We reserved the second day for all of the little things, most importantly swag. Sirko passed around samples of swag that EMEA made, notably stickers, pins and buttons and also some balloons as examples of things we could do.
The main problem however was bulk production and distribution of the swag. Unlike EMEA, APAC was not one big region with few export controls. APAC was a lot more divided and given strict customs policies of some countries, we would have to produce a lot of swag locally, thus increasing cost of production. We have to figure out the cheapest way to do this and ambassadors agreed to get quotes by about January for production as well as shipping.
One of the most important problems from the budgeting viewpoints for APAC however was the charges for transactions that ambassadors had to pay for each reimbursement. The current charges are much too high for APAC at about 4.4% of the transaction amount. For example, for a $100 reimbursement, the ambassador tends to lose about $4, which is a significant amount of money in most APAC countries. In terms of McDonalds meals, one can have two McChicken meals in India with $5.
The other problem with Paypal was that all countries in the APAC region could not accept Paypal. Because of this, one would either have to use something like Western Union to transfer money, which is again riddled with steep charges.
Various approaches were discussed, from getting Paypal to waive those charges, to passing on the charges to Fedora somehow, to associating the APAC credit card with a US based Western Union account. We still need to discuss this with the Fedora leadership.
The other action item was to make an inventory of all material we had in APAC, i.e. banners, tablecloth, etc. so that we know what kind of material is available for conferences around. This would also help us plan production of any such material in future.
Finally, everyone seemed to like the idea of having smaller focussed contributor/user meetups like I had proposed for India and Izhar suggested making a brand name for such meetups so that everyone could standardize on them. I suggested Fedora Contributor Meetup and Fedora User Meetup. Tuan will bring this up at the FAMSCo meeting.
We ended the day with dinner at a restaurant at the Mekong riverfront. Greta joined us for this one and we had a great time. Somvannda and Nisa took us to the night market after that to buy stuff and we then headed back, but not before having another round of snacks and drinks at a local place near our hotel. I had a 4AM start but it was past midnight by the time we were done. Almost everyone stayed up chatting about various things till it was time for me to go.
This was my first trip to the East and perhaps one of the more interesting trips in recent times. We are geographically and politically divided but it was interesting to see that a lot of the problems we had were common and solutions to them could be quite common too. This is hopefully a beginning to an even closer association with ambassadors in APAC to bring Free and Open Source Software closer to people in the region through the Fedora project.
I have taken a few pictures, which I will hopefully be able to process and upload before the end of the week.
Prior to the FAD, Sirko made a table of events to fill in events happening in APAC that we thought we ought to ensure a Fedora presence for by allocating a budget for one or more people to travel to the event. Most of us sent out a communication to our respective smaller communities and got the table populated further. Sirko had already covered most of the bigger events, but there were additions to the list.
We went through the list of events, with one or more people arguing for or against representing an event. We agreed to discuss swag production and other issues on Sunday. This turned out to be a fairly exciting affair, with emotions sometimes running high over some events. It was great to see though, because it meant that people were really involved. My pet event was not really a single one, it was a group of small ($20-$50) events I plan for us to do in India over the whole financial year. These would be user and contributor meetups with a specific focus, similar to the Security FAD and Test Days we had earlier this year. The proposal did not get any opposition since we have enough contributors in India to pull this off. Now I only hope we get such a budget and we are indeed able to pull off such events and that they are successful.
Other than that it seemed odd that there weren’t a lot of large events in India that Fedora could focus on. I think we will have to look at this a bit deeper in the coming year to see if there are events we may have missed. Maybe smaller events just tend to be more productive due to which such meetups seem to be cropping up more frequently. Or maybe nobody wants to step up to do bigger events. I don’t know.
We ended the day at a local restaurant that Somvannda took us to. We had a great meal of various seafood dishes that I thoroughly enjoyed. Of course, I have yet to come across cuisine that I have not liked, so me enjoying Cambodian food was not surprising. Heck, I even enjoyed British food (which apparently is considered bland) when I was in Cambridge in July, even the blood sausages and haggis!
It turned out to be a very productive day and I was happy that we managed to finish discussing the entire set of events in that one day. The next day we would discuss a lot of the little things that seemingly make a big difference.
These months have been very busy for me on the Fedora front and for a change, my involvement in Fedora has been very non-technical. After years of shying away from it, I finally became a Fedora Ambassador and have been involving myself in a lot more non-technical things like organizing events and attending meetings. One such meeting I was looking forward to recently was the face to face meeting of some APAC ambassadors to plan for the budget for FY16 at Phnom Penh, Cambodia. This series of posts is a report of the event as I saw it.
My travel itinerary for Camboda was fairly packed; I was to fly in on Friday night and then fly out early morning on Monday. I would have ideally liked to conduct some workshops around systems programming but it seems like the aversion to any kind of low level programming is even worse in Cambodia than in India. Maybe the situation will be different in future. However, my packed schedule also meant that I would have missed the Fedora 21 release party (F21 is not out yet, but the party was already planned and the organizers did not want to shift it or rename it) on Friday.
