Become an Advisor to the Fedora Board!

One of the things I love about Fedora is it’s dedication to transparency. In today’s Fedora Board Meeting, it came to our attention that we haven’t done a good job of letting people know how they can communicate with the Fedora Board. I took the action item to try to rectify that, and one way I can do that is via this blog post. 🙂

The best way to ask a question of the Fedora Board is to join the advisory board mailing list. The list is open to all interested parties, and serves as a place where the Fedora Board and the community at large can make suggestions, ask questions, and foster discussion on a wide variety of topics that involve the Fedora Board. Most of the items that the Board gets involved in are discussed on the list[1]. As the chairman of the Board, I also use the topics from the advisory-board list to set the agenda for the our weekly Board meetings.

Another way to interact with the Fedora Board is through our public IRC meetings. The schedule shows the exact dates and times of our IRC meetings, and our meetings typically happen every two weeks or so.  The meetings take place in the #fedora-board-meeting channel on the Freenode IRC network.

If you have a question, comment, or concern for the Fedora Board, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.  We value your input!

[1]  There are a few private matters that aren’t discussed on the advisory-board mailing list.  These typically involve situations where important relationships would be damaged if details were made public, such as personnel issues or fiduciary matters.  As a Board, we’re very sensitive to these issues, and try to be as open and transparent about them as is reasonable.

FISL, Day 2

Day two of my trip to FISL (Friday) started out with me waking up a bit late and scrambling to get ready on time. Rafael kindly picked several of us up at the hotel and drove us to the conference. I spent the morning talking with people both in the Fedora booth and in several of the other booths around the show. I also spent some time in a press interview with Linux Magazine. For lunch, we ate at the buffet and I got to experience the famous banana sushi first hand.

In the afternoon, I cheered Dennis Gilmore on as he gave a presentation on RPM packaging in Portuguese. He doesn’t speak much Portuguese (yet!), but he was brave enough to translate his talk into Portuguese and read it as best he could. After Dennis did his talk, I ran over to the large presentation room for my presentation. I talked about how Red Hat and Fedora work together, how Fedora makes a good upstream for RHEL, and how Fedora works with upstream communities. Several hundred people attended the presentation, and I thought it was well received.

After the presentation, I ran into a Brazilian friend of mine doing VoIP work here in Brazil. We chatted for an hour or so about various topics including Fedora, VoIP, and cultural differences between Portuguese-speaking and Spanish-speaking countries in Latin American. After another stint at helping out in the booth, we all ran back to the conference hall for a great presentation on SELinux from Douglas and Marcelo from Red Hat. By the time their presentation was done, it was 9:00pm and we were all hungry. Luckily, some of the Fedora folks had organized a pizza party, so we weren’t hungry for long!

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.

FUDCon Santiago, Day 2

Day number two of FUDCon Santiago started with a quick breakfast at the hotel, and then we walked over to Universidad Central.  Along the way, several folks stopped to take pictures — I think we even lost a couple of the Brazilians along the way.  Some of the pictures have been posted to Flickr.  Along the way, we ran into several phone booths that were advertising  (the ever-nebulous concept of) cloud computing. In this case, they were simply providing some disk space if you signed up for their internet access, and we joked that maybe they should advertise it as “fog computing” instead.  It was a bit of a wake up call, however, for just how quickly things are advancing in the area.

The first talk I attended was a talk by Guillermo Gómez S. (gomix) on RPM packaging.  He did a great job of explaining the basics, and then getting into a few of the trickier subjects.  After the talk, we talked to a couple of developers that were interested in having their software packaged for Fedora, and Guillermo invited them to attend his afternoon session where they actually packaged up some software.

I then jumped on IRC to participate in the Fedora Board Meeting. Máirín Duffy has written a very good writeup of the meeting on her blog.  We experimented a bit with this meeting by making it totally open, and it went fairly well, but was a bit confusing at time when there were three or four conversations happening at once.  We’ll keep exploring the best way to provide openness and transparency, while maintaining order as well.

After the board meeting, I bounced around from talk to talk and spent a lot of time listening to people here.  There were several good talks on virtualization and high availability.  I also spent more time conversing with the attendees and answering questions.

