Flock to Fedora 2017

Flock to Fedora 2017

Every year, the Fedora User and Developer community puts on an conference entitled "Flock to Fedora" or "Flock" for short. This year was no different and the event was hosted in lovely Cape Cod, MA.

This year's Flock was a little different in focus than previous year's, the goal of the event organizers appeared to be that of "doing" as apposed to "watching presentations" which worked out great. As an user and contributor conference, almost everyone there was a current user or contributor so workshops to help enhance people's knowledge level, have them contribute to an aspect of the project, or to introduce them to a new area of the Fedora Project in a more hands-on way was met with enthusiastic participation. There were definitely still "speaking tracks" but there were more "participation tracks" than years past and it turned out to be a lot of fun.

All the sessions were being recorded and I highly recommend anyone interested to check them out here.

I will recap my experience and take aways from the sessions I attended and participated in as well as post slides and/or talk materials that I know of.

Flock Day 1

Keynote: Fedora State of the Union

The Fedora Project Leader, Matt Miller took the stage for the morning keynote following a brief instructional Logistics/Intro statement by event organizers. Matt discussed the current state of Fedora, where we are, where we're going, ongoing work and current notable Changes with work under way.

Big key take-aways here was that Fedora Modularity and Fedora CI are big initiatives aiming to bring more content to our users, in newly consumable ways, even faster than ever before without compromising quality (and hopefully improving it).

Flock 2017 Keynote State of Fedora slides

Factory 2.0, Fedora, and the Future

One of the big pain points from the Fedora contributor's standpoint is how long it takes to compose the entire distro into an usable thing. Right now, once contributors have pushed source code and built RPMs out of it, you have to take this giant pile of RPMs, create a repository, then start to build things out of it that are stand-alone useful for users. These kinds of things are install media, live images, cloud and virt images, container images, etc.

Factory 2.0 aims to streamline these processes, make them faster, more intelligent based on tracking metadata about release artifacts and taking action upon those artifacts only when necessary, and make everything "change driven" such that we won't re-spin things for the sake of re-spinning or because some time period has elapsed, but instead will take action conditionally on a change occurring to one of the sources feeding into an artifact.

For those who remember last Flock, there was discussion of this concept of the Eternal September and this was a progress report update of the work that's being done to handle that as well as clean up the piles of technical debt that have accrued over the last 10+ years.

Multi-Arch Container Layered Image Build System

Next time slot that I attended was my presentation on the new plans to provide a Multi-Architecture implementation of the Fedora Layered Image Build Service. The goal here is to provide a single entry point for Fedora Container Maintainers to contribute containerized content, submit it to the build system, and then have multiple architecture container builds as a result. This is similar to how the build system operates for RPMs today and we aim to provide a consistent experience for all contributors.

This is something that's still being actively implemented with various upstream components that make up the build service, but will land in the coming months. It was my original hope to be able to provide a live demo, but it unfortunately didn't work out.

Multi-Arch Fedora Layered Image Build Service slides

Become a Container Maintainer

A workshop put together by Josh Berkus that I helped with was to introduce people who'd never created a container within the Fedora Layered Image Build Service to our best practices and guidelines. Josh took everyone through an exercise of looking at a Dockerfile that was not in compliance with the guidelines and then interactively with the audience bringing it into compliance.

After the example was completed, Josh put up a list of packages or projects that would be good candidates for becoming containerized and shipped to the Fedora User base. Everyone split up into teams of two (we got lucky, there was an even number of people in the room), and they worked together to containerize something off the list. He and I spent a period of the time going around and helping workshop attendees and then with about 10 minutes left the teams traded their containerized app or service with someone else and performed a container review in order to give them an idea of what that side of the process is like.

Hopefully we've gained some new long term container maintainers!

Fedora Environment on Windows Subsystem for Linux

This session is one that I think many were surprised would ever happen, most notably because I think for those who've been in the Linux landscape for long enough to remember Microsoft's top brass calling Linux a cancer, we never would have predicted Windows Subsystem for Linux existing. However, time goes on, management changes, and innovation wins. Now we have this magical thing called "Windows Subsystem for Linux" that doesn't actually run Linux at all, but instead runs programs meant to run on Linux without modification or recompilation.

The session goes through how this works, how the Windows kernel accomplishes the feats of magic that it does and the work that Seth Jennings (the session's presenter) put in to get Fedora working as a Linux distribution to run on top of Windows Subsystem for Linux. It's certainly very cool, a wild time to be alive, and something I think will ultimately be great for Fedora as an avenue to attract new users without having to shove them into the deep end right away.

Fedora Environment on Windows Subsystem for Linux slides

Day 2


Going along with the theme of continuing to try and deliver things faster to our users, this session discusses a new service that's being rolled out in Fedora Infrastructure that will address the needs of "keeping things fresh" in Fedora. Introducing Freshmaker

As it stands today, we don't have a good mechanism by which to track the "freshness" of various pieces of software, there's been some attempts at this in the past and they weren't necessarily incorrect or flawed but they never had the opportunity to come to fruition for one reason or another. Good news is that Freshmaker is a real thing, it's a component of Factory 2.0 and is tasked the job of making sure that software in build pipeline is fully up to date with latest input sources for easy of maintaining updated release artifacts for end users to download.

