linux event at Strahov campus of CVUT. Strahov has always played an important role in the Czech Internet and it’s called Silicon Hill. It has a strong Linux community. I delivered a talk on where Fedora is heading.
  • April 10 – Afternoon with Red Hat in Bratislava – a set of talks introducing Red Hat and its open source projects and technologies to university students. We talked on Fedora, ABRT, openJDK, and MRG.
  • April 15 – Afternoon with Red Hat in Prague – the same event as in Bratislava, just talks were different: Fedora QA, Ceylon language, and QML.
  • April 17 – Red Hat Open House – another “day of open doors” in Brno offices of Red Hat. There were a lot of talks, programming contests, we held a F19 power management test day whose room was full all the time. I delivered two talks on RHT programs for students, community activities etc.
  • April 22 – Afternoon with Red Hat in Ceske Budejovice – it was our first time in this city and we were surprised how many students came and how interested they were. We talked on Fedora, Fedora on ARM, JBoss, OpenShift, and Modern Linux Desktop. It was probably the only Czech university which has a lecture room with RHEL (not CentOS).
  • April 23 – Presentation of Red Hat Thesis Topics at FIT BUT – we prepared another set of thesis topics for the next school year. Students can work on open source projects with us. At this event, we showed student what they could work on and tried to answer all their questions. BTW we have a new thesis management system, check it out ;-)
  • April 24 – Presentation of Red Hat Thesis Topics at FI MUNI – the same event, just different Brno university.
  • April 25 – Red Hat Presentation in Bratislava – another event in Bratislava, in fact just one building away, a different faculty. I talked on RHT programs for students and community activities.
  • May 7 – Day of Industrial Partners at FI MUNI – career fair kind of event, we had a short presentation of Red Hat and then we were answering students’ questions about Red Hat.

And it’s not the end. On Monday, I’m going to EurOpen to talk on the transition from GNOME 2 to GNOME 3. And on May 21st, I’m going to LinuxTag 2013, probably the biggest Linux event in Europe. Life never stops :)

Fedora: Giving Up Product?

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There is an interesting discussion going on in the Fedora Board and it gathers a lot of ideas. Some of them also say that we should give up defaults, or Fedora as an end product. I opposes such a direction and here is why:

Giving Up Defaults

Giving up defaults means giving up Linux newbies because it’d lead to the situation I call “new restaurant experience”. You go to a restaurant you’ve never been to and they give you an endless menu with tens of items usually strangely named. All you know is that you want a good meal, but you’re lost because you have no experience with the cuisine, you know almost nothing about the meals (except for ingredients) and you still need to choose something. Then the waiter comes to your rescue: “What meat do you like? Beef? Great, we’ve got this great meal with beef. You’ll love it! Would you like to give it a try?”, “Sure I would!” Or he could just say: “Beef? Great, we’ve got a huge selection of meals with beef, here see the section Beef.”  Would it help you? I can say it wouldn’t help me and when I’m in an unfamiliar location, I’m looking for restaurants that have simpler menus and predictable meals just to avoid such situations.

It works the same way with software. When my friend gave me a CD with Knoppix, I saw that Linux was quite nice on the desktop and I decided to give it a try. Knoppix was just a live distro, so I was looking for some more solid distribution. All I knew was that I wanted Linux for desktop. Someone told me that Mandrake was the best option for desktop and I went for it. I was glad that they had defaults (environment, apps,…) because I could not possibly make a qualified decision since I knew very little about Linux, and I trusted Mandrake that they chose a good selection for me. Mandrake’s default environment was KDE and I was satisfied with it enough to stick with Linux. After some time, when I was settled, I explored other options and found GNOME a better option for me. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t appreciate KDE as the default option at the beginning. It helped me.

Having defaults is about guiding. You tell newbies what you think is the best experience for them and it’s usually all they want to hear. Once they get more familiar with the distro, they can explore other options and find out that there is a whole world out there. Exposing the whole selection to new, unexperienced users is not helpful, it’s discouraging. The other day, one friend of mine told me that he needed Ubuntu or Debian to install one product that is supported only on these distributions. Because he had no experience with Linux, he asked which one. Well, I told him Ubuntu because I knew that was the quickest and easiest way to his goal: having that product up and running.  Just compare ubuntu.com and debian.org. Ubuntu gives you a very easy way to download and install it while Debian reveals all the complexity right at the beginning. Great for those who know exactly what they want, otherwise simply discouraging. And Debian still has defaults.

Having defaults is about focus. If you want to make a good product, you need to focus. It’s another thing Ubuntu did right (not any more with all that tablet/TV/mobile craze). It’s better to have one solid and working solution than ten unfinished and broken ones. If you have defaults, you know what really needs to work and you can focus on that.

