Thursday, August 22, 2013

Flock 2013 - A great success

From August 9th to 12th, I had the chance to join Flock, the first Fedora Contributor Conference of a new kind, where about 200 people from 22 countries gathered to talk about the present and the future of Fedora.

Location was the nice city of Charleston, South Carolina, where the local college hosted our cheerful and motley crowd. So what did we do? Lot of stuff, really much more than I was able to digest!
Francis Marion Hotel

I will attempt here some recollection of what I saw and experienced, but before....

TL; DR; version

Flock was a great and productive experience, the best place you can be to share what you know and learn what you don't (cit.) with the Fedora community. I really look forward participating to the next one, to be held somewhere in Europe (bids will open soon).

I would like to thank Red Hat and all the other sponsors for making all of this possible, all the organizers team, and in particular to +Ruth Suehle, who spent an inordinate amount of time pulling all the things together to make the first Flock a resounding success. You made it!

Day 0.
I traveled with +Robert Mayr from Milan, the flights (we had to take three before landing in Charleston) were pretty uneventful, except in the middle of the ocean I started to feel sick and when we finally arrived at the hotel I just had time for a shower before collapsing in the bed at about 8pm...

Day 1.
Sickness was gone, but jet lag caught me with a 4.30am wake up :) Not to worry, I had plenty of time to shower, activate our USA SIMs (ReadySIM rocks!), sort some emails and prepare for the first day of Flock.
Everyone in the auditorium for the keynote
After the customary "State of Fedora Address" by +Robyn Bergeron I went to +Matthew Miller talk about Cloud and why Fedora should care about it (very well presented and informative), then +Jon Masters with 64 bit ARM goodness (but sadly, not the pile of devices I hoped to see :), and finally +Jiří Eischmann with the other Ambassadors for some updates on the program. In the afternoon, some more ARM related talk with +Peter Robinson where I could check a couple of XO laptops and finally the HyperKitty Hackfest with +Aurélien Bompard
XO laptops @ Flock
Day one ended at the Blind Tiger Pub, with lots of nice food and beer (if you picked the right one :P) and plenty of hallway chat.

Day 2.
SELinux for mere mortals. That's me!
The second day I picked very good sessions: after the fun keynote from +Aeva Palecek of, I went to see +Thomas Cameron talking about SELinux and how to properly handle it: this was so interesting I will probably make up slides for the same talk but in italian. We will see...
The rest of the morning was devoted to OpenShift with talks from +steven citron-pousty and +Andy Grimm, if you see them around in any conference do not miss their talk!
In the afternoon I joined the OpenStack test event to see how I could install it on my laptop; regrettably, in the end I was not able to have have a working setup (the development version I installed was not playing well with SELinux enabled) and spent some time to track and undo all the changes to the system.
The evening event was at +Mynt Charleston, a nice and trendy disco bar that was really, really appreciated by most people.
Tasting Moonshine at Mynt

Day 3.
Stairs to the auditorium
Started up by a keynote from +Dave Crossland, initial author of the Cantarell font used by default in GNOME3, the third day got into gear with +Tom Callaway and his proposal to revamp how we deliver updates by default. Discussion was vibrant and productive, I think we will do much better with a revised system. I ended the morning with the ambassadors related talk by +Christoph Wickert, where we drafted the plan for running a census of active ambassadors and encourage new ones to join the program.
In the afternoon, I joined +Luke Macken for the Bodhi hackfest and this turned out as one the most productive sessions: in fact, thanks to Mathieu Bridon I was quickly able to install the dev environment and start hacking on the filtering code, and the next day I had my pull request merged in the repository!
The last evening event was at the +South Carolina Aquarium, with a spectacular dinner surrounded by fishes and other wildlife animals, I think an evening most people will hardly forget.
New Cooper River Bridge (4023m)

That's it, more or less. See you at next Flock!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Flock 2013 Charleston (SC) Report (Robert Mayr)

Flock was hold from august 9th to 12th and was the first Conference in a new format, replacing the FUDCons we all appreciated over the last years. It was attended by nearly two hundred Fedora Contributors and although it was the first very big event it was a great success. But let's start from the beginning.
The journey to Charleston was as expected, very long but without problems, with Gianluca I got there through Frankfurt and Atlanta, where we met also Jiri, Sirko, Patrick and Gergely. Once arrived Josh offered us a ride to our hotel (thank you again)
The first day, after registration, we followed Robyn's keynotes and took the group foto.

Then the sessions started; we mainly had a lot of talks in the morning and longer sessions or hackfests in the afternoon. Perhaps we had too many talks (up to seven or eight) at the same time, and often it was really difficult to choose one, because they were all interesting. I decided to attend most of the talks about Cloud computing, Openshift and ARM.
Matthew introduced all the attendees to the Cloud and it was really interesting for me; I didn't know so much about it and therefore appreciated his simple explanation. We have to focus much more on Cloud in the future, and the talks I saw at Flock about Cloud confirmed it giving me also concrete numbers.
Another interesting talk held by Steven was about Openshift (once in your life you have to attend a talk of Steven, awesome), and as a web developer I really liked his presentation. I never used it before, but in the meanwhile I got an account and will run my first application soon :)

In the evening we had cool parties, a lot of discussions with other contributors about Fedora while drinking beer or eating hummus.
The second day I attended Christoph's talk about alternative Desktops, it was very well done although unfortunately Dan or other guys were not there to discuss more about Mate or other Desktops. Actually we have a lot of DE, and some of them perhaps don't have a really future, but on the other hand there are a lot of people using a specific DE in certain parts of the world, so let's see what happens in the next two years.

The third day was dedicated to the ambassadors, Jiri talked about the actual state and the FAmSCo activity, Tuan about the budget and Christoph about some old stats, comparing them with actual numbers.
From all these talks started a discussion about what to do with inactive ambassadors, a horse we have beaten to death in the last years. We decided to not remove them but to mark them as inactive, as the activity of an ambassador can't be measured easily. Ambassadors also should be part of other Groups and contribute, which should increase the probability they will remain active. We also agreed on the ambassador census, to be done with a small form we already created at the EMEA FAD last year, and which now will be extended to the other Regions.
We also talked about a new application, where we'd like to locate all ambassadors on a map, same for the events and parties we have around the world. In a second step this app should also take over the content of, giving the local communities more visibility. Fedocal could be included easily and for sure will help us to manage the events better. Stay tuned, I hope we can have soon an instance running on Openshift (yes, my new account..).

The third evening was at the Aquarium, a great place where we could finally see the Atlantic Ocean and the long caracteristic bridge of Charleston.

The last day was dedicated to hackfests, I signed my GPG key and attended the Infra hackfest. At the end we had time to get an awesome sandwich and before returning back to Italy we also did some shopping for our family at home.
Many thanks to all the organization team, Flock was a very nice event and I'm looking forward to Flock 2 in Europe next year. Perhaps it would be a good idea to limit the talks to max 4 or 5 at the same time and to organize more practical sessions and hackfests.

And yes, I got my badge too, cool :)