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.