List of Flock blogs and more

If you’d like to get a bigger picture view, you can read a pre-conference interview with a few Flock speakers here or with Thomas Cameron here.

Days 3 and 4 were reserved for workshops. Also, during these 2 days, people continued to split into smaller groups to discuss matters of their own interests, and so did I. However, I caught up with some of the presenters to ask them about the outcome of their sessions and you can read that at the end of this article. But to be fair – if you want to read something about Flock, feel free to browse the blogs that emerged in the first post-Flock week, listed here:

Here are my notes from the two guys I talked to.

Led by Brian Exelbierd, the Fedora Docs Learn and Hack session turned out to be more learn and discuss and not learn and hack. Brian shared the outcomes from the Fedora Docs FAD in May 2016 and started a discussion around topic based writing and tooling. There was a lot of sharing of ideas and questions about how we move forward. In general the idea of changing the style of the documents and how we build and publish them was well received. Questions for discussion in the future revolve and how to get there in a manner that makes sense for the project. Brian will be posting an update about the Docs situation at this Comms blog soon.

In parallel with Brian, Christoph Wickert led the Meet your FAmSCo team planning workshop. What is FAmSCo? It stands for the Fedora
Ambassadors Steering Committee and has existed for about ten years.
Their mission is to support the Fedora Ambassadors program. The group
of presenters gave status reports and went through several ongoing
issues, some of which the APAC community is facing:

  • We need to have a clearer idea of our target audience. As
    conferences are more topic-oriented, we need to created different
    marketing messages for the individual target audiences such as
    students, Python/Ruby developers, system administrators etc.
  • We continue to work on the idea of the Fedora Outreach Steering
    Committee (FOSCo), a new body that coordinates the efforts of the
    ambassadors, the marketing group, the design team, CommOps and other
    outreach focused groups in Fedora. In long term, FOSCo should replace
    FAmSCo and take over all it’s duties, but to do that, we need to work
    on the structure and get support from more groups.
  • FAmSCo and the ambassadors mentors are looking to improve the
    mentoring process, but we will not lower the bar. Quality is more
    important then quantity, even in countries where the Fedora community
    and user base still needs to grow.
  • FAmSCo strives to support emerging local communities at the best, be
    it financially, logistically, with manpower or simply by giving

I also talked to Justin Flory, Matthew Miller, and Langdon White; but I’ll write about that later. Expect something here or on Fedora magazine soon.


Flock update Day 2

Flock update Day 2

Day 2 of Flock was just as packed with great content as Day 1.

Akademia Programowania

The first session of the day delivered for me the most interesting and alarming idea. The speaker was Radoslaw Krowiak, the co-owner of Akademia Programowania in Krakow. He’s been involved in teaching kids proramming since 2013. The age of his students is 5 years and higher. He noted that skills like communication, commercial awareness, ability to work in a team, or problem solving, are amongst the top ten skills missing in college graduates.

He went on to say that math, engineering, and the sciences in general have a reputation of being boring, “too hard,” and “not cool.” The fact that these subjects are not taught in creative environments is not helping either. Furthermore, the sciences are often taught in isolation from each other, not to mention their isolation from the arts. Naturally, just as the world is complex, so are all these areas interconnected and should ideally be seen in a more holistic way.

What I am getting at: Radoslaw presented the results of a creative skills test designed by George Land for NASA. The principle of the test was something like “what can you do with an xyz?” The results were given in percents with 100% being the perfect score. The test was given to kids aged 5, 10, 15 years, and to 1,000,000 adults. The data coming out of this test was this:

Age 5 = 98%
Age 10 = 30%
Age 15 = 12%
1,000,000 adults = 2%

Alarming!!! We are un-learning creativity at school. We are given the answers. We are told to do it on our own. We’re told not to make mistakes. But mistakes are the best way to learn!ScratchPiEstimation

That is why students at Akademia learn games. Games are the most cool and non-boring subject for them. They are learning how to make games with programs like Scratch, Lightbot, or Blockly. What are a few great things about learning how to code? Creating apps/games makes the participants understand and use math/physics in practice. It is a much more “cool” way to use Boolean, Cartesian coordinates, Gravity and Kinetics, Conditional clauses, problem-solving, implementation… Plus, they are learning not only scientific concepts, but are also allowed to express themselves in a creative way.