Having defaults is about responsibility. A distribution is a huge selection of software. Something works better, something works worse. But it’s our responsibility that what we push to users as defaults is well maintained and has some future. I’m not sure if we can tell that about all desktop environments and window managers we’d have to equally offer if we had no defaults.

I believe having defaults is very important for Fedora Project. If we should have some default selection, it should be by use cases. You want a Linux for your desktop? Here is our product for desktop. You want to run Linux in the cloud? Here is our product for cloud. I know that choosing defaults is difficult and brings long discussions. But giving it up just because it’s difficult is like hiding head in sand.
Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate every new desktop environment, window manager, or application that is available in Fedora repos because freedom of choice is great, but having defaults doesn’t limit this freedom.

Giving Up Product

Making Fedora just a platform for other end products goes actually far beyond giving up defaults. Fedora would lose a lot. If you don’t have your own end product, you pretty much lose a lot of your visibility and brand. “Selling” a platform to users doesn’t make any sense because users (and most developers, too) don’t care about the platform what’s behind the product. They would use e.g. GNOME OS and just a few of them would know that there is actually some Fedora behind it and even fewer of them would care. Would it help bring more contributors? I don’t know, but I guess it probably wouldn’t. People get more likely attached to the product they’re using. While I like GNOME and I’m also a GNOME Foundation member, I’d rather switch to a different environment and stay with Fedora than stay with GNOME and switch to another distribution. This kind of attachment is very important for getting people involved and contribute. Without being the product people are using, we’d lose the ability to build such an attachment.

There was actually an attempt to build just a platform upon which others can build their products – Unity Linux. And it never took off. They never attracted enough developers while Mageia, another derivative of Mandriva which is also an end product, is doing much better. I still think a distribution like Fedora is the best wrapping for what’s called a Linux system. While e.g. GNOME is the face of the system, it’s Fedora who has the expertize from the kernel up to the desktop.

Another question is if any community would be interested in building a product based on Fedora. Why wouldn’t they choose Debian at the first place? By becoming just a platform, Fedora would lose a lot, but would we get something back, someone else on board? I doubt. And OS products generated from our own community? Regarding desktops, the GNOME part of the Fedora community might able to produce a solid desktop product, maybe KDE, too. But that’s pretty much it. I don’t see any other spins that are strong enough to build and promote products on their own.

Again, don’t get me wrong. I’d love to see Fedora as a great platform to build on, but I’d rather have Fedora as a great product to use and I don’t think that building a great product prevents us from being a good platform to build on. However, I’d encourage people to build things in Fedora rather than on Fedora.

And what would be my vision for Fedora?

A truly free and community general-purpose operating system that aims at people who create things and build solutions. It doesn’t matter whether they are designers, developers, admins etc.

Best Talks at DevConf.cz

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There were almost 100 talks, labs, and workshops at Developer Conference 2013 in Brno. After the conference, we organizer a contest for best talks where attendees could vote for 3 favorite talks. And the results are…

  1. Bryn M. Reeves – Who moved my /usr?? – Staying sane in a changing world
  2. Lennart Poettering & Kai Sievers – What are we breaking now?
  3. Daniel J. Walsh – SECure Linux Application Container
  4. Lennart Poettering – The systemd Journal
  5. Leslie Hawthorn - Negotiation theory for open source hackers
  6. Lukáš Czerner – Local file systems update
  7. Václav Pech – Pick the low-hanging concurrency fruit
  8. Koen Aers – Raise your Java EE 6 productivity bar with JBoss Forge
  9. Lukáš Zapletal – Java loves Ruby: Katello on TorqueBox
  10. Jiří Olša – perf profiling

Congratulations to winners! We’re currently looking for the best way to award them because they’re from all over the world.

BTW almost all talks are available on Youtube. The most popular talks based on Youtube views are:

  1. Lennart Poettering & Kai Sievers – What are we breaking now? – 1345 views
  2. Lennart Poettering – The systemd Journal – 714 views
  3. Vratislav Podzimek – The technology beyond Anaconda NewUI and 3rd party extensions – 336 views
  4. Aleš Kozumplík – Hawkey and DNF: the next-gen Fedora Packaging tools – 292 views
  5. Tom Callaway – Improving the Fedora User Experience with Design Driven Methodology – 274 views

The most attended talk at the conference was “Lennart Poettering & Kai Sievers – What are we breaking now?“. The attendance in a room for 200 people was waaay over its capacity.

That was some popularity stats. Hopefully, we’ll have even more interesting talks who you’ll enjoy at Developer Conference 2014.

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