About Brian Proffitt

Brian Proffitt is the Principal Community Analyst for Open Source and Standards team at Red Hat. A former technology journalist, Brian is also an adjunct instructor at the University of Notre Dame. Follow him on Twitter @TheTechScribe

Introducing a New Repository of Open Source Knowledge

The Open Source and Standards team is focused on making open source succeed at every level: community management, development, event management… Every aspect of open source can be improved for any project.

With that mission in mind, a new section of our site is dedicated to hosting "evergreen" knowledge articles and links that will guide free and open source software project participants to better practices.

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Community is Messy

messy There is an adage in the wide world that goes something like this: "If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans."

A less faith-oriented version of that line of thought breaks down to "Life Happens." Which all means that no matter how well we prepare the structure and flow of our daily lives, chaos and random chance can always cast such plans aside and potentially damage all we have built, sometimes irreparably.

Communities are no less immune to this kind of ill fortune than any one person. Even with the best intentions, communities can become embroiled in conflict and strife that can burn like a brush fire through all of the great things you've accomplished.

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A Community of One

alone in a crowd One of the quirky aspects of "community" in the free and open source ecosystem is that, for many members of a given project, they are physically and geographically isolated. Using tools like git, mailing lists, and any number of messaging tools, developers, writers, and other community members can focus their efforts and do their work from any place on the planet with electricity and a connection to the Internet.

As someone who has worked from a home office for nearly 18 years, I can tell you, it has its advantages. I can set my own hours, create a comfortable office environment, and work on my own pace. There are, of course, disadvantages too. I have to self-motivate, be my own IT systems administrator, and deal with somewhat atrophied social skills.

In your community, you are often going to have people in exactly the same situation. Somewhere out in the world, working full- or part-time on your project, from their homes or schools or offices. Maybe there are other project members nearby, but often they are working alone, connected by electrons instead of photons. So how do you manage a community of dozens or hundreds, when many of the are alone?

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Focusing Your Community Message

laser prism During SCALE 15X last weekend in beautiful Pasadena, California, the Red Hat booth was visited by hundreds of attendees, all looking to find out more Red Hat and the projects with which it works.

Many times, the questions were specific: "what's the best platform for managing virtual machines?" Or "how does CentOS fit within the Red Hat universe?" In those instances, we had more than enough knowledge in the booth to get the right information to those folks. The more tricky conversations, though, were the ones where the questions were far less specific, including the dreaded "So what is Red Hat?"

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How to Attract New Contributors

old-growth tree One of the biggest challenges that free and open source communities face is attracting new contributors to their project. It's a frustrating problem… after all, your community has built The Greatest Software Ever, why aren't people beating down the metaphorical doors to join in on all the fun?

The barriers to entry for any project can be subtle and numerous, and even those of us who do this every day face this challenge all of this time. Recently, Stormy Peters put the question to members of our team: What's the single best tip you've gotten for attracting new contributors? Or, alternatively, what's the single thing that's made the most impact on attracting new contributors to your project?

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Red Hat FOSDEM Roundup

FOSDEM logo This year's FOSDEM has come and gone, with the event organizers having put on another excellent example of a free and open source software event that embraces a vast collection of communities from all over the world.

Two days of six main tracks and an additional 41 developer rooms made for a lot of amazing content, and those of you who weren't able to attend should visit the FOSDEM site to view the video content of the sessions. This article highlights the sessions presented by members of our Open Source and Standards team, as well as the sessions put on by our global Red Hat colleagues. Each entry has a link to the presentation's page, where you can find links to the session's video files or watch it directly online.

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Welcome to the New Community Team Manager

Stormy Peters It may seem like a lot of braggadocio when we talk about the talent that comprises the Open Source and Standards team. But seriously, the list of folks we have on our team reads like an all-star list of people who have been active in the free and open source software communities: Deborah Bryant, Ruth Suehle, Jim Perrin, Rich Bowen, Leslie Hawthorn, and Bill Simpson… these are just some of the fantastic talents we have working with open source and standards communities around the world.

But when we announce that Stormy Peters is about to join our team as the Senior Manager of our Community Team… well, you can forgive us for being even more excited.

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The Right Tools for the Right Job

git Logo Much of what we do on the Open Source and Standards team is focused on community growth, on the premise that a growing community, by and large, is a healthy one.

Growing a community is never as simple as throwing out your code for the world to see and letting your code's awesomeness speak for itself. You can build the coolest application on the planet and still have problems getting people to help you with it, even if you have a sparkling personality.

We've talked about this before, when discussing onboarding. Onboarding is what we call the process used to get people into a community. That process can take many forms, and there can be more than one path into your community, but the key thing is having a process. Otherwise, you can have a project where you build it and no one comes.

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The Next Generation

LinuxCon Logo The kid was the western suburbs of Pittsburgh, strolling up to the Red Hat booth on day two of LinuxCon North America with his dad in tow. 17 and a senior at West Allegheny High School in Imperial, PA, this young man had an interest in studying computer science and had come to LinuxCon with his father to get the lay of the land.

