Doing is Doing – my 10 open source principles

2013-07-14_17-28-21_468Open source projects’ greatest asset is their culture and FOSS practitioners need to deliberately build and expand it. To me, culture is not soft or vague.  Culture is something specific and actionable that we need to define and hold people accountable for.

I have simple principles that guide me in working in open source.   At their root, they are all simply “focus on the shared work.”

I usually sum them up as “Doing is Doing.”  While that’s an excellent test to see if you’re making the right choices, I suspect many will not find that tautology sufficiently actionable.

The 10 principles I try to model in open source leadership:

  1. Leadership includes service: connecting, education, documentation and testing
  2. Promotion is a two-edged sword – leaders needs to take extra steps to limit self-promotion or we miss hearing the community voice.
  3. Collaboration must be modeled by the leaders with other leaders.
  4. Vision must be articulated, but shared in a way that leaves room for new ideas and tactical changes.
  5. Announcements should be based on available capability not intention. In open source, there is less need for promises and forward-looking statements because your actions are transparent.
  6. Activity (starting from code and beyond) should be visible (Github = social coding) – it’s the essence of collaboration.
  7. Testing is essential because it allows other people to join with reduced risk.
  8. Docs are essential because it reduces friction for users to adopt.
  9. Upstreaming (unlike Forking) is a team sport so be prepared for some give-and-take.
  10. It’s not just about code, open source is about solving shared problems together.  When we focus on the shared goals (“the doing”) then the collaboration comes naturally.

Update a pull request from git command line

Hand up

Sometimes we just need to feed the SEO gods… in this case, I could not find the simple git command line to update a pull request that I had in flight.

I was looking for the following:

git push -f personal HEAD:[pull branch]

Github.com happily gave me instructions from the pull branch but not the CLI version of the command.  The trick is that you need to know your remote (git remote) for the command so it’s not perfectly generic.  In the example above, my personal repo is named “personal”.

Deconstructing the command: you are pushing your to your personal clone from the local HEAD commit against the branch created for the pull request.  That’s because the pull request creates a branch from your clone to be pulled into the upstream repo.  That’s why it’s a PULL request not a push.

Ultimately, this is pretty basic git.  My experience with git is that the definition of “pretty basic” is a binary function.  Once you know how git works, everything in git is pretty basic.  Until then it’s completely opaque.

Side note: this is my 301st post on this blog!

8/1/2013 Post Script from Crowbar Contributor Adam Spiers

He noticed that I should include the -f in the git push instruction.  Read more at about that on his blog.

my lean & open source reading list – recommendations welcome!

Cube Seat

I think it’s worth pulling together a list of essential books that I think should be required reading for people on Lean & open source teams (like mine):

  • Basis for the team values that we practice: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable Patrick Lencioni (amazon)
  • This is a foundational classic for team building:  Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams (Second Edition) Tom DeMarco (amazon)
  • This novel is good primer for lean and devops The Phoenix Project: A Novel About IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win Gene Kim and George Spafford & Kevin Behr (amazon)
  • Business Focus on Lean: The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses Eric Ries (amazon)
  • Foundational (and easy) reading about Lean: The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement Eliyahu M. Goldratt (amazon)
  • One of my favorites on Lean / Agile: Implementing Lean Software Development: From Concept to Cash Mary Poppendieck (amazon)
  • Should be required reading for open source (as close to “Open Source for Dummies as you can get): The Cathedral & the Bazaar: Musings on Linux and Open Source by an Accidental Revolutionary Eric S. Raymond (amazon)
  • Culture Change Liquid Leadership: From Woodstock to Wikipedia–Multigenerational Management Ideas That Are Changing the Way We Run Things Brad Szollose (amazon)
  • More Team Building – this one is INTERACTIVE! http://www.strengthsfinder.com/home.aspx

There are some notable additions, but I think this is enough for now.  I’m always looking for recommendations!  Please post your favorites in the comments!

