Category Archives: Fedora

Things I write for Planet FedoraProject consumption

Underhanded dealings in smoky back rooms.

Among the other thoughtful gifts I received, Eleya bought me a small amount of stock in Red Hat. Although the stock price has dropped somewhat from last year, most of the analysts rate it at hold or buy, and the outlook over the last six months has been pretty positive.

Although we didn’t buy enough of it that I’d be retiring early even if it was to take off, I’m just happy to own a piece, however small, of the company in whose products I put so much faith. The best part is, now I can smoke the fine Carlos Toraño cigars that some friends gave me and dream of my future as a jet-setting financier.

Next up, getting the mayor in my pocket and the unions in line with my plan to develop the Fredericksburg waterfront into a series of greasy spoons, smoky bars, no-tell motels, and pawn shops. Whoops, I see I’m a couple stock picks too late. Well, maybe I’ll just exploit the working class by sticking them in my new high-rent, high-density housing project. I think I’ll call it Potter’s Field. Yeah, that’s the ticket…

Fear and loathing in my Inbox.

This morning I have 147 emails incoming from Gmail. (They’re not finished loading yet.) That’s double what I usually get overnight, even subscribed to several of the mailing lists. Have the spam hucksters found a better bazooka? I am dreading the end of the send/receive cycle. Of course, it could just be because Elliot sent an email asking what people wanted to start workshopping for FC5. 🙂

UPDATE: Yup, the fedora-devel-list was the culprit.

Older but not yet wiser, apparently.

Data Recovery

After the catastrophe, I was able to recover most of my important information. I would classify as “important” the following things:

  • Taxes (backed up)
  • Digital pictures of the kids
  • Web site data

Unfortunately, “most” in this case means all of the top two categories, and a little of the third. I recovered the site for our homeowners association, but lost about six months or so of this weblog — I would say that portion was the more interesting portion, but others might disagree. 🙂

The problem was caused by a combination of lack of foresight, casual attitude toward backups (you don’t know how much you’ll miss something until it’s gone), and not observing proper safeguards on cron jobs such as restricting their privilege environment. That’s known as “running as root” for those of you who observe such things. Yes, I know better, but I figured what the hey, it’s just my home server.

Over time, though, you forget the jobs are running, because everything Just Works — it is Linux, after all. And the complacency which that efficiency inspires can be very harmful in the long run. A small lack of error checking in conjunction with an over-privileged script spells cataclysm.

The worst part was that, as God is my witness, I had scheduled myself to do some backups over the Memorial Day weekend — only 24 hours after the disaster. If you look in the dictionary next to the word “devastated” you’ll see a little picture of my face.

Fedora IG

In good news, though, the Fedora Installation Guide is completed and will be ready for the release of Core 4 next week. Although it probably won’t make it to the ISO images, it will be available at the fedora.redhat.com documentation pages for all. Stuart Ellis pegged its status correctly, which I will paraphrase as “incomplete but sufficient for now.”

New Toy

Eleya and I took the kids with us this weekend to furniture shop for entertainment centers and decoration ideas, and ended up buying a long console stand for the family room — and this to go with it. My favorite feature: IEEE-1394 ports to connect our MiniDV camcorder. I’ll buy a cable for that this weekend to try it out.

Birthday

So I’m turning 35 this coming weekend and trying to figure out exactly when I’m supposed to start feeling like I have it all together. I mean, I have the wife, kids, steady job, house, and so forth, but I’ll be damned if I feel a whole hell of a lot more like an adult then I did when I was 25. But yet I’m trying to help raise, discipline, and encourage two tiny little people… The secret is apparently that there is no secret. We do what we can, plan for the worst, and hope for the best. I’m comfortable with that, but I still wonder about how much I’m getting wrong daily. I suppose we all do.

Don’t shoot the piano player.

Overnight on the fedora-devel-list, from a hapless non-native English speaker:

Hi,

Our country, Nicaragua, recently changed from a fixed CST time to a CDT time. The patch seems to be ready here:

[URL deleted]

Is posible to see a patch for FC3 and include it in the next FC4 release?

This was followed immediately by the terse but accurate response by one of the overworked developers:

Request it in Bugzilla.

http://bugzilla.redhat.com/

Apparently the original poster had never really used Bugzilla before, or at least without any gleaning of how it works:

Thanks! Can you provide the bug number? I have problems using the Redhat bugzilla system. Trying to search for tzdata, nicaragua or managua it always retuns “zarro bugs”. :-(

Note that the purpose of Bugzilla is to allow users to enter bug information. When they do, the bug is assigned a number. Unfortunately, the user had no experience actually doing this, and didn’t understand that the list wasn’t just a dropoff for Other People to Enter Your Bugs. More unfortunately, the developer in question either didn’t pick up on this (?!), or more likely, decided he was too busy to reply with more than the minimum number of words:

That’s because you need to create an account and log the request yourself.

