Other writing: February 2020

What have I been writing when I haven’t been writing here?

Stuff I wrote

Fedora

Stuff I curated

Fedora

Letter to Mayor Roswarski about the Loeb Stadium bid

On Friday, I was contacted by my friend Dave Bangert at the Lafayette Journal & Courier to offer my opinion on the city’s open bid for baseball teams to play in Lafayette. The city is rebuilding the stadium and has decided that it should open a bid process. I mailed this letter to Mayor Roswarski earlier this week.

As a long-time Lafayette resident, I appreciate your desire to ensure the city gets the best value out of the money invested into the Loeb Stadium rebuild. But as a sports fan, I know that while it may be a business, it’s not just transactional. Sports fandom is built on tradition and loyalty, and it becomes a key part of the fan’s identity.

When I was a boy, I collected baseball cards as many youngsters do. With two younger sisters, I always dreamed of having a brother. You can imagine how thrilled I was when I ended up with cards for both Cal, Jr. and Billy Ripken—brothers who played on the same team! Not much after that, Cal broke Lou Gerhig’s consecutive game streak and suddenly I was a lifelong Baltimore Orioles fan. I had never been to Baltimore, I had no family ties to Maryland. But I made a connection and a fandom was born.

Now my kids have had the chance to form their own ties with a baseball team. The Lafayette Aviators have become an important part of their summers. But they don’t have to hope their local newspaper a thousand miles away carries updates. They get to go to games with their dad. They can run the bases. They experience what makes Lafayette not just the place we live, but the place we call home.

When the Aviators came to town, summer baseball had been gone from Lafayette for almost two decades. With the town in a baseball drought and a stadium that had history and not much else to offer, this team built something that the city can be proud of. For 30 days every summer, Lafayette gets affordable, family-friendly entertainment. When they’re on the road, we have a group of young men who represent our city well across the Midwest.

In my time as a ticket holder, I’ve made friends with those I see at Loeb stadium—fellow fans, concessionaires, club management. My kids love Ace the Aviator, and frequently ask me when he can come over for dinner.

I have lived in the Lafayette area for your entire tenure as mayor, so I know you will do what you feel is best for the city. But I implore you to remember that value is more than figures in a ledger. When all of the bids are in, I hope the city will evaluate them fairly and come to the conclusion that the Aviators aren’t a team that plays in Lafayette, they’re Lafayette’s team.

Other writing: January 2020

What have I been writing when I haven’t been writing here?

Stuff I wrote

Fedora

Stuff I curated

Fedora

Other writing: December 2019

Stuff I wrote

Red Hat/Fedora

Opensource.com

Stuff I curated

Red Hat/Fedora

SysAdvent

[solved] Can’t log in to KDE on Fedora 31

Earlier today, I ran dnf update on my laptop, as I do regularly. After rebooting, I couldn’t log in. When I typed in my user name and password, it almost immediately returned to the login screen. Running startx from the command line failed, too. I spent an hour or two trying to diagnose the problem. There were a lot of distracting messages in the xorg log.

The problem turned out to be that the startkde command was no longer on my machine. It seems upgrading from version 5.16 to 5.17 of the plasma-workspace package removes startkde in favor of startplasma-x11. Creating a symlink fixed it as a workaround.

This is reported as bug #1785826, and I’m sure Rex and the rest of the Fedora KDE team will have a suitable fix out soon. In the meantime, creating a symlink appears to be the best way to fix it.

Why the symlink works

When an X session starts, it looks in a few different places to see what should be run. One of those places is /etc/X11/xinit/Xclients. This file checks for a preferred desktop environment. If one isn’t specified, it works through a list trying to find one that works. It does this by looking for the specific desktop environment’s executable.

Since startkde no longer exists, it had no way of checking for KDE Plasma. I don’t have any other desktop environments installed on this machine, so there was no other desktop environment to fallback to. I suspect if GNOME were installed, it would have logged me into GNOME instead, at least when running startx.

So another fix would be to replace instances of startkde with startplasma-x11 in the Xclients file (similarly if you have that file in your home directory). However, this leaves anything else that might check for the existence of startkde in the lurch. (I don’t know if anything does).

