ubuntu planet – pleia2's blog https://princessleia.com/journal Elizabeth Krumbach Joseph's public journal about open source, DevOps, beer, travel, pink gadgets and her life in the city where little cable cars climb halfway to the stars. Fri, 24 Apr 2020 01:25:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.3.2 Ubuntu 20.04 LTS… on Big Iron! https://princessleia.com/journal/2020/04/ubuntu-20-04-lts-on-big-iron/ Fri, 24 Apr 2020 01:25:20 +0000 http://princessleia.com/journal/?p=15364 Today we saw the release of Ubuntu 20.04 LTS!

Alongside the fanfare of a new server and desktop release for AMD64, and my own beloved Xubuntu, this new version walks in the path of 16.04 and 18.04 to be the third LTS to support the s390x mainframe architecture for IBM Z.

If you have been following my adventures over the past year, you’ll know that I’m just shy of my one year anniversary at IBM, where I’ve been working on the IBM Z team to spread the word among open source communities about the mainframe. The epic hardware on these machines was definitely one of the hooks for me, but the big one was the amount of open source tooling that was being developed for them. The ability to run Linux on them sealed the deal. I wrote last week about some new hardware, and mentioned then that Ubuntu 20.04 supports the new Secure Execution technology for virtual machines.

So, what else is new for Ubuntu 20.04? At the top of my list would be improved support for the new IBM z15 hardware, released back in September. A number of changes made it into the 19.10 release, but 20.04 builds further upon this, especially around support for the compression and encryption features of the z15. Additionally, Subiquity is now the default installer for Ubuntu Server for s390x, which you can read more about here: A first glimpse at subiquity, the new server installer, now also on s390x.

This is just a taste of what is in store for users of Ubuntu on the mainframe. The list of major changes, along with the Launchpad bug/feature report numbers that tracked development throughout this cycle can be found over on the Ubuntu on the Big Iron blog in a post by Frank Heimes: A new Ubuntu LTS is available: Focal Fossa aka 20.04.

Finally, that fossa stuffed toy is mighty cute, right? You can have one too! With a donation to the World Wildlife Fund to “Adopt a Fossa.” Just keep it away from your lemur toys.

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Ubuntu and the new IBM LinuxONE III LT2 https://princessleia.com/journal/2020/04/ubuntu-and-the-new-linuxone-iii-lt2/ Tue, 14 Apr 2020 13:32:39 +0000 http://princessleia.com/journal/?p=15289 Back in September I wrote about Ubuntu on the new LinuxONE III. For the release of this new mainframe, there were balloons, and cake, and we had a great time celebrating. With Shelter in Place orders spreading throughout the US, we don’t have cake this time, but we do have a new hardware release!

The IBM LinuxONE III LT2 follows in the footsteps of the initial release, with support for the great PCIe cards that the LT1 has, but aimed at the mid-range market. Most notably, that means it only comes in a single frame version (versus the option of up to four frames for the LT1), the processor cores run at 4.5ghz, instead of 5.2ghz, and they are all air-cooled.

I wrote more about the hardware here: Inside the new IBM z15 T02 and LinuxONE III LT2.

What’s particularly notable here is that there’s an Ubuntu LTS release coming out next week. So, in addition to all the LinuxONE III features that Ubuntu 19.10 has for the LinuxONE, this new release will also have support for a new Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) for IBM Z, Secure Execution. If you’re interested in Secure Execution specifically, I wrote about that, too: Technical Overview of Secure Execution for Linux on IBM Z. For those who are curious adaptions in the kernel, qemu, and s390-tools were made for Ubuntu 20.04 to support Secure Execution on both LinuxONE III models, and Linux running on the IBM z15 and the new z15 T02.

I’m looking forward to the Ubuntu 20.04 LTS release next week and all the latest goodies that brings to the s390x mainframe platform. I’ll be doing an overview blog post next week, but keep an eye on the Ubuntu on Big Iron blog for an in-depth update of all the work that has gone into this LTS release.

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Our upcoming Webinar on Security with Ubuntu and IBM Z https://princessleia.com/journal/2020/01/webinar-security-with-ubuntu-and-ibm-z/ Tue, 28 Jan 2020 18:26:22 +0000 http://princessleia.com/journal/?p=15174 My first interaction with the Ubuntu community was in March of 2005 when I put Ubuntu on an old Dell laptop and signed up for the Ubuntu Forums. This was just a few years into my tech career and I was mostly a Linux hobbyist, with a handful of junior systems administrator jobs on the side to do things like racking servers and installing Debian (with CDs!). Many of you with me on this journey have seen my role grow in the Ubuntu community with Debian packaging, local involvement with events and non-profits, participation in the Ubuntu Developer Summits, membership in the Ubuntu Community Council, and work on several Ubuntu books, from technical consultation to becoming an author on The Official Ubuntu Book.

