This week is Graphics Test Week!

It's that good ol' time again: Fedora 18 Graphics Test Week is here.

It all kicks off tomorrow (or today, depending on your timezone) - Tuesday 2012-09-25, with Nouveau (NVIDIA) Test Day. Then Wednesday 2012-09-26 is Radeon Test Day, and Thursday 2012-09-27 is Intel (graphics) Test Day.

These events are simply meant to let us check on how the major graphics drivers (over 95% of the systems running Fedora use NVIDIA, ATI or Intel graphics) are working with real-world hardware for the upcoming Fedora release. All you need to take part is a system with one of these graphics adapters, a USB stick or optical disc writer, and a little time. We provide a live image for testing, and all you have to do is boot it up and check some basic graphics functions.

Full test instructions are on the Wiki pages. The live image download links are not yet active but will soon go up (in the next few hours). We also encourage testers to join the #fedora-test-day channel on Freenode IRC: members of the Fedora QA team and graphics development team will be around to help you with the testing process and also to take a look at any bugs that you might find. If you're not a regular IRC user, you can find instructions here, or you can simply click here to join the channel (chat room) through a Web front end.

So please, if you have a few spare minutes to help out, come along! Although we assign specific days to each manufacturer, if you can't come on the 'right' day, just come along on one of the others and we'll make do.

Even if you're not a Fedora user, please consider joining in - all the distributions share the same graphics drivers, and the versions in Fedora (in these test images particularly) are very new. The Fedora developers are major upstream developers, and any fixes that come from these test days will go upstream for all distributions to benefit from soon. And since the testing uses a live image, you don't even need to install Fedora!

Test Days tomorrow: OpenStack and internationalization (i18n)

We've had a few false starts, but the Fedora 18 Test Day cycle kicks off in earnest tomorrow with two events: the OpenStack Test Day and the internationalization (i18n) Test Day.

OpenStack is one of the leading F/OSS cloud implementations and has been getting a lot of attention both within Fedora and in the wider world lately, so you might find it fun, interesting and/or useful to come along and take part - you can get some experience with OpenStack and help test its Fedora implementation at the same time. We've been running internationalization/localization (i18n/l10n) test events for Fedora for a few releases now and they've proven useful in making sure our releases provide a smooth experience for everyone (not just English speakers), so if you can, come and help with that too - help from those whose native language is something other than English is especially welcome!

The i18n Test Day is in #fedora-test-day on Freenode IRC as usual, but please note that the OpenStack Test Day is in #fedora-openstack. If you come to the wrong place we'll redirect you. If you're not a regular IRC user, read these instructions or just click on this WebIRC link for the i18n event or this WebIRC link for the OpenStack event.

Please come out if you have the chance! Thanks folks.

Please consider donating to Ken Starks' medical fund

Hey, everyone - I don't often post stuff like this, as it's so hard to know where to draw the line, but I had to make an exception in this case. It's become widely known in the last week or so that Ken Starks, of Blog of HeliOS fame, is suffering from an aggressive throat cancer and needs surgery on it soon. Thanks to the vagaries of the American healthcare system, on which I have strong opinions I won't go into here, Ken is on the hook for the entire cost of the operation himself, and doesn't have the money.

Ken's one of the nicest guys I've ever communicated with in the F/OSS world, and has dedicated huge chunks of his time for years, tirelessly and often thanklessly, to spreading the F/OSS culture in difficult but constructive ways - not like those of us lazy suckers who just wibble in forums and comment threads. Even more praiseworthy than that, he has for years been the driving force behind the HeliOS/REGLUE project which refurbishes donated computers for disadvantaged kids in Ken's home area of Austin, Texas.

Ken might not be the most polished debater or communicator in the F/OSS world but I can't think of a single other person in this community who's done more good for others, and it'd be a tragedy if Ken doesn't get the surgery he needs because of a lack of funds. So please, consider donating to Ken's medical fund - they set an initial goal of $5,000 which has already been reached, but they really need a minimum of $50,000 just to pay for the operating room for the surgery (more if they can't find a doctor who'll do the surgery for free). The donation process has been thrown together quickly by Ken's friends, so again it's not the most polished thing in the world - the money goes to 'Dragonwing Software' - but it's really all above-board, not some sort of scam. There isn't anyone in our community who could possibly need the money more, I don't think. Thanks!