Parable of Lions and Elephants

ElephantThere was once a family with two children: Barney and Bailum.  Both wanted wanted to start a circus and did exactly that when they came into their inheritance.  Being highly competitive, they each wanted to have the greatest show the world has ever seen.

Always ambitious, Barney wanted to start big and decided to start with elephants.  To have an elephant act, Barney has a lot of planning to do.  Even before acquiring the actual elephants, he had to get permits, hire handlers, arrange transport and arrange special feeding.  He really had to get busy and make some plans even before he could start on the tusks of selling tickets.

Bailum, more humble, decided to start by training some stray dogs into an animal act.  While not nearly as exciting as elephants, she was able to procure dogs immediately and start training them.  Instead of having to host her own shows, she was able to bring the dogs into other people’s shows.  That let her gain critical experience, get a reputation and even have positive cash flow.

Barney was merciless about Bailum’s flea bag circus.  Barney was 100% confident that his vision of a grand circus was the right plan because that’s what he saw from going to other shows.  Based on her behind the scenes experience, Bailum was starting to learn that running a circus was a lot more than the animal shows.  Some of those tasks, like booking venues, selling ads and clown discipline, made cleaning up after elephants look like a circus highlight.

As time went on, Bailum extended her expertise with dogs into lions, horses and even bipedal simians.  Her business was thriving as a specialist for other circuses to such an extent that she abandoned adjusted her original ringmaster vision and embraced a new plan as an animal specialist.  Based on her discussions with her circus partners, her limited scope as a lion trainer was more profitable than their lives in the spotlight.

Meanwhile, Barney was still working out the issues with his elephants.  It seemed like every time he turned around there was a new complication.  After spending every penny on getting his glorious African pachyderms he discovered that his cages were sized for Indian elephants (which are smaller).  Out of money and unable to operate, Barney had to abandon his vision and go back to clown school.

It’s hard to eat an elephant, but if you start with something you can handle then you can learn to tame lions.

“Stack Shop” cover of Macklemore’s Thrift Shop

Sometimes a meme glitters too strongly for me to resist getting pulled in… that happened to great effect that just before the OpenStack Havana summit. When my code-addled mind kept swapping “poppin’ tags” for “OpenStack” on the radio edit, I stopped fighting and rewrote the Thrift Shop lyrics for OpenStack (see below the split).

With a lot of help from summit attendees (many of them are OpenStack celebrities, CEOs, VPs and members OpenStack Foundation board), I was able to create a freaking awesome cover of Macklemore’s second hand confection (NSFW).

Frankly, I don’t know everyone in the video (what, what?)!

But here’s a list of those that I do know.  I’m happy to update so the victims actors get credit.  Singers (in order):

Rob Hirschfeld (me) & Monty Taylor, Peter Poulliot, Judd Maltin, Forrest Norrod, Josh Kleinpeter, Tristan Goode, Dan Bode, Jay Pipes, Prabhakar Gopalan, Peter Chadwick, Simon Andersen, Vish Ishaya, Wayne Walls, Alex Freedland, Niki Acosta, Ops Track Monday Session 1, Ben Cherian, Eric Windisch, Brandon Draeger, Joseph B George,  Mark Collier, Joseph Heck, Tim Bell,  Chris Kemp, Kyle McDonald & Joshua McKenty,

Continue reading

Installing SSD + Windows8 = Blank Primary Monitor (fixable!)

2012-10-28_12-44-51_691I could not find the solution to this easily, so I’m leaving a breadcrumb trail here… I did not keep the links so I cannot give proper attribution but will try to pay it forward.

Short version: Try HDMI/VGA output if your Win8 primary monitor is blank.  Then update the BIOS.

Long version:

I decided to update my wife’s Dell Inspiron N5110 laptop to an SSD and Windows 8.  Sadly, the machine’s factory config had a very slow HDD and that was impacting the system’s total performance.  Replacing the HDD with an SSD required major surgery to the laptop – it is not for the faint of heart.