These days I’ve taken my 15+ years of Linux Systems Administration and open source experience down a slightly different path: Working on Linux on the mainframe (IBM Z). The mainframe wasn’t on my radar a year ago, but as I got familiar with the technical aspects, the modernization efforts to incorporate DevOps principles, and the burgeoning open source efforts, I became fascinated with the platform.

As a result, I joined IBM last year to share my discoveries with the broader systems administration and developer communities. Ubuntu itself got on board with this mainframe journey with official support for the architecture (s390x) in Ubuntu 16.04, and today there’s a whole blog that gets into the technical details of features specific to Ubuntu on the mainframe: Ubuntu on Big Iron

I’m excited to share that I’ll be joining the author of the Ubuntu on Big Iron blog, Frank Heimes, live on February 6th for a webinar titled How to protect your data, applications, cryptography and OS – 100% of the time. I’ll be doing an introduction to the IBM Z architecture (including cool hardware pictures!) and general security topics around Linux on Z and LinuxONE.

I’ll then hand the reins over to Frank to get into the details of the work Canonical has done to take advantage of hardware cryptography functions and secure everything from network ports to the software itself with automatic security updates.

What I find most interesting about all of this work is how much open source is woven in. You’re not using proprietary tooling on the Linux level for things like encryption. As you’ll see from the webinar, on a low level Linux on Z uses dm-crypt and in-kernel crypto algorithms. At the user level, TLS/SSL is all implemented with OpenSSL and libcrypto. Even the libica crypto library is open source.

You can sign up for the webinar here, and you’ll have the option to watch it live or on-demand replays: How to protect your data, applications, cryptography and OS – 100% of the time and read the blog post from the Ubuntu blog here. We’re aiming to make this technical and fun, so I hope you’ll join us!

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Ubuntu on the new LinuxONE III https://princessleia.com/journal/2019/09/ubuntu-on-the-new-linuxone-iii/ Thu, 19 Sep 2019 09:00:30 +0000 http://princessleia.com/journal/?p=14989 A few months ago I visited the IBM offices in Poughkeepsie to sync up with colleagues, record an episode of Terminal Talk, and let’s be honest, visit some mainframes. A lot of assembly still happens in Poughkeepsie, and they have a big client center with mainframes on display, including several inside a datacenter that they give tours of. I was able to see a z14 in operation, as well as several IBM LinuxONE machines. Getting to tour datacenters is a lot of fun, and even though I wouldn’t have meaningful technical interactions with them, there’s something about seeing these massive machines that I work with every day in person that brings me a lot of joy.

Now I have to go back! On September 12th, the newest mainframe was announced, the IBM z15 and accompanying Linux version, the IBM LinuxONE III. To celebrate, I joined my colleagues in the IBM Silicon Valley lab for a launch event watch party and, of course, cake.

I wrote a more in-depth article about the hardware of this machine for work here: Inside the LinuxONE III. The key thing about it is that we’ve gone from two versions of the LinuxONE (Rockhopper II and Emperor II), to just one, but one that fits inside a 19” rack space like the Rockhopper II did and is expandable to up to four frames.

The processors are 5.2Ghz each, and in a fully decked out configuration one of these 4-frame systems can have up to 190 processors and 40 TB of RAM. It’s a massively powerful machine. Add in on-chip crypto that we’ve come to know and love on the mainframe, you have a really impressive data processing powerhouse.

Now, I was brought on to the Z Ecosystem team because of my background with Linux, both in the Ubuntu community and broader experience with distributed systems, including OpenStack and Apache Mesos. That’s because these mainframes don’t just run z/OS. The LinuxONE series of machines, the first of which was released in 2015, are exclusively Linux. Last week I wrote an article over on OpenSource.com about How Linux came to the mainframe, where I talk about how this came to be. This morning the second part of that article was published, Linux on the mainframe: Then and now, where I explore the formal entrance of major distributions into supporting the mainframe architecture. Ubuntu joined that fold with an announcement in 2016 that Ubuntu 16.04 had support for the mainframe (s390x architecture). Today, Ubuntu boasts the most s390x packages of all the officially supported distributions.

