22 December, 2010

Marketing Collaboration Day

So the 3rd Marketing Collaboration Day is over. I need sleep, urgently. However, I'm also happy and excited so I won't be able to sleep anyway ;-)

Yes, it was awesome. The marketing team did a great job, many tasks were worked on - a bunch completed. Ubercool. So I would like to join Bryen in thanking everyone involved: awesome, I love you all!

And happy holidays for everyone who won't be around until they start.

19 December, 2010

openSUSE and Attachmate Q&A

I recently had the opportunity to conduct a Q&A with Attachmate CEO Jeff Hawn. We covered openSUSE, SUSE and open source in general. Please see the full text of my interview at news.opensuse.org.

13 December, 2010

good news!

Hello world,

Some good news.

First of all, the dutch Linux Starter I blogged about a few days ago is now available online. So if you're dutch and want to try out openSUSE - go and get it!

And second of all, the board has just announced that Alan Clark has been appointed by Novell as new chair of the board. Most of you probably don't know him, I do as I have been working with him for the last few months on the openSUSE Foundation and some other things. He's in my humble opinion one of those people who gets Free Software and a pleasure to work with. Only after this announcement I discovered he was pretty "high in the tree" as we in NL say - being on the Senior Leadership team of Markus, his experience in the Linux Foundation and other organizations... But while working with me he had a simple "let's get this done and do it well" attitude. Still an engineer on the inside - something you actually see a lot in Novell and something I appreciate greatly.


08 December, 2010


After some travel, coming home means, besides washing clothes and catching up to email, a mountain of old-fashioned snail-mail. Unfortunately, most of that these days is bills - the one thing they still like to make as hard as possible (for reasons I'll never understand).

Thankfully, there was something good in there this time: the awesome openSUSE Calendar/Poster which comes with a free Linux Magazin (good for my German language skills)!

And also very interesting, this year's "Linux Starter" magazine, made by the dutch Linux Magazine, is fully openSUSE - featuring a custom openSUSE 11.3 live+install DVD and articles on almost every aspect of openSUSE a beginner needs. So if you haven't got it yet and want to start with openSUSE: find it in your bookstore!

02 December, 2010

openSUSE Board elections

Awesomeness. I just heard that already 3 people stepped up for the 2010 openSUSE Board elections. And Sascha posted the announcement only yesterday!

Really, this is something that shows how openSUSE is a healthy community. We have plenty of people who are able and willing to do this - which is really great. Thanks to those who stepped up - there are only 2 positions, but even the act of stepping forward and saying you're willing to do this is very important!

The openSUSE Board work is very important and becoming more so. Currently work is being done on setting up an openSUSE Foundation - and the board plays a crucial role there. We need people with some experience and willingness to work hard on this, there is a lot of work. If you fit that bill - apply!

Love, Jos

30 November, 2010

catching up


It feels like ages since I blogged, so here goes. A lot has happened since my last blog - Latinoware is over (and was frickin' awesome), I had a week off which I enjoyed in Brazil and now I'm at the Nuremberg offices due to Michl who just left. We had some catching up to do before he went - same with AJ who has decided to enjoy some parental leave. And Jaqueline who will have to fill the shoes of these two fine gentlemen. Meanwhile I am trying to catch up to mail and news - there is a lot of both.

Mail catching up has been limited quite a bit by the KDE Factory OBS repository for 11.3 upgrading to KDE's 4.6 release of platform (Akonadi!), apps (KMail2) and desktop workspace. The two I mentioned (Akonadi & kmail2) have been a royal pain in the ass, to be honest. The migration of my old accounts took a night (>100.000 mails) but didn't actually import those mails. Hence they had to be downloaded from gmail. With the VERY frequent disconnections and regular hanging of the Akonadi resource this has taken a while to say the least - lots of babysitting (restarting Akonadi etc) required. I hope the KDE Pim* dudes and dudettes can get this stable (and faster!) before the release... Oh, and Virtuoso-t keeps hogging 100% CPU untill I decide to just kill it - after which I don't notice any bad or strange behavior. Maybe I should auto-kill it on login ;-) but in the end, it's all working reasonably well now, albeit a bit slower than KMail1.x. Yay yay.

Meanwhile, on the catching-up-to-news front, I am eternally grateful for the work done by Sascha, Carl, Saturo, Sebastian and Thomas on the openSUSE Weekly News. Instead of having to read >140 blogposts (and then still missing out on what is going on in openSUSE's feature tracker openFate and the openSUSE forums) I just had to read 3 or 4 Weekly News reports. Truly awesome. They aren't only providing a complete but also quite enjoyable read of what is going on in the openSUSE community. Tracking such a large bunch of people doing so much with such a small team - respect!

One thing I bumped into during the trip through the openSUSE news were a bunch of openFATE feature requests I really liked. One would be to have Unity on openSUSE, another was getting project Bretzn in openSUSE. Awesome ideas and there is plenty more ;-)

Now back to reading mail. I will certainly blog more when I bump into interesting stuff...

*Yes, I did file a few bugs for the crashes. Too bad GDB often crashes too due to the abysmal memory usage of the whole KDE stack right now - only 2 GB ram, not enough apparently. Akonadi sometimes experiences memory usage spikes increasing to over 600 MB in less than a second. If I have other memory-hungry apps like Firefox running, this often triggers the OOM killer... I really wonder how it is possible that Akonadi runs on my mobile phone - but it does. ?

11 November, 2010

First day of Latinoware

So this is the morning of the second Latioware day. Last night, just before the party/rock concert Maddog told me he just finished a blog - which made me realize that I didn't... So my notes on Brazil, Latinoware and openSUSE here.


Brazil is a curious country. That's not only due to everyone speaking Portuguese (and barely any English) which makes me think I need to learn either Portuguese or Spanish. Some things are just off. For example, it seems the government has looked at other countries and decided that yes, they had to do something about the speeding. So they put huge, clearly visible bumps on the road every few kilometer.

The bumps are so strong you have to slow down to a crawl - what everyone does. For the bump. Then - speeding again. On the road to my hotel is an electronic speeding thing showing how fast you go. It seems that, despite the maximum speed of about 60, everyone tries to drive 35 at most - past it, speeding again.

The traffic lights, on the other hand, are a marvelous piece of work. It seems they are build with impatient drivers in mind: they actually count down! It's quite some machinery (will try to take a pic later and show it) but it works great. I like :D

I've been told by the others here that Porto Alegre (which I will visit next week) is much more like a 'typical Brazil city' than Foz so I'll refrain from further commenting other than saying I really, really, absolutely *love* the Brazilian people. They are so energetic, nice and huggy, hard working and very, very creative.


So on that last note, you can imagine how Latinoware is: imagine a huge number of energetic, nice, huggy and enthousiastic people at the booth, giving talks, walking around - it is just awesome. And impressive. The Latinoware conference takes place at Itaipu, an interesting and big hydro plant. Big as in absolutely mindbogglingly huge. The Hydroplant runs linux and for a good reason: durability. During the building of the thing (which took 30 years and turned the world second-largest water fall into the worlds largest water fall) they realized it would take them at least 100 year to recoup the costs of building it. The livespan of the longest-living IT companies at that point in time was about 20 years - something they didn't want to bet their future on. Free Software, on the other hand, is obviously a much more long-term choice - you have complete control.

Now the Itaipu story is NOT a one-time thing in Brazil. Brazil runs Linux (and often openSUSE!) all over the place, to such an extend that Microsoft has realized they have no chance of selling much of their products other than by cooperating and going with the flow: there is a large 'interoperability' lab and several Microsoft developers were at the conference. Banco de Brazil has over a 100.000 SUSE installations and they are not alone. Universities and high schools are working with linux, teaching their students. I spoke with Sandro, who teaches at a Brazilian university and they use SUSE Studio to create special live CD's for their students to use. They love the fact that you can quickly point and click a custom linux distribution together and Sandro complained (!) that we do not promote SUSE Studio enough.

