Remembering Seth.

In the days since his passing, many people in the Fedora Project community have asked how they can pay tribute to Seth. Details follow below.

Finally, numerous suggestions and wishes have been made within the Fedora community to honor Seth. The Fedora Board has agreed that the Fedora 20 release will be dedicated to Seth.  Additionally, a number of options are being explored for the upcoming Flock event; these will continue to unfold over the next month.

Board Meeting Topic for the day: User Base, aka target audience

In case you missed the mail, there is a Fedora Board IRC meeting today, at 17:00 UTC, in #fedora-meeting-1 on freenode. AKA: IMMINENTLY. Anyone is welcome to join, and so I hope you’ll come.

Today’s topic is Fedora’s defined User Base, also commonly referred to as target audience, and whether or not that continues to be an accurate definition; and thus, by extension, if the Default Offering continues to be correct, if the messaging we put out continues to reach the correct audience, and if decisions made about how Fedora is made/what it is composed of/how it is positioned *as it is delivered* match up with the user base.

A few handy bits of information for you:

  • What is the Fedora Project?: This page provides highlights of a handful of interesting items, including: Vision Statement, Mission, Objectives, User Base, Core Values, etc.
  • User Base (aka target audience): Detail about “a set of four characteristics that describe the minimum level of consumer for whom we’ll design the default offering.” These characteristics include: Voluntary linux consumer; Computer-friendly; Likely collaborator; General productivity user.
  • Default Offering: This page describes the pieces of technology that we should deliver to meet the needs of the User Base, and how we would deliver them (aka: media formats, etc). In other words: If someone clicks to download Fedora, this should be the most likely thing that they are going to use.

WHY LOOK AT THE USER BASE?

So, I’ll be honest: I’ve written this blog post a few times. It winds up being really, really, really, really long. So I’m going to break it up into a few posts over the coming days (YAY SUSPENSE), but in the interim, I’ll say this:

I’ve done strategic-thinking things as my job in past $dayjobs. While you want to have a mission and vision that is more long-lasting, as a technology company or project, you have to recognize that the *roadmap* to how you deliver on that mission and vision is subject to being affected by many trends, market forces, and the like. The mission may be the same, but how it’s achieved needs to be examined from time to time (I would argue almost on a yearly basis) to ensure that the assumptions you’ve made continue to be true, that you are reacting properly to market influences, user trends, etc. 

I would argue that a LOT has changed in the years since our user base was defined. I believe that many of the decisions we make, the messaging we provide, come from our definition of the user base. And I’m not sure that it continues to be *the best* definition at this point. Moreover, I’m not sure that what we are actually delivering matches up with that user base.  Deliveries come from contributors who are willing to do the work, not from wishing. :D

Anyway. More to come! Join us for the meeting today. I’m sure it will be, um, interesting. :)

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.

Because Big Data is Big… according to my data.

That’s right, folks: The Fedora Big Data SIG is here. We’re going to do things. Things that I know that Very Smart People, just like YOU, dear reader, are quite possibly very interested in.

Which things? Oh, Big Data is such a murky term. In true Fedora fashion, we shall do things that people show up to actually do and get done.  Which means YOU can make things happen. Whatever those Big Data-related things might be. Packaging, use cases, feedback, education, this is your spot.

So now that you are TOTALLY psyched: Here’s what you need to do:

  • Join the mailing list.
  • Come hang out on IRC in #fedora-bigdata on freenode.
  • Come to the randomly-assigned-time FIRST MEETING on IRC, Thursday, March 7, at 17:00 UTC. I’ll be the assigned meeting-runner and excitement-gatherer. We’ll be in #fedora-meeting-1 (NOTE THE ONE). Bring ideas and questions and whatnot.
  • Check out the newly-minted Big Data SIG wiki page. And remember: It’s a wiki, be bold, and stuff.

See you all there (in that variety of locations)!

FUDCon: Lawrence printable travel sheet – USE THIS AND MAKE YOUR LIFE EASIER!

TL;DR version: Download your printable “get me to FUDCon” sheet. It will help you. Seriously.

For those reading on (and about to be sorely disappointed by my lack of spherical or cylindrical  puns):

I know many folks are prepping for their trips to FUDCon: Lawrence – with some people arriving today (Wednesday) and the majority arriving tomorrow (Thursday), it will be a busy time. Many folks are taking advantage of the provided shuttle service, others are renting cars, etc. If you need help en route – joining #fudcon-help on IRC should do the trick,  or #fedora-fudcon will be a good place to just hang out and keep in touch with others as they arrive.

For those staying at the Springhill Suites, we’ll have a booklet for you at check-in (and by “you” I mean, a pile at the front desk, and we have about 1 per person, so don’t go crazy making paper airplanes); and we’ll have more onsite at FUDCon at the registration desk / “Command Central” for those of you staying elsewhere, or just local. Please, please, please take some time to read through this booklet – it is filled with additional details beyond the printable sheet, has a fillable schedule you can use to jot down your planned attendance for barcamp sessions, info about FUDPub, and more.

