Car parts vs. a Shiny Blue Car: What makes a better Fedora story?

For a very long time, when putting together release announcements, talking points, or other marketing-related materials, we’ve tended to group features (or, in the future, “changes” as approved by FESCo, + “shiny” as approved by presumably marketing or docs) into the following 3 categories: Users, Developers, and Sysadmins. (And of late, Cloud, or virt & cloud.)

Which has seemed reasonably fine, and may well still be fine, or at least, not broken. The question is: Are these groupings adequately representing the coolest things Fedora has to offer?

My line of thought, comments are welcome:

  1. The lines are increasingly blurry between these three areas. Seriously blurry. Particularly on the dev/sysadmin end of things (who is packaging more for? What about a PaaS? Is syslinux, an optional bootloader, more for a user or a sysadmin, if I’m just using it to boot my own guests and i’m not necessarily doing the role of a sysadmin?).
  2. We write a LOT of stuff that basically sounds like this (and I will use references from the current feature list to illustrate, along with language I wouldn’t actually use in a release announcement, if you are worried):
    • We have things for sysadmins. They include:
      • Checkpoint/restore: Enables checkpointing for processes
      • High availability container resources: Use the cluster stack to manage VMs and discover/use containers on those VMs
      • systemd resource control: dynamically modify c-groups based resource controls for services at runtime
      • syslinux: optional bootloader, ideal for cloudy things, virt appliances
      • Thermostat: tool for monitoring/servicing java apps as they run
      • etc.
    • Other things for users
    • Even more things for developers

…Which basically sounds, IMO, like we have a bunch of stuff, mostly with vaguely technical descriptions, and not very often a description of *what that actually means* to the potential end user / audience, nothing out there to grab the eye of someone who is wondering what is in Fedora that will solve specific problems or use cases they have.

So: As described in mail to Docs and Marketing – I’m wondering if it makes more sense to tell the *stories* or overarching themes that we seem to have in a release – which could well change from release to release – if that helps show that there are improvements in broader areas, helps to define use beyond “the how to” into the “what for” area.

As a suggestion/draft, I wrote up the following areas & short (unrefined) descriptions to the docs and marketing lists, and am adding in some possible examples of what could go into those stories HERE, on this lovely blog post. These are basically the three big areas I see of “cool stuff” going on, primarily around “things that are NEW” and not incremental improvements (but not totally detailed, just a quick draft of potential feature matchups):

What do you think? It seems like “manage” often has overlap with start and recover.  I think there would be a need to extend the bucket descriptions as to “why it’s important” – ie, “start and recover is often a focus point for those running applications in the cloud,” etc.

You’re welcome to come be part of the development for the F19 talking points (or at the bare minimum, the process in which we contemplate which features are best for highlighting).

If your feature doesn’t yet have a reason by it, don’t panic: It may be that your feature is less “totally new” and more of an incremental change, which may not land it on the Talking Points page (but may well stlil land it in others mailboxes. OR… it could be that, at first glance, it was hard to determine *what this actually means* to the audience by just looking at the feature page. Seriously: If you have a feature in F19, and you can tell some overriding story about what it means *in practice* – let me know here (on blog), or join up to the marketing list, or join us in #fedora-mktg.

Board Meeting, & user survey thoughts.

Greetings, live from LinuxCon in Sandy Eggo.

Two things I want to talk about:

First up: Fedora Board Meetings.  We do a public IRC meeting every other week, on Wednesdays, at 18:30 UTC (11:30 pacific, 2:30pm eastern, or use a time converter that I’ve conveniently already preset with the time in this link.

These meetings are open to everyone. We set aside time at the beginning of every Board IRC meeting to take questions/concerns/comments/otherwise from folks who wish to join the meeting (we used to do this at the end, but it always seemed to fall into the “we ran out of time” situation). So consider this a friendly reminder, or an announcement for those who didn’t previously know, that you are welcome to join and observe, participate, etc. – sometimes we have no questions, and sometimes there is lively discussion.

If you’re not familiar with IRC yet, this page is a good place to start.  We meet in the #fedora-meeting channel on There is also a wiki page with some light information about meeting structure and protocol for Board meetings, which is useful to read as well.

