LinuxFest NorthWest, Fedlet status, Fedora.next work, and more…

I’ve been a bad boy not blogging again; Google+ is just too easy. But it’s also evil, so I’ve signed up for Diaspora again and am hoping it becomes less of a wasteland at some point. It’s gotten a lot smoother in the last two years everyone forgot about it, so give it a look. I’m adamw@diasp.eu.

At the end of last month, I went to the always-awesome LinuxFest NorthWest in Bellingham. I always look forward to LFNW: it’s organized extremely well and always seems to provide a really interesting bunch of attendees and talks. The always-fun-to-talk-to Bryan Lunduke was there, and I had fun hanging out with him and his motley crew (hi, James Mason!) and attending his long-running talk on why Linux sucks – watch the thing before you flame. One of the longest-standing and hardest-working Fedora QA contributors, Thomas ‘satellit’ Gilliard, dropped by on Saturday, it was a pleasure to meet him at last and thank him for all his work. Jeff Sandys did sterling work manning the Fedora booth for most of the weekend, Joe Brockmeier was there and was responsible for the Fedora sponsorship of the first evening games night (which was a great success), and I managed to make it to the legendary Jesse Keating’s talk on Rackspace deployment techniques. Jakob Perry has been involved in running the event I think since the very first one way back when, and I was as impressed as always by his organizational skills and seemingly infinite energy supply, and honoured to extend my one-day-per-year guest membership in his Sunday afternoon board game club!

I went to several talks, but a couple stick out in my memory apart from Jesse’s and Bryan’s. Alex Jordan’s introduction to Arch, which I went along to because I knew very little about Arch and figured it’d be good to know more, was excellent – he managed to concisely and clearly present a very large chunk of information in the time available, and I came out feeling like I knew a lot more about the Arch design and approach than I knew going in. Owen DeLong’s session on IPv6 was also very well executed. Every time I read about or attend a presentation on IPv6 I feel like I’ve got about another 10% of the way towards actually understanding it…just another five or six and I might have a shot. 🙂

The Saturday night party at the Spark Museum was also great – I’d missed the previous LFNWs where there were events here, so it was my first time. The museum’s collections are fascinating, not just for hardcore electrical/electronic nerds but also for liberal arts dilettantes like myself; there are some really interesting elements of social and historical context to the gadgets, and they have some really fun stuff like Rudy Vallée’s first ‘big’ megaphone, signed and inscribed to Dick Clark! (There’s a photo of it in the Wikipedia article). Of course, the main attraction is their giant four million volt Tesla coil, which they demonstrate by letting a few insane volunteers stand in a Faraday cage which they proceed to zap with the coil while the volunteers either cower on the other side or grab hold of the internal bars closest to the coil and laugh maniacally, depending on whether they’re called Bryan Lunduke or not. I have no idea how the museum ever got the safety clearance – especially to do it with an audience well-lubricated with free (both ways!) beer courtesy of the WiseAss beer folks (whose open source beer is fantastic, and whose funding campaign you should definitely donate to).

I did a presentation of my own on UEFI, aiming to cover both the ‘theoretical background’ material from my blog post on the topic and the ‘practical’ material from the Fedora wiki page I wrote. It turns out to be a lot to try and communicate in an hour, even with a Real Actual Honest To God Slide Deck, and I felt like I rather skated over some of the theoretical material in particular, but I had a pretty full room of folks (including Jon Hall, so no pressure there) and none of them started throwing things or left in disgust, so I think it went OK. I’m going to try doing it again at Flock, if I got enough votes, so we’ll see how that goes.

The news on Fedlet is kinda mixed. I’ve been building 3.15 kernels periodically. A lot of the changes I had to carry as patches have been merged upstream in 3.15, which is great. There is also now some work by a guy named Doug Johnson in this bug on getting the SDIO bus operational on the Venue 8 Pro (and probably other devices affected by a known Intel chipset bug (VLT37 in this PDF)). However, 3.15 causes a rather major other problem with X – the display will die apparently on any mode switch, or RandR operation (like a rotation), or if you just let it time out due to inactivity and then try to wake it up. This shouldn’t be a problem once the actual ‘correct’ support for the Baytrail tablet displays is merged probably in 3.16, but it sounds like it may be difficult to fix for 3.15 unless someone like me pulls their finger out and does some git bisections. Due to this X issue, I haven’t done any new image builds for a while, as it just seems like too big a bug to ‘ship a release’ with. If you’re willing to live with it, the 3.15 kernel builds are available from the fedlet repo (I need to do a new one soon).