Star Trek in Fedora! star trek

The second (10:00) talk of the day was not less exciting than the Keynote. The title was Kirk, McCoy, and Spock build the future of Fedora and the speaker was Matthew Miller. That topic actually deserves its own article, which I’d like to push out to the Fedora Magazine soon. Essentially, it is an analogy for the Program Logic model originally designed by the Kellogg’s company (yes, the breakfast cereal company). The model is being successfully used by the Modularity initiative, which was the topic of the next presentation.


The complete title of the 11:00 talk was Modularity: Why, where we are, and how to get involved, delivered by Langdon White. Langdon has been actively blogging about Modularity for some time. The discussions about it have been ongoing for the last 3-4 years and we are now finally arriving to concrete bits! The project is aimed at “resolving the issue of diverging (and occasionally conflicting) lifecycles of different “components” within Fedora.” If you’d like to learn more, this Langdon’s short post is an excellent start.

Factory 2.0

The chain of topics logically continued in the presentation titled Factory 2.0. The easiest way to grasp it is this: “Having Modularity without Factory 2.0 is like running barefoot on pieces of lego.” Factory 2.0 is NOT a single web application, a rewrite of our entire pipeline, a silver bullet, a silver platter, just Modularity, or going to be easy. It is redefining how we deliver things in Fedora. The Factory 2.0 team has identified six problems to be solved for the project to get to its resolution. There is an order in which they need to be solved; Modularity is the last one on the schedule because it depends on the other problems’ solutions. You can look at the slides here!

IoT on Fedora

The IoT on Fedora was an update of a talk the authors gave two years ago. Good news are that Fedora does have the basis for IoT: End point devices (ARM devices), gateways, messaging systems, data gathering, storage and analytics, security… Atomic images are an excellent fit for Fedora IoT endpoints, too!

Since it is “internet of other people’s things,” SELinux is *really* necessary, especially because people rarely realize the security risks in IoT. Overall, the awareness about the subject in the community has grown in the past two years. There is diversity in IoT devices and platforms. Yet still, many issues remain open. For example, we need to figure out how to use Atomic for endpoint/gateway deployments, and answer questions like – How do you update your IoT door lock?

Enterprise Fedora Desktop

At 15:30, I attended the Progress on Enterprise Fedora Desktop. It was a follow-up on a one-year-old presentation about a small effort to produce something that’d make Fedora (and other Linux distros) reasonably usable in corporate environments. The talk gave technical details about how to manage different identities at the same time and how to set up an ‘enterprisey’ data center in your home. The advantages of this system are: you can control your own infrastructure, and improve user experience by reducing the number of password/logon interactions.

Spam in Fedora Wiki

How we took care of spam was the name of the 16:30 session I chose. The author, Patrick Uiterwijk from Red Hat, tackled a recent steep increase in spam occurrence in the Fedora Wiki. His first solution was temporary CLA+1 Wiki and Trac. During that setup, only verified Fedora contributors could log in to the Wiki. After that, he restructured the fight against spam from scratch by introducing Basset. Basset gets messages from Wiki, Trac, FAS, and Pagure, and determines a score based on certain modules, such as spam words. Based on the final score, it either: happily accepts your message, deletes your message and account, or if it’s not sure, sends a message to the admin.

How do we ship it?

The last talk of the day in my schedule was Redefining how we deliver Fedora by Dennis Gilmore. Fedora 24 introduced some significant changes in the delivery process: we switched to Pungi 4, started using Livemedia to create live CDs, started nightly composes of Rawhide and branched… and have a continuous stream of install media that is going to be tested on a regular basis.

What are the future plans? A longer term plan is to completely get rid of Alpha (if we do enough testing and gating, it should work). In Fedora 25, we want to have Workstation ostree, and we’ll be making the Cockpit layered image. It’s the first of layered images; a new deliverable type! It allows you to have more container content

What is after Fedora 25? ASBS (layered images) and Docker are coming in. People should be able to build layered images themselves after F25. We’ll also heavily focus on automation, signed repos in Koji, DVD building in Koji, Modularity, and Alternative architectures.

Evening program…

What happened after this heavily infused marathon? You can guess that we went to infuse ourselves with… other type of content. We did the infusion partially on a boat cruise in the Krakow center, which was really amazing. I have to say a big thank you to the organizers who are going out of their way to make a great event!

Interview with Thomas Cameron – Senior Principal Cloud Evangelist at Red Hat

With the Flock conference being under way, Thomas answers a few questions related to his expertise.

