Tag Archives: constantine

FOSE ’10 FTW.

Thanks to our Fedora Ambassadors for a special assist last week. We were asked to support Tux.org, a nonprofit umbrella group in the Washington DC area, and the Northern Virginia LUG (NoVaLUG) in their presence at FOSE, the USA’s biggest federal government IT show. Our Ambassadors came through with flying colors — David Nalley sent out a box of discs since Fedora is incredibly popular in federal government offices.

Although I wasn’t able to attend this year because of a prior scheduled travel, I received some very nice correspondence back from the folks at Tux.org about our assistance there. In addition, a friend from my local FredLUG was on hand to help at the booth, and he arranged to have copies of our handy one-page release notes PDF printed out for people as a helpful pamphlet. He mentioned:

The Fedora CDs were a big hit at FOSE. We “sold out” early Thursday on the last day. I had printed the flier you pointed me to in “book format” so it folded up, had the 3 pages easily read. That turned out to be very helpful for several people interested.

He also added a point of interest:

One of the most often asked question [sic] was the difference between the distributions. Since I had one blank page left, it would be nice if the last page would highlight the “why fedora” answer.

I would argue that in the case of the Fedora operating system, there’s a particular combination of freedom, innovation, beauty, and relevance that make it unique. Certainly other Linux distros communities feature one or more of these qualities, but it’s the combination of all of them that makes Fedora such a pleasant distro to use.

There’s a page on our wiki that addresses some of these ideas in greater detail. If you’re looking for a way to help out, maybe you’re interested in using the sources provided and building a new single page that makes those ideas as easy and fun to learn about as the rest of the one page release notes.

M-stone.

According to the Statistics page on the wiki, last week we passed 1 million IP checkins for Fedora 12 systems!  This is roughly on par with where Fedora 11 was at the same time after its release, although it’s hard to discern the actual number of installations worldwide.

Although IP addresses are a convenient and anonymous way to gather these statistics, they’re not foolproof.  But given our past experience and analysis, which you can see in more detail in the section on yum check-ins, we are confident we’re significantly undercounting installations. There are millions of existing systems running Fedora 11 and other previous releases as well, although older systems are no longer receiving updates and we recommend that people try the latest and best free software available. And in a significant number of cases there are NATs and proxies that further impact this undercounting.

The above considerations influence me to be skeptical when I hear answers to the question “How many systems are running ‘Foo’?”. Is the claim supported with hard numbers? Are those numbers public and independently verifiable? As part of Fedora’s dedication to transparency, I definitely take those questions seriously.

We’re always trying to think of ways to improve our statistics gathering that continue that tradition of transparency, respect users’ privacy, and support the globally mirrored infrastructure that works so well (thanks Infrastructure team!). If you’ve got a suggestion that takes those factors into account, and you can help implement it, let me and other folks know through the advisory-board list.

Saved by the icon, no. 5.

David, thanks for the fine work on the new disk utilities in GNOME. You saved my hide, because I found that the hard disk in the machine my wife and kids use was getting pretty dodgy after 3.5+ years of running time. $45 and 320 brand-spanking new gigabytes later, everything’s A-OK. (Using rsync made restoration a flash.)

Paying attention to that little disk warning icon in Fedora 12 saved me and mine a lot of time and unhappiness down the road.

Constantine unites!

The big day is here — Fedora 12 is released, uniting freedom, technology, and community. You can download the all-natural goodness at http://get.fedoraproject.org and read some of the highlights of the release. The official announcement text is here, and on the wiki as well.

I’m a big fan of the new Abrt tool which can produce and file detailed information for developers in a Bugzilla bug with just a few clicks, and also the improvements to the SELinux Troubleshooter, which do essentially the same thing. Thanks to Fedora’s strong stance on freedom, this release features some of the best free video drivers yet. On all three of my home machines that use NVidia and ATI cards, kernel mode setting, the enhanced graphical boot display, and on-the-fly display setting work like gangbusters — no more proprietary drivers causing problems we can’t debug or fix. (Thanks Nouveau and Radeon guys.)

