Back from San Diego OpenStack Summit

My experience at the OpenStack Summit in San Diego has been really good. I have received lots of positive comments about this configuration, merging the Design Summit with the Conference. Despite the high amount of people it seems that things went well. I’m waiting to gather more details about the remote participation to the Design Summit with WebEx, I’ll report more about that soon.

I presented one session at the conference, lead two sessions on the Design Summit track and facilitated the meeting of the APEC group. Especially on the last day I missed the integration of the summit’s agenda from sched.org into my personal calendar applications (phone and desktop) because I ended up overbooking myself a couple of times. Thankfully Monty Taylor covered for me.

The ‘Community Dashboard‘ that I presented with zAgile was received with enthusiastic comments: the crowd cheered ‘ship it’ when I asked them what they thought of the demo. I’ve talked with Sanjiva and Andrew after the presentation, we should have an early beta out there by the end of the year.

More needs to be done in order to improve the community resources: IRC channels are not owned by the Foundation, some services depend by one person only (the main website and etherpad service, just to make an example). The forums need some love and probably we should have a Q&A system in place. During the sessions Atul Jha from India showed an askbot-powered system that he volunteered to run. In the next weeks I’ll help him go live with it. We discussed also the migration of the General mailing list out of Launchpad: unfortunately I have no news since my last update. The planet needs a better look, if nothing else. And the OpenStack blog needs a better content policy: some people in the room raised some concerns over the abuse of corporate posts on it.

During the discussion on how to track OpenStack’s adoption I was suggested to focus on users’ survey instead of proposing to add some ‘telephone home’ capability to OpenStack’s code (like Mozilla Foundation does with Firefox). I think this is a good idea and I’ll make sure this will become a project of the Foundation in the next months, once we’ll be fully staffed (we’re hiring).

Monty lead the session I proposed about an Integrated Identity System among all OpenStack tools. We went through the improvements we’re working on regarding the CLA workflow and its integration into Gerrit and the Foundation’s membership database. Todd Morey was in the session and we had more ideas on how to make things progress a bit faster (we agreed that hanging out on IRC is a prerequisite for make things happen faster). The future of Launchpad as the main ID system for OpenStack will be decided after Ubuntu Developer Summit: Thierry will spend time with Canonical’s folks there to understand if it will still be able to serve our purposes in the future.

My list of things to do has increased, as it’s expected after the Summit. Thanks everybody for joining.

The sad state of free software collaboration tools

My post yesterday sparked a little conversation on G+. The content of that conversation reminded me that free software collaboration tools are in a very poor state. Email clients for Linux (well, also on Mac OS X and Windows) suck badly, address book managers are awfully ancient, voice/video chat systems compare poorly to proprietary alternatives (technically, not just because none of our friends use them).  Some fellows of FSFE recently tried to hunt for Skype alternatives. The published results are depressing.

It’s a hard to solve. Hopefully we can put behind the quest for the ‘perfect desktop’ and start building tools for the free digital citizens again.

WebEx on Ubuntu 64bit vs 32bit hell

I have only a vague idea of what I was going into when I decided to install Ubuntu 12.04 LTS 64bit on my new ProjectSputnik machine. I knew that OpenStack is using WebEx for many of its meetings and I knew that WebEx has issues with 64bit Java on Linux. I had no idea though that trying to run 32bit Firefox and 32bit Java on a 64bit machine turned out to waste 5 hours of my time until I gave up. Here is what I did, maybe somebody else smarter than me can help me.

First thing, install openjdk plugin for i386 with a simple apt-get command:

reed@sputacchio:~$ sudo apt-get install icedtea-7-plugin:i386
Reading package lists… Done
Building dependency tree
Reading state information… Done
The following extra packages will be installed:
icedtea-7-jre-jamvm:i386 icedtea-netx:i386 libacl1:i386 libatk-wrapper-java-jni:i386
libatk1.0-0:i386 libattr1:i386 libavahi-glib1:i386 libcairo2:i386 libdatrie1:i386
libdbus-glib-1-2:i386 libdrm-intel1:i386 libdrm-nouveau1a:i386 libdrm-radeon1:i386 libdrm2:i386
libgconf-2-4:i386 libgconf2-4:i386 libgdk-pixbuf2.0-0:i386 libgif4:i386 libgl1-mesa-dri:i386
libgl1-mesa-glx:i386 libglapi-mesa:i386 libgnomevfs2-0:i386 libgtk2.0-0:i386 libjasper1:i386
liblcms2-2:i386 libllvm3.0:i386 libnspr4:i386 libnss3:i386 libnss3-1d:i386 libpango1.0-0:i386
libpciaccess0:i386 libpcsclite1:i386 libpixman-1-0:i386 libsqlite3-0:i386 libthai0:i386
libx11-xcb1:i386 libxcb-glx0:i386 libxcb-render0:i386 libxcb-shm0:i386 libxcomposite1:i386
libxcursor1:i386 libxdamage1:i386 libxfixes3:i386 libxft2:i386 libxinerama1:i386 libxml2:i386
libxrandr2:i386 libxtst6:i386 libxxf86vm1:i386 openjdk-7-jre:i386 openjdk-7-jre-headless:i386
Suggested packages:
libglide3:i386 libgnomevfs2-bin:i386 libgnomevfs2-extra:i386 gamin:i386 fam:i386
librsvg2-common:i386 gvfs:i386 libjasper-runtime:i386 liblcms2-utils:i386 ttf-baekmuk:i386
ttf-arphic-gbsn00lp:i386 ttf-arphic-bsmi00lp:i386 ttf-arphic-gkai00mp:i386
ttf-arphic-bkai00mp:i386 pcscd:i386 libnss-mdns:i386 sun-java6-fonts:i386
fonts-ipafont-gothic:i386 fonts-ipafont-mincho:i386 ttf-wqy-microhei:i386 ttf-wqy-zenhei:i386
ttf-indic-fonts-core:i386 ttf-telugu-fonts:i386 ttf-oriya-fonts:i386 ttf-kannada-fonts:i386
ttf-bengali-fonts:i386
Recommended packages:
xml-core:i386 libgnome2-0:i386
The following NEW packages will be installed:
icedtea-7-jre-jamvm:i386 icedtea-7-plugin:i386 icedtea-netx:i386 libacl1:i386
libatk-wrapper-java-jni:i386 libatk1.0-0:i386 libattr1:i386 libavahi-glib1:i386 libcairo2:i386
libdatrie1:i386 libdbus-glib-1-2:i386 libdrm-intel1:i386 libdrm-nouveau1a:i386
libdrm-radeon1:i386 libdrm2:i386 libgconf-2-4:i386 libgconf2-4:i386 libgdk-pixbuf2.0-0:i386
libgif4:i386 libgl1-mesa-dri:i386 libgl1-mesa-glx:i386 libglapi-mesa:i386 libgnomevfs2-0:i386
libgtk2.0-0:i386 libjasper1:i386 liblcms2-2:i386 libllvm3.0:i386 libnspr4:i386 libnss3:i386
libnss3-1d:i386 libpango1.0-0:i386 libpciaccess0:i386 libpcsclite1:i386 libpixman-1-0:i386
libsqlite3-0:i386 libthai0:i386 libx11-xcb1:i386 libxcb-glx0:i386 libxcb-render0:i386
libxcb-shm0:i386 libxcomposite1:i386 libxcursor1:i386 libxdamage1:i386 libxfixes3:i386
libxft2:i386 libxinerama1:i386 libxml2:i386 libxrandr2:i386 libxtst6:i386 libxxf86vm1:i386
openjdk-7-jre:i386 openjdk-7-jre-headless:i386
0 upgraded, 52 newly installed, 0 to remove and 0 not upgraded.
Need to get 56.9 MB of archives.
After this operation, 116 MB of additional disk space will be used.
Do you want to continue [Y/n]?Y

Next tell Ubuntu that I want to use the 32bit Java plugin using a simple update-alternatives command:

reed@sputacchio:~$ sudo update-alternatives –config mozilla-javaplugin.so
There are 2 choices for the alternative mozilla-javaplugin.so (providing /usr/lib/mozilla/plugins/libjavaplugin.so).

Selection    Path                                                              Priority   Status
————————————————————

  • 0            /usr/lib/jvm/java-6-openjdk-amd64/jre/lib/amd64/IcedTeaPlugin.so   1061      auto mode

1            /usr/lib/jvm/java-6-openjdk-amd64/jre/lib/amd64/IcedTeaPlugin.so   1061      manual mode
2            /usr/lib/jvm/java-6-openjdk-i386/jre/lib/i386/IcedTeaPlugin.so     1060      manual mode

Press enter to keep the current choice[*], or type selection number: 2
update-alternatives: using /usr/lib/jvm/java-6-openjdk-i386/jre/lib/i386/IcedTeaPlugin.so to provide /usr/lib/mozilla/plugins/libjavaplugin.so (mozilla-javaplugin.so) in manual mode.

Then I tried to load Firefox and realized that the icedtea plugin is not active. Firefox 64bit evidently doesn’t load the 32bit plugin. Next step: try to find a binary build of Firefox. No luck with that, I wasn’t able to find it anywhere online… I even searched it using Bing, how desperate. Someone on IRC mentioned that Firefox has some multiarch stuff… whatever, doesn’t work for me today.