Thomas Cameron:Thomas Cameron

  • Senior Principal Cloud Evangelist at Red Hat
  • Influential in the field of containers, Cloud solutions, JBoss middleware, and more, in the industry since 1993
  • Specializes in cloud security and integration
  • Author of trainings for many Red Hat products
  • Experienced presenter

What would you like to achieve at Flock 2016? (what outcome would you like to see?)

I’d love to show that Red Hat folks outside of the Fedora project are
committed to the greater community. I’d also love to get folks up to
speed on container security (the topic of my presentation).

What do you think are the most pressing issues that should be discussed concerning Fedora Cloud at Flock?

Balancing the release of new features with stability/usability. There
are a ton of new features around containers, security, orchestration,
etc., and it’s incredibly difficult to get them out for use while
keeping them stable.

What do you think are the hot topics at Flock this year? 

Containers, cloud computing, orchestration, security. I’d love to see
more around open hybrid cloud – i.e. integration of ManageIQ with
OpenStack and Fedora.

What is the future of containers in Fedora?

I hesitate to jump on the bandwagon, but… there seems to be a huge
amount of momentum in containerizing everything. In some ways, I think
that’s great, and it makes a lot of sense. But I worry it’s also
dangerous to go all in on containers. While I don’t think it’s the “hype
du jour,” I worry that something newer and shinier might come along and
derail all the work that’s been done.

You have insight into how the “productized Fedora,” that is RHEL, is used by Red Hat’s customers. Does the ‘loop’ close in any way? In other words, does some feedback from customers go all the way back to Fedora folks?

I definitely get feedback from a lot of our customers – from really
bleeding edge early adopters to very conservative, slow moving
customers. I try to make sure that feedback goes all the way from
support and product management to the folks in Fedora.

The opposite is true, as well. I try to take what I’m learning at Flock
to our customers to make sure we’re setting expectations as to what’s
coming over the next 12-36 months.

What do you think is a good way to attract more contributors to Fedora?

Fedora seems to be thought of as a hard-core developer’s platform. I
would love to see us change that image to a great, general purpose Linux
platform. We’re not just a coder’s distro, my kids use it to game on,
for Heaven’s sake!

Changing the perception of Fedora as a geek-only platform would be
awesome! I use Fedora as my daily driver at home, and it works
flawlessly for productivity work like mail, word processing,
spreadsheets, and so on. I also use it to play games from Minecraft to
Steam, and I also do a lot of sysadmin/systems engineering work like
virtualization and container development. I think Fedora is an
incredible distro, and we should talk a LOT more about that!


Flock update Day 1

Flock update Day 1


The first Flock day was, not against my expectations, packed with talks.

First, Matthew Miller gave his now traditional State of Fedora keynote. He mostly gave a close look at graphs and numbers that had been collected for 2015. Overall, the number of contributors is growing, reaching over 2000 people. His personal view of Fedora’s near future includes Python conversion, actions in modularity (after years of talking), and development of the Fedora hubs, where at least some of the current irc sessions should be migrated.

After the keynote, I hesitated between attending the Fedora Workstation Next Steps or A Year Managing the Italian Fedora Community. The latter won, and I was surprised to hear how many obstacles those folks have and how much sincere effort comes from the volunteers (let’s face it).

At 11:00, I had the chance to hear Petr Viktorin give the essential steps when you want to add your awesome new thing into Fedora (thing = nodejs, rubygem, maven repo, new format for installer image, new container format…). You need to talk to release engineering EARLY! Work in the open, engage others for feedback, and do not rely on others to do work for you. The main reason for him submitting the talk was that even if you have a great and successful project, it still needs to be integrated in the process of how we compose Fedora as a whole. Not talking to releng early makes integrating your fantastic project into Fedora much more difficult.

After lunch, I watched Mirek Suchy give update about Copr. The talk was very technical, so I won’t go into details, but you can read the irc transcription  (links below).

Next session of my interest was about the Fedora magazine by Paul Frields. Being their new contributor, it was good to learn that they are not trying to preach, but rather give the users what they are looking for. It is even okay to talk about software which is often used illegally, but has a specific legal use in Fedora, such as BitTorrent.

One before last on my schedule was Thoughts on Fedora and Arts. What we all learned there was that Fedora is perfect as it is, which is a nice statement, but not one usually leading to growth and improvement.

At 17:30, a group of us came to attend the talk titled “University outreach – New task or new mindset?” It seemed that both new mindsets and tasks are heavily needed. And it was at the last talk of the first day where I finally got the vibe which keeps Fedora enthusiasts coming back and which fuels their passion.

