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|Thursday, October 25th, 2007|
|Fedora 8 - Attacking bugs before release
We had a Fedora QA meeting a few hours back focused on keeping track of the bugs before Fedora 8 release.
Will Woods, who leads the QA team, Jesse Keating - Release Engineer for Fedora, Rex Dieter - KDE co-maintainer, Jeremy Katz - All around ninja, Kevin Fenzi - Xfce maintainer and myself discussed the status of rawhide, reviewed and triaged the blocker bug list for a long time which has gone down from 36 odd bugs to under 15 bugs for this release and we aptly have 15 days left. The release is usually composed and send off to the mirrors 4 days before the actual release and the addition of several spins like developer, electronics and games means that we need to start preparing a bit early.
Some of these bugs are already fixed but needs additional confirmation before being closed. Help out if you can. There are still some that require more information or hardware specific bugs lurking in there which are going to be hard to test or fix. All in all, looks we are headed for a pretty good release to me.
|Tuesday, October 23rd, 2007|
|Fedora 8 Countdown
There has been a few backend changes to the Fedora website that makes it easier to do content updates. Fedora project wiki has also been cleaned up a bit.
As you might notice from the slight url change, we are gearing up for enabling translation of the website content into other languages. This should help us continue the good tradition of supporting other languages and enabling the large community of translators to increase Fedora's reach to more people in time for Fedora 9.
Check out the new countdown that we have in http://fedoraproject.org.
We will also intend to launch a news site for Fedora shortly.
|Monday, October 22nd, 2007|
|Saturday, October 20th, 2007|
|Codec Buddy in Fedora 8
Codec Buddy (Codeina) is the wrapper in Fedora 8 which helps educate the users on the advantage of open formats or optionally install multimedia codecs when you click on any multimedia content that is not supported by Fedora out of the box.
To know more about how codec buddy works and see some screenshots, take a look at the codeina page.
A number of others folks have been pushing for a better tested and supported live upgrade path for a long time. Time to organize better and participate in that effort now.
Join the Live Upgrade Special Interest Group at http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/SIGs/LiveUpgrade.
Incidentally this is the first non-packaging related SIG for Fedora. Should be interesting work. Join in and have fun.
|Wednesday, October 17th, 2007|
|Amusing #fedora IRC channel stats
From my xchat irc log archives of 777 days of #fedora, I have a run a perl script to get some pretty amusing stats available at http://sundaram.fedorapeople.org
My IRC nick is mether and I used to be pretty active on the channel before though I have deliberated cut down on the time I spend answering questions to actually helping out in Fedora by proactively fixing out some of the frequently asked questions on these channels. A lot of familiar faces have been busy bees here. Kudos to the folks helping out in building the Fedora community.
Prompted by a discussion with Satish Mohan in my office, did a yum upgrade from Fedora 7 to rawhide a few days back and it has been surprisingly smooth sailing.
I ran into a minor problem with Network Manager and obseletes and hopped into #fedora-devel and got a confirmation that Jeremy Katz was looking into this this issue which actually turned out to be a yum problem that has been subsequently fixed. Jeremy is also doing a good amount of work testing out how well laptops are working in rawhide. Suspend/resume works very well now in my Dell D420 box and the new infinity theme and Nodoka is laid back and nice unlike the last couple of releases which were much more bold.
If you are running third party repositories you might want to enable their development branch if they one which you can find out by looking into the relevant repo file in /etc/yum.repos.d or otherwise remove those packages before attempting to perform such an upgrade. I have atleast a few other confirmations of successful upgrades using yum in fedora-devel and fedora-test lists. If you had installed Fedora 8 Test 3 before and run into a X issue soon after an update and scuttled off, you might want to test it out now since that problem has long since been resolved. This is a pretty good time for previewing Fedora 8 if ever there was one.
|Tuesday, October 9th, 2007|
"People who use Red Hat, at least with respect to our intellectual property, in a sense have an obligation to compensate us," Ballmer said at a company event. I suppose Novell can be happy now that that they paid the innovation tax with Microsoft.
