So where is Mageia 6?

XKCD image representative of the accuracy of our own estimates?

What our current estimates might feel like

There is no mystery about it, we are totally off schedule. The last preview we published for Mageia 6 was Stabilization Snapshot 1 in June 2016, and Stabilization Snapshot 2 still hasn’t been published, although we have been saying “soon” for weeks, or even months! So what’s going on? Is Mageia dead? Fortunately not. But it’s good that you worry about it because it shows you like your Linux distribution. We need to communicate about the state of things so that you can stop worrying, so here we are.

For months we’ve been saying “the next ISO images will be published within a few weeks”… And that’s still how we see it… And actually lots of ISO images have been made, each one improving over the previous one, and Mageia 6 Stabilization Snapshot 2 will be very different from Stabilization Snapshot 1, because during all this time development has been going on, bugs have been fixed, packages have been updated, artwork has been integrated, etc. The good news is: Mageia 6 is really going to be good. And actually it already is, for all those who already run the packages from cauldron, the development branch. So why not release it now? Well, let’s try to give you some insight.

Summer 2016, the first troubles

After we released stabilization snapshot 1, we naturally went for the next one, although we knew that summer is usually family time for many contributors so that was likely to slow the release down a bit. Unfortunately, that was when one of our packagers, who was responsible for building the Live ISO images, but also worked as a sysadmin on our infrastructure and was of great help for debugging difficult kernel-related bugs, announced that he had to stop contributing for health reasons (he has come back since but had to lower his level of contributions). And we had not prepared ourselves for that so it took us time to get back on our feet. Fortunately, others stepped up to progressively fill this void, and we are now in good shape when it comes to ISO builders and the release team; they were responsible for Mageia 5.1, more on that later.

Independently of that, the number of release-blocker bugs had grown. Most of them belonged in the following categories:

  • Installer bugs.
  • Plasma 5 (successor of KDE 4) bugs, and there were many of them at the time because Plasma was still lacking maturity.
  • A nasty family of bugs where the X server (responsible for the graphical display) would fail to start at boot, giving only a “Good luck” message to the users. Many tried to understand what was going on, without success (until we finally cracked the problem!).

September to December 2016: new schedule and Mageia 5.1

Taking those difficulties into account, we changed the schedule, and decided to release Mageia 6 by the end of 2016, but certainly not later. (!)

Also, we felt that our users had already been waiting too long for the new release (so what should we be saying now!), so we decided that it would be nice to quickly build and release a Mageia 5.1 that would be Mageia 5 with all the updates that had been issued since its initial release. It would be possible to install it on newer hardware thanks to a newer kernel and drivers, and avoid the hassle of having to install loads of updates just after the installation. This was agreed upon at one condition: it should not delay Mageia 6 any further.

But…

That was when our servers chose to have severe hardware issues, and we were unable to build new ISO images (thus delaying the “build ISOs, have QA test them and report bugs, fix bugs, build new ISOs” process) for some time, and then other issues made it so that we could not build both Mageia 5.1 and Mageia 6 ISOs concurrently, as was initially planned. Remember: Mageia 5.1 was not supposed to delay Mageia 6. Well it did because of that. The making of Mageia 5.1, which we thought would be quick and easy, gave us more trouble than expected because of issues with the newer stable kernels (the same newer kernels that make it possible to install Mageia 5.1 on newer hardware).

Finally, we released Mageia 5.1. Phewww. We lost an additional two months on Mageia 6’s schedule.

Here we must clarify something: during the making of Mageia 5.1, only the ISO building team, some packagers, and the QA team were involved. The rest of the packagers, testers and developers still worked on Mageia 6, which got newer versions of Plasma – which allowed it to mature –, GNOME and other desktops, newer kernel, newer Xorg (which brought a nasty regression causing freezes when using Plasma or some other programs such as Chromium or VLC, but which we fortunately managed to help fix upstream in the Xorg project, and that benefited other distros affected by the same bug as well… That’s the free software spirit, we benefit from other peoples’ work, they benefit from ours), and many other newer things, fewer bugs too! The nasty “Good luck” bug was gone, the most annoying Plasma bugs were gone too (except one, still present these days, but we’re on it), several installer bugs were also gone.

