Several years ago, we organized two workshops focused on packaging software for Fedora. It was a success. Both workshops were full and several participants became package maintainers in Fedora. Packaging for Flatpak is becoming popular lately, so we decided to offer a workshop which is focused on flatpaking apps.
Last week, we had a presentation on Google Summer of Code and Outreachy at Brno University of Technology. Around 80 students attended which was a pretty good success considering it was not part of any course. It was a surprise for the uni people as well because the room they booked was only for 60 ppl.
The main reason why we did the presentation is that there have been very few students in Brno who participated in such programs. And the open source community is pretty big at local universities due to the presence of Red Hat. When we asked students who had heard of Google Summer of Code or Outreachy before only two raised their hands. That was even fever then we expected.
Shortly before the presentation, we discovered that the money reward for successfully finishing Google Summer of Code was not the same globally any more. And for the Czech Republic, it’s now $3600 instead of $5500. So considerably less, but still fairly attractive to local students.
As a follow-up to this presentation, we organized a GNOME hackaton in the Red Hat lab at BUT. Carlos Soriano was in charge of it with me, Felipe Borges, and Debarshi Ray helping him. Carlos prepared images for VirtualBox and KVM with a prepared development environment every student was supposed to download. People had to work in a virtual machine, but they didn’t have to spend time configuring and compiling everything and it assured that everyone had the same environment.
Around 12 students showed up which I think was a good turnout. 3 of them were women which is definitely higher % than the average at the uni. First Carlos told them to read the GNOME Newcomers guide and pick an app they’d like to contribute to. Then he created a dummy bug and showed students the whole process of fixing it from searching the code to the patch review. Then they were supposed to find some easy bug in the app of their choice and fix it.
Almost all students picked apps written in C, which is not so surprising because that’s the language they learn primarily at the university. Only one picked GNOME Music written in Python. The hackaton lasted for 5 hours and all students were busy for the whole time and almost everyone submitted some fix in the end.
Carlos is planning to do a follow-up with those who want to continue, probably before our (ir)regular Linux Desktop Meetup next week. Let’s see if some of them will make it to Google Summer of Code or Outreachy and even become long-term contributors to GNOME later on. It was the first time we actually made students to dip their fingers into the code. At all events before we had presentations on how they can contribute and pointed them to the docs to study at home, but the response was minimal. Maybe such a hackaton where you help students in person to make the first steps is the right approach to break through the barrier.
I’m pretty sure Carlos will also blog about his findings and it will be much more insightful since he spent a lot of time preparing the hackaton and was the one who talked to the students the most.
Another edition of DevConf.cz took place last week. It was already the second edition I didn’t organize. This year, I was involved in the organization even less, just helping with the program and serving as a session chair for one day. So I could enjoy the conference more than ever before.
DevConf.cz is still growing. This year, we had over 1700 registrations and ~1600 ppl actually showed up. This time, we also know for sure because it was the first edition when we did a registration and check-in. DevConf.cz is growing into a smaller FOSDEM with more focus on open source enterprise technologies and I think it even covers this area better than FOSDEM. The number of talks and workshops was also a bit higher, I think (200-250).
The opening keynote was pretty interesting. Tim Burke, the VP of Red Hat, announced a focus on integration of different Red Hat products and this year he showed it had actual results. People could see a demo of using different Red Hat products from hardware provisioning to deploying an app to OpenShift from JBoss Developer Studio. I hope that we as the desktop team will be able to contribute to this. Fedora Workstation is a great OS for developers and it should be the best OS for developers that want to develop on Red Hat platforms. I’d love us to get to the point where starting to develop with Red Hat technologies is just a matter of a couple of clicks/commands.
Another highlight of the conference was Hans de Goede’s talk “Making Fedora run better on laptops”. Hans announced a new team which is part of the desktop team and which will work on better hardware support in Fedora and RHEL (with the focus on laptops). We will finally have laptop models which will be officially supported!
The desktop track took place on Sunday. I session-chaired it, so I was more or less obliged to watch it all 🙂 Matthias Clasen prepared a very good presentation on Flatpak. His talk and, in fact, the whole track was interrupted when the projector system broke down. Unfortunately it was a failure in one of the main hardware components which couldn’t be fixed immediately. Matthias had to carry on without the projector and I must say that despite all the difficulties he did very well and there was a lot of questions. Meanwhile we managed to get a backup room where we moved the track once Matthias’ talk was over. Unfortunately the room was much smaller and a bit hidden which might have had an impact on attendance. So not so many people had an opportunity to watch another interesting talk – “Fedora Workstation – removing obstacles to success” by Christian Schaller who outlined some of our plans for the official Fedora desktop edition.
