Thu, 10 Dec 2009

FUDCon Toronto 2009

Another FUDCon is in the books, this time in Toronto. It was great to catch up with many people, put faces to some names, and meet a bunch of new contributors. I gave a session on Moksha, which I'll talk about below, and was also on the Fedora Infrastructure panel discussion.

My goal this FUDCon wasn't to crank out a ton of code, but to focus on gathering and prioritizing requirements and to help others be productive. Here are some of the projects I focused on.


Moksha is a project I created a little over a year ago, which is the base of a couple of other applications I've been working on as well: Fedora Community and CIVX. I'll be blogging about these in more detail later.

One of the main themes of FUDCon this year was Messaging (AMQP), and Moksha is a large part of this puzzle, as it allows you to wield AMQP within web applications. During my session the demo involved busting open a terminal, creating a consumer that reacts to all messages, creating a message producer, and then creating a live chat widget -- all of which hooked up to Fedora's AMQP broker.

I'll be turning my slides into an article, so expect a full blog post explaining the basics soon. In the mean time, I found Adam Miller's description to be extremely amusing:

"I walked into a session called "Moksha and Fedora Community -- Real-time web apps with Python and AMQP" which blew my mind. This is Web3.0 (not by definition, but that's what I'm calling it), Luke Macken and J5 completely just stepped over web2.0 and said "pffft, childs play" (well not really but in my mind I assume it went something like that). This session showed off technology that allows real time message passing in a web browser as well as "native" support for standard protocols. The project page is and I think everyone on the planet should take some time to go there and enjoy the demo, prepare to have your mind blown. Oh, and I also irc transcribed that one as well ... presentation slides found:"

Fedora Community

So after we released v1.0 of Fedora Community for F12, all of us went off in seperate directions to hack on various things. J5 wrote AMQP javascript bindings, which I then integrated into Moksha. Máirín Duffy built a portable usability lab and has been doing great research on the usability of the project. And I dove back into Moksha to solidify the platform.

After we deploy our AMQP broker for Fedora, and once we have start adding shims into our existing infrastructure, we'll then be able to start creating live widgets and message consumers that can react to events, allowing us to wield Fedora in real-time. This will let us to keep our fingers on the pulse of Fedora, automate and facilitate tedious tasks, and gather metrics as things happen.

During the hackfests I also did some work on our current Fedora Community deployment. Over the past few weeks some of our widgets randomly died, and we haven't been receiving proper error messages. So, I successfully hooked up WebError and the team is now getting traceback emails, which will help us fix problems much faster (or at least nag the hell out of us about them).

I also worked with Ian Weller on the new Statistics section of the dashboard, which has yet to hit production. Ian and I wrote Wiki metrics, Seth Vidal wrote BitTorrent metrics, and I wrote Bodhi metrics. We've also got many more to come. My main concern was a blocker issue that we were hitting with our flot graphs when you quickly bounce between tabs. I ended up "fixing" the bug, so I'll be pushing what we have of the stats branch into production in the near future.


TurboGears has definitely been our favorite web framework within Fedora's Infrastructure for many years now. TurboGears2, a complete re-invention of itself, has been released recently, and is catching on *very* quickly in the community. Tons of people are working on awesome new apps, and loving every minute of it. I was also able to convert a rails hacker over to it, after he was able to quickly dive into one of the tutorials with ease. See my previous blog post about getting up and running with TG2 in Fedora/EPEL.


One of my main tasks during the hackfests was to pull the authentication layer in Fedora Community that authenticates against the Fedora Account System, and port it over to python-fedora, so we can use it in any TurboGears2 application. I committed the initial port to python-fedora-devel, and have started working on integrating it into a default TG2 quickstart and document the process. There are still a couple of minor things I want to fix/clean up before releasing it, so expect a blog about it soon.