At this point, you might think the story would be about how we walked this young man through all of the different education options Red Hat participates in, including our University Outreach and Red Hat internship programs, and he left with a glowing confidence about the open source future before him. And indeed, that is pretty much part of what went down: my colleague Tom Callaway spoke at length with this student about those very topics. But while Tom was shaping future minds, I also had an interesting discussion of my own with the boy's father.

I spoke to several students at the booth over the course of the week–more women than men, I was pleased to observe–and while they all do represent the future of open source, that designation was not just limited to them. Anyone can come into open source and free software development and find their passion there.

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25 Years of Linux

Tux Later this month is the day traditionally used as the anniversary date for the Linux operating system, which got its public start with an August 25, 1991 post to the comp.os.minux newsgroup. This year, Linux will celebrate its 25th year of changing the world.

Linux has come a long way since those days in the latter half of 1991, and countless articles and books have been written about the impact of piece of software has had on the development of technology.

To get an idea of how fast Linux took off, think about the timeline of the first year of Linux's existence.

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Overcoming the Barrier of Language

Summit logo I have been fortunate enough to attend LinuxCon Japan this week, a conference of 350 attendees in the Bunkyo neighborhood of Tokyo that features strong tracks to keep developers and business people here in Asia appraised of all things cool and open source.

I was asked to do a couple of talks, one being on how community can have real value on the bottom line of a business and not just be an expenditure on an organization's bottom line. It went pretty well, and one of the questions afterward was very interesting.

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A New Release From Fedora

Fedora logo Today is the day that Fedora 24 has been released!

It's kind of a big deal at Red Hat, since Fedora is the upstream from which many things flow. So, as such, it's a community release that gets a lot of attention both within Red Hat, and without.

I actually had the opportunity to clean-install Fedora 24 Beta last week—not that I am some Fedora über-fan or anything. No, this was a necessity brought on by a dead hard drive. Thank goodness for cloud backups… one new drive later and I was installing Fedora 24 from a live USB.

The experience itself was nothing notable, in that I had enough bad experiences with Xconfigurator and snapping CRT monitors to still make my subconsciously twitchy whenever I do a full install. Silly, yes, but I was poor in those days. So "not notable" is high praise indeed.

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There Are No Straight Lines in Community

open road One of the things I have discovered while working with mapping platforms like OpenStreetMap is that there really isn't anything like a straight line in the world.

You think there are lots of straight lines out there—streets, property lines, boundaries—but there is really no such thing at all. Some of the deviations are geographical, with rivers and mountains and valleys carving up the world. And some are purely political; Mark Stein wrote a whole book on How The States Got Their Shapes, detailing the boundaries of various U.S. states and the historical and political intricacies of why the states are the way they are.

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Forum Management ≠ Community Management

Last week, one of my teammates related a conversation he'd had about how poor community manager job expectations are and, concurrently, how little they are getting paid.

What my colleague pointed out—correctly—is that a lot of the jobs listed out there that are called "Community Management" are really not anything close to what the job actually entails.

I've covered this before, back in July 2015. The actual title "Community Manager" is vague enough to get co-opted by many other occupations that think the whole collaborative/open thing is just a nice turn of marketing phrase.

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Community Will Make Big Splash at Red Hat Summit

Summit logo As Red Hat preps for Red Hat Summit in the venerable Moscone Center next month, the Open Source and Standards team is preparing to be a strong presence at the event with our Community Central in the Main Expo Hall and a separate Open Source and Community track within the sessions.

The Community Central area will feature a lounge and plenty of space to interact with the Fedora and CentOS projects, which will anchor the space. But projects like RDO, Gluster, Ceph, oVirt, and Project Atomic will also have a home in Community Central, just to name a few.

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Hierarchy in Open Source

Governance in an open source community always varies from project to project. Typically it's along the lines of a meritocracy, where community members' participations are weighted by the quality of each respective member's contributions, but not always.

But one thing a community should not be is completely governed by the management hierarchy of any companies that sponsor that project.

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Open? Check. But Is Your Community Growing?

OSM logo There is much—legitimate, mind you—celebration of late about the continued success of open source within software development. But there are times when that success may not be enough, even when good-faith efforts are made.

It is one thing to have an open source software project and quite another to have a healthy and growing open source community. Even when a company or project is making legitimate and strong efforts to free and open source processes and values, it may not always hit the mark—especially when it comes to community.

There are quite a few software projects that we in the Open Source and Standards group work with, both on personal and professional levels, and one of the key differentiators that gives a community better growth is the presence of what we call "onboarding."

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Examining the TripleO UI

RDO logo One of the very first things I learned about OpenStack was just how difficult it was to install.

With so many components handling so much automation, installation and deployment of a cloud computing platform like OpenStack, it's no small feat to get it up and running.

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Open Branding for Open Source Projects

One of the really interesting things about working for Red Hat is the company's attention to detail. Everything about the way the company is presented to the world is decided upon. You can't just toss out any old picture of a guy in a red fedora… Shadowman's gotta have the exact look and feel. To help with that, there's an actual cool little branding book Red Hat's marketing department worked up that I use for lot of things: even camera angles on video interviews.

