February 25th, 2007


fosdem 2.0

The latest in my string of FOSDEM reports.

Saturday afternoon

When I last checked in, the first CentOS talk was starting -- the "Introduction to CentOS". It was a good talk. When folks started asking questions at the end about CentOS vs. Fedora vs. RHEL, I think that everyone in the room did a really good, and really honest job of talking about the differences between the three distros, and how they each have the opportunity to serve a fairly distinct market. It's up to the user (with our help) to figure out which distro best serves their needs, and go with it.

Shortly after this talk concluded, back in the booth, we sold a Fedora Core 6 PPC DVD. You read that right -- a person gave us 2 Euros, and we gave him a PPC DVD. I have photographic evidence of this transaction.

Chitlesh kicked off the Fedora sessions with his "Introduction to Fedora" talk. I was riding shotgun -- jumping in from time to time to add more information or fill in some gaps. The talk went really well. We covered the basics of what the Fedora mission is, as well as the community goals of Fedora, and a little bit of what to expect out of Fedora in the future. In about 20 minutes I'm going to give my solo talk which will really go into Fedora's 2007 plans. But anyway, Chitlesh did a great job with the slides and his talk -- there were more than 50 people in the room listening.

We did a pretty good job moving shirts, DVDs, etc. We were asking for donations, and we brought in enough Euros to help with some of the travel costs that our European Ambassadors incur, cover some of the taxi rides, etc. Basically just make the total cost of FOSDEM a little bit less than it would be otherwise. It also proves, I think, to the European Ambassadors, that it is possible to generate a little bit of revenue with the swag, and so in the future they'll be able to have their other events be a bit more self-sufficient.

We had a guy come by our booth complaining that he had been "banned from Fedora". When we actually got him to show us the website that he was banned from, it was www.fc64.org, which none of us had ever even heard of. We explained to him that it was an unofficial Fedora site, and we couldn't help him. But spot did spend a while talking to him about Fedora and VMWare.

Saturday night

That pretty much covered the high points of FOSDEM's first day. I took all of the Fedora Ambassadors/contributors/hangers-on out to dinner after FOSDEM -- these folks give us so much of their time and energy throughout the year, the least I can do is buy them a good meal once a year when I'm in their area. We ended up at a nice little French restaurant.

Three funny stories here:

(1) The restaurant was empty except for one other couple, having a nice romantic dinner. I felt bad that we had brought a bunch of computer folks into the middle of their dinner, and so I grabbed Chitlesh (who speaks French) and we went over to apologize. Fortunately, the couple happened to speak English, and so I apologized profusely for intruding on their meal and offered to buy them a bottle of wine. They couldn't have been nicer -- not only would they not accept any wine, they asked me a few questions about where we were from and what we were doing, and they were amazed that several of the folks here had been working together for years, but had never met each other before yesterday.

(2) The owner of the restaurant was scared, at first, of having to serve so many people. But by the end of the dinner when I went over to thank him for accomodating us, he told me that we could "come to his restaurant every day". So that went well.

(3) About 8 people (including myself) ordered a dish called "steak tartare" which was a reasonably priced dish with the word "steak" in it. We were expecting, you know, a piece of cooked meat. We ended up with some sort of uncooked steak salad kind of thing. It was amusing, to say the least. But lesson learned.

After dinner, the group split up -- we talked about some of the plans for LinuxTag on the way back to the hotel, and setting that event up as the "European Launch" of Fedora 7, since it will occur about a week after our currently scheduled launch date.


Just another standard day at the booth. I give my Fedora talk in 10 minutes, so I have to wrap this up.

We're also going to sit down with the OpenSuse folks, who wanted to chat with us, and I hope to have the opportunity for a longer talk with the CentOS guys this afternoon.

quick fosdem update

This will probably be my last post, since I will be without internet once FOSDEM ends and until I get back to Raleigh on Wednesday night (I'm taking a couple of days to wander Europe before I go back to the US).

My talk went pretty well -- about 50 people in the room, I would estimate, maybe a few more. The most interesting questions came from the CentOS guys actually, who are very interested in the details of the Core/Extras merge.

For those of you who were at FUDCon Boston, my talk was basically just a shorter version of what I gave there -- I cut out all the funny parts and pretty much just focused on "what are the Fedora goals" and "what is my job" and "what is the Fedora roadmap".

Ok, that's all. I'm signing off from FOSDEM. It's been a good, good weekend for Fedora.

fosdem, the end

Ok, so actually *this* post will be the last that you hear from me until I get back to Raleigh.

