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Wednesday 30 June 2010

LinuxTag 2010: Attack of the Geekos!

It's finally time to talk about LinuxTag 2010. It was my third time there, and this year was the best so far, at least for me! And that's most probably because of how amazing our openSUSE booth turned out to be! Or maybe it's because of the invasion of the Geekos?

openSUSE Booth

We certainly didn't have a big slot for out booth, but oh boy... it ended up big! Our booth was always filled with people, who, I guess, got attracted by the touchscreens we have. But attracting people is of no good if you can't get them interested. We did various demos on the touchscreens, but our small secret ingredient were the workshops: four times a day (and sometimes even more), people could sit down in our booth to participate in a session on various topics — those ranged from learning Inkscape, to creating your first package in the Build Service, via playing together with GNOME Shell. That really worked out well, especially at it helps getting the visitors more involved in the discussion.

Stuffed Geeko

The world-famous Geeko

Many thanks to Jan (who had to suffer my presence way too much, I'm sure!) and Michael for the organization of our booth!

GNOME Presence

As mentioned in my previous post, there was no GNOME booth at the event. And it didn't go unnoticed: I met various people wondering about this. So I surely hope the German community will make sure it doesn't happen again next year!

Even without a booth, we managed to get a relatively good presence during the event. Of course, it was easy to stumble upon some GNOME people — our friends from Openismus, of course, but also Stormy, Lennart, Tobias and more. Some of us were giving a GNOME-related talk, and Stormy and I participated in a RadioTux interview, so our footprint was present :-)


I didn't attend many talks. Actually, I think I only attended Stormy's one — Stormy is good at making you raise your hand to keep you connected to what she says — and Lennart's talk about Surround Sound.

The talk Johannes and I gave went quite well, with around 50 people in the room, which is quite good since it was not a keynote and it was in English. We had good questions from the audience, which at least means they were not totally asleep ;-) Generally speaking, I'm nearly always pleasantly surprised by the reaction of people when they get to see GNOME Shell for the first time: I somehow always expect that I have to carefully explain some of the design decisions, but it's apparently unneeded. Most of the persons I meet are glad we're doing something different and seem to be ready to try the change!

Wireframe Geeko

A wilder Geeko, built by yours truly

The live A-Z Guide to openSUSE Contribution was the second talk I was involved in, with Henne. With 26 letters in 30 minutes, you might think it's plenty of time. But we actually had to rush to talk about everything! The goal was really to show that there are tons of areas where people can contribute in openSUSE, while most people think it's just packaging. And 26 was our limit, but I'm sure we could have gone on and on for a long time: everyone can help (packaging, sure, but also presence at events, support, bug triage, helping with screencasts, contributing to a positive atmosphere inside the project, etc.). Most of our items were actually not specific to openSUSE and are common to most free software projects... I really like the format Henne found for the talk; that's something I'll keep in mind for future talks.

Meeting people

LinuxTag is also a great opportunity to sit down with a few people. We had both GNOME and KDE people (Stormy, Claudia, Frank and I) all sitting around a table to discuss the organization and the bids for Desktop Summit 2011. Thanks to our experience with GCDS, we have a good basis for the organization since we know what worked well and what didn't. We came out with an aggressive timeline to take a decision during this summer, which should help the organization team start the work early.

Johannes, Stormy and I also chatted about the GNOME developer tools and what we can do to improve our story there. That's something where the Foundation wants to help, but this can only happen if our community wants to improve them, of course. We wondered for a bit while our own developers don't use a tool like Anjuta. Is it just a matter of habits? Or is it missing some features? (I know that, in my case, I just can't live without vi-like keybindings...)


On Friday evening, the GNOME folks were invited to a barbecue organized by LXDE people at c-base. I had heard about c-base for quite some time, but it was a first for me. Lennart insisted that I should go through the main entrance to truly enjoy the experience, so Andre guided me there (okay, he nearly got lost ;-)). And indeed, I can only recommend that you do the same if you ever go to visit c-base. And I know for sure I'm human now!

The highlight of the evening was undoubtedly the learning of a new card game: skat. I watched people play, and it somehow felt a bit familiar; that's because it's somehow similar to belote (although it's also completely different, but well...). Tobias offered to teach me, and it all went well. I mean, it made sense. And then I was explained how the bidding works. I'm still trying to figure out why it works this way ;-) I understand how it works, but... it just feels totally arbitrary with no reason. I was glad that I managed to help Stormy and Kat learn it later on (well, Stormy had understood most of the rules already by watching the game). So we were three complete beginners playing skat at some point :-)

Attack of the Geekos

But the best thing about LinuxTag was the omnipresence of Geeko, the openSUSE chameleon. I must admit I enjoy Geeko, and that's something I sorely miss in GNOME: our GNOME foot is nice, but that's not the same. We should probably talk more about our beloved Rupert, I guess. (And I still don't have any Rupert at home, that's a tragedy for me!)

As seen in the pictures in this post, we had several versions of Geekos, and I managed to bring some of them home. One of the workshop we had everyday at the openSUSE booth consisted of creating your own Geeko-ified object: the wireframe Geeko was one of them, but people also had the opportunity to create a pin, a shopping bad and a magnet. You can recognize Henne's creative mind behind all this.