Such things are not just fun for the control freaks among us… consistency in the way things are presented help reduce friction and make it easier for any project–commercial or otherwise–to get their messaging out. The last thing you need is a lot of inconsistent look and feel in the materials you present to your community.

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Only You Can Prevent Flame Wars

Smokey BearStop me if you've heard this one.

Open source project is licensed under License A, and someone comes along and requests/demands that License B be used instead. Conversation ensues, which soon becomes an all-out flame war, because Someone Is Wrong On the Internet.

It's a common enough occurrence that anyone who has interacted with the free and open source software (FOSS) communities for any length of time has surely witnessed it. Or perhaps even participated in such a flame war.

Just yesterday I saw a discussion on a bugtracker system for a project using an MIT license. The bug? Move the project to the GPL. The conversation unfolded pretty much as I described in the hypothetical described in the introductory paragraph, up to and including using a certain flamboyant U.S. politician as an updated representation of Godwin's Law.

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Parsing Technology: Software Collections and Containers

Software Collections logo Even working at Red Hat, it can be very challenging to keep up on all the latest technologies that permeate through our upstream projects and downstream products. No sooner than you can get your head wrapped around the notion of virtual datacenters vs. cloud computing, now all of a sudden you have to learn about containers. And don't even get me started on tools like Atomic App and Nulecule.

One of the things that's always bothered me a little bit about containers is that, on the surface, they seem to overlap a lot with the functionality of other technologies. When I hear someone talking about containerizing something like Fedora or openSUSE, it's pretty easy to think of containers as just fancy portable virtual machines—even though there is not a speck of hypervisor technology anywhere inside of container architecture. But from an initiate's point of view, it is easy to see how the overlapping functionalities can blur the perception between containers and virtual machines.

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Community Fences and Gates

Admin Cat One of the great pleasures in my career has been teaching at the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame. There's nothing like teaching IT concepts to business students and seeing the light bulb go off when they see the potential of technology in their work.

Occasionally, I will get a request from a student or student assistant for a reference. Sometimes for a foreign exchange program or sometimes for a job. This week, one of my former assistants asked me to be a reference for him at a non-profit organization in Chicago for which he wants to volunteer. I agreed immediately, naturally, but it struck me as a little disappointing that someone has to jump through the hurdle of getting a reference just because he wants to volunteer to help people.

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DevConf.cz Brings Devs to the Cutting Edge

DevConf logo On a quiet college campus in a small city in Eastern Europe, 1,200 professional and student developers recently descended to learn more about the future of coding. The general consensus from the participants was very much mission accomplished.

DevConf.cz is one of those annual events that looms high on the calendars of many Red Hat employees and contractors, since its location in Brno, Czech Republic puts it in the same location as Red Hat's largest engineering office in the world. Proximity to the Brno offices affords the event a lot of Red Hat attendees, but this is very much a conference for any developer who wants to see where market and community leaders are taking development best practices and projects.

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Free As In (Lots of) Speech

scale14x logo At first blush, the Southern California Linux Expo (SCaLE) and the Free and Open Source Software Developers' European Meeting (FOSDEM) would seem to be as far apart as the 5611 miles that separate them. Sure, they have some surface similarities–they are both in late January, many of the same projects are showcased at each event, and there is Linux everywhere.

But look a bit past that and you will see two events that represent community within the free and open source ecosystem in sharply different ways.

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FOSDEM Notes—Examining Live VM Migration

qemu logo The notion that all virtualization workloads and use cases are the same is not widespread in IT, but it remains an idea that is somewhat hard to shake. In point of fact, the differences in how virtual machines are deployed and run can be seen in the existence of differing platforms like OpenStack, oVirt, and virt-manager.

All three of these platforms use the KVM hypervisor, but their target use cases are clearly very different. Cloud, datacenter management, and single-server virtual machine management satisfy very different needs, and getting KVM to cater to those needs has proven to be a challenge over the years.

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FOSDEM Notes—Revving QEMU Performance

KVM logo The KVM hypervisor has always been at or near the top of any sort of performance chart in virtualization land. But when it comes to disk input/output, things are not as always so well behaved.

In terms of block storage, KVM can fall short in performance, because the hypervisor is tapping into the QEMU block layer, not the Linux kernel. And when large blocks come through, things can slow way down, according to Paolo Bonzini, a Senior Principal Software Engineer at Red Hat and maintainer for the KVM Project.

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Welcome to the New Project Atomic Community Lead

Project Atomic logo The Open Source and Standards team in Red Hat is very pleased to announce the addition of its latest team member: Josh Berkus, the new Community Lead for Project Atomic.

It is probably not hyperbole to say that Josh's life is all about containers right now… almost literally. Not only is Josh taking on the new role at Red Hat for Project Atomic, which is all about managing and optimizing containers, he and his wife are in the process of transporting their residence from the Bay Area to Oregon this month–appropriately enough, using shipping containers.