In other Side Project news, I’m still meaning to stand up an OpenTripPlanner server for Vancouver Real Soon Now(tm), I just never quite seem to get around to it. The LFNW IPv6 talk I mentioned above has kind of added to my desire to do an overhaul on my network infrastructure, too. Right now I have a kinda circa-2006 ‘everything as 192.168.1.x NATted behind a WRT150N running dd-wrt‘ system (with a WNDR3700v2 acting as a wireless AP for $REASONS) which more or less works, but…I kinda feel like moving to an 802.11ac-capable router running OpenWRT, using more internal subnets a la CeroWRT’s default setup, making sure all my ‘private’ services have secure authentication of some kind and making the whole shebang directly globally addressable via IPv6. As I’m on a business account I may be able to get native IPv6 from my ISP (have to call them and ask), or else I can use a tunnelling service of some kind. This would be more F/OSS-y, much more Awesome Bleeding Edge Cool, faster for 802.11ac clients, and probably more secure than my current setup if I got it right (I’m getting less and less happy about how I have some services where I just trust Windows and Android boxes connected ‘inside the router’). Plus at least in theory I could access all my stuff/services from anywhere, no more ‘things that only work behind the router’. I should probably also split up the mixed bag of public and private stuff I have running on this box (www) onto multiple server VMs. Or containers! I hear containers are cool now.

I took apart my older laptop and replaced its dying SSD with one of these the other day. Lots of fun with interfaces there – the laptop predates not just mSATA but also the now-more-or-less obsolete micro SATA so its original drive used some oddball connector, so you have to replace the motherboard-to-drive ribbon cable with one that has a micro SATA connector (there’s no cable available with an mSATA one), then connect the mSATA SSD to an mSATA to micro SATA adapter so you can plug the ribbon cable into it. Whew. But after doing all that, the number of times the system spews a bunch of ATA error messages, remounts root as read-only, and then refuses to boot up cleanly again has dropped to around about zero, so I’m happy (and the modern SSD does seem a bit faster than the old one the system came with, even though there’s probably some interface bottlenecking going on). As part of the Great Network Infrastructure Upgrade I may push my luck and try upgrading both laptops with 802.11ac-capable mini-PCIe wifi adapters – i.e. this one, which seems to be more or less the only game in town.

Finally and much the least interestingly, boring old actual-work news…

I’ve been kind of in grazing-around mode for the last few weeks, doing little things here and there. Running Rawhide on a couple of boxes, fixing up builds, filing miscellaneous bugs. We’re at the point where Wayland actually works on my newer laptop, which is a bit of a shock…at least it fails to wake up from an idle timeout and has glacially sluggish touchpad response, I’d be worried if it was actually usable or anything.

I spent some time revising several of the storage-related test cases, and implemented Kamil’s idea of doing entirely optional monthly Rawhide validation matrices – here are the May 2014 Installation and Base matrices. These will let us at least keep an eye on the status of Rawhide during the extended period between Fedora 20 release and Fedora 21 Alpha, make sure nothing’s gone too far sideways in the interim. I wrote up a ‘test outline’ for the Fedora.next Server product, and have been spending quite a bit of time thinking about how we should re-examine the role of Fedora QA in the Fedora.next context. I’m broadly aiming to take the ‘test outlines’ for Server, Desktop and Cloud products and combine them with our existing validation matrices into a comprehensive formal test plan for Fedora 21 (we’ve never really had a full test plan before) and use that as a jumping-off point for the debate about how various testing responsibilities should be organized between ‘Fedora QA’ and the various product WGs. So, interesting times!

6 Responses

  1. Sudhir Khanger
    Sudhir Khanger May 7, 2014 at 6:32 pm | | Reply

    What’s your impression of Bryan’s comment about Christian Schaller failing to explain what Fedora.Next initiative is? He came to Bad Voltage podcast and was unclear on what is wrong with Fedora and what you guys are doing.

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