Just last week, in a response to a Linux For You question to me, I had pointed out that Microsoft needs to stop being a bully and compete in the market fairly. This merely serves to reinforce that viewpoint.
|Friday, October 5th, 2007|
Fedora 8 Test 3 Is out
Fedora 8 Test 3 has been released a few hours back. Responding to a call for help, I wrote up most of the content for this release announcement which took a surprisingly large amount of time gathering information. Folks in fedora-devel list helped and the feature list is a good improvement. The new feature list and associated process introduced for Fedora 8 development doesn't cover everything yet though like the new system-config-firewall tool though I am hoping that would get better when more developers start following it and taking advantage of it. It is such a major time saver over having to crawl through thousands and thousands of packages. The sheer amount of work done within Red Hat and by a large number (nearly a thousand on last count) of developers in the volunteer Fedora community to have a new release every 6 months is simple amazing.
5000 Source Packages
We now have over 5000 source packages and over 8300 binary packages in the official Fedora repository. The growth rate is pretty high with dozens of new packages being introduced every week even though every single package has to go through a package review
I send a new announcement to several distributions letting them know about http://smolts.org. Ubuntu folks have responded and have been asking about policies regarding access to data to which a regular data dump has been offered. We will continue working on this.
Fedora Games spin
Work is ongoing on creating the games spin and I have been talking to release engineering and Fedora Project Board about this.
The kickstart file has been changed to inherit the existing configuration of the desktop spin. We are also discussing including some KDE games. While the regular KDE games are unlikely to be added we might very well include some unique ones.
Several new games have been added to the spin including those which use autodownloader. Autodownloader is a wrapper around some of the games to optionally download gaming content on demand.
For example. Quake 3 gaming engine is under the GPL license but the original fully playable demo maps from Id software is not but if can be freely download from online mirrors. Autodownloader makes this process very easy. yum install quake3 and click on the quake 3 menu option under games and it will prompt you to download the gaming content from one of the online mirrors and then offer to launch the game. Click on start and viola, you can be having fun. As simple as that. I have requested a icon for this via the awesome design service from the Fedora artwork team.
An additional wrapper is under opengl-games-utils. It checks whether 3D acceleration is possible and promotes usage of Free software with open drivers if not. The purpose of this is to prevent the user from accidentally launching a 3D game without any drivers installed for acceleration which makes even quitting the game sometimes difficult as you watch the mouse cursor move in a snail pace or in a jerky fashion across your screen. We also take this as a opportunity to gently guide the users towards hardware with open specifications or drivers. With Intel cards already working this way and the recent ATI announcement and drivers, Nvidia is the odd man out still promoting proprietary graphical drivers with no specifications that the nouveau project driver which Fedora already installs by default (but doesn't enable by default yet) has to painfully reverse engineer. Hopefully we can get great support for all graphical cards including 3D acceleration with Free software within Fedora soon.
Fedora XFCE spin!
I have talked to a few XFCE folks about creating a new XFCE spin since they are interested but too busy to work on that. With the new process for creating custom spins that don't necessary have to follow the regular release schedule for Fedora, we might have a XFCE spin even as early as Fedora 8!.
Indian Mirrors for Fedora
The efforts to get more Indian mirrors are starting to pay off with a new mirror announced
yesterday. I have also dropped in a mail to IIT Mumbai following IIT Chennai and Debarshi Ray has been talking to his college administration too. With good luck, they will realize the promoting Free software in educational organizations has a long history with a mutual benefit and continue with that culture.
|Saturday, September 29th, 2007|
Since we have been talking with many distributions now about them adopting Smolt. Mike McGrath has setup a neutral central site a while back as envisioned earlier after getting some feedback on that topic from other distributions which is available at http://smolts.org . The Fedora specific branding also has been removed to help adoption.
Smolt client is available as part of the next release of OpenSUSE though not installed by default but they are considering doing so after the next release and Mandriva is still evaluating their options. Ubuntu folks haven't been very responsive. Their similar hardware database has been non functional for quite sometime though. Hopefully through more prodding we can get them to adopt Smolt as a cross distribution solution and extend smolt to check for hardware compatibility, reviews, comments, collecting package lists etc. So far though despite repeated attempts to collaborate, we only have limited success. If you know decision makers in any distribution willing to look into this, do ping them.
|Friday, September 28th, 2007|
Today's has been productive Fedora work after a while. This is a list of what we managed to get done today.