About the pictures in my blog: First one is Carlos, one of the most energetic and creative people I have ever met. An amazing person, really full of Free Software and openSUSE. I said creative, well, that is an understatement. He made openSUSE soap, a table soccer game (see one of the other photo's), a set of surprise-thingies for the ambassadors at the conf (can't talk about it yet hehe) and a billion other things. Wow.

Second pic is Izabel in front of the openSUSE booth before we started filling it up with stuff and people. Izabel is a Brazilian Angel who organized the openSUSE attendance at the conference. She has been around in Free Software in Brazil since 1998, organizing GNOME meetings and other events since 2003. A very special girl, I can tell you that!

Next pic is the GNOME team & me (LTR: Izabel Valverde, Vinicius Depizzol, yours truly and Luciana Menezes). Have I told you Izabel is cool? Well so are Vinicius and Luciana ;-)

Last night there was a rock band at the conference hence the image of a stage with a dancing tux and firefox in front of it. Nice party, but entirely void of alcohol. That was OK with me, I promised myself no alcohol at least until next Friday - so there was no temptation...

Next up again Izabel (have I said she is awesome yet?) showing two GNOME dolls for her talk about women in openSUSE and GNOME. The dolls are actually meant as a joke against the typical 'female' stereotypes. Which are probably different in Brazil compared to anywhere in the world anyway - in Brazil there are many women in management because that's something they are considered to be good at... Something this country is much more modern at than NL.

Next the results of Carlos' creativity: an openSUSE table soccer game. Really something, I tell you, that guy is special... The image following this one is Carlos giving an openSUSE training during the conference; then me and Thomas; finally Camila looking pretty in my camera ;-)

Now it is 2 hours before my talk in the Brazil room so time to start mentally preparing. Take care all!

09 November, 2010

beep-beep from Brazil!

A few days ago I blogged about a dutch conference I was at and the talk I gave there. I realize it is not very smart to announce your talk at a conf after it is over. However, mistakes help with the learning. I learn a lot and to prove it, hereby tell you all that I will be at Latinoware. I realize Latinoware will start tomorrow, hence I did not improve my communication enough yet - but I will keep working on it.


So, Brazil. I arrived last night, after a trip lasting a little over 24 hours. Which was fine thanks to some pharmaceuticals (my highest medicine intake in 24 hours ever, usually try to avoid it) and eating 20% of what I usually do. Yeah, I had some complications after the injections a week ago as I mentioned in my previous blog. I can tell you, either I was very un-lucky or I am in strong disagreement with the 'stabbers' on the definition of "mild" in the term "mild fever-like symptoms" which they promised me.

Enough complaining, Brazil is awesome. I haven't seen much but the people are very friendly, the hotel is an absolutely HUGE complex in James Bond 80's style (surely not intentional but it has charm), the taxi drivers want you dead and the hotel restaurant just managed to give me bread with what initially looked like red and green pesto & garlic butter but I haven't been able to accurately identify it yet. Tastes good though, so I take it like I'm taking all of this right now: let it flow over me and enjoy the trip. Wait, no, I resist when they try to take away my plate with bread - something they try every 5-10 minutes. Just bring the soup I ordered.

See image: the bed has a panel with futuristic (for 1980) switches and buttons to control all room functionality: light and airco. And volume, no idea for what. Maybe TV.

So while I try to (identify/protect what I) eat I will write a bit about Latinoware. Please correct my mistakes and add - the site isn't exactly helpful for non-portugese/non-spanish.


Latinoware is the smallest of the three major (as in freakishly huge) conferences in Brazil. It takes place in Foz De Icazu (ignore the spelling it's different everywhere I look) and attracts about 3000 visitors. Obviously this results in a huge number of topics and tracks being covered in three days of conference. With no schedule in English still, too bad. Yours truly will be giving a 'keynote'. Again I have definition issues - the Latinoware organization has organized 6 'keynotes' per day with 6 other simultaneous (but smaller) tracks, diluting the 'keynote' concept to 'main tracks'. ... Oh, Soup has arrived, please hang on.

... Good soup, very good. So my talk will happen on Thursday November 9th in room XXX. The talk is titled "why are you here?" (I decided not to chase anyone away, honest) and I'll talk about the motivation behind FOSS, then move on to the awesomeness that is openSUSE (duh). I'll re-use my kitty theme from my last talk as I honestly didn't have the time and inspiration to come up with something else. Blame the 'mild flu-like symptoms' I got from the Yellow Fever injections, the rather high fever* gave me weird thoughts but sadly no creativity. Of course the talk is different so there will be different kittens. Oh and any dirty talk afterwards will be nicked in the bud.

Meanwhile I have ensured myself that the red substance is sweet pepper. The green stuff has at least onion in there. Still no clue what herb makes the butter so lovely and none of the friendly waiters understands the question. They just smile and say yes. By their account the butter at least contains garlic (surely not), concrete (?) and grass (you wish). I gave up.

more openSUSE at Latinoware

Besides the talk I'll be giving - no big plans for Latinoware other than hanging out with the openSUSE ambassadors. But they'll get tired hanging quick enough and move over to walking so if any of YOU (as in, my gentle readers) is going to be at latinoware - look me up and give me a hug. I won't bother describing myself, just look for openSUSE people and ask them. And I just figured out that the bread sticks have anise in them. Darn tasty. Blame my more-quirky-than-usual writing style today on the medications.

Now I won't be the only one talking at Latinoware, here's a list of coolness:

A11y: Its about you! by Bryen "suseROCKs" Yunashko. Also a 'keynote' ;-)

openSUSE Edu Li-f-e by openSUSE ambassador Carlos Alberto dos Santos Ribeiro. Just read Carlos' mail from last Sunday that he is sick too - hope he'll be OK cuz I know litle about edu Li-f-e and I want to follow the talk if I can and it is English :D

two talks by ambassador Rogerio Ferreira: Xen for Dummies and Automatizando Tarefas ao Extremo com Shell e Expect. I'm taking a guess here and say the first is English, the second isn't :D

Conference organisator and all-round cool girl Izabel Cerqueira Valverde will talk about GNOME Women & openSUSE Women - Mulheres e seus espaços.

Her brother Ricardo Cerqueira Valverde will talk about: openSUSE apresenta Realidade Aumentada em Linux. I doubt he'll speak English :D

Silvio Palmieri talks about Laboratório de A a Z. I have no idea what it is but there is "laboratory" and A-Z in there - making sure I still have no idea.

And the openSUSE buildservice is covered by Alexandre Duarte Rogoski in openSUSE BuildService - Construindo Softwares para Diversas Plataformas e Distribuições If it ain't mumbo-jumbo it is probably portugese too.

Besides the openSUSE people I know there will be a bunch of KDE hugbears that I know - look forward to meeting you again, cuties (Yes, T.C., that means you especially)!

So. Enough geek- and food and people talk for today. Enjoy the relative quiet the next few days as I doubt I'll have time for blogs during Latinoware. And if I do I am hopefully more consistent.

mumblemumble... that is a HUGE soup with all that egg and potato and rice in it... it's a starter and I can barely handle it... happy I didn't order meat... mumblemumble...

What? Oh, sorry, tuning out!


* 40C/104F was highest I measured. It surely went higher but at that point I couldn't be bothered to put some beeping device in my ass telling me I should be feeling crappy - I knew that. You know what the worst part was? Not being able to keep in aspirine because I was so nauseous :(


05 November, 2010

talk about openSUSE

Yes, this will be all about me. Sometimes I need to whine a bit.

First of all, last Tuesday I endured the ritual stabbing that seems to be required for travel to Brazil (I'm going to Lationware). I'm rather proud of the fact that I didn't feint or anything (I did last time I had an injection) - less happy with the fact that I still have two sour arms and am expected to get flu-like symptoms over the weekend. Which have already started - I feel worse and worse by the hour. Yay. Expect delays in communication with me this weekend, sorry...

But such is life. On a more interesting note, I gave a talk about openSUSE yesterday - my first openSUSE talk, in fact. It was fun. Always good to have a room of people pretending to be interested in what you have to say, even if there are only like 15 people there...