But Somvannda would make sure I didn’t, at least not all of it.
I reached the hotel room in Phnon Penh at about 9PM and immediately, Somvannda had arranged for me to be taken to the DAI office for the Fedora Release Party. The cake, talks and a lot of the food was over, but the people and drinks were still there. I got a very warm welcome from Somvannda, Nisa, Tuan, Izhar, Danishka and Sirko and they also introduced me to Greta, the host of the party. After quick introductions, we had a few informal discussions about what we were going to talk about over the next two days, but we were mostly just drinking and eating whatever was left. I nibbled away even though I had been stuffing myself with food (Tom Yam soup FTW!) at the Bangkok airport while I had waited for 5 hours for my connection to Phnom Penh; the dry pastries were amazing!
The only remaining member of the party was Alick and he was not expected till about midnight. All of us waited up till he arrived, said our hellos and then turned in for the night. The next two days were going to see a lot of action, but we didn’t know it then.
Huzaifa had wanted to do a Security FAD in Pune for a while to tackle the really high number of open security bugs in Fedora. We had initially set a date for September but we pushed it forward since Huzaifa was not available. In the end, Huzaifa was not not available even on the rescheduled date, so PJP took over ownership of the event.
I wasn’t expecting a lot of people to attend given the nature of the activity and as it turned out, there were 14 signups with 7 showing up finally. We also had a few people joining remotely, which was awesome. We also had a Docker event running in parallel at the venue (the Red Hat Pune office), so we had more company at lunch.
Everyone barring PJP came in on India Standard Time, i.e. late by a few minutes to an hour or so. We started a bit late as a result, with a quick introduction to security in Fedora by PJP. After the talk and questions we didn’t waste any time and quickly got down to triaging security bugs. Our plan of action was to take ownership (by setting fst_owner= in the bugzilla whiteboard) of security bugs we understand and start working on driving them to conclusion. What this implied was that we would have to follow up after the FAD to ensure that the bugs were closed.
I started from the oldest bugs (dating back to 2011!) and managed to own 8 bugs by the end of the day. We had many a spirited discussion over what constituted a security bug (most of us understood OS security to a fair extent, but were not security experts) and my impression was that all of us went home a bit wiser. I learned that xen is a horrible horrible package - it bundles a bazillion projects into itself, due to which fixing flaws in the original project is not sufficient and xen would need to be checked and fixed separately.
Overall we had a pretty good day where 36 bugs got new owners - we managed to reduce the total backlog (of unowned bugs) from 370 to 334. Hopefully some of us will continue to work in our spare time (I know I’ll try) and bring that backlog down further.
We had a Fedora Activity Day at the Red Hat office today in Pune. The FUDCon at the College of Engineering, Pune was the last major Fedora event that I was part of in Pune, so I was looking forward to the FAD to finally reboot my active involvement in Fedora.
Most of the organizers were not very familiar with arranging Fedora events. Some of us had participated in them and even helped during FUDCon, but actually planning everything on our own seemed quite difficult. We also did not want an event where people came, attended talks and went away, which is why a FAD seemed like the best option. To make sure that we didn’t end up just meeting and getting to know each other, we decided on a single theme, which is testing the upcoming Fedora 21.
Given that we had no clue what to expect, we didn’t ask for any sponsorship, just a room and internet from the Red Hat Pune office. The other difference was that we also invited people to participate remotely over IRC and we got a decent response on that front too.
I had decided to run the F21 installer through the grinder, but changed my mind the previous day and decided to test glibc. On the day, I changed my mind again and started testing the KDE Live ISO. People started trickling in a little after 9 and soon we had almost everyone who had signed up to come. There were a lot of lively discussions over bugs and everyone cross-checking with each other on bugs before filing them. Prasad did a little session on DNSSEC to get more people to test DNSSEC on F21.
Lunch was ordered and as it turned out, I don’t have a clue how hungry hackers get after a session of serious testing. We ended up under-ordering thanks to my estimation skills and some of us had to supplement our diet with cup noodles. That wasn’t enough of a damper for anyone though, as people ploughed on after lunch. I managed to file 4 bugs, all against anaconda. Kashyap did a short session on virtual machine shapshots and had quite a few people actively trying it out, while others tested ON_QA bugs to give karma.
Towards the end of the day, I downloaded gnulib trunk to run its tests against F21 glibc. I found a few additional failures, but I couldn’t work through it because I had to leave for home. I need to close that one some day, hopefully sooner than later. In the end, we had a very fruitful day of testing with over 8 components covered and about 15 bugs filed, not including some that were already filed. I’m already looking forward to having another hackfest or bugfest.
September has been a very busy month for me with Siddhi going to UK for her studies, Mom moving in with us and my role change at work. In all of this confusion, a Fedora Activity Day (FAD) was planned for 10th September. I had to skip it because I had to go to Mumbai to spend the week with Siddhi before she left for Manchester. (Un)luckily, that FAD was rescheduled because of some last moment issues at COEP and it finally happened today at our office.
