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  • stefano 10:29 am on July 17, 2015 Permalink
    Tags: , ,   

    The hard life of OpenStack application developers 

    I’m starting to feel the pain of developers attempting to write applications on top of OpenStack clouds: it hurts, and I haven’t come anywhere close to doing anything special.

    I started following the getting started utorial for First App Application For OpenStack (faafo) and I gut stuck on step 1, authentication. There are way too many things that are convoluted, confusing and sometimes carefully hidden (or ridiculously displayed) on Horizon that make it too hard to get started developing apps on OpenStack. I started following the Get Started document for python-libcloud:

    You need the following information that you can obtain from your cloud provider:

    auth URL
    user name
    project ID or name (projects are also known as tenants)
    cloud region

    Looks simple but it’s not. The auth URL doesn’t include the path say libcloud documentation but in practice every cloud I tried behaves differently. DreamHost and Runabove require not only v2.0/ but also /tokens after the base URL (https://keystone.dream.io/v2.0/tokens) while CityCloud and HPCloud seem to work according to the documentation. Some will throw weird errors if you add /tokens. Libcloud is also confusing regarding support for Keystone API v3 (which Citycloud uses): the official docs don’t mention v3 (bug), but a blog post from libcloud maintainer provides examples on how to use it.

    Finding the right projectID or name is also challenging because some clouds don’t show the project ID immediately in the web control panel (and not every cloud I tested runs OpenStack Horizon). Chances are you’ll have to find the RC file, which is fairly easy if the cloud you’re targeting is using Horizon.

    Even after I found all the pieces, I haven’t managed to authenticate using libcloud on CityCloud, Rackspace (using openstack provider) and HP. Only with OVH I managed to authenticate and get a list of images with my stock Ubuntu 15.04. I managed to authenticate on DreamHost only on Ubuntu 14.04 and on a clean, updated virtualenv.

    It took a lot of trials and errors to get rid of the Method Not Allowed errors and get libcloud.common.types.InvalidCredsError: ‘Invalid credentials with the provider’, which at least is hinting that I have guessed the auth_url for Citycloud and HP. But I have no idea why credentials are not accepted, since the username and password are those I use on the Horizon panel on HP and on on the custom Citycloud panel. My guess is that I haven’t guessed correctly the project_name or tenant_id or whatever it’s called. This is too confusing.

    OVH seems to works, but it requires the full url:

    auth_url = ‘https://auth.runabove.io/v2.0/tokens

    it won’t work without /v2.0/tokens.  So, after spending one day reading docs, trying to guess permutations I started thinking that probably libcloud is not a feasible approach.

    I’ve started looking at OpenStack Infra homegrown interoperability library shade instead: authentication went smoothly immediately with DreamHost and HP on my machine. At least that part was easy and I managed to make some progress in my test with that, finally. Hopefully by the end of the day I’ll have the FAAFO running on

    The end result is that it shouldn’t be this hard, even for a very modest developer like me, following a well written, copy-and-paste tutorial should not be as confusing. A lot of work needs to be done to make OpenStack clouds friendly to app developers.

  • stefano 8:07 am on June 23, 2015 Permalink
    Tags: , , foundation,   

    So long OpenStack community, see you soon 

    Let’s call it a “ciao” and not an “addio.”

    After almost four years (un)managing the OpenStack community, I have decided to move on and join DreamHost’s team to lead the marketing efforts of the DreamCloud. The past three years and 10 months have been amazing: I’ve joined a community of about 300 upstream contributors and saw it grow under my watch to over 3,600. I knew OpenStack would become huge and influence IT as much as the Linux kernel did and I still think it’s true. I’m really proud to have done my part to make OpenStack as big as it is now.

    During these years, I’ve focused on making open source community management more like a system, with proper measurement in place and onboarding programs for new contributors. I believe that open source collaboration is just a different form of engineering and as such it should be measured correctly in order to be better managed. I am particularly proud of the Activity Board, one of the most sophisticated systems to keep track of open collaboration. When I started fiddling with data from the developers’ community, there were only rudimentary examples of open source metrics published by Eclipse Foundation and Symbian Foundation. With the help of researchers from University of Madrid, we built a comprehensive dashboard for weekly tracking of raw numbers and quarterly reports with sophisticated, in-depth analysis. The OpenStack Activity Board may not look as pretty as Stackalytics, but the partnership with its developers makes it possible to tap into the best practices of software engineering metrics. I was lucky enough to find good partners in this journey, and to provide an example that other open source communities have followed, from Wikimedia to Eclipse, Apache and others.