For those who want to see my slides, I uploaded them here (click image with kitten for direct download). Translators welcome :D Paul Adams summarized the presentation by saying it was all about pussy. If you know Paul you will now realize that the rest of the day, subsequent dinner and the drinking afterward was all about kittens and anything related. He can be a little... Focused. Of course you could blame the others at the dinner & beer for not distracting him enough but they were just to busy supporting him in a train of thought that we should have never followed through.

How to present openSUSE

Anyway, enough about that - the presentation. It was surprisingly easy. Initially I wanted to talk about marketing, but decided that the topic of openSUSE would be better justified if I included a significant proportion of OBS and other technology. It basically means you won't have to convince anyone about anything. You just repeat words like "awesome" "cool" "incredible" and don't forget about "easy" while showing a series of screen shots (here) of the OBS build process. By the time you're at the end, most people will be stunned enough to believe anything you say.

Open Build Service

During the slide show (again link in image on right), be sure to mention things like "yeah I upload a tar-ball here but you can simply point to a source repository as well" and "so you could package software for all major linux distributions from a Windows workstation!". While of course repeating the magic words "awesome" and "easy" and so on. Oh and at some point there is a screen shot showing KIWI - if you feel people are resisting your 'leet marketing skills, talk about it. KIWI can create an always-up-to-date LIVECD, auto-regenerated from the OBS packages if something changes. As OBS can pull directly from Git or other SCM's and you can set up a cron script to kick OBS into rebuilding the package, you have a LiveCD which automatically daily rebuilds. With error messages send your way by OBS (and OBS ensures it rebuilds whatever needs rebuilding - if something doesn't work, the CD will stay the old one and thus hopefully working). Everyone will be impressed. Easy as kicking a puppy that's already down!

SUSE Studio

At the end, the more cynical in our audience will still be standing - so move on to the this SUSE Studio screen shot tour. The big finale there is the testdrive - please mention that any changes there (like creating files or changing settings) will actually be saved in the appliance. Oh and you can SSH into the running OS as well. Name a few of the Virtual Machine formats supported - EC2 (Amazon's cloud!), VMware, Xen, KVM...) and you're done.

Project Bretzn

Of course, there are always hardliners who won't be impressed still. Give em a good pounding with Project Bretzn. Tell them that the whole process of building can and will be automated from within the IDE (Eclipse, Visual Studio, Qt Creator, whatever gets 'em off) with a few mouse clicks; then the resulting binaries can be submitted to a number of App Stores like MeeGo's Garage, gtk-apps/kde-apps.org and (in time) the Ovi Store. The Bretzn plugin will spread the word for the developer on facebook, twitter and other social media (iow it will do the boring stuff). Then the users can comment on the app and rate it and such - the developer can ignore this feedback if he likes but unlike the usual feeback it won't consist of 90% "how do I build this", "it doesn't build", "do you have packages for XYZ" and other annoying stuff - so it might actually be worth reading it.

Finishing it up

Keep on repeating "awesome" in real Steve Jobs style! By the time you're at the end of your presentation, everyone will be completely brainwashed and cheering you on. Bow, thank them for their attention and get out before they recover and start asking questions.

Actually the questions probably will go fine too - just make sure you've spend a few hours clicking around in OBS and SUSE Studio, read a bit of the tutorials and it's very unlikely anyone will ask something you don't know. Easy as pie!

I know I promised that this post would be all about me, hence not worth reading - sorry. I hope at least it'll be useful for anyone who wants to talk about openSUSE and OBS ;-)

* note that anyone who dares to take this blogpost too serious will be chased down by BloodHounds. Wait, no, BloodKittens.

29 October, 2010

oSC successful? Absolutely!

Hi all!

Just a quick note: I'm very proud of the very successful openSUSE conference and wanted to spread that word ;-)

Seriously, the "collaboration across borders" theme has worked out incredibly well. We even have a Red Hat developer with his own Build Service Project now. And I heard whispers about Mageia pondering the use of OBS as well. Awesome!

I know, I know, we didn't fork any big projects - well, actually, we had the first LibreOffice conference tracks there - it's becoming a real open source project, finally. Getting rid of pesky code attribution stuff has taken down a huge barrier. (meanwhile OpenOffice keeps crashing on my laptop. Which is OK, I used KPresenter for my presentation - too bad Beta 2 introduced the audience to ODF tags in the slides hehe)

Love, Jos

26 October, 2010

Catching up

Currently catching up to things after the openSUSE conference. It was awesome but I had over 1000 unread mails, hundreds of planet posts to look at - luckily I have managed to catch up to sleep ;-)

I just released the Conference impression article on news.openSUSE.org - read it if you want a little taste of the conference. Personally, I can say it has added a second highlight to the conference year for me. I go to lots of things like LinuxTag, FOSDEM and many developer sprints. However, the yearly Akademy meeting has always been a lone wolf for me - in that it is so much better than anything else there is nothing comparable. Now there is. The atmosphere and energy of the openSUSE conference, while different, is certainly on the same level and I've heard the same from several other (KDE and GNOME and even other distribution) people. I already look forward to the next openSUSE conference - like I look forward to the next Desktop Summit...

In case you were wondering, yes, more articles are coming, and tomorrow I hope a nice overview of what was accomplished will go live. If you want to ensure we don't miss anything, send me or the marketing team your input please! Good bofs, people meeting people, new plans and ideas - it's all very welcome!

Three more things. First of all, Helen South has recently written an interesting and insightful article about cross-distribution and cross-community collaboration, find it here on linux.com. In my opinion Helen is an excellent writer and the thorough research she does is really amazing. Keep it up, Helen!

Meanwhile you all know the gnarly stuff going on in the area of Canonical (I wouldn't say Ubuntu is much involved, as that's the community and this decision was quite top-down, wasn't it?). I obviously share the feelings of many of you. Seeing the great collaboration at the openSUSE conference, reading about the announcement at UDS was like a cold shower. As Colin Guthrie wrote, "The first thing that struck me about this event is that it was quite inclusive". Yes, it was. openSUSE (and Novell) believe the Free Software community is an asset, not a liability.

Anyway. I support Dave Neary's proposal and hope Canonical comes to their senses and cooperates with the rest of the community, it's the right (and smart) thing to do.

Finally, something went wrong with the Wednesday-night-beer-discussion video I posted Monday. This link should work: click_me!

And I have another one here for you from the Green Party at Thursday night - including a dancing Bryen at the party :D

Now I need sleep. I feel like I'm having to catch up to all the work I couldn't do last week AND much conference stuff :D

23 October, 2010

Little conf video...

Wednesday night at the conf center we had some beers and discussed them - I recorded a quick video of Leinir, Frank, Chani and myself there which is surely silly enough to be worth sharing with the world :D

Meanwhile I am trying to get more video's and articles out but NOW I need to get to the train to go home to NL...

Will blog and write more later ;-)

If you want some oSC video's NOW, check what Will has been recording, or the openSUSE channel.


22 October, 2010

oSC party fun

Wow, third day of the openSUSE conference already. Feels like the conference started an hour ago, every second has been busy. Well, almost. I'm currently enjoying my morning-thee, feeling a bit bad about the fact that 5 minutes ago the Friday keynote started... Will get a cab soon to not miss all of it ;-)

Last night we had the party - which was very, very cool. Green lighting, red and green drinks and I've met many nice 'old toads' (the openSUSE branded beer). Which contributes to me really loving my thee right now.

According to some anonymous sources the conference is bigger, better organized and has better content than last year. I can't compare to last year but it's nice to hear. That same source loved the party - another anon told me he actually hasn't had such a cool conference party in a long while. As I recently have been to both GUADEC and AKADEMY I wouldn't say the same (although I must admit I was only at GUADEC during the famous "shit we've ran out of beer" party).

So at the party I met probably more people I wanted to meet than in the two days leading up to it - and I'm not alone in that regard. I saw some linux edu people get in contact with each other (too bad Knut* didn't make it), Andrew getting even more pats on the back and we were served food by Klaas, Will, Pavol and the other Boosters. They did look good in their outfit, I tell yah.

* the word Knut might refer to:
A. An Electric Boogie dancer
B. Someone from a phone company
C. A legendary creature
D. Linux Educational Distribution teamleader
E. All of the above

21 October, 2010

Notes on OBS

Hi all!

