Event Report: OSCAL 2016

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Last weekend, I attended OSCAL 2016, a conference about open source in Tirana, Albania. I was looking forward to the conference very much because the Fedora community in Albania had been very active recently. I’d met some of the Albanian community members at other conferences, but I was curious to meet others.

The conference really surprised me with its hospitality which was second to nothing. The organizers provided us with a lot of useful information, arranged transportation from the airport to the hotel. What was a real nice touch was a welcoming package which was waiting for every speaker in his/her hotel room. I haven’t seen something like this at any conference before and it must have been a real effort because speakers are spread among several hotels in the city.

The activity of Fedora community in Albania has real results. The user base of Fedora among open source enthusiasts in Albania seems to grow really fast. Fedora was by far the most popular distribution among OSCAL visitors and the only one visible there. We had a booth, many Fedora related talks, several ambassadors around.

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Fedora booth

I had two presentations. One was supposed to be a workshop for 30 minutes – “Best Practises in Translating Software”. 30 minutes is too short to make a proper workshop, so it was rather a practical talk. It was targeted at beginning translators, because I know there are quite a few people starting with that in Albania. But when I asked the audience who translates software just two hands rose. Others were just interested in the area. My second presentation was about Fedora Workstation (who is it for, what we have achieved, what we’re brewing), the room was pretty full and there were quite a lot of questions which is a sign that it was interesting for the audience.

At the end of the second day, there was a Fedora community meetup. There were experienced ambassadors from abroad (me, Giannis, Robert Scheck, Ardian,…), local ambassadors (Jona), other local contributors (Elio, Boris,…), and other people who were interested in joining the Fedora Project. We discussed what the Fedora Project can do for the local community to keep growing. We also talked about translations of Fedora and GNOME to Albanian. There are many new people translators, but the coordinators of translations that approve new translations are either inactive or reluctant to accept new contributions. Six years ago, I helped with a similar situation in the Slovak translation team, so I gave local contributors advice how to start processes to resolve it.

A couple of community members were interested in becoming ambassadors. There were three ambassador mentors (me, Robert, and Giannis) and we shared with them what are our expectations, that there is no limit for ambassadors per country. If there are enough active people, there can be even 10 ambassadors in Albania. We as mentors just have to make sure that the candidates are ready and are willing to contribute in longer term.

What was also very special about OSCAL was a number of women at the conference. Over 50% of attendees and 70% of organizers were women. That’s something you don’t see anywhere else. They’ve naturally achieved a gender diversity communities anywhere else in the world are struggling to achieve. When I ask why is that they told me that it’s because there are many women studying computer science. One girl told me that in her study program there are 190 women and only 10 men. Why are there so many women studying computer science? I was told it’s because girls are encourage to pursue this career path and IT is considered one of a few industries where you can get a job and earn good money. But I was also told that there are many women in other technical fields such as math and civil engineering. So it’s not only because IT would be the only attractive field there.

I’d like to thank the Fedora Project for sponsoring my flight ticket and I hope Fedora will be even more visible at OSCAL than this year.

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Mozilla booth

Get Notified of Crashes in Your Packages

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ABRT project produces very helpful statistics about crashes in Fedora. We in the Red Hat desktop team have been using it intensively for some time. I’ve already written about it in one of my previous posts. It’s really helped us make Fedora much more stable.

Call me Captain Obvious who just discovered America, but until now I had a very little idea about the fact that I can filter messages from FAF and make alerts. So when a problem in one of my packages reaches, say, 1000 occurrences I receive an email or IRC message that there is a severe enough problem to look at.

This is pretty useful for every Fedora packager and I think most of them are still not aware of it. If you’d like to set it up, go to the Fedora Notifications app, log in, choose either email or irc settings, click “Create a new filter”, and pick one of the available FAF rules. You can be notified of every single reported crash or (as the other end of the scale) you can set that you won’t be disturbed until the problem reaches 1,000,000 occurrences. It really depends on how popular and “crashy” your packages are. Just check the FAF stats and set the limit accordingly.

Of course, it’s just a very little subset of Fedora Notifications settings. This tool is very powerful, you can pick many other rules, combine them, and create filters tailored right for you. Kudos to our infra team for it!