All recent release of Ubuntu have supported s390x, so while they recommend the LTS releases, you can happily use Ubuntu 19.04 today to get the latest packages, and there are even more improvements in store for Ubuntu 19.10 coming out next month. When I chatted with Frank Heimes, who runs the Ubuntu on Big Iron blog (which you should totally check out!), he highlighted the following this for me with regard to Ubuntu support:

  • Special emphasis is put on kernel, KVM, hardware counters and security, allowing one to make use of z15 and LinuxONE III faster and enlarged number of processors with new CPU capabilities, facilities and larger caches, increased memory and IO throughput
  • Support for hardware cryptography, which he talks about in this blog post and the associated whitepaper: Hardware cryptography with Ubuntu Server on IBM Z and LinuxONE
  • Support for deployments on LPAR, z/VM, KVM, LXD, Docker and kubernetes (CDK), with installation media available as ISO, Cloud or container images.

It was also interesting for me to learn that their MAAS KVM product has been built for s390x, which I’ll point you to the Ubuntu on Big Iron blog for again, for one of Frank’s posts this month on the topic: MAAS KVM on s390x: Cross-LPAR walk-through. There have also been collaborations in the works to create proof of concepts around security, including Digital Asset Custody Services (DACS), which you can explore in more detail in this article from August: Digital Asset Custody Services (DACS) aims to disrupt the digital assets market with a secured custody platform.

For Ubuntu, s390x isn’t just another checkbox architecture that’s being supported. Just like the other officially supported distributions, there are whole teams within Canonical who are spending time making thoughtful and innovative solutions that specifically target the power of the mainframe. The following is their Design Philosophy for Ubuntu Server on IBM Z and LinuxONE, via Frank’s Ubuntu Server for IBM Z and LinuxONE slide deck (4.2M PDF):

  • Expand Ubuntu’s ease of use to the s390x architecture (IBM Z and LinuxONE)
  • Unlock new workloads, especially in the Open Source, Cloud and Container space
  • Consequentially tap into new client bases
  • Exploit new features and components faster – in two ways:
    • hardware: zEC12/zBC12 and newer
    • software: latest kernels, compilers and optimized libraries
    • Provide parity with other architectures
    • Release parity
    • Feature parity
  • Uniform user experience
  • Close potential gaps
  • Open source – is collective power in action
  • Upstream work and code only – no forks
  • Offer a radically new pricing approach (drawer-based pricing) but also an entry-level pricing based on the number of IFLs (up to 4 IFLs)
  • Of course we don’t have mainframes in our garages (even as an IBM employee, I’ve asked!). So as developers, our access is somewhat limited. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t build your Ubuntu .deb or snap for s390x! As I wrote about back in June, you can build your PPA for s390x with the clicking of a simple checkbox in the Launchpad UI for PPAs.

    Similarly, you can also build snaps for the s390x architecture. These build systems reside on a mainframe that Canonical hosts in their datacenter, so you don’t even need access to a mainframe yourself to build for it.

    But if you want to be extra sure your application runs on s390x, IBM has made a LinuxONE Community Cloud which gives users a VM running on a mainframe in New York for 120 days! You can try out your application on one of those, and then be confident it works when you submit it to the PPA or snap build system. Unfortunately the only options right now for OS are SLES and RHEL, but Ubuntu support is in the works. Beyond this cloud, we’re also working to get an open source developer cloud launched, but in the meantime you can reach out to me directly (lyz@ibm.com) if you’re interested in some longer-lived VMs for your open source project, or generally want to talk about how you can get more VMs for testing, CI systems, and more.

    If you had asked me a year ago to talk about mainframes, I would not have had much to say, but I’m really excited to be part of this story now. The machines themselves are impressive, the efforts that distributions like Ubuntu are putting into them is quite exceptional, and it’s really fun learning about a new architecture. And speaking of other architectures, s390x isn’t the only architecture Canonical works with IBM to provide support for. As noted on the Ubuntu on IBM partner page (which is worth checking out anyway), you’ll see there’s a lot of work being put in around POWER too.

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    Building a PPA for s390x https://princessleia.com/journal/2019/06/building-a-ppa-for-s390x/ Tue, 18 Jun 2019 14:59:47 +0000 http://princessleia.com/journal/?p=14817 About 20 years ago a few clever, nerdy folks got together and ported Linux to the mainframe (s390x architecture). Reasons included because it’s there, and other ones you’d expect from technology enthusiasts, but if you read far enough, you’ll learn that they also saw a business case, which has been realized today. You can read more about that history over on Linas Vepstas’ Linux on the IBM ESA/390 Mainframe Architecture.

    Today the s390x architecture not only officially supports Ubuntu, Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES), but there’s an entire series of IBM Z mainframes available that are devoted to only running Linux, that’s LinuxONE. At the end of April I joined IBM to lend my Linux expertise to working on these machines and spreading the word about them to my fellow infrastructure architects and developers.

