Thursday, April 13, 2017

Fedora @ Bitcamp 2017 Wrap-Up

Bitcamp is an college hackathon (programming competition) held annually at the University of Maryland. With roughly 1,000 attendees, it is a major one.

Corey Sheldon and I attended it this year as Fedora project ambassadors.

Overall, the event went well. Some highlights were:
  • Numerous people had used Fedora. Some hadn't, but had used CentOS or RHEL.
  • One person came up and said that he had been using Fedora heavily, and would like to contribute to it. We referred him to #fedora-join on FreeNode and to
  • 2 people came up and wanted to see Wayland. One was particularly delighted to see it on Fedora 25. I showed off the smooth animation in GNOME Shell, and the fact that apps resize perfectly smoothly ("Every frame is perfect.")
  • Ubuntu's recent announcement that they will migrate to GNOME made it easier to sell Fedora Workstation.
  • The OLPC XO-1 drew lots of attention, as always.
  • A user came along who loved Linux Mint. I showed him that Cinnamon is available in Fedora, and he was pleasantly surprised.
  • A user came up and asked about running Fedora under VMware. I was able to tell him that Fedora includes the VMware drivers (and the guest tools.)
We received some interesting questions:
  • 1 user asked if there were any benefits to using Fedora when other are using it (a network effect.) He used the example of iMessage (on iOS) only working properly with other iMessage users. This was a perfect opportunity to explain how open source does things differently. We prefer to implement open protocols, and often multiple protocols, as in the example of Pidgin. And we do not limit apps to running on our Linux distro; we create upstream open source projects that can be packaged for other distros, and often ported to other operating systems.
There were some interesting requests for help with projects:
  • 1 user was trying to setup a web application written in node.js. He was using http-server and Chrome, but Chrome limited the usage of certain features (specifically, accessing the webcam) to https. So I helped him generate  an ssl certificate and have http-server use it.
Some things that did not go well:
  • Starting with Fedora 24, DevAssistant was removed from the workstation DVD. This was a major selling point at hackathons last year, since it makes it easy for hackers to get started on their projects. It was also a clear demonstration of Workstation's emphasis on developers.
  • The live DVD sometimes ran out of ramdisk space as we were installing software.
  • The Wi-Fi became painfully slow once attendees pored in. Fortunately, we got a switch later on.
  • We ran out of pens and the stickers that say "fedora."
Since this was a college hackathon, I would like to end with a quote from a computer science professor:
I wish students would stay up for 36 hours working on my programming assignments.

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