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Guidelines For Announcing Software Releases

One of the major functions of any open source project is releasing software, with the goal of reaching as many users as possible. To help our projects succeed, we need to ensure that we get the message out in a timely fashion, to the widest relevant audience, and with the right information.

With that in mind, we've crafted a set of guidelines for coordinating release announcements to ensure that your excellent work doesn't get lost in the shuffle. Remember that these are only guides; your own community practices can be different.

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The Other Side of Documentation

bookshelves For those of us who write a lot, there is a certain bias for the notion that "if you don't write it down, it didn't happen." It's not just writers; as digital as our world has become, there is still a value of permanence to the written word–it's just more likely in bytes rather than paper.

In free and open source software communities, there's always a lot of stock put into the need to have written documentation of most any sort. From user guides, to feature specs, to marketing materials, a community's collective shared knowledge should not rely on the memory and experience of a few people in the community, but rather information that's freely available to all.

This may be preaching to the choir, of course, since the need for documentation is well established. Of course, getting that documentation created can be a challenge in and of itself. Many are the tales of project after project that could really take off in terms of adoption and contribution, except people are held back because they don't know enough about it or the learning curve is too steep. Arguing the pros and cons of documentation is not, however, the point of this discussion. Let's assume that this journey is underway and you are producing documents for your community.

Now the question becomes: what do you do with them?

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Open Is More Than Just Source Code

Kanban board As 2015 wraps up, one of the things we are doing in the Open Source and Standards group is looking for new tools that can help us do our jobs better. But it might surprise you to learn that even within OSAS, it's not a 100% given that every piece of software we consider is open source or free software.

Recently, one of the tools we were looking at was software to help us track tasks created by us and also submitted to us by various open source projects within and without the Red Hat ecosystem. What good is an organization like OSAS if we can't openly share our resources and expertise with all free and open source software communities?

There are lots of applications out there that could fit the bill. An issues-based system like Bugzilla or something based on the Getting Things Done model like Remember the Milk or Nirvana. Eventually, the one model that came up more often than not was a Kanban model.

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Happy Birthday, Internet

Admin Cat According to the Computer History Museum, today marks the date when the first host-to-host connection on ARPANET, from the University of California Los Angeles to the Stanford Research Institute, was made in 1969. This first connection effectively marks the the very beginning of what would later become a global network that would bring us knowledge, communication, and cat pictures.

Birthdays and anniversaries for technological advancements are tricky things, of course. Do you, for instance, celebrate the birth of the telephone based on Alexander Graham Bell's conception of the idea somewhere in the early 1870s within his work on the "harmonic telegraph," or do you peg the big day on March 10, 1876, when Bell famously called out to his assistant Thomas Watson to bring him some latte?

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Ceph Launches New Community Advisory Board

Ceph logo There are a few important milestones in the life of any open source project: the first outside contribution. The first general release. And, for really successful projects, the creation of a solid governance structure to help guide the project in a way that benefits many.

For Ceph, that milestone is today.

In conjunction with the OpenStack Summit currently taking place in Tokyo, the Ceph community is announcing the formation of an advisory board to assist their community in driving the direction of Ceph. Specifically, the new advisory board will launch with the goal of expanding and enhancing community participation and collaboration for the Ceph project, working closely with the community’s technical and user committees.

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Managing the World of the Small

ATO 2015 Logo There is a growing discussion in the IT world about the ways in which we, as information technologists, will approach managing the world of the small.

There are two aspects of current technology that fall into this category of "small"–containers and the Internet of Things. Both technologies were the subject of two intriguing keynotes at the opening session of All Things Open yesterday.

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Welcome to the New oVirt Community Lead

oVirt logo The OSAS team is excited to have another new community lead on board, welcoming Mikey Ariel, the new Community Lead for the oVirt Project.

Mikey's journey to oVirt started over two years ago, in the earliest weeks of 2014, when a busload of Red Hat and Fedora team members made the 13-hour January trek from Brno, Czech Republic to the biggest free-software conference in the world: FOSDEM, in Brussels, Belgium. Among the passengers was Mikey, a new Red Hat employee on her way to her first tech conference, at the start of her professional journey into the world of free and open source software.

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Community Profile--CentOS Project

CentOS Logo Community Profile: CentOS Project
Name: CentOS [Community Enterprise Operating System] Project
Initial release: May, 2004
Project Lead: Karanbir Singh
Upstream: Red Hat Enterprise Linux
Downstreams: Various
Governance: CentOS Governance Board
Web Site: http://www.centos.org
Social Media: Twitter, Facebook, G+ Page, G+ Community
Software: Download, Source Code
Description: A free software project primarily responsible for the creation of the enterprise-ready Linux distribution CentOS.

The Open Source and Standards (OSAS) team at Red Hat helps support a number of diverse projects and their communities, and that number is growing alone with the responsibilities of the team. To highlight the projects with which OSAS works, a new series of community profiles will highlight the projects and the people who work with them. To start the series, we'll examine the CentOS Project–likely the most unique project within the OSAS ecosystem.