We also had the opportunity to set up teams of maintainers for various critical parts of the distribution, something that most packagers and our triage team had been waiting a long time for. This brought the beginning of an answer to the situation where an important contributor stopping contributing for whatever reason would hinder us for a while. People joined the teams and we now have, for example, new people working on kernel packaging, installer development and bugfixing, and ISO building. All is not perfect but it’s moving in a good direction.

2017

In early 2017, the state of the distribution looked solid and QA was almost ready to let the Stabilization Snapshot 2 ISOs be released, thus putting an end to a looooooooong wait. Well, that was before they found a partitioning bug in the installer that was able to break your partition table. A broken partition table sadly means a more or less broken computer, unless you’re technically savvy enough to rebuild it correctly. Most of the time the easiest solution would be to wipe the entire disk (and lose data) and start again. The potential frequency of the bug was too high for us to allow the snapshot to be released to the wider public, even with Erratas and prominent warnings. You could be forgiven for thinking that fixing just one bug would be quick but since we’re all contributing over our free time, it actually takes time to 1) identify the issues 2) write patches 3) have the patches reviewed by another developer 4) build ISO images with the patches integrated 5) test them in various situations and on various hardware 6) find a regression related to the patch 7) write a new patch, etc.

It is not an agreeable situation and one of our priorities for Mageia 7 will be to work on critical paths so that we can solve problems faster without delaying the whole release process. Some of our contributors already kind of specialized in being the oil on the wheels for the rest of the teams, but we can do better (maybe with you?).

Disclaimer

The above history is incomplete, probably subjective (you can probably tell that it’s been written by someone who loves and believes in Mageia’s community), and can’t summarize everything that has been done by all the contributors in all the different teams. The author of this blog post thanks them all and is confident that most of you as readers are probably grateful to them too in spite of our lateness.

The current situation

The current situation is that we have a relatively good patchset to fix a number of installer issues, which have been committed to a testing branch and were successfully tested in pre-testing Live ISOs. Now we are deploying them on the full set of Live ISOs and classical installer ISOs for the QA team to test, which should hopefully be the final build for the Stabilization Snapshot 2.

As soon as we reach a satisfying solution for the partitioning bug, you will be able to resume testing the future Mageia 6. Then we will work as fast as we can to fix the last release-blocker bugs and release Mageia 6 to everybody.

You can help

If you love Mageia like we do and want to help us release it faster (while keeping our high quality standards), we would welcome you in one of our various teams of contributors: packaging, development, QA, ISO testing, communication (!) or any other of the diverse things we do. The contribution page is a good place to start, and you can hop on our IRC channels to discuss how you can help with other Mageia contributors.

Mageia meet-up and talk at FOSDEM 2017

FOSDEM (Free and Open Source Developers’ European Meeting) has always been Mageia’s event of choice to get together with the community of contributors (and yes, in the Mageia world users definitely count as contributors too). This year’s edition, like always in Brussels, Belgium, will be yet another great occasion for us to meet and discuss Mageia together.

No stand…

There is one small disappointment for us though, in that the FOSDEM staff could not accept our usual request for a Mageia stand. They always get way more demands than they have stands available and need to make some difficult decisions. We are not the only Linux distribution to be left on the bench this year, and this is fully understandable; as the open source ecosystem grows and reaches well beyond the scope of Linux distributions, there are many new cross-platform projects which prefer FOSDEM as a way to reach their own communities.

… but an official talk!

On the plus side, we will make up for the lack of an official stand with a talk in the distributions devroom by two Mageia team leaders, Anne from the dev team and Samuel from the bugsquad, titled “Mageia, successes and lessons learned 6 years after forking“. For those who can’t make it, the talk will be recorded and the videos will be shared by the FOSDEM staff as soon as they are ready; for those who can, here are the details:

  • Mageia, successes and lessons learned 6 years after forking – Retrospective and future plans from the community-driven distribution
  • Speakers: Anne Nicolas, Samuel Verschelde
  • Date: Saturday @ 12:00
  • Location: Room K.4.601, ULB campus, Brussels
  • More info: FOSDEM page

… and many Mageia contributors present nevertheless!

Many of us will still be attending FOSDEM even though we don’t have an official stand, so please have a look at our wiki page if you intend to come to Brussels for the occasion, as we’d definitely want to see you to talk about Mageia and develop the important discussions that our Mageia presentation should definitely trigger!