The talk gradually turned into a lively discussion about how the Outreach program should look like. People shared their experiences about working with schools and universities, said what worked and didn’t, and suddenly – solutions started to emerge! Something that I sincerely understand happened – anybody could come up with an idea and be heard and be creative and accepted for that.

I see tremendous value in this aspect of the Open Source world, which doesn’t come with proprietary software; you don’t just take, you also give back to the community. The joy of creating new things that are helpful for others is priceless.

It’s possible that the creative happiness we get from this environment brings us back to our childhood, when everything was possible, monkeys could have violet fur, horses could talk, and wolves knew how to sew clothes.

After the talks, the organizers arranged buses to Krakow center and guided tours of the city. Our guide was really funny and we even saw a dragon.

I will not write about the rest of the evening, but you can imagine. A free night in Krakow. 😉

Note: some of the sessions are being streamed on irc, network Freenode. You can find all the information here.

Flock: Pre-Event Speaker Interviews

This post was inspired by the pre-event interviews that exist on coverimage

Flock is a Fedora-defining event of the year.  In the lines below, a few speakers share what the conference means for them and what they’re looking forward to the most.

Stephen Gallagher is a long-term Fedora contributor, member of the Fedora Engineering Steering Committee, and a UNIX/Linux developer. His current focus project is OpenShift, which is a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) cloud product that lets developers quickly develop, host, scale, and deliver apps in the cloud. He has a workshop on Friday, August 5th.

1) What would you like to achieve at Flock 2016? In other words, what outcome would you like to see?

In my view, the primary purpose of Flock is to energize the Fedora community for the upcoming year. We gather our flock together in one place, pat ourselves on the back for what we achieved over the previous year and then get hard to work on the next steps.

In the case of me personally, I’m hoping to see renewed interest in the modularization efforts of Fedora, particularly within the Server Edition. There are several sessions scheduled to focus on this and I think this will be a make-or-break opportunity for it: either the community will come together and start making it happen or we’ll poke holes in it and come up with something better. Either way, Fedora wins!

2) What have you learned during your membership in the Fedora Engineering Steering Committee?

That it’s really important to know how the sausage is made. It’s rarely pretty, but if you look carefully, you can see that a lot of effort and care goes into the final product. Stephen Gallagher

FESCo has taught me a great deal about the wider open-source community. One of the historical issues with open-source is that it tends to develop very insular “silos” around particular technology. This in turn leads to projects that are generally very well-thought-out internally but are very difficult to combine into a larger solution. (As a contrived example, a web server developer is probably going to be most concerned with the performance and options of the server for all cases and therefore customizing it for a specific workload may be very complicated.)

Working on FESCo, I’m required to always be thinking about how new technology fits into the overall mission of Fedora (or whether it fails to do so). In the course of my service, I’ve had the opportunity to learn about a great many projects (and how they interact) that if I had stayed working on only my own day-job tasks I would never have known about.

3) You were one of the organizers of the first Flock (right?). What has changed over the 3 years?

I was not one of the original organizers, though I have been to every Flock thus far. I’m also planning to prepare a bid for 2017.

In truth, I can’t think of much that has changed about Flock itself over its three years, except that the organizers have gotten practice and now it feels more professionally put-together than it did at first. What I mean by that is that in its early days, people were still trying to figure out how much of FUDCon to retain in the process.

I think our first Flock (at Charleston) had one obvious problem that nearly every attendee remarked upon: too much content. That sounds like a good problem to have, but what it ultimately meant was that with five or six concurrent sessions running at all times, most of them were poorly-attended or attended only by people who were already familiar with the topic being discussed. This basically amounted to a failure to use the conference to advertise and expand these topics to new people. In subsequent years, Flock has done a much better job of scheduling.

4) Besides Modularity, what do you think are other hot topics at the upcoming Flock?

I think it’s pretty clear that there’s going to be a lot of coverage of Project Atomic, ostree and the upcoming Atomic Workstation efforts. That’s exciting stuff and I think we’ll see a lot of attendance there.

Docker topics will be common as well, though I personally wonder if that’s reaching peak publicity. I think many of our attendees have already drunk that Kool-Aid, so I’m not sure how attendance will be there.

In terms of non-technical topics, I think there’s going to be an opportunity to really focus on our outreach efforts: everything from minority and gender outreach to university and high-school programs.

