Graphics Test Week final stretch: Intel

Graphics Test Week moves into its final stretch today / tomorrow (depending where you are!) with Intel graphics Test Day. As with the others, this event runs all day in #fedora-test-day on Freenode IRC, and testing instructions and live images (same as for the other two days) are on the Wiki page. Intel graphics users, please come out and help us make sure Fedora 14's graphics support is as good as it can be!

Graphics Test Week starts tomorrow!

It's been creeping up, and now it's time: the world-famous Graphics Test Week begins tomorrow, with the Fedora 14 Nouveau Test Day! That is 2010-09-28. As always, the event runs all day in #fedora-test-day on Freenode IRC (you can connect with WebIRC). To complete Graphics Test Week, the Radeon Test Day takes place the following day, Wednesday 2010-09-29, and Intel Test Day takes place Thursday 2010-09-30.

As always, we'll be testing a range of graphics driver functions, and we need as many people as possible to join in so we can evaluate the widest possible range of hardware and identify as many bugs as possible for the developers to fix. You can do all the testing from a live image - no need for an installed copy of Fedora 14, though you can test that way too if you like - and the testing is very easy, there are step-by-step instructions for each test and for entering your results. And of course, there'll be many people in IRC to help with testing and debugging.

Even if you don't use Fedora, you can take part in the Test Day using a live image, and the results will be useful to whatever distribution you do use: Fedora's X developers contribute all their work upstream to the and kernel projects, so all distributions get the benefit of the testing done in Fedora Test Days soon enough. So please, come along and help out!

If you can't make the nominated Test Day for your hardware, your testing is still just as valuable: you can do the testing any other day and add your results to the table on the Wiki page.

Virtualization Test Day 2010-09-23

It's Test Day time once more! Tomorrow, 2010-09-23, will be Virtualization Test Day. Of course, virtualization is popular with many Fedora users and a key area of Fedora development, so this is another important test event. Since this is about testing Fedora 14 as a virtualization host, you will need a copy of Fedora 14 installed on a real system to test. There's full instructions for testing on the Wiki page. If you can't make it tomorrow, your results will still be very useful if you post them before or after the event. As usual, the test day will run all day in the #fedora-test-day channel on Freenode IRC. I'll be travelling (and recovering from FUDCon and the Beta squeeze) so I probably won't be around, but the ever-capable virtualization developer Justin Forbes (jforbes) will be acting as your host! If you can spare a bit of time and some disk space, please do come out to the test day and help us to knock virtualization into shape for Fedora 14!

I will post a report on FUDCon Zurich soon, but right now it's full steam ahead on Fedora 14 Beta validation!

Mandriva news: Mageia

So I'm here at FUDCon Zurich, co-located with FrOSCamp, and I finally got to meet Guillaume and Michael. While we've been here the big Mandriva news (which has been a bit of an open secret in MDV/ex-MDV circles for a while...) broke - most of the core MDV employees, sadly, got laid off, but happily, many of them and much of the Mandriva community and PLF community have set up a fork of Mandriva - Mageia. I'm not directly involved in this and I don't know a lot about the plans, but it seems like a great direction and I'm glad everyone's carrying on and not abandoning all the history built up behind Mandriva. I've offered to help out in a small way if I can, and I'll definitely be following along and maybe migrating my Mandriva machines over when I can. For now I'm just spreading the word - Mageia is here, check it out!

I'll post a full report on FUDCon soon - so far it's been great, lots of good people here, I gave my QA talk and it was pretty well received, seen some interesting talks, and tomorrow I'm hoping to work on spins QA with Peter Robinson, Christoph Wickert and any other spins folk who are around. Come join us! I'll do a pitch at the start of the day.

I'm at FUDCon Zurich! Well, sorta

So I've arrived in town for FUDCon Zurich - I'm at the conference hotel, Allegra, room 220, come knock if you want to say hi. I'm hanging out in #fudcon on IRC but no-one else seems to be there :) I'm giving my presentation quite early on the first day, so I'll spend today updating it (yes, I always prepare well in advance, why do you ask?) as well as working on the F14 Beta release - still clearing blockers for that.

Note that I always show as online on IRC as I use a proxy, but if I'm out of my room and not anywhere I can get on wifi I won't actually be around. So sorry if I don't answer a ping.

My Desktop

So, uh, okay:

My 31337 desktop

Since all the cool kids are doing it, there's my desktop. Posted mainly to illustrate why I'm always perplexed at these 'show us your desktop!' threads - why does anyone customize their desktop at all? When do you ever see it? As soon as I log in to my system, Evolution, Firefox and gedit get autolaunched in full screen window sizes and I never see the desktop until I shut down. I only see it for about five seconds before the apps get launched. Do I use my system in some sort of really odd way which no-one else does? Am I missing something here?

Systemd Test Day on Tuesday 2010/09/07

It's test day time again, folks, and this one's a biggie! You may have read about the brand new initialization system, systemd, written by Lennart Poettering. At the moment, we're planning to use it as the default initialization system for Fedora 14. Obviously, this is a bold step with a fairly new piece of code.

This week's Test Day, which will take place on Tuesday 2010/09/07 rather than the more usual Thursday, is on systemd, so it's a very important one! It will also serve at least two functions: as usual, the testing will help us to improve the code so that if it does go into the final Fedora 14 release it will work as well as possible, but the Fedora steering committee will also be using the results of the Test Day to help inform their final decision as to whether to go ahead with systemd for the Beta and final release, or whether to revert to upstart. So there's a lot riding on this Test Day. As usual, the Test Day will run in #fedora-test-day on Freenode IRC - see this page if you're not sure how to use IRC.

