My wife and I were in the market for new phones and decided we were going to spring for something brand new. We were even prepared to switch carriers for late breaking technology if required.
I’d been an iPhone owner since around the time I started at Red Hat. (Yes, I know it’s a software freedom nightmare. Honestly, I spent about the same amount of time picking a phone as picking out a belt, so I clearly reaped what I sowed.) Over the last year I got increasingly unhappy with its inability to do some of the basic things I wanted, and some minor design flaws became much more glaring when I hit them constantly. Some of these problems related directly to my use case since I’m on Fedora, a Linux distribution, and not an iTunes user. Therefore I wouldn’t expect Apple to care about or design for me.
I’d heard really good things about the new generation Android phones, especially their playing nice with Linux hosts. So I decided it was high time I tried something new rather than simply queuing up for a new and spiffier prison cell (iPhone). Based on the reviews of service in Consumer Reports, Verizon was far and away the leader in customer satisfaction. I decided to concentrate on their offerings, and was thrilled to find the new Droid X (info: Flash site) was now shipping, albeit with a few weeks’ wait.
Our local wholesale club had a decent offer underway where each phone got a $100 rebate, plus a $50 store debit card, plus a $30 rebate on a month’s service. Originally my wife had been adamant about having a real keyboard on her phone, but the large screen of the Droid X won her over too. This would be her first smartphone, so despite her trepidation she decided, “in for a dime, in for a dollar,” and we ended up buying a pair of them.
My experience thus far has been exceptional. Not only could I find apps for everything I used to use on my iPhone, but what used to be touchy, like media exchange, is now simple and pain-free on the Droid X. Now granted, thanks to the libimobiledevice capability in Fedora 13, this was no longer a huge hassle with my iPhone. Using the phone with Rhythmbox and other Fedora apps, though, was often touchy — especially since the sync function required extra time to complete and the phone didn’t give very good feedback on when it was safe to disconnect.
When I attach my new Droid X phone via the included USB cable to my Fedora system, though, it’s a much different story. I attach it as a simple mass storage device. Then I just drag and drop music into the phone, and when I’m done, remove the device just like I would any thumb drive. The phone automatically locates the new media and adds it to the library or gallery.
The service integration is really good, especially with Google services (as one would expect). I also have the ability to copy media to and from my systems around the house that ask run Fedora, via SFTP. I will say the battery doesn’t go for more than a day right now but I expect that’s because I use the darn thing so heavily. The big, bright screen has got to be a power consumption monster, so I’m surprised a charge lasts a long as it does. And I love the Swype interface for text entry — I’m using it to write this blog and it’s almost as fast as keying on the touch screen directly.
One niggle thus far: the phone doesn’t seem to turn off the keypad when the phone is raised up to speak, after I activate the keypad to accept a call via Google Voice, so I have to hide it to avoid sending tones on the line. Other than that, I don’t have any complaints after the first week.
All in all I’m happy with the purchase. I hear that the new Android 2.2 “Froyo” update will soon be available for this phone and I’m looking forward to trying it out.
You probably already know that the Southeast Linux Fest 2010 is coming up in just a few weeks (June 11-13). The Fedora Project will, of course, be there as well. Last year I was honored to be one of the inaugural event's keynote speakers. Apparently those crazy guys at SELF never learn, because this year I'm doing a couple sessions, one on Fedora and one on PyGTK for beginners! Kidding of course. They are an amazing team of people who put on one of the best inaugural community conferences I have ever seen in 2009. This year promises to be a barn buster as well, from what I hear.
But did you know we're also holding a Fedora Activity Day on Sunday? Both Yr. Humble Narrator and Max Spevack will be there talking about Fedora myths and truths. Our wiki czar, Ian Weller, will be giving a talk on gardening the wiki as well. It's an easy way to help keep Fedora information fresh and plentiful for everyone. Many other fine Fedora friends will be there too, and we plan to cover some keen technical topics like remixing Fedora into Live USB form.