    OpenStack Upstream Training is another example of a great partner: I was looking into a training program to teach developers about open source collaboration when I spoke in Hong Kong to an old friend, Loic Dachary. He told me about his experiment and I was immediately sold on the idea. After a trial run in Atlanta, we scaled the training up for Paris, Vancouver, plus community members repeated it in Japan already twice. I’m sure OpenStack Upstream Training will be offered also in Tokyo.

    It’s not a secret that I can’t stand online forums and that I consider mailing lists a necessary evil. I setup Ask OpenStack for users hoping to provide a place for them to find answers. It’s working well, with a lot of traffic in the English version and a lot less traffic in Chinese. My original roadmap was to provide more languages but we hit some issues with the software powering it (Askbot) that I hope the infra team and the excellent Marton Kiss can solve rapidly.

    On the issue of diversity, both gender and geographic, I’m quite satisfied with the results. I admit that these are hard problems that no single community can solve but each can put a drop in the bucket. I believe the Travel Support Program and constant participation in Outreachy are two such drops that help OpenStack be a welcoming place for people from all over the world and regardless of gender. The Board has also recently formalized a Diversity working group.

    Of course I wish I did some things better, faster. I’m sorry I didn’t make the CLA easier for casual and independent contributors: I’m glad to see the Board finally taking steps to improve the situation. I wish also I delivered the OpenStack Groups portal earlier and with more features but the dependency on OpenStackID and other projects with higher priorities delayed it a lot. Hopefully that portal will catch up.

    I will miss the people at the OpenStack Foundation: I’ve rarely worked with such a selection of smart, hard workers and fun to be around, too. It’s a huge privilege to work with people you actually want to go out with, talk about life, fun, travel, beers, wines and not work.

    When we Italians say “ciao,” it means we’re not saying good bye for long.

    So long, OpenStack community, see you around the corner.

  • stefano 6:55 pm on May 14, 2015 Permalink |
    Tags: , ergonomic, , touchscreen, xps13   

    A week with Dell XPS13 9343 (2015 model) 

    Last week I have received the new Dell XPS 13 from the Sputnik program, the one with Ubuntu pre-installed. I wanted to vote with my wallet since I believe Ubuntu is a pretty solid desktop environment, on par with Mac OS X and various Windows.

    Design-wise  Dell has produced a very good looking machine, nothing to say about that. Kudos to Dell’s team on designing something much prettier than a Macbook Air. The screen with no border is fantastic with almost no frame and it’s great to look at it.

    The only complaint I have towards Dell are the options they picked for the Sputnix program: the only way not to get a touchscreen is to buy a severely limited machine with only 128MB disk. No way. All the other options force you to spend money and sacrifice battery power on a useless feature.

    I think touchscreens are uncomfortable to use on desktops and I said so a long time ago. Unless the desktop OS is radically re-designed for touch and hand gestures on the monitor, it makes no sense. I would have never bought the touchscreen if Dell had offered a 256MB option with the regular monitor.

    On the Ubuntu side there are quite a few glitches like this issue with the cursor becoming sticky on some applications even if the touch-to-click on the touchpad is disabled and some difficulty to adapt to the ultradense display. By the way, that’s another reason not to get the touchscreen: lower resolution is good enough on such a small laptop anyway. Installing Ubuntu Vivid also was a bit more painful than I thought.

    All in all, I didn’t return the laptop as I thought I would, mainly because I needed to upgrade to a machine with 8GB rapidly.

  • stefano 9:32 am on March 25, 2015 Permalink |
    Tags: bitnami, , ,   

    Vote to get Mediagoblin on Bitnami 

    I’m a fan of GNU Mediagoblin, the media publishing platform that anyone can run. You can think of it as a decentralized alternative to Flickr, YouTube, SoundCloud, etc. It would be great to have it packaged for Bitnami so more people can run it easily. Vote for Mediagoblin!

