Fedora, Linux

Attended Flock 2017

Two weeks ago, I had the pleasure to attend Flock 2017, the annual Fedora contributor conference. It moves between North America and Europe and after Krakow, Poland last year it took place in Hyannis, Massachussetts.

The conference started with the traditional keynote by Matthew Miller on the state of the Fedora Project. Matthew does a lot of data mining to create interesting statistics about how the project is doing. The keynote is an opportunity to share it with the public.

The Fedora user base is still growing as you can see on the chart of IP connections to Fedora update servers. Fedora 26 exceeded F25 just before Flock:

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Here are also geologic eras of Fedora as Matthew calls them. As you can see there is still a decent number of very old, unsupported Fedora installations which are still alive:

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It’s a pity that Matthew didn’t include the slide with ISO download shares of Fedora editions and spins. But last time he did Fedora Workstation amounted to ~80 % of all ISO downloads.

But by far the most popular part of the project is EPEL. Just look at its number of IP connections compared to all Fedora editions:

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Which brings me to another interesting talk I attended and that was EPEL State of the Union by a Fedora Project veteran Stephen Smoogen. As a Fedora packager I also maintain a couple of packages for EPEL, so it was interesting to hear how this successful sub-project is doing.

There were not many desktop-related talks this year. No “Status of Fedora Workstation” any more. It was very modularization and infrastructure focused. One of a few desktop talks was “Set up your own Atomic Workstation” by Owen Taylor, who is experimenting with distributing and running Fedora Workstation as an atomic OS, and Patrick Uiterwijk, who has been running it on his machine for a year or so (had a similar talk last year). Wanna try it yourself? Check out https://pagure.io/workstation-ostree-config

Although I didn’t attend the talk about secondary architectures by Dan Horák, we ended up talking and I was very happy to learn that the secondary arch team is doing automated builds of Firefox Nightly to catch problems early. That’s great news for us because with every major release of Firefox secondary architectures consumes a lot of our time. I asked Dan if they could do the same with WebKitGTK+ because it’s a very similar case and it looks like they will!

Several months ago David Labský created a device called Fedorator as his bachelor thesis supervised by a Fedora contributor and Fedora badge champion Miro Hrončok. The device lets you create a bootable USB stick with a Fedora edition of your choice. It’s Raspberry Pi-based, it has a touchscreen. The design is open source and you can assemble it yourself. Two months ago I got an idea to get David to Flock, buy components and assemble a dozen of fedorators which Fedora ambassadors can take home to use at local events. The result of it was a session at Flock where participants indeed assembled a dozen of fedorators. I only provided the idea and connected David with the right people. It wouldn’t have been possible without help of Brian Exelbierd, Paul Frields and others who arranged a budget, bought components etc.

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I also did have a session, but unfortunately it was a complete failure 😦 I coordinate the Fedora Workstation User’s Guide project whose goal is to produce a printed guidebook for new users. We’ve had a Czech version for the last two years and we just finished the English one. I wanted to work on content changes for the next release and help people start versions translated into their languages. Unfortunately my session was scheduled at 6pm on the last day when everyone was ready for dinner or was even leaving the conference. It also overlapped with the docs session which people who I knew had been interested attended.

In the end, not a single person showed up at my session which is my new personal record. I’ve done dozens of talks and sessions at conferences, but zero audience was a new experience.

Anyway, if you’d like to produce a handbook in your language to use at booths and to spread the word about Fedora, check the project on Pagure. As I said the 2017 release is out and will only receive bug fixes, the content is final and thus it’s safe to translate.

Although my session was not really a success I’m still glad I could attend the conference. I had several hallway conversations about the project and countless other interesting conversations, learned new things, caught up with Fedora friends.

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GNOME

Attended GUADEC 2017

Although I was still recovering from bronchitis and the English weather was not helping much, I really enjoyed this year’s GUADEC. Last 3 GUADECs suffered a bit from lower attendance, so it was great to see that the conference is bouncing back and the attendance is getting close to 300 again.

What I value the most about GUADEC are hallway conversations. A concrete outcome of it is that we’re currently working with Endless people on getting LibreOffice to Flathub. In the process of it we’d like to improve the LibreOffice flatpak, so that it will be a full replacement for the traditional version in packages: having Java available, having spell-checking dictionaries available etc.

I also spent quite a lot of time with the Engagement team because they’re trying to build local GNOME communities and also make improvements in their budgeting. This is something I spent several years working on in the Fedora Project and we have built robust systems for it there. The GNOME community can get an inspiration from it or even reuse it. That’s why I’d like to be active in the Engagement team at least a bit to help bring those things into life.

Fedora, Red Hat

DevConf.cz 2017

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.

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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.

Fedora, GNOME, LibreOffice

OpenAlt 2016

OpenAlt, a traditional open source conference in Brno, took place last weekend. I gave talks on Wayland and Flatpak, and organized a Fedora booth.

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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.

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LibreOffice

LibreOffice Conference 2016

LibreOffice Conference 2016 is over and for us organizers it’s a time to reflect.

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It was the third big open source desktop conference we’ve managed to get to Brno (after GUADEC 2013 and Akademy 2014). 3 days of talks, 150 attendees from all over the world, 4 social events.

The conference went pretty well from the organizational point of view. Feedback has been very positive so far. People liked the city, the venue (FIT BUT campus is really, really nice), the parties, and catering during the conference. TDF board even lifted Red Hat to the highest sponsorship level for the amount of work we did for the conference. The only major bummer we had was no online streaming. It’s quite easy to set it up with the university’s built-in video recording system, but the university didn’t allow it in the end. Nevertheless, we treated online streaming as nice-to-have. Video recordings are important to us and we’ll do our best to get them online as soon as possible.

