Closing doors

Yesterday was my last day as KDE e.V. Board Member. As you know I have been the KDE Treasurer since April 2012. I will keep being part of the Financial Working Group so I will be able to help my successor during the landing process and in the future. I still have some leftovers to finish (reports) and I plan to write a couple of posts about our numbers, so you all know what it the situation of KDE e.V. in general….healthy, by the way 馃檪 It is being a soft transition.

KDE e.V. is in the right time to be ambitious and heavily increase its resources to support KDE community. Several decisions have been made in this regard and they will be executed during this 2014. The financial situation is healthy enough to afford some level of expansion. So I think it is time for somebody else to come with energy and enthusiasm to drive these changes the following months/years. And we have that person so…..

KDE e.V. is a solid organization, well managed and with a Board that takes the financial area seriously. It has been a pleasure and a honor to be part of the Board.

On the other hand, my relation with SUSE will end this month. Working on openSUSE, an specially building and leading the openSUSE Team, has been a great experience. I wish them all the best, specially in their current main task, turning Factory into a “usable” rolling release by changing the development work flow/process. It is a goal with a high impact for openSUSE.

openQA has a nice present, a tremendous potential and future, not just from the technical but also from the business point of view. For those of you looking for a great place to work, consider SUSE. It was for me.

The last few weeks I have been temporary living in Prague. I love this city. I am not attending to openSUSE Conference (I am sure it will be a great one) and I am not sure if I will be able to go to Akademy-es, which is a pity since it takes place in Malaga, where I lived for three years, and it is organized by one of my colleagues, Antonio Larrosa. I plan to go to Akademy in Brno though.

As you can see, these are times for changes, after around two years putting my best in KDE e.V. Board and SUSE/openSUSE. I have no idea what am I going to do next but I am sure it will be exciting so I expect an article soon called “Open Doors”. Otherwise….I will not know what to do with so much time, or maybe I will… write more posts. 馃檪

openSUSE 2016: taking a picture of openSUSE today

As some of you know, the openSUSE Team at SUSE is publishing a series of proposals to the openSUSE community in several key areas of the project. The first of those mails tried to provide a general picture of the project based, among other sources, on the data mining done during these past few months.聽

Many of you do not follow the project closely or you do but are not subscribed to openSUSE mailing lists. I would like you to read the below article/mail and share your thoughts.

I believe that sharing a common understanding of the current strengths and weaknesses of the openSUSE project is helpful in order to agree on the steps to be taken in the near future and evaluating them. But above all, agreeing in an initial picture, even if not in the details, is relevant to have a chance to agree in the direction the project might take in the future.

Before reading the text of that first mail, posted below, there are three remarks to be made:

  1. I think some people from the openSUSE community has perceived this first mail as a negative criticism to the project and their contributors. Cold analysis based on numbers do not provide a complete picture of the project… but provides a good one, in my opinion. I wrote the below mail/article thinking about a better future, not to revisit a past I am part of.聽
  2. A summary of the proposals was published in an openSUSE Team blog post. Please read it to get in context. As stated in that article, this first mail/article has as goal to share the motivations behind the later published proposals, trying to open a discussion about our current state that can lead us to agree on a picture we can use as starting point.
  3. At the end of the article/mail, I proposed some questions. If you are interested in answering them (I would appreciate it), please:

Otherwise, in order to keep the debate centralized (for record purposes also), I will post/summarize your answers and comments also in that mailing list.

———-

openSUSE 2016: taking a picture of openSUSE today

Once openSUSE 13.1 has been released, it is time for the openSUSE Team to focus on the future. We want to share some ideas we have about the project in general and factory in particular. The topic is not easy. so this mail is a little long and dense, but hopefully worth it. It won’t be the last one so let me know how to improve it.


INTRODUCTION/GOALS

This is the first of a series of mails we will publish the following days with different ideas. The process we are proposing has no intention of pointing at anybody, revisiting the past or enforce any situation within the community. Our goals are:
  • Share a picture as a starting point of discussion.
  • Use the discussed picture as a reference to agree on actions we all can/want to execute.聽

FIRST STEP: PIECES OF THE PUZZLE

One of the first things we did was digging into numbers that provided us information about the status of the project. Data cannot be the only source to create a complete picture, but it is helpful as first step.

