Archive for October, 2010
I’ve had a bit more travel than is usual this month, which means I’m writing this blog post from a hotel room outside of Boston. Boston, you ask? What am I doing in Boston? I’m here for the rest of the week having some meetings at the Red Hat offices here in Westford, MA this week. I came up here in June when I was interviewing for the FPL job, but hadn’t been back since, and I thought it was about time to hop back up and spend some time in some meetings with some of my friends and co-workers here.
Today, I caught up with Paul Frields and Kara (from Red Hat’s press team) to talk about press blog entries and video highlights for the Fedora 14 release. I also talked with John Poelstra and Paul and Spot (via phone — poor guy is recovering from a nasty case of the flu) about the hiring process for the Fedora Program Manager job. (If you’re interested in the job, send either John or me your résumé now, before it’s too late!) I also had the chance to have some very informal meetings in the hallway with folks like Dan Walsh, Luke Macken, and Dave Malcolm. Since I’m a remote employee, I don’t get the chance to rub shoulders with these folks often enough, so I enjoyed chatting with them.
Tomorrow, I’ve got a higher-level meeting with several Red Hat managers to get some feedback from them on how they think Fedora is working as an upstream for Red Hat Enterprise Linux, as well as how I’m doing as the new FPL. My primary role in the meetings is to listen, and to gather feedback as we near the release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6, while the experience is fresh in everyone’s minds.
This meeting is a mechanism to gather ideas and comments from folks in Red Hat who aren’t necessarily engaged in Fedora on a day-to-day basis. In a way, Red Hat is not just an active participant and heavy contributor in Fedora, but is also somewhat of a customer, in that Fedora is an upstream from which Red Hat Enterprise Linux draws. It’s a helpful learning experience to hear firsthand accounts from a customer, and I hope this meeting will be no exception.
That feedback becomes part of the larger fabric of possibilities that can inform our future strategies. If there are opportunities for improvement that might interest the community, the entire Fedora team will collaborate to address those items, just as we would on any feedback. For example, FUDCon Tempe in January will be a great opportunity to discuss ideas for improvement in Fedora in a high-bandwidth fashion, and I’m looking forward to the ideas that come out of the time there. Another key goal for my meeting tomorrow is to give some of my thoughts and ideas back to Red Hat about the things I’ve seen during my first few months on the job. I’m a big fan of continual improvement, and I think these feedback sessions are one healthy and important way to make sure we’re making progress.
On Thursday, I’m doing a quick (15 minutes or less, I promise!) presentation to the Desktop team inside Red Hat, to let them ask some questions and get to know me a bit better. Should be pretty informal, but it’s a chance for me to get to know them better and vice versa. I’m also hoping to track down a few minutes to chat w/ Mo Duffy to tell her what an awesome job the design and website teams are doing on the new design of the Fedora website. (If you haven’t checked it out yet, you really should. I can’t tell you how pleased I am with the way it’s shaping up.)
On Friday, I’m doing a podcast with Paul Frields for “This Week in Fedora” from Frostbite Media. I did an interview with them a few weeks ago, but they invited me back, and I’m sure Paul and I will have an enjoyable time talking about our favorite subject. I’m also hoping to squeeze in time to shoot a bit of video for one of the Fedora 14 release videos. (Not that I really want to appear on video, but I do enjoy talking about the upcoming Fedora 14 release…)
Between all the meetings, I’ll be catching up on email, participating in IRC meetings, and helping coordinate all the moving parts of the release so that we can hopefully ship Fedora 14 according to our schedule. All in all, it’s shaping up to be a busy week here, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
This morning came too early today, as my body clock hadn’t adjusted to Mountain time yet. I was wide awake at 4:30, and couldn’t convince my brain to shut down for an extra hour of needed sleep. (I really shouldn’t complain… Several of the other Fedora folks at the conference arrived at about the same time this morning.) I checked email, caught up on a few RSS feeds, then got ready and headed to the hotel breakfast with Ryan Rix, Karsten Wade, Larry Cafiero. We had a very enjoyable discussion over breakfast.
After breakfast, Ryan Rix and I drove over to the conference. I promptly got pulled into a number of great hallway conversations with both old friends and new Linux users. At 8:30, I snuck over to the Utah CTO Breakfast. It’s a monthly gathering of tech-minded folks (you don’t have to be a CTO to show up!) that get together and chat about current tech topics over bagels and juice. Todays topics included long-term longevity of command-line interfaces, muscle memory, cost of context switching, and various strategies for improving signal to noise ratio in email and social networks. The question that stood out to me was “What if social networks gave people an way to respond anonymously to status updates and form a feedback loop, so that people would (hopefully) learn that they were wasting your time with their status updates?”
After the CTO breakfast, I spent a few minutes talking to some of the SuSE developers from Novell. I also spent some time catching up with a few of the organizers of the conference, and helping out with a few logistics. I also visited the various booths in the exhibit hall and had some great discussions about some of the new features coming in Fedora 14.
After lunch, I went to the presentation by Jake Edge (of LWN.net fame) on Free Software Project Promotion. He did a great job of enumerating the types of things that open source projects often forget to do when trying to promote themselves. I spent the rest of the afternoon popping in and out of several of the other presentations, and going over the slides for my keynote address.
At 4:30pm, I gave the keynote address entitled “Swimming Upstream: How Distributions Help Open Source Communities”. I felt at ease giving the presentation, and I think it was very well received. We had some really good questions during the Q&A sessions — I just wish I could remember them all now.
After my keynote, the conference had a presentation from LaunchUp.org, which is a way for entrepreneurs to get feedback on their ideas and find others interested in helping them move forward. It’s very much modeled after the open source way, and it was fun to watch the companies reach out and get some great feedback.
Now it’s time to grab some nachos and settle in for Ignite Salt Lake.
On Wednesday I woke up entirely too early and headed to the airport for a nice five-hour flight from Dulles airport to Salt Lake City. (I use the word nice, as it was a direct flight and I didn’t run into any major annoyances.) It was good to see the Wasatch mountains again — I keep forgetting how much I miss mountains. It was raining when I landed, but traffic was very light and it didn’t take long to get to the hotel. After checking into the hotel, I headed over to the Larry H. Miller campus of Salt Lake Community College campus to meet up with Clint Savage and help haul some equipment and survey the meeting rooms. The location is great. (If would have been nice to have all the rooms in the same building, but it’s not that big of a deal.)
Things are really looking good for the Utah Open Source Conference! Clint, Jason, and the rest of the crew have really done a good job of getting things set up.
The next event on my busy schedule for October is the Utah Open Source Conference, just south of Salt Lake City at the Larry H. Miller Campus of Salt Lake Community College. I’ve been involved with the UTOSC conference since my good friend (and fellow board game enthusiast) Clint Savage first started the conference. Since then I’ve watched it grow and mature into one of the best regional Linux conferences in the world.
I’ll be doing quite a bit at the conference — I’ll be giving a keynote address on Thursday afternoon called “Swimming Upstream: How Distributions Help Open Source Communities”. I’ll also be giving a presentation on Friday regarding easy system deployments using tools such as PXE booting, kickstart scripts, cobbler, puppet, and func. I’ll also be helping out in the Fedora booth and spending some time with the rest of our fabulous Fedora crew at the conference. I also told the organizers that I’d be happy to help out in any other ways, just like the good ol’ days when I was the person in charge of handing out name badges. (Last but not least, I’ll be thrashing all my friends in the “Board Game Bash” on Saturday night — this is my chance to show them who’s boss.)
I hope to see you at the Utah Open Source conference this week! If you’re at the show, please stop by and say hi. I’d love to talk with you!