Next step of a desperate man: install some i386 browser. I tried with chromium in order to avoid messing up with my system, no luck (broken package):

reed@sputacchio:~$ sudo apt-get install chromium-browser:i386
Reading package lists… Done
Building dependency tree
Reading state information… Done
Some packages could not be installed. This may mean that you have
requested an impossible situation or if you are using the unstable
distribution that some required packages have not yet been created
or been moved out of Incoming.
The following information may help to resolve the situation:

The following packages have unmet dependencies:
chromium-browser:i386 : Depends: xdg-utils:i386 but it is not installable
Recommends: chromium-browser-l10n:i386 but it is not installable
E: Unable to correct problems, you have held broken packages.
reed@sputacchio:~$

Bit the bullet, tried messed up with Firefox:
reed@sputacchio:~/bin$ sudo apt-get install firefox:i386
Reading package lists… Done
Building dependency tree
Reading state information… Done
The following extra packages will be installed:
firefox-globalmenu:i386 libcairo-gobject2:i386 libcanberra-gtk3-0:i386 libcanberra-gtk3-module:i386 libcanberra0:i386
libdbusmenu-glib4:i386 libdbusmenu-gtk4:i386 libgtk-3-0:i386 libltdl7:i386 libnotify4:i386
libstartup-notification0:i386 libtdb1:i386 libvorbisfile3:i386 libxcb-util0:i386 notification-daemon:i386
Suggested packages:
latex-xft-fonts:i386 firefox-gnome-support:i386 libcanberra-gtk0:i386 libcanberra-pulse:i386 librsvg2-common:i386
gvfs:i386
Recommended packages:
xul-ext-ubufox:i386
The following packages will be REMOVED:
firefox firefox-globalmenu firefox-gnome-support
The following NEW packages will be installed:
firefox:i386 firefox-globalmenu:i386 libcairo-gobject2:i386 libcanberra-gtk3-0:i386 libcanberra-gtk3-module:i386
libcanberra0:i386 libdbusmenu-glib4:i386 libdbusmenu-gtk4:i386 libgtk-3-0:i386 libltdl7:i386 libnotify4:i386
libstartup-notification0:i386 libtdb1:i386 libvorbisfile3:i386 libxcb-util0:i386 notification-daemon:i386
0 upgraded, 16 newly installed, 3 to remove and 0 not upgraded.
Need to get 23.1 MB of archives.
After this operation, 4,423 kB of additional disk space will be used.
Do you want to continue [Y/n]?

There are some packaging issues there too, something is off. Firefox looks ugly, like it’s missing some GNOME integration and, most importantly, doesn’t load any of the plugins. So, back to square one.

I tried also different approach but that depressed me even further

Last option is to investigate creating a 32bit LXC or a full virtual machine. Geez.

Sending money around the world

The night we launched the OpenStack Foundation there was a global celebration around the world with user groups throwing parties, having talks and pizza and drinks. Our initial idea was to send prepaid VISA cards to all of them but we soon realized that not every country or shop in the world accepts them. While we were trying to figure this out, time to ship anything around the world shortened so much that the prepaid VISA option faded out. Next option was to use Paypal… oh boy, what a mess Paypal is when you need to send money to Brazil, China, India, Indonesia and other countries. Paypal is not an option in some countries.  Bank wire transfer are way too expensive and slow. The last option is the good old wire transfer via services like Western Union, MoneyGram and others.

At this point I got fascinated by BitCoin, though and I wanted to learn more about it, again (since last time I checked it was around 3 years ago). I added the BitCoin PPA to my new Ubuntu machine, and installed the BitCoin client. So far so good. I’m now trying to figure out how to buy the actual coins. A quick DuckDuckGo search reveals that I can exchange them with locals with cash. Interesting, but I’ll pass. The other option is to buy online via market exchanges like BitExchange. The problem is that I don’t care about anonymity, I need just to go to a site, put coins in a virtual shopping cart, checkout with a credit card … can’t find a way to do it.

I bit the bullet and I signed up for MtGox, one of the largest market exchange for BitCoin. It works like a stock trade market: you place your offer to buy BitCoins for a price and other members of the market decide whether to sell you or not for that price. In order to operate you need to add funds to your account. How? No credit card option, lots of ways to send cash and bank transfer to Japan or Europe … or use Dwolla, which requires another account. Dwolla sounds interesting too but at this point I give up. I’ll give BitCoin another shot some other time.

New job, same job, at OpenStack Foundation, new laptop

This week was my first week as an employee of the OpenStack Foundation. I’m Technical Community Manager, still helping the OpenStack project succeed by helping the technical contributions. The difference is that my salary is now being paid by the newly formed OpenStack Foundation instead of Rackspace. Most of the people I worked with more closely at Rackspace are also at the OpenStack Foundation: Lauren, Mark, Jonathan and Thierry and we’re also hiring more people.

I have high hopes for the projects I will present at the Grizzly Summit: Achieving Visibility and Insight Across OpenStack Projects with Dashboards, Traceability, and Faceted Search, Integrated identity system for OpenStack  and Tracking OpenStack adoption.

 The main thing that changed is my laptop: finally I got rid of that heavy brick I used to carry around and now I have a slick, top of the line Dell XPS 13, the Project Sputnik one, powered by Ubuntu. Oh, what a great machine. I love it already. It gets noisy some time but I believe that’s because I had to run java applets in the past days. I’ll post more details about how I set it up later on. Good times.