Open Source Curriculum Ideas Wanted

IFL logo Recently I’ve begun volunteering at Idea Fab Labs here in Santa Cruz, with two specific goals — expanding the space to include free/open source software ethos and hacking, and helping all these awesome makers with questions and reality around the open source way.

Tip — I got quite fired-up to do this from Ruth Suehle’s keynote at SCALE this year, so go watch that if you need any reason why you should be helping maker spaces and friends with your open sourcery.

On the first goal, I’m working up a space in the fab labs — similar to the 3D printing, CNC router, laser cutter, jewelry zone, electronics, etc. spaces — goal is to have a place to drop in and do real software hacking; teach others from the bottom all the way up on how and why to contribute; or, yeah, even freaking care about open source software.

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CentOS Project Rolling Builds

Something has been in the works over the past few months in the CentOS Project, what we’re calling ‘rolling builds’.

Generally a rolling build is where a software project makes regular builds of the latest code (for example, every month, week, or day). Typically all the updates or changes to the software are included in the build.

For CentOS Linux, this means rolling in all the latest updates from upstream Red Hat Enterprise Linux for each rolling build. The CentOS Project produces installable images (ISO files) of CentOS Linux, generic cloud images for popular service providers, the formal Docker image available via the Docker Hub, and an image for use with Project Atomic.

Project leader Karanbir Singh described it this way in his announcement:

CentOS Linux rolling builds are point in time snapshot media rebuild from original release time, to include all updates pushed to’s repositories. This includes all security, bugfix, enhancement and general updates for CentOS Linux. Machines installed from this media will have all these updates pre-included and will look no different when compared with machines installed with older media that have been yum updated to the same point in time. All rpm/yum repos remain on with no changes in either layout or content.

The aim is to update and release a new set of these files at the end of every month. There may be interim and test builds done, as well as the possibility of building and releasing due to a security vulnerability, such as the recent Heartbleed and Shellshock exploits.

As the release cycles progress, we’ll be pulling in more images, such as CentOS Linux 7 live media, and probably future releases coming from project special interest groups (SIGs). The SIGs provide additional software on top of the CentOS Linux platform, which may include changing out components in the base distro. It will be a great benefit to these SIGs and their user communities to have rolling builds of this software, as it is often representative of leading edge project work that many are interested in using such as OpenStack and software-defined storage and networking.

As it stands now, these rolling builds are not the same as a nightly snapshot and build that is common in some open source projects. The CentOS Project often will need a few days to test before release. Regardless of when the release actually happens (end of one month, or the start of another), the name and datestamp on the build will reflect the month in which it was built.

In this second month of rolling builds the following images were included:

One Year Later: Paul Cormier on Red Hat and the CentOS Project

When it comes to making sure people are happy and excited about Red Hat joining forces with the CentOS Project, one of the most important stakeholders inside of Red Hat is EVP & President of Products and Technologies, Paul Cormier. Paul was involved with the hard but important business decision that led to splitting the original Red Hat Linux into Fedora Linux and Red Hat Enterprise Linux, a move that helped inspire the creation of CentOS and other projects to help fill the community-driven need for a slow-moving platform.

In a video interview on ServerWatch, Paul talks about how things are going since Red Hat formally joined the CentOS Project. Paul says, "I think it’s been great for the community, I think it’s been great for the CentOS guys, I think it’s been great for us at Red Hat."

One question we often hear is, "OK, I see how the CentOS community benefits, but what is in it for Red Hat?"

"(F)or us, it’s a way to give the development world a platform," Paul says, "to go off and do development of other pieces in open source."

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CentOS Community Update — All About SIGs

One of the most exciting aspects of the expanding CentOS Project is the work being done by Special Interest Groups, or SIGs, to bring emerging technologies to the CentOS community. The work of these SIGs happens on top of the CentOS Linux core release, providing new software alongside the core in the form of repositories or images. In some cases SIGs may replace core packages as part of making a variant targeted at a specific audience. SIGs can do this because members must come from the involved upstream project, and thus are authoritative about what that software and its community needs

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Red Hat and CentOS Join Forces

As you may have heard by now, Red Hat and the CentOS Project have announced that we are working together. I’m very excited about this announcement and what it means for the future. There are plenty of resources that I’ll list below to find out more about the new effort, but I wanted to take a moment to share with you my personal view (and why my view matters.)

Ten years ago I was present with many of you when Red Hat split our Linux product into the Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) product line and Fedora Project community distribution. Many of us were aware right away that a gap was created between Fedora and RHEL for a slower-moving, stable-enough community platform. That gap was where CentOS (and other) distros grew. That gap has since become a fully realized niche with an enormous community of users and use cases.

In that time, Red Hat has moved our product and project focus farther up the stack from the Linux base into middleware, cloud, virtualization, storage, etc., etc. We continue to use the open source way in developing code and content, and we’ve run in to some interesting effects from that. One of them is that the upstream projects we care really benefit from running on the CentOS platform for open source development. Another is that code in projects such as OpenStack is evolving without the benefit of spending a lot of cycles in Fedora, so our projects aren’t getting the community interaction and testing that the Linux base platform gets. Quite simply, using CentOS is a way for projects to have a stable-enough base they can stand on, so they can focus on the interesting things they are doing and not on chasing a fast-moving Linux. CentOS also popular with users, such as open source developers who want to combine various interesting projects on a platform they can rely upon to not change underneath them.

This change in relationship is really all about building more of that bright, shiny future. One of the major focuses in this next chapter of the CentOS Project is around the variants. This is where the interesting stuff people are doing meets the roadway that we are creating for them. In the coming months you’ll see special interest groups (SIGs) springing up in the CentOS Project such as cloud technology previews (meaning OpenStack, oVirt, Gluster, etc.), web hosting, and new technologies such as ARM. Variant SIGs do this by providing additional code or changes to the CentOS core distribution, kept in We’ll be be creating a new community build system with other contributors, and helping the Project overall with governance, transparency, and practicing the open source way.

What I love about all of this is how it creates the balance between the forceful personalities of Fedora and RHEL. Rather than having to make Fedora fit into every imaginable community platform need, we’ll see an expansion of the kind of efforts that fit better on CentOS for community projects where RHEL doesn’t make sense. If you look at the virtuous water cycle of open source innovation, you’ll see that CentOS continues to receive a flow from Fedora via RHEL, while simultaneously providing the innovation platform that flows better and better code back around the circle to influence products and other projects.

My relationship to this new effort is pretty integral. I’ve been acting as the project lead and have been one of the project architects since the beginning. In addition, I’m going to be joining the CentOS Governing Board and acting in the role of the Red Hat liaison. Finally, I have the honor of the being the team manager for the new CentOS team working in the CTO’s office as part of our Open Source and Standards Group meaning I get to be the buffer and champion internally for Johnny Hughes, Jim Perrin, Fabian Arrotin, and Karanbir Singh.

CentOS Dojos: An Overview and Invite to Orlando

As I help plan for an upcoming CentOS Dojo in Orlando, FL at Fossetcon on Thursday, September 11th. I’ve had a chance to think over all the aspects of this unique event.

What makes a CentOS Dojo interesting is part of what makes it unique. Events by a Linux distro community are usually about the distro itself, and Dojos focus mainly on cool things done on top of or with the core or modified distro. Most Dojo talks focus on these areas of emerging technologies beyond just the Linux system itself, all in the domain of systems administration, operations, and best practises.

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