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Setting Up oVirt? Watch These New Videos

oVirt logo One of the really great things about working with communities is when you wake up one morning and find someone has generously donated their time and effort to deliver something that benefits all.

In this case, oVirt has Wesley Morais de Oliveira to thank for releasing a set of 10 videos detailing the basic steps for setting up and configuring oVirt. This includes the oVirt Engine as well as oVirt Node.

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Event Report--LinuxCon NA 2015

LF logo Pretty much going to go out on limb here and make the call: if you didn't find something that interested you at this year's pantheon of LinuxCon North America events, then you may want to start using Windows. Except Microsoft was there too, so you're out of luck. And Apple, so just settle down.

The list or speakers and sponsors was varied, to be sure, no less so than the visitor roll call. But the real variety was marked by the sheer number of events the Linux Foundation hosted in the Seattle Sheraton during the week of August 16.

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Welcome to the New Gluster Community Lead

Gluster logo The Open Source and Standards team in Red Hat is very pleased to announce the addition of a new team member: Amye Scavarda, who will be taking the role of GlusterFS Community Lead.

Amye's journey to the GlusterFS Project could arguably be said to have started when she turned away from Dreamweaver web technology in 2008 while working on large Department of Energy cleanup sites as a technologist...

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Adieu, Portland!

OSCON logo The crush of the crowd was full of anticipation. Hundreds of red baseball caps surrounded us, all holding their numbered tickets and waiting to hear their number to be called.

In the booth, we stood fast, tossing out offerings of t-shirts to keep the swelling crowd appeased as they waited for the appointed hour. It was tough going; the RDO and CentOS shirts were flying out, while oVirt shirts were slower to be distributed.

Then, it was time. The drawings for the four prizes–two Go Pros and two Bose sound systems–were successful, and the happy prize winners went their separate ways and the sea of red hats dissipated, blending with the rest of the OSCON floor crowd.

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The Worst-Named Job In The World

Open your favorite search engine on another browser tab. Enter "Community Manager." Go ahead, I'll wait.

On Google, the first page of results reveals nine general links and three news links: one Wikipedia entry, five pages on community management as a social media function, two links to job postings for social media community managers, and a link to a page about real estate community managers. Of the three news stories, one was a piece on social community management, another on game community management, and the last on real estate community management.

Over on Bing, the same search reveals the same Wikipedia page, four job-search-related community management links, two links to social community management pages, and two real estate community management pages.

Yahoo? No less than eight ad-based search results, and pretty much the same mix and content that Bing had.

And so on.

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Open Cloud Day Rolls Into OSCON 2015

OSCON logo It is a reasonable statement to make that most people don't enjoy moving.

Packing up all of your worldly possessions into boxes, loading them up into a truck, and then driving to a new abode where the process begins again in reverse does not exactly scream fun times. As painful as the process of moving can be, though, it is essentially a standard process. You can take your own stuff with you and arrange it however you see fit.

Imagine a world where each home was reliant on a certain type of furniture, or appliances. You can't take your favorite recliner with you, nor your grandmother's antique lamp, because it isn't compatible with the next living space. That is, essentially, analogous to the problem of committing your IT resources to an infrastructure that isn't open. Once your apps and data are inside such a system, they are pretty much stuck there, unless you want to go through some serious pain.

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Change Is Bad--No, Good!

Fedora logo I am a fairly agnostic person when it comes to Linux distributions. My personal philosophy is, as long as it works and has little pain associated with it, then that's the distro for me. In the past, that meant using the likes of Ubuntu, Linux Mint, and openSUSE, to name a few, and I have gone back and forth between GNOME and KDE more times than I can count.

Since coming to Red Hat, naturally I have gravitated to Fedora (though I have a CentOS server humming along for oVirt demos). Right now, I'm using Fedora 22, and thus far it's been a pretty smooth run–except for one really irksome thing that is still catching me out nearly every single time:

The change from Yum to DNF.

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Community Central Demos Upstream Awesome at Summit 2015

Tom Callaway at Fedora Booth Coming out of the Red Hat Summit is a little like coming out of a euphoric whiteout of moments where you know good things happened, but you aren't exactly sure what.

The build up alone to an event like Summit takes weeks of preparation, and for the Open Source and Standards team, it marks just the start of a summer-long season of trade shows and community events where we can show off our respective projects.

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Moving Focus to the Upstream

oVirt logo When code with the complexity of oVirt gets developed, one of the more critical pieces of tooling to have is an issue tracker. Issue trackers–which work for any size coding project, really–enable developers and quality engineers to make note of features to add and the progress in which they are getting added. They also help project participants identify faulty behaviors and prioritize them for repair. This latter use is why issue trackers are also known as bug trackers.

One of the best open source bug trackers for development today is Bugzilla, and it's the system oVirt uses for issue tracking, along with many other projects in which Red Hat is involved. It is also the same tracker used for one of oVirt's downstream commercial products, Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV). And therein lies a little bit of a problem–a problem we are happy to say is getting solved with an even more open policy on issue and bug tracking.

