openSUSE transformation step 2. The user oriented distro.

openSUSE Tumbleweed is a rolling release that was designed with a clear goal, target and metric. It was developed following a clear picture of where to go. Design it was a painful but unavoidable process that challenged an assumption established in many people mindset back in 2012. Latest/greatest and stability were incompatible. Hence, Factory, the rolling release back then, was for hardcore SUSE/openSUSE OS developers only. As rolling distros, there were more popular and better options out there.
This summary might help you to get some background.
Goals are easier to achieve if you have a good reference to beat. For those who worked in the project, Gentoo and specially Arch Linux were those references. As you can imagine, transform openSUSE required management support. We had it, specially from Roland Haidl, Operations and Communities Director at SUSE back then. He created the environment that allowed those who worked in his department to be creative…. and take risks.

Simplifying, for the new “development version”, a.k.a Tumbleweed (former Factory), the goal was to implement a model that allowed us to improve the existing Factory one, based on continuous delivery. The target chosen were our core contributors (packagers fundamentally) and the metric was, in summary, to make sure that, no matter how wrong things could go after an update, you would always have a console and network, so you would be able to revert your change. In terms of the process, the resulting integration deployment processes should be transparent, not just internally but also from our community members perspective. It also needed to be simpler in order to gain contributors, not just users. And it needed to empower them to own it.

Instead of following what SUSE was doing back then, the company dedicated resources to challenge itself. As result, openSUSE Tumbleweed is today, not just the best rolling distro out there, with all what that means in terms of excitement among its contributors, but is generating higher value to SUSE, since the company have an outstanding playground at home that allows them to incorporate true innovation into their production process before their competitors do.

openSUSE is discussing nowadays to take a second step, this time focused on its user oriented version. Today is openSUSE 13.2.

In my opinion, based on the previous experience, and independently of the decision/discussion process chosen, the same steps need to be taken. They are unavoidable in any transformation process. It is necessary to define a clear goal, something short that you can explain and understand easily, a clear target and a key metric that helps to clarify the “acceptance criteria” to be used during the whole process.

Like back then, I would like to see SUSE challenging itself, putting in question well established principles within the OS industry. Again, choosing a reference would make the final picture easier to achieve.

Most openSUSE users are desktop users and sysadmin. If, as I conclude from the latest oSC15 videos and factory mailing list discussions, sysadmins are the chosen target, It would be great to see SUSE/openSUSE challenging the assumption that, through a continuous delivery process, you cannot release a stable and high quality (for the target) distribution. That stability is only achievable through a waterfall like model. I would choose CoreOS as reference. It is a project that, based on different questions, is providing innovative answers to new challenges.

I would like to see that, base on the current process (standing on the shoulders of giants) openSUSE/SUSE creates a process that “pulverize” the current mindset, deprecating many of the existing problems, focusing on solving new ones. Imagine the best of both worlds, a new paradigm of OS with the green values.

It took about a year and a half for a dedicated team to release what today is Tumbleweed. I think that this second challenge is bigger than the first one. An even bigger commitment from SUSE will be needed in order to succeed.

But if the resources are there, the creative environment is set, the right steps are followed and the openSUSE community supports the effort, there is nothing that can stop the project to achieve what today are dreams. SUSE has the talent, and the experience, to make it happen.

I wish them all the best in this new challenge.

First weeks al Linaro and other things

I few weeks ago I announced I was joining Linaro. I work there as Director of Core Development Group. I moved from Prague to Cambridge (the original), that is, from continental to oceanic climate. From dry, cold in winter and hot in summer to wet, soft in summer and above zero most of the winter. In theory an improvement, you might think. Well, depending on much it rains. I will tell you better in spring.
A few days ago The Mukt published and interview where I explained a little what is Linaro and what do I do as Core Development Director. 

Core Development Group

I can add that Linaro is an engineering focused organization, divided in Engineering Groups. Some of them, like the one I am part of, are formed by several engineering teams, some of them called Working Groups. Core Development is formed by four:
 You can find more details in the Core Development wiki page, at Linaro Wiki.
These first few weeks I have gone through the natural landing process, meeting my colleagues and managers, knowing how we operate, learning about my responsibilities, the work engineers are doing, the plans for the future, analysing our internal processes, etc. Nothing unusual in these cases.
In July I had the opportunity to attend to the Linaro Kernel and Power Management Sprint, hosted by one of our Members, ST, in Le Mans. It was a very interesting week.

Linaro Connect

My following event will be Linaro Connect, in San Francisco, USA, in September. Linaro Connect are the events where all the Linaro employees meet. Those of you who are familiar with the Ubuntu Developer Summit knows what I am talking about. Linaro Connect takes place twice a year in a different continent and it is also an opportunity to have a direct contact with our Members.

Factory as a rolling release: openSUSE development version

A few days ago it was announced that Factory moved to a rolling release model. So the first step of the 2014/2016 plan has been completed. I was very happy to see that the openSUSE team could lead the execution of this relevant step for the distro in time. The Development version of openSUSE is now a reality that not just can increase the overall number of contributors, but also bring significant innovation to SUSE Linux Enterprise integration process. Congratulations. I am very proud of being part of the team. I will always be.
I would like to specially congratulate Roland Haidl, the Director of Communities at SUSE. The most important (and hardest) thing you can get from a manager is trust, and the openSUSE team had it from him to build a good team, support the changes the team went through back in 2012 (tough times), stand strong behind the new strategy defined in 2013 and support the team during the design and execution of this first milestone. And he did this without making noise, letting the results speak. A management handbook success.

Personal challenges

On the personal side, relocating has taken most of my energy the last two and a half month. But I have managed to do/plan other things.

LinuxCon Europe

I am part of the LinuxCon Europe Content Committee. The last few days I have been evaluating, together with my colleagues in the committee, the abstracts presented. I has been an interesting work
LinuxCon Europe have very promising keynote speakers but the whole program will be filled up with first class contents.
Sometimes you never know what lives will bring you. I was invited to be part of the committee before joining Linaro. My work now is very related to the Linux Kernel and suddenly, last week, Linaro becomes a Linux Foundation Member. I do not want to think too much about coincidences vs. destiny but….

Akademy 2014

This year Akademy has moved to September and the dates collide with a personal compromise (a wedding) and the preparations for the Linaro Connect so I won’t be able to attend. It will be the first time I’ll miss it since 2005, when I attended for the first time. I am very sad about it. I tried but…
And it is specially sad for me because the new Treasurer will have to present the financial report about the past 2013, when I was the Treasurer. Being there should be the right thing to do. But I simply cannot make it.
I already missed Akademy-es 2014, that took place in Málaga and was organized by my former colleague Antonio Larrosa and sponsored by my former company, SUSE. I am not running away from KDE, I promise. The Calendar is working against me, that’s all.

TEDxLaLaguna

I am a TED video consumer since some years ago, not many. Suddenly, I received a mail from a colleague at college giving me the opportunity to start…..and at home, in the Canary Islands.
Of course I want to try!
So in October I will be in Tenerife giving a TED talk in the local event TEDxLalaguna. Obviously I am already preparing the talk. Let’s see how it goes.
As you can see, it is going to be an intensive year, after all.