Miscellaneous Fedora news update

So, here's some miscellaneous bits of Fedora stuff:

I put up the new standalone update feedback guidelines page yesterday. This is the document that attempts to explain how you should test updates from updates-testing and when to give the different types of feedback - positive, negative, neutral or none. It's substantially based on text that used to be in the proven testers page, but split out and made independent.

We have the first blocker review meeting for Fedora 18 coming up tomorrow: I always think of this as the unofficial marker of the 'test grind' starting up. In my head Fedora QA is very much split into two major phases - for the four months or so prior to a release we're in an intensive test grind for that release, where we're evaluating blockers and performing validation tests on candidate builds almost non-stop. There's also a two month 'slack period' after one release and before the next release ramps up, where things are a bit more relaxed and we get to work on building out our test collections, infrastructure, procedures and processes and so on. So tomorrow, for me, marks the end of the post-Fedora 17 'slack period' and the start of the Fedora 18 'test grind'...bring it on!

We had some interesting discussions on the QA list and on the anaconda-devel list about what features we really wanted to make sure made it into the newUI anaconda branch for Fedora 18. After that's been mostly settled, It looks like the new UI will be merged into Rawhide very soon, and all the Alpha TCs will include the new UI. Lots of work coming up to knock the rough edges off, we expect!

I've been trying to do some exploratory runs on building Rawhide live images, to check for showstopper issues with package conflicts or dependencies and see if we can get a booting system at all. This is complicated somewhat by the fact that we're planning to switch from livecd-creator to livemedia-creator for building live images in Fedora 18. I've been trying to compose images with both tools, for comparison of the process and the results. After some fixes to livecd-creator (thanks bcl) I can compose an image successfully, and boot to text mode, but booting to graphical mode or starting X from test mode fails in a way that seems rather difficult to debug. Now I'm focusing on trying to get an image built with livemedia-creator, which is a very different process and I'm still in the trial and error phase...

Fedora 18 Test Day call, and long time, no QA update

I've been feeling bad lately for not updating the latest goings-on in QA Land, so here's a quick rundown!

Starting with the latest thing: I just put up the Fedora 18 Test Day schedule and sent out the Fedora 18 call for Test Days. Do take a look and consider whether a Test Day would be valuable for any of the Fedora projects you're involved with. It doesn't have to be to do with a piece of code, per se - we often run Test Days to check translations, for instance.

In general, the time between a Final release and the first composes for the next Alpha release is a fairly quiet one for QA, during which we work on ongoing projects and specific improvements to our processes based on the experience from the previous cycle. One significant between-releases project is the Retrospective. During a release cycle, anyone can throw a quick note regarding something they noticed working particularly well or needing improvement onto the retrospective page, then after the final release, someone - presently my humble self - goes through the list and works up specific action items where improvements could be made, usually as trac tickets. You can see from the page that we're working on a few improvements as a result of the Fedora 17 cycle, but it was actually a pretty quiet one: we made far more changes after the Fedora 16 cycle.

For Fedora 18 there are some potentially disruptive new features, and we've been doing what we can to anticipate the impact of these. In the last couple of weeks we've started some very early exploratory testing of the new installer UI that's scheduled to be included in Fedora 18. It hasn't yet landed in Rawhide, but we have received some test images from the anaconda team and started some initial testing on those. You can find details in the test mailing list archives: I'm intentionally not making it too easy to find, as this is still bleeding-edge code and we want to make sure you understand that before trying it out!

We're also keeping an eye on other potentially significant features like the Initial Experience feature which looks set to replace firstboot on GNOME installations of Fedora 18. We're working with the desktop team to try and ensure this lands as early as possible to give us lots of time to find any kinks in the install / first boot process resulting from this swap, ideally before the Alpha release.

