Prepare for FUDCon!

I have a pretty good idea what you’re thinking… you’re saying to yourself “Here goes Jared, reminding me of all the things I need to remember about FUDCon”.  Well, this is a FUDCon reminder, but I’ll leave the logistics details aside for a moment, and invite you to prepare for FUDCon in other ways.  I’m sure others will remind you of the logistical items you’ve forgotten about.  (You did remember to sign up ahead of time for the wireless internet access at Virginia Tech, right?)

Amit learning at FUDCon Pune

Prepare to Learn

One of the things I most enjoy about the Fedora Users and Developers Conference is the chance to learn in a fast-paced environment from people who do amazing things every day.  That learning doesn’t come by accident, however.  I learned at my first FUDCon that you really need to prepare ahead of time to be able to take advantage of all there is to learn at FUDCon.  So, write down a short list of topics you’d like to learn about. Write down a list of questions you’d like to ask your fellow Fedora contributors.  Look at the list of workshops, and start planning which ones you would like to attend.  And when we organize the barcamp portion of the conference on Saturday morning, pay attention to the sessions that are pitched and be prepared to vote for the sessions you are most likely to attend.

I’ve seen from sad experience that if you don’t plan ahead for learning, you’ll end up spending too much time checking your email or chatting with your friend in the hallway (more on the hallway track below!), and miss out on a great opportunity to learn and grow.

Eugene teaching at FUDCon Pune

Prepare to Share

I’ve talked briefly about learning at FUDCon, but that must mean there’s another side to the coin: If there are people to learn, then there must be people willing to teach as well.  This is one reason why the barcamp session at FUDCon is truly amazing, because anybody can stand up and propose a session.  It always helps if you have something prepared to share, or know the material well enough that you can do a presentation without any formal preparation, but that’s not an absolute requirement.  I do encourage you, however, to spend some time thinking about the things you have that you could teach to other participants, and then come prepared to share your knowledge with others.

I’d also like you to think about ways you can share the FUDCon experience with those who aren’t able to make it to the conference.  All the usual suspects (blog posts, microblogging such as or Twitter, social networking, IRC channels) are there and available to help us share with those who are participating vicariously.

Socializing at FUDCon Tempe

Prepare to Socialize

Another important aspect of FUDCon is the chance to get to know your fellow Fedorans better.  So even though I told you earlier to plan ahead so that you don’t get stuck in the “hallway track” at FUDCon, I must confess that the hallway track is an important part of the conference.  Perhaps as important as the technical bits.  Getting to know your fellow contributors helps build trust in our community, and helps to smooth over the rough patches that we encounter from time to time.  Sometimes being able to put a face and a name with an IRC handle makes all the difference.  There are a number of activities on the schedule specifically designed to help you get to know your (virtual) neighbors a bit better, and I’m sure some people will come up with unscheduled activities as well.

So bring your HAM radio, or your DSLR, or your latest robotics kit, or your hot dog costume.  Bring your favorite keyboard or input device… and then don’t be afraid to say hello to those around you.  And if you see me, say hi!  (I’ll be the guy playing amateur photographer and generally trying to make sure things go smoothly.)

Work being done during FUDCon Tempe

Prepare to Work

Last but not least, I ask each of you to come to FUDCon prepared to work.  Yes, we have a good time at FUDCon.  Yes, we learn and share and grow.  But at the end of the day, FUDCon is about making forward progress, and moving us one step closer to our goals.  Yes, talk is important, and conversation is crucial.  It’s only if we put those ideas into action that FUDCon is truly successful.  If you’re a part of a steering committee or a special interest group in Fedora, prepare to set a plan for the upcoming year.  If you’re not yet a member of a special interest group, you might want to join one at FUDCon, and take the first step to becoming more involved.

I can’t wait to spend time with many of you at FUDCon this coming weekend, and hope to meet the rest of you someday at a future event.

(Thanks to María “tatica” Leandro and Kushal Das for sharing their FUDCon photos with me.)

A few notes on FUDCon Blacksburg

Yes, it’s that time again.  Another Fedora Users and Developers Conference (or FUDCon, as they are affectionately known) is just around the corner.  Part of my job is to make sure everyone in Fedora knows the essential details for FUDCon Blacksburg.  I know that the middle of January sounds like a long way away, but we’re now less than a month away from FUDCon Blacksburg.   If you’re interested in attending, here’s what you need to know:

When? Where?

FUDCon Blacksburg will take place January 13th through 15th, 2012 in Blacksburg, Virginia, USA — a beautiful community in southwestern Virginia, nestled in the Appalachians and near the Jefferson National Forest.

How much does it cost?

Like all FUDCon events, there is no charge to attend FUDCon Blacksburg.  Simply show up and enjoy the conference!

Where do I pre-register?

