Last weekend, I spent approximately 48 hours in the UK for LUG Radio Live 2008.
The purpose of the trip was threefold:
1) I had been invited to give the Community Architecture for Fun and Profit talk at the event by the organizers.
2) I wanted to meet a few of the Red Hat employees from the UK who would be in attendance.
3) I hoped to have a few interesting conversations with other attendees, who either contribute to Fedora or work in other upstream parts of the free software community.
Rather than give a chronological trip report, I'll just share various highlights and lowlights.
NUGGET: My talk itself went fine -- it's a good presentation about our community building strategies in Red Hat and Fedora, where we have been successful, and where we have failed but learned from our mistakes. However, the overall audience was much lower than I hoped/expected, and I was quite disappointed by that. All was not lost, however, for Jeremy Allison (of Samba and Google) was in the audience, and he mentioned to me afterward that he enjoyed the talk and would like to figure out how I could give it as a Google Tech Talk. Of course, I would be more than happy to do this.
NUGGET: Two of the booths at the event that I found kind of interesting, and thought I'd give links to. The first: Open Street Map, which I first saw at LinuxTag back in May, but have been hearing more and more about over the past few months. The second: Open Rights Group, sort of like the Electronic Frontier Foundation of Europe.
NUGGET: I had a chance to meet Jon Fautley and Tom Ellis, who work as consultants at Red Hat. Both were great guys, and they brought a decent amount of Red Hat swag with them. A special thank you to Tom, who created about 40 or 50 Fedora Live USB keys over the course of two days, which were (as always) in great demand at the event.
NUGGET: Spent about 45 minutes talking with Benjamin Otte, a GNOME developer and upstream maintainer of swfdec, an open source flash decoder. Benjamin and I spoke about some of the general challenges of building community in the GNOME world, especially when you have large groups of older, established contributors who have been participating for many years, and another group of young contributors with potentially different goals/objectives. Additionally, Benjamin was disappointed with his experiences in the Fedora 9 feature process. Not having any firsthand knowledge of this, I promised to look into it and also put him in touch with John Poelstra, and I still need to follow up on that promise.
NUGGET: Participating in the "mass debate" with Jeremy Allison (Samba & Google), Matthew Garrett (Red Hat & GNOME), and one of the LUG Radio guys whose name I cannot remember. Discussion included GPL v3, whether or not there is incentive to standardize distro release cycles, recruitment of new developers, and various distros/companies mildly poking at each other (enough to make a point, but not enough to make anyone angry).
NUGGET: Someone reciting the St. Crispin's Day speech from Henry V, substituting LUG Radio and Linux names when appropriate.
NUGGET: Interesting chat with Jon about Spacewalk, Func, Cobbler, Puppet, and how customers are quite excited about different pieces of technology that have come out of either Fedora or (what used to be called) Red Hat's Emerging Technologies group.
NUGGET: 45 minute interview with Linux Format magazine. I felt that it went pretty well. We'll see what parts of it they use, because it was far more material than can fit into any reasonably-sized article.
NUGGET: Two cool things from the Debian booth. First, a simple app running that displayed a scrolling list of all the people in their community. We should do something like that for Fedora. I'm sure it would be very easy. They were simply going through each package installed on the system and displaying the name/email address of the maintainer. I also saw a Debian poster that gave me a cool idea for Fedora artwork -- the picture would display what seems to be a forge, with molds in the shape of the Fedora logo and molten blue/white liquid being poured into them. Around the floor would be various instances of the finished product. The Debian poster was something similar with beakers pouring out liquid in the shape of the Debian swirl, and it looked pretty cool.
NUGGET: Walking into the Social Event on Saturday night to a room full of people all singing "Yellow Submarine" in unison.