But that's not all, we had a balloon clown, who created tens of balloon Geekos:

Our Balloon Clown

Our amazing balloon clown by Thomas Schmidt (see more pictures)

And the balloon Geeko can survive a flight trip, here's mine a few days after the event:

Balloon Geeko

A light Geeko

The stuffed Geekos we had were highly-demanded: everybody loves it! And I understand, really: how can you not love it? At some point, I took 3 or 4 of them and hid them in various places in the venue. Actually, they were not really hidden, but integrated: it just felt like they belonged there. And I'm sure it made some people smile ;-)

Yes, LinuxTag was big this year, and I'm happy that Novell let me go to the event! I hope you'll want to come next year, now :-)

Monday 21 June 2010

Reminder: apply for the GNOME sysadmin job before Tuesday evening!

In case you missed the news, the GNOME Foundation is hiring a system administrator, and this is happening thanks to many individual donors and Canonical, Collabora, Google and Nokia! I covered all this in a previous post already, so go read it if you never heard of that before. But I'm sure you've heard of it ;-)

What's important today, though, is that the deadline to apply for the job is nearing fast! It's June 22nd. Yes, this Tuesday. Had you forgotten about it? I sure had... So make sure your resume is ready and send it to the board before this deadline! Sure, we've already received applications from various candidates and we've started looking at them, but it could well be that you are the one! Not this one (well, if you are, I have several questions for you), just the person who'll help tame the GNOME infrastructure.

And no, it doesn't mean that the current candidates we have are bad; it just means we want to make sure all candidates apply before the deadline :-)

Wednesday 9 June 2010

Ich bin ein Berliner — LinuxTag 2010

Brandenburger Tor

Brandenburger Tor by Wolfgang Staudt (Creative Commons by)

It's slowly becoming a tradition for me, since it's the third year in a row: I'm in Berlin for LinuxTag. I'm sure there will be some great fun there!

The openSUSE presence will of course be amazing: just take a look at our wiki page. Many contributors will have a talk, but we'll also have workshops on the openSUSE booth (I recommend Robert's Learn Inkscape Vector KungFu) and various interviews on RadioTux. And of course, you can just come to the booth to meet us: we'll be happy to share our enthusiasm with you!

On the GNOME side, we apparently couldn't find enough volunteers in time to run a booth. That's a sad news, but we'll still have many people attending the event, and we'll have several talks in the Desktop track on Saturday. I know I won't miss Stormy's one :-)

Since I knew I was going to the event, I submitted talks, and I was happy to see them accepted. While I do enjoy speaking, I think that having more than one people on stage can make the talk much more entertaining for the audience. That's why I'm excited that I'm sharing those two talks with great people:

  • Johannes and I both submitted a GNOME 3.0 talk, and after some discussion, we decided to merge our talks in one: The Road to GNOME 3.0. It's a one-hour talk, and hopefully, that length will allow us to discuss most of the changes in 3.0 and I hope this will contribute to getting people excited about this release!
  • to boost openSUSE, Henne and I will have a live A-Z Guide to openSUSE Contribution. I can't wait for this one, since it'll be a fast-paced talk, in a format I'm not used to. That's where you want to be if you don't know how to contribute to openSUSE, or to any other free software project, since some of our points are in no way specific to openSUSE.

If you're attending LinuxTag and you're interested in chatting about GNOME, openSUSE, desktops or distributions in general, or if you want to challenge me with an ice cream contest, leave me a message or come to the openSUSE booth! You can just come and say hi too, obviously :-)

Wednesday 2 June 2010

Hiring a sysadmin for the GNOME infrastructure

Two months ago, the GNOME Foundation started a fundraising campaign to get money to hire a part-time system administrator. Actually, we started this effort much earlier, but we made it much more visible with this campaign. Thanks to all the donors and to Canonical, Collabora, Google and Nokia, we were able to reach our objective. It was actually too fast for me and I wasn't even able to blog about the campaign in time! Once we realized the money was there, we moved on to the next steps — actually, we had those steps ready in the past, so it was mainly a matter of making sure everything was still okay.

We asked around and confirmed three names to form a hiring committee: Bradley Kuhn, Jonathan Blandford and Brad Taylor. With their help, Paul updated the job description that Owen had written some time ago. And after some discussion to define the whole hiring process, Stormy announced the job today. I really love that there have been so many people involved in this, with everyone targeting the same goal.

So if you love GNOME and if system administration has no secret for you, then go read the job description and if you're interested in the job, make sure to send your resume to the board before June 22nd! It's worth mentioning that an important part of the job will be to lead the sysadmin team (which is made of volunteers) and empower the community to make sure our infrastructure gets even more amazing. As you might know, our infrastructure could certainly do with various improvements, and the person we'll hire will make a difference for our project!

On a personal note, this topic has been something that was on my radar for a long time: I looked in my mail archives and found out that I sent a first mail on this topic in September 2007. Yes, that's nearly three years ago! Of course, in the meantime, this idea was put on hold so we could hire Stormy (a very good decision) and until we managed to raise the money for it (launching the fundraising campaign took much more time than originally planned, unfortunately). Phew. And I still can't believe this is finally happening :-)

by Vincent