In order to better understand the rest of the mail, you probably want to look the following references:
  • Alberto Planas talk at oSC13: openSUSE in Numbers[1]
  • Alberto Planas’ slides from the above talk[2]
  • First openSUSE Team blog post: Numbers in openSUSE[3]
  • Second openSUSE Team blog post: More on statistics[4]
  • Jos post about numbers[5]
One important note about the numbers: since most of the behaviors of the variables reflected on the graphs were consolidated, at some point we decided to stop adding effort in collecting numbers until 13.1 was released. Once the Release is well established, we will update them and evaluate the influence of this Release in the global picture.
I won’t try to go very deep in the analysis. It would be too long. There are many interpretations that can be done based on the graphs. I will just point out the most relevant for our purpose. Feel free to add others.
Following Alberto Planas’ order from his slides[2]

1.- Downloads

The number of downloads do not measure our user base, but provide hints about the impact of the work done every 8 months, the potential new users we might bring to the project and, looking at pre-release downloads, the number of testers.聽

Taking a look at the graphs, we can see that the overall number of downloads is growing at a slow path (slope). This behavior is not consistent in every release. For instance, 12.1 was more downloaded that 12.2 or 12.3. More and more people uses zypper for updating the distribution though.

2.- UUIDs (installations that update regularly)

  • Looking at the number of machines that regularly update against openSUSE repositories (daily, weekly and monthly), we can easily conclude that the situation is very stable. The speed of growth (daily and weekly stats) or decline (monthly) is low.
  • What the graph do not show is the acceleration. It has been negative (small in value) for quiet some time now.
  • When looking at the architectures, we see that x86_64 is more popular than i586. This behavior is accelerating, as confirmed in the download numbers collected for 12.3
  • When looking at the mediums where those installations come from, we clearly see three dominant ones: .iso (dvd version), ftp (net installs) and Live CD.
  • There is a relevant detail that Alberto mentioned in his talk. More than half, almost 2/3, of openSUSE installations are not using the last version many weeks after Release date. There is also a significant amount of installations using unmaintained or Evergreen versions.

3.- Factory and Tumbleweed installations/”users

Factory is our ongoing development effort. As you can see in the graph, the number of Factory installations is constant. Tumbleweed was very successful when it came out. Many developers and bleeding edge users liked it. Its popularity is decreasing though.

4.- Contributors to factory and devel projects

The numbers of users that are submitting request to factory/devel projects is increasing. Now we have more non SUSE contributors. SUSE ones remain constant. The overall growth is about 27 new contributors per year, a little bit more than 2 new contributors per month.

5.- Social media and comparison with Fedora

openSUSE is, in the social media channels evaluated, in the range of Fedora. Comparing our numbers, I guess we all agree with this general trend that states that openSUSE is a more user oriented distribution than Fedora is. We have less downloads but more users (installations updating regularly).

SOLVING THE PUZZLE

All the above pieces shows a stable picture. Every sign of growth or decline is, in absolute and/or relative numbers, small except social media, due聽 to their explosion as communication channels (which I do not think is way different from what other Free Software communities are experiencing).

ADDING CONTEXT TO THE PICTURE

openSUSE coexist with other “coopetitors” (Free Software competitors+cooperators) and competitors (closed sources distributions). Touchscreens, cloud, big data, games…the Linux ecosystem is evolving and there are new users with new needs.

New players are consolidating their positions: Arch, Chakra, Mint… Ubuntu is moving to the mobile space, Debian is getting some attention back from previous Ubuntu users….

On the other hand, some distros that were relevant in the past have disappeared, our 13.1 has got more attention than previous ones, SUSE is healthy and willing to invest more in openSUSE in the future …

In the above context, how is our “stable” situation perceived? How do we think it should be perceived?

INTERPRETING THE PICTURE

If we agree that the overall number of users of Linux based server + “traditional” desktop OS (let’s remove the mobile/embedded space and cloud for now), is growing, not following the “market” growing trend might be perceived as a wake up call, a clear sign that improvements needs to be done.

But if we agree that we are playing in a risky and challenging field, stability can be perceived as a healthy sign.

After these months of analysis and discussions with both, contributors and users, I would like to ask you if you agree with the the idea that the first picture is more prominent than the second one. But, does the second one provide us a good platform to improve our current position?

SHARE YOUR OWN PICTURE

Let me propose you some questions:

  1. What other variables we should put in place to create an accurate picture of the current state of the project?
  2. What is the perception you think others have from the project?
  3. What is your perception, your picture?