    As its own architecture (not the x86 that we’re accustomed to), compiled code needs to be re-compiled in order to run on the s390x platform. In the case of Ubuntu, the work has already been done to get a large chunk of the Ubuntu repository ported, so you can now run thousands of Linux applications on a LinuxONE machine. In order to effectively do this, there’s a team at Canonical responsible for this port and they have access to an IBM Z server to do the compiling.

    But the most interesting thing to you and me? They also lend the power of this machine to support community members, by allowing them to build PPAs as well!

    By default, Launchpad builds PPAs for i386 and amd64, but if you select “Change details” of your PPA, you’re presented with a list of other architectures you can target.

    Last week I decided to give this a spin with a super simple package: A “Hello World” program written in Go. To be honest, the hardest part of this whole process is creating the Debian package, but you have to do that regardless of what kind of PPA you’re creating and there’s copious amounts of documentation on how to do that. Thankfully there’s dh-make-golang to help the process along for Go packages, and within no time I had a source package to upload to Launchpad.

    From there it was as easy as clicking the “IBM System z (s390x)” box under “Change details” and the builds were underway, along with build logs. Within a few minutes all three packages were built for my PPA!

    Now, mine was the most simple Go application possible, so when coupled with the build success, I was pretty confident that it would work. Still, I hopped on my s390x Ubuntu VM and tested it.

    It worked! But aren’t I lucky, as an IBM employee I have access to s390x Linux VMs.

    I’ll let you in on a little secret: IBM has a series of mainframe-driven security products in the cloud: IBM Cloud Hyper Protect Services. One of these services is Hyper Protect Virtual Servers which are currently Experimental and you can apply for access. Once granted access, you can launch and Ubuntu 18.04 VM for free to test your application, or do whatever other development or isolation testing you’d like on a VM for a limited time.

    If this isn’t available to you, there’s also the LinuxONE Community Cloud. It’s also a free VM that can be used for development, but as of today the only distributions you can automatically provision are RHEL or SLES. You won’t be able to test your deb package on these, but you can test your application directly on one of these platforms to be sure the code itself works on Linux on s390x before creating the PPA.

    And if you’re involved with an open source project that’s more serious about a long-term, Ubuntu-based development platform on s390x, drop me an email at lyz@ibm.com so we can have a chat!

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    SCaLE16x with Ubuntu, CI/CD and more! https://princessleia.com/journal/2018/04/scale16x-with-ubuntu-ci-cd-and-more/ Fri, 13 Apr 2018 20:49:39 +0000 http://princessleia.com/journal/?p=13863 Last month I made my way down to Pasadena for one of my favorite conferences of the year, the Southern California Linux Expo. Like most years, I split my time between Ubuntu and stuff I was working on for my day job. This year that meant doing two talks and attending UbuCon on Thursday and half of Friday.

    As with past years, UbuCon at SCALE was hosted by Nathan Haines and Richard Gaskin. The schedule this year was very reflective about the history and changes in the project. In a talk from Sriram Ramkrishna of System76 titled “Unity Dumped Us! The Emotional Healing” he talked about the closing of development on the Unity desktop environment. System76 is primarily a desktop company, so the abrupt change of direction from Canonical took some adjusting to and was a little painful. But out of it came their Ubuntu derivative Pop!_OS and a community around it that they’re quite proud of. In the talk “The Changing Face of Ubuntu” Nathan Haines walked through Ubuntu history to demonstrate the changes that have happened within the project over the years, and allow us to look at the changes today with some historical perspective. The Ubuntu project has always been about change. Jono Bacon was in the final talk slot of the event to give a community management talk titled “Ubuntu: Lessons Learned”. Another retrospective, he drew from his experience when he was the Ubuntu Community Manager to share some insight into what worked and what didn’t in the community. Particularly noteworthy for me were his points about community members needing direction more than options (something I’ve also seen in my work, discrete tasks have a higher chance of being taken than broad contribution requests) and the importance of setting expectations for community members. Indeed, I’ve seen that expectations are frequently poorly communicated in communities where there is a company controlling direction of the project. A lot of frustration could be alleviated by being more clear about what is expected from the company and where the community plays a role.


    UbuCon group photo courtesy of Nathan Haines (source)

    The UbuCon this year wasn’t as big as those in years past, but we did pack the room with nearly 120 people for a few talks, including the one I did on “Keeping Your Ubuntu Systems Secure”. Nathan Haines suggested this topic when I was struggling to come up with a talk idea for the conference. At first I wasn’t sure what I’d say, but as I started taking notes about what I know about Ubuntu both from a systems administration perspective with servers, and as someone who has done a fair amount of user support in the community over the past decade, it turned out that I did have an entire talk worth of advice! None of what I shared was complicated or revolutionary, there was no kernel hardening in my talk or much use of third party security tools. Instead the talk focused on things like keeping your system updated, developing a fundamental understanding of how your system and Debian packages work, and tips around software management. The slides for my presentation are pretty wordy, so you can glean the tips I shared from them: Keeping_Your_Ubuntu_Systems_Secure-UbuConSummit_Scale16x.pdf.