Second: I wanted to type a bit about user surveys.  It’s an old board ticket, but has particular interest to me, and I’ll elaborate on why that is. :)

So way back in Ye Olden Days, I was a new person to the Fedora Marketing team.  One of the first things I was very interested in was the idea of market research – I’ll get to my interests there in a moment – and making a page about moving forward with some various aspects of research was, literally, the third thing I ever put on the Fedora wiki. The first two things were release name suggestions. That was September of 2009.  We embarked on the epic journey of Lime Survey packaging, and, well, eventually I got sidetracked by other things (FUDCon, becoming employed, etc.)

But the idea is still near and dear to my heart.  Before Red Hat, before the motherhood period of being a stay at home mom, before Intel, I worked at a industry analyst firm, cranking out reports on server, PC, PDA (yes, I just dated myself) usage, sales, dissection of usage by vertical markets and size of business, etc.  I find data fascinating.  And part of that job was surveying people for various things.

Why I think this type of thing is useful? A few reasons. From strictly a “how many” perspective, which was the bulk of my reporting at that point, it’s incredibly useful data to a variety of information-consumers; if i manufacture parts for a PC, it’s helpful to know that if I make, say, memory for laptops, that it is unlikely that I will sell 4 billion pieces of memory, if we generally assume 1 or 2 sticks per laptop, and worldwide sales of laptops are 150 million per year. You laugh, yes, but I have seen forecasts in my time that wound up equating to “45 set top boxes per man, woman, and child, sold in one year.” At Intel, I was on the data-consumer side of this, looking at new opportunities for specific chips, so looking at this type of data could help me establish how big a market was, vs. how much we were already selling into it, etc. And finding new markets altogether was always awesome.

From a more general usage survey perspective – which was more in line with size-of-business segmentation that I did – that type of information is useful to vendors for tailoring their needs to different types of markets, or identifying which ones they can serve the best.  For illustration: If businesses between 1 and 5 employees typically use cell phones to conduct business operations, because they don’t want to screw around with maintaining phone infrastructure, and businesses between 1000 and 5000 employees use some sort of PBX or VOIP stuff, and I am a vendor that is selling a magical pink unicorn that makes VOIP dead simple and lowers costs, I could tailor the targeting/marketing of the small businesses, because they don’t have existing solutions and because they struggle with barriers to implement, and target the enterprises differently (cost savings, etc).

Anyway. My point is this: I find it interesting, I find it gives useful information to people.

We’ve talked a lot in Fedora over the years about where we are going, what we are going to do, etc. It’s always controversial.  I think one of the key sticking points is this, and again, I love metaphorical illustrations, so: If you have a group of friends, and you want to go to dinner, you have to pick a place that works for everyone’s diet, you have to pick something within budget, etc. Lots of considerations.  You never, ever say, “Let’s go to dinner in Paris,” and assume that works.  Particularly if you are not close to Paris, if you don’t have a plane, and you only have a boat.  If you live in Paris, then that’s totally attainable.  When you go to dinner, you consider where you are starting from.

But we often lack any consensus, at least, in my humble, often-wrong opinion, about Where Fedora Is Today.  And in many discussions, I see a wide variety of assumptions about usage, and they have vast differences, like, oceans-apart, totally conflicting differences. Coming to agreement on how to solve a problem when there’s no common understanding of the underlying assumptions… well, that’s kind of like, making a map to dinner in Paris that only covers the last mile of walking, and doesn’t cover the “where we started from, and do we have a plane” type of stuff. I’ve probably mentioned about 40 times that I’m sort of into planning things, so I think this is a good first piece of that type of thing.

So. Still with me? Haha.

A few good things to note about user surveys:

  • Doing them consistently (ie: with the same questions or only slightly changing what you are assessing), on a yearly basis, can give you a good way to measure “things.” “Things” being – if you focus on addressing a certain area, for example – you can see if the work done made a measured difference in following years.
  • Much of it is about writing good, clear questions.  Unbiased questions, without a particular slant to them.
  • Be clear when working with folks to develop the survey about if you’re looking for opinions or actual data.  “What is your opinion of __________” is different from “what is your primary use of _______.”

