Fedora, Seneca, and FUDCon Tempe Thu, Jan 27. 2011
This semester is the fourth time that I've run the Software Build and Release (SBR600) course at Seneca College, and we have record enrollment – a full house! This course is one of a number of open source courses connected with the Centre for Development of Open Technology; it is a professional option in our Computer Systems Technology program, which focuses on network and system administration, and it has two goals:
- Teach software build and release (aka Release Engineering/Build Team) principles, technology, and skills
- Teach how to contribute effectively in an open source community
The students are currently researching and selecting projects from a short list of potential projects which have been screened for manageable size and practical real-world value. This semester, many of these projects are focused on the Fedora ARM secondary architecture, since the ARM buildsystem is physically located at Seneca, but some projects are related to different areas within Fedora (or, in one case, Fedora+Mozilla). In all cases, the students are expected to work with the community, use community communication tools and practices, and ultimately, advance the state of the respective area to which their project contributes. That means that if new software is packaged, it will be put through package review and end up in Fedora; if scripts or programs are written, they will be reviewed and committed upstream; and if documentation is written, it will end up in an appropriate and accessible place such as the wiki.
On Friday, ten SBR600 students will be traveling with Paul Whalen and me to FUDCon Tempe – eight students from the current semester and two from the previous semester. They're looking forward to making connections with other Fedorans, hearing about the latest and greatest technology, hacking, and generally starting down the road to becoming active contributors.
Please join us! -- I invite you to check out what we're doing, either in the usual Fedora places or in the #seneca channel on Freenode, on the Seneca wiki, or on Planet CDOT.
Come and Speak at FSOSS 2010 Wed, Jul 21. 2010
The 9th Annual Free Software and Open Source Symposium (FSOSS, "eff-sauce") is coming up on October 28th and 29th, here at Seneca College in Toronto. This is a great event with a wide-ranging, eclectic mix of workshops and presentations.
I've been involved in planning FSOSS for the past few years, but stepped back a bit to catch my breath this year. Mary Lynn Manton has stepped up to the task of chairing this year's event with Rose Saliba, who is co-chairing for her third year.
FSOSS is still looking for interesting workshops and presentations on a variety of open source topics. If you're working with open source in any way, this could be a great opportunity -- please check out http://fsoss.ca and submit a presentation proposal right away!
Seneca and the Fedora ARM Secondary Architecture Thu, Apr 22. 2010
ARM processors power the digital mobile age. Billions are produced per year, ending up in the majority of cellphones as well as in e-book readers, plug computers, the OLPC XO 1.75, tablets, netbooks, intelligent RJ-45 network jacks, and even microSD cards.
The Fedora ARM Secondary Architecture project has done a great job of porting Fedora releases to ARM. To assist this initiative, this semester's Software Build and Release course at Seneca (SBR600) put together a new Koji build farm for the ARM architecture in preparation for using koji-shadow to follow the primary architectures. It's been a fascinating and challenging project -- working with cross-compilers, emulators, and hardware with much smaller configurations than standard PCs. A large amount of effort was spent benchmarking various configurations to determine optimal memory and storage arrangements and to compare emulated vs. hardware ARM performance to guide the configuration of the build farm.
So now we're at the end of the semester. Where do things stand?
- We have a working Koji build system, with two hardware builders plus emulated (VM) builders
- Since we're at the end of the semester, things will be quiet for the next week and a half, but then we've hired a graduate to work on this full-time (intros coming up shortly )
What's next? In May-June we expect to:
Clarity in Error Dialogs Sun, Feb 21. 2010
I've met my share of error dialogs through the years. Ones that say "Something bad has happened. Ok?" are annoying but understandable.
However, one in gpk-update-viewer, which I encountered yesterday, is a real head-scratcher:
This dialog sometimes appears when you try to close the gpk-update-viewer window while updating and it reads:
Cannot cancel running task
There are tasks that cannot be cancelled.
Quite apart from the fact that this dialog shouldn't appear at all -- packagekit will continue the update in the background -- the two buttons appear to mean the same thing, both of which are (according to the dialog) impossible.
Update: Richard Hughes noted in the comments that this is fixed upstream
Dear Lazyweb: How can you find a process ID given a window ID? Mon, Nov 23. 2009
As far as I know, there is no way to reliably get a process ID from an X window ID for local clients (to implement Richard's View Source idea). I would love to be wrong!
(1) Did I miss something? Can this be done now?
(2) If this can't be done now, what would it take? Could we create an X extension so that the server can supply connection info for a window, and then trace that connection info back to a specific process?
StudentProject keyword in Fedora Bugzilla Wed, Nov 11. 2009
One challenge of teaching inside an open source community is finding projects which are appropriately for students to work on: they shouldn't be really trivial, because that won't provide a challenge or allow the student to engage with the community; they can't be huge, or the student won't finish them within the semester; and they can't be blockers or part of the critical path to a release, because the student may not be able to complete the project on the community's timeline.
My colleague David Humphrey introduced a new keyword into the Mozilla bugzilla tracker last spring, and it has been successfully used to identify many potential student projects (108 at the time of writing).
Good ideas are worth copying -- and since I'm bringing students into the Fedora community, and the POSSE-APAC professors will bring even more, I asked Dave Lawrence to add the StudentProject keyword to the Fedora/Red Hat bugzilla (thanks Dave and Paul!).