Tag Archive for 'FOSS'

On becoming a Fedora maintainer

Recently, Rahul Sandaram (Fedora dev and creator of the Omega Fedora Remix) offered to sponsor me to become a Fedora maintainer, which I accepted. A day or so later I pushed my first updates into Fedora for deja-dup – the package I now co-maintain while I learn the ropes.

Previously, one would become a maintainer by first submitting a new package and thereby overtime demonstrating an understanding of the Fedora packaging process and guidelines. However recently a new system was approved whereby one could become a co-maintainer of an existing package, instead. This requires being sponsored by an existing maintainer, which Rahul was for me.

It’s quite a big task, but Rahul was very helpful and patient while I learned about the process. There is a lot of information on the Fedora Wiki but I found there wasn’t really a single place which provided a nice overview, broke down each section in detail, and then explained all the steps required. So that (along with my cautious nature) meant it took a dozen or so clarifying emails back and forth between Rahul and myself.

When I got my first understanding and taste of the system though, I’ve gotta say, I was quite impressed. The scale of the system and architecture and how it all works is amazing. The build files (RPM spec files) of all the packages in Fedora are kept under their own git repository. Hooks into this git system and special build tools manage the whole process. All in all, this automation makes it quite seamless.

So after reading and doing everything Rahul sent to me, I started on my journey.

There are two development systems to update now – rawhide (development tree) and F15 (the upcoming version). I wanted to update both of these to the latest upstream version, 17.90. I also wanted to update the stable Fedora 14 package to an upstream bug-fix release, version 16.1.1.

Cloning deja-dup from the git repo put me in the rawhide branch by default. I updated the spec file – increasing the version, adding python-cloudfiles as a new dependency, and putting in a detailed changelog. I then committed that to my local git repo with a comment linking to upstream. I then pulled those changes from rawhide into the f15 branch and updated f14.

commit bb1a5daa9feea74640fd84a0174e74e4e83ad34b
Author: Christopher Smart
Date: Sat Mar 5 21:23:07 2011 +1100
    
     Updated to upstream bugfix version 16.1.1.
     "This release fixes a bug in the just-released 16.1 that caused help
     documentation to not be translated."
     https://launchpad.net/deja-dup/+announcement/7239

Next I needed to test these packages, so I built a source RPM from the spec for each version. I discovered that one can either do a mock build on their local machine, or use Koji to do a scratch build on Fedora’s online build system. I did both, which worked well.

Using Koji meant I needed to first push my changes back to Fedora first though (or so I thought), so I was hesitant to do it without first checking with Rahul. This was the sort of thing that was emailed back and forth – I didn’t fully understand the system and didn’t want to break anything! For example, in order to test my F14 update I had to push back to the git repo – but what if I made a mistake in the process? Would my build on Koji push this broken package onto everyone’s system?

Fortunately, no. Once all the updating of the spec file and building is complete, the maintainer has to formally submit it into the update process before anything will happen. In addition, each package must then pass approval by other maintainers before it is approved and pushed out. You can see why it took some back and forth between Rahul and myself – I wanted to be sure I wasn’t going to do some damage :-)

Along the way I discovered new automated ways of doing things, such as validating a spec file, automatically downloading the source tarball to update the spec file, then uploading it to the Fedora build system.

In the end though, I think that I have a pretty good grasp of the overall process and am quite excited by the prospect of becoming a Fedora maintainer. I’m hoping that deja-dup comes out with a new update soon, so that I can do another update!

I’m still a little hesitant to go and change things – I don’t want to do the wrong thing or step on anyone’s toes. I did however create my own page on the Fedora Wiki, complete with a hackergotchi, of course.

So once again, thanks to Rahul for his patience and guidance :-)

Kororaa Lite (KDE) beta released

Kororaa Lite (KDE) has been released and is now available for download in 32 and 64 bit.

Kororaa Lite 14 (Nemo) desktop

Kororaa Lite is a minimal KDE based system which provides a smaller footprint for users to then install the programs they want. It disables various services and cuts out some hefty KDE features by default, to reduce the resource footprint. It might be useful for netbooks and lower-end systems, or users who want to start with a solid base and build up from there.

It is designed to provide Internet connectivity out of the box and focuses on the following:

  • CD size (<= 700MB)
  • Smaller resource footprint
  • Network-ability (wireless, VPN, dial-up)
  • Internet browsing and social networking
  • Multimedia support
  • Broad hardware support
  • Uses KDE Netbook interface by default (changeable)

As with the full Kororaa release, it includes:

  • Third party repositories (Adobe, Google Chrome, Livna, RPMFusion)
  • Firefox as the default web browser
  • VLC as the default media player
  • Installers for Adobe Flash and NVIDIA drivers
  • SELinux enabled (particularly worthwhile for Flash)

Unlike the full Kororaa, it does not provide these out of the box:

  • Full range of applications (no office suite, PIM, java, or graphics tools, etc)
  • Build tools required for building external modules
  • Extra fonts
  • Printing support

Please test it out and provide any feedback you might have, especially if you have ideas on how to further tweak KDE to reduce resource footprint!