I’m really thinking of the usage data points for this survey – how do you use Fedora, what applications do you typically use, what type of hardware (desktop/laptop), that type of thing. But I’m still rattling ideas around in my head – we’ll probably tackle this more fully in marketing-land, though it has been, as I mentioned, a board ticket for some time.  There’s also other ideas along the lines of doing strictly community-people surveying, but we shall see. And of course things like – tooling – figuring out a process for translations – figuring out how to get the word out to a lot of places that we’re doing surveying – etc.

Anyway: I think it’s an important thing to do. It helps to plan, prioritize, and give people new ideas about ways to contribute or places to improve things, and a way to measure improvements or progress (aka: mustard).  I’ll write more about what kinds of specific questions I’m thinking about and how people can get involved over the coming days.

And with that: I am off to keynotes and booth duty. :)

Attention, North American Ambassadors who have any substantial quantities of swag or media

If you are an Ambassador in North America, and you have any substantial quantity of swag or media, PLEASE, for the love of pi day, put your information in these tickets:

Media ticket:

Swag ticket:

Seriously: We have a ton of events coming up before F17 is out, and what seems to be a serious lack of media, and an unknown quantity of swag, aside from stickers.  This is making planning difficult. You don’t have to count one by one, but if you can make a rough guess and put it in the ticket VERY SOON, that would be super awesome, so that we can figure out how to plan accordingly for these various events.

Incidentally: FAMNA meetings are back to a weekly thing, if you haven’t been paying attention, and we have a handful of awesome new folks stepping up to wrangle events, and meetings seem to have a pulse again, which is awesome! We’re practically on the edge of the summer conference season already, so if you have an interest in owning an event as an Ambassador, please attend a meeting and speak up.

And now, it’s time for the 16th occurrence of: NAME THAT FEDORA RELEASE

That’s right, folks: It’s time to pick out a release name for Fedora 16.

And that process, like so much else that is Good in Fedora, starts with YOU. Name suggestions may be proposed March 3rd through March 10th. Yes, you read that right: TODAY. Right now. So get on over!

“But how, Robyn, how do I suggest a name?” you ask. A-ha! I’m delighted you did.

There is a lovely wiki page set up for your suggestions.  That page also happens to contain the rules and other good stuff which will be helpful to you in your journey to pick out yet another EPIC NAME.

AND NOW: The fine print. I know, you were looking forward to this part, right?

  • There must be an “is-a” link between the name Lovelock, which is the Fedora 15 release name, and the name you pick. (For example: Fedora 14 was codenamed “Laughlin”; the link — Laughlin IS A city in Nevada, and so is Lovelock.)
  • The link must be different from previous links for Fedora release names. In other words: You cannot pick another city name. Nor can you pick rocket scientists, etc.  You can check out the history of release names for information on all the links previously used.
  • Names of living people and well-known trademarks will also likely be rejected.

To give a lighthearted translation of the above:

  • Unless you can find a link between “Lovelock” and “Beefy Miracle,” that name will likely be rejected. (For the record: I will give you one American dollar if you can find that link.)
  • “Bacon” has been rejected numerous times. For a variety of reasons. Just sayin’.
  • (I still fully expect that “Bacon” will be the first suggestion.)
  • “Lovelock is a correctional facility where O.J. Simpson has spent time, and so is _________________,” is *probably* in bad taste. Also: Charlie Sheen is alive (although possibly living on a different planet); thus, “Fedora 16: Charlie Sheen” will also not work, despite any link you may find. Please, use your Adonis DNA to come up with something better!

I challenge you to come up with a creative name.

Oh, of course: You want to know what I’m coming up with. I will be exploring the following avenue to see if it is a total dead-end, or has something interesting to think about:

Lovelock is a group of words comprising the first two syllables of the songname “Love Lockdown,” by Kanye West, off the album 808s and Heartbreak.

Also, I just happen to enjoy shaking my booty to that song.

I will be exploring various possible links, including, “Is there another song that is generically named enough to not get the pants sued off us that would be an interesting release name,” or even, “Love Lock(down) is a song that Robyn enjoys shaking her booty to, and so is _________________________.”