The weather during the conference was extraordinarily cold and a new term – devconflu – was invented. But I really enjoyed it, just had to give up FOSDEM for it. I was not up for another DevConf.cz+Red Hat internal meetings+FOSDEM this year.
BTW all the talk recordings are already online. Check out the DevConf.cz Youtube channel.
OpenAlt, a traditional open source conference in Brno, took place last weekend. I gave talks on Wayland and Flatpak, and organized a Fedora booth.
Originally, I planned to give a talk on Flatpak only, but then the organizers came to me if I could find someone who could give a talk on the status of Wayland because people ask for it. And because I couldn’t find anyone else, I had to do the talk myself. OpenAlt was promoted live on Czech Television (something like BBC) and the Wayland talk was featured as one of the hot talks for which people should attend OpenAlt.
Both talks were in the main hall and both attracted quite a lot of people although Wayland was more popular in the end. Both topics also stirred quite a lot of interest and many people came to me afterwards to discuss the topics more in detail. LinuxEXPRES.cz has already released an article based on information from my Flatpak talk.
There were other interesting desktop-related talks. Dan Vrátil, an ex-member of our team, gave a talk about the history of KDE and he ran the presentation on KDE 1 (in Fedora 25), so he literally went back in time 🙂
Jan Holešovský talked on LibreOffice Online and Katarina Brehens on LibreOffice adoption in Germany.
Brno is a stronghold of Fedora mainly due to large presence of Red Hat, so OpenAlt is a lot about meeting our current users. We had some Fedora winter hats and t-shirts for them. Many users were happy to hear that Fedora 25 has much better and currently probably the best-among-distributions support for switchable graphics cards and much easier way to install nVidia drivers.
I had an interesting chat with a guy from sledovanitv.cz, a local startup providing TV streaming. He mentioned that they originally wanted to install Fedora on their laptops, but WiFi didn’t work (missing Broadcom drivers) and they gave up. So we definitely have another major hardware PITA in line to fix.
We also organized the 4th Linux Desktop Meetup. This time on Friday as “OpenAlt Edition”. And we had a special guest from Mozilla CZ who gave a talk on what’s going on in the Mozilla community. Some of the stuff was really exciting and Mozilla guys are interested in participating in future meetups even though they live in a different city.
Last Thursday, we organized a regular Linux Desktop Meetup in Brno and because two major desktop environments had had their releases recently we also added a release party to celebrate them.
The meetup itself took place in the Red Hat Lab at FIT BUT (venue of GUADEC 2013) and it consisted of 4 talks. I spoke on new things in GNOME 3.22, our KDE developer Jan Grulich spoke on new things in Plasma 5.8, then Oliver Gutierrez spoke on Fleet Commander and the last talk was given by Lucie Karmova who is using Fedora as a desktop in a public organization and shared her experiences with the Linux desktop.
After the talks, we moved to the nearby Velorex restaurant to celebrate the releases. The whole event attracted around 25 visitors which is definitely above the average attendance of our meetups. Let’s see if we can get the same number of people to the meetup next month.
Last, but not least I’d like to thank the Desktop QA team of Red hat for sponsoring the food and drinks at the release party.
Yesterday I added Get around Brno page to the LibreOffice Conference website. There you can find comprehensive information about public transport in Brno, how to buy tickets, how to get to the hotel/venue if you arrive by train/bus/car/plane etc. All accompanied with maps and pictures of described places. So hopefully no one will get lost on their way to the hotel or venue, or struggle purchasing tickets.
If you’re coming to LibreOffice Conference 2016, definitely check it out. You may also want to download the page for offline usage in case you won’t mobile data.
The desktop engineering team in the Red Hat office in Brno is quite large, we’ve got over 20 developers working on various desktop projects here, but there is no active community outside Red Hat. We’re also approached by students who are interested and would like to get started, but don’t know where and we’d like to have an event to which we can invite them, talk to them about it more in detail, and help them with things beginners struggle with.
That’s why we’ve decided to start Linux Desktop Meetups. They should take place every first Thursday in a month in Red Hat Lab at the Faculty of Information Technologies of Brno University of Technology.
What will be on the agenda? It will be driven by the participants. We hope to have a couple of short, practical presentations, the rest will be discussions, helping others etc.
If you happen to live in Brno and are interested in the Linux desktop, come and join us at 18:00 on May 5th!