Thanks,
Chris

Con Kolivas posts his thoughts on the new ~200 line kernel patch

Con Kolivas (of SD/BFS fame) has posted his thoughts on the new ~200 line “miracle” kernel patch. It’s an interesting read.

In short, he had already implemented something like this in a 10 line patch to his BFS scheduler, but he dropped them because it introduced regressions.

Those following the development of the patches for interactivity at massive load, I have COMPLETELY DROPPED them as they introduce regressions at normal workloads, and I cannot under any circumstances approve changes to improve behaviour at ridiculous workloads which affect regular ones. I still see precisely zero point at optimising for absurd workloads. Proving how many un-niced jobs you can throw at your kernel compiles is not a measure of one’s prowess. It is just a mindless test.

He goes on to say:

Again, I can’t for the life of me see why you’d optimise for make -j64 on a quad core machine. It is one workload, unique to people who compile all the time, but done in a way you wouldn’t normally do it anyway. It is not going to magically make anything else better. If for some god-forsaken reason you wanted to do that, you could already do that with nice, or even better, by running it SCHED_IDLEPRIO.

Perhaps this patch really helps the existing CFS implementation, but it’s still lacking when compared to BFS. Maybe it is a step in the wrong direction, but perhaps some improvement like this is better than none at all? It might be the catalyst needed to improve the kernel further. I never could understand why we couldn’t have more than one CPU scheduler in the kernel (like we do for block I/O).

Anyway, this is all quite interesting!

-c

Malaysian government touts 95% FOSS adoption

Malaysia started looking into FOSS for government back in 2004. Now, it appears they have reached 95% adoption across the government.

Some 95 percent of Malaysia’s government agencies have adopted open source software (OSS), but the remaining 5 percent have not warmed to the concept–and is unlikely to anytime soon, according to a government official.

Jeremy Allison talks about the Microsoft Elephant in the room

Jeremy’s talk at LCA 2010 provides a personal perspective on Microsoft in relation to Free software. Jeremy has of course had a lot to do with Microsoft, being a principle Samba developer.

“We have a system that is absolutely free that we can do anything with, so why are we so obsessed with picking on Microsoft? Shouldn’t we leave the elephant alone and stop poking it with sticks? Well, the problem is they aren’t going to leave us alone.”

New Zealand Government begins trials for move to Linux

Yep, the Kiwis beat us at everything these days and now those sensible chaps in Government begin trials of Linux and free software.

In 2003, the NZ government recommended use of Free software on the desktop for agencies (not just the server side). Now, we’re starting to see it happen. Hurrah!

The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Horizons Regional Council and NZ Post will all begin trialling the replacement of their existing Windows desktops with machines running Linux and other open source software in February.

It’s almost enough to want to move overseas and become a Kiwi.

A call for the Government to use Free software

It has just been revealed that the Australian Government spends “over half a billion dollars each year” on proprietary software licenses. That’s somewhere over $500,000,000.

The Greens are heading a call for the Government to use free software and for the first time in my life I find myself agreeing with them.

Greens communication spokesman Scott Ludlam said:

“We know [software] costs are sky high and governments are a huge revenue source for companies like Microsoft, but there are also very strong public policy grounds for using open-source software. And one is to make sure that government information is accessible to the largest number of people as possible at no cost to them.”

It was on the front page of the Canberra Times yesterday.

If the PM wants to save money, here’s a great way to do it. In fact, for the cost of licenses for a single year, the Government could hire 5000 full time highly paid open source developers. By leveraging existing free software it wouldn’t be too hard to build anything and everything that the Government uses for it and the Educational sectors.

-c

Proprietary Software and Linux: Good, Bad or Somewhere in Between?

While I’m still up, I might as well tell you about my latest article, “Proprietary Software and Linux: Good, Bad or Somewhere in Between?”.

This comes on the heels of Canonical asking users to vote on which software (such as Adobe Photoshop and Apple’s iTunes) they would like to see made available through Ubuntu.

Microsoft’s new “Patent Pledge for Open Source Developers”..

..is complete rubbish.

Essentially, Microsoft has made a pledge (note, not a promise!) NOT TO SUE “open source” developers who create software for “their flagship products” SO LONG AS THEY DON’T SELL IT.

If You engage in the commercial distribution or importation of software derived from an open source project or if You make or use such software outside the scope of creating such software code, You do not benefit from this promise for such distribution or for these other activities.

I’m pretty sure that will be in violation of anti-competitive laws in just about every country in the world.

Microsoft calls this promise:

The most comprehensive commitment to the promotion of interoperability in the history of the software industry.

HAHA, now that is funny. Guess they’ve never heard about a little thing called open standards and the free software movement.

SMILE! Making a slideshow on Linux

This is a program I’ve long been looking for in the Linux world, when using OOo presentation doesn’t cut it. It’s called “SMILE” and is a program to create a slideshow from photographs, video, etc.

The slideshow can be created using images and video files and supports the latest video output rendering XVID, MPEG2, Flash Video and DV formats. You can add effects like transition, background images, image rotation, opacity, etc..

I wonder if it’s a decent competitor for Fotomagico for Mac?