Devconf.cz 2019 trip report

I’ve just got back from my Devconf.cz 2019 trip, after spending a few days after the conference in Red Hat’s Brno office with other Fedora QA team members, then a few days visiting family.

I gave both my talks – Don’t Move That Fence ‘Til You Know Why It’s There and Things Fedora QA Robots Do – and both were well-attended and, I think, well-received. The slide decks are up on the talk pages, and recordings should I believe go up on the Devconf Youtube channel soon.

I attended many other talks, my personal favourite being Stef Walter’s Using machine learning to find Linux bugs. Stef noticed something I also have noticed in our openQA work – that “test flakes” are very often not just some kind of “random blip” but genuine bugs that can be investigated and fixed with a little care – and ran with it, using the extensive amount of results generated by the automated test suite for Cockpit as input data for a machine learning-based system which clusters “test flakes” based on an analysis of key data from the logs for each test. In this way they can identify when a large number of apparent “flakes” seem to have significant common features and are likely to be occurrences of the same bug, allowing them then to go back and analyze the commonalities between those cases and identify the underlying bug. We likely aren’t currently running enough tests in openQA to utilize the approach Stef outlined in full, but the concept is very interesting and may be useful in future with more data, and perhaps for Fedora CI results.

Other useful and valuable talks I saw included Dan Walsh on podman, Lennart Poettering on portable services, Daniel Mach and Jaroslav Mracek on the future of DNF, Kevin Fenzi and Stephen Smoogen on the future of EPEL, Jiri Benc and Marian Šámal on a summer coding camp for kids, Ben Cotton on community project management, the latest edition of Will Woods’ and Stephen Gallagher’s crusade to kill all scriptlets, and the Fedora Council BoF.

There were also of course lots of useful “hallway track” sessions with Miroslav Vadkerti, Kevin Fenzi, Mohan Boddu, Patrick Uiterwijk, Alexander Bokovoy, Dominik Perpeet, Matthew Miller, Brian Exelbierd and many more – it is invaluable to be able to catch up with people in person and discuss things that are harder to do in tickets and IRC.

As usual it was an enjoyable and productive event, and the rum list at the Bar That Doesn’t Exist remains as impressive as ever…;)

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