Having an awesome time here at the conference - esp last night with the Movie Night, the Movies were cool. As was the beer during and afterwards...

During the day I followed talk by Lubos Lunak about the Build Service as I wanted to learn more about it. As I made notes I decided to share them :D

In the introduction Lubos shared that apparently you have to package each application by hand - however, automatic downloading of random tarballs from the internet and turning them into packages for all linux distributions on distrowatch.org is planned for OBS 3.0!

For developers, OBS offers a platform to test software for a variety of library and distribution vresions and on 32 and 64 bit platforms. Of course it's possible to run your own OBS and have even more platforms there like ARM, MIPS and POWER. Furthermore, OBS can help you easily create packages for your testers - it supports building a package directly from GIT, SVN and CVS, creating an updated packages with one click in the webinterface or one command from the Build Service commandline client (OSC).

OBS is build with cooperation in mind. Packagers can send merge requests when they did a bugfix for a package maintained by somone else, it's possible to assing commit rights etc etc.

But you need to do a lot of manual work for packaging; writing a 'spec' file with a huge number of boring details like build deps, a file list, etc etc etc. Lubos thought it should be possible to automate this process - so he wrote a proof-of-concept tool for this, initially called "KDE OBS Generator". This tool has now moved from a proof-of-concept changed into a reall app, capable of handling a pretty wide variety of packages. He demo-ed how it works - which is pretty easy. Put a tar-ball in a folder and run the tool. The tool then automatically detects most properties of the package and generates the needed build files for openSUSE, Fedora, Mandriva, Ubuntu and Debian. It will also tell you what information it could not create by itself, like a name of the maintainer and more.

There is work needed on the mapping of dependencies on libraries on different distributions - like KDElibs4 is called libkde4-devel on one distribution, kde4lib-devel on another etcetera. During the talk a discussion started on ways of either auto-generating these mappings or even solving the problem on another level - something which will be further discussed during the conference. At some point, it is planned to integrate the auto-generation tool into the Build Service which will make it possible to just point the buildservice to a tarball on the web and let it generate the files right there lowering the barrier to packaging software even more.

During the questions someone asked if OBS provides repositories; sure it does. So, does it build all of GNOME for all distributions? Well, that would be a bit ambitious - the differences for something as core as all the GNOME libs between distributions is a bit too big to allow building all of KDE for all linux distributions - for now. But there is nothing wrong with ambition...

Which is a good note to end this blog with ;-)

Love, Jos

19 October, 2010

Almost time!

Hi all!

After a slightly-too-big dinner last night your strategy team spend all day working on the strategy docs. We've spend most of that time trying to shorten it without loosing the essential information in there - trying to make it more readable. I think we did reasonable well - the results are on co-ment again.

Meanwhile it's almost time for the conference to start - yay :D

Love, Jos

16 October, 2010

Ambassador video's

Hi all!

A couple of days ago Chuck came up with a (brilliant) idea to bring our ambassadors a bit closer to the openSUSE conference, even if they can't physically be there: let's all record a greeting message!

So that idea is awesome, and Bruno just announced some space to put the video's.

So, if you're an openSUSE ambassador and you won't make it to the conference, record a video and put it live :D

The video(s) should be about 10 secs, any decent format will most likely work, and shooting with your mobile phone is just fine. Say your name and add something of your own (I'm a Geeko was a nice suggestion but if you prefer to paint yourself green or sing a song that's lovely too). An English and one in your native language would be nice but remember - better something than nothing - perfection is the enemy of good ;-)

And for everyone who won't be there: we will do what we can to make sure you'll see as much of the conference as you can! It won't be possible to record all talks unfortunately but for sure there will be blogs, tweets & dents, flickr foto's and hopefully a bunch of video's, interviews and articles for you!

Love, Jos

15 October, 2010

Last piece of strategy before the conference

Hi all!

The strategy discussion in openSUSE is a difficult one. I wrote in the latest announcement this:
So if you've held back, have not had a look at this yet - now or never! Provide your input on the draft on co-ment and help shape our description of what being a Geeko means to us all. Yes, this will hopefully describe ourselves - where we stand, but also add a bit of pepper and salt and show our ambitions. Our strategy document has to be inclusive - but not too long. It has to show some ambition - but must also be realistic.
This is not easy. We're a hugely diversified community with all sorts of users and contributors. We do NOT aim to change that - we're openSUSE after all. But we also have to make choices and have a profile potential users and contributors can recognize themselves in. Take 'beginners'. What does that mean? Are we talking about people who haven't used computers before? openSUSE should be fine for them - if they are looking to learn, play with it a bit. Someone who only needs a computer to check mail will probably need help, however, to get it up and running. They are not interested in reading on a forum about how to install multimedia codecs. So we target the person who will help him or her installing it and setting it up! Which again doesn't exclude a community team working on a super-simple openSUSE with everything a beginner needs - our infrastructure supports them. But we have to pick our battles, and openSUSE is traditionally a distribution which is powerful and flexible - we don't want to sacrifice functionality in our default offering. We want a graphics professional to be able to have all the powertools at his or her fingertips; we want a sysadmin to have an easy-to-administer system; we want a teacher to have a wide choice of interesting learning tools; we want a pro-audio user to easily install a low-latency kernel. openSUSE should not be harder than it has to be - but you may notice the power under your fingertips.

Anyway. Lots of talk, the resulting new paragraph in the description of our target users is dramatically shorter than the old one:
openSUSE users are looking for an easy and comfortable computing experience which does not limit their freedom of choice, offering sane defaults and easy configuration.

I think I like it, but the 'old' one (with updates) is also up on co-ment - let me know which one you like more. I even have a bunch of iterations in a piratepad here, feel free to look at the evolution. Altough this is only from today, yesterday I worked until 1 with Thomas Thym (thanks!). Today I had help from Klaas Freitag, Will stephenson and Henne Vogelsang for helping with this single sentence... I could not have done it alone! To paraphrase Thomas from last night: a team is more than the sum of the individuals.

Love, Jos

13 October, 2010

marketing and talking points

Hi all!

Next week - conference :D
Looking forward to meeting many of you...

But I blog about something else - I've spend a significant proportion of Monday on making screenshots... I saw an email on the GNOME marketing list mentioning how impressed they were by a slideshow used by the KDE team at the Utah Open Source Conference. This turned my mind back to an earlier discussion about screenshots. KDE.org has nice screenshots on pages like this one, GNOME does not. So while creating screenshots for an openSUSE slideshow I made a few with the stock GNOME artwork and send them their way...

Questions and answers

Another thing I have worked on is our page with "Talking Points" for our ambassadors. The goal of these pages is to provide our ambassadors, who go to tradeshows and fairs to talk about openSUSE, with arguments and answers to questions. Of course I don't have the knowledge to answer all these questions, nor do I know what questions our ambassadors get asked.

Yesterday I have re-arranged all the questions that have been added over the last weeks into a few neath pages where they can be answered. I also worked on some answers - but I need your help! Go through it, see if you can (help) answer them, or of course if you know more good questions. The wiki page is here. Yes, some of these questions can be hard to answer but there are surely answers that are much simpler - so even if you think you don't know that much, go in, see if you can help our ambassadors out a bit!


08 October, 2010

strategy, helping SUSE...

Hi all!

I just published/send/submitted the last part of the openSUSE strategy stuff. Coming from KDE, this was a very interesting endeavor. It's not done yet, of course - I expect a huge amount of comments on this one (find it here) as it includes some notes on our 'competition' (coopetition?), what the results will be and how we'd like to be in a few years.

I know the KDE community is also looking at future directions - KDE 4 series is stabilizing, so where to go next? GNOME meanwhile is getting GNOME 3 out - but at the same time also had strategic discussions at the last GUADEMY. And of course Fedora has followed openSUSE in discussing directions. Guess it's contagious...

Not surprisingly, not everyone is happy with 'strategic discussions' within Free Software communities. In an earlier blog I spoke about the why of a strategy, so I won't go there again. I do feel, however, that tides seem to have turned. Either those sick of strategy have gone away, or those who think it's good to think about the future have convinced them. Or changed their ways of course, hehe...