To get some context you might want to take a look at the following contents:

  • Current strategy[6]
  • Ralf Flaxa keynote at oSC’13[7]
  • Jos article: Strategy and Stable[8]
  • Jos article: Strategy and Factory[9]

REFERENCES:

Please point us to other relevant references:

[1] Alberto Planas talk at oSC13: openSUSE in Numbers:
http://youtu.be/NwfohZ8RBd8
[2] Alberto Planas’ slides from the above talk:
https://github.com/aplanas/opensuse-data/tree/master/osc13
[3] First openSUSE at SUSE team blog post: Numbers in openSUSE http://lizards.opensuse.org/2013/07/04/numbers-is-opensuse/
[4] Second openSUSE at SUSE team blog post: More on statistics http://lizards.opensuse.org/2013/08/23/more-on-statistics/
[5] Jos article about numbers:

———————————

Summary about what the openSUSE Team @ SUSE is doing

openSUSE 13.1 is about to be Released (Nov. 19th) and I would like to share what the team I am part of is doing.

I joined SUSE in June 2012, almost 18 months ago. I haven’t written much about anything during this time. And it haven’t been because I hadn’t time, but because I haven’t have enough energy. I have received though these past months several requests to write a little about what I do at SUSE, so here we go….

The openSUSE Team is a good mix of long term SUSE employees and fresh blood, youth and experience, openSUSE and other distros background, on site and remote workers, people with management or commercial/customer support experience together with integrators and developers, people coming from R&D or product focus companies together with people with a strong community profile…. a very diverse (1 Taiwanese, 2 Czechs, 1 Dutch, 1 Serbian, 4 Spaniards and 3 Germans) and talented group. We also have trainees in the team. Having students is something I like because it helps any team to develop engagement skills.

The Team has as major focus the openSUSE distribution. It is element around which the whole project circles. It is the key point that sustain everything else in openSUSE. Obviously we put effort in other actions but we try that everything we do is directly related, have its roots, in the distribution, in the software. Obviously we are not the only force in openSUSE, not even the most numerous. There are hundreds (literally) of people that participates in this collective effort.

The team have a big impact since we are dedicated full time to work on the project, we have focused our activity in limited areas and we are fairly well organized. But in terms of effort, the rest of the community has a much bigger weight than my team… fortunately :-).

Those familiar with KDE will understand what I mean if I name Blue Systems work in the project today.

From the community perspective we have focused our action in two major areas:
* The openSUSE Conference.
* openSUSE news portal (marketing).

In 2012, like it happened before, SUSE took the lead in organizing the Conference. This changed in 2013. A group of contributors led by Kostas and Stella, reputed community members, organized it, opening the door for a new model within openSUSE.

SUSE role in the organization changed. Now we support the organizers in different tasks instead of leading the organization. For me, this is a relevant success story that should serve as example for many in the future. I feel very comfortable in this new role because the efficiency of our contribution has increased significantly. Organizing an event FOR a community is different than supporting the community in organizing THEIR event, right?

In marketing my team makes a significant impact by keeping the News portal as a reference point of information about openSUSE. We focus most of our action around the openSUSE Releases. We also link the innovation brought by SUSE into openSUSE with our community. We help SUSE Teams in marketing their work when it makes sense.

These two actions leave us little time for supporting further initiatives in the news portal. We do it once in a while though, not in regular basis. The situation in this regard is not much different than other communities I know. Keeping the main news portal up and healthy requires more people than usually is available. A more collective approach is what we all want. It is not an easy goal to achieve in any case.

So we basically have concentrated our effort in three main areas:

  • What we call “the future”. You will know more about it soon.
  • The openSUSE Development and Release process, that will have openSUSE 13.1 as the main result, coming in a few days (November 19th).
  • Community work. Specially around the openSUSE Conference and the news portal.
I hope this overview provides some answers to those of you interested in what I am up to lately. You can follow closely our actions through our Team blog, that has Jos Poortvliet as main editor and the whole team as authors.
This week I am participating together with other colleagues in SUSECon’13 and openSUSE Summit 2013. If you are in the Orlando Area, FL, US, consider coming. You won’t regret it.

Abierto el plazo para la presentaci贸n de candidaturas para la celebraci贸n de la openSUSE Conference 2015.