The remainder of Sunday afternoon was pretty busy for me. I didn't spend much time by the booth at all, but instead I was a part of several different meetings:


A few of us Fedora folks had a conversation with several of the engineers who work on OpenSuse. A few of them had come to listen to my talk and were interested in chatting about some of the challenges that they are facing in their work, because they see some similaries with issues that Fedora has tackled recently.

One of those issues is the whole dynamic of being the community distribution that is part of a larger corporation that also has an enterprise offering. A second topic about which we spoke was smolt. The Suse folks were very interested in the work that has been done on the hardware database, and they floated the idea of generalizing that code (at first) to be able to run on any RPM-based distro, and potentially setting up a more communal hardware database that could still distinguish between distributions, but collect data in one place, for it to have a larger impact and ability for data mining.

The second topic of conversation was the idea of unifying the Fedora Packaging guidelines with the OpenSuse packaging guidelines, to make it easier for a single spec file to be "acceptable" to both projects.

We parted on good terms, with both Spot and I thinking that there is some potential to work together on these two issues. So we'll see what comes of it in the next little while. We're hoping to have a follow up meeting with the two projects, involving whoever is at LinuxTag.


I spent about an hour talking with the core CentOS development team, including Lance Davis, Dag Wieers, and Kambir Singh. My purpose in this conversation was just to get some good communication flowing between their project and Fedora/Red Hat, and to get a list of
some of the ways that we could help them out, that wouldn't be too much work but offer a pretty good payoff. I've got that list with me, and I'll start looking into it when I get back to Raleigh.

I have always thought that the work the CentOS project does is very well aligned with both Fedora and Red Hat, and that Red Hat should look at the CentOS project as one of our biggest community allies. Talking with the leaders of CentOS only reaffirmed that in my mind. They're a good group of guys, and all of their users are folks whose operating system is part of the Red Hat family (who otherwise might not be using a Red Hat-based distro).


I talked with Dimitris Glezos, Thomas Caninot, and a couple of the other Ambassadors who are particularly invested into the Fedora Translation project. We had a pretty frank discussion of the areas in which improvement can be made, and I think that it will take a bit of effort, but that we should be able to make this part of Fedora better than it is right now. At my urging, Dimitris has agreed to nag me until he sees some results.


Chitlesh gave a 30 minute talk to all of the remaining Fedora folks who were in attendance, summarizing some of the topics that we talked about earlier in the weekend with regard to giving some more resources and organization around the efforts that are going on in Europe. We've still got a few decisions to make, but I think everyone buys into the general vision.

Several of the crew are heading to another event in Germany next week. They have some of the extra DVDs and tshirts with them. We split up the remaining DVDs among the various other European folks to bring back to their homes, their mission being to "get them in the hands of people who will appreciate them before Fedora 7 is released".


The final talk of FOSDEM was Bryn Reeves giving an introduction and demonstration of SystemTap. I'd never even heard of this particular program before, so I found it very interesting. I think Bryn was an engaging speaker, and I liked the fact that he started with really easy examples and gradually worked his way up to showing us more real-world use cases.

So there you have it -- if you read back far enough in my blog, you'll have an entire accounting of FOSDEM.

I really hope that some of the other folks who were at FOSDEM write up their thoughts as well -- it's always interesting to see the perspective of other folks.

Anyway, I hope that the readers of Fedora Planet have found these reports interesting, or at the very least amusing.

Signing off from Brussels.

one last funny story from fosdem

So there's one more story that I have to share with all of you -- I don't know how I managed to forget about this in my previous post.

A user wandered by the Fedora booth at some point with an old MacBook and he was trying to install Fedora Core 6 on it -- he was using a PPC DVD that he had previously acquired from us for 2 Euros.

He stuck the disk into his computer, turned it on, and when the boot phase got to /sbin/loader it died a horrible death, full of hexadecimal and obscure debugging information that didn't mean anything to me.

I apologized for not being able to solve his problem and suggested a few ways that he could try to get help. He didn't ask for a refund of his 2 Euros, but he did look at me with a bit of shock and say: "I'm surprised you couldn't solve my problem. You are Bill Nottingham". It wasn't a question -- not "are you Bill Nottingham" but rather a statement -- "you are Bill Nottingham, and therefore you should be able to solve all of my problems".

I explained that I am actually not Bill Nottingham. He was disappointed not to have met Bill, but at the same time relieved because now Bill is still batting 1.000 in this user's mind.

That is all. I'm turning my computer off and I won't be near the internet again for at least 72 hours -- Wednesday night or Thursday morning Eastern Time.