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!).
Kids vs. Students Sat, Nov 7. 2009
I stopped using the word "kids" to refer to students for several reasons -- including the fact that I had a student twenty years my senior, and another who was a fully accredited Civil Engineer in his home country -- but the main reason that I dropped it was that it is simply incompatible with the way open source communities work. In open source, roles are defined by contribution, not age or formal training. Some of the youngest members of the community are the most active, and make crucial and valuable contributions.
If we're teaching inside open source communities, then it's important that we value students as full members of those communities -- and I think that the term "kids" is dismissive of their abilities.