Approach of the Bugmaster

With an air of slowly subsiding stunned bemusement, I relay the news that I have had the position of Mandriva Bugmaster bestowed upon me.

This happened in an early morning phone call from Anne Nicolas, our new Engineering Director. She called me (ostensibly) to discuss, in general terms, the situation with regards to bug management in Mandriva. After we agreed that it could do with some improvement and a good way to do this would be to appoint a bugmaster, the following exchange occurred:

Me: So, who were you thinking of for the position? If it's going to be a community member they'll need to have the respect and power necessary to have people follow their decisions... Anne: I was thinking you. Me: comedy double take, much blinking Er...okay?

Personally I blame tiredness. Memo to self, don't take calls from management at 9 a.m.

So, yes, I am now the Bugmaster, and Oden has presented me with a ceremonial Edgar (from Men in Black) costume. Thanks, Oden.

So far, here's what I've planned:

The things that need to be done fall into three areas.

First, current Bugzilla is a mess and must be cleaned up. This is the first priority. Some numbers - there's 2465 bugs languishing in UNCONFIRMED state, and 220 bugs requiring action assigned to maintainers who are no longer active.

Second, we must institute a proper bug policy, and introduce a triage system for newly filed bugs, to improve the efficiency of the bug resolution process and stop bugs getting neglected. I have written a draft bug policy which is currently awaiting comments from the developer community. As far as triage goes, the bug squad (see below) will be assigned triage tasks as described in the policy.

Third, we must have ongoing monitoring of bug management. This will ensure that the triage team is doing an acceptably efficient job of triaging bugs and that maintainers are doing an acceptably efficient job of fixing them. Where this isn't happening, corrective action will be taken (probably by me. In the Edgar costume. That'll teach 'em.) To this end, automated report tools will be adopted (if we can find suitable ones being used by other projects) or written (if we can't) and I will take charge of generating regular reports which will be sent to Anne, to each maintainer and to the bug squad.

And yes, there will be a bug squad, as I don't have a couple hundred spare hours a week to do all this on my own. The bug squad will help me with initial clean up of the Bugzilla database and will also constitute the triage team who will perform triage of newly filed bugs on an ongoing basis, according to the bug policy. We've already done initial recruitment to the bug squad from the Cooker mailing list, and I'll be doing further recruitment on the Club forums once more infrastructure is in place, if more bodies are needed.

As far as infrastructure goes, the following will likely be created:

A mailing list for bug management issues. This will probably be open to the public but mostly used by bug squad members.

A alias. This will be a Bugzilla maintainer account and will be used by bug squad members for triage tasks, to present a united and professional image.

A Wiki area for all bug-related issues. I've already made a start on this. Beyond what's on the page already, the regular statistical reports will be published here.

Anything else that becomes necessary. :)

Begone, mdk, begone!

My rebuilding-really-old-stuff binge is continuing. I got stuck for about three days on Skencil, a fairly old but still moderately used drawing app. After lots of frustration, lots of grepping, lots of exceedingly ugly perl substitution commands and several patches judiciously stolen^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hborrowed from other distros, we now have a Skencil package that builds on 2007.0, 2007 Spring and Cooker i586 and x86-64. It doesn't actually run on Cooker because Cooker is sporting shiny new Tcl/Tk 8.5, which breaks lots and lots of apps including Skencil, but it does run on 2007.0 and 2007 Spring, so that's an improvement. The package is in /main/testing for 2007 and 2007 Spring if anyone wants to poke it. I'd appreciate testing on x86-64 because I don't have an x86-64 test machine.

Skencil has a fork called sk1 which looks interesting, I'll try and package this up too.

Besides that one I've also been fighting with some CJK input packages that were rather badly packaged. I updated the (lib)tabe package with proper naming and proper file locations and fixed it to build on x86-64, then did the same for xcin. Now I need to find any other input methods that rely on (lib)tabe and make sure they work with the updated package.

Aside from that, I've been updating the Erratas for 2007 and Spring, and working on some communications stuff. I've written an article on virtualization in Spring that we're going to send to some news sites just to try and keep Spring in the public eye and spread the word about some of the nice included packages. It'll be posted on the Club soon.