  • stefano 3:19 am on November 13, 2014 Permalink |
    Tags: , , , , , ,   

    Tips to improve organizations contributing to OpenStack 

    The slides of my presentation at OpenStack Summit in Paris 2014 (download ODP source, 9M).

    And the sessions’ recording:

  • stefano 1:23 pm on November 11, 2014 Permalink |
    Tags: , ,   

    Post-summit summary of OpenStack Paris 

    Seven straight full time working days, starting from 9am Saturday and Sunday for the second edition of OpenStack Upstream Training to the feedback session on Friday evening at 6pm are finally over and I’m starting to catch up.

    I spoke on Monday, highlighting some of the findings of my research on how to change organizations so they can better contribute to OpenStack, later lead with Rob, Sean and Allison the creation of the Product working group (more on this later). The double-length session dedicated to addressing the growth pain in Neutron has removed the “if” and left the question to “how and when do we empower drivers and plugin developers to take their fate in their own hands”.

    I think this has been one of the most productive summit, I’m leaving Paris with the feeling we keep on improving our governance models and processes to better serve our ecosystem. Despite the criticisms, this community keeps on changing and adapts to new opportunities and threats like nothing I’ve seen before. I’m all charged up and ready for the six months of intense work leading up to Vancouver!

  • stefano 8:21 am on October 7, 2014 Permalink |  

    Next steps for ‘Hidden Influencers’ 

    With Paris only weeks away it’s time to announce that we have a time and place to meet people whose job is to decide what OpenStack means for their company. The OpenStack Foundation has offered a room to meet in Paris on Monday, November 3rd, in the afternoon: please add the meeting to your schedule.

    There have been discussions in the past weeks about the hidden influencers, there was a recent call by Randy Bias to identify people, functions, groups, anything who can own the product OpenStack. The time is ripe to get to know who directly control the engineers’ priorities and complete the circle of end users, operators, product owners, developers.

    Rob, Sean, Allison and I have the idea of creating a working group modelled after the Operators group: get people in the same room, some time mid-cycle and sync up on the development effort. It’s just an idea, mid-cycle is when the development roadmap gets more realistic, it’s more clear which blueprints are in good shape and which are less likely to make it into the release. We believe it would be valuable to have a moment when product decision makers can coordinate and get a chance to share their priorities.

    The room is available for 4 hours, but of course we can use for less time if needed. It makes sense to start hacking some of the topics in the next weeks, before Paris. Please join the mailing list and introduce yourself while the agenda will be drafted on the etherpad. For naming the group you can join the async brainstorming session (drop names at random and don’t judge yourself nor others: everything is fair game).


    • Debra 11:08 am on October 8, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      So glad you are organizing this group! Wish I was going to be at the Summit this time to participate in person.

    • Albert 8:30 am on October 23, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Looking forward to the discussion Stef. See you in Paris.

  • stefano 3:40 pm on October 1, 2014 Permalink |
    Tags: , , wiki   

    Improving the content of OpenStack wiki 

    The pages on wiki.openstack.org have been growing at a fast pace and it’s  time to give the wiki more shape: new contributors, end users and operators are having a hard time finding documentation since over time it spreads across many places. The wiki can have a role at directing readers where most appropriate. Luckily we have a team ready to help give the ~350 pages a more solid navigation and fixing content while at it:

    • Katherine Cranford (a trained taxonomist) volunteered to get through the wiki pages and propose a taxonomy for the wiki.
    • Shari Mahrdt, a recent hire by the Foundation, has volunteered a few hours per week to implement the taxonomy in the wiki pages, setup templates and write documentation to maintain the wiki.
    • I am overseeing the implementation and looking more carefully at content for contributors.

    We are keeping track of things to do on the etherpad: Action_Items_OpenStack_Wiki. Shari and I started implementing Katherine’s proposed taxonomy: it’s visible as a navigable tree on https://wiki.openstack.org/wiki/Category:Home.