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SELF Discovery

SELF logo The 2015 SouthEast LinuxFest (SELF) made its seventh annual appearance last week, this year filling the quiet halls of the Sheraton Charlotte Airport with the voices of the free and open source community.

This was my first time at the show, but it is most definitely a local favorite for those Red Hatters based in Raleigh. Charlotte is a city in transition, with some interesting spots to find culture and ridiculously good cuisine. The event itself had the feel of similar regional FLOSS conferences, along the lines of SCALE, Texas Linux Fest, and LinuxFest Northwest: run by a team of dedicated (and slightly exhausted) volunteers that went out of their way to make attendees and exhibitors feel welcome.

OSAS was well-represented at SELF, presenting on a variety of topics that displayed just some of our expertise.

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All Code Tells A Story

SELF logo I can talk. A lot.

I'm pretty sure there's not one of my friends and co-workers who would dispute that assertion.

Much of my conversation in the workplace revolves around, well, work: the creation and distribution of technology that, ultimately, helps other people get more work done. How do we make feature X better? Or figure out how to explain feature Y?

Explaining what my colleagues are creating...

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Two Hypervisors, One Great Collaboration

Xen-KVM logo Born in the logic of ones and zeroes and forged in the heat of battle, two hypervisors–sworn foes in the realm of virtualization–are about to unite in a way many never thought possible. Over beer and code.

Join the teams behind Xen Project Developer Summit and KVM Forum in Seattle as they co-host a social event that will rock the virtualization world. On August 18, 2015, at the close of the Xen Project Developer Summit and on the eve of KVM Forum, attendees of both events can come together and collaborate in the best way possible: with crudites and hors d’oeuvres (and beer).

Virtualization is one of the most important technologies in IT today, so it makes perfect sense for the two best hypervisor projects to collaborate and socialize at an event that celebrates their similarities and bridges that gap between all things KVM and Xen.

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Create Community Impact With Case Studies

caution sign Case studies about open source project participants and users are a great way to showcase your project and how it works in the real world. Such studies will highlight interesting features of your software, demonstrate different (and potentially unique) ways your project is in use, and foster positive communication among members of your community.

Case studies are also about transparency: while talking to the end user of your software, you can also learn about things that are not necessarily running smoothly in your project. And while no one loves to hear about the things that are going wrong, such feedback can also be invaluable to you and your team.

This blog entry will walk you through the process of creating an open source software project case study.

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FOSSAsia Opens Doors For Many Open Source Projects

FOSSAsia logo There's a moment, when you're 9,412 miles away from home, standing in front of an audience of 300 or so people, when you have to wonder just how it is you ended up here.

Clearly there was a plane ride involved… a darn long one that involved three planes, including one with a broken engine that threw off the timing for the rest of the trip. Then there was the surreal experience of being escorted...

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VDI Lives On with Help from oVirt

oVirt logo Hey, remember Virtual Desktop Infrastructure? Still wondering if people are actually using it? I know, right?

It seems that VDI, which a lot of people thought was very much a bypassed technology, is still a growing sector in IT… and free-software tools are lending VDI deployments a stable and free platform on which virtual desktops can be managed.

A new case study from the oVirt project details...

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Collaborative Competition at FOSDEM

As you walk down the crowded, narrow Rue des Bouchers on any given Brussels evening, you may find yourself assailed by restaurant barkers intent on getting you to swing into their establishment and dine on their fare. It's not exactly a welcoming gesture, particularly when some of the barkers embrace the situation and just tell you flat out they want your money.

This past weekend, five kilometers...

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Collaboration with CentOS is a Win-Win for oVirt

Normally within the oVirt release cycle, we don't offer new features in mid-cycle. Instead, we just improve upon or fix up the features that are already in there, and new features will come out the next major point release. But last week we announced the oVirt 3.5.1 release candidate, and we're pleased to confirm that oVirt Engine will indeed run on el7 distributions, which includes Red Hat Enterprise...

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Quotes from Open Source Past

Here's one:

"Linux is not in the public domain. Linux is a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches. That's the way that the license works." - Steve Ballmer, CEO, Microsoft, June 2001.

I pretty much remember that quote when it was made. I was contracting with LinuxPlanet, about nine months away from working full-time on Linux Today, when my fellow writers and I saw that one come over the wires. My thought at the time was a mental picture of a stick and a hornet's nest.

Another one:

"But as history has shown, while this type of model may have a place, it isn't successful in building a mass market and making powerful, easy-to-use software broadly accessible to consumers." Craig Mundie, Microsoft Senior Vice President, May 2001.

Mundie's remarks were part of an early trial balloon for Microsoft's concept of shared source, where just a little source code is opened to select customers and not really shared with anyone else. I've never met Mundie, but he was once a vocal detractor of Linux. At one point, it seemed like a week would not go by without another zinger from Mundie hitting the presses.

Recent events have left me feeling nostalgic and looking back over the years at my rather odd career path… particularly the years around the turn of the century, when everyone with a proprietary license on their software seemed to have a mad on for Linux.

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Impressing the In-Laws: Open Source for Non-Techies

Reflecting back over the holiday break, I would have to say that overall, it was pretty mellow. (This is not always a given when family gatherings are part of the equation.)