After the show wrapped up for the day, we held an impromptu round table discussion with the FUDCon organizers and the Fedora Ambassadors that were here.  It was a good chance to discuss the things that went well, that didn’t go so well, and many other topics.  The discussion was very animated and there were many different topics discussed, and I’m not sure I can do it all justice in this blog post, but I’m going to try to enumerate some of the topics discussed.

The first topic we discussed was communication among the ambassadors, especially between countries.  It was generally agreed that the ambassadors aren’t communicating well with ambassadors from other LATAM countries, and we talked about ways we can improve the discussion between the different countries.  We also talked about better ways of announcing events such as FUDCon, so that we get the word out to all the different Linux-based communities in the region.  The general consensus was that wikis are great for documentation, but they don’t do a good job of letting people know of upcoming events, and that there needs to be more work done to reach out to users and developers in other ways.

The next topic was one of lack of organization within the LATAM open source community.  We talked about the fact that this is a collaborative community, and that there needs to be more self-organization and collaboration between the disparate communities.  At this point, it was suggested that ambassadors try to push technical discussions from their own local mailing lists or country-based mailing lists to regional lists that cover all the countries of Latin America, so that there are more opportunities for people to get the answers they need and also the mentorship they need to become future leaders.  At this point, the conversation degraded a bit as people started to argue all the small details about whether to setup mail relays or encourage people gently to move to regional-based lists or to just shut down the smaller lists to encourage people to move to regional lists.  Rodrigo Padula noted that the tools are already there to solve the problem — we just need to communicate!  I shared a bit of my experience, and tried to get people back on talking about the principles and not getting bogged down in the details.

The next discussion revolved around events such as FUDCon.  Guillermo noted that we’re pretty good at throwing events and inviting our friends to the party, but that we need to do more than that.  He emphasized the fact that events are fun (like a party!), but we really need to focus on ensuring that we’re inviting people to become contributors.  He said that there are several places people can get started in contributing — documentation, translation, packaging, infrastructure, marketing, design, and so on.  We need to focus better on turning attendees into the folks that are going to be giving presentation in the next event.  In short, events are the perfect location to invite people to work in Fedora.

The discussion then turned to ambassadors and the mentorship process, and whether or not the mentorship process is working as well as it should.  Various ideas were tossed about, and I recommended that people make their suggestions to FAMSCo and the Fedora Board if they wanted to change things.  (Several people suggested that we might need at least one or two more mentors here in LATAM.)  From there, the conversation turned to the details of being a mentor (are you a coach or a filter?) and whether or not the 30-day probationary period for ambassadors is working or not.  (Apparently it’s not in Brazil.)

To wrap things up, I thanked all the ambassadors and organizers for their hard work and effort to make this FUDCon a success, and encouraged them to look for opportunities during the rest of FUDCon and over the coming months to help new users understand that they’re going to have more fun if they are active participants in the community.  I shared what I thought were the four most important things on my radar:

  • improved communication
  • making sure we start planning now for the next FUDCon in LATAM
  • making sure we include ambassadors and active contributors from many different countries, and not just send the same few people to each event
  • suggestion that we do a barcamp for at least a half-day in the next FUDCon in LATAM, so that people can see how it works and learn to do it better

By the time the round table wrapped up, it was late and I was exhausted, but people wanted to go out to eat, so I tagged along.  To make a long story short, we found a good restaurant and spent the next several hours eating and talking.  By the time we got back to the hotel, I was ready to crash, so I put off writing this blog entry until this morning.

FUDCon Santiago, Day 1

Things are well under way here in Santiago, Chile at the FUDCon conference.  Yesterday morning, my flight was delayed getting into Santiago, so when I landed I made a mad dash through immigrations and customs.  Antonio was kind enough to pick me up at the airport and drive me directly to the conference.  There is a nice new road from the airport to downtown, so it didn’t take very long to get to Universidad Central where the FUDCon conference is being held.  When I arrived, the attendees were waiting for me to kick off the show.  (I had secretly hoped they would start without me, but I didn’t get my wish.)

My plan was to give a quick introduction in (broken) Spanish, and then give a quick presentation in English.  As it turned out, I ended up giving both the introduction and presentation in rusty Spanish, and even did a short question and answer session in Spanish as well.  Little by little my brain is recalling words and phrases that I haven’t used in fourteen years.

