I’m going to FUDCon APAC 2015!

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Last year, I was really impressed by the level of organization and atmosphere at FUDCon APAC that took place in Beijing, China which is why I decided to submit a talk for FUDCon APAC 2015, which is going to take place in Pune, India. And guess what! My talk was accepted!

I named the talk “Present and Future of Fedora Workstation”. I’m now part of the Red Hat desktop team and we have a lot of interesting stuff that has made it to F22 and even more interesting stuff that is planned for F23. So I’ll talk about all the goodness that is changing Fedora Workstation into the best desktop system for active and creative users (developers, writers, designers,…).

I’m arriving to Mumbai at 8:35am on June 25th. I’ve seen that some people have arrivals around that time, too. It’d be great to organize transportation to Pune together. After FUDCon, I’m taking a week of holidays and would like to check interesting places around, hope to see e.g. Goa before the proper rain season starts. India will be my 50th visited country and I’m looking forward to it.

See you in Pune!

Automatic Problem Reporting in F22

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I regularly go through most frequent problems reported to ABRT retrace server because it helps me prioritize bugs in Fedora that are assigned to my team. I think ABRT service is great for developers to prioritize their bugs + it helps collect much more data about the crash than an average user normally provides.

However,I’ve noticed a significant drop in number of reports in Fedora 22. It’s just two weeks before the final release when many early adopters are already running F22, but the difference in number of reports from F21 and F22 is huge: 64373:904.

12 days before F21 was released, we collected 16081 reports from this version. That’s almost 18x more. I don’t think we’re experiencing such a huge drop in adoption, so I investigated more…

…and learned that GNOME Control Center got a new privacy setting in F22: Problem reporting. And if you upgrade from Fedora 21 automatic crash reporting is disabled even though you had it enabled before the upgrade. To make it even more confusing if you go ABRT settings automatic reporting is enabled there. That’s because the setting in GNOME Control Center serves as a master setting that overrides settings in ABRT. So if you have upgraded to F22 and want to provide developers with very valuable data, please go to Control Center->Privacy->Problem Reporting and enable automatic reporting. Manual reporting is still possible from the ABRT app.

The ABRT team is working on a fix for this.

If you do a fresh installation, you should be able to allow automatic reporting in the Initial Experience after installation.

Instant Messaging in Fedora Workstation

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Instant messaging in Fedora Workstation is suboptimal. The current default IM client – Empathy – doesn’t work very well. It’s an app that was designed for GNOME 2 and is not a good citizen in GNOME 3. Mainly because of its multi-window nature. Having a separate roster window makes sense if the app uses a status icon, and when you close the roster window, it stays online, and you can always bring it back from the status icon. Empathy used to work that way, but in GNOME 3 status icons were declared deprecated. Empathy now doesn’t have the status icon and if you close the roster window, it goes offline, so if you want to stay online, you need to have a roster window floating around all the time.

So fix it, you would say. The problem with Empathy is that no one really wants. The app hasn’t seen any significant development for several years. The original author – Collabora – is not interested in developing it any more and no one else wants to pick up the development. Mostly because the app has quite complicated architecture.

The only advantage of Empathy was integration into the Shell. You could reply directly in notifications and you had all the current chats in the systray, so you didn’t have to use the app, which itself didn’t really fit in GNOME 3. But the latter feature was removed in GNOME 3.16, the Shell doesn’t have the systray panel, that hosted the chats, any more.

Because Empathy no longer has any user experience advantages and its development prospects are zero, we’ve been thinking about replacing it with something else. Pretty much the only other GTK+ IM client with support for a wide range of networks is Pidgin which used to be the default client before it was replaced by Empathy. Would it be a viable option? Here are some of my findings:

  • While Empathy has zero development, I really can’t say that Pidgin has any vital development. If you look at its stats at OpenHub, you’ll find out that there has been pretty small activity in the last couple of years, and it’s definitely declining.
  • Pidgin can run in a single window mode due to a plugin which I built in Copr if anyone is interested in trying it out.
  • It relies on the systray status icon and I don’t think it will be very simple to get rid of it.
  • There is a Pidgin integration extension for GNOME Shell, but in 3.16 it only shows notifications (it doesn’t show the content of the messages in notification, you can’t reply in notifications) and provides contacts for desktop search (not a in transparent way because Pidgin is not recognized as a search source and you don’t find it in search settings). Overall, the plugin is not very useful any more.
  • Pidgin is not integrated with GNOME Online Accounts. It’s kinda lame that you let users connect to their online accounts and then the default IM client doesn’t know about it and they have to do it again in its settings.
  • Pidging is not integrated with Contacts app.
  • Pidgin is a GTK+ 2 app. The developers started working on the GTK+3 port 6 years ago. Although most problems seem to be solved, the last update is two years old. Looking at the development pace, I’m not sure it will ever happen. Without GTK+3, you can’t run on Wayland, you can’t reasonably support HiDPI monitors. It simply doesn’t make Pidgin a good fit for a modern system Fedora Workstation wants to be.

Simply going back to Pidgin would not really help much long term. Right now, it’s probably a better client than Empathy, with at least some development activity. On the other hand, it doesn’t integrate well with GNOME, it doesn’t support modern technologies. So for Fedora it’d be a short-term solution if we decided to give up IM completely eventually which might be the case after all.

Pidgin in single-window mode.