The latest GNOME and KDE sparkle, Bluetooth tethering and audio are no-brainers, mobile broadband is dead-simple, PulseAudio happily converses and integrates with everything including your PlayStation3 and probably even your kitchen sink, PackageKit can install missing commands at the shell… Oh, and did I mention the virtualization features? It’s sheer heaven for sysadmins and techie types who love to try different distros; just install them in Fedora’s built-in KVM and go to town!

And of course there’s plenty for developers, including the latest Eclipse and NetBeans IDEs, and an updated SystemTap that helps trace and locate opportunities to optimize code. And of course you can get compilers and tools galore, and all the frameworks, libraries, and modules you need to build powerful applications in any language you prefer, including cross-compiler support for building Windows executables on Fedora.

Fedora 12 also features a nice helping of fit and finish on the Desktop, with fresh theming, easier to navigate panels and menus, tooltips that give you useful information while intelligently staying out of your way, and more useful notifications that are also reduced in frequency to keep the most important information in front of you at all times.

In short, it’s our best release ever, and you should download it and give it a try today!

F12 minus two days.

I’m incredibly excited about the upcoming release. I’ve been running the pre-release of Fedora 12 for some time now and it’s really solid on all the hardware I have at home, including a netbook, a couple workstations, and my workhorse laptop. Such a great job by everyone involved, I’m truly impressed. As we near the release, I’ve been thinking about the idea of update discipline. This is just the term I happen to give to the idea of making sure that updates are solid and making life better for all users of Fedora, including our growing contributor base, consistently. One of the things it brought to mind was the way our community self-regulates.

The connection I made mentally was that there are undoubtedly packages in the Fedora repository — probably several thousand of them — that are in the proverbial long tail of use. In other words, many packages probably have a limited audience and are fairly unique. These aren’t things like core libraries or even special frameworks, but things like one-off utilities or other “edge” packages. Heck, I probably maintain one or two of those kind myself, partly because they’re low-risk or don’t often change. We’ve got over 15,000 binary packages in Fedora 12, and it’s a vast assortment from the most basic functionality almost every piece of code needs, to highly specialized tools or libraries. We have the ability to self-regulate not only this package set, through continually including new and exciting software, but also the way we approach updates to that software.

When edge packages have an upstream change, it’s often minor, or affects very few people. There are lots of perfectly good reasons for those packages to update in a stable release like Fedora 12. (Of course, we want any such changes to avoid any repository breakage, and it’s still important that Fedora provide the automatic tooling necessary to resist any such breakage.) But there are quite a lot of packages that are important across the board. Recognizing this, our release engineering team has been working for some time on the definition and application of critical path. That is, packages so important to Fedora that a special level of care should be taken to ensure they function as well as possible throughout a stable release.

Somewhere between this critical path group, and the entire universe of Fedora repository packages, is a line we might be able to use as a community for some self-discipline when it comes to updates. Maybe that line is at or close to the critical path; maybe it’s a little further out toward the edge than that. One way to think of that line is that it separates “stuff that lots of people are likely to use” from “stuff that relatively few people are likely to use.” But wherever we draw that line, as a community, we could find a comfortable spot on one side of which we’d be careful about pushing updates that aren’t fixing specific problems such as bugs or security issues for Fedora 12.

In my mind, this could go hand-in-hand with the re-working of Rawhide as a non-installable tree. If Rawhide is simply another repository from which you can update packages, it’s easier to think of it as a place for regular upstream rebases, offered to users who always want the latest and greatest regardless of regressions or changes. Now certainly there are cases where upstreams issue new releases that fix a single, specific bug or security issue. In those cases, releasing the new upstream to a stable Fedora can make perfect sense. But that’s often not the case, so I’m hoping that each of us packagers (including myself, since I maintain a few too) can look carefully at our updates over the next few months, and renew our dedication to quality in the updates we provide.

We’re starting with an exceptional release in Fedora 12; let’s see how we can do the best job possible of keeping it delightful for each other, and all our millions of users worldwide. I’m looking forward to working with FESCo and our packagers more over the coming weeks on ways we can enhance Fedora’s stability while still continuing to keep the best of free software in front of our users and contributors. Our community has done a tremendous amount of self-improvement over the years, so I have high expectations for the future, and hope you will too.

