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.

Gran Canaria Desktop Summit

The GCDS has just finished and I think it was a great and successful conference. It was the first joint aKademy + GUADEC conference and I feel it turned out quite well. We could have had more explicit collaboration or more attention on the “other” talks, but I think the people have to get used to the fact that there are people with different approaches who you can talk to. Let’s hope it’ll be a joint convention next year as well (I always wanted to spend a week or two in Finland…).

The registration process was a bit weird, because the organizers wanted to know private data without even trying to make clear what they are used for. In fact, the only thing I could see (even from a retro perspective) is to collect the data. As I’ve stated in a mail buried in this thread, I don’t really like that for several reasons and I hope that the next organization committee will not collect absolutely necessary data.

The first day began with a RMS keynote for me. I expected it to be really bad because for some reason the people say that RMS’ talks are boring, stubborn and repetitive. I’ve never heard a RMS talk before and I couldn’t apply any of these critics onto his talk. In fact, I really liked and enjoyed it, although it was not necessarily pleasant to listen because he disagrees with our decisions: He doesn’t like to see new applications to be written in C# because the Software Freedom Law Center doesn’t think that the Community Promise guarantees that Microsoft will not charge patent fees. I am not into that topic but I believe that the SFLC does a good job. And I also trust the SFLC more than I trust Microsoft. So it’s not about patents in general (which should be abolished anyway) but rather about not putting too many weight onto our Desktop so that we can get rid of C# apps easily in case of fire^W ugly patent stuff. And I don’t know what’s not clear about that: As the risk seems to be there and we want to have a free desktop in the future, we have to watch out now to not fall into a Bitkeeper trap.

I also don’t agree with travis or lefty who think the reference to an EMACS virgin is sexist or mixing different topics (software freedom and religion in this case) is unhealthy. RMS clearly referred to the Christian church and it’s habits, so if there is anything bad, it’s to be search in these circles. Also, virtually everyone has cheered after RMS’ performance. And I wouldn’t go that far and call all the audience sexist. Actually, I dislike the idea of (computer) engineers answering sociologists questions for the same reason I don’t ask a sociologist in case of computer trouble (I like it, when they think, talk and discuss about it though). From an intersectional point of view, I’d ask whether the strong focus on women is actually sexist, because there is clearly more than one domain we have minorities in. Take Blacks, Jews, Disabled or Queers or people with an inside out belly button for example. By constantly reciting that women are a minority, we could actually harden this situation instead of making it disappear. I could actually write a paper about it, as I need one for university anyway to finish my Gender Studies.

The parties were all awesome, thanks to Canonical, Nokia, Igalia and Collabora who really know how to throw a good party. I wonder why Google didn’t show up though.

I also have to thank the GNOME foundation for sponsoring my trip to Gran Canaria! It’s really good to see that my contributions are valued and that I can improve them by attending various talks and sessions. This year was especially useful because we could attend the KDE peoples sessions. I especially enjoyed being at the KDE bugsquad sessions to share and improve ideas.
Sponsored by GNOME!

Although I took some photos, I won’t upload them to flicker, but the people seem to tag their photos with “gcds” or “guadec”. I have looked through a couple of them and they seem to be all good. But I couldn’t make it through all of them as there are way too many.

Two major drawbacks were the relocation of the conference and the Internet connectivity during the event: We moved from the rather central Alfredo Kraus Auditorium to the suburban University on the fourth day or so. That was inconvenient because it took ages to get there. The Internet thing is totally unrelated to the organizers, but left a bad taste anyway. The uplink was totally broken with a packet loss with up to 75% in “So6-0-0-0-grtmadno1.red.telefonica-wholesale.net”.

I’m looking forward to next years GUADEC or maybe “TDS”… πŸ™‚

Bugsquadding Talk on GCDS

I just had my talk with Pedro and I think it went quite well.

We talked about how to do QA in GNOME and how to use our tools properly. There were about 30 people listening and discussing with us. It was a great honour to meet the bugsquad heros like Philip, Akhil and guenther. Thanks to Andre to look over our slides.

Besides telling about our infrastructure, we slightly discussed alternative ways to access our bug database: There seems to be DeskZilla and Mylyn to work with bugzilla through the XML-RPC API. I haven’t tried Deskzilla yet (the GNOME key link is broken atm), but Cosimo says it doesn’t work with the GNOME bugzilla probably because it’s heavily patched. I wonder when we’ll migrate to Bugzilla-3…
I tried Mylin but it unfortunately doesn’t work either πŸ™ You can query and show the bugs but you can’t update them. It’s a pity because I think that webinterfaces suck in general and our GNOME bugzilla in special.

Although the intended target group wasn’t there, we managed to recruit triagers πŸ™‚ Let’s hope they’ll stay with us for a while. You can find the bugsquad-slides.

I followed the KDE Bugsquad BoF and we discussed several things. They seem to have more fundamental problems than we do, especially getting the bugzilla used by the developers. I collected a couple of ideas: Given that you can’t edit bugs right away if you just have created an account, would it be good to automatically set editing right once a user has commit permissions on the VCS? What about a bugsquad (micro) blog to keep the community informed and involved? It could be a good idea to have kind of a monthly digest which will be sent around. I also envy the KDE Bugdays which apparently are a lot of work, but also potentially recruits new bug triagers. Maybe one could write an webapp for managing the work involved…