Over the past few months, many of us in the Bangalore open source community have focused our efforts of writing test cases for Fedora, organizing a few sessions where one can learn about testing, and how we can do things together. All this while, it has been fun: I’ve met new people, learned things, and realized that sharing even small pieces of knowledge and experiences makes it easier for newcomers to feel welcome.
Organizing a release party
At one point when Fedora 24 was released, it was exciting as we were closely involved with Fedora release validation testing and so we wanted to put together a release party. All open source projects encourage their communities to celebrate software release and similar milestones. Ours was a simple plan! We were having a really good time learning together and we wanted to get more people to know that there is a better way to gain knowledge: by sharing and working together.
We put together a page on the Fedora wiki and asked locals (in Bangalore) to join in. We wanted to show how versatile Fedora is. This included talking a bit about the new features in Cloud, Workstation, Server, and the Spins. Also, we had a small session put together to help those interested take the first couple of steps in becoming a contributor.
Kicking off the Bangalore release party
On Sunday, we were happy to see that around 50 people wanted to spend a bit of their weekend sharing our joys and efforts. Many were wanting to know how to become part of the Fedora Project. We had help from some of Red Hat employees, and together we worked through the logistics of organizing a party.
We started off at 11:30am with celebrations and ice breakers. A release party has a cake and we started off with cake. That said, we introduced the Fedora Project, talked about the values, and also how various projects within Fedora offer opportunities to tinker with creative ideas.
The audience was a mix of those who were learning about Fedora and others who have participated in the project for some time. Along with the small demos for robotics and such, it was good to see that the traditional perception around “Fedora is a Linux Operating System” was addressed.
Afternoon discussions and lunch
The post-lunch (“pizza” – yay!) sessions included a bit of Linux history by Sachidananda. Others came over to share how working and collaborating helped them gain confidence and enable them to take on new and often complex challenges. Suraj (Deshmukh) talked about his participation in upstream projects via the Durgapur LUG (DGPLUG). He emphasized using IRC communication to seek solutions to vexing problems. Richa shared her journey with Wikimedia Foundation and how the Outreachy program helped improve her programming skills.
We had planned for some lab sessions. A hands-on for those, around twenty-five of them, interested to take their first steps in being a Fedora contributor. Machines were set up with Fedora 24 and we tested updates as well as some bits of Fedora 25 (Rawhide). Explaining the nature of Rawhide, or a continuously evolving release, was fun too. At the end of the day, we have around 70 updates tested and recorded. Some of the participants shared feedback and I’ll link to them in a later post.
Looking at the enthusiastic response to testing (and breaking things), we will be putting together some follow-up meetings. Mostly just getting together, having fun, and learning by doing things in testing. That would be a good way to understand the workings of various projects and how they interact with Fedora. Hopefully, a few contributors would also find it interesting to contribute to documentation. A lot of projects can help on-board new contributors if structured documentation and sequence of things are available.
Closing out in Bangalore
I had fun. Arvind tells me that it was a good thing for him too and others present at the party had similar things to say. So, job not done yet! The next step is to continue to have a calendar of small events where we do things and help make Fedora better.