Fedora Games Spin
Fedora Games Special Interest Group has done a good job packaging up a lot of games, continuously working on finding new games, coordinating on package reviews, documentation, helper tools etc but I still hear people lamenting about the lack of good games in Linux which usually is a problem of visibility.
A games edition of Fedora is I believe one way to boost visibility of the good number of Free software games available within Fedora and Linux.
I wrote up a kickstart file copying the list of potential games that the games SIG had come up with earlier and a couple of weeks of discussions later, we are ready to go with a Live DVD which I have proposed to the Fedora Project Board which has set off a lot of discussions around managing the large number of custom spins of Fedora that are popping up. Mike Mcgrath who is leading the Fedora Infrastructure team has volunteered to discuss about providing infrastructure in the form of a torrent. The current thinking is that the community spins would be managed by different SIG's themselves without going through release engineering and hosted in http://spins.fedoraproject.org.
Speaking about spins, LWN had a recent article looking at the custom spins in Fedora which ends with
"For a distribution that, until recently, had a reputation for not working with the community, this effort may go a long way towards erasing that history."
So my question to the great wise folks reading my blog is this: Did Fedora have such a reputation of not working with the community and why? Has that changed for the better recently and what changes have you seen?
Fedora Engineering Steering Committee aka FESCo voted on my draft and now it has been approved with some modifications so that we treat exceptions in the guidelines as examples instead of a strict policy which we enforce to which is fine by me since what I wanted to write down was some general best practice guidelines for new packagers and also have something that we can point end users to understand the benefits of what makes Fedora, Fedora. Hopefully that answers Thorsten's question as well.
New Indian Mirror?
After Mike Mccgrath's call for new mirrors, something that we had known for a while and wanted to have was highlighted more which is the lack of public mirrors for Fedora in India contrasted with the large number of users we have.
I broadcasted this call, got a few leads and also talked to Prof P.Sriram from IIT Chennai. Looks like that place already has a mirror which we merely need to get into our mirror list after working out the details. Matt Domsch who among other things is also our mirror wrangler has been helping with this.
|Monday, September 24th, 2007|
|On upstreaming code
Fedora or more specifically Fedora Engineering Steering Committee which itself is a elected body of Fedora contributors voted 8-1 on a proposal to remove separate kernel module packages and patch the main kernel package in some exceptional cases with the general goal of not deviating from the upstream kernel. The kernel modules interface is fluid and considered internal to the kernel and generally unsuitable for maintaining modules separately despite some clever hacks like DKMS.
In the recent 2007 Linux kernel summit, Linus has claimed that anytime a distribution ships a out of tree driver, the process has failed and he is in favor of making it easy on developers to merge their patches upstream. From my understanding, this was also a key motivation for Fedora's decision.
Apparently people aren't generally very happy with that decision however. Quite a few people repeatedly spread misinformation that the Fedora kernels are heavily patched while in reality other distribution kernels like Ubuntu or whatever tend to go along that path much more than Fedora does. Go check for yourself.
I do understand that not everyone might view what is called as a upstream bias as a benefit for end users. So I write up a general set of guidelines explaining why upstreaming code is a good idea and make a case for valid exceptions too.
I am still puzzled on why people consider Slackware not patching the kernel to be a good thing and Fedora not doing it to be a bad thing however. Either you want Red Hat to patch their kernels heavily or you don't. Which side is your bread buttered today?
|Tuesday, July 24th, 2007|
|Improving package and system management
and Paul Nasrat
have mentioned the new release of RPM 188.8.131.52. As you can imagine from this level of versioning, it is not a new release with major features but is important neverthless since it moves package management forward by consolding bug fixes across vendors, fixing some misfeatures and generally shows growth in a critical part after a long time. If you have been annoyed by not being able to run Control+C and stop a yum operation, this RPM release would bring in a fix shortly.
Seth Vidal meanwhile made a new release of Yum 3.2.2
. Other than integrating the yum installonlyn plugin and getting a assorted set of bug fixes, it is provides a nice feature of caching the mirror lists locally by default. Next time the mirrors are under heavy load with a new release of Fedora, users would hopefully not be affected with this change.