Anyway. For a sec, let me move to the topic of helping... Not just openSUSE, but Free Software in general. I'm not sure how effective this is going to be, but I like the idea even though it's remarkably similar to linux counter :D

Ok, one more thing, because I can't help myself: the openSUSE marketing team is working on some flyers - KDE promo peeps might recognize something there, hehe. Find them here (for potential users) and here (for potential developers). Feel free to edit and improve ;-)

Oh and of course, because we're less than 2 weeks away now - go register!

Love, Jos

06 October, 2010

Smeegol, Conferences and cash

Hi all!

Lots of good news today!.

First of all, the openSUSE community's Smeegol team has managed to get SmeeGol 1.0 out!.
And I'm proud of them, because:
  • We are beating both Fedora and MeeGo itself in delivering the latest MeeGo software

  • AND we do it while shipping newer software (Banshee etc)

  • AND we have one-click-install for openSUSE users & SUSE Studio images ready to be cloned so anyone can make their own version!!!! I already made a clone with some multimedia additions for myself... Too bad testdrive doesn't work with Smeegol :(

  • AND it's a true community effort, where volunteers from all sides of openSUSE have worked on!

So check it out, it's worth it :D

openSUSE users can install it quickly with this link:

The second piece of good news is that there is an official openSUSE Conference poster on the Conference Artwork page. So use it, print a few and hang em up at your local university IT department (University of Nuernberg!!) or in your local hacker space (I noticed C-BASE doesn't have anything yet so if you live in Berlin - go there and put up an openSUSE poster pls!).


And the third is that thankfully there is a little budget left for travel sponsorship for the openSUSE conference. I really appreciate that those who could afford the travel themselves have indeed done so, leaving those for whom it is a financial problem with some reimbursement. Now we can hopefully help a few more people. If you have decided not to go to the conference due to financial problems, contact me and I can see what I can do!

Talking about travel to the openSUSE Conference, be sure to look at the Travel coordination page!

And talking about conferences in general, the Desktop Summit dates are announced! As part of the organization I'm of course proud of that but there's a lot of work ahead. If you want to help, let the team know! mail to ds-team@desktopsummit.org or contact me.



EDIT: and thanks all for the re-tweeting/denting/blogging of the Smeegol, desktop summit and other announcements!

02 October, 2010

Call to Arms

Ladies and gentlemen,

Recently Amaru Zelaya Orellana and myself cooperated on an article about the great work our ambassadors are doing around the world. They deserve great respect for what they do. A great marketing effort.

Meanwhile, the openSUSE marketing team is doing more work - getting articles out on the technologies we have, developing materials for our ambassadors and of course promoting the conference. However, no matter how much they do - they need help.

The work the marketeers do needs to be spread. openSUSE has technology and people which make our competition look pale. But they often manage to get the word out much more. Is that because they have better marketing people? Maybe. But what they DO have is a huge community of users who do their small share. Yes, it matters if you digg, tweet and dent. If you blog and talk about openSUSE. It matters if you become a fan on Facebook or on other social sites.

openSUSE has hundreds of thousands of users. Tens of thousands are active in the openSUSE community - reading our newssite, talking on the forums and contributing in other ways. Still, most of our news items get just a few diggs, just a few tweets, mentions in blogs or on Facebook. That means our impact is limited. You all should take that as a personal insult. If openSUSE is to make an impact, we have to do more than create a great linux distribution or good infrastructure. We have to make it known. Not only in English - blog, tweet or talk about our community in German, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Dutch, Chinese - or any other language! Our lack of communication is hurting our visibility and therefor our impact.

A bad example is our conference. While most of our community members know about the openSUSE conference, a lot of people outside of our community don't. Yet, the title of our conference is 'collaboration across borders'. So they SHOULD know about that. And we are less than three weeks away! Why have they not heard about our conference? Because WE have not told them. People! We have a stunning program! We have excellent speakers, and many active community members will attend. But if we want to collaborate, increase our impact and really make a difference - we need more people there from projects like GNOME, Apache and yes, Mandriva, Fedora and others.

So I ask all of you - please step up. Go here and blog, tweet, dent, dig, become a fan. If you don't have any social media account, think about writing something for omgSUSE. OMGUbuntu is playing a major role in spreading the word on Ubuntu. We have rtyler and some others rocking and getting the word out for openSUSE users on OMGsuse.com but they need help! If you have a favorite application, write about it! It doesn't have to be a book, just a bunch of notes and a cool screenshot helps a lot. It IS a significant contribution to to that, and really, it doesn't take much time!

5 minutes at most - that's all it takes to help openSUSE. Think about it!

21 September, 2010

Welcome Mageia!

Over the last couple of days there has been a lot of talk about the creation of Mageia, a community fork of Mandriva. Now before I go on a disclaimer:

I'm a Mandrivaclub.nl crew member and have been for a very long time. I might not be the most active member of the crew there but I DO care about Mandriva and its community.

painful but unavoidable
So with that out of the way, let me start by saying the whole Mandriva thing is very painful and I feel sorry for the employees and the community. I know that over the last months many employees have switched to other companies (including Novell). So a restart will be difficult for the company. They intend to focus on the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) as those are a Mandriva stronghold, and I think that is a sound business decision. Not sure if it'll be enough.

Unfortunately the community has finally lost confidence in Mandriva and decided to fork - I get that. Mandriva has some awesome technology, it would be good to keep that alive. And the company has failed a few times too many now. But they face a big challenge - building a new 'home' for themselves ain't easy.

looking for help?
So I have a suggestion for them. In the spirit of our upcoming openSUSE conference with the 'collaboration across borders' theme, I invite you to collaborate with us.

What Mageia might need soonish is a place to meet. The upcoming openSUSE conference will have visitors from Debian and Fedora already, why not have a Mageia delegation there? You guys and girls can meet, talk with people from other distributions, get some ideas on what to do next and talk among yourselves in real life. The conference already starts in about 4 weeks so there is enough time to plan yet it is close enough to be useful for decision making.

Moreover, openSUSE has the Build Service which we use to build our distribution. But the build service is also used by many other communities including the Linux Foundation's Meego project. It is fully Free Software so anyone can set up their own Build Service if they want. Currently the Build Service already allows building Mandriva packages and we could support Mageia too. As a stop-gap measure, the Mageia community could build (part of) their distro on our infrastructure - and in time set up their own Build Service instance.

Maybe there is more room for collaboration. Building a distribution is NOT easy and a lot of work - it'd be cool if openSUSE and Mageia could share some resources on some of the infrastructural bits like the kernel, Xorg and other base libraries. But even without that - the Build Service is there for you.

Of course, if Mandriva manages to re-build confidence they're also more than welcome to work with us. In my opinion the recent message from the board sets the right direction from a community point of view. Just contact me or anyone else either on IRC or by mail if you want to talk!

Concluding: I'm not saying here - give up on Mandriva and join openSUSE. What I do want to offer is some help - we're all Free Software communities, we care. Let's work together a bit more!

16 September, 2010

Target Aquired... Aim... xxxxx!

Hi all!

Today the first part of a new description of openSUSE was released. Go, read through it, comment on it if you like!

We are using something relatively new for the commenting called co-ment. I encountered a similar tech when reading up on what was going on with the GPLv3 while it was being written - and thought it was brilliant... So we're using it now to get comments on the text we write in a more structured manner. Feel free to join the discussion!


On Russia...

Hi all!

Novell just posted a guest blog of mine on their corporate blog. Topic is one I have harped on before - basically, like I hope WNF feeds their employees fair trade bananas in the cafeteria and let them drive hybrids instead of hummers, I hope they don't run 'Mac Donalds' on their computers. IOW use Free Software - cuz it helps.

The blog was prompted by a pretty good article from the NYT (yeah, behind a pay wall now, unfortunately) on new tactics for quelling dissents by the Russian government by confiscating computers under the pretext of searching for pirated Microsoft software. No, FOSS won't solve the 'evil government' issue. It might help however - and not only by giving them no legal reason to go after 'pirated software' but also by providing protection through TOR, GPG and other technologies...

