FOSS.in 2010 does take place \o/

I am delighted to see that this years FOSS.in will indeed take place. There were rumours about it not happening but fortunately you will have the opportunity to have a great time from 2010-12-15 to 2010-12-17!

You might have realised already, that his is only three days:

This year, the event is 3 days instead of the usual 5 days –Β  a 5 day event was simply too exhausting for everyone (participants and team). Also, we have moved the event into the middle of December, to give students of colleges that usually have their exams end-November or early-December a chance to attend. Our American friends will be happy to note that we have moved the event safely out of Thanksgiving range :)

As last year, I expect the conference to be great. I do hope, that GNOME will be well represented, especially since GNOME-3 will be released and we have the potential to attract many new hackers. Also, because the KDE folks were staffed very well and we were not.

GUADEC 2010 – The Hague

I’ve been to GUADEC *yay*! I am going to summarize some of the talks I’ve attended and some of the many seriously interesting conversations I’ve during this week. But in short: This was one of the best GUADECs, progress wise. I met many people, brought my teams (bugsquad and membership-committee) forward, had new inspirations and fixed some bugs πŸ™‚

But the week started with some work. Apparently, the network was not fully set up yet and we had to use a lot of duct tape to set everything up. After people saw me being “in charge” for the network, they started to complain why the network was not running properly πŸ˜‰ The problem was, that the Uplink was kind of broken. Basically a big firewall blocked that many connections because it thought it was under attack. The solution then was to claim some of the universities IP addresses and do a big SNAT for the users.

Having said that, the network was up and running perfectly on Wednesday, making it a perfectly networked GUADEC πŸ™‚ The last GUADECs usually had some troubles with the connection even after the event started (remember the broken uplink on Gran Canaria or the rather bad wireless situation in Birmingham?).

The Hotel’s wireless was ridiculously expensive. They wanted 10 quid for 24 hours. But I realized, that the default gateway is announced as being at 192.168.1.1 and if you visited that with a web browser, you’d find out that it was a Zyxel VSG-1200. Turns out, documentation is very verbose, including a default username and password… The rest is left as an exercise for the reader. If you didn’t want to go that route, you could easily claim an active MAC-Address and IP and reuse the authentification…

The talks were streamed and I hope recordings will be made available soon. Good summaries were already given in the official GUADEC blog and various others so I won’t go into too much detail, because .

I haven’t seen covered that Xan and Fernando mocked about the newly promulgated Speaker Guidelines which they didn’t respect either. It’s an interesting discussion though. It is obviously a shield for attacks from the outside so that we (as GNOME) can point to these guidelines if one of our speakers might have offended anyone. But do we, as GNOME, need such a thing in first place? And what happens if we refer to those guidelines over and over again but nobody complies with those? Probably nothing. But do we need to lie to ourselves then? Can’t we expect the people to have enough common sense? Do we want to be a community where we can’t assume enough common sense?

An issue that I didn’t really understand was that the usual picking on Canonical took place. Apparently, people expected Canoncial to contribute more since 1999 than they actually did. But they have been founded 2004… That comment summarizes that fact well. Also, I don’t really get why people expect a distributor to engineer stuff in, say, GNOME. I don’t hear anybody complaining about, say, Mandriva or Gentoo.

Bred Kuhn told us to save human lives by rolling out more crypto within GNOME. I couldn’t agree more. But sadly, we have a long way to go. For now, you can’t even handle your OpenPGP key in a sane way, i.e. rolling over to a new key. It strikes me that we still don’t have a concept encrypted end to end communication, i.e. with Telepathy (well, email is too broken to be tackled). Apparently XTLS should be used. But no PKI will be used, thus discouraging the enhancement of the OpenPGP Web of Trust. It would be absolutely brilliant if Telepathy used OpenPGP keys (maybe even create one if none existed). If then spoken with another entity via Telepathy, it could ask the user to verify the other persons identity via, say, a Videochat. That chat would use the public key material for encryption. The assumption is that the two parties know each other and that a man-in-the-middle cannot spoof valid data quick enough. The other persons key would then more or less automatically be signed. I talked a lot to Stef Walter and other people around GNOME-Keyring and Seahorse and we had good ideas. Let’s see how much we can get done.
But we’ll have a long way to go, since GNOME doesn’t even provide fundamental encryption for it’s webservices, i.e. live.gnome.org or even the RequestTracker πŸ™

As for the teams I feel responsible for, I met with a few Bugsquad folks and we’ve discussed a few things. I am still in Post-GUADEC mode to get everything off my Todo-List that accumulated over GUADEC. The most immediate action is to get close bugs of deprecated modules and get rid of the products in Bugzilla. Other lower priority issues are to (finally!) organise a bugday and test a JetPack which helps dealing with Bugzilla

I also had a few discussion related to the GNOME Foundation Membership process. We somehow have to think about the people that feel intimidated joining the GNOME Foundation. Also we will discuss our strategy and policy of evaluating non trivial contributions to GNOME.