Tim Lauridsen quickly followed by a release of yum-utils 1.1.6
. This one adds yet another yum plugin for protecting a set of packages from being removed. If you are a silly enough to run yum remove glibc and say yes, this level of additional protection would be useful for system administration.
The most important improvement of course is the ongoing development of wevisor
, which as the name indicates is a web interface to revisor that lets you do custom spins of Fedora. Kickstart configuration files can be fed into a number of places such as live cd tools, revisor and wevisor and adds a whole lot of customisability to Fedora.
|Tuesday, July 17th, 2007|
|Smolt, the next level
A open invitation
to other distributions to adopt and use smolt just went out. Some background information on this:
After having moved out of the Fedora Project Board I now have some time to focus on reaching out to other projects. Trying to get smolt adopted by other distributions is one of my first efforts along that lines.
Smolt is the opt-in hardware profiler for Fedora and while the initial focus was on Fedora, Smolt is derived from RHN client tools and is based on HAL and has always been portable to other Linux distributions and possibly other operating systems which HAL has been ported to like FreeBSD or Solaris. The idea as Max Spevack has hinted
before is to have a neutral central website to gather metrics on Linux usage. There are many other advantages. We could understand some patterns and gain insight into how Linux systems are being used and prioritize testing and focus development. We could talk to hardware vendors and gain more support. A shared and coordinated effort between Linux distributions and other operating systems would have enormous benefits for both developers and end users.
I talked to Mike McGrath the primary developer and maintainer behind smolt and asked him to send out this invitation so that I can have a easy reference to talk to other Linux distributions about adopting smolt.
Even before this I came across Mandriva's roadmap
for the next version where they talk about a hardware profile feature very similar
to what we have in Fedora 7 already. I have contacted Adam Williamson
, community manager working for Mandriva and asked him to look into Smolt and there has been some discussions on this. I hope to contact other distributions and work with them on this too. If you have good contacts with other distributions do use that and point them to the smolt announcement or this blog post and ask them to contact Mike McGrath
or me. You can CC me on any discussions and I would be happy to help coordinate efforts.
|Thursday, May 3rd, 2007|
|Merge day and some stats
It is finally happening. Fedora Core and Fedora Extras are getting merged
What does this mean for Fedora?
Short answer: Everything.
Longer answer: This is possibly the biggest single change we have done ever since Fedora Project was formed. It empowers
the volunteer community
at large to have more direct access to packages in Fedora including those in what was known as Fedora Core.
Before this merge, no one outside of Red Hat had direct commit access to packages in Fedora Core. This single repository along with a shared open and external build system
changes the game drastically.
This is the first time (that I am aware of) a distribution that is sponsored by a major commercial Linux vendor has allowed everyone a equal footing in the repository resulting in a pretty big change for developers involved that would benefit end users in more suble ways. More on that follows.
Other distributions that I can think has different models similar to what we had in Fedora Core and Fedora Extras before. Mandriva has contrib (which Red Hat Linux had for a breif time too). Opensuse appears to use the web based build system. Canonical has universe and multiverse.
Fedora Extras is already available as a standard default repository for a long time now and it might not be immediately why a merge is beneficial.
1) Common infrastructure
2) Single repository
3) Wider community access to packages in the repository
4) No more limitations like Fedora Core packages not being able to depend on Fedora Extras packages which leads to benefits like enabling better functionality
5) Single Live CD, DVD and regular variants. You can get a selected focused spin like Fedora KDE Live CD in a single disc or you can get the entire repository in two DVD's. If you want a different set of packages you can create your own spin optimized just for your own environment. The distribution composing tools like Pungi or live cd tools that we use to build Fedora 7 are already available in the repository. Contributor Statistics
You might already be aware that we have millions
of Fedora users (nearly about 3 million just for Fedora Core 6) but do you know the stats for contributors?
Thanks to Mike Mcgrath I do have some information on that. Package Maintainers
122 core packagers for 1178 source packages
302 extras packagers for 2968 source packages
Total: 424 packagers for 4146. 85 @redhat.com addresses
some packagers will be listed twice up, once with their @redhat.com address and once with a personal address.Source Packages
Extras Development: 2968
Core Development: 1178
I am estimating the combined amount of binary packages will be around 8000.