After installing the SSD and installing Windows 8 (painless!) the system booted though the splash screen and turned off the display.  Yes, it simply went completely blank.

I stumbled upon a tip that suggested that the system was working but using the HDMI output.  That proved correct.  I was able to complete the configuration using HDMI and/or VGA monitors.

Even after completing and updating the monitor (still blank) was clearly working because the BIOS screens and splash screen worked on the monitor.  Deleting the Video Card from Devices did NOT work.

Ultimately, I found a site that recommended updating the BIOS (was A09, now A11 from 11/2012).  The BIOS update corrected the problem.

I should have known to update the BIOS and firmware before starting the upgrade.  I hope you learn from my experience.

Oh…. the SSD+Win8 made an AMAZING performance difference.  It’s like a brand new 10x faster laptop and an excellent investment.  I’ve become a bit of a Linux appologist; however, I was pleasantly surprised to find Windows 8 to be very usable once I learned the latest hot-key assignments (Search on Win key -> Win+F).

The Atlantic magazine explains why Lean process rocks (and saves companies $$)

GearsI’m certain that the Atlantic‘s Charles Fishman was not thinking software and DevOps when he wrote the excellent article about “The Insourcing Boom.”  However, I strongly recommend reading this report for anyone who is interested in a practical example of the inefficiencies of software lean process (If you are impatient, jump to page 2 and search for toaster).

It’s important to realize that this article is not about software! It’s an article about industrial manufacturing and the impact that lean process has when you are making stuff.  It’s about how US companies are using Lean to make domestic plants more profitable than Asian ones.  It turns out that how you make something really matters – you can’t really optimize the system if you treat major parts like a black box.

When I talk about Agile and Lean, I am talking about proven processes being applied broadly to companies that want to make profit selling stuff. That’s what this article is about

If you are making software then you are making stuff! Your install and deploy process is your assembly line. Your unreleased code is your inventory.

This article does a good job explaining the benefits of being close to your manufacturing (DevOps) and being flexible in deployment (Agile) and being connected to customers (Lean).  The software industry often acts like it’s inventing everything from scratch. When it comes to manufacturing processes, we can learn a lot from industry.

Unlike software, industry has real costs for scrap and lost inventory. Instead of thinking “old school” perhaps we should be thinking of it as the school of hard knocks.

My Dilemma with Folsom – why I want to jump to G

When your ship sailsThese views are my own.  Based on 1×1 discussions I’ve had in the OpenStack community, I am not alone.

If you’ve read my blog then you know I am a vocal and active supporter of OpenStack who is seeking re-election to the OpenStack Board.  I’m personally and professionally committed to the project’s success. And, I’m confident that OpenStack’s collaborative community approach is out innovating other clouds.

A vibrant project requires that we reflect honestly: we have an equal measure of challenges: shadow free fall Dev, API vs implementation, forking risk and others.  As someone helping users deploy OpenStack today, I find my self straddling between a solid release (Essex) and a innovative one (Grizzly). Frankly, I’m finding it very difficult to focus on Folsom.

Grizzly excites me and clearly I’m not alone.  Based on pace of development, I believe we saw a significant developer migration during feature freeze free fall.

In Grizzly, both Cinder and Quantum will have progressed to a point where they are ready for mainstream consumption. That means that OpenStack will have achieved the cloud API trifecta of compute-store-network.

  • Cinder will get beyond the “replace Nova Volume” feature set and expands the list of connectors.
  • Quantum will get to parity with Nova Network, addresses overlapping VM IPs and goes beyond L2 with L3 feature enablement like  load balancing aaS.
  • We are having a real dialog about upgrades while the code is still in progress
  • And new projects like Celio and Heat are poised to address real use problems in billing and application formation.

Everything I hear about Folsom deployment is positive with stable code and significant improvements; however, we’re too late to really influence operability at the code level because the Folsom release is done.  This is not a new dilemma.  As operators, we seem to be forever chasing the tail of the release.