    Thanks to Nathan Haines for taking this photo during my talk (source)

    The team running Ubuntu efforts at the conference rounded of SCALE by staffing a booth through the weekend. The Ubuntu booths have certainly evolved over the years, when I ran them it was always a bit cluttered and had quite the grass roots feeling to it (the booth in 2012). The booths the team put together now are simpler and more polished. This is definitely in line with the trend of more polished open source software presence in general, so kudos to the team for making sure our little Ubuntu California crew of volunteers keeps up.

    Shifting over to the more work-focused parts of the conference, on Friday I spoke at Container Day, with my talk being the first of the day. The great thing about going first is that I get to complete my talk and relax for the rest of the conference. The less great thing about it is that I get to experience all the A/V gotchas and be awake and ready to give a talk at 9:30AM. Still, I think the pros outweighed the cons and I was able to give a refresh of my “Advanced Continuous Delivery Strategies for Containerized Applications Using DC/OS” talk, which included a new demo that I finished writing the week before. The talk seemed to generate interest that led to good discussions later in the conference, and to my relief the live demo concluded without a problem. Slides from the talk can be found here: Advanced_CD_Using_DCOS-SCALE16x.pdf


    Thanks to Nathan Handler for taking this photo during my talk (source)

    Saturday and Sunday brought a duo of keynotes that I wouldn’t have expected at an open source conference five years ago, from Microsoft and Amazon. In both these keynotes the speaker recognized the importance of open source today in the industry, which has fueled the shift in perspective and direction regarding open source for these companies. There’s certainly a celebration to be had around this, when companies are contributing to open source because it makes business sense to do so, we all benefit from the increased opportunities that presents. On the other hand, it has caused disruption in the older open source communities, and some have struggled to continue to find personal value and meaning in this new open source world. I’ve been thinking a lot about this since the conference and have started putting together a talk about it, nicely timed for the 20th anniversary of the “open source” term. I want to explore how veteran contributors stay passionate and engaged, and how we can bring this same feeling to new contributors who came down different paths to join open source communities.

    Regular talks began on Saturday with me attending Nathan Handler’s talk on “Terraforming all the things” where he shared some of the work they’ve been doing at Yelp that has resulted in the handling of things like DNS records and CDN configuration being handled by Terraform. From there I went to a talk by Brian Proffitt where he talked about metrics in communities and the Community Health Analytics Open Source Software (CHAOOS) project. I spent much of the rest of the day in the “hallway track” catching up with people, but at the end I popped into a talk by Steve Wong on “Running Containerized Workloads in an on-prem Datacenter” where he discussed the role that bare metal continues to have in the industry, even as many rush to the cloud for a turnkey solution.

    It was at this talk where I had the pleasure of meeting one of our newest Account Executives at Mesosphere, Kelly Bond, and also had some time to catch up with my colleague Jörg Schad.


    Jörg, me, Kelly

    Nuritzi Sanchez presented my favorite talk on Sunday, on Endless OS. They build a Linux distribution using FlatPak and as an organization work on the problem of access to technology in developing nations. I’ve long been concerned about cellphone-only access in these countries. You need a mix of a system that’s tolerant to being offline and that has input devices (like keyboards!) that allow work to be done on them. They’re doing really interesting work on the technical side related to offline content and general architecture around a system that needs to be conscious of offline status, but they’re also developing deployment strategies on the ground in places like Indonesia that will ensure the local community can succeed long term. I have a lot of respect for the people working toward all this, and really want to see this organization succeed.

    I’m always grateful to participate in this conference. It’s grown a lot over the years and it certainly has changed, but the autonomy given to the special events like UbuCon allows for a conference that brings together lots of different voices and perspective all in one place. I also have a lot of friends who attend this conference, many of whom span jobs and open source projects I’ve worked on over more than a decade. Building friendships and reconnecting with people is part of what makes the work I do in open source so important to me, and not just a job for me. Thanks to everyone who continues to make this possible year after year in beautiful Pasadena.

    More photos from the event here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/albums/72157693153653781

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    Your own Zesty Zapus https://princessleia.com/journal/2017/03/your-own-zesty-zapus/ Wed, 22 Mar 2017 04:01:43 +0000 http://princessleia.com/journal/?p=12585 As we quickly approach the release of Ubuntu 17.04, Zesty Zapus, coming up on April 13th, you may be thinking of how you can mark this release.