This year, it was Christmas with the in-laws, and it was the first time we'd had a lengthy visit with them since I started working with the oVirt project. All my in-laws knew was that I had a new job and I was traveling a lot. This, naturally, led to the inevitable question: what is it that I actually do?

This is a tricky question to answer to those not in the IT community. If I say to a group of my peers, "I'm an open source community liaison/manager/whatever," I can be reasonably sure they're going to at least partially understand. They may still be off in their presumptions ("you're one of those hippies?"), but at least we're in the ballpark of understanding.

With those not in IT, not only are we not in the same ballpark, but there's not even a mutual understanding of the rules of the game being played.

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oVirt New Year's Resolution: Building Better Community Tools

When I was a journalist, one of the things that inevitably happened every year was the year-end crush of stories that highlighted the "best of" the closing year and the predictions for the year ahead.

So who am I to break with tradition?

My work with the oVirt community began exactly 385 days ago, and in that time, there have been two point releases for this virtual datacenter management platform...

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Open Source Is Just Another Way of Doing Good Business

Red Hat has been doing what it's doing for quite a while now, and so far, it seems to be working out pretty well. Every once in a while, though, along comes a little independent validation about the viability of open source in the business world that deserves to be called out.

The most recent example is from The New York Times, specifically, an article that (rightly) highlights the need for data...

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Open World Forum 2014 Report

Ah, Paris. While seemingly the rest of the tech world was in the City of Lights for the OpenStack Summit, a smaller and more intimate event took place the week prior: Open World Forum.

The Forum is a two-day event in the heart of Paris dedicated to exploring all things open. And I do mean all: open software, open hardware, open data… the concept of open writ large and on display in a cozy little venue near the Arc de Triomphe.

Small, intimate, cozy… you may be sensing a theme here. But the smaller size of Open World Forum actually works in the event's favor. This was a chance for students, developers, and business people to come together and share what they know. There wasn't a lot of overt excitement (these are the French after all, and they tend to be cool), but there was a sense of earnestness in the air in the sessions and hallways of this venue.

My own discussion on containers and virtualization was in much the same vein. The audience for the presentation was attentive and full of questions, and this, for me, was one of the best interactive discussions I have had to date.

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LISA '14: Our Talks, BoFs, a CentOS Dojo, and in the Expo & Lab

"Did you go to LISA last year? It was awesome/interesting/informative!"

No. No, I did not go to LISA last year, nor any other year, thank you very much for asking me or telling me about it for the umpteenth time.

My reasons for never going were mostly professional: with the event's laser-like focus on deep technology, this is not necessarily an exciting show for media. And last year at this time I was also contracting with a certain other Linux company and getting ready for their annual corporate event. So, as I approach the first anniversary of my Red Hat tenure, LISA is the last big event that I will be cycling through for the year.

And, I have to say, I'm kind of looking forward to this one.

Red Hat's attendance at the event will be significant, given our involvement in computer science and technology. Besides an active booth presence at the LISA '14 Expo, several Red Hat speakers and a co-located dojo will be part of the overall LISA '14 event.

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User Stories, Dialogs Are Central Theme of oVirt Workshop

The latest iteration of the oVirt Workshop rolled into Düsseldorf on October 16th, with loads of new content to share with participants and the start of new dialogs about the future of the open source virtual datacenter management platform.

The day started with a well-received presentation from Michal Skrivanek on what's new in oVirt 3.5, which unbeknownst to the attendees, would be released the very next day.

Next up, Antoni Segura Puimedon walked everyone through the details of how oVirt and OpenStack are integrating, which generated some good discussion, primarily because of all of the technologies out in enterprise IT, people are very interested in OpenStack and how they can use it. This is a topic worth exploring in detail in the near future.

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oVirt 3.5 Rolls Out

oVirt logo To say that October was a big month for oVirt would be a little bit of an understatement.

This past week was the KVM Forum, a three-day event in Düsseldorf that brought together the entire KVM community, which included oVirt users and developers. The October 16th oVirt Workshop, a free-of-charge event co-located with the KVM Forum, focused on the oVirt datacenter platform and its use in business and academic worlds.

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oVirt 2014 Workshop Registration Opens

As oVirt strives to become the best open source and comprehensive data center virtualization management suite, and its community rapidly evolves and grows, one of the ways its vibrant community connects is through our Global Workshops. The events are conducted solely to introduce new users and veteran oVirt admins to new features and techniques found in oVirt, and to provide a forum for our users...

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Say Hello to Some of oVirt's User Base

There is a perception in IT that when it comes to open source software, the community "upstream" version of the software is where you go to test and develop your systems, but it's the commercial "downstream" version that gets put into actual production. Indeed, for many end users and customers of open source software, this pretty much reflects the reality. After all, why not have the best support and deployment options available for your production systems? The old "one-throat-to-choke" trope still has a powerful attraction in the IT community.

But not always.

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A Cinematic Peek at oVirt 3.5

Things have seemed a bit quiet on the oVirt front recently, but rest assured, they are not.