This FAD was planned to be something of an initiation for students so that they could do much more at the FUDCon than just attend talks. Going with that theme, I pitched in to do a rerun of my autotools demo that I had done last year, and even in the Fedora classroom. It is one of the basic things that a Fedora packager ought to know and if we're doing sessions on packaging, we might as well throw in some autotools foo.
There were a bunch of talks planned, mostly by Rahul Sundaram and Shakthi Kannan and then some by me, Prasad, Kashyap and Shreyank. But only a few of those talks actually happened. Essentially, since I came in, only I, Shakthi and Rahul spoke at all.
To begin with, I was late. According to the schedule, the talks were to happen in two meeting rooms in parallel and me and Shakthi were to do the autotools demo in parallel in both rooms. But when I reached office, I saw that there were enough to fit into one large meeting room, so scheduling talks was going to be easier.I had missed Rahul's first talk and he had already begun talking about packaging. Rahul walked everyone through the process of packaging the hello world app. After joking around a bit with Pai and Kushal, I joined Kushal and Shakthi in helping those who got stuck in the packaging demo.
Lunch followed the rpm walkthrough and we literally destroyed the pizzas that came in - there weren't enough in the end and we had to order a few more pizzas.
While the pizzas were being delivered, Shakthi walked everyone through version control using git. The main theme was managing love letters to various bollywood superstars using git. Pretty entertaining :)
After the second lunch break (where more pizzas were quickly destroyed), I was to start my demo on autotools. Before it started, Pai and Kashyap had a couple of quick 2 minute talks. Kashyap because he was asked by a number of attendees on how upstream, Fedora and RHEL were related. He showed a quick 1 minute video in which Paul Frields explained how bits come in from upstream into Fedora and finally into RHEL and how engineers from Red Hat are involved at every stage with the community. Pai wanted to gauge audience interest in databases and their role in ERPs -- there were a fair number of people who were interested, so we might see a talk from him on those lines at the next FAD.
My autotools walkthrough ended up being the last thing on the agenda because I (just like the talks before me) took more time than was allotted to me to finish. We finished with some good feedback and suggestions for improvement from the audience.
The best takeaway from this session was the involvement of all of the students who attended today's FAD. The schedule was quite gruelling and all of the walkthroughs were very intense. Despite that it was refreshing to see all of them putting their heads down and giving it their best, asking good questions and not giving up at any stage. I am hoping that we will have a similar if not better response in our next FAD in October.
The FAD (Fedora Activity Day) was announced over a month ago with an intention to get some real work done during an event. I really only had a chance to participate in 1/4th of the FAD (1/2 day on Saturday), since I had to fly to Bangalore on Saturday evening to spend the weekend (or whatever was left of it) with family. But that was enough to get whatever I wanted out of the event.
Being pretty much a newcomer into the Fedora community, there wasn't much that I could think of to directly contribute but I wanted to do something. I really only maintain 1 package, which also does not have much traffic, so I wasn't exactly brimming with ideas. Rahul helped me there by asking me to do an Autotools workshop. I was also looking forward to meeting some of the guys I had met at FOSS.in last year; Susmit, Hiemanshu and Sayamindu. I could not meet Hiemanshu (did he come at all?), but it was good to meet Susmit and Sayamindu after quite a long time.
We started the day with my autotools workshop; I hope at least someone found it useful. I demonstrated the process of autotoolizing a simple C program using the same example I used during my Fedora classroom session earlier this month: linkc. The main reason I keep choosing this program is that I am too lazy to find or write anything on my own. The other reason is that the program helps to cover quite a few things at one go -- it is small, it has an external dependency, a subdirectory and some distributable files. So all those things win over the fact that the app just doesn't work as advertised. Oh well...
Once the only "session" of the day was over, everyone announced their aims for the two days while Sankarshan distributed some swag (t-shirts, stickers and buttons). After that it was pretty much everyone working on their own stuff. Me too.
Only a couple of days before FAD, Ray van Dolson added me as a co-maintainer for libyahoo2 in Fedora so that we could share the workload of doing releases/bug fixes. After discussion with him, I decided to do a libyahoo2 release into rawhide during the event. So I finally had something that I could do, which was much closer to Fedora.
I knew that the release would break freehoo, a console messenger for yahoo since libyahoo2 1.0.0 broke all backward compatibility, so I set about fixing that. The result was a bug report with a patch to fix freehoo to build with the latest libyahoo2. Finally, I also changed ayttm to dynamically link against libyahoo2 instead of cloning the code base all the time. There was absolutely no incentive in maintaining two code bases for it, so it finally had to go.
By the time the ayttm change was done, it was time to leave. But before that, Kushal asked me to take a look at libraw to see if I could pitch in with something there. So I will be looking at autotoolizing it and packaging it for Fedora. I was supposed to do it today, but all of my day was spent in playing catch-up with work at my day job. Maybe I'll have more time tomorrow for it.