Two days until Fedora 12!

Upside down.

I’m getting on a plane in a few hours that’s going to take me from Washington DC to Los Angeles, and then just a couple hours after landing, another one from LAX to Brisbane in Australia. Thanks to the timezones crossed, plus the international date line, I leave LAX late Friday night, and arrive in Brisbane near dawn on Sunday morning.

I’ll be there (along with Spot) until next Friday, when we fly back to the USA. With the timezones the other way around, I think I get back around last Tuesday, meaning plenty of time to work on more Fedora bits before the release!

Well, I think that my numbers may be a bit off there, but in any case, I’ll be on Down Under time for the next week or so. I’ll definitely have access to email but obviously it will be a bit harder to catch everyone during the day on IRC. 🙂

Let’s all be focused on getting out the best Fedora release yet. I want to give my most sincere and awe-struck thanks to everyone in our community who’s contributed to the upcoming Fedora 12. I’m using the pre-release now, and it’s been fantastic! With new virtualization features, desktop polish, and developer goodies, I think many people are going to like what they see.

OK, off to check weather in Brisbane, and then pack.

FUDCon signups.

As of this writing, we have 120 people signed up for the FUDCon Toronto 2009 event, and it’s still a month away! I’m so excited to be holding the first North American event outside the USA. I’m also looking forward to seeing many good friends there, such as the illustrious Chris Tyler, who has done so much for this event already to make it a success. We’ll have many new friends joining us as well, and plenty of content that will be of interest to general users, developers, system administrators, and other open source enthusiasts and professionals. (You’ll find all the lowdown on the wiki page, of course.) The weekend of December 5-7 might be cold in Toronto, but there will be lots of energy flowing from ideas, collaboration, and fun.

Now, as part of each FUDCon we have a pre-registration process, which is where I got the number 120 above. We never require anyone to pre-register — you can simply show up at a FUDCon and you will be warmly welcomed to attend and participate as much as you like! But pre-registration gives you a little bonus, in return for letting us know you’re coming. Of course you’ll find a name badge (and a smiling registrar) waiting for you, and also a shirt in your size. And you’ll get a paid pass to FUDPub, our social event on Saturday night, which entitles you to free eats and non-alcoholic beverages.

Here’s the catch: there’s a pre-registration cap, so that we know we’ll have enough of everything to go around. The cap is 130, which means we’re getting pretty close at this point! Now, don’t get too worried — if you don’t decide to come until later (even the day of the event!), you are still welcome at FUDCon. You’ll be able to participate in the technical sessions, the hackfests, the roundtables, and so forth. We just won’t be able to guarantee that there will be free goodies left at that point. (Pssst — at past FUDCons, though, people often show up on the last day and score goodies that are left over!)

Something tells me that there will be plenty of free Fedora 12 media to be had, though. 😉

After we pass the magic number, we’ll still feature a signup at the pre-registration area, and that way we’ll still know which rooms we need for the beginning and ending sessions on Saturday, where everyone gathers together. We have what we think will work at this point, a 160-seat auditorium, but it’s always good to be prepared.

So if you’re on the fence, let me remind you that FUDCon is — as always! — completely and 100% FREE! Just like the wonderful distribution that comes from our fabulous community members, it’s no cost, all freedom. Freedom to look around, freedom to learn, freedom to teach, freedom to get involved, freedom to participate in our community of contribution. Please join us from December 5-7 in Toronto for a wonderful event. We look forward to seeing you there!

Washing the car, no. 38.

I had a couple items of particular note for those interested in Fedora 12 features. And be aware, you can already try these out in Fedora 12 Beta, available for download now.

First, we have SystemTap 1.0 available, which has a variety of cool enhancements, including better C++ support, Eclipse integration, and expanded documentation to help developers put it to work right away making your code better. You can check out this article on Red Hat’s press blog and the in-depth feature profile on the Fedora wiki. The wiki page also features a podcast in which I interviewed Will Cohen, a SystemTap contributor and performance tools engineer at Red Hat. (We’re working on putting these interview podcasts into a feed as part of our upcoming Fedora Insight content system, and helping you find them everywhere you want to listen.)