Pidgin in single-window mode

Instant messaging networks are nowadays walled gardens. Several years ago, the open source community was using Jabber and it looked like we might get some interoperability and openness in popular IM networks as well. XMPP looked promising. This trend has completely reversed lately. Not only do we have more closed networks with their dedicated clients (Whatsapp, Viber,…), but the adoption of Jabber, the only truly open IM network, has been declining. I’m still a heavy user of integrated desktop IM clients, but I hear more and more often that people don’t care about IM integration into the desktop and rather chat in the web browser (Messenger, Hangouts,…).

What about you? Is well-integrated IM in Fedora still important to you or you don’t care any more?

F21 Release Party in Brno

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I finally found time to write a blogpost about our F21 release party in Brno office of Red Hat. It took place on the release date – December 9th. It was, as always, well attended. It’s hard to estimate the total number of attendees, but it was definitely over 100. Unfortunately, F21 DVDs had not arrived yet, but we still had other swag for people to take: Fedora product stickers, Fedora logo stickers, case badges, badges, pins, flyers,…

It was also the first time when we had all presentations in English. The event is primarily aiming at the Czech community, so it was always in Czech, but there are quite a few foreigners in Brno office and one of them asked if the presentations could be in English and because no one objected, we switched to English.

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Me demoing Fedora Workstation

I delivered the first presentation. It was on Fedora Workstation. I didn’t have any slides, and demoed all changes GNOME right away. The next presentation was by Petr Hracek who spoke on how to set up Android Studio via DevAssistant in Fedora 21. Then Dan Vrátil and Jan Grulich spoke about KDE Plasma 5 which you won’t find in Fedora 21, but you can easily try it from Copr and it will be included in F22. The last talk was by Fedora program manager Jaroslav Řezník who spoke about the recent changes in governance: Fedora Council, working groups, and also about “products” themselves. Too bad I didn’t find anyone in our office who could talk on Fedora Server, there were quite a few people interested in that.

Audience

Audience

Pictures were taken by Jiri Folta and you can find more of them in his G+ album.

Let’s Plan Events in EMEA!

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At EMEA FAD in Leverkusen, we started planning events and activities in EMEA for the fiscal year 2016 (starts on March 1, 2015). Right after that, I asked others, who couldn’t attend the FAD, to provide their input. Today, I put it all together on a new wiki page that should help us organize events where we want to promote Fedora in the next year.

I’d like to make the event planning more sophisticated. In the last two years, we’ve made a really good job in budgeting. We know where we will be and how much it will cost. Now, I’d like to add something more, so that we know why we will be there, what impact it will have, and if it’s somewhat aligned with the overall strategy of the Fedora Project.

That’s why the list of events on the wiki page is much more detailed than it ever was. And it’s not a closed list, you can still add an event if you want to go represent Fedora there and need support from us (even if you don’t need support, we still appreciate if you add the event, we’d like to know where Fedora is present). Based on this table, we will create a budget for the next year, and based on this budget, we will get money from Red Hat for events and activities in EMEA, so if you apply now it’s much easier to provide you with some funding because once the budget is finished we have to cover anything else from reserves and leftovers and those are very limited.

The new planning should also discover our shortcomings and help us work on them. So far, we, for example, don’t have any events planned outside Europe (nothing in Africa and Middle East :-( ). The only well-covered region is the Central Europe. We don’t cover the Balkans (Former Yugoslavia, Romania, Bulgaria) at all, no events in the Baltic countries, just two in Scandinavia. No events is such large countries as France, Poland, or Spain. We’re also too focused on traditional Linux/FOSS events where the audience usually already knows us and we don’t go to events that are a bit of our comfort zone, but our target audience is there (events for developers, makers,…).
I hope we will improve this a lot in FY2016.

DevConf.cz 2015: Last Call for Papers!

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The deadline of the CfP of DevConf.cz 2015 is really close (Dec 1st). So if you’re still thinking about submitting a talk, stop thinking and proceed to an action: CfP online form ;-)

Talks on Fedora or on stuff related to Fedora are especially welcome because the third day of the conference will be Fedora Day where all such talks may find their home.

DevConf.cz is the largest developer conference devoted to Red Hat technologies (Linux, Fedora, JBoss, cloud, virtualization,…). The last edition had almost 100 talks and workshops and around 1000 visitors. The 2015 edition will take place in Brno, Czech Republic on Feb 6-8.

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Fedora Day @ DevConf.cz 2015

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DevConf.cz is the largest developer conference devoted to Red Hat related technologies (Linux, JBoss, OpenShift, OpenStack,…). This year, there were around 1000 attendees which is a sizable number for a deeply technical conference. Because we were hitting the capacity limits of the venue, we decided to move the event to a different university campus which offers more rooms – FIT BUT. For those who attended GUADEC 2013: it’s the same venue.

The next DevConf.cz will span three days again – February 6-8th. And like this year we’d like to make the last day a Fedora Day. I think the Fedora Day was a success this year. Matthew Miller delivered his FPL’s keynote on Fedora.Next, representatives of working groups spoke about their progress, and there was overall an interesting discussion about the direction Fedora was taking. Not counting Flock, DevConf.cz is a conference with the largest number of Fedora contributors, so why not to use it for discussions, planning, and hacking?

I’m also in talks with the CentOS guys whether they want to join us for the Fedora Day and make it a Fedora & CentOS Day. I think there are quite a few topics the two projects can discuss.

DevConf.cz’s CfP has been on for some time and will be open till Dec 1st. If you have an interesting topic for a talk, workshop, or hackfest, submit it. And even if you don’t, consider attending. I assure you that you will enjoy the conference. You will have a chance to attend a lot of Fedora-related talks and meet many interesting people from the project.

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