Number of people that have signed the CLA: 1188
Number of people who are signed up as ambassadors: 205
Number of people working on documentation and translation: 104 (actual commit access)
Dozens of people working on artwork, news etc. All and all it's a very exciting day for Fedora.
|Thursday, April 26th, 2007|
|Up and running
Been a while since I blogged. What's interesting?
Linus Torvalds trying
out KDE on Fedora Live CD and reporting issues with a test release.
Daniel Riek explaining
RHEL 5 installation numbers.
LWN published a article titled Blaming Fedora
but really praising it for a strong policy on Free software. The discussions in the comments lead to me having a ongoing offlist very constructive conversations with Brett Smith, licensing compliance engineer from FSF on Fedora Free software analysis
. We are having good progress. I will post updates when we reach major milestones.
I will leave you with a few questions. If you are running Fedora development branch or one of the Fedora 7 test releases what improvements do you see? If you have the latest updates what are the ongoing major issues?
|Friday, January 19th, 2007|
Been a while since I blogged, so let me catch up on the news updates. Fedora and Free software
When a advisory group for Fedora of Red Hat and community members was setup originally when we were planning out the Fedora Foundation, I suggested that we increase our commitment to Free software in Fedora by aligning ourselves better with FSF. That idea didnt gather much attention at that point and I was still lingering on to it because for me, that is one of the unique strengths of Fedora as a mainstream distribution.
A few months back Micheal Tiemann (who is also the president of OSI
) brought up some the same idea
after seeing FSF making a point against Ubuntu for including non-free software and after the initial discussion died down, we didnt make any actual progress on this. A few months later, I talked with the Fedora Board and got Tom Callaway involved in a licensing audit of Fedora. We decided to tackle Fedora Core first and after a relatively long process with many revisions, we made some changes
. I have been following up spot to continue the licensing audit through all of the Fedora Extras packages too even though they individually have gone through package reviews before. You can track about the progress on this here
. I have talked to FSF and RMS in particular to understand better their stand on firmware and other forms of content like fonts, images etc and it's been more clear what we need to do now.
Some of the Ubuntu folks are currently advocating that we need to compromise and install proprietary drivers because we need the fancy desktop effects. Fortunately though even if these were really the critical feature, we already have a better desktop
and our strong commitment to Free software is visible to folks both to people who understand
and to those who miss
out the point
. FUDCon Boston 2007
I got through the visa process and have booked my flight tickets for the great Fedora conferenceMisrepresentations
Mark Shuttleworth is repeatedly misrepresenting
the nature of Free distributions like Fedora. "... their “really free” editions are not certified, carry no support and receive no systematic security patching. In other words - they’re beta or test versions". Ubuntu is derived from Debian and along with hundreds of other distributions falls under the same description of having no commerical support of certifications. Not only does Fedora gets fast security updates, the amusing thing is that Fedora happens to include more security features by default
than any other mainstream operating system out there. Yes, you read that right. Quality is admittedly something that Fedora needs to improve. We have a full time QA guy, planning out automated test suites, bug triaging days and regular QA meetings on #fedora-qa etc but as the recent Xorg breakage in Ubuntu showed us, this is more of a global issue. There is something to be said about not throwing stones from a glass house
. Greg Dek has other arguments
. Paid binaries and full public source code is not proprietary unlike say proprietary kernel modules. Current Mood: grumpy
|Friday, November 10th, 2006|
, I am not sure what you were expecting anyone to do. You brought out a potential issue and we asked our legal people and they said its how the law works
I or Jesse Keating probably dont know any better than our legal team to claim otherwise. Personally, I can see why you wouldnt like it but I dont see how see an alternative solution to that. If you would like to ping FSF or OSI and ask their opinion about this, go ahead. We talk to them all the time. So I am interested to hear it out too.
|Wednesday, November 8th, 2006|
|Thursday, October 26th, 2006|
Whem. What a release. The traffic is impressive. I wrote up the second part of my overview of Fedora Core 6 and Max Spevack helped beef it up nicely. Digg it