Having said all that. I want to that the GNOME Foundation for paying my accommodation and making such a productive week possible.

GNOME Foundation Board of Directors Elections 2010

I am happy to announce the results of this years Board of Directors Elections.

At first, we had too few candidates to actually fill the 7 seats in the board. But then the deadline for announcing a candidacy was pushed back and more people considered becoming a member of the Board. So we went into the voting phase with 11 candidates.

The voting itself worked well. I knew the system from last years elections but haven’t written the necessary steps down because I was mostly exploring and not knowing whether my attempts would result in anything next to useful. But this year I have taken notes along the way and I hope to be able to provide a good documentation.

The question period was a bit weird. Nobody really came up with questions for the candidates, as if nobody cared. I encouraged the peolpe to either send the questions directly, or better, send them to the Membershi p and Elections Commitee so thaat we can sort and sift through them. But nothing happened. I decided to not give any questions right away, because I sure wanted the Foundation members to participate. But if nobody asked a question, I’d have sooner or later released those questions:

  1. Why are you running for Board of Directors? What will you do more or
    better than previous years Boards have done?
  2. What do you think is the most important item on the Board’s agenda
    right now?
  3. How do you manage your time and that of others? Are you good at
    working with others including those who might have a differing opinion
    than yours and try to reach consensus and agree on actions?
  4. How are you going to manage your current contributions to GNOME once
    you become a Board Member?
  5. What are your plans to encourage and mentor contributions to GNOME
    from Latin America, Africa and Asia? How would you increase community
    participation?
  6. Which parts of the GNOME project do you think work well and would like to encourage further?
  7. What would you do to increase community participation in the GNOME community and GNOME elections?
  8. Do you have any thoughts on how to expand the developer base?
  9. How much familiar are you with the day-to-day happenings of GNOME? How much do you follow and participate in the main GNOME mailing lists?
  10. Please rank your interests:
    1. GNOME evangelizing to government, enterprise, small business, and individuals
    2. GNOME marketing and merchandising of branded items nationally and internationally
    3. GNOME legal issues like copyright and patents
    4. GNOME finances and fund raising
    5. Alliance with other organizations.

To count the votes, we used OpenSTV (r771). But to use it comfortably, I had to patch it. As we use Scottish STV this year, counting votes is as easy as opening OpenSTV, opening the Ballot file and pressing OK.

The people that are elected into the Board of Directors are:

Congrats and thanks for running.

Sadly, we had a few people showing up, who did not renew their membership in time and could thus not take part in the voting process. I wonder why that is. Is the renewal process not effective enough? If you have any suggestions, please leave them either in the comments or via mail.

Running the elections was challenging, because I was really busy with exams and other obligations. Fortunately, the Membership and Elections Committee was helpful and we managed to have a smooth election process, i.e. not like last year πŸ˜‰ Anyway, I hope to see most of the Board members at GUADEC πŸ™‚

LinuxTag and Cream Desktop

I’ve been to LinuxTag in Berlin and meeting old and new people was quite nice. In fact, I had to opportunity to play Skat after a very long time πŸ™‚

Unfortunately, there was no GNOME booth! (Well and no Fedora booth either) That’s a pity and I wonder what it takes to successfully run a booth next year. The Debian guys, however, rocked. They were well equipped and had enough people that care.

from last years LinuxTag though

Again, I took part in the Hacking Contest. I couldn’t last year but made up my mind how to tackle that contest best. Sadly, it was a bit different this year. I didn’t really have a team and we were not prepared for German a keyboard layout or not having “netcat” installed. This got us quite confused and although we had a (bad) set of notes, we didn’t really follow them… So we got beaten up quite heavily πŸ˜‰ Maybe I’ll invest more time for preparation next year.

I was amazed by Cream Desktop though! Sadly, their screenshots don’t work atm, but they basically want to revamp GNOME and make it better πŸ˜‰ Sounds ambitious and it probably is. For now, they have “Melange”, a widget system for the desktop. (think desklets). It’s visually very appealing and I think it’d enhance the GNOME desktop (I could finally get rid of my gkrellm…).