We had an interesting discussion about possible adjustments to the Bodhi process for update feedback, and we'll be meeting with the Bodhi team this week to see if we can feed that discussion and other ideas into the design of Bodhi 2.0.

Personally, I've been doing Fedora 18 setup spadework (creating the release criteria pages, test day schedule and so on) and doing a few little odds-and-ends projects, like this draft for a set of Bodhi feedback guidelines, separated out from the proven testers guide where it currently resides.

We'll start ramping up for the Fedora 18 cycle in earnest with some RATS runs this week or next, and then with the first Alpha Test Compose which will likely arrive around August 7.

Random plug: read The Verge

Oh, hello. Long time no blog. But I wanted to throw one slightly random note out there: you should probably be reading The Verge if you aren't already.

It's more or less a gadget-y tech news site in the style of Engadget; it was founded by a bunch of ex-Engadgeters who didn't appreciate AOL's plans for the site. I switched over to reading it instead of Engadget a few weeks back. Since then I've been impressed by quite a few things, but mainly simply by the quality of the journalism. They broadly seem to get things correct. They care about sourcing and accuracy in quotation and boring, 'serious journalism' stuff like that. They correct mistakes conscientiously and transparently. And they seem to be making a concerted effort to try and push lengthy pieces of analysis, investigative journalism or just straight up interesting writing. They run a regular round-up of the 'best technology writing of the week', which is a great idea.

I'm very happy to see some distinctly non-barrel-scraping writing around the place and I really hope they succeed with this direction, which is a pretty brave one. If it sounds like the kind of thing you'd like, check it out.

(No, I'm not getting compensated in any way shape or form for doing this, just for the record. This site doesn't carry ads or do any form of compensated endorsement of anything.)

Test Day time again: GNOME Boxes

We interrupt our frantic Fedora 17 validation briefly to bring you the news that it's GNOME Boxes Test Day today in #fedora-test-day on Freenode IRC. Boxes is the new GNOME application that acts as a front end to virtual machines and to graphical remote machine connections (e.g. VNC). As it's new it needs lots of testing, so please stop by and help out if you have a chance!

All the instructions for testing and downloadables are on the Wiki page, and you can join #fedora-test-day on IRC to chat with other testers and members of the Boxes team. If you're not a regular IRC user, read these instructions or just click on this WebIRC link. Thanks!

The secret

Now, not to blow my own horn - I don't need to, because I'm awesome - but I'm often approached by awestruck fans at conferences and my various public appearances, asking me how I can possibly achieve so much QA work in so little time. Of course, I usually don't tell them my secret. I tell them it's just down to good old fashioned hard work and intern exploitation. But that's not really the key. Today, just because I'm feeling generous, I'm going to pass along the secret, heretofore known only to the chosen few superstars of QA...

...we delegate it all to the snuffler.

Relief: the message notifier Shell extension

I've been a notorious GNOME Shell apologist ever since it was released (before, for that matter), but there's always been one thorn in my side with the Shell: it completely ruined IRC notifications, for me. Empathy is supposed to have a whizzy notification system, but every time I've tried it I've never had much success with it as an IRC client, so that was out. I use xchat-gnome, because I'm used to it and it does everything I want an IRC client to do, and with GNOME 2.x it would pulse the Xchat window's entry in the task list (ahh, remember task lists) when someone had said something to me. I could always see if there was a PM or adamw: I hadn't read yet. Simple. In Shell, instead I get a little notification that shows up at the bottom corner of the screen for a couple of seconds, if I happen to be paying attention, then disappears, unless I go looking for it in the overview. It's usually less trouble just to alt-tab to the xchat window and look there, which comprehensively kills the 'distraction-free computing' idea.

Anyhow, now I can quit bellyaching about that, because the awesome message notifier extension makes things much better. Now when someone says something to me on IRC I get a much more noticeable notification, one of the 'important' ones that shows up in the middle-bottom of the screen, is a lot bigger than the bottom-right corner notifications, and doesn't go away until I tell it to. Also, it actually tells me what the message was. Glorious! I am a happy IRCer once more. Thank you, Marco, if we ever wind up at some event or other, consider me to owe you many drinks.