Post-2007 Spring

So, very happy with the positive response to 2007 Spring so far. Even had some good responses from the Ubuntu forums, which is more than I dared hope for. Hoping to see some good press soon which will sustain interest in the new release.

On my front, I fixed hydrogen (a drum machine app) for 2007.1 since it wasn't running (built against an old libflac), and backported Transmission 0.7 final to 2007.0 and 2007.1. Transmission is the best BitTorrent client I've come across in a long time, definitely worth a shot (especially for GNOME users). Very simple and clean and gives incredibly fast transfers.

In Cooker, I did some more work on graphics card stuff: further rationalized the card database and updated NVIDIA definitions (8xxx series cards are now supported by nv in Cooker, and I got the PCI IDs for the 8300 - 8600 cards from Aaron at NVIDIA to add them to our database ready for the 100-series driver when it comes out). Cooker now has X server 1.3 in main, so everyone gets to play with the new randr stuff (at least, those with supported drivers).

Also sent a modest proposal to the Cooker list that all apps shipping icons should be icon theme spec-compliant for 2008.0. This is a nice achievable goal with an obvious positive effect (good-looking icons in modern panel and launcher apps which use icons at bigger sizes than 24x24).

Mandriva Linux 2007 Spring released

So, 2007 Spring is out. It's a good release. Lots of nice stuff. Lots of fixed stuff. And almost everything release-related is sane: the mirrors are up, the torrents are up, the news went out properly. All good. Having a bit of trouble with the Club Commercial media, but hey, if that's the only problem, I'll take it. It's nice to get a release out with fewer headless chicken impressions than the usual. :)


So, that was nice and smooth: a couple of urpmi --auto-select and this webserver and my mailserver are running 2007.1 (Spring). Will probably be more difficult to do that on a full desktop system, but it worked very nicely on the stripped down install I use for servers.

Very hopeful for Spring in general. The final release looks really, really solid, we have the press arrangements sorted, the mirrors are already up and ready (as opposed to last time), I'm just a bit worried that we need to get early seeding started soon, but in general, this should go really well.

Good hardware, bad hardware

Didn't do so much actually productive work stuff today; more farming email, discussing and triaging 2007.1 bugs, and discussing release issues (fcrozat was mildly against gedit-root and kate-root being in 2007.1, I have outlined my reasons why I think he's wrong...). I did patch bittorrent-gui to download to ~/Desktop by default, though; previously it was trying to use ~/Desktop/Bittorrent Downloads, which a) doesn't really fit our policy and b) was failing every time on my system.

Visited an old friend today. Back when I first knew him he wasn't really into computers, but probably through my influence he got interested, and he's now a full-blown hardware enthusiast. I've more or less lost touch with the high-end hardware and gaming scene in the last few years, since I stopped playing PC games and since even boring regular market hardware became way more than fast enough for my needs. So it was kinda cool to visit him and watch him play Battlefield II and Battlefield 2142 on his pretty high-end gaming rig; it's amazing to see how far the FPS gaming genre has come in terms of graphics, interface, design, and even odd stuff like usability since the days I was playing regularly.

I couldn't resist throwing a 2007.1 RC1 One disc into his system to see how it handled it. Came up with everything working and the correct resolution on his 1440x900 monitor right from boot - very good. Except the sound doesn't work, because it's an X-Fi. Sigh. Damn Creative.

My father appears to have been sold something of a pup when it comes to a wireless router. He has a Netgear WGT624. Ever since I came home, it's been dropping the internet connection periodically (quite frequently), requiring a router reboot. Google found several people suffering such issues, and the common diagnosis appears to be overheating. This would make sense, as it will be doing more work with two of us using the wireless than it previously was with just one. I think tomorrow we'll try upgrading the firmware and if that doesn't help I'll go out and get him a cheap dd-wrt supporting router.

Editing as root, torrents torrents torrents

Been scratching more itches lately.

Besides more work on the wiki documentation, I went after two main things.