After my presentation, I spent a few minutes meeting the other FUDCon organizers and staff, and then had some photos taken for the press here in Chile.  (I’m not sure how well the pictures turned out, as I had just been on an airplane for almost ten hours!)  I also had a telephone interview with a local journalist, which was a bit difficult because I found myself lacking in technical terms in Spanish.  Luckily, I had Alexis and Loreto from the Universidad Central to help me better explain some of the more technical details in better Spanish.

After a quick lunch, I listened to a few of the other talks before being pulled out for more interviews and photos. It was very interesting to listen to the questions from the journalists, and see how they started to catch on to the “open source way”.  Alexis also shared with them more statistics about software piracy here in Chile (and Latin America in general), and how free and open source software is a natural way to help solve that problem.

After the conference wound down for the night, we returned to the hotel to drop off our bags and then went out for some dinner.  We ended up eating at a restaurant with some great Peruvian food.  After a long and exciting day, I slept like a rock.

Travel delays and broken feeds

Due to the weather in the Atlanta area yesterday, my flight (connecting through Atlanta) to FUDCon Chile was cancelled yesterday.  This means I’ll be arriving at FUDCon Santiago a day later than planned — I arrive early Thursday morning instead of Wednesday  🙁  Hopefully this won’t cause too much disruption.  Unfortunately, it will give me one less day meet people and help with arrangements for the conference.

In other news, I’ve hacked on the WordPress 3.0 code used to power this blog, and we’ll see if it fixes the “truncated posts in RSS feeds” bug I’ve been having. This post should work as a test to see if my changes have worked.  With any luck, this’ll fix the problem and I can spend less time working on the code and more time blogging!

First day on the job

My Lenovo T510 laptop
My T510 laptop

As many of you may well know, today was my first day as a new employee of Red Hat and as the new Fedora Project Leader.  I spent the day today in “new hire orientation” meetings at Raleigh, which were interesting.  I was impressed by how much time Red Hat took to make sure the new recruits understood the open source way, and where Fedora fits in the mix of things. Some of the highlights for me were Max Spevack explaining open source communities and their importance, and Michael Tiemann (one of my favorite speakers to listen to) giving an excellent presentation on how open source can be a transforming tool for information technology departments.  We also spent time filling out paperwork and making sure we had all our ducks in a row, and ended the day with an ice-cream social.  I’ll be in new hire orientation tomorrow as well, and then head directly to FUDCon Santiago tomorrow evening. Paul Frields has graciously agreed to help me get up to speed in my new role, which I especially appreciate since I’ll spend the next two weeks on the road.

This evening I also was able to start getting Fedora installed on my new laptop.  I opted for a Lenovo T510, mostly because it had been years since I’d used a new ThinkPad, and I wanted to try something that was likely to be a bit outside of the mainstream.  (I have this weird habit of finding the oddball hardware bugs in Fedora.  Some people go out of their way to make sure their hardware is going to be compatible.  As for me, I throw Fedora on weird hardware and see what breaks.  Call me crazy…)  This laptop is a bit bigger than most people would want to carry around, but I’m happy with it.

Paul Frields was kind enough to take a first stab at getting the laptop setup while I was still in my meetings.  Apparently there’s an issue with the new VT-d feature (Virtualization Technology for Directed I/O) of the Intel chipsets, as Paul had to disable it in the BIOS to keep anaconda from crashing with what appeared to be memory-corruption issues. Once we got that tracked down and disabled in the BIOS, I threw Fedora on the machine and it’s been running great ever since.  So far, everything has worked great.  I was a little worried about how well this new wirless chip would be supported, but it’s working very well.  I was even able to setup a quick ad-hoc wireless network for Paul to be able to connect his laptop through mine.  Suspend/resume worked out of the box, as did the Nouveau driver.  There’s a bit of funkiness with the reporting of the second battery, but I’ll do some more troubleshooting on that over the next few days and file a bug.

The day ended with an excellent sushi dinner (thanks Paul!), and now I’m back at the hotel getting more software installed on the laptop and working on presentations for FUDCon Chile and FISL.  All in all, I can’t complain about my first day on the job!