Remember that our activity is free and open to everyone — just like the Fedora community. Hope to see you at SELF 2010!
As some Fedora Project folks already know, this coming Monday is a US holiday, and it's often celebrated with outings or travel, so you might not see some of your fellow Fedorans around that day. (Also, Red Hat is closed for that holiday, and I imagine many of the Red Hat staff will take that day to rest, relax, and recharge.)
I actually have family plans through the weekend starting tomorrow, and I wanted to give the community a heads-up. I hope no matter where you are, holiday or not, you have a wonderful weekend and are enjoying the new release of Fedora. (Go download a copy and pass it on!)
Today is release day for Fedora 13! Go grab a copy of the latest goodness at the download site. Remember that our Live images can be turned into discs or you can make a Live USB for even more hotness.
If you choose to use BitTorrent to download, please be kind and seed for others.
To all my friends, co-workers, associates, and peeps in the Fedora Project — THANK YOU for the marvelous job you've done on this release and everything that went into it. You're inspirational and have helped Fedora truly rock it.
By the way, I know many of you readers are setting up release events or parties. Please feel free to blog about them and let us know how they go!
As seen on the official announcement list, the final release of Fedora 13 will be postponed by a one-week slip. As the announcement notes, the blocker bug list is not empty, which means that according to our F13 final release criteria, we slip the release.
It's always disappointing when we don't hit our original target, but these criteria allow us to focus on objective markers to measure our readiness. It was a pleasure sitting in that readiness meeting tonight with some very smart people, because it was focused on the worthy goal of dispassionately measuring our status based on the ruler we've set for ourselves.
I suspect as we go we'll need to tune release criteria in certain areas where we want more detail. Tonight, for intance, we found there was at least one place where the written criteria could be clearer about their intent. There is a retrospective scheduled for QA after the release of Fedora 13, at which we can note some of the discrepancies and tune as needed.
This iterative approach has worked very well for our release schedule, which I'd really like to see us let stand for a few releases, as we consider other changes. Thanks to all of the people who participate in the process — the teams of people working on QA, Release Engineering, Anaconda, kernel, and countless other packages for our release. The collaboration that's gone on this release has been tremendous, and Fedora 13 is shaping up to be spectacular as a result!
Fedora people attend a lot of events. I mean, a LOT of events.
Our Ambassadors are constantly on the go, representing Fedora at conferences, conventions, symposia, expositions, and other gatherings around the world. Just this weekend, esteemed Fedora Ambassadors throughout Central and South America were involved in the FLISOL (Festival Latinoamericano de Instalación de Software Libre) events taking place across the region. In Bellingham, Washington USA, Fedora friends were at the LinuxFest Northwest event spreading Fedora freedom and love. By the time LFNWers were just waking up, in Thessaloniki, Greece, FOSSCOMM 2010 was already in full swing with several Fedora Ambassadors in attendance.
Whenever these events happen, Ambassadors and Fedora community members can help promote our incredible community by posting about the events. Your blog, plus the Fedora Planet aggregator, are a fantastic way to spread the word about the event. Your interactions with attendees and free and open source software communities are one of the best ways to build interest and energy around free software.
If you don't have a blog, but would like one, you're in luck. We have a Fedora Blog system where you can set up a weblog based on the fabulous 100% free software publishing platform, WordPress. Then once you're setup — or if you have a blog already — just visit our easy instructions on the wiki to get added to the Planet Fedora aggregator.*
Let us know how your event went! You can talk about the people you met, post photos of the booth, describe the talks you saw and what you thought went well (or even not so well). One of the things about this community that I love is the way that we can socialize across all sorts of boundaries, borders, and timezones through open communication. Fedora community members love to hear about the work their peers do, and events are no exception.
Fedora 13, our best release yet, is around the corner on May 18th, and many Ambassadors have release parties planned on or around the big day. And of course the summer is in front of us (for the northern hemisphere at least), and promises to be a spectacular season for free software events around the world. I am very much looking forward to hearing about FLISOL, LFNW, FOSSCOMM, and all the events going on worldwide.