(Okay, not really on the last one. And no, “Fedora 16: Baby Got Back” IS NOT AN OPTION. Seriously.)

Ever wonder who is talking about Fedora?

The Marketing team surely does.

Our crack team of marketeers keep their eyes and ears open for the latest news articles and blogs reviewing the newest, and even upcoming, releases of Fedora, plus other news about Fedora — anything from people taking on new roles (hmmmmm) to hot community governance issues.  Interested in what people have been saying about Fedora? Everything we find, in addition to going to our epic-awesome mailing list so that everyone can read articles while they’re still hot off the proverbial press, gets listed in the Fedora press archive.

Why keep track, you ask? Good question.  It’s always great to see what people are saying about us, of course — but we also like to be sure that we can take the opportunity to gently guide reporters the right way if they have misinformation, make sure that the messaging we are putting out is the messaging that the public and media are actually receiving, and more generally, make sure that people are continuing to *talk* about Fedora, because one of the best ways for new users and contributors to find out about Fedora is to read what someone else has to say about Fedora.

Seen an article that we don’t have archived? It’s a wiki — Be Bold! [1] Feel free to add what you’ve seen, or if you want to have a more interactive discussion about it, join the marketing mailing list.

And in case you’re curious: We’ve had 57 articles [2] come in about Fedora since we started keeping track of F14 news back in late July.  Want to see them? Check them out here.  And yes, we have them available for F13 and F12 as well!

[1] Phrase stolen from Ian Weller

[2] Yes, I counted. Manually. Seriously.

Fedora 13 Press, Dear Lazyweb, and MOAR!

First, some weekend storytelling:

Ryan Rix came up to my lovely town of Flagstaff, Arizona on Saturday and we were able to go grab lunch together at Sakura, the lone teppanyaki place in town.  After I went home (“HONEY!!! Lauryn has a bloody nose!!”) he meandered over to the local Barnes and Noble.  Apparently our discussion of whuffie inspired him to pick up some Cory Doctorow-authored reading materials, and he also took a moment to send me this picture, with the attached txtmsg of “Have you read this yet? It’s by jzb.”:

Fedora vs. Ubuntu? By jzb?? I'm so there.

What?? Fedora vs. Ubuntu on a glossy magazine cover? Written by zonker?? I’m SO THERE!  I dashed over to the bookstore, grabbed the magazine, came home… promptly had magazine stolen from me by the boyfriend… finally got to the article late last night.  (And by the way: the article is very good, and I encourage everyone to read it if they have access to a copy of Linux User and Developer, issue #87.  There is also a clip of the article, Ubuntu 10.04 vs Fedora 13, online.  Zonker invokes one of the most awesome analogies ever at the end, loved it.)

Moving along to the actual meat of this blog post: I got to thinking that, along with the aforementioned magazine article and online links, I should probably add the most recent [in the news] postings to the marketing mailing list onto the Fedora 13 Press Archive page.  (More on this… tedious work in a minute.) So I did, and it’s a great list we have this time around – right now, we have 65 articles in the archive, up from 44 in the F12 cycle.  (My favorite article title: “Oh My Goddard! An Early Look at Fedora 13,” btw – that should win a pony right there for the lulz.)

And I’d like to give props to Rahul Sundaram, Kara Schiltz, Jonathan Nalley, Ryan Rix, Robert Scheck, Paul Frields, and Henrik Heigl for contributing these items to the list.  It is awesome to have people keeping on top of the press articles that come out, making sure they are accurate, and passing them along for others to read. THANK YOU!


Dear Lazyweb,

I love getting all these links to stories from people on the marketing mailing list – but entering them into the wiki really is kind of a bummer.

Is there a way to have a web form where people can add links, author name, etc. and have it add those items to a table in the wiki – and then perhaps have a Comments area that doesn’t get added to the wiki, but instead gets copied to the marketing mailing list for further discussion?

Perhaps it would be wise to also convert these things into some sort of Blog-of-its-own, RSS Feed, or similar so that people can subscribe and see these articles, without having to keep up with the wiki page or marketing list? (Even though I know EVERYONE wants to subscribe to the marketing list… I know it!)