Sadly, I didn’t meet the Cream guys on the LinuxNacht which kinda sucked. The location was awesome: A beach club facing the Spree. But the food was very disappointing. It was way better two years ago…

FOSDEM 2010

This years FOSDEM involved meeting familiar and new people as well as a lot of beer πŸ˜‰ I can’t understand why the Belgians are so proud of their beer though :> Anyway, I got way too less sleep and spent too much money…
I wished I connected to more new people but I was terribly busy catching up with all the faces that I haven’t seen in a while. Hopefully, I can meet more new people next time. FOSDEM Logo

Although I was scheduled as the very first in the morning after the official Beer-Event (thx teuf…) my talk in the GNOME devroom went well and I hope I represented GNOMEs Bugsquad well. At least two people wanted to help out πŸ™‚ I hope I was inviting and clear enough. I definitely need to try to hold the people by at least writing to bugsquad-list. I hope I come around doing that, but I also have a huge backlog that wants to be processed. On the todo list is a new bugsquad as well as a membership-committee meeting, so if you are interested, watch out for mails πŸ™‚

If you happen to have seen my talk at FOSDEM and want to look over the slides, please find themΒ  here. If you have been there and want to join the bugsquad fun: Awesome! Join the mailinglist now and wait for the next meeting to be organized. Don’t hesitate to push for it πŸ˜‰
If you haven’t been there but you want to help the Free Software movement or GNOME in particular: Awesome! Consider subscribing the mailinglist or join the IRC Channel and make sure that you’ve read our awesome TriageGuide πŸ™‚

Talks that I have enjoyed at FOSDEM include Maemo6 Platform Security by Elena because Nokia is about to build yet another security for Linux to meet their needs. Apparently the new Maemo devices will come with a TPM to allow DRM like scenarios. But also encrypting data on the device will be possible using an API which in turn uses the built-in keys. These turn out to be recoverable nowadays. If I read this correctly, then the “Open Mode” will not make use of the TPM keys. This means that if your contacts, images, texts, etc…, were encrypted using the above mentioned API, then you couldn’t get hold of this data in Open Mode πŸ™ I thus reckon that stuff like Contacts will not be stored encrypted. Hence you would leak all your data when losing the device. So I don’t expect a real advantage but we’ll see.
Another not very informative yet entertaining talk was done by Greg Kroah-Hartman and dealt with creating a patch for Linux. It actually motivated me so that I put “fixing some random driver in staging” on my Todo-List πŸ˜‰

Note to self for the next FOSDEM: Book accommodation early. Very early! Also, Charleroi might not be worth it, because the Bus from Brussels to CLR is 13 Euro, return 21.

Bugsquad Talk @ FOSS.in

FOSS.in has finally finished and I really enjoyed being invited. It was a real pleasure having all these talented and energetic hackers around me. It’s definitely on my top-conferences list. You could feel a real hacking spirit and it’s really sad that it’s already over.

The closing ceremony featured TRDP, a really really good Indian band playing fancy music. I was told that they are pretty famous in India and that FOSS.in was lucky to have them there. Hence we were all nerds, a Twitter wall companied the band showing recent tweets concerning the event…

Closing and Twitter Party
Closing and Twitter Party

Besides the entertainment, the program itself was pretty good as well. I disliked the keynotes to some extend though. I felt that they were mostly not really relevant to FOSS because the content was obsolete (i.e. one guy basically showing how to do shellscripts) or otherwise out of scope (i.e. a free robot operating system).

I have to thank the organizers of FOSS.in for running that conference and inviting me. Also, I need to thank the GNOME Foundation for subsidizing my trip.

The Bugsquad Talk went pretty well, I’d say. Around 5 people were interested joining the Bugsquad and I hope that they’ll stay around πŸ™‚ Unfortunately, the GNOME project day took place on the last day, making it unattractive to start something new because you can’t ask anyone anymore the next days.

Sponsored by GNOME!

Also, compared to other organisations such as KDE or Fedora, GNOME was highly under-represented. KDE had sweaters to give away. Admittedly, they were not very well designed but hey, it’s sweaters after all! Also, they had very fancy leaflets shortly describing what KDE was, why they rule and how to contribute. Very well done.

(Broken) Fedora stickers
(Broken) Fedora stickers

Srini brought GNOME T-Shirts which was fine but somewhat boring. Seriously, I have gazillions of T-Shirts and think other people do so, too, as nearly every project or company gives away T-Shirts. So doing something new is a smart thing to do. I hope the GNOME marketing team will come up with something fresh and shiny (hoodies? shoes? underwear? “GNOME” Keys for the keyboard instead of Windows Keys?).

Srini giving away GNOMEy T-Shirts
Srini giving away GNOMEy T-Shirts

FOSS.in – Impressions

The second day of FOSS.in, Indias largest Free Software conference taking place in Bangalore has just finished and the conference has been very awesome so far. The people are smart, the food rocks and you can feel the hacking spirit everywhere. While the venue itself has a high technical standard, the network over wifi is damn slow. It’s 6kB/s on average so I’m barely able to transfer data.
foss.in Logo

Since Maemo Bangalore is giving some N900s away if you hack, port or package something awesome, I want to download the SDK. But with the bandwidth contraints, it’s not really possible :-/

Dimitris Keynote on the first day was on how to build a revolutionary free software project. I enjoyed his talk although I did not really get the point. It felt like instructions for a general FLOSS project and not a revolutionary in particular.