The community has been hard at work putting the finishing touches on oVirt 3.5, which is due for GA release soon, so if they've been quieter than usual, that's why. But they're still around, and every once in a while, they will show off a little more of what they are doing. Recently, the community has produced four new videos, three of them focused on the upcoming 3.5 release.

One of the most well-known and frequently used features in oVirt is virtual machine snapshot management. In oVirt 3.5, this snapshot features have been expanded to include a far more robust management interface, such as viewing disk snapshots in the context of a storage domain. You can see in more in this 86-second demo video.

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Report: oVirt at LinuxCon

One of the biggest conferences in the Linux community these days is surely LinuxCon, and this year's LinuxCon North America did not disappoint.

Red Hat was there in force, with representatives from the oVirt, RDO, Fedora, Project Atomic, ManageIQ, OpenShift and Gluster communities being represented in sessions and in the booth (which was quite crowded at times). The Ceph crew had their own booth, based on an earlier arrangement with the show organizers, but we still teased them about being stand-offish anyway.

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Containers Aren't the Extinction Event for Operating Systems

A little while back, I made the argument that any hype or positioning around virtual machines versus containers was very much a fake conflict.

Containers, after all, have a wonderful set of uses, particularly for application developers who want to use Just What They Need, and then get on with what they want to really do: develop for the application, not mess around with the changing libraries and...

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oVirt Community Update: July 2014

oVirt 3.5 is in beta phase this month, as the community progresses toward the latest release of the open source datacenter virtual management platform.

Right out of the gate, users are going to notice an all-new look and feel to the oVirt interface, as the UX team rolls out phase one of the new PatternFly interface.

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Thoughts on FISL 15 and Community in South America

Red Hat has a unique opportunity to reach out and connect with a global free and open source software community. In recent months, it has become apparent that certain regions in that community feel less of a connection to Red Hat and its varied community efforts. South America is one such region, and this trip was undertaken with the goal to discover what, if anything, Red Hat and the OSAS team...

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oVirt Red Hat Summit 2014 Report

Walking back to the oVirt booth at the Red Hat Summit Tuesday after grabbing some lunch, I noticed the giant lit-up sphere above the booth was no longer lit; among the seven other stands in the Red Hat Developer's Lounge, ours was the only one not shining.

It seemed to be our week for trouble at the oVirt booth. A misplaced shipment meant our tchotchkes and community t-shirts were lost.

We were...

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oVirt Community Update: April 2014

The community has been vital part of oVirt since its beginning. Recently, we started a new community metrics page, which gathers information on activity in the oVirt community.

The table below shows the total contributions for oVirt in March 2014 in terms of authors, commits, and mailing list particpants:

...
  Contributors Commits Participants
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oVirt 3.4 Unveiled

oVirt 3.4 is finally out on the virtual shelves, an achievement of many hours of work from a global team of developers who are continuing to improve a virtual datacenter platform that's getting more attention all of the time.

If you could pick a theme around the efforts of the oVirt team, it would probably be lowering the barrier of entry. What can be done not only to make oVirt more useful, but also easier to install and implement?

The new hosted engine, for instance, enables the oVirt engine to be run as a virtual machine (VM) on the same host it manages. Hosted engine solves the classic chicken-and-the-egg problem you have when solving the basic challenge of deploying and running an oVirt engine inside a VM. This will streamline installation and make oVirt easier to deploy.

Work contributed from IBM and the El Dorado Research Center in Brazil gives oVirt 3.4 PPC64 support, making oVirt a true cross-architecture virtualization platform. At the same time, we've made efforts to continue integrating with other projects and solutions that users want, such as oVirt guest agents for openSUSE and Ubuntu.

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On Innovation and Infrastructure

Last week, the New York Times Magazine posted a fascinating article about the dichotomy of technology found in IT today: the push and pull between the young, entrepreneurial hackers who are looking for the next big thing and the older, more experienced engineers who have seen it all.

This article was interesting to me for several reasons, not the least of which was the fact that I am approaching the half-century mark in the next few years and I work with a lot of younger folks who don't quite see the work we do in the same way. I don't see that as a particularly bad situation; seeing and learning different perspectives is one of the things I like to do. 

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Preview of oVirt in Google Summer of Code 2014

Summer, for the most part, is a good time for change.

We take holidays, start new projects, get married, look for new things… the weather is warm and it drives us to explore the world around us just a little bit more.

Students are already in exploration mode, learning all they can to prepare for a world that seems to need new skills each passing day. Increasingly, I see my students taking advantage of their summers not only to catch their breath and relax a little, but also to seek out new challenges and opportunities that will get them ahead of the curve.

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oVirt 3.4 Is All About Easier Installation, Administration

As the new year gets underway, the oVirt development team is well on its way to preparing oVirt 3.4 for release. There's some pretty nice features coming up in the next point release for oVirt, making a better platform than ever for virtualization management.

One of the most exciting features is hosted engine, which will enable oVirt engine to be run as a virtual machine (VM) on the host it manages...

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