The perpetual cycle of implementing deployment after release is futile, exhausting and demoralizing because we finish just in time for the spotlight to shift to the next release.

I don’t want to slow the pace of releases.  In Agile/Lean, we believe that if something is hard then we do should it more.  Instead, I am looking at Grizzly and seeing an opportunity to break the cycle.  I am looking at Folsom and thinking that most people will be OK with Essex for a little longer.

Maybe I’m a dreamer, but if we can close the deployment time gap then we accelerate adoption, innovation and happy hour.  If that means jilting Folsom at the release altar to elope with Grizzly then I can live with that.

Open Source is The Power of We (Blog Action Day)

This post is part of a world wide “blog action day” where thousands of bloggers post their unique insights about a single theme. For 2012, it’s the “power of we is as a celebration of people working together to make a positive difference in the world, either for their own communities or for people they will never meet half way around the world.”

I’ve choosing open source software because I think that we are establishing models for building ideas collaboratively that can be extended beyond technology into broader use. The way we solve open source challenges translates broadly because we are the tool makers of the global interaction.

I started using open source¹ as a way to solve a problem; I did not understand community or how groups of loosely connected people came together to create something new. Frankly, the whole process of creating free software seemed to be some hybrid combination of ninja coders and hippy hackers. That changed when I got involve on the ground floor of the OpenStack project (of which I am now a Foundation board member).

I was not, could not have been, prepared for the power and reality of community and collaboration that fuels OpenStack and other projects. We have the same problems as any non-profit project except that we are technologists: we can make new tools to solve our teaming and process problems.

It is not just that open source projects solve problems that help people. The idea of OpenStack and Hadoop being used by medical researches to find cures for cancer is important; however, the learning how to build collaboratively is another critical dimension. Our world is getting more connected and interconnected by technology, but the actual tools for social media are only in their earliest stages.

Not only are the tools evolving, the people using the tools are changing too! We are training each other to work together in ways that were beyond our imagine even 10 years ago. It’s the combination of both new technology and new skills that is resetting the rules for collaboration.

Just a few years ago, open source technology was considered low quality, risky and fringe. Today, open source projects like OpenStack and Hadoop are seen as more innovative and equally secure and supportable compared to licensed products. This transformation represents a surprising alignment and collaboration between individuals and entities that would normally be competing. While the motivation for this behavior comes from many sources, we all share the desire to do collaborative effectively.

I don’t think that we have figured out how to really do this the best way yet. We are making progress and getting better and better. We are building tools (like etherpad, wikis, irc, twitter, github, jenkins, etc) that improve collaboration. We are also learning building a culture of collaboration.

Right now, I’m on a train bound for the semi-annual OpenStack summit that brings a world wide audience together for 4½ days of community work. The discussions will require a new degree of openness from people and companies that are normally competitive and secretive about product development. During the summit, we’ll be doing more than designing OpenStack, we will be learning the new skills of working together. Perhaps those are the most important deliverables.

Open source projects combination of both new technologies and new skills creates the Power of We.

——————

PS¹: Open source software is a growing class of applications in which the authors publish the instructions for running the software publicly so that other people can use the software. Sometimes (but not always) this includes a usage license that allows other people to run the software without paying the author royalties. In many cases, the author’s motivation is that other users will help them test, modify and improve the software so that improves more quickly than a single creator could do alone.

Join in Blog Action Day on 10/15

You’ll have to wait for the reveal on 10/15 but I wanted to throw out the link for blog action day and encourage fellow bloggers to participate in the event.

I participated in this event while I blogging about electric cars (I converted 96 RAV4 to EV) and energy issues.  It’s an interesting perspective to have a large focus on a single topic.  The breadth of discussion is impressive.

This year, I’m going to be topical to my latest interests and offering insights from the floor of the OpenStack summit.