There will likely be a Mageia dinner on Saturday, which is a great occasion to take some time together and have friendly discussions in a calmer environment than the buzzing FOSDEM halls! We may also have a room for some time at FOSDEM for a short real life meeting all together – we will post more information about it on the wiki page as soon as it’s confirmed.

In the meantime, stay tuned for more information about Mageia 6 and the upcoming 2nd stabilization snapshot. We know that our communication has been lacking lately and we are working to share more of the details about our ongoing work with you. Thanks for believing in our great distro. You will soon see that Mageia 6 was well worth the wait!

Happily Announcing Mageia 5.1

As we’re getting closer to the end of the year, Mageia has a present for you! We are very pleased to announce the release of Mageia 5.1!

This release like Mageia 4.1 was in its time – is a respin of the Mageia 5 installation and Live ISO images, based on the Mageia 5 repository and incorporating all updates to allow for an up to date installation without the need to install almost a year and a half worth of updates. It is therefore recommended for new installations and upgrades from Mageia 4.

The new images are available from the downloads page, both directly and through torrents.

If you are currently running Mageia 5 then there is no need to install Mageia 5.1 as it is the same as your system, provided that updates have been installed.

Mageia 5.1 ships with many updated packages, including LibreOffice 4.4.7, Linux kernel 4.4.32, KDE4 4.14.5, GNOME 3.14.3 and countless other updates.

The full release notes and errata contain further details about the supported hardware.  The important addition is that 5.1 can now be installed on NVMe based drives. Mageia 5 and by extension, 5.1 will be supported until 3 months after Mageia 6 is released, full details can be seen here.

This release was possible due to the hard work of the QA and ISO testing teams, as well as the work put in from the rest of the Community in packaging, tracking bugs and keeping up with security announcements. The testing of the updates and ISO images for all releases is a large job, and any help with this is greatly appreciated. The QA team has a very wide range of tasks so if you want to become involved, or are interested in learning more about the QA Team, please see here , or contributing to Mageia in general.

Mageia was at The Paris Open Source Summit 2016

The 2016 POSS (Paris Open Source Summit, on Nov 16 & 17) was a great event for Mageia and its 3 representatives who ran the booth: DtuxMagnux77 and Lebarhon.

This year, there were no lonely users coming with laptops to show us 3D display issues or that their sound wasn’t working, it is a testament to how good a release Mageia 5 is. Instead, we met many people using Mageia for development, teaching or for their professional living. It was nice to see how well known Mageia is as a serious and reliable platform. We met the leader of Alcasar, a network access controller used by many French administrations. Alcasar is running on thousands of computers, all of them under Mageia. These people often ask good questions, here are two examples, the first one from a developer and the second one from a teacher:

– On a computer without a graphic interface, after an automatic update, how to know if a reboot is necessary? or at least, which packages need it?

– Mageia says Live releases are for testing. For their first Mageia usage, many people prefer to use an old unused computer, the kind of computer with poor resources. Unfortunately, the Lives ISOs are shipped with KDE or GNOME, the desktop environments needing the most resources! Don’t you think Live releases should be shipped with LXQt or Xfce?

From most of the visitors, the same question was always coming again and again. In case it wasn’t on your mind…. “When is planned the Mageia 6 release?” In one hand, it is great to know that Mageia 6 is so much expected, but on the other hand, that means our communication is not good enough (This is something that we will try to work on).

photo-poss2016

POSS, just like any other exhibition is also a good way (if not the only one?) for any Mageia contributor or user to meet and see all the contributors they have already met in forums or mailing lists. This year we had the pleasure to discuss Mageia and Linux in general with ennael, baud, rtp, papoteur and piratu.

Cheers Dtux, Magnux77 and Lebarhon.

In answer to the questions asked, Mageia 6 will be released when ready, the next milestone release should be coming soon.

The inclusion of a “light” Live ISO is something that has been discussed a few times, while there is nothing stopping this from happening, the additional testing required to test 3 different live environments has always proved critical. If any volunteers would be willing to help with ISO building and testing, then this is something that could be addressed in the future.

Mageia 5 Support Extension and General Update

With the delays to Mageia 6 and the approaching initial end of life (EOL) for Mageia 5 (initially planned for early December), we felt that it would be good to give an update on where things were with both Mageia 5 and 6.

Firstly, every release so far has been supported until 3 months after the next release, and Mageia 5 will be no different. Since Mageia 6 is being delayed, Mageia 5’s support is automatically extended in order to give users 3 months to upgrade before Mageia 5 stops receiving security updates.