Please register online by adding your name to the wiki at so that we can plan appropriately for the number of people attending FUDCon.

What about hotel rooms?

We’ve arranged a special rate with the Inn at Virginia Tech. Click this link for reservations or call the Hotel directly at +1-540-231-8000 or toll free at +1-877-200-3360 and ask for the Fedora room block. Our block expires on December 28, 2011, so don’t delay!

I’m flying to FUDCon.  What airport do I fly into?

The closest commercial airport is Roanoke Regional Airport, approximately 40 miles from Blacksburg. A shuttle bus is available Monday through Saturday (but not on Sunday) from  Please consult that website for a detailed schedule and map.  There will be a few people with cars to help shuttle people to the airport if you happen to fly out on Sunday.

Where do I find more information?

The main website for FUDCon Blacksburg is at I hope to see you at the conference.

SELF, Day 1

The first day of SELF was busy and productive.  I started the day by attending David Nalley’s presentation as part of “Build your own Open Source cloud day” here at SELF.  I had to leave after the first hour, however, as we had a FAD (FADs are Fedora Activity Days — small group meetings where we try to focus on one or two particular problems and come up with better solutions) focused on improving FUDCons.  In particular, we wanted to focus on:

  • Clarifying the process for FUDCon finances and the purchase of tickets for travel subsidies
  • Clarifying the bid selection process, and brainstorming ideas to make it better
  • Improve the FUDCon planning process, and ensure that there is an overabundance of transparency and detail-oriented organization

We had some fairly good discussions on each of the three topics, and I’ll be writing follow-up blog posts to address these items over the next couple of weeks.  It is imperative that we make the FUDCon process as transparent and smooth as possible, as we’ll essentially have three FUDCons in four months (FUDCon EMEA in September/October, FUDCon APAC in November/December, and FUDCon North America in January).

As the Fedora crew was winding down the discussion in the FAD, I had to run give my presentation (the first stand-alone presentation of the day) entitled “Swimming Against the Current”, which was a fairly high-level overview of the software development model, the river of functionality that starts with upstream software developers and flows downstream to end users, the unique role that software distributions such as Fedora play, and why it’s vital both to build strong relationships of trust with upstream software communities, as well as improve the communications within the distribution itself.  The talk seemed to be very well received, and we had a great Q and A session afterword where we discussed strategies for improving the mentoring process within communities.

After wolfing down a sandwich for lunch, I spent some time talking with former Docs Project lead Eric Christensen (Sparks on IRC) discussing some of the ins and outs of the documentation team in Fedora.  We worked on fleshing out a quick outline for new guide that Eric is writing, and then dove into brainstorming ideas for improving the docs process workflow.  In the middle of that discussion, Eric and I went to Paul Frields’ talk, which was an introduction to PyGObject programming (Python + GUI + the new GObject hotness). After wrapping up the Docs discussion, it was time to head to the speaker’s dinner, and then retire to my room, make a few phone calls, and crash.

UTOSC 2010, Day 1

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 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, 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.

UTOSC 2010, Day 0

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.

Utah Open Source Conference

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!

FISL, Day 1

Day one of the FISL conference (at least for me, as I arrived on Thursday) was mostly spent in airplanes.  My flights took me from Dulles to Orlando to São Paulo to Porto Alegre.  (Nothing is better than having a flight attendant wake you up at 3:00am to feed you and airline dinner, right?)  When I landed in Porto Alegre, Leo and Rafael were kind enough to pick me up and drive me to the FISL conference.  I was impressed with the size of the conference and the variety of the booths.

Fedora booth
The Fedora booth at FISL

I have to admit — I was a bit stunned when I saw the Fedora booth.  It looked absolutely gorgeous!  I had no idea when I walked in whether we were sharing Red Hat’s booth or would have our own; little did I know that we’d have the best looking booth at the show.  The location of the booth was perfect — we were right on the corner where people would pass by on their way to the big lecture hall.

After shaking hands with the Fedora ambassadors and volunteers and saying hello to the folks in the Red Hat booth, I gave a quick impromptu speech (in Spanish, by request) to the crowd that had gathered around our booth, and then sat back and watched as Toshio gave a great talk on packaging RPMs for Fedora, with a lot of additional explanation in Portuguese from Rafael and Leo.  (We had several other presentations right there in the booth as well over the course of the day.)  At that point, we had about fifty people gathered around the booth, so we handed out media and stickers and helped answer questions.

Fedora booth at FISL
Crowd around the Fedora booth

After the show wound down for the day, we went to dinner at a traditional Brazilian churrascaria. The food was delicious — I ate too much food, and forgot how much I like the Brazilian soft drink called Guaraná. It was the perfect way to end the day.  On the way back to the hotel, I got to see a bit of the city of Porto Alegre.