Gating on Automated Tests in Fedora - Greenwave

Greenwave is another component of Factory 2.0 with the goal of automatically blocking or releasing software based on automated testing such that the tests are authoritative. This session discussed the motivations and the design as well as discussed how to override Greenwave via WaiverDB.

Discussing Kubernetes and Origin Deployment Options

This session was mostly about kubernetes, OpenShift, and how to deploy them on Fedora in different ways. There was a brief presentation and then discussions about preferred methods of deployment, what we as a community would like to and/or should pursue as the recommended method by which we direct new users to install these technologies.

Fedora ARM Status Update

Fedora's ARM champion, Peter Robinson, gave an update of where things are in ARM land, discussing the various development boards available and what Fedora contributors and community members can expect in the next couple Fedora releases.

On OpenShift in Fedora Infrastructure

This session was a working/discussion session that revolved around how the Fedora Infrastructure Team plans to utilize OpenShift in the future for Fedora services in order to achieve higher utilization of the hardware we currently have available and to allow for applications to be developed and deployed in a more flexible way. The current plans are still being discussed and reviewed, which is part of what this session was for, but stay tuned for more in the coming weeks.

The Future of fedmsg?

Currently, fedmsg is Fedora's unified message bus. This is where all information about activities within the Fedora Infrastructure are sent and that's not slated to change anytime soon. However, there's new use cases for the messages that will go out on the message bus that have changed in scope and the reliability of message delivery is something that will become a more hard pressing requirement. This presentation was about a proposal to add new transports for messages in addition to the one that already exists, allowing various services needing to listen for fedmsgs to subscribe to the protocol endpoint that most makes sense for the purpose. This session opened a discussion with a proposal to satisfy the newer needs while leaving the current infrastructure in place by taking advantage of some of the features of ZeroMQ.

Day 3

What does Red Hat want?

This was a very candid and honest presentation by our once long standing Fedora Infrastructure lead, Mike McGrath, who spoke on behalf of Red Hat as the primary corporate sponsor of Fedora as to what specifically Red Hat as an entity hopes to gain from the ongoing collaboration with the Fedora Community, and the innovations they hope to help foster moving forward. I unfortunately did not take good notes so don't have much in the way to provide as far as specifics so we'll have to wait for the videos to become available for those interested in this material.

Fedora Infrastructure: To infinity and beyond

The Fedora Infrastructure lead, Kevin Fenzi, stood infront of a whiteboard and kicked off a workshop where interested parties and contributors to the Fedora Infrastructure outlined and planned major initiatives for the Fedora Infrastructure for the next year. Headliners here from general consensus is that OpenShift will definitely be leveraged more heavily but it will require some well defined policy around development and deployment for the sake of sanitizing where code libraries come from for security, auditing, and compliance purposes. The other main topic of discussion was metrics reporting, various options will be evaluated with front runners being the Elastic Stack, Hawkular, and Prometheus.

Modularity - the future, building, and packaging

This session was a great introduction to how things are going to fit together, we dove pretty far into the weeds with some of the tech behind how Fedora Modularity fits together and ultimately if anyone is interested in digging in there, the official docs really are quite good. I would recommend anyone interesting in learning about the technical details about modularity to give it a look.

Let's Create a Module

In this workshop, put on my Tomas Tomecek, we learned how to create a module and feed it into the Fedora Module Build System (MBS). This was an interesting exercise to go through because it helped define the relationship between rpms, modules, non-rpm content, and the metadata that ties all of this together with disjoint modules to create variable lifecycles between different sets of software that come together as a module. I was unable to find the slides from the talk, but our presenter recently tweeted that a colleague of his wrote a blog post he thinks is even better than the workshop, so maybe give that a go. :)

Continuous Integration and Deliver of our Operating System

The topic of Continuous Integration (CI) is one that's extremely common in software development teams and it is not a new concept. But what if we were going to take that concept and apply it to the entire Fedora distribution? Now that might be something special and could really pay off for the user and contributor base therein. This is exactly what the Fedora CI initiative aims to do.

What's most interesting to me about this presentation was that it went through an exercise of thought and then showed specifically how a small team was able to accomplish more work than almost anyone though they could because they treat the bot they've written to integrate their CI pipeline with various other services as a member of the team. They taught themselves to not think of it as a system but as a team member they could offload work to, the work that nobody else wanted to do.

I look forward to seeing a lot of this work come to fruition.

Day 4

The last day of the conference we had a "Show and Tell" where various members from different aspects of the projects got together and worked on things. The rest of the day was a hackathon for those who were still in-town and not traveling back home mid-day.

As always, Flock was a blast and I can't wait for Flock 2018!

Until next time...