I’ve (co)organized quite a few international conferences, but what was new for me was an attendee who gets seriously sick and needs medical services. One of the Libocon attendees got a serious infection in his leg and we spent a lot of time driving between hospitals, talking to doctors, arranging things. Everything ended well and the attendee got so better than he was even able to fly back home as he planned originally which didn’t look very likely at the beginning.

What I really don’t like doing is being an organizer and speaker at the same conference. As an organizer you’re just too busy and can’t concentrate on a talk you’re supposed to deliver. I volunteered to do an introductory talk in the Friday’s Czech track. I was even given already prepared slides and using someone else’s slides is another thing I don’t like doing. So as you can imagine it was not one of the best talks of my career 🙂 But the Czech track turned out to be quite good overall. I just wish more people had come, but if you only have <2 weeks to promote the program you won’t get crowds to the conference.

I’d like to thank The Document Foundation for a great cooperation, and all attendees for being so kind and forgiving us minor glitches in the organization. It was an exhausting, but great experience, and I hope to see everyone in Rome next year where I can again be in the comfortable seat of a visitor.

Fedora, GNOME

Flock & GUADEC 2016

The last two weeks were pretty busy for me because I travelled to two of my most favourite conferences – Flock and GUADEC.

Flock was held in Krakow this year, so the traveling was a sort of easy for me. Krakow is just 350 km from Brno which is about 3.5 hours by car. The conference was again organized in the hotel where almost everyone stayed. The same setup was already in Rochester last year and people appreciated it. It’s very convenient. You don’t have to travel to the venue, you can sneak out to have a nap, which is super useful if you’re fighting jet lag, and you can use hotel facilities such as a gym or swimming pool.

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I had one talk and one hackfest at Flock. The talk was about Fedora SWAG. I’m still quite a lot involved in SWAG production for the EMEA region and it was a pleasure to state that the things have improved since the last year and a lot of ideas we had at Flock in Rochester actually got implemented.
The hackfest I organized was about writing AppStream metadata for application add-ons. I started the initiative in December and since then dozens of add-ons appeared in GNOME Software because they got AppStream metadata. The hackfest was partly a workshop because it took me quite a while to explain everyone what to do to make an add-on appear in the default app catalog in Fedora. I also learned new things. Richard Hughes who is very involved in upstream AppStream and works on GNOME Software participated and I, for example, learned that the way I had added keywords in metadata XML files was wrong. And Richard learned that I was doing it wrong because it was not documented anywhere.

I also attended many other talks. Matthew Miller’s keynote on the state of Fedora Project was very informative. I’m happy to see Fedora grow and I’m especially happy that our team plays a big part in it (Workstation makes ~80% of all ISO downloads). My boss Christian Schaller had a talk on Workstation which was pretty interesting, but because my team is deeply involved in many of the Workstation initiatives there was not much new to me. I also enjoyed talk by Jonathan Dieter who has run Fedora on 100+ computers in a high school in Lebanon and it was very interesting to listen to what it takes to use Fedora in such a deployment. Jonathan also noted that he hasn’t had a single major issue with Fedora in the last 3-4 years. Improved quality of Fedora was a theme that repeated in many other talks.
What was the main topic of the conference was modularity. Langdon presented a progress of this initiative. I must say I knew very little about it and I was quite surprised that the planned solution is built around RPM rather around increasingly popular containers.
I also met Pawel Hajdan of the Google Chrome team. Conversations with him very very informative and interesting for other Red Hat desktop team members, too. We discussed AppStream metadata for Chromium, Chromium for Flatpak, Chrome on RHEL etc.

Just a couple of days after I returned home from Flock I travelled to GUADEC which is the primary conference for GNOME users and developers. I didn’t have any talk or workshop, but a couple of my reports spoke there. This time the traveling was a bit more difficult. We went by train, had to take 6 of them, and traveled 1000 km. But the whole Brno crew made it to Karlsruhe sound and safe.

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There were many talks by Endless people. I’m really happy that Endless increases its investment in GNOME. It’s always better to have several major corporate contributors. Endless also proves that it’s possible to build a different shell on the top of GNOME, make your own UX story and still use most of the GNOME components.

I really enjoyed Owen Taylor’s talk on Fedora Atomic Workstation. Read-only OS, all apps in containers, development environment separated from the system… tt will be a radical change, but with a lot of potential benefits. I also like that Owen already has a clear idea about it and an already working prototype.

On Monday, I attended a Flatpak BoF. I expected it’d be mostly about portals, but portals were mentioned just briefly. Most of the discussion was about some centralized Flatpak repository. Someone suggested something called FlatHub which would be a place for Flatpak repositories where developers can build and distribute their apps, something like Copr for Flatpak. This can’t be exposed to average users though. We want to avoid a mess of 10 builds of GIMP without guaranteed quality. So there needs to be something called FlatStore where only approved and trusted developers can distribute their apps. So only GIMP developers themselves would be able to distribute GIMP there. There were many practical obstacles discussed. Should we build everything on store servers or allow developers upload binaries (building some desktop apps could be very resource hungry), who should run such a store (GNOME Foundation, FreeDesktop.org, a company?), how distributions will accept something that is built outside their control etc.

I enjoyed all days of both conferences. Very well organized, but still with the “for contributors by contributors” feeling. GUADEC 2017 will be in Manchester. Where Flock 2017 is going to be held is yet to be announced. The only certainty is that it will be in North America, so much more travelling for me next year, but I hope to visit both again.

LibreOffice

LIBOCon: get around Brno

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.

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