We will also be releasing the Mageia 5.1 ISOs very soon (They are hopefully in their final round of testing now). This will allow for new systems to be installed with all the updates that Mageia 5 has received. As for Mageia 4.1, these are new ISOs of the same release, so the installed Mageia 5.1 systems will rely on the same Mageia 5 repositories and will get the same support. We will announce the final EOL as soon as Mageia 6 is released, but you can already count on more than 3 months for now.

Secondly, Mageia 6 has not been forgotten. We had issues with the ISO building server but now that these have been resolved and progress on 5.1 is good, the next milestone release towards Mageia 6 will shortly follow the release of Mageia 5.1. Developers have of course not been idle even though no ISOs were produced, and Cauldron is in a very good shape with many updates and fixes, so we hope that the next milestones (stabilisation snapshot 2, release candidate(s), final) will arrive soon and close to each other.

In other news, we had a booth at the Paris Open Source Summit, a full write up will follow shortly.

Image source – https://xkcd.com/606/

My QtCon + Akademy 2016

From August 31th to September 10th I was em Berlin attending two amazing conferences: QtCon and Akademy.

QtCon brought together five communities to host their respective conferences at a same time and place, creating one big and diverse conference. Those communities were Qt, KDAB, KDE (celebrating 20th birthday), VLC and FSFE (both celebrating 15th birthday).

bcc

Main conference hall of QtCon at bcc

That diversity of themes was a very interesting characteristic of QtCon. I really appreciated see presentations of Qt and KDAB people, and I was surprised about topics related with VLC community. The strong technical aspects of trends like Qt in mobile, Qt in IoT (including autonomous cars), the future of Qt, Qt + Python, contributing to Qt, and more, called my attention during the conference.

On VLC I was surprised with the size of the community. I never imagined VLC had too much developers. In fact, I never imagined VideoLAN is in fact an umbrella of a lot of projects related with multimedia, like codecs, streaming tools, VLC ports to specific devices (including cars through Android Auto), and more. Yes, I really appreciated to find these persons and watch their presentations.

I was waiting for the VLC 3.0 release during QtCon, but unfortunately it did not happen. Of course the team is improving this new release and when it is finished I will have a VLC to use together with my Chromecast, so, keep this great work coneheads!

FSFE presentations were interesting as well. In Brazil there are several talks about political and philosophical aspects of free software in conferences like FISL and Latinoware. In QtCon, FSFE brought this type of presentation in an “European” style: sometimes the presentations looks like more pragmatically in their approaches. Other FSFE presentations talked about the infrastructure and organizational aspects of the foundation, a nice overview to be compared with others groups like ASL.org in Brazil.

Of course, there were a lot of amazing presentations from our gearheads. I highlight the talks about KDE history, Plasma Desktop latest news, Plasma Mobile status, KF5 on Android, the experience of Minuet in mobile world, among others.

The KDE Store announcement was really interesting and I expect it will bring more attention to the KDE ecosystem when software package bundles
(snap/flat/etc) be available in the store.

Other software called my attention was Peruse, a comic book reader. I expect developers can solve the current problems in order to release a mobile version of Peruse, so this software can reach a broad base of users of these platforms.

After the end of QtCon, Akademy had place in TU Berlin, in a very beautiful and comfortable campus. This phase of the conference was full of technical sessions and discussions, hacking, and fun.

I attended  to the Flatpack, Appstream, and Snapcraft BoFs. There were a lot of advanced technical discussions on those themes. Every Akademy I feel very impressed with the advanced level of the technical discussions performed by our hackers in KDE community. Really guys, you rocks!

The Snapcraft BoF was a tutorial about how to use that technology to create crossdistro bundle packages. That was interesting and I would like to test more and give a look in Flatpack in order to select something to create packages for Cantor.

Unfortunately I missed the BoF on Kube. I am very interested in an alternative PIM project for KDE, focused in E-Mail/Contacts/Calendar and more economic in computational resource demand. I am keeping my eyes and expectations on this project.

The others days basically I spent my time working on Cantor and having talk with our worldwide KDE fellows about several topics like KDE Edu, improvements in our Jabber/XMPP infrastructure, KDE 20th years, Plasma in small-size computers (thanks sebas for the Odroid-C1+ device 😉 ) WikiToLearn (could be interesting a way to import/export Cantor worksheets to/from WikiToLearn?), and of course, beers and Germany food.