There’s probably more options for fixing it out there; this is very much not my area of expertise. I’d have to say that this was the most frustrating issue I’ve had to debug in a long time, in part because it took me a while to even know where the problem was. The fact that moving my ~/.kde directory didn’t result in a new one being created told me that it was pretty early in the process.

What distractions did I see?

In trying to diagnose the issue, I got distracted by a variety of error messages:

  • xf86EnableIOPorts: failed to set IOPL for I/O (Operation not permitted)
  • /dev/fb0: permission denied
  • gkr-pam: unable to locate daemon control file
  • pam_kwallet5: couldn't open file

Other writing: November 2019

What have I been writing when I haven’t been writing here?

Stuff I wrote

REd Hat/Fedora

Stuff I curated

Red hat/Fedora

Book review: People Powered

Jono Bacon knows something about communities. He wrote the book on it, in fact. And now he has written another book. People Powered is a guide for how companies can create and curate communities.

I often see companies try to start what they call “communities”. In reality, they are ways for the company to get free labor that provide no real benefit to the the participants. But it doesn’t have to be that way. A community that doesn’t benefit the sponsoring company is not likely to continue receiving sponsorship. But if there’s no benefit to the community members, the community will not thrive. Only when everyone involved gets value from the community will the community be vibrant.

A community mission is different than your business vision, but tightly wound around it.

All too often, books like this prescribe the One True Way™. Bacon does not do that. He fills the book with many things the reader should do, but he also makes it clear that there are many right ways to run a community, just as there are many wrong ways.

People Powered is a starting point, not an answer. As I was reading it, I thought “this is a good set of recipes”. Further on, Bacon used the same metaphor. Curse you, Jono! But it’s an apt metaphor. The book presents advice and knowledge based on Bacon’s 20 years of community management. But each community has specific needs, so the reader is encouraged to selectively apply the most relevant parts. And in the tradition of open source, plans should be iterative and evolve to meet the changing needs of communities. Like any good cook, the recipe provides a starting point; the cook makes adjustments to taste.

If I could sum up People Powered in two words, I would pick “be intentional.” Given two more words, I’d add “be selective.” People are often tempted to do all the things, to be all things to all people. And while that may be in the future of a community, getting started requires a more specific focus on what will (and more importantly, what won’t) be done.

People Powered is full of practical advice (including a lot of calls-to-action to find resources on jonobacon.com). But it also contains more philosophical views. Bacon is not a psychologist, but he has made a study of psychology and sociology over the years. This informs the theoretical explanations behind his practical steps. It also guides the conceptual models for communities that he lays out over the course of the book. And to prove that it’s a Jono Bacon book, it includes a few references to behavioral economics and several to Iron Maiden.

I really enjoyed this book. Some of it was obvious to me, given my community leadership experience (admittedly, I’m not the target audience), but I still got a lot of value from it. Chapter 9 (Cyberspace and Meatspace: Better Together) particularly spoke to me in light of some conversations I’ve had at work recently. People Powered is an excellent book for anyone who is currently leading or planning to lead a community as part of a corporate effort.

People Powered (affiliate link) is published by HarperCollins Leadership and was released yesterday.

Disclosures: 1. I received a pre-release digital review copy of People Powered. I received no other consideration for this post (unless you purchased it from the affiliate link above). 2. Jono Bacon is a personal friend, but I would tell him if his book was awful.

Other writing: October 2019

Stuff I wrote

Red Hat/Fedora

Stuff I curated

Red Hat/Fedora

New to Fedora: z

Earlier this month, I attended Chris Waldon’s session “Terminal Velocity: Work faster in your shell” at All Things Open. He covered several interesting tools, one of which is a project called z. z is a smarter version of the cd command. It keeps track of what directories you change to and uses a combination of the frequency and recency (“frecency”) to make an educated guess about where you wanted to go.

I find this really appealing because I often forget where in the file system I put a directory. And z is written as a shell script, so it’s easy to package and use.

z is now packaged and submitted to rawhide, with updates pending for F31 and F30.

Other writing: September 2019

What have I been writing when I haven’t been writing here?

Stuff I wrote

Red Hat/Fedora

Stuff I curated

Red HaT/Fedora