Thoughts welcome. And appreciated.  Adding 20+ articles to the wiki in table format is kind of a bummer, although it is great to see so much press.

Cloudy with an excellent chance of AWESOME. And possibly ponies.

Okay. Here’s the situation (and my apologies to those of you who now have DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince stuck in your head for the duration of Friday, HAH!):

The Marketing Team has been looking for awesome things going on in Fedora that we can produce marketing content for – stories, magazine articles, blog pieces, podcasts, you name it. (If you’ve got ideas, btw – not to distract from this particular blog post, of course – you can read one of my previous blogs on this topic, or catch up on this mailing list thread, to find out how to contribute to that cause.)   Now, as I’m sure you know, we have no shortage of Cool Things going on in Fedora to write about, which is excellent.  However, I keep hearing things along this line:

“Can we do something about Cloud?” “How about a marketing campaign about what Fedora is doing in the Cloud?” “Maybe we can do a piece on Fedora on Amazon?”  In summary: I get it. We want to see a story on Cloud and what Fedora is doing in that space.

But here’s the catch: I don’t want to write a bunch of fluff (no pun intended, sorry) about our Cloud story.  I want to have a solid, compelling Cloud story to write about.  And part of that means this: We need to be more proactive in this space.

The Master Plan.

I’m just going to be blunt here: This is Fedora.  This is a community of talented people who consistently churn out amazing, innovative things.  From coding to infrastructure to marketing to design – and docs and translations and awesome packagers and testers and ambassadors and websites folks, and plowers and ponies, and everyone I’ve unintentionally left out but still love dearly – We, generally, Kick Ass.  We are constantly at the leading edge of technology.  We do new things – First.  And we are completely, without a doubt capable of doing anything we put our minds to.  And that includes having a solid plan in place for what we want to do in the Cloud space – and the ability to follow up on that plan by DELIVERING.

Despite being an incredibly nebulous term, I don’t think that anyone can disagree with the fact that Cloud is HOT right now. It’s buzzwordy and sexy and everywhere.  This week’s Red Hat Summit has a whole Cloud track; the upcoming O’Reilly Open Source Convention (usually referred to as OSCON) also has a full-day track on Cloud “stuff,” not to mention lots of other sessions during other days of the conference.  While this may be indicative of someone, somewhere, being really good at marketing, it more likely means that people are interested in doing Cloud stuff in FLOSS-land.  People want to participate, contribute, try it out.  We should want those people to be doing these things in Fedora.  Whether they’re developing things that run in or manage the cloud, are system administrators who want to try Cloudy things out at home, or people who want to have an awesome OS image to load up in their cloud – Fedora should be the place they want to go when they want to scratch those Cloud itches.   And I know, know, know, in my heart (yes, I have one – don’t believe the rumors!), that there are many of you, reading this RIGHT NOW, who fall into those categories I just listed.

And so, I call upon YOU.  Many of you know that we’ve been trying to get things going on Amazon for some time now (you can check out David Nalley’s post from yesterday on this subject, as I’m sure his explanation is far better than mine could be about this topic).  We need to see that through, and get it done.  Beyond that – I think that there is no better time than NOW to start talking about long-term goals.  The awesome thing here is this: Cloud SIG long-term planning is really undefined right now.  This means there exists a plethora of opportunities for people who are interested in Cloud – both for people who want to contribute but aren’t sure how, and for people who have ideas about EXACTLY what they want to do.  And those people include YOU, dear reader.  Things like:

  • Cloud SIG needs a freakin’ task list of what needs to happen.
  • Participate in discussion about what packages would be advisable to have on an image.
  • If those packages aren’t packaged – let’s get with the packaging.  If we need to all get together and have Weekend Cloud Packaging FAD to knock it out, let’s do that.  Better yet – start engaging with other cloud projects and encourage them to start packing their own stuff, get involved. etc.
  • Documentation.  WTB. Let’s start making a list of what to do.
  • – Would be a great thing to have when we arrive at the “F13 is up on Amazon” goal.
  • Images for private cloud deployment.
  • Coordinating getting images going on other cloud provider’s infrastructure.
  • Oh, yes, Marketing!