Anyway. Read it if you like :D

Love, Jos

05 September, 2010

directions - openSUSE and Fedora

Interestingly enough, in parallel to our discussion about where we're going, Fedora is also discussing strategy. One particularly good blog post by Máirín Duffy about target users of Fedora offers some interesting insights.


On Fedora, there are basically four repositories:
  • Stable - end user product

  • Testing - stabilisation tree

  • Rawhide - development tree (our factory)

  • Kopers - personal repositories (bit like our Build Service home projects)

As you might know, Fedora Stable does currently receive quite some package updates over it's lifecycle - catering to users who want the latest software. The downside of this is that it sacrifices stability - you can't have your cake and eat it too. And for some users - even that isn't enough. They want the latest Banshee when it is released right away - not wait for it to mature in Testing. So they have to enable Rawhide repositories - often bringing in far more unstable software than just Banshee or whatever they're after. And that software is build against a whole different stack - Rawhide has moved beyond stable of course, adding things like a newer glib or other base libraries and building against a newer GCC. All this creates a significant risk for instability.


Máirín describes 4 target users of Fedora:
  • Caroline Casual-User

  • Pamela Packager

  • Connie Community

  • Nancy Ninja

She proposes to give each of these users what they want by essentially splitting the update policy for packages based on what 'level' the are. She recognizes Core Platform, Core Desktop and Applications. Core Platform should only receive crucial fixes and security updates, Core Desktop should get a bit more liberal updates and Applications should always be up to date. This way, users won't get bitten by instability, yet those who want more up-to-date software don't have to resort to Rawhide either.

Does this solve the problem? It does if you assume these more up-to-date packages for the Applications don't ever break things for Caroline. And if you assume that there is no reason why Nancy Ninja newer version of something in the Core Platform or the Core Desktop for the app she's writing.


openSUSE is far more conservative when it comes to upgrading packages in the stable release. Making it a much more stable platform. So, that means you're always a bit behind and you can't have the latest and greatest? No! openSUSE users CAN have their cake and eat it too. Thanks to the Build Service, newer versions of enduser applications and libraries can be entirely build against the stable distribution, lowering the number of packages you need to pull in and thus increasing stability.

Máirín and the other Fedora peeps don't use OBS - luckily, it's a Free service. Sponsored by Novell, AMD, IP Exchange and B1 Systems. Many packages on the openSUSE buildservice are build for various stable Fedora releases as well as for Red Hat releases, Ubuntu, Mandriva and of course SUSE Linux Enterprise. And the Build Service is also used by third parties like MeeGo to build their packages in house.

So I would invite Fedora users like Caroline to grab just the one package she needs from OBS!

For developers - and users

So the buildservice is awesome for developers who want to make their software available to users - no matter what distribution they use. The Build Service builds each package on a clean virtual machine install of the target distribution, guaranteeing compatibility. Check the documentation here. And a nice tutorial here. Note that it currently mostly focusses on the commandline solution OSC - but you can actually build and packages entirely from your webbrowser and get them to your users with almost no hassle using the gtk-apps.org and kde-apps.org OBS integration. Be like Lucky Backup and offer packages for ALL mayor distro's instead of only Ubuntu OR Fedora Or ...!

And for openSUSE and it's users, OBS enables us to cater a much wider audience than we ever could without. We can make newer software easily available for users who want it thanks to the one-click-install; yet users who want stability can have it. Surely there is still work to do - a proper app-store would be nice, although the search on software.opensuse.org IS pretty good...

Of course there is more awesomeness to openSUSE - like SUSE Studio (cool video here) and more. I just wanted to highlight one thing ;-)

31 August, 2010

Banshee & GNOME

Since a couple of days I'm using the Banshee music player. Last sunday I installed openSUSE with GNOME on my desktop system to play around with it. Banshee surely stuck - I installed it on my laptop with Plasma desktop as well. It's a very nice player with only one weird thing: it really really likes Opeth. Often I set it to play some electronic music at random, then it suddenly starts moves to metal - Opeth usually. Not that I greatly dislike that, I just have no idea why it does it ;-)

Suusie GNOME being nice

Otherwise, openSUSE is treating me reasonably well. The NVIDIA drivers on my desktop are less of a hassle than Intel was on my laptop - they do make the screen fuzzy sometimes, and Compiz really works horrible so I had to disable desktop effects in GNOME. KWin works almost fine somehow... Just a tad slow. GNOME Shell does desktop effects best: completely sharp screen, good performance. It does seem to restart itself sometimes but only the screen goes to showing only the wallpaper for a few seconds.

(I know newer NVIDIA/Xorg/Kernel should solve these issues, btw, I'll just install newer versions once I feel they're stable enough)

Tracker is great - incredibly fast and very little effect on system resources as far as I could tell. Sorry for Nepomuk but when it comes to actually finding files - no dice, it just crashes a lot. Both fill my .xsession-errors up like crazy, however. Vuntz has asked for the tracker errors already :D

In general, GNOME is fast and lean. Only Banshee sometimes manages to sometimes use 161% cpu on my desktop - rather impressive. Luckily I have a nice quadcore :D

Evo less so

Evolution was quite painful, I stopped using it. With the treeview (flat lists don't work with more than 10 mails/day) it is almost impossible to see the individual messages - the 'tree' itself is completely hidden, only showing small triangles leaving you guessing what thread a message belongs to. I added this to the GNOME Pet Peeves Project page, hope someone can fix it... Of course, maybe I just couldn't find the configuration option, lemme know if that's the case and I'll say sorry :D



The keyboard shortcuts don't work for me either - I am used to using the left and right arrow keys to go through the list of messages and the up and down to scroll through the message itself. And keys like A, R and L to reply to all, sender or a list. Not figured out how to configure that and for efficient use of my time, this is crucial. Same with Liferea, btw.

I found out that Xchat didn't do what I needed from IRC (like putting names behind the nicks in the list and hiding part/join messages), neither did Empathy, but Pidgin is much more convenient. And to be honest, it looks better than any messaging app I've used before. I don't use chat (other than IRC) very often so I haven't installed in on my laptop yet, but I might.

Cheese rocks, period. I can however only say that from previous experience - not current, as neither my desktop webcam nor my laptop webcam work :(


Thanks to the Oxygen-molecule theme GTK applications fit in KDE very well. The only exception is the system tray - they don't understand that it is transparent so they show ugly squares behind the icons. But the work on sharing a notification spec makes sure they use the normal notifications in Plasma, nice touch! Within GNOME the KDE apps adjust their theme automatically with the exception for icons - not sure if that's intended or a bug.

Bansee in Plasma Desktop (I must admit I had to adjust colors a bit to make it fit really well - somehow the Oxygen Molecule theme has its colors slightly-off)

GNOME desktops

GNOME offers two desktops - the 'old' one and GNOME Shell. What I like about the default desktop is how easy it is to add applets to the panel - I always want a load applet there to see what is going on. Otherwise it works ok-ish but it ain't very special - unlike GNOME Shell.

GNOME Shell is quite unfinished as it is undergoing heavy development. It seems to ignore about 4 out of 5 clicks of my mouse making it a bit cumbersome to use. Yet I already prefer it over the normal desktop - if only just because I love seeing something new and exciting. It provides a very intuitive way of working with one or more desktops and windows. Most of that intuitivity is in small details - like the ripple effect you see when you bump your mousecursor to the top-right corner of the screen. They still have to improve the menu's but app search already works awesome. While it doesn't work here I know you can just drag an app to one of your virtual destkops to start it there - awesome! So despite the current issues I would definately say GNOME Shell the right direction for GNOME development.

This turned out a bit too long

I initially wanted to write about Banshee alone, cuz I like it - but now this is about pretty much all of my GNOME experience in a few days :D

I might blog more about it, but first I'm working on some OBS and SUSE Studio things - they're both pretty awesome. Oh and did you know you can win 10K with a good SUSE Studio appliance?

17 August, 2010

And what has that dude been doing lately...

Hi all!

Just an update on what I've been up to.