One complaint about 2007 was that there were no good Bittorrent clients on the discs. While looking into this I noticed we really don't ship many good torrent clients. There's ktorrent, which is good apparently, but it's KDE. Besides that, there's the official bittorrent-gui , gnome-btdownload , rtorrent , and azureus. Official bittorrent is not that great, and throws a lot of annoying (but non-fatal) python errors. gnome-btdownload just doesn't seem to work at all. rtorrent is nice for advanced users but doesn't really fit the 'simple graphical front end' bill. azureus is a good app and popular, but the MDV package isn't ideal (most people want to run it with Sun Java, but it's built against free Java and pulls in a shedload of free Java dependencies) and it's a resource hog.

So I packaged up Deluge and transmission, two fairly light GTK+ clients with nice interfaces. Unfortunately, dbarth decided not to let them through the 2007.1 freeze, so they still won't be in the release. I will backport them as soon as 2007.1 is released and the repositories are unfrozen, though.

Funda Wang mentioned that he has packaged BitStormLite, and it made it in before the freeze. It's another light GTK+ client. Unfortunately, it's rather immature and not really ready to be a default app, so we can't go with that one. For now I've recommended going with bittorrent-gui.

The other itch was a personal one, in a way. Often, when I'm writing documentation or Errata, I have to advise the user to edit a system configuration file, which requires root privileges. There is really no 'nice' way to do this in Mandriva (and many other distros, I think): you have to open a console, become root with 'su', then launch a text editor from the console. This is not obvious to GUI-based users, requires a lot of explaining to them, and creates a bad impression when they have to do it.

So I built a couple of packages named gedit-root and kate-root. These use consolehelper to create gedit-root and kate-root commands, which will ask for the root password and then run gedit or kate as root. They also include menu entries for these commands. So if you install gedit-root, on your system menus, you will see Text editor (administrator), you can click on it, enter the root password, and gedit starts up with root privileges. Ditto for kate-root (the menu entry is Advanced text editor (administrator) there). And thanks to the awesomeness of the fd.o stuff, you get shell integration for free: right click on a text file (or anything else usually associated with a text editor) in Nautilus or Konqueror or whatever, and you get an option to open it with Text editor (administrator) or Advanced text editor (administrator).


Now I just have to convince dbarth to include them in the release.

Other than that, I've been mostly tracking release critical bugs and trying to get them fixed. 2007.1 is looking quite hopeful, although the fact that Bugzilla mails are not currently going to Cooker is really annoying.

2007.1 RC1 available

note to news outlets PLEASE do not carry this as a story yet; when we are ready for this to hit news sites we will let you know. Thanks.

2007.1 RC1 is now available from a mirror near you. Sorry, no release notes up yet. This should be significantly improved from beta 2. Unfortunately there's one very large bug remaining: 3D acceleration is not correctly configured on Radeons (all Radeons). The correct driver will be used and it will work partially, but the wrong GL library configuration is used (fglrx cards get the configuration for the free driver, free driver cards get the configuration for the fglrx driver), which causes glxinfo to report direct rendering as No and I think stops 3D desktop stuff working. The workaround is posted here.

Apart from that this should be good, though. NVIDIA card detection and configuration should be basically perfect, drak3d has been improved, rpmdrake and MandrivaUpdate are vastly improved. Download it and give it a shot, and file bugs on Bugzilla.

I wrote a couple more new documentation pages last night: Installing and removing software and Installing from source.

Writing and hardware

Done some more work on the ldetect-lst front: rationalized a few more graphics card drivers, changed NVIDIA a bit since nv doesn't currently support the latest G80 core, and added a few IDs I found in upstream pci.ids and the source code for various drivers. Unfortunately, Anssi Hannula discovered a rather large bug in XFdrake which will cause all Radeon cards to be incorrectly configured for 3D acceleration in 2007.1 RC1 (not my fault :>) - more details (got the documentation in first).

Aside from that, at the suggestion of a Cooker list poster, I wrote up a couple of documentation pages today:

Installing Mandriva Linux and Writing CD and DVD images. These should be pretty definitive, so if you want to give someone instructions on installing Mandriva or writing here :)

Saw a wonderful example of the essential egocentric nature of people yesterday: the Skytrain (local light rail service) pulled into the station, with most carriages standing room only one carriage completely empty. About 80% of the people on the platform made for the doors of this carriage. A second of rational thought would make it fairly obvious that the carriage is empty because the doors aren't working, but...