Freitag, 21. Dezember 2007

Looking back at the last Fedora year (2)

Yesterdays post got some comments, so here is my reply.

Max wrote:
  • The Board not being active enough This is 100% my fault, and it is one part of Fedora that I will look back on as the place where I feel like I have personally failed. The Board has tried hard to allow FESCO decision making power, but it hasn't really picked up the ball for being a sponsor for other activities that Fedora so desperately needs.
I don't think it 100% your fault. It just happened that way. When we discussed the government of the merged world we wanted to keep FESCo in control of Fedora (the Linux Distribution, not the Project), because FESCo was well known and accepted among the packaging contributers.

Looking back at that decision now it was correct and wrong at the same time -- yes, having a committee that is completely elected and formed out of those that take care of the bits is good. But FESCo IMHO lost most of the reputation it had in the Extras days. That's happened more by accident and not on purpose -- with the merge FESCo got much more things to take care of, so there simply isn't much time for many of the tasks FESCo handled back in the Extras days. That afaics resulted in a lot of small things here and there that were (or are) not that well, which resulted in a bit of dissatisfaction among the contributers.
  • New leaders -- I think we are developing new leaders [...]Compared to the rate at which leaders emerge from other organizations, I think Fedora does fairly well.
Ohh, well, agreed, there are new leaders emerging in Fedora-land -- but afaics all of those you mentioned in your blog or your "lesser known Fedora contributors" series come from other areas of the project, not from the packaging area (which has more the 500 contributers).

IOW: in this most impotent area of out project (where many if not most of our current leaders come from) we're are not doing "fairly well". I'd even say we are doing bad here, as we afaics lost some very active members like jpo over the past year or seem to losing them (mschwendt) -- both of them were members of FESCo and did a lot of good work for Fedora but seem unhappy these days.

JonRob wrote
  • [...] you should definitely consider running for one of the boards or try and be a bit more vocal about it and get a real discussion started!
No, with my current job I can not join the Board or FESCo :-/ And I suppose the time for my post wasn't the best, as it will be forgotten after christmas and new year, so I don't think there will be much of a "real discussion".

Andrea Musuruane
  • "review queue much to long; I think we need a more wiki-style approach and a easier (more automated) review process". I've been thinking about how to solve or alleviate this for some time. It seems that most packagers are more interested in submitting packages than reviewing. Therefore I came up with two ideas:
    • Have a package review day each 4(?) months. This could be a way to shorten the queue.
    • Force the packager submitter to swap reviews with another packager for each submitted packages.
Well, we tried a "package review day" in the past. It worked, but wasn't a big success iirc. Enforcing swap reviews is something that I've thought about as well. But I think before we enforce them we should strongly encourage them more and help people with swapping; I suppose that might be enough already.

Donnerstag, 20. Dezember 2007

Looking back at the last Fedora year

Looking back at the last Fedora year

Year's end is close and I'm currently a few days off from work (had to take the reaming untaken vacation days), so it might be a good time to look back at the past Fedora year and see what happened and what's good ( +1 - +3) or bad (-1 - -3):