And yes: There is a Cloud SIG.  And a mailing list. This week’s Cloud SIG meeting on IRC had an awesome uptick in participation – and I expect this to keep growing. The bottom line is this: Cloud SIG is going places – and you can be part of the plan.  If you’re looking for something exciting and innovative to work on, this is a fabulous project to get involved in.  So sign up for that mailing list, come to the weekly IRC meetings, and get involved. Let’s step up and show the world what Fedora can do.

Marketing slides on the fly.

A quick update:

I’m hanging out with several of the fine Fedora folks, as well as many other awesome people, at the Southeast Linuxfest in fabulous Spartanburg, South Carolina.  Managed to catch the wiki czar Ian Weller‘s very interesting presentation this afternoon, discussing some of the lifting he’s doing to gather more statistics about the Fedora project – from distro downloads and connections, to wiki activity, all the way to future goals of understanding commits, bugzillas, and mailing list activity – all soon to be captured in one location.  The best part about his summer project, aside from the truly awesome name (Datanommer. Om nom nom. I eat data!) is that this is not just an enhancement to Fedora infrastructure and a way for our community to know more about our own activity – but he’s going to turn this into an open source project, so that other communities can take what he’s doing and start using the tools to assess the contributions of their own community members.  Also caught Jono Bacon’s morning keynote, although it was at 8am, which is really 5am in the time zone where I normally reside… combined with the fact that I went to bed at 3am local time….. well, you get the picture. 8am keynotes should be outlawed. Seriously.

So – what did I do between 9am and 1pm, you might ask? Well – I received a task request to put together a brief slide deck to talk about Fedora which would feed in a loop in session rooms, during transitions between speakers. So I, miraculously, somehow, threw something together.  But: bonus!  Max sat down and talked to me and said, “Wow! Now we have that presentation set that Ambassadors can use on laptops as booths all done!”  Ohh….. yessss… of course.  I definitely had that in mind….. no, no, I didn’t, so I have to thank Max for actually reminding me of that other thing I wanted to do at some point.

Oh, yes. You wanted to check out the slide deck? Voilà! Check it out.  I haven’t actually had a chance to post this on the marketing or ambassadors mailing lists – or post them to the Fedora Marketing wiki page – but that will be coming soon. (If I don’t do it, please kick me and remind me.  Gently, though. Gently.)  And keep in mind these were done in a short time – by all means, please provide feedback.  If it’s ugly, if it could be more informative – whatever. I’m all ears. Really.

(Please note: If you’re looking at these slides and you’re thinking they’re not as beautiful as they could possible be – you should probably check to see if you have the mgopen-modata-fonts package installed.  Using these fonts gives it the nice, clean Fedora look and feel.)

All in all – having a lovely time.  More updates as the weekend goes on!

Marketing Interviews: What stories do you want to hear?

Fedora Marketing would love to hear about the things that YOU – dearly beloved members of the Fedora community – would like to read or hear more about.

Every cycle, we produce a series of feature profiles.  We’d like to expand that to a more ongoing cycle of content – and not necessarily limited to specific features for a release and their respective community members.

Interviews can be with:

  • Members of teams like Infrastructure, Design, Ambassadors, etc. to hear more about their ongoing projects.
  • Find out more about a community member – what are some interesting ways in which people are using Fedora?
  • Spins and SIGs – what are these groups doing?
  • And… yes, we still want to cover feature list items!

Basically, the sky is the limit – but we’d love to hear your ideas. (Heck, you’re even welcome to DO an interview!) Please pop over to our Marketing Interviews wiki page and add your ideas to the ideas list – or leave a comment in this blog post.

Blue and Magenta – BFF!

With the announcement of the new Fedora branding, I just wanted to remind everyone of two of our favorite characters, and possibly, obvious new mascots for fedora: Blue, and her best friend Magenta, from Blue’s Clues. (If you don’t know what Blue’s Clues is, you probably don’t have kids, and you are probably better off, unless you want to think about a really long song every time you get mail.)

Blue, Magenta, and Periwinkle

Blue, Magenta, and Periwinkle

I think it would be awesome to get Steve and Joe to come in and give talks at the next FUDCon. They might have something interesting to say!