7 Open Source lessons from your English Composition class

We often act as if coding, and especially open source coding, is a unique activity and that’s hubris.   Most human activities follow common social patterns that should inform how we organize open source projects.  For example, research papers are very social and community connected activities.  Especially when published, written compositions are highly interconnected activities.  Even the most basic writing builds off other people’s work with due credit and tries create something worth being used by later authors.

Here are seven principles to good writing that translate directly to good open source development:

  1. Research before writing – take some time to understand the background and goals of the project otherwise you re-invent or draw bad conclusions.
  2. Give credit where due – your work has more credibility when you acknowledge and cross-reference the work you are building on. It also shows readers that you are not re-inventing.
  3. Follow the top authors – many topics have widely known authors who act as “super nodes” in the relationship graph. Recognizing these people will help guide your work, leads to better research and builds community.
  4. Find proof readers – All writers need someone with perspective to review their work before it’s finished. Since we all need reviewers, we all also need to do reviews.
  5. Rework to get clarity – Simplicity and clarity take extra effort but they pay huge dividends for your audience.
  6. Don’t surprise your reader – Readers expect patterns and are distracted when you don’t follow them.
  7. Socialize your ideas – the purpose of writing/code is to make ideas durable. If it’s worth writing then it’s worth sharing.  Your artifact does not announce itself – you need to invest time in explaining it to people and making it accessible.

Thanks to Sean Roberts (a Hidden Influences collaborator) for his contributions to this post.  At OSCON, Sean Roberts said “companies should count open source as research [and development investment]” and I thought he’s said “…as research [papers].”  The misunderstanding was quickly resolved and we were happy to discover that both interpretations were useful.

OpenStack DefCore Update & 7/16 Community Reviews

The OpenStack Board effort to define “what is core” for commercial use (aka DefCore).  I have blogged extensively about this topic and rely on you to review that material because this post focuses on updates from recent activity.

First, Please Join Our Community DefCore Reviews on 7/16!

We’re reviewing the current DefCore process & timeline then talking about the Advisory Havana Capabilities Matrix (decoder).

To support global access, there are TWO meetings (both will also be recorded):

  1. July 16, 8 am PDT / 1500 UTC
  2. July 16, 6 pm PDT / 0100 UTC July 17

Note: I’m presenting about DefCore at OSCON on 7/21 at 11:30!

We want community input!  The Board is going discuss and, hopefully, approve the matrix at our next meeting on 7/22.  After that, the Board will be focused on defining Designated Sections for Havana and Ice House (the TC is not owning that as previously expected).

The DefCore process is gaining momentum.  We’ve reached the point where there are tangible (yet still non-binding) results to review.  The Refstack efforts to collect community test results from running clouds is underway: the Core Matrix will be fed into Refstack to validate against the DefCore required capabilities.

Now is the time to make adjustments and corrections!  

In the next few months, we’re going to be locking in more and more of the process as we get ready to make it part of the OpenStack by-laws (see bottom of minutes).

If you cannot make these meetings, we still want to hear from you!  The most direct way to engage is via the DefCore mailing list but 1×1 email works too!  Your input is import to us!

OpenCrowbar stands up 100 node community challenge

OpenCrowbar community contributors are offering a “100 Node Challenge” by volunteering to setup a 100+ node Crowbar system to prove out the v2 architecture at scale.  We picked 100* nodes since we wanted to firmly break the Crowbar v1 upper ceiling.

going up!The goal of the challenge is to prove scale of the core provisioning cycle.  It’s intended to be a short action (less than a week) so we’ll need advanced information about the hardware configuration.  The expectation is to do a full RAID/Disk hardware configuration beyond the base IPMI config before laying down the operating system.

The challenge logistics starts with an off-site prep discussion of the particulars of the deployment, then installing OpenCrowbar at the site and deploying the node century.  We will also work with you about using OpenCrowbar to manage the environment going forward.  

Sound too good to be true?  Well, as community members are doing this on their own time, we are only planning one challenge candidate and want to find the right target.
We will not be planning custom code changes to support the deployment, however, we would be happy to work with you in the community to support your needs.  If you want help to sustain the environment or have longer term plans, I have also been approached by community members who willing to take on full or part-time Crowbar consulting engagements.
Let’s get rack’n!
* we’ll consider smaller clusters but you have to buy the drinks and pizza.

Hugs & Rants Welcome: OpenStack reaching out with “community IRC office hours”

2013-07-11_20-07-21_286This is a great move by the OpenStack community managers that I feel like is worth amplifying.  Copied from community email:

Hello folks

one of the requests in Atlanta was to setup carefully listening ears for developers and users alike so they can highlight roadblocks, vent frustration and hopefully also give kudos to people, suggest solutions, etc.

I and Tom have added two 1 hour slots to the OpenStack Meetings calendar

    •  Tuesdays at 0800 UTC on #openstack-community (hosted by Tom)
    • Fridays at 1800 UTC on #openstack-community (hosted by Stefano)

so if you have anything you’d like the Foundation to be aware of please hop on the channel and talk to us. If you don’t/can’t use IRC, send us an email and we’ll use something else: just talk to us.