Tales of a Road Warrior

I’ve spent a lot of time travelling in my career.  In fact, I’m a bit ashamed to say that I’ve spent at least one week out of every month on the road for the past five or six years. To put it mildly, I’ve seen a few airports and slept in a few hotels.

This month is no exception to my travel routine.  Next week I’ll be travelling to FUDCon in beautiful Santiago, Chile.  I’m very much looking forward to the opportunity to return to Santiago and take part in the FUDCon conference there. After that, I’m headed to the FISL conference in Porto Alegre, Brazil.  This will be my second trip to Brazil this year, and another chance to gain weight by drinking too much guaraná soda.

If you’re going to either FUDCon Santiago or FISL, be sure to stop by and say hello.  I can’t wait to see you there!


Sorry for the broken RSS feed — I think I may have triggered a bug in WordPress.  It should be fixed now.

Wearing a new hat

Well, it appears that the news is out about my new role in the Fedora community. (I apologize for the slow response — I was at Scout Camp with my son last week when Paul made the announcement, and have been busy tying up loose ends at my current employer.)  I’m very humbled to be able to follow in the footsteps of some very fine leaders such as Greg and Max and Paul.  I’m sure many of you are wondering “Who is this guy?” and “What is his vision for Fedora?”

First, let me introduce myself.  My name is Jared.  In short, I’m a big Linux nerd.  (How does that analogy go?  “Nerd is to geek as Star Trek is to Star Wars.”  Or did I get it backward again?)  I’ve been very lucky to have been employed by some great companies over the past several years — companies that had the vision of how to both use and contribute to open ecosystems.  Most recently, I’ve been working for a company called Digium, which is the benevolent corporate sponsor of the Asterisk open source telecommunications platform.  I’ve done both community relations and training work for Digium, and I learned many valuable lessons that I hope to use in my new role.  Before working full-time on Asterisk, I spent a number of years doing large-scale Linux systems administration and network operations for a large web analytics company.  When I’m not on the road, I’ll be working remotely from my home in Virginia.  My wife and I used to joke that maybe I’d get lucky and get to work on free software when I retire; luckily for me, the opportunities came much sooner!

I’ve been using Fedora ever since it was announced, and was using Red Hat Linux before then. I very passionately believe in the freedom and community that Fedora represents, and want to do everything I can to further the cause. Over the past few years, I’ve gone from being an end user of Fedora to being a contributing member of the Fedora team.  I’ve come to learn that our greatest asset within Fedora is our vibrant community of users and contributors. More specifically, I love the way our community can help individuals rise to their fullest potential and become leaders.  I’m a firm believer that if you give someone the tools they need and a little bit of vision and then get out of their way, they’ll come up with solutions you never dreamed of.  I’ve seen it happen time and time again in different open source communities, and each time it gives me more hope for the future.

Please bear with me over the next few weeks as I wrap my head around this job and start to articulate my goals and visions for Fedora. I’m sure there are a lot of things for me to learn, and I look forward to sharing some of my knowledge along the way as well. I’ll be on the road for the next few weeks (another blog post about that shortly!), but I’ll be blogging more while on the road.  You can also catch me via email or IRC.  (My IRC nick is “jsmith”.)

Here’s to a bright future for Fedora!

The Little Things You Find Along the Way

I’m constantly amazed by the little tips and tricks I stumble upon as I’m working to solve problems.  Earlier today, I found this little gem.

Apparently, there is a setting in OpenSSH 5.1 and later for visual remote host fingerprinting.  The basic concept is that it’s much easier for the human brain to notice a change in a visual pattern than in a string of hex digits.  To turn it on, simply add a line that says
VisualHostKey yes to your ~/.ssh/config file. Then, when you go to SSH into a server, you’ll see a visual representation of the remote host fingerprint, in addition to the regular fingerprint, as shown below:

[jsmith@hockey ~]$ ssh
Host key fingerprint is 07:d4:02:db:9f:70:d5:2d:7f:1b:6a:df:83:73:95:1d
+--[ RSA 2048]----+
|      ....  .. . |
|       +. ..  o .|
|      . +..    o |
|         = .   Eo|
|        S +   . B|
|         .   o oo|
|            . o o|
|             o +.|
|              o .|

See, now isn’t that handy?