First of all, thanks for the great welcome to the community! I've received many constructive and nice comments which made me very happy. I really look forward to working with you all over the next months/years/centuries/eons/etc.

As I don't yet have much insight in our community, I am spending the first month on getting to know you all, getting input on what is needed, what is going on etcetera. Besides of course reading up on mail, following discussions on IRC and playing with openSUSE myself I went to the Novell headquarters for a week and spoke with my colleagues there. It was an interesting week - Novell has a deep commitment to openSUSE but there is still a lot to learn from both sides. I hope to be able to bring the parts of Novell which work on and with openSUSE technology a bit closer to the community and will start with the marketing. The marketing team at Novell has a lot of experience talking to corporate partners and I hope we can use their experience for openSUSE. The other way around I think we can help them a lot in spreading the word about the work Novell is doing in the free software area.

The second week I spend in Nurnberg among the German openSUSE team. That was interesting - first of all because I had no idea Nurnberg is such a pretty city; and second because the people at the office were very inspiring. Again a lot of ideas and if I want to do 10% of what came up there I'd need to clone myself 4 or 5 times. Any hints on how to do that would be appreciated!

Currently I am in Prague to get to know the colleagues there. When arriving, I found out the office had come down. Ok, not that bad, it's just that the air conditioning felt inspired by the rain and started to leak water. Which had resulted in a little disaster. I also found out the peeps here are healthy. I couldn't find anyone to join me for a smoke despite forensic evidence (smoked cigarettes) downstairs suggesting there must be other nicotine addicts. Pavol claims there are less than 5 smokers in the SUSE offices, amazing... Might have something to do with the fruit they have here, up for grabbing. Sometimes there are even slices of melon on a plate. Scary. But good, I esp like bananas, makes the monkey in me happy.

Next up - I hope to finally see my own office in Utrecht next week. I also hope to have time there to consolidate a bit of what has been said to me over the weeks, catch up with mail and such and get back to people I promised to get back to. And get the administrative things done. Like planning for conferences and such...

But before that I already hope to become more involved with the strategy discussion soon. I blogged about that before - I have some opinions on the matter and I think it is important (the discussion, not my opinions). I know many of you feel kind-of left out, not connected to the current discussion - the strategy team is committed to fixing that. I will give them a helping hand where I can, but you all might also have to put in some thinking ;-)

Last, after installing openSUSE on my laptop, I ran into a few instability issues with Xorg. About as bad as on my previous distro, to be exact, apparently the latest Xorg ain't that stable with Intel drivers. If you have regular crashes and have intel hardware, check the bugs below, the suggestions in there fixed my problems.

bug 623245 (install newer xorg packages)
bug 617530 (install newer kernel)

Let me end with wishing you all a good day ;-)

07 August, 2010

Dot readership

Hi all,

A while ago I asked for comments from readers of the dot. There was a lot of valuable feedback which was noted by the dot editors and I'd like to summarize some of the findings. The dot team has unfortunately been quite busy with Real Life (TM) lately so we haven't had much chance of discussing the results yet but some things are already under way.

Ideas and feedback

  • Introduce a Like button - status: To be discussed

  • Pace of articles - OK, so we keep the speed at 1 article/day

  • More technical content like the famous 'Pillars of KDE 4' series by Troy - though one. The dot depends on YOU for content, at least to a large extend. While the promo team writes articles like interviews and reports from meetings, we often lack the technical skills/knowledge to really write about what's upcoming. We might be able to do something like a weekly report on what has been on the planet in terms of upcoming things, but otherwise - we need help from developers or interested users who follow eg mailinglists and commit logs to write about development. Of course kde-promo and the dot editors are more than happy to help with that - even a braindump is often plenty for us to go with and churn out a good article. So send us stuff, please!

  • Allow anonymous comments - working on that. The amount of spam is an issue here but the sysadmin team works on improving the dot to handle it easier and a few dot editors have stepped up to moderate a bit more. But people also mention they go to the KDE forums to discuss articles. Fine with us. FYI, the articles are put on the news section of the forums here. You don't seem to be able to post comments there, however.

  • Introduce or preview apps - like the technical content, it would need a bit more input from the community. If you've seen a new app, let us know! Especially if you have time for a short writeup (again, we fix Spanglish, Germanglish and other language abuse all the time, it's OK if you don't write so well).

  • Bring the commit digest back! - Oh yeah. We want that as much as you all do. Danny has been working on a webinterface to 'crowdsource' the work, and we hope at some point he'll be able to finish this so we can move on this. EDIT Danny has blogged that he's indeed going to do this hopefully asap! EDIT2 and now his pretty blog design also works in Chromium ;-)

  • OpenID from KDE - don't count on that. It is a lot of work to be an OpenID provider, and the KDE sysadmins don't seem to feel like doing that work. It's not really our place anyway. But there is work on having a single logon system in all KDE infrastructure, which should alleviate the pain a bit.

  • Articles from the dot on planet KDE - not a bad idea at all. It's under discussion now ;-)

  • Articles about the vision and future of KDE - yes. Good one. The discussion about that is often happening on Planet KDE, but could also be summarized on the dot. I call on those leading that discussion to think about posting their thoughts to the dot once in a while! And hopefully somebody reading this feels like summarizing the discussion for the dot every now and then ;-)

  • OpenID more prominently - under discussion ;-)

  • I can help! - Good! We need two types of help: editing/reviewing (= become a cool dot editor. Just mail dot-editors on kdeorg for info); and writing of articles (contact kde-promo on kdeorg or me or dot-editors).

And in generaly most commenters said they love the dot. We as dot editors like that ;-)

the dot matters!

News from the dot is picked up by quite a few major news sites like LWN.net and (soon) linux.com - so don't underestimate the readership of the dot. Think about that when you write an interesting blog about what has been going on in your app lately, or when you announce something on your blog! These things can easily go on the dot, so contact us a few days in advance so we can schedule things. And yes, you can still blog things you put on the dot, we don't care about being exclusive or anything ;-)


03 August, 2010

KDE strategy for openSUSE

As I mentioned in two earlier blogs now, within openSUSE a strategic discussion is going on - what direction should we, as a distribution community, take?

I would like to address a few things in this post. First of all, why a strategy, and what will it and won't it do? Second, there is one strategy I'd like to mention specifically, as I think it's disrupting but as a community proposal it deserves to be discussed as any other strategy. That's about the KDE strategy for openSUSE.


But first about the idea of a strategy in the first place. The strategy portal page talks about it plenty and I won't repeat that. I only want to stress what a strategy does and doesn't do.

It does:

  • help make project wide decisions; for example say we choose the home for developers proposal and the liveCD is full. Do we remove the second media player or the second debug tool? The first it is...

  • help focus marketing; say the marketing/promo team wants to set up a campaign targeting a group of ppl, who should they choose? A clear focus helps a lot.

  • help attract contributors; having a clear story and purpose helps attract contributors. It will also attract a specific kind of contributors, to be precise the ones to whom the strategy appeals and who are thus likely to implement it.

  • help in making a choice; if you're a contributor or user you have certain needs. Looking at the strategy and marketing can help you make a decision for one or another distribution!

Note that all these serve to make the impact of the strategy bigger over time - people who like it will start using it, voice their opinion, get involved, steer...

It does not:

  • mean we become less open; so if you want to focus on creating a pro-audio spin while the community has chosen for the focus on developers - go ahead. Nothing will change in that department: who codes, decides, and we're an open community.

  • mean we will actively remove things which don't fit the strategy; so if we focus on being being a mobile and cloud distribution, we won't remove OpenOffice for Google docs! We might put a Google Docs button in the menu, next to OO.o, or we might put resources in google docs import/export instead of MS Office 12 support.

