Alex Hudson

Thoughts on Technology, Product, & Strategy

Month: August 2010

Beyond dogfood

I don’t usually like to do a me-too post, but mizmo is right on again with her thoughts on jcm’s post. I raised a similar question at a town hall meeting earlier this year – basically, asking if Fedora is really suitable for day-to-day use as a primary desktop. My personal situation is much like some of those who answered, that it works for me but that I would find it difficult to recommend. There was one part of someone’s answer which particular rang true for me, which just happened be to be mizmo’s (how convenient!):

“It makes me really sad to have so many friends and family members who are highly technical and opt not to use Fedora. I know many Fedora contributors whose families use Windows, OS X, or other distros. I feel very strongly this is a problem.”

This is absolutely key. Fedora has to have a role, and I think to often the “<x> isn’t stable” and “stuff is breaking” arguments get batted away with “This isn’t RHEL/CentOS”. Without being strongly usable for something, fewer people will be tempted to use it.

So I would like to make my technical feature plea, along similar lines to the comments about updates. Right now, Fedora revs extremely often, and isn’t supported for long. Yet, the major version upgrade story is really pretty sorry – even with preupgrade. It’s not straightforward to upgrade to a new version and quite often packages will break.

If we’re keeping up this pace, I think it should be much more incumbent on Fedora as a whole to make major version upgrades clean and easy. Packagers should be testing this constantly. I saw figures recently about versions of Fedora being pulled by yum updates, and it didn’t look pretty reading. If Fedora is about being “First” we have to bring users with us.

Fedora people repos & Sparkleshare

Recently a new system has been added to people.fp.o, the ability to host yum repositories. It’s not an equivalent of Ubuntu’s PPA system by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s another useful facility to have available.

I’ve been testing this over the past few hours with a new package: SparkleShare. For those who’ve never heard of it before, this is essentially a little tray app that synchronises a local directory tree with one held on a remote server: you can think of this as being very similar to Ubuntu One, Dropbox, iFolder or similar. However, what’s interesting here is that this is built on top of git: so SparkleShare essentially automates the commit and pull/push process, handling it invisibly for you, while still giving you a pretty solid system underneath.

Now, SparkleShare isn’t really ready for Fedora itself yet – it’s still under a large amount of development, there are funky bugs in it now and then, and it’s likely going to change constantly. However, it’s also useful software already, and is something I want to try out on a number of my machines, so the new people-based repos were the obvious candidate.

If you want to try it too, you just need to enable my new SparkleShare repo:

Recently a new system has been added to people.fp.o, the ability to host yum repositories. It’s not an equivalent of Ubuntu’s PPA system by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s another useful facility to have available.

I’ve been testing this over the past few hours with a new package: SparkleShare. For those who’ve never heard of it before, this is essentially a little tray app that synchronises a local directory tree with one held on a remote server: you can think of this as being very similar to Ubuntu One, Dropbox, iFolder or similar. However, what’s interesting here is that this is built on top of git: so SparkleShare essentially automates the commit and pull/push process, handling it invisibly for you, while still giving you a pretty solid system underneath.

Now, SparkleShare isn’t really ready for Fedora itself yet – it’s still under a large amount of development, there are funky bugs in it now and then, and it’s likely going to change constantly. However, it’s also useful software already, and is something I want to try out on a number of my machines, so the new people-based repos were the obvious candidate.

If you want to try it too, you just need to enable my new SparkleShare repo:

sudo curl -o /etc/yum.repos.d/fedora-sparkleshare.repo \
    http://repos.fedorapeople.org/repos/alexh/sparkleshare/fedora-sparkleshare.repo

And then you can “yum install sparkleshare”. Fedora 13 and i386 only right now – I’ll have x86_64 builds up later today, and I’m going to be doing Fedora 14/Rawhide as soon as I can get builders up for those two.