May 30th, 2007


linux tag, day 0

10:00 PM on May 28th in Raleigh
4:00 AM on May 29th in Berlin

I'm somewhere over the Atlantic, about 4 hours away from landing as I write this.

Technically speaking, I don't *HAVE* to travel to LinuxTag. But I believe that the time and cost associated with that the is worthwhile, and I believe that it is useful to the Fedora community in Europe, and therefore the overall global health of Fedora, to have the Project Leader in person at a show like LinuxTag, especially with Fedora 7's worldwide launch taking place on day 2 of the 4-day show.

It demonstrates (I hope) that there is personal accountability and commitment present in Fedora. That's really what this whole trip is about, from my perspective. It's me, doing my best to do all the little things that I think about as "leadership X-factors" that I hope set an overall tone for Fedora that allows large, powerful things to take place -- such as the (from the Fedora perspective) revolution that is Fedora 7 compared to FC 1-6.

I've been thinking, off and on, about some of the times that I will be called upon to speak publicly over the next few days. There will be a few -- I've got a session at LinuxTag that is slated as a "Fedora Keynote". The joy of my job is that I can do whatever I want with that time. I've been speaking to reporters in great detail about Fedora over the past week or so, and the basic structure of a talk is all pretty much in my head. I expect to do a session that will be white-board intensive, and that will demonstrate via words and pictures the "Amazing Achievement that is Fedora 7 and Why it is Great if you are a User or Developer of Free Software".

The first day of LinuxTag is Wednesday -- Tuesday afternoon/evening will be spent with all of the Fedora Ambassadors, making sure the final details for Wednesday are worked out and also hearing folks from all
around Europe talk about what the Fedora communities are like in their countries, and how the Fedora mothership back in Raleigh can be more useful (or ideally, how we can better give some resources and just stay out of the way of things that are already functioning well).

My job here is multifold. First, I need to set the stage for what we're trying to accomplish with the Fedora booth at LinuxTag over the course of the next four days (professional attitude, basic simple message of Fedora and Fedora 7, etc.). Secondly, I need to understand what the Big Issues our international Fedora communities face are, and what their preferred solutions to those issues are. Thirdly, I need to be able to figure out of there are general solutions that can be implemented and will be useful to more than one group of local Fedora folks at once. Finally, I need to be able to allocate budget and resources (and in some cases first successfully argue for said budget and resources) in order to help solve some problems. I want the Fedora people that I don't associate with every day (ie: the folks not in Boston or Raleigh) to know that there is someone who takes their needs and their efforts seriously, and who appreciates them, and who is in a position to make sure that they continue to get help and support from Red Hat on the whole.

I've also used the plane flight to look back at a giant pile of email.

It's disheartening how much of my email I don't actually get through.

However, I find that I enjoy very much writing (and reading) the emails in which I can do one of a couple different things:

(1) Solve someone's problem by interacting with them at a personal level. Also included in this category is any email the result of which is "making someone else's job easier".

(2) Educate someone about Fedora, whether it's the Big Picture of what the Project is all about, or a small detail that they are looking to understand.

(3) Speak the Truth. Whether it's flattering to Fedora/Red Hat or an acknowledgement of failure, I like cutting through the all the cruft and just telling someone what's going on. In a weird way, I like the fact that from time to time my job allows me to write an email to someone that says simply "I messed $FOO up". Or "Fedora didn't do $BAR when we said we would -- ultimately that's my fault". It's nice to take accountability, even if that also means eating some crow.

I've read Neal Stephenson's "In the Beginning... Was the Command Line". It's the only work by him that I haven't previously read, and it was quite enjoyable, and also (given that it was written in 1998/1999), a pretty darn good predictor of the current state of the OS world. If anyone reading this blog knows Mr. Stephenson, please tell him that the Baroque Cycle are the best novels that I've ever read, but that I still can't quite figure out some of the last 10 pages of Cryptonomicon. :-)

I've read an issue of Fast Company, which was trumpeting the wonderful design of an ordinary plastic chair (the kind that get stacked 20 high in high school gyms) and that sold for $250 each. IT'S A CHAIR! GET OVER YOURSELVES! Call me a luddite, but I refuse to believe that there's some magical innovation in plastic chairs waiting to happen that will make them anything other than -- quite literally -- a pain in the rear.

linux tag, day 0.5

1:00 PM on May 29th in Raleigh
7:00 PM on May 29th in Berlin

I'm sitting in the lobby of the Pegasus Hostel, watching as various Fedora folks turn up.

My trip from the airport to the hostel was by bus, by subway, and by foot, but I arrived in one piece and managed to do so before the torrential rain started.

There is no wireless here at the hostel, so I had to wait my turn for one of their Windows machines, which I was able to run PuTTY on and at least send a couple of quick emails to folks letting them know that I was safe.

