Crap Nullpointer Exceptions

This is the blog of John Dulaney, a hacker of Fedora, SCAdian, player of Music, blacksmith, sailor, and consumer of Bacon.

FUDCon NA 2013

This year’s North American Fedora Users and Developer’s Conference (FUDCon) was in Lawrence, Kansas.  I took the train from North Carolina, with layovers in Washington and Chicago.  The trip went very well: I had lunch in DC with Brian Kemp and then in Chicago I played tourist.  All along the way I took photographs of trains (those of you that know me will know why) that are unusual back home.
I arrived in Lawrence around midnight Friday morning; Jon Disnard (masta) picked me up from the train station.
FUDCon itself kicked off with an abbreviated (that always seems to happen) State of Fedora speech by Robyn Bergeron, our esteemed Fedora Project Leader.  In the speech, Robyn pointed out that Fedora remains strong, Fedora 18 is finally out, and that the future looks bright and shiny.  Fedora 19 shall be known as Schrodinger’s Cat; there is currently no set release date due to the massive slippage of Fedora 18.
After Robyn’s talk, Barcamps were proposed and voted on.  I started out with the two ARM barcamps; the first was a general overview of the state of ARM in Fedora, the second was a demonstration of the new 24 core Calxedra ARM based servers that will be used as build machines for Fedora ARM.
After lunch were several lighning talks.  The most interesting for me was the one on pkgwat, which can be used to querie Bodhi on status of various packages; whether they are in testing, stable, how much karma they have, etc.  I was also fairly interested to find out that the GPIO on my Raspberry Pi can be controlled from the command line.  This is something that can be used to teach basic programming.
I went to Spot’s talk on overhauling the Fedora release process model, which turned out to not be quite what I expected.  Spot’s proposal is to go to a release cycle similar to the old Red Hat Linux cycle:  have a major release (x.0) that may not have all the polish and all the major features quite done, but gets the code out there, with the following three releases adding more and more polish and stability.  I commented that I worried that this could either put extra load on the QA team and package maintainers or potentially keep out ultra new features in later minor releases, going against the fourth foundation of “first”.
Afterwards, I attended Tim Flink’s blocker bug process talk so that I could provide input and back him and Adam Williamson up on questions.  The talk quickly became a Q&A/Discussion session, but considering the mix of non-QA people present, this led to some comments on the inadequacy of the current system in a few areas (to be farther discussed in a bit).  I finished up the barcamp session with the talk on Fedora Formulas; a potential Ansible replacement for spins.  The idea is to use Ansible playbooks to customize packages installed and config post installation of Fedora.
Friday evening I went to dinner with the ARM team, and after much revelry returned to the hotel to catch up with Tim for a while prior to turning in.
Saturday was largely spent with the ARM folks.  The first half of the day was discussing various aspects of the ARM project, including push to Primary Arch, dropping support for ARMv5, adding support for v7, and the v8 bootstrap project.  There was also discussion on employing new Calxedra hardware and migrating the builders from Seneca to a Red Hat facility in Pheonix.  During this I explained the blocker bug process and set up blocker trackers for F18 Final for ARM and F19.  More on this in a bit.  That afternoon the focus was on hacking up various fixes for problem packages and some experientation.  Jon Masters also gave a short presentation on the kernel on ARM devices and where things were located, which will be very useful.  The Calxedra guy also allowed access to a few cores on his server, so I grabbed one to play with, setting up an rpm build environment and trying to see if I could build a couple of problem packages.  I was also hacking on my Raspberry Pi, running the configure script in preperation for attempting to build GCC 3.8.  I was also helping Kiara with setting up her Raspberry Pi.  The networking to pull all this off was rather Rube Golberg in nature:  dhcp and access to the school’s wireless was done via the Calxedra guy’s laptop, which was bridging the wireless to its Ehternet port, which was tied into an Ethernet switch.  This switch had a wireless access point attached (which I was tied into with my laptop) as well as Jon Master’s laptop, the Calxedra server, and Kiara’s Raspberry Pi.  I had my own switch hooked to the Ethernet port on my laptop, which was tied to my Raspberry Pi and Kiara’s laptop; her Raspberry Pi was getting power from my laptop over USB.  None of this counts the other folks in the room tied into the wireless AP to gain access to the server.
Saturday evening was the always-awesome FUDPub, which featured a buffet and open bar.  I moved between tables some talking to folks.  After FUDPub many of us went bowling; this year I knew better than to bowl against Adam Williamson.  I managed to hit the high double digits (yay!).  After this we returned to the hotel where there was more socializing, some Youtube watching, and virtual machine building.
Sunday was QA day.  Adam, Tim, and I discussed the current blocker bug naming scheme and how confusing it is.  After some discussion, we came up with a new scheme that Adam has posted to the Test list for comment.  We then started discussing how to manage blocker bugs outside of Bugzilla, but I temporarily left the discussion to explain to Paul Whalen in more detail the release process from QA’s perspective so that he can then better bring the rest of the ARM folks up to speed.  I reccomended that ARM follow this process as closely as possible (with some modifications needed for ARM to remove non-applicable criteria and the like).  He then had to leave for his flight.  I rejoined the discussion on the new blocker bug proposal web app until Tim pinged Emily Dirsh to help him with UI design.  Adam and I then finished up some loose threads with the earlier blocker tracking name scheme discussion.  Adam then went off to join Tim and I met up with lmr to create a virtual machine with an autotest server to familiarize myself with autotest as it stands now.  After getting that set up, I rejoined Tim and Adam for the end of the blocker app discussion before we retired to the hotel.
This was an excellent FUDCon; I did get quite a lot of work done and learned a few things that will be useful going into the future.  It was also good to catch up with people again, many of whom I had not seen in a year.  I am very glad to have been able to go and hope to make it next year.

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2 responses to “FUDCon NA 2013

  1. Adam Williamson January 23, 2013 at 8:01 am

    Thanks a lot for co-ordinating with the ARM team! Sorry we went and changed the blocker scheme right after you set up bugs, but it shouldn’t be too hard to adjust them again. I’ve let Paul know about the new scheme.

  2. kovalevsky January 26, 2013 at 5:19 am

    Im so happy to read your article Jon and thanks a lot for helping me to use mi Pi. =) Hope see u again the next year or maybe at the middle time.

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