    Well, thanks to Tom Macfarlane of the Canonical Design Team you have one more goodie in your toolkit, the SVG of the official Zapus! It’s now been added to the Animal SVGs section of the Official Artwork page on the Ubuntu wiki.

    Zesty Zapus

    Download the SVG version for printing or using in any other release-related activities from the wiki page or directly here.

    Over here, I’m also all ready with the little “zapus” I picked up on Amazon.

    Zesty Zapus toy
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    Ubuntu at SCaLE15x https://princessleia.com/journal/2017/03/ubuntu-at-scale15x/ Fri, 10 Mar 2017 05:39:22 +0000 http://princessleia.com/journal/?p=12552 On Thursday, March 2nd I spent most of the day running an Open Source Infrastructure Day, but across the way my Ubuntu friends were kicking off the first day of the second annual UbuCon Summit at SCaLE. The first day included a keynote from by Carl Richell of System76 where they made product announcements, including of their new Galago Pro laptop and their Starling Pro ARM server. The talk following came from Nextcloud, with a day continuing with talks from Aaron Atchison and Karl Fezer talking about the Mycroft AI, José Antonio Rey on Getting to know Juju: From zero to deployed in minutes and Amber Graner sharing the wisdom that You don’t need permission to contribute to your own destiny.

    I ducked out of the Open Infrastructure Day in the mid-afternoon to give my talk, 10 Years of Xubuntu. This is a talk I’d been thinking about for some time, and I begin by walking folks through the history of the Xubuntu project. From there I spoke about where it sits in the Ubuntu community as a recognized flavor, and then on to how specific strategies that the team has employed with regard to motivating the completely volunteer-driven team.

    When it came to social media accounts, we didn’t create them all ourselves, instead relying upon existing accounts on Facebook, G+ and LinkedIn that we promoted to being official ones, keeping the original volunteers in place, just giving access to a core Xubuntu team member in case they couldn’t continue running it. It worked out for all of us, we had solid contributors passionate about their specific platforms and excited to be made official, and as long as they kept them running we didn’t need to expend core team resources to keep them running. We’ve also worked to collect user stories in order to motivate current contributors, since it means a lot to see their work being used by others. I’ve also placed a great deal of value on the Xubuntu Strategy Document, which has set the guiding principles of the project and allowed us to steer the ship through difficult decisions in the project. Slides from the talk are available here: 10_years_of_Xubuntu_UbuCon_Summit.pdf (1.9M).

    Thursday evening I met with my open source infrastructure friends for dinner, but afterwards swung by Porto Alegre to catch some folks for evening drinks and snacks. I had a really nice chat with Nathan Haines, who co-organized the UbuCon Summit.

    On Friday I was able to attend the first keynote! Michael Hall gave a talk titled Sponsored by Canonical where he dove deep into Ubuntu history to highlight Canonical’s role in the support of the project from the early focus on desktop Linux, to the move into devices and the cloud. His talk was followed by one from Sergio Schvezov on Snaps. The afternoon was spent as an unconference, with the Ubuntu booth starting up in the expo hall on 2PM.

    The weekend was all about the Ubuntu booth. Several volunteers staffed it Friday through Sunday.

    They spent the event showing off the Ubuntu Phone, Mycroft AI, and several laptops.

    It was also great to once again meet up with one of my co-authors for the 9th edition of The Official Ubuntu Book, José Antonio Rey. Our publisher sent a pile of books to give out at the event, some of which we gave out during our talks, and a couple more at the booth.

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    Moving on from the Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter https://princessleia.com/journal/2017/02/moving-on-from-the-ubuntu-weekly-newsletter/ https://princessleia.com/journal/2017/02/moving-on-from-the-ubuntu-weekly-newsletter/#comments Sat, 25 Feb 2017 02:57:27 +0000 http://princessleia.com/journal/?p=12512 Somewhere around 2010 I started getting involved with the Ubuntu News Team. My early involvement was limited to the Ubuntu Fridge team, where I would help post announcements from various teams, including the Ubuntu Community Council that I was part of. With Amber Graner at the helm of the Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter (UWN) I focused my energy elsewhere since I knew how much work the UWN editor position was at the time.

    Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter

    At the end of 2010 Amber stepped down from the team to pursue other interests, and with no one to fill her giant shoes the team entered a five month period of no newsletters. Finally in June, after being contacted numerous times about the fate of the newsletter, I worked with Nathan Handler to revive it so we could release issue 220. Our first job was to do an analysis of the newsletter as a whole. What was valuable about the newsletter and what could we do away with to save time? What could we automate? We decided to make some changes to reduce the amount of manual work put into it.