I wandered the streets for a while, eventually making my way into some sort of Turkish deli, where I negotiated a chicken, salad, and french fry lunch by pointing, once we established that the proprietor spoke neither English nor Spanish.

Then I went to bed for about 2 hours. When I woke up, Mike McGrath was hanging out in the common room, and he and I chatted for a bit and grabbed a bit to eat at a local coffee shop.

We're starting the Fedora Ambassador Day at 8:00 PM -- I'll probably give a little speech to kick things off, and then we're going to have pizza, go over the details for LinuxTag, and then allow all of the Fedora folks to talk for a bit about Fedora in their local areas -- what's good, what's bad, etc.

Right now I'm putting the last touches on this post, and chatting with kanarip about Revisor's past and future.

linux tag, day 1

2:30 AM on May 30th in Raleigh
8:30 AM on May 30th in Berlin

We're sitting on the subway making our way from the Pegasus Hostel (in east Berlin) to the fairgrounds where LinuxTag is being held (in west Berlin), so it's a long enough ride that I have time to write up a few words.

Since my last post, the main Fedora-related activity that we've done was the "Fedora Ambassador Day". We started at about 8:00 PM last night, and finished at around 10:30 PM. A few topics were covered, including the health of the Ambassadors project in sevearl different European countries. There are in the neighborhood of 250 "active" Fedora Ambassadors, with the vast majority of those coming from Europe, North America, and India. South America was the next largest segment.

There are 19 Fedora Ambassadors here in Berlin for LinuxTag -- and of the "core" group of folks who are making LinuxTag happen, only Mike McGrath and I actually work for Red Hat -- it really is a community-run event, and I think that alone demonstrates some of the success that Fedora Ambassadors has had. I am particularly grateful, because it allows me to spend my time talking with people at the booth, preparing for my own talk on Thursday, etc, and not having to deal with logistics or organization.

Looking around on the subway, I see folks from the USA, Germany, Poland, Italy, Switzerland, India, the Netherlands, and Mozambique. Fedora is a pretty global bunch, that's for sure.

And I see a good cross-section of Ambassadors who also have different roles within the Fedora Project -- engineers, package maintainers, docs guys infrastructure guys, Red Hat trainers and instructors, and folks who are active in the Fedora marketing team.

More later....

linux tag, day 1.5

12:30 PM on May 30th in Raleigh
6:30 PM on May 30th in Berlin

One of our ambassadors shared with me a troubling dream that he had last night. In his dream, everyone was running late in getting to LinuxTag this morning, and I was standing around like some sort of drill sergeant yelling at everyone. I suppose Machiavelli would be proud.

Kushal's video of me talking about Fedora 7 was posted. I must say, I would have preferred to let him tape me today, since he caught me last night after basically having been awake for 40 hours, and I kind of look like a nightmare, but I suppose it gives Fedora 7 an authentic, end of release and we're all wiped out kind of feel.

On to Serious Business, however. I didn't spend a whole lot of time at the Fedora booth today, though it looks great and I snapped a few pictures.

We took advantage of the fact that I am here in Europe to set up a few interviews with European press folks about the Fedora Project in general, and Fedora 7 in particular. I spoke to one freelance reporter, one reporter with Computer Business Review, and one reporter with IT Week. I thought they all went reasonably well. So the Fedora 7 press tour rolls on -- between the Red Hat Summit, and the last two weeks leading up to release, I've probably talked to at least 10 different news outlets in the US and Europe. We should start to see some publications rolling out on Thursday along with the release.

Anyway, those interviews took up about an hour and a half of my time. The rest of the morning was spent catching up on the most important bits of email that I'd missed out on since my flight over here, since I won't have internet access again until tomorrow morning.

Picture a miniature Eiffel Tower. Now picture a restaurant built at the top of it, kind of like a donut had been ringed around the top of the tower. That's where Mike McGrath and I grabbed lunch.

After lunch I did a bit more Fedora 7-related email, and started brainstorming a general outline for my talk tomorrow. I've got an hour on Fedora 7, Fedora in general, basically anything I want.

Thorsten, Mike McGrath, and I sat down with Dag, Axel, Lance Davis, and several of the other CentOS folks. We chatted for about 90 minutes, mostly about the EPEL project, with occasional sidetracks into legal matters and general opportunities for better cooperation and communication between projects. I think there's a lot of good intentions, but that we need to make a concentrated effort to follow through on them.

Now the booth cleanup is in progress -- and I'm blogging. We're going to have a meeting with OpenSuse shortly, to follow up with them about Smolt in particular, and show them the results that we have had getting it built on OpenSuse.

Tonight, I shall finish outlining my talk for tomorrow, and maybe write up another short blog post that I can throw up first thing in the morning.