La comunidad openSUSE celebra cada a帽o un evento en el que los principales contribuidores participan en charlas y talleres junto a interesados y profesionales. Al tratarse de una distribuci贸n, la lista de temas que se tocan es muy amplia, desde administraci贸n de sistemas hasta aplicaciones web, pasando por empaquetado, marketing, hardware, traducci贸n y, por supuesto, sistemas operativos.

La edici贸n 2013 ha sido la primera celebrada lejos de ciudades donde SUSE tiene oficina. Su organizaci贸n corri贸 a cargo de la comunidad salvo en aspectos legales y econ贸micos fundamentalmente. La openSUSE Conference 2013 tuvo lugar en Tesal贸nica, Grecia, en verano, y participaron unas 300 personas.

La edici贸n 2014 se celebrar谩 en Dubrovnik, Croacia聽 en Abril. Ya se est谩 preparando la organizaci贸n del evento. Desde hace unas semanas, se ha abierto el plazo para la presentaci贸n de candidaturas a la celebraci贸n de openSUSE Conference 2015.

El evento cuenta con el apoyo de SUSE como principal esp贸nsor. Esto da una garant铆a importante a la hora de poder organizarlo porque algunos de los gastos b谩sicos de este evento de comunidad est谩n cubiertos de antemano. La comunidad openSUSE asume algunas de las tareas m谩s tediosas de la organizaci贸n de modo que los organizadores locales no tienen que ocuparse de ellos. Los contenidos y el trabajo relacionado con sponsors tambi茅n viene dado por la comunidad.

Dicho de otro modo, entre SUSE y la comunidad openSUSE asumen una parte del trabajo lo que garantiza que la organizaci贸n del evento sea asumible para un reducido n煤mero de voluntarios locales. Depende del pa铆s y lugar de celebraci贸n, SUSE dispone de soporte local lo que facilita la difusi贸n del evento, entre otras tareas.

En definitiva, si tienes experiencia en la organizaci贸n de eventos de Software Libre, 茅chale un vistazo a openSUSE Conference y presenta tu candidatura.

Insides about the new openSUSE Team at SUSE blog

Yesterday we created a new blog [1]to communicate to our community and readers what do we do as a team within the openSUSE project. It is a collective effort and it will be part of our duties to create and publish contents for it.
Its main goal is to talk about what we do so in the long run, it becomes a reference channel to follow up the activity of the group of people that SUSE employs to work full time in openSUSE.
Once of the discussion topics we faced was how to make compatible this blog, that has a corporate nature, with our personal blogs, our work in the community and the motivations of our team members. It is a very interesting topic since it is not trivial in practice to separate the information you handle as employee and your work within a community, in a case like our ours, employees that work for a community.
The easy approach is to say that, by default,聽 all what we do is public and treated as “community” work, or the opposite, but there are many corner cases, some of them relevant, that are not cover by these general approaches. Usually this topic has no relevance until something happens, usually bad. We need to understand that, as employees, we hold a responsibility that, if non properly managed, can potentially harm our company. It also can hurt us as professionals or affect our community. Often you are not a perceived as a regular community member only, but as a company advocate/representative too.
As a manager, I have to make compatible the community interest, the personal interest of the people under my responsibility and the company interest. In a company like SUSE, specially when talking about openSUSE, conflicts are small in this regard. We are a very open company in general and in my area in particular. I am glad of being part of a company that understand Free Software.
But under certain situations, nobody is out of risk. I even face this limitations being the KDE Treasurer. Being open is one thing and publishing all the information is another one. Obvious in theory but….where are the limits in practice? Who should take care of ensuring those limits are respected? What measures should be taken to satisfy all parties interest? When managing information, how to be fair with your community, yourself and your company at the same time?聽
It is impossible to clearly define how to react in every case, what things should be kept private and what things don’t, how to deal with the information you get as an employee but should be publish as part of your everyday activity within the community….
But what is possible is to create a clear field in which the people involved can move as freely as possible, making sure that some processes are put in place to avoid harmful mistakes. But above all, you have to rely on people, train them and be close to them so they understand the risks and the possible conflicts. Experience usually helps a lot in this field.
Behind this team blog, there are some processes that try to answer some of the previous questions and concerns, reducing the risk for the company and the authors but, at the same time, keeping the spirit of our work and goals: being open. I will talk about the concrete measures in a couple of months, when we get some conclusions about their efficiency.
I hope you will find the blog interesting.

[1] Link to the blog: https://lizards.opensuse.org/author/calumma/