Regards,

Stef

https://wiki.openstack.org/wiki/Meetings/Community

Anyone else find picking OpenStack summit sessions overwhelming?!

Choices!The scope and diversity of sessions for the upcoming OpenStack conference in Atlanta are simply overwhelming.   As a board member, that’s a positive sign of our success as a community; however, it’s also a challenge as we attempt to pick topics.  That’s why we turn to you, the OpenStack community, to help sift and select the content.

Even if you are not attending, we need your help in selection!  Content from the summits is archived and has a much larger outside of the two conference days.  You’re voice matters for the community.

While it’s a simple matter to ask you to vote for my DefCore presentation and some excellent ones from my peers at Dell, I’d also like share some of my thoughts about general trends I saw illustrated by the offerings:

  • Swift has a strong following as a solution outside of other products
  • Ceph seems to emerging as a critical component with Cinder
  • Neutron has breath but not depth in practice
  • HA and Upgrades remain challenges
  • We are starting to see specializations emerge (like NFV)
  • OpenStack case studies!  There are many – some of uncertain utility as references
  • Some community members and companies are super prolific in submitting sessions.  Perhaps these sessions are all great but on first pass it seems out of balance.
  • Vendor pitch or conference session?  You often get both in the same session.  We’re still not certain how to balance this.

The number and diversity of sessions is staggering – we need your help on voting.

We also need you to be part of the dialog about the conference and summits to make sure they are meeting the community needs.  My review of the sessions indicates that we are trying to serve many different audiences in a very limited time window.  I’m interested in hearing yours!  Review some sessions and let me know.

OpenStack Board Elections: What I’ll do in 2014: DefCore, Ops, & Community

Rob HirschfeldOpenStack Community,

The time has come for you to choose who will fill the eight community seats on the Board (ballot links went out Sunday evening CST).  I’ve had the privilege to serve you in that capacity for 16 months and would like to continue.  I have leadership role in Core Definition and want to continue that work.

Here are some of the reasons that I am a strong board member:

  • Proven & Active Leadership on Board - I have been very active and vocal representing the community on the Board.  In addition to my committed leadership in Core Definition, I have played important roles shaping the Gold Member grooming process and trying to adjust our election process.  I am an outspoken yet pragmatic voice for the community in board meetings.
  • Technical Leader but not on the TC – The Board needs members who are technical yet detached from the individual projects enough to represent outside and contrasting views.
  • Strong User Voice – As the senior OpenStack technologist at Dell, I have broad reach in Dell and RedHat partnership with exposure to a truly broad and deep part of the community.  This makes me highly accessible to a lot of people both in and entering the community.
  • Operations Leadership – Dell was an early leader in OpenStack Operations (via OpenCrowbar) and continues to advocate strongly for key readiness activities like upgrade and high availability.  In addition, I’ve led the effort to converge advanced cookbooks from the OpenCrowbar project into the OpenStack StackForge upstreams.  This is not a trivial effort but the right investment to make for our community.
  • And there’s more… you can read about my previous Board history in my 2012 and 2013 “why vote for me” posts or my general OpenStack comments.

And now a plea to vote for other candidates too!

I had hoped that we could change the election process to limit blind corporate affinity voting; however, the board was not able to make this change without a more complex set of bylaws changes.  Based on the diversity and size of OpenStack community, I hope that this issue may no longer be a concern.  Even so, I strongly believe that the best outcome for the OpenStack Board is to have voters look beyond corporate affiliation and consider a range of factors including business vs. technical balance, open source experience, community exposure, and ability to dedicate time to OpenStack.

How to build a community? Watch OpenStack’s Anne Gentle

wow girlI strongly believe that learning to operate in a collaborative community is a learned skill.  It’s also #1 career talent that I look for when I screen resumes (Linux experience is #2 and my team is hiring).

That’s why I’m simply humbled when I watch some of the OpenStack leaders work to support our community.  It’s worth supporting these efforts in every way possible.

In this specific case, OpenStack (under Anne Gentle‘s leadership) is actively recruiting both mentors and interns for the Outreach Program for Women. Rackspace is sponsoring one intern, and I’m still seeking funding for additional interns. Support levels start at $5750 for one intern.

Here her comments about the program:

OpenStack provides open source software for building public and private clouds. We are constantly moving and growing and very excited to invite newcomers to our community. For a third round, OpenStack is participating in GNOME Outreach Program for Women. As you may know, representation of women among free and open source participants has been cited at 3% [ref] as contrasted with the percentages of computing degrees earned by women (all at over 10% higher) in the US. Eek! At the October 2012 OpenStack Summit, Anne Gentle led an unconference session about including more women in OpenStack and identified one of the goals as bringing more newcomers to OpenStack. The GNOME Outreach program is an excellent way for OpenStack to meet that inclusion goal, and we specifically want to reach out to women who are interested in open source. The program starts in December 2013, going until March 2014. Also, we have been able to support our interns meeting their mentors at the OpenStack Summit, which would be in April 2014. You can find out all the details about how to apply to an OpenStack spot by going to OpenStack For Women.