So a strategy gives focus and direction, but does not limit much - except when it comes to either-or questions where it gives direction. A strategy is also broad - it has influence on pretty much everything you do. Example: server technology. The cloud proposal has influence on openSUSE as a server - we would integrate and ship things like OwnCloud, Etherpad and similar server technologies in an early stage. As a base for deriviatives we would make sure setting up a server can be done easily from the SUSE Studio GUI. And when we aim for developers, the build service should be integrated so developers can write their application and build it for over 10 distributions with one click.
And third, besides giving focus and being broadly applicable, a strategy also unites. It gives everyone in the community a common goal, lets us focus on our strengths, and binds us.

the KDE proposal

Looking at those three goals of a strategy you might understand a bit better why the number 1 KDE strategy ain't the best of the proposals. While you all know me as a KDE guy, I can't really support this idea. Talking to the strategy team and the dude who submitted it initially (Marcus), it has been improved a bit. It used to just talk about KDE - as in, let's be Ubuntu for KDE. That is focusing on a solution, not stating the goal or the problem you try to solve. Now it proposes to have a strong end-user focus, making it a bit more inclusive. You can then choose the right technology for the right job.


Still, while the strategy focuses on a traditional strength of openSUSE (a great integration of KDE apps and a good Plasma Desktop setup), it does not bind but it segregates.that is another traditional strength of openSUSE: being a broad, all encompassing community. This strategy is not broad at all (it is still only about one desktop technology) and does thus not give direction for a large part of the openSUSE community. Moreover, it's too specific and technical to attract most 'common' users. They aren't interested in technology but in the result.


I think it might be good for KDE and in the long run might work for openSUSE. Even though focusing on technology instead of the goal (end users) Not so sure about Free Software in general however. We, as in the Free Software desktop community, were just starting to build real bridges between each other - next year will have a Desktop Summit again!

Perhaps more important, this proposal would chase away an important part of our community - the many non-KDE users and contributors. And the costs could be serious and in many area's. KDE and Gnome technologies can help each other. A good example of that, something I've been lately involved in (yet I needed Bryan to remind me of it) would be a11y or accessibility. This is something which has been moving within the KDE community lately, in part due to some inquiries a government organisation did at last Linuxtag. However, there currently are very few good tools like screen readers written on KDE technology, to eg the Orca screenreader has to be used. Which is fine - and something openSUSE has an edge in as we ship both good KDE and Gnome libs and apps!

What it should be

I think it would be good to have a proposal focusing on end user products, on something aunt Tilly can work with. openSUSE could be a distribution aiming for polish, the final touch. Working on creating a great end user product. And both the Gnome and KDE people would be able to work with it, as would the Apache team, the Kernel team and all others in the community!

my offer

I'd be willing to write such a proposal (yes, short notice, I know) if ppl think we should have it. I'm NOT saying here that that's the direction we, as in openSUSE, should choose - personally I like the poweruser proposal as well as the developer proposal. Oh and the cloudy one as well... Besides, I've been involved only so short, my vote doesn't count as I'm not even an openSUSE Member right now. So the openSUSE community should vote - not me. I'm just here to help!

02 August, 2010

mouse buttons in linux

While going through openFATE (the feature tracking tool openSUSE uses), I bumped into one asking for "Present Windows" effect as mouse button shortcut. In essence, this user has one of those million-button-mouses, and wants to use them.

I've heard that tune before, and last time I checked, linux users were still out of luck. Now I never had any idea what to use these 'extra' buttons for, until I bumped into this request. Having a button to triger an expose-like effect: great idea. Sure, I go with my mouse to the top-left of my screen and I can see all my apps just fine.

Still, I have only 4 corners on my screen (yes, it is square, as most computer screens) and 3 are in use already (app launcher, close window and clock). So I'd love such flexibility...

Now I don't know where the limiting factor is right now - what is needed to make it possible to assign actions to mousebuttons other than the left, right and middle one? Anyone who knows? Anyone up for doing something about this?

Oh, one more thing, on the openSUSE forums, IRC channels and mailinglists a discussion about the strategic direction of openSUSE is going on. Will blog about it later, but for now - if you care about openSUSE, this might be a good time to check things out. Finding a direction matters!

01 August, 2010

Just started...

Hi all!

As of now I'm an employee of Novell. That means a couple of things.

First of all: awesomeness, working with all of you!

Second the boring stuff: I'll have to update linked-in and some other sites. And put a disclaimer on this site - my previous employer (the Dutch government) wasn't exactly involved in what I did for KDE... And I'll have to go through the administrative stuff in the company. Boy, do I look forward to that ;-)

Third, I should get started. I'll be flying to the US of A tomorrow to meet people at the Novell offices. So if you want me to tell them anything in particular, let me know! Remember, for now, it's my FirstNameLastName on gmail if you want to mail me.

Besides that, I will of course start doing things within and for openSUSE. After all, my job will basically have three sides (at least that's how I currently see it):

  • Help openSUSE archieve world domination (eg be a volunteer in openSUSE, evangalize to the outside world etc)

  • Work on the relationship between Novell and openSUSE (eg corporate communication, organizing events & stuff)

  • Spread and promote openSUSE within Novell

Now I might have this nice 'community manager' title, but as I said before, please note that that's just a Novell title. Nice towards the outside and for points 2 and 3, but within the community - don't expect me to change anything on my own... I'll just be another dude trying to help out. I'll take on things which I think are important (I'll obviously listen to suggestions) but I can't promise to solve every single problem there is. There are only 24 hours in a day and I need my beauty sleep!

But still, excitement is keeping me awake right now - I seriously look forward to this. There is interesting stuff going on, not the least of which are the strategy discussions going on. If you want to have a say in where openSUSE goes - get involved.

Rock on,


27 July, 2010

New job...

Hi all!

openSUSE just announced that I will be joining them. Yay, I'll be part of the masses of Free Software contributors who are doing what they love to do, full time, supported by a paycheck!

The job

Novell has hired me as the new openSUSE community manager. I've got some big shoes to fill, Joe 'Zonker' Brockmeier did a great job. I've been diving into openSUSE (way too much to grasp in a short time...) and I've read several comments from people who miss him. I'm no Zonker - different people, different ideas & habits. However, I can tell you I greatly look forward to the work and I'll put all my love and energy into it ;-)

But please be patient for a week or so, as I still have my old job...

about me

For those who don't know me, a short FOSS resume (the 'real world life' ain't that interesting): I've been a moderator on the dutch Mandrivaclub forums (which was very active about 5 years ago) and have hung, like most of us, around in quite a few communities over the last 10 years. Meanwhile I got involved with KDE due to the devious manipulations of Fabrice Mous who used to be the dutch Promo master. After writing about and for KDE for a few years, I kind'a had to become really invested as the KDE promo team was in a bad spot. I worked hard to get new volunteers involved - and now we have an bunch of minions doing my bidding amazing team of contributors. They did a great job last year (as I wrote in my Marketing Team report).

Last Akademy I proposed a new Marketing Work Group (Stuart, Justin, Pradeepto and Sandro) who will be guiding the promo and marketing efforts in KDE. Thanks to them I can leave my position as team lead now and dive into the openSUSE community. Please don't give the MWG too hard a time and help out where you can!

New stuff

I'll be moving down the foodchain - distributions have many relationships with other communities like the kernel developers, xorg, the desktop teams, server stuff and much more. I used to be pretty interested in core kernel stuff (once tested much of Con Kolivas' patches and even complained once or twice to Linus about how Con was treated) and I know very little of networking and packaging. So it seems like a perfect opportunity to widen my scope again and learn cool new stuff!

openSUSE is cooool...

As I said I've been reading up on stuff, getting involved a bit, and I must say the openSUSE contributors rock. It's a friendly bunch, dedicated, I love it. So over the next months I will figure out how things are going and see where I can help. The next month will be busy - I'll meet some colleagues at Novell and openSUSE, but I'll also start to dive into the work.

Note - I've seen everyone has been picking up where Zonker left, that's amazing. The work around the 11.3 release was great, the marketing team is growing and things are moving forward. Now I might have this 'manager' in my title, but in the end I'm just another contributor who happens to be lucky enough to be paid full-time. So I won't be telling anyone what to do ;-)

I would however really appreciate it if people let me know what they think, what needs to happen, where help is needed! Especially now there is a big discussion going on about the strategy of openSUSE, the direction we need to take. That's a big thing, which needs careful consideration by everyone involved. So contact me if you want - jospoortvliet at the gmail servers is my address for now.

Love and hugs,