  • +3 -- Fedora has a predicable release schedule (finally)
  • +2 -- Core and Extras repositories merged. Overall it was a good thing for Fedora and its users. But there were many things that sort of came together with the merge that I'm not so happy with (see below).
  • +2 -- EPEL started. We have about 900 packages (counting SRPMs for EPEL5 here, that build about 1650 RPMs in total) in it now -- that's good, but I hope we get a lot of more in the next few months. Fedora has about 5000 packages right now, RHEL5 about 1100, thus there is still a delta of round about 3000 Fedora packages that could be added to EPEL ;-) But EPEL just like the Fedora merge has some downsides (again: see below)
  • +2 -- RPM Fusion will hopefully become a proper semi-official 3rd party repo; but it's still not started, as setting everything up in a Fedora-like-way (FAS, CVS, buildsystem, ...) just takes time; I had hoped some people from Fedora infrastructure that are familiar with the all those bits would help us at least for the start, but only Kevin jumped in (thx Kevin) which delayed and still delays things /me will take a look at FAs later this week again)
  • +2 -- Livna is in a better shape then a year before; we even got new contributers again (mainly thx to the RPM Fusion effort, where the Livna packages and contributers will be moved to once it's started)
  • +1 -- Fedora 7 -- late (due to the merge) and to early (due to the merge -- bodhi and some other things were finished "just in time" and created a lot of frustration)
  • +1 -- Fedora 8 -- thx to the Feature-tracking in the wiki we now advertise our features better and don't leave the credit to others that pick our code up
  • +1 -- the number of fedora maintainers grew
  • +1 -- Kmods were dropped from Fedora; at the same time we got a few more in Livna; I also enhanced the kmod stuff a lot (more to come) and often the livna kmods are in the repo just a few minutes after the new Fedora kernel hits the repo (e.g. before the kernel hits most mirros)
  • +1 -- for Fedora-unity (respins, revisor) -- but why can't we do that directly in Fedora? Especially the respins is IMHO something Fedora should do, as we had bad bugs in the install-media in most of the the past releases
  • -1 -- there is not a lot of contributer interested in EPEL steering issues or EPEL improvements -- seem people like EPEL a lot, but are not much willing to invest their time to improve it besides maintaining their packages in EPEL
  • -1 -- the tone on the Fedora mailing lists became unfriendlier
  • -1 -- the mailing list are still a mess; even long-term contributers seem sometimes confused where a post is on-topic
  • -1 -- the Fedora-wiki is a bit messy -- if you search for a term you often find told IRC logs, which most of the time is not what you looked for; many real pages are not really up2date
  • -1 -- my Fedora-Dream-DVD (x86-32, x86-64-Install media with a Live-CD that features both GNOME and KDE all on one Double-Layer-DVD) is still not there, even if such a beast would be ideal for computer magazines to ship
  • -1 -- still no proper package webinterface for users with a static URL where upstream can point users to
  • -1 -- Codeina (was: CodecBuddy) -- I think Fedora should have stayed away from it.
  • -2 -- Fedora has to much bureaucracy
  • -2 -- Fedora has to much committees; we needs most of them, but should reduce their influence so new contrinuters that want to improve something can do so without running against hurdles
  • -2 -- review queue much to long; I think we need a more wiki-style approach and a easier (more automated) review process
  • -2 -- still not easily possible for long-term contributers to fix packages which are owned by other contributers (ACLs and the general but unwitten "don't touch packages you don't own" attitude are the two main reasons for it)
  • -2 -- The way the Fedora Board works IMHO got worse and lost contact to the contributer base -- the Board only meets in private, the meeting schedule is often not announced beforehand, not much traffic on fedora-advisory-board (there were way more discussions early this year), the meeting summaries sometimes get posted a week or two after the meeting (nobody comments on them anyway) are some of the reasons for my opinion. It sometimes seems to me the Board work in a different universe -- and even I who follows lots of mailing lists and blogs sometimes wonder what the Board does for Fedora; I know they do a lot of good work for Fedora, but the only main visible thing from the past weeks afaics is the FUDCon (and the election of one seat of the Board, but self-organization IMHO does not count for real)
  • -3 -- EPEL and it's contributers seems to be the bad guys in some peoples eyes. "EPEL doesn't do repotags" is one reason for it -- but it at least for me was not a political decision, it was a technical one, because some long-term Fedora contributers I trust showed examples where repotags can do harm. "EPEL doesn't cooperate" is mentioned often as well, but that untrue -- we got some packages (yum and its deps, yum-cron) into EPEL in a way to not disturb CentOS-Base and are willing to cooperate other specific issues as well (we don'st need a formal cooperation document for that; we can just do it; if someone thinks we need one: write one please!). EPEL also failed to get CentOS onboard (even before the repotags issue came up), which afaics happened due a lot of stupid misscommunications and misunderstandings on both sides (totlly apart from repotags) :-/
  • -3 -- still no sudo or similar technology in Fedora by default (pup for example still asks me for the root password on F8 each time)
  • -3 -- I tried to do realize some things in Fedora-land without being a member of the Board and FESCo. But most of the time it was hard or painful and sometimes a very frustrating experience. That why I stopped working in this area and only speak up these days if there is something that seems really wrong to me.
  • -3 -- seems I'm not the only one frustrated (got that impression from looking at the lists and from talking to other contributers) -- most contributers seems to not much care what the Board, FESCo, Rel-Eng or FPC do; the contributers just accept what got decided. That's makes decision finding a lot easier for those committees, but I much prefer a proper discussion (even if it results in a mini-flamewar) where contributers share their opinion. We had that one year ago in Extras-land, but lost it during the merge. IOW: FESCo seems to take care of the Distribution these days (Features mostly), but lost the community contact FESCo had in the Extras days (which was still far from perfect, but a whole lot better).
  • -3 -- some people say new leaders emerged, but I disagree; nearly everyone from the Board, FESCo, FPC, Rel-Eng is around in Red-hat- or Fedora-land for a long long time; we also got nearly no new sponsors, just more packagers;
  • -3 -- I can neither join the Board or FESCo (the latter became a Problem due to the merge, that's why I had to leave) to make things better due to conflicts of interest with my day job (maybe I should send in my resume for Max's job, but that position is based in the US :-/ ) I'm unsure if I even wanted to join the Board or FESCo these days if I could -- I lost the energy and the interest over the merge because there were so many things that seemed handled in a wrong way to me.