Harald Weltes talk on how to Opening Closed Hacker Domains such as DECT or GSM was very exciting and I really look forward to have some time to play around with that. He really enlightened the crowd and showed us why it is important to get FLOSS into those areas which are highly dominated by the proprietary world.
harald@foss.in
The conference is mostly about getting stuff done as opposed to listen to fancy talks. It’s not that that the talk are not important but that actually doing stuff is as well. Apparently, Indian conferences tend to be rather passive. Anyway, it has been really great so far. If you happen to be around, feel free to join us πŸ™‚

My GNOME bugsquad presentation on Saturday is well prepared but I’m still waiting for feedback of the community.

GNOME Membership stats

In case you are interested in the GNOME foundation, here are some quick stats: During the second quarter of 2009, we have received 22 applications for a new GNOME Foundation membership, plus 24 applications for renewing the membership. Due to applications arrived before 2009/Q2, 24 applications for a new GNOME Foundation membership have been accepted. During the same period 13 members haven’t renewed their membership and we ended with 368 members.

We can also see the number of members over time on this (pretty huge) graph:

GNOME Foundation Members over time from 2001-10 until 2009-08
GNOME Foundation Members over time from 2001-10 until 2009-08

We actually managed to cut our membership base by 25% within the last two years. Nothing too much alarming though because we still have more members than we ever had on average. But still, the trend goes slightly downwards although we probably should catch steam for GNOME 3.0. I would not mind if the people come after they have seen GNOME 3.0 though πŸ˜‰

Let’s get a closer look onto the new foundation members:

Count of new GNOME Foundation members from 2009-01 until 2009-08
Count of new GNOME Foundation members from 2009-01 until 2009-08

Actually, nothing interesting, I think. 6 new members per month on average.

And the members who dropped out:

Count of GNOME Foundation members who dropped out between 2009-01 and 2009-08
Count of GNOME Foundation members who dropped out between 2009-01 and 2009-08

And we can get that compiled into one graph as well:

New and Dropped Members 2009-01 until 2009-08
New and Dropped Members 2009-01 until 2009-08

If you have ideas for interesting graphs, don’t hesitate to comment. Note that we don’t have much data though, because we don’t collect that much data anyway. And I really think this is a feature! Actually we could do even better because we currently have no policy when to delete data. So once you are a GNOME foundation member, you’ll be in the database forever. I guess we should fine a policy some time to not keep unused data.

In case you wonder what status your application is in, check the status page of the tickets we receive. New means, that nobody has done any action on it yet. Open is waiting for information from the contacts you’ve supplied and stalled is either no or a not satisfactory answer from your contacts yet.

GNOME Bugsquad Meeting

I am very excited that the Bugsquad has met last month. Finally we got some action in our beloved QA team. Also, I’d like to thank Max KanatAlexander for porting our Bugzilla installation from Bugzilla 2.20 to Bugzilla 3.4. I believe that this, and the migration on new servers, will increase the performance a lot and that we can be even more productive. Let’s not hope that the people will file more bugs though πŸ˜‰
Your GNOME needs you!

So Javier Jardon kicked that meeting off and we were having productive three hours, I guess. It was really good to see people caring about our bug database. The decisions we’ve made are visible in Andres Blog or on our Wiki page of course.

We’ll have a next meeting and right now, we are using a Doodle to determine the next time and date. Feel free to add something to the preliminary agenda and participate! I am sure we’ll have lots of stuff to discuss, especially due to our brand new bugzilla! πŸ™‚ We can now have a look at other folks like KDE and exchange hacks on our bugzilla! πŸ™‚

Also, I am looking for ways making our processes easier: One thing is giving away bugzilla permissions so that a new Triager can start modifying bugs. We are supposed to track the people we are giving permissions to check that they don’t screw up, but it’s not that easy to track someone right now. Also, we can think about automatically giving away canedit permissions once we have given commit access to git. The argumentation is, that a committer might submit patches from bugzilla and thus needs to be able to close bugs. We’d need to talk to the Sysadmins in order to implement that…

I’m thinking about using a Gobby session while having the meeting just that everybody, including people joining the meeting lately, can see what the current topic is. Another reason is that we you canΒ  order or prepare for the next topics if you are a bit bored. Also, we might have an easier protocol at the end, because if everybody writes everything directly in that gobby session, the log will be ready once the meeting is over. I’ll make up my mind and come up with something at the meeting.

Also I think, not using #bugs, but rather #bugs-meet for the meeting is a good idea because you can see who’s actively participating. Moderating the session without knowing who’s actively interested in the debate is not that easy, because you either wait for people who are either offline or have just left or you don’t ask people willing to participate. These are not really big issues but moving to another channel is also not a big deal.