Oh really? Is it because he has no account that his searches don’t turn up any bugs? Or could it be that maybe he just doesn’t know what to search for? And why is that to be held against him, when he’s trying to Do the Right Thing by reporting an important bug that affects a whole country of potential users? Why would anyone jump to this kind of wacky conclusion? And what’s with “log the request”? That doesn’t make much sense to the user. Why not just say clearly, “enter a new bug”—which has exactly the same number of keystrokes, and is more easily understood by the user? Situation not improving:

I have one and used it to do the search. :-)

Please send me the bug number. ;-)

It doesn’t take a genius to realize the user is trying hard to stay upbeat even though he is no closer to understanding what to do now than he was when he first wrote in. I decided to defuse the situation before the list created another “jumper,” what I call people who either move off the forums where people actually know things, or leave the distribution entirely for one they feel will be nicer about giving them advice. My response:

I’m afraid you misunderstand—there is no bug report yet. You must create a NEW bug report yourself. Then the new bug will get a number.

https://bugzilla.redhat.com/bugzilla/easy_enter_bug.cgi

Note that no smileys were required to get the point across that I was trying to be helpful, and not assuming the guy couldn’t learn what to do. I provided him the link to the form, so he knew where to start. Problem solved, and a minimum of effort expended. There are two lessons here for the FDP and the whole Fedora community:

  1. If you don’t have time to respond courteously and fully, you don’t have time to respond at all—so don’t. Let someone else do it.

  2. Use clear terms that match the interface to which you’re giving directions. It’s a forum, and not a race to see who can give the most obtuse answer first.

The response from the user:

Yep. you are right! I thought there is already a report of this! I am really sorry for spamming the list!

Thanks for pointing out my error. Next time I will try to read more carefully. It clear english is not my first language. ;-)

I am going to fill a bugzilla report. :-)

Stylin’ and profilin’.

Karsten finished editing the Style chapter for the Documentation Guide last night. After a quick once-over to correct a few inconsistencies â??- Iâ??m sure there are other bugs in there to stomp out -â?? itâ??s going up to the web server. The next major project Iâ??m going to tackle is editing on the Fedora Installation Guide, which we hope to have finished for the release of Core 4 in June. With the Fedora CVS now open, collaboration should ramp up pretty quickly.

This sets the bandwidth starvation purely in the supply chain of new writers. Hopefully we can make that pay off with some aggressive recruitment. Apparently there are several projects that have activated in the past year to garner larger labor pools for open source development and documentation. If we can jump on those we may be able to start feeding the pipe a little more efficiently on the supply side.

Eight days a week.

I did a huge amount of work this weekend for the Docs Project:

    <p><li>Outlined the next-gen <a href="http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/DocsProject/DocumentationGuide">Documentation Guide</a>;</li><br />
    

  • Outlined part of a new hands-on example tutorial section;

  • Read oodles of archived messages and bugs in Bugzilla to gather dangling inputs for the Guide and our other process docs; and

  • Even got a couple changes into CVS.

  • I also had time to take Evie for a walk to the grocery store, which is always enjoyable, and since we did that Sunday morning, there were many of the little kiddie carts available. Evie loves “driving” around while I give directions. (“No, honey, your other left.”)

    Eleya and I watched Spanglish on Saturday night, which was just perfect—another James L. Brooks slice-of-life masterpiece with a killer script and great acting from everyone. Equally hilarious and heart-breaking, I would have to mark this most highly recommended.

    It’s quiet… a little TOO quiet.

    This week I’m at a training course (RH423) at Red Hat in Tysons Corner. Commuting in this morning was almost like a dream—the beautiful, peaceful sort in which many of the idiots have been vaporized, kind of like the NHL season or Cuba Gooding Jr.’s chances at another Oscar. It’s as if the entire D.C. Metro area had taken massive doses of Sudafed over the weekend, so that the roads are decongested and moving at or above speed.

    But lo, it was not a dream, but rather George Washington’s birthday, and the holiday means that all the Federal Government employees are still sleeping in their beds, instead of crowding the roads so they can get in to their offices to sleep at their desks. Well, all of them except the ones going to training classes, I suppose. HOV restrictions were lifted, but there were still quite a lot of “CF” (clean fuel) license plates in those lanes, which might lead a less charitable soul to the conclusion that the only people buying those cars are not smart enough to get jobs that give them the day off on Washington’s birthday.

    Speaking of which, I hope that people will remember that the holiday is for Washington’s birthday, not some namby-pamby “Presidents’ Day.” The reason we honor George Washington is not just because he was our first President, nor is it due to the fact that in his day, he was considered hunkier and more popular than Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Will Smith, and Tom Cruise put together. It’s because, against all odds and in the face of centuries of historical wisdom to the contrary, Washington—famed military leader, beloved hero of the people, and eschewer of partisan politics—stepped down after two terms and created the first in an unbroken series of Constitutionally mandated transfers of power from one Presidential administration to the next. No president, regardless of economic or political vision or achievement, can match his legacy.

    Last night, after a yummy dinner of chicken parmesan, then bathtime and bedtime for the munchkins, Eleya and I finished watching the first season of HBO’s The Wire, which was extremely satisfying. After we catch up on some regular theatrical releases that are now crowding the top of our Netflix queue, we’ll likely add the second season to the list.