It seems like yesterday that I was an intern at Red Hat working on an internal updates system for Fedora Core. Coming up on 5 years later, and I am now working on my 3rd implementation of an updates system, Bodhi v2.0. What's wrong with the current Bodhi you ask? Well, if you talk to any user of it, you'll probably get a pretty long list. Bodhi is the first TurboGears application written & deployed in Fedora Infrastructure, and uses the vanilla components (SQLObject, kid, CherryPy2). The TG1 stack has been holding up quite nicely over the years, and is still supported upstream, but bodhi's current implemention and design does not make it easy to grow.

Bodhi v2.0 will be implemented in TurboGears2, using SQLAlchemy for an ORM, Mako for templates, and ToscaWidgets2 for re-usable widgets. It will be hook-based and plugin-driven, and will be completely distribution agnostic. Another important goal will be AMQP message-bus integration, which will allow other services or users to react to various events inside of the system as they happen.

So far I've ported the old DB model from SQLObject to SQLAlchemy, and have begun porting the old unit tests, and writing new ones. Come the new year, I'll be giving this much more of my focus.

During the hackfests I got a chance to talk to Dennis Gilmore about various improvements that we need to make with regard to the update push process. It was also great to talk to many different users of bodhi, who expressed various concerns, some of which I've already fixed. I also got a chance to talk to Xavier Lamien about deploying Bodhi for rpmfusion. On the bus ride home I helped explain to Mel how Bodhi & Koji fit into the big picture of things.

During the BarCamp sessions I also attended a session about the Update Experience, where we discussed many important issues surrounding updates.


So I got a chance to finally meet Sebastian Dziallas, of Sugar on a Stick fame, and was able to fix a few liveusb-creator issues on his laptop. I ended up pushing out a new release a couple of days ago that contains some of those fixes, along with a new version of Sugar on a Stick.

The liveusb-creator has been catching a lot of press recently (see the front page for a list). Not only did it have a 2 page spread in Linux Format, but it was also featured in this weeks article New Sugar on a Stick Brings Much Needed Improvements. Rock.


There was lot of brainstorming done by Dave Malcolm, Colin Walters, Toshio Kuratomi, Bernie Innocenti, I, and many others about various improvements that we could make to the Python interpreter. From speeding up startup time by doing some clever caching to potentially creating a new optimized compiled binary format. We also looked into how WebError/abrt gather tracebacks, and discussed ways of enabling interactive traceback debugging for vanilla processes, without requiring a layer of WSGI middleware.

There was also work done on adding SystemTap probes to Python, which is very exciting. There are many ideas for various probe points, including one that I blogged about previously.

Intel iMac8,1 support

My iMac sucks at Linux. This has been something that has been nagging me for a long time, and I've been slowly trying to chip away at the problems. First, I've been doing work on a Mac port of the liveusb-creator. I also started to work on a kernel patch for getting the EFI framebuffer working, and discussed how to do it with ajax and pjones. The screen doesn't display anything after grub, and since we don't know the base address of the framebuffer, it involves writing code to iterate over memory trying to find some common pixel patterns. I'm still trying to wrap my head around all of it, but I'll probably end up just buying them beer to fix it for me.


Thincrust is a project that I've been excited about for a while, and I actually have some appliances deployed in a production cloud. I was able to run some ideas for various virtual appliances by one of the authors over some beers. Some pre-baked virtual appliances that you can easily throw into a cloud that I would like to see:


I'm glad to see that dogtail is still exciting people in the community. It still has a lot of potential to improve not only the way we test graphical software, but we also discussed ways of using it to teach people and automate various desktop tasks. What if you logged in after a fresh install and got the following popup bubble:

Hi, welcome to Fedora, what can I help you do today?

Each task would then allow Fedora to take the wheel and walk the user through various steps. I had this idea a while ago, when dogtail first came out, and I still think it would be totally awesome. Anyway, this was not a focus of the hackfests, but merely a conversation that I had while walking to lunch :)

posted at: 17:49 | link | Tags: , , , , , , , | 22 comments

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