    To this end, we ceased to include monthly reports inline and started linking to rather than sharing inline the upcoming meeting and event details in the newsletter itself. There was also a considerable amount of automation done thanks to Nathan’s work on scripts. No more would we be generating any of the release formats by hand, they’d all be generated with a single command, ready to be cut and pasted. Release time every week went from over two hours to about 20 minutes in the hands of an experienced editor. Our next editor would have considerably less work than those who came before them. From then on I’d say I’ve been pretty heavily involved.

    500

    The 500th issue lands on February 27th, this is an exceptional milestone for the team and the Ubuntu community. It is deserving of celebration, and we’ve worked behind the scenes to arrange a contest and a simple way for folks to say “thanks” to the team. We’ve also reached out to a handful of major players in the community to tell us what they get from the newsletter.

    With the landing of this issue, I will have been involved with over 280 issues over 8 years. Almost every week in that time (I did skip a couple weeks for my honeymoon!) I’ve worked to collect Ubuntu news from around the community and internet, prepare it for our team of summary writers, move content to the wiki for our editors, and spend time on Monday doing the release. Over these years I’ve worked with several great contributors to keep the team going, rewarding contributors with all the thanks I could muster and even a run of UWN stickers specifically made for contributors. I’ve met and worked with some great people during this time, and I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve accomplished over these years and the quality we’ve been able to maintain with article selection and timely releases.

    But all good things must come to an end. Several months ago as I was working on finding the next step in my career with a new position, I realized how much my life and the world of open source had changed since I first started working on the newsletter. Today there are considerable demands on my time, and while I hung on to the newsletter, I realized that I was letting other exciting projects and volunteer opportunities pass me by. At the end of October I sent a private email to several of the key contributors letting them know I’d conclude my participation with issue 500. That didn’t quite happen, but I am looking to actively wind down my participation starting with this issue and hope that others in the community can pick up where I’m leaving off.

    UWN stickers

    I’ll still be around the community, largely focusing my efforts on Xubuntu directly. Folks can reach out to me as they need help moving forward, but the awesome UWN team will need more contributors. Contributors collect news, write summaries and do editing, you can learn more about joining here. If you have questions about contributing, you can join #ubuntu-news on freenode and say hello or drop an email to our team mailing list (public archives).

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    UbuCon EU 2016 https://princessleia.com/journal/2016/12/ubucon-eu-2016/ https://princessleia.com/journal/2016/12/ubucon-eu-2016/#comments Mon, 12 Dec 2016 00:03:10 +0000 http://princessleia.com/journal/?p=12276 Last month I had the opportunity to travel to Essen, Germany to attend UbuCon EU 2016. Europe has had UbuCons before, but the goal of this one was to make it a truly international event, bringing in speakers like me from all corners of the Ubuntu community to share our experiences with the European Ubuntu community. Getting to catch up with a bunch of my Ubuntu colleagues who I knew would be there and visiting Germany as the holiday season began were also quite compelling reasons for me to attend.

    The event formally kicked off Saturday morning with a welcome and introduction by Sujeevan Vijayakumaran, he reported that 170 people registered for the event and shared other statistics about the number of countries attendees were from. He also introduced a member of the UbPorts team, Marius Gripsgård, who announced the USB docking station for Ubuntu Touch devices they were developing, more information in this article on their website: The StationDock.

    Following these introductions and announcements, we were joined by Canonical CEO Jane Silber who provided a tour of the Ubuntu ecosystem today. She highlighted the variety of industries where Ubuntu was key, progress with Ubuntu on desktops/laptops, tablets, phones and venturing into the smart Internet of Things (IoT) space. Her focus was around the amount of innovation we’re seeing in the Ubuntu community and from Canonical, and talked about specifics regarding security, updates, the success in the cloud and where Ubuntu Core fits into the future of computing.

    I also loved that she talked about the Ubuntu community. The strength of local meetups and events, the free support community that spans a variety of resources, ongoing work by the various Ubuntu flavors. She also spoke to the passion of Ubuntu contributors, citing comics and artwork that community members have made, including the stunning series of release animal artwork by Sylvia Ritter from right there in Germany, visit them here: Ubuntu Animals. I was also super thrilled that she mentioned the Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter as a valuable resource for keeping up with the community, a very small group of folks works very hard on it and that kind of validation is key to sustaining motivation.