All in all, there’s a lot of great content coming up at Flock (if you were to look at my, you’d see there are no time-slots that I don’t have a session scheduled that I want to see!)

5) Could you give us a teaser of your talk (that doesn’t give it away, of course ? (unless the abstract is enough)

Actually, no 🙂

While I will be actively participating in several sessions (notably the “State of the Fedora Server Union” and the “PRD Workshop”); a change in my day-job responsibilities at Red Hat meant that I ended up passing the sessions I was originally going to lead on to another person.

However, I can talk about them anyway (since I collaborated with Michael Wolf on the content).

The “State of the Fedora Server Union” is a talk I gave at the last two Flock conferences. (Fedora Server Edition as a concept was actually born at the first Flock, along with Workstation Edition and Cloud Edition). It’s essentially a two-part, 50 minute talk: the first twenty minutes are a recap of all the cool stuff that the Fedora Server SIG has produced since the last Flock. The remaining 30 minutes are an interactive  session where we will put together a 50,000 foot view of what we want to accomplish between now and the next Flock.

Later at the conference we will have the “Fedora Server Pow-Wow”, which is a two-hour working session to kick off the new ideas that come up during the State of the Union session. This will be a place for people to come and start talking about implementation of these new ideas, ideally throwing together a first jab at a proof-of-concept for it.

6) What do you think is a good way to attract more contributors to Fedora?

Cash prizes!

Kidding aside, I think one of the things that we’re finally starting to understand is that people don’t find the sausage factory very attractive. The next generation of developers and open-source ambassadors no longer look at the platform and say “I want to be a part of that!”. Instead, they look at the interesting things being done on top of those platforms.

A few pieces like Docker have brought us back to understanding that the platform has value, so that’s been helpful (and is probably a big piece of why every conference — Fedora or otherwise — apparently has to dedicate at least two sessions to Docker).

However for the most part, what attracts people is doing something cool with a technology. This is where I think we need to be doing more to advertise. I’ve been glad to see the recent series of “How do you Fedora?” on the Magazine. That’s a great first step, but unfortunately so far it hasn’t been tremendously “sexy”.

One of the things that Matthew Miller brings up in a lot of his talks that I feel like we aren’t capitalizing on is that Fawkes Robotics is using Fedora to compete in world championship robotics competitions. The fact that this isn’t general knowledge about Fedora is a huge oversight, IMHO. We need to get Tim Niemueller to do one of those “How do you Fedora?” articles, stat.


Brian Exelbierd is an Open Source proponent who does software engineering in the area of container technologies. He’ll be speaking on August 3rd and 4th. bexelbie

What would you like to achieve at Flock 2016? In other words, what outcome would you like to see?

I’d like to see if there is interest in adding the ADB as a Fedora project, probably in Fedora Cloud as a way of advancing open source and attracting new users. I’d like to get more people interested in contributing to Fedora Docs as a lot of work is going on to make that even easier. Lastly, I’d like to solidify friendships and make new connections to parts of the project I have no familiarity with.


Honza Horak has been a contributor to Fedora for over 5 years. He has put a lot of effort in getting the Software Collections into Fedora. He will deliver a talk about Application containers and System Services on August 2nd.

What is your personal vision for Flock? Honza Horak

Container technologies evolve so rapidly that there is always something better on the TODO list than writing a blog post or documentation where I could share the recent findings we experienced during application containers development in Red Hat.

On the other hand, sharing those experiences, ideas how to do things correctly and how not to do things because we failed, is something that other developers will benefit from once they turn to the dark side of containers development as well.  And many will eventually do, even if they don’t think so yet.

Anyway, that’s basically why I’m going to talk at Flock – I want to share some lessons we learned during our journey from having Software Collection packages ready to having application images based on those packages running the same in Open Shift and also on bare metal. Since the journey has been full of questions and not every-time clear answers, I’d like to hear opinions of others about the way we chose, whether it is something we can do the same in Fedora (which I really believe in).

That brings me to the most important part of my Flock visit: I want to talk to people interested in containers development in Fedora about ways to improve the containers maintenance experience and how to improve Fedora-based container images made available by Fedora contributors.

One specific aspect is that all application containers produced by Fedora contributors should run on OpenShift smoothly if possible, which might sound weird initially, but it is actually the correct platform where such images make sense in the end. Anyway, as I mentioned earlier, I want to hear the opinions of others in the first place.