In the meantime: We’d like to make sure you get to the hotel and event, and know when to be where, so we’ve made a handy-dandy printable sheet to help you do just that. It contains super-pertinent information like:

  • For those taking the arranged shuttles from Kansas City International (MCI) to the Springhill Suites, reminder info about timing, who to look for, etc.
  • Details about when FUDCon starts, and when to catch shuttles downstairs from the hotel, so that you don’t have to walk in the cold, bitter, piercing weather, uphill, both ways. Yes, I want you on the bus on time, and we can’t all take the last bus, so I’m counting on many of you to get downstairs around 8:00-8:15 for the ride over to campus.  So we don’t start late. FUDCon starts promptly at 9am.
  • We will have coffee, water, soda onsite at FUDCon; there is free breakfast at the Springhill Suites, so be sure to eat. :)
  • Emergency phone numbers. Protip: “All the bars are closed” is not an emergency. 

And many other fun snippets and details. But don’t take my word for it (well, you sort of are when you print it out, but you’ll just have to TRUST ME) – DOWNLOAD IT! And then PRINT IT OUT. (Don’t be like Robyn, and print something out, and subsequently leave it on your printer, and then leave. Seriously.) And make sure your friends going to FUDCon have heard about it as well.

See you all as you arrive today and tomorrow. I’m sure that you will all have your ruby red slippers on, hackfests thoroughly planned, barcamp sessions ready to pitch. Yes? :) (Also – if you haven’t put your proposed hackfests or planned barcamp pitches on the wiki yet – there is no time like now, now, now! – though you are welcome to still do so, or invent new ideas,  when you get to FUDCon. 

Go on, man. Have a cow. Fedora 18 (Spherical Cow) is here.

Hopefully by now most folks have “herd” the news: Fedora 18 has been officially released, and the Spherical Cow is in the vacuum of the intertubes.

<marketing interlude real quicklike>

If you haven’t read the announcement, I encourage you to take a moment to check it out. Or, take a moment to check out the Feature List for Fedora 18.  But don’t let me stop you if you’re already downloading and just moments away from full-blown F18 glory.

Though I will gently nudge you and recommend that you read the release notes, including details about installation and upgrading. We’ve got a lovely new installer, and a lovely new upgrade tool, so it’s definitely worth reading over. And, hey, checking out the list of common bugs in Fedora 18 is worth a gander as well.

</end marketing interlude>

Moooooving on:

I think I can succinctly, udderly (what, you thought I’d leave the puns behind as we moved beyond Beefy Miracle?) summarize this release event in just a few letters:

ZOMGHOORAY

Yes, yes, I believe that pretty much covers it. 

No, really, in all seriousness: this release was a heroic undertaking. There are people, many, many people, for which the phrase “above and beyond” doesn’t even begin to cover the amounts of effort, sweat, bugzillas, biting-of-tongues, tears, praise, helpfulness, git-er-done-ness, and general awesomeness that I have seen in this release cycle.

The lovely press folks (hi!) who get me on the phone right around this time tend to, and already have, ask the following question: What did you, Robyn, learn from this release? Well, gee, where to begin? Sure, I can go on about hindsight being 20/20, things of that nature.  But the important thing is this: Even though I knew it inherently already, I discovered what an amazing band of people the folks in the Fedora Project community are.  We didn’t shy away from doing the Hard Things, we didn’t abandon ship in the face of adversity, we didn’t give up or cut corners on the things we believed absolutely needed to be done right, we didn’t waffle on our commitment to freedom, open source, to building a quality distribution for our users and contributors. 

As we’re now in the part of this blog known as “full-on-cheese-land” – I’ll add this following thought: We often talk about Fedora’s core values, aka four Foundations – Freedom, Friends, Features, First – and I’m so glad that what we release continues to embody those foundations, every release. We continue to be committed to freedom, to having cutting-edge features, to being a leader when it comes to introducing new technology.  But most of all: We stick together. We watch out for each other. We tell each other to go to sleep, we recognize good deeds, we help out when we can, where we can.

Or to paraphrase slightly (but only slightly, because I already feel dirty not properly quoting Lennon/McCartney): We get by with a little help from our friends.

FUDCon: Lawrence is coming this weekend. (More on that soon enough.) To more heavily modify the aforementioned lyrics (aagggggh): We get beer and a little fun with our friends. It will be a gathering of getting things done and celebrating the release all at the same time, I suspect, and I look forward to seeing how everyone else around the globe is celebrating the release of Fedora 18, both because it’s just awesome, and because we deserve to celebrate ourselves and our great work as well.

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 irc.freenode.net. 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. :)