    The next talk I attended was by Fernando Lanero Barbero on Linux is education, Linux is science. Ubuntu to free educational environments. Fernando works at a school district in Spain where he has deployed Ubuntu across hundreds of computers, reaching over 1200 students in the three years he’s been doing the work. The talk outlined the strengths of the approach, explaining that there was cost savings for his school and also how Ubuntu and open source software is more in line with the school values. One of the key takeaways from his experience was one that I know a lot about from our own Linux in schools experiences here in the US at Partimus: focus on the people, not the technologies. We’re technologists who love Linux and want to promote it, but without engagement, understanding and buy-in from teachers, deployments won’t be successful. A lot of time needs to be spent making assessments of their needs, doing roll-outs slowly and methodically so that the change doesn’t happen to abruptly and leave them in a lurch. He also stressed the importance of consistency with the deployments. Don’t get super creative across machines, use the same flavor for everything, even the same icon set. Not everyone is as comfortable with variation as we are, and you want to make the transition as easy as possible across all the systems.

    Laura Fautley (Czajkowski) spoke at the next talk I went to, on Supporting Inclusion & Involvement in a Remote Distributed Team. The Ubuntu community itself is distributed across the globe, so drawing experience from her work there and later at several jobs where she’s had to help manage communities, she had a great list of recommendations as you build out such a team. She talked about being sensitive to time zones, acknowledgement that decisions are sometimes made in social situations rather than that you need to somehow document and share these decisions with the broader community. She was also eager to highlight how you need to acknowledge and promote the achievements in your team, both within the team and to the broader organization and project to make sure everyone feels valued and so that everyone knows the great work you’re doing. Finally, it was interesting to hear some thoughts about remote member on-boarding, stressing the need to have a process so that new contributors and team mates can quickly get up to speed and feel included from the beginning.

    I went to a few other talks throughout the two day event, but one of the big reasons for me attending was to meet up with some of my long-time friends in the Ubuntu community and finally meet some other folks face to face. We’ve had a number of new contributors join us since we stopped doing Ubuntu Developer Summits and today UbuCons are the only Ubuntu-specific events where we have an opportunity to meet up.


    Laura Fautley, Elizabeth K. Joseph, Alan Pope, Michael Hall

    Of course I was also there to give a pair of talks. I first spoke on Contributing to Ubuntu on Desktops (slides) which is a complete refresh of a talk I gave a couple of times back in 2014. The point of that talk was to pull people back from the hype-driven focus on phones and clouds for a bit and highlight some of the older projects that still need contributions. I also spoke on Building a career with Ubuntu and FOSS (slides) which was definitely the more popular talk. I’ve given a similar talk for a couple UbuCons in the past, but this one had the benefit of being given while I’m between jobs. This most recent job search as I sought out a new role working directly with open source again gave a new dimension to the talk, and also made for an amusing intro, “I don’t have a job at this very moment …but without a doubt I will soon!” And in fact, I do have something lined up now.


    Thanks to Tiago Carrondo for taking this picture during my talk! (source)

    The venue for the conference was a kind of artists space, which made it a bit quirky, but I think worked out well. We had a couple social gatherings there at the venue, and buffet lunches were included in our tickets, which meant we didn’t need to go far or wait on food elsewhere.

    I didn’t have a whole lot of time for sight-seeing this trip because I had a lot going on stateside (like having just bought a house!) but I did get to enjoy the beautiful Christmas Market in Essen a few of nights while I was there.

    For those of you not familiar with German Christmas Markets (I wasn’t), they close roads downtown and pop up streets of wooden shacks that sell everything from Christmas ornaments and cookies to hot drinks, beers and various hot foods. We went the first night I was in town we met up with several fellow conference-goers and got some fries with mayonnaise, grilled mushrooms with Bearnaise sauce, my first taste of German Glühwein (mulled wine) and hot chocolate. The next night we went was a quick walk through the market that landed us at a steakhouse where we had a late dinner and a couple beers.

    The final night we didn’t stay out late, but did get some much anticipated Spanish churros, which inexplicably had sugar rather than the cinnamon I’m used to, as well as a couple more servings of Glühwein, this time in commemorative Christmas mugs shaped like boots!


    Clockwise from top left: José Antonio Rey, Philip Ballew, Michael Hall, John and Laura Fautley, Elizabeth K. Joseph

    The next morning I was up bright and early to catch a 6:45AM train that started me on my three train journey back to Amsterdam to fly back to Philadelphia.

    It was a great little conference and a lot of fun. Huge thanks to Sujeevan for being so incredibly welcoming to all of us, and thanks to all the volunteers who worked for months to make the event happen. Also thanks to Ubuntu community members who donate to the community fund since I would have otherwise had to self-fund to attend.

    More photos from the event (and the Christmas Market!) here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/albums/72157676958738915

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