Second, there’s an interesting article at Phoronix concerning the updated experimental drivers for ATI Radeon cards now in Fedora 12 Beta. I’m running this experimental support on my new workstation, which has a R770-based ATI Radeon HD 4850, and it allows me to use compiz and the gnome-shell preview.  The performance is not yet as good in some 3D games as the proprietary drivers, but it’s quite satisfying for general desktop usage. The big benefits are that more work is being done on this free software driver constantly by the maintainers, without the freezes and other negative side effects of a closed driver.

I’m very pleased that Fedora is able to contribute to this effort through our stance on freedom. While we try not to get in the way of users making their own personal choices in software, we are also working hard at making proprietary bits more unnecessary. With every new release of Fedora, you can see the advances that are gained through those efforts.

Of course, we still need help from the community at large. Not every card is fully supported yet, so if you are having a problem please file a bug. (You might also want to consult the common F12 bugs wiki page, on which we’ve been actively listing the issues we know about.) The drivers are constantly being improved, which is one of the things I really appreciate about the open source development process — rapid progress and results, out in the open where they can be seen and experienced. And having a quick Fedora release cycle means twice a year you can see the forward momentum in a distribution anyone can download and use.

With this release, the Nvidia card in my laptop and the brand-new ATI card in my desktop both offer full kernel mode setting. Without any proprietary support I can suspend/resume and hibernate/thaw my laptop. I can experience the full pleasure of compiz and even try the early testing preview of gnome-shell, all on completely free software. I want to thank all the upstream contributors to the free desktop who have made this possible — you guys rule!

Fedora 12 Beta released!

The Beta release of Fedora 12 “Constantine” is out today! To get the latest bits, start by visiting our prerelease site and choose your architecture and download method. Remember that we have BitTorrent available, and we encourage everyone to give back a little to the community by seeding whenever possible.

But wait! There’s more! Yup, we have documentation:

We have about four weeks at last count to the final release of Fedora 12, and this is a great time to download, install, and try out the Beta! I’m installing it right now to an Asus EeePC 701SD that I just bought from a buddy, as a matter of fact. It’s also running on my Dell XPS M1330 laptop, and my Dell XPS 730x workstation, and humming right along on all of them. I love this time in the development cycle because just like anyone else, I can run the latest release before it’s out. I can find all the improvements and little things that make daily work and life easier, and show them off to friends and colleagues.

And of course, like other community members, I can beat the bushes to identify lingering problems here and there where I see them, and file them as bugs. And since I know that Fedora has a strong relationship with upstream communities, when we find fixes, we can work with those communities to ensure that the solutions are made available to everyone. That’s how free software’s supposed to work, right? Anti-hoarding, and pro-helping.

The whole Fedora community has really been knocking themselves out getting all sorts of fixes done and worked through the upstream. I’m really proud of how you guys uphold the principles of collaborating with the communities that make our distribution — heck, any distribution — possible. And I want to give a hearty pat on the back in particular to the Fedora QA team, for a sustained, exceptional effort on making this release as good as humanly possible. The whole Fedora community owes you guys a $BEVERAGE, which means FUDPub may take you a while to get through.

So grab a bitstream of Fedora 12 Beta, burn it to disc or USB, pop it in a spare machine (or virtual guest), and let the magic begin! The countdown to the final release of Fedora 12 starts now….

Broadcom brightening.

I saw something interesting in my email today — apparently Rawhide (which is rolling toward next week’s Beta release of Fedora 12 even as we speak) and Fedora 11 have received the b43-openfwwf package, which supports a bunch of Broadcom wireless models. You can find out more information about b43-openfwwf at the OpenFWWF website, including a list of models supported and expected results.

What this means is that if you’re one of the folks who either (1) doesn’t have a choice of a more free software-friendly wireless in your computer, or (2) didn’t make the sustainable choice of a free software-friendly wireless, you’re no longer stuck with having to drag out fwcutter to slice firmware out of another driver. Although there might be some limitations in the modes that b43-openfwwf supports, your out of the box experience in Fedora 12 — and in Fedora 11 if you install directly with updates — will be quite improved!

Thank you to Peter Lemenkov for getting this package into Fedora!