Flock 2023

This year was the first in person Flock conference since Budapest in 2019, the event was held in the charming city of Cork, Ireland and despite a few hiccups while traveling (flight delayed and canceled) it was great to be able to attend Flock and have to opportunity to connect with so many people in the Fedora Community.

Below are some of my key takeaways and highlights from the conference.

State of Fedora

Matthew Miller opened the conference with his traditional State of Fedora. Matthew walked us through the mirror countme stats, on the CoreOS side, we keep seeing a steady increase in the number of systems and while we are nowhere near the number of Fedora Workstation, it is great to see the number of FCOS instances growing.

Then Matthew talked about the guiding star for the Fedora Project “to double the number of weekly active contributors”. In his opinion a big part of achieving this is to make the Fedora Project more visible to attract new contributors. One possible way to achieve this, is to build up on the discourse platform (discussion.fp.o) which drives more engagement than mailing lists.

In the CoreOS Working Group, we are already quite present on discussion.fp.o and this would not be a big challenge. However, I believe that we could drive more contributions by starting to talk and write more about the cool stuff we are doing in FCOS.

What Red Hat wants from Fedora

In this talk, Brian Exelbierd came back on the importance of the Fedora and CentOS Stream communities for Red Hat but he also explained how Red Hat manages its investment. This was a very good way to clarify why Red Hat invests in these communities and also what values Red Hat finds in these communities. Brian also reminded that for Red Hat just rebuilding RHEL is not something that provides value to the Enterprise Linux ecosystem. I found that this talk was a good way to set the scene for further discussions around Enterprise Linux and had the merit to clearly state what Red Hat wants.

Fedora Websites and Apps revamp

This was a very good presentation by Akashdeep Dhar on the effort to revamp the Fedora Websites and Apps. At first they struggled with how to organize that effort but found a useful structure by becoming a council objective. It helped to define a clear outcome and provided a direction for people willing to contribute. They have also made good use of the funding available for the Outreachy internship by getting interns to participate in the effort.

His return of experience on how to onboard new contributors was really valuable and I think something that we can use in the CoreOS WG. My key takes away from this are:

  • Onboarding new contributors is easy, what is harder is to keep them on the longer run
  • Badges can play a big role to motivate people to keep contributing
  • Appreciation of the contributions (swag, name of the contributors in the release note, etc ..) is key to keep people engaged
  • Fill the competency gap to ensure new contributors have the skills needed.

There are definitely some ideas we can use in CoreOS, for example we don’t have any Badges or Swag (Couple years ago, I looked at getting FCOS t-shirts for contributors but I dropped the ball on that effort 😞)

Framing DEI Globally

The second day opened with the excellent Jennifer “Jen” Madriaga, she delivered a great Keynote on DEI, in particular the importance of psychological safety in the success of diverse teams or communities. Jen also talked about the diversity of experiences and skills in teams and communities. I really recommend watching the recording

Upstreaming Fedora CoreOS & Hands on coreos-assembler Workshop

Ellen O’Carroll and I delivered a talk to present a proposal to “upstream” Fedora CoreOS tests and better integrate with the wider Fedora community. After a short overview and reminder of what Fedora CoreOS is, we talked about integrating FCOS test results in Bodhi to provide packagers with FCOS feedback on their updates. This effort would lead to less effort down the line for the Fedora CoreOS WG in investigating and reporting issues. We received great feedback about the presentation and idea, Adam Williamson and Sumantro Mukherjee from the Fedora QA team were present and provided some extra details and direction on how to make that happen. This is something that we would like to focus on making happen before the end of 2023.

Later in the afternoon, I lead a workshop on coreos-assembler which was prepared by Dusty Mabe. Unfortunately, the panel discussion on the Enterprise Linux ecosystem was happening at the same time and we had only 6 people participating in the workshop. It was the first time we proposed that workshop and it was a good opportunity to get feedback on it. Hopefully we can run this in more conferences or virtually and get more people familiar with coreos-assembler.

Fedora México: Creciendo juntos | Growing together

Wow, this was a great presentation from Alex Callejas, Ivan Chavero, Hazzim and Alejandro Acosta. They shared all the great things they have been doing to build and keep alive the Fedora México community. It was a great reminder that there are a lot of people that participate in Fedora in a different language than English and seeing local communities like these was very refreshing. I think there is a big opportunity for Fedora contributors to support more of these local communities. I am definitely interested in seeing how we can hold some Fedora CoreOS presentations or workshops virtually in México and LATAM. As a bonus, you can listen to their Free Software Song that was completely recorded and arranged on Linux, Canción del software libre. Way to go !!!

Panel: Mentoring and mentorship best practices in Fedora

I was very glad to see that the Fedora Mentorship summit was scheduled during the last day of Flock. I am a strong believer in Mentorship and it is really good to see a more intentional effort in that space happening in Fedora. The Panel discussion was great and Amita Sharma did a great job at facilitating the conversation. All the members highlighted the importance of having a Mentor in particular during the onboarding process. There have been great ideas shared during the conversation on how to bring more structure to mentorship which would help Mentors and Mentee get the most out of the time invested. The Outreachy program was mentioned a few times as a great example to learn from.

Hackfest: Infra and Releng onboarding, mentoring and documentation

I attended the first part of the Hackfest which ended up being a great discussion on how to get more contributors in Infra & Releng. Kevin Fenzi and James Richardson did a good job at presenting the problem as well as describing the things that are currently in place like the “apprentice program” which is meant to help people onboard and contribute to the infrastructure. I was particularly interested in how we can better document the onboarding process to guide new contributors as well as providing them with enough knowledge and skills. I think this is something that we can also benefit in CoreOS and on which we could definitely collaborate with the Infra & Releng team.

Finally, I would like to thank everyone that participated and volunteered to help with the organization. In particular the social events were great and have been a highlight for me as I was able to meet new contributors and to learn more about them. The time spent making these connections is invaluable and helps drive efforts once everyone is back home. Thanks again everyone for a great Flock.