* We do recommend that if your blog supports tags or categories, that you use a special tag or category for Fedora stuff, and mark your posts for the Planet appropriately. That way you have the option for posting blog entries about things that may not be about Fedora, or which you'd rather not post on the Planet feed.
So much going on today!
At 10:00 am US Eastern time (1400 UTC), Fedora 13 Beta is released. The Beta is our last milestone before the final release of Fedora 13. We’d like to have as many people test it as possible. It’s available in a “Live ISO” format you can write not only to CD DVD, but also to a USB key, and boot off the USB key. I really prefer the USB key, because you can update the key with fixes as you use it using the “persistence” feature. It also gives you nifty options we created along the way, like an encrypted user data area, very fast booting, and very fast installation to hard disk as well. Who loves ya, baby?
Also, today starts our Graphics Test Week, beginning with the Nouveau NVidia driver. Graphics drivers affect almost everyone who uses Linux, so this is a fantastic opportunity for you to help make a difference. We’re having one today for Nouveau, tomorrow for the Radeon ATI card driver, and on Thursday for Intel graphics cards. How do you do it? Very easily, it turns out — you join IRC Freenode at #fedora-test-day to participate. Just about anyone can help, because all the tests are fully documented already. You just follow a simple set of instructions, and if you encounter a problem, the QA crew will help you get a bug filed.
But what if you don’t run Fedora? No problem! There are Live ISO images available for the test day as well, meaning you don’t have to install Fedora to participate. And why would you want to help if, heaven forfend, you don’t use Fedora? Because even if you use another distribution, your time is still worthwhile — because Fedora works hard to send changes upstream to the driver developers, so the entire Linux community benefits. That’s how collaboration and open source work. It’s not about hoarding, it’s about sharing.
Adam Williamson, a Fedora QA contributor and seemingly unstoppable force in community testing and quality, wrote more about the Video Test Week here. (There’s also a Phoronix article here and a LWN article here as well.)
By the way, to see what kind of graphics card you have, you can open up a terminal and type or copy/paste this command:
/sbin/lspci | grep -i vgaAnd be sure to download and try out the Fedora 13 Beta today. You can find the downloads here, and the announcement here.
UPDATE: The ever-helpful Josh Boyer reminded me that the Fedora 13 Beta, Live Desktop edition, needs a DVD because of size reasons, although this won’t be the case for the final release of Fedora 13. Seriously, use the USB, it’s awesome.
Thanks to hard work by people working on the Fedora Infrastructure team, we have a newer Transifex working on translate.fp.o. I wrote more about this in an earlier post, so I won’t endlessly repeat the whistles and cheers of a grateful (Fedora) nation here. But it’s now, while the Docs and L10n teams are hip-deep in translation of release notes and other written content, that we really appreciate having that new version online.
In Fedora 11 and 12 cycles, we had to do a very painstaking process involving manual runs of the gettext utilities to produce translation files that the old Transifex could understand and deal with. The newer Transifex 0.7.4, on the other hand, understands perfectly the way that our documentation tool Publican produces translation files. It’s a tremendous time saver.
Now for Fedora 13 we just merge some git branch content and update the translation (POT/PO) files, and Transifex handles everything else for us. It’s made the process so smooth this release that at the Docs meetings I keep scratching my head and thinking, “Where’s the danger? Where’s the fear and loathing? The sturm und drang?” No more rocky road!
Except for the ice cream of course. Mmm, ice cream.
The Fedora Documentation team uses a fantastic tool called Publican for their documentation work. Publican allows people to turn DocBook XML source, a popular and fairly ubiquitous format, into beautiful renderings in HTML, PDF, ASCII, and even RPM. Publican was developed by Jeff Fearn, who works at Red Hat’s office down under in beautiful Brisbane, QLD Australia, and of course a cast of many people who contributed bugs and enhancement requests.