‘Getting Started with Fedora’ handbook – update

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In October, I announced that we’d finally finished and printed a handbook for users who start with Fedora. It was a pilot created in the Czech community of Fedora, so we wrote the handbook in Czech first. The goal was to translate it to English if it proves to be good.

It’s proven to be good, no doubt about it. But translations to English are still not finished. We’ve created a repository on GitHub. The handbook was re-written in AsciiDoc (originally it was composed in Google Docs and then converted to LaTex). We didn’t hook it to any translation system simply because we don’t have any experience with that and haven’t found any volunteer to help us with that. So it’s being translated by simple re-writing in English which is not as bad as it sounds. It would not scale with frequent releases and heavy versioning, but the handbook is not very release specific (on purpose) and we’re not planning to do more than one release a year. In the repository, there are currently two directories with translations (Czech and English).

Due to lack of time, I’ve only been able to translate 4 chapters out of 10. And it’s not going to improve any time soon. That’s why I’d like to call for volunteers who know both Czech and English and would be willing to help. Translations to English don’t have to be perfect. Several native speakers have already offered me that they could do some grammar polishing, but it needs to be translated at least in “rough” English. I’ve considered Google Translate, but that would probably be too rough.

Anyone out there to help?

Fedora News Channel on Telegram

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I and Justin Flory have created a Fedora News channel on Telegram. It’s a new way to follow news about the Fedora Project and it’s supplementary to the news channels we’re already using (Planet Fedora/RSS, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, mailing lists). The Telegram channel is a one-way communication, there is no way to reply or comment on news messages. For discussion, we already have a Fedora group chat.

Broadcasting news over instant messaging is getting increasingly popular at the expense of social networks. The problem with social networks is that they filter more and more what you receive. Facebook does it drastically and has become almost a useless platform to share news with your followers unless you’re willing to pay. The official Fedora account has 56 thousand followers, but the average reach of our messages is  around 2 thousand. Google+ and Twitter don’t filter in such a brutal way, but Twitter is reportedly planning to “sort” your incoming tweets which is another step in that direction.

Anyway, if you’re using Telegram and would like to receive news about Fedora through it, start following our channel: telegram.me/fedoranews

Add-on Metadata Initiative – Update 2

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After two weeks I’ve got another update on the add-on metadata initiative. The last update was not overly positive, but no one else participated during the Christmas break. After people returned from the holidays, there was a bit of breakthrough.

First people updated information in the table and we identified add-ons that had been obsoleted and thus it doesn’t make sense to include them in the app catalog.

Quite a few add-ons got their metadata files, so they should now appear in Software. For instance, all LibreOffice extensions that are packaged in Fedora repositories (kudos to David Tardon). Or additional Evolution plugins (kudos to Milan Crha). Last time, I mentioned that the maintainer of thunderbird-enigmail had refused to include AppStream metadata even though the file had been provided. This has also been solved (kudos to Christian Dersch and Stephen Gallagher) and now all Thunderbird extensions in Fedora repositories should be covered.

I and KDE guys in my team have also discussed organizing a hackfest during DevConf.cz where we would focus on app and add-on metadata for KDE applications because those are still not fully covered. Add-ons not at all.

And you can also participate if you have a bit of time (writing a metadata file really requires very little time). The job is far from done. And it will help make Fedora more user friendly again.

Schedule of DevConf.cz 2016 is out!

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A couple of days ago, DevConf.cz 2016 schedule has been published. It’s bigger than ever before. This year, we have over 200 talks and workshops! There aren’t many bigger events devoted to open source in Europe. And I can finally enjoy it more because after 4 editions (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015) I’m no longer the main organizer.

It takes a team of people to go through almost 400 submissions and make a schedule with over 200 of them. I put together desktop, Fedora, and CentOS tracks. So if you don’t like them I’m the one to blame😉

Since there are many Fedora ambassadors coming to DevConf.cz anyway, we’ve decided to organize an EMEA Ambassadors Meetup which will take place on Sunday afternoon. I hope to see any ambassadors as possible there.

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