As usual, we've tried to make it as easy as possible to participate. There's full testing instructions on the Test Day wiki page, and you can contribute some helpful testing just by running a nightly live image and making sure it boots correctly. Of course, the more testing you can contribute the better, and there are lots of tests documented on the page for those who have the time and the ability to install a copy of Fedora 14 for testing. We also welcome freeform testing of systemd during the Test Day - it will be very helpful for people simply to configure a test Fedora 14 installation with the configuration you'd typically use, and make sure systemd handles starting the system properly.

Lennart and myself will be around as much as we can during the Test Day to help out and follow up on your results. We're both in European time zones at present. Lennart's IRC nick is 'mezcalero', and I'm adamw. Please do come along and help us test out this important new component - it's really important that we get as much testing done as possible. Thanks!

On updates and user experiences and so forth

So, the debate about update policies and user experience etc is spilling onto the Planet, with some constructive posts from Máirín and Jon so far. Thought I'd throw in a few cents.

In the end, it doesn't matter hugely to me how this gets settled - I work QA, and as I figure it, our job is to do the best testing job we can in the context of the overall aims and development method of the project. You sometimes see cases where QA people want to dictate the way development happens on the basis of being able to test things properly, but I think that's ass-backward; whoever is leading the project should set the goals and development methods, and QA should work within those. If whoever's in charge is unhappy with the resulting product's quality they might want to tweak the process, but it's not really QA's job to dictate that. So I'm fine with working with whatever process gets decided in the end.

From an entirely personal point of view, though, I have to say I kinda wind up on a slightly different side of the question to Máirín and Jon. Máirín has Caroline Casual User; Jon talks about what Windows and Mac OS do, what "users" want, and stuff like "can feel quite confident doing an update as a matter of best practice, even ten minutes before a big presentation, or even during the presentation if I want to".

I'm kind of sympathetic towards the point of view that that's a perfectly sound goal for an operating system, but it may not necessarily be the best goal for the Fedora operating system to pick. Just because that's the target of Windows and OS X doesn't mean it has to be ours.

For a start, there's already plenty of Linux distributions besides Fedora with those goals. To put it bluntly, there's Ubuntu, and Ubuntu's doing a fairly decent job of being Ubuntu. I've argued before that it's somewhat dangerous for the overall ecosystem for Ubuntu to drive out all competitors, and to an extent I stand by that, but OTOH, I'm not entirely sure that being Ubuntu's token competition is the best thing Fedora can be. For a start, Fedora isn't set up for it. Exactly this kind of debate makes the advantages of Ubuntu's Benevolent Dictator model apparent; this just wouldn't really happen in Ubuntu-land, or if it did, it'd be in a conference room with Mark and ten other people and it'd be over in an hour. The Fedora project is built in a different way; being run by a chain of partly-elected committees is great for openness and transparency and defending community values, but it does lose the benefits of focus and swiftness that come from having one person in charge and defining the project's scope and vision.

I like the idea that's mostly being proposed by the 'radical' side of the debate that the best and most efficient way to use the resources of the Fedora project going forwards is to be something different from what Windows and OS X and Ubuntu are. One of the advantages of the F/OSS world is that we're supposed to be better at co-operation than competition. I think it would be kind of cool to have a world where everyone knows that Fedora is the distribution with the latest bleeding-edge stuff and Ubuntu is what you install on grandpa's computer, or yours if you want to trade off a quiet life for not getting the latest everything all the time.

In fact I could be quite happy if we revised Fedora's process completely. I can see a future where we aim to be a rolling distribution, and put out a point release only when we have to; when I asked people within Fedora a while back why point releases still exist, the only really valid answer was more or less 'because sometimes changes happen that we can't handle with an in-place update'. That's fine, but in that case, there's no real reason besides PR to schedule releases every six months; why not just do a release when some change means we have to do one? When such a change comes along we put out a set of images and give people six months to reinstall or upgrade, pushing security fixes for the previous codebase during that period, and then just declare it dead and say everyone needs to be on the new code now? Most of the objections to this kind of thing are about providing stable platforms and dependable updates and yadda yadda, but I already said, there's no reason Fedora has to be that project. In a lot of ways I think Fedora could be a much more interesting and useful project in the long term if it wasn't.

tl;dr summary: let's let Ubuntu be Ubuntu, and let's us be something different, and that should be the most efficient way for the whole F/OSS / Linux world to use its resources.

Preupgrade Test Day this Thursday

It's that time again - the Fedora 14 Test Day cycle is ramping up, and this Thursday is one of the bigger events, the preupgrade Test Day. Preupgrade is one of the recommended methods for upgrading Fedora between releases, so it's very important that we make sure it works as well as possible for each new release. As always, the Test Day runs all Thursday (2010-09-02) in #fedora-test-day on Freenode IRC - see this page if you're not sure how to use IRC. Please come along and help to make sure upgrading to Fedora 14 via preupgrade will be a smooth experience for as many people as possible - the more different configurations we can test, the better! You will need an installed system you don't mind upgrading to Fedora 14 (and potentially breaking) to test with, but testing in a virtual machine is of course fine, so you don't need to break your real working configuration. Full testing instructions are provided on the Test Day page.