The Fedora Docs team uses DocBook XML for a number of important release documents like the Installation Guide and the Release Notes. By using source in a git repository, they can collaborate quickly on new and existing documents, and Publican helps them quickly produce translatable POT files that our awesome Fedora translation teams turn into localized documents. (That’s the meaning of L10n by the way — “localization.”) The work the Documentation team produces can be turned into dozens of local languages this way.
When Publican originally debuted, it was fairly robust but it did take a while to build things. Recently, though, it’s taken an enormous leap in efficiency, and rendering documents is incredibly fast, which makes the lives of writers, editors, and translators better by a huge margin. When your workflow speeds up by a factor of ten, thanks to the hard work of developers, it does tend to put a smile on your face!
Wait — did I mention the hard work of developers? Well, let me not forget the next step in this toolchain of wonder and majesty: Transifex. The genii over at Indifex haven’t been sitting on their laurels either, and we’re now using a newer branch of their product on our translation site. That allows our translators to work incredibly quickly and efficiently on documentation and software, localizing all of them so that we can bring Fedora’s free software to people all over the world in their own languages.
In fact, the Indifex guys work so fast that they’ve already turned out version 0.8.0 even though we’ve just migrated to 0.7.4 for our translation site. (I hear the transition up to 0.8.0 isn’t difficult, and it’s likely we’ll be doing this in the near future.) I should also note that a bunch of people spent cycles on getting our translation infrastructure updated, including Dimitris Glezos, Mike McGrath, Noriko Mizumoto, Jens Petersen, Diego Búrigo Zacarão, Ricky Zhou, and others. You guys just kick hindquarters all over the place.
The great thing about moving to Transifex 0.7.4 is that it now supports Publican’s method of divvying up POT and PO files for translators. Rather than have just one big file for the original format, and for each language, Publican divides them up. This makes collaborative work easier, and it also increases translators’ morale because their individual and iterative progress is more visible.
As a result the Docs and Translation teams are ready to kick out the jams for the Fedora 13 release. Translators can quickly and easily test their translation; documentation folks can test builds quickly and collaborate faster on content changes; and we can publish the results immediately to package updates which we can push out regularly leading up to the final release of Fedora 13. It’s going to be amazing!
On day 2, Chris Grams of New Kind and John Adams and Jonathan Opp of Red Hat joined us to talk about growing and strengthening Fedora brand. They talked to us about the 10-plus year work that has gone into building Red Hat’s brand, and helped us find the right questions to ask about Fedora’s brand. The full log is probably more illuminating than quick notes on a complex topic. I also got a chance to take a look at the excellent book Designing Brand Identity, and did some reading in it overnight — enough to know I want to go get a copy of my own.
It seems like Fedora has been doing a good job of maintaining consistency in the way we present Fedora, and that our reliance on the same essential four foundations of freedom, friends, features and first can continue to serve us well into the future. We spent much of the rest of the day trying to flesh out our answers to the questions Chris, John, and Jonathan passed on as a good exercise.
Russell Harrison also took some wonderful head shots of some of the participants at the very tail end of the day. They turned out great and I can really see how much there is to learn as a novice photographer! Then we headed off to the Carolina Ale House for a fun dinner, followed by several hours of packaging introduction by the inimitable David Nalley (ke4qqq).
On day 3, we focused on PR and press-related content. Our guest speaker had a last-minute emergency and we rearranged some of our schedule. Henrik Heigl (wonderer), who’s an experienced press person himself, gave a fantastic presentation on press relations from the perspective of having a foot in both worlds. He’s helping to drive our work on a more modular, expressive, and useful press kit. Everyone worked on content for the kit, drafting up pages that we can shift in and out of such a kit over time and depending on where and to whom we’re giving it out.
Last night I had to hole up in my room to get some non-Marketing work done. Today we are pumped up for a day of video work with the awesome Red Hat Creative team. I’ll be leaving late this afternoon, bringing Neville Cross back to the airport to catch his plane back to Nicaragua, and then heading home.