Donnerstag, 13. Dezember 2007

VMWare util and driver packages

Dear Fedoraweb,

Is anyone around who's interested in maintaining open-vm-tools packages (kernel modules and userland utils for VMWare products) in Livna (and RPM Fusion, once I or ixs get around of setting up FAS and the look-aside cache for CVS)? The package are prepared already and mostly reviewed (see 1664 and 1665), but the packager switched all his systems from Fedora to Gentoo (good luck with that Brandon!) and abandoned the packages after a final update (thx for hat Brandon!). He mentioned in bugzilla that the packages work for him; and it seems they work fine for duke as well, as they have a slightly enhanced version of those packages in their repo. I'll of course help with the final review steps and the Livna import.

Montag, 10. Dezember 2007

Quicktext for GNOME panel?

Before I switched to Linux (years ago) I used text-templates a lot -- that made for example answering e-mails a lot easier and quicker. I still do it using Quicktext in Thunderbird sometimes these days. But Quicktext is bound to Thunderbird and sometimes it'd like to have its functionality available other apps (Editor, OpenOffice, ...) as well.

Dear Lazyweb, do you know a Gnome application (integrated into the panel ideally) that makes a similar functionality available desktop-wide (in cooperation with the clipboard if needed)? I asked Google -- all I found that half-way matched my use cases was blah, which seems to be one of those ten thousands of inactive sourceforge apps that were abandoned by their developers.

Mittwoch, 5. Dezember 2007

Parallel universes ^w discussions

Mailing lists are funny sometimes -- like today on fedora-devel. There is one discussion where some people support the idea to get rid of mosts ACLs in CVS (often found in old Core packages) so all (new and old contributers) can commit (nearly) everywhere.

At the same time there is a debate about restricting CVS more due to security concerns (disclaimer: I'm the one that brought the old topic up again), as a malicious attacker can modify random packages in CVS once he got sponsored for cvsextras (with is neither easy nor very hard). The latter discussion resulted in a IMHO nice post from John Dennis. To quote just a part:

Linux has been mostly immune to malware. For anyone writing malware one of the challenges
is propagating the infected code.

So lets not give bad folks the perfect vehicle for distributing their malware through an
official update channel which automatically gets pushed to tens of thousands of machines
with the implication of being clean software. Such an event would be devastating to the entire
open source community.

The funny thing about it: both the views I mentioned above are IMHO right somehow. We IMHO need to get hurdles (like to restricting ACLs, but also those in our heads that say "that package is owned by someone else, I won't touch it") out of the way to have a more wiki-like working style for maintaining packages in Fedora. But at the same time we need fences to prevent that new contributers immediately get access in areas where they don't need access, to prevent malicious people to do bad things easily.

Dienstag, 4. Dezember 2007

Problems updating kernels and kmods (2)

Remember my Post about problems when updating kernels on systems with kmods? A updated yum package which should fix the problem is on the way to updates-testing -- thx to skvidal for fixing the problem. Hopefully the new yum makes it to the stable repo before the next kernel update.