    As an example of how the taxonomy works, let’s look at the tree of OpenStack Programs. One can think of Programs as teams of people using tools (code repository, bug tracker, etc) and coordinated processes to deliver one or more project to achieve a clearly stated objective. For  example, the Telemetry Program has a team of core reviewers responsible to drive development in code repositories for the Ceilometer project and the Ceilometer client, and each has pages for blueprints and specs, meeting notes and more. Programs contain projects, so the tree of categories under Programs will look like:
    • Programs
      • Telemetry
        • Ceilometer
          • Client
          • Blueprint
      • Block Storage
        • Cinder
          • Client
          • Blueprints
      • Compute
        • Nova
          • Client
          • Blueprints

    You can see this live on the wiki on https://wiki.openstack.org/wiki/Category:Programs. Fairly straightforward except that over the years some of the pages have started with describing a project and have now been repurposed to illustrate a Program. Look at Nova page for example: the name of the page is “Nova” but the title is OpenStack Compute. We’ll definitely have to shuffle content around.  For example, the Category:Programs page can be considered a duplicate of the wiki https://wiki.openstack.org/wiki/Programs page: since everything on mediawiki is a page, the Category pages can be edited and can be redirected to/from like all other pages. In this case, it would make sense to make high level content like Programs more of a dynamic page, like Category:Programs. The cool thing of this approach is that we can probably create new category page for new programs automatically when modifications to the programs.yaml are approved via jenkins.

    Adding a taxonomy and templates (more on this later) will help newcomers discover relevant content and find information more easily. While we implement the changes to the wiki we’ll also be reviewing the content on the pages, delete or mark as obsolete the old stuff and make things more readable for all. You can keep up with the progress by looking at RecentChanges.

    If you’d like to help us out or find out more please feel free to contact stefano@openstack.org and shari@openstack.org

  • stefano 3:19 pm on September 25, 2014 Permalink |
    Tags: , contributions, ,   

    How is your OpenStack team organized? 

    I’ve been collecting a lot of good insights talking to directors and managers about how their companies are organized to contribute to OpenStack. For geographic reasons I have mostly gathered comments from people between San Francisco and Silicon Valley and I’d like to expand the research.

    I’m especially interested in learning about internal processes, system of incentives, things that impact performance evaluation for engineers contributing to OpenStack.

    To expand the research I’m asking the OpenStack community to fill in this brief survey or contact me directly (stefano openstack.org) for a quick interview.

  • stefano 5:03 pm on September 18, 2014 Permalink |  

    Improving Documentation for new OpenStack Contributors 

    I think we’re starting to see too much friction and pain from contributors to OpenStack plugins, drivers, extensions: a lot is going on and joining the community feels like boarding a bullet train while it’s running at full speed. We’ve been doing a good job pulling people in the OpenStack community and educate them with our tools, processes especially for contributors to the Compute, Storage, Networking pieces of OpenStack; there are margins to improve life for “casual” contributors and newcomers in general.

    The main problem I think is that we’ve been treating all developers like they all have the same amount of dedication to the collaboration effort. We’ve been asking every person contributing to OpenStack to act the same way, whether they were fixing a small bug in Keystone or refactoring Neutron’s code: same gerrit review workflow, same process for blueprints/specs. We assumed always that anybody at any given time had the same level of knowledge of deadlines and recent changes to the processes. We are requiring people with radically different objectives and set of incentives to know and do the same things. I think this is starting to become too much of a problem for the community. We are already having conversations about this (split drivers, Neutron incubator, refocus summit, modify the legal requirements) and will continue discussing in Paris.

    The one thing that we should start improving immediately is the documentation for new contributors. New contributors have lots of resources available like the Welcome Guide, docs.openstack.org/developer, lots of wiki pages of varying degree of correctness and quality, tips and tricks on blog posts, upcoming video series, IRC support and Upstream Training. Based on what I hear from some, they struggle because these are in different places and owned by different people. A place where this content is shown in a more coherent way would be a great improvement.

    There are two efforts to improve various pieces of documentation: the Documentation program wants to redesign the Docs portal, and a new portal is being designed for developers of applications based on OpenStack. The Documentation program is not responsible for developers’ content on the Docs portal, it simply hosts the materials produced directly by the programs. While we wait for a redesign of the Documentation portal, I think we can start by fixing the wiki pages. With the help of a taxonomy produced by volunteer Katherine Cranford and Foundation’s staff Shari Mahrdt, we’ll give a bit more structure to the OpenStack wiki. Stay tuned for more details.


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