And what about Berlin? It was my second time in the city, and like the previous one I was excited with the multicultural atmosphere, the food (<3 pork <3) and beers. We were in Kreuzberg, a hipster district in the city, so we could visit some bars and expat restaurants there. The QtCon+Akademy had interesting events as well, like the FSFE celebration in c-base and the Akademy daytrip in Peacock Island.

So, I would like to say thank you for KDE e.V. for funding my attendance in the events, thank you Petra for help us with the hostel, and thank your for all the volunteers for work hard and make this Akademy edition a real celebration of KDE community.

photo_2016-10-25_11-54-34

Some Brazilians in QtCon/Akademy 2016: KDHelio, Lamarque, Sandro, João, Aracele, Filipe (me)

Plasma 5.8.2, Applications 16.08.2 and Frameworks 5.27.0 available in Mageia

Mageia KDE Team just finished to push in Mageia cauldron :
– Plasma 5.8.2 ( the Plasma LTS version )
– KDE Applications 16.08.2
– KDE Frameworks 5.27.0

If you find packaging bugs don’t hesitate and come in Mageia Bugtracker

And if you want to join KDE Team and help you can mail us or find us on IRC ( freenode  : #mageia-kde ).

Our warm thanks to a long time contributor and friend

Thomas SpuhlerIt is with a heavy heart that we address our warmest thanks to our friend Thomas Spuhler for his Mandriva and Mageia contributions over the last decade. After fighting colon cancer for over a year, he finally had to surrender on Saturday September 17, 2016, at the age of 68. He leaves behind his beloved wife, sons and grandchildren, to whom our thoughts go in this difficult time.

Thomas had been contributing to Mageia, and Mandriva before that, since 2009 as a packager, and much earlier already partaking in email discussions and bug reports. His packaging interests were mostly web and server-related components, for which his contributions were invaluable. He had to step back from his Mageia responsibilities in early August due to his health condition.

He was a lively fellow and we will sorely miss him. He was particularly fond of the Oro Valley in Arizona, USA, where he had been living for the last 20 years, and which gave him his IRC nickname (Oro_Valley).

Pusch Ridge from Oro Valley

Pusch Ridge from Oro Valley, © CC BY-SA 3.0 Dan Huff

Again, thanks a lot for everything Thomas, it was great having you around for all those years!

Mageia was at Fete de l’Huma

Magnux77 with Daniel were there representing Mageia. He reports:

It was hot, in all the meanings of the word, a real jolly atmosphere, noise everywhere and nicely sunny. With Daniel, we laid out the T-Shirts, pens, USB sticks, two laptops for Mageia demonstrations, a 2002 antiquity running Mageia to prove that if it no longer works with Windows, it can with Mageia, and a 24inch screen for a Mageia LibreOffice Impress exhibition on Raspberry-Pi. Our booth was next to La Mouette and l’Autre Net.  Behind us was  April, Framasoft, The Ordis Libres.

Admittedly, many people walked past us without even seeing us, there are so many things to see, to read or to hear, not to mention savour. But the ones who did stop and wonder already have the idea that GAFAM (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft) isn’t just for their good only. A little vignette, amongst others:

Madam and Sir, holding each other up to support themselves in the face of adversity, have a quick look at all the booths, but none of them really catches their eye. They talk together, hesitate, look here and there again, are ready to go away, discouraged, when suddenly, Madam gets worked up, stands and says a little louder:

“But I am still eager to know!”

“To know what, Madam?”

“Well, computing, it pisses me off (with a wide smile). I bought a pair of shoes on the Internet, and now I got advertising everywhere for shoes, on my screen, in my messages and that  pisses me off even more (no more smile)”

“Then, I would like to know why, how is it possible”

After a small discussion, they don’t look ready for me to talk about Mageia right way, then I decided to take them to our friends from Framasoft so that they can start to defend themselves against the GAFAM.

But for many people who were sensitive to our arguments, and likely to adopt Mageia, the difficulty was the installation with backup and partitioning. Of course, we gave our e-mails, MLO address (the French forum),  the GUL (Linux user group), but it is not enough, of course… To all of you with whom we exchanged details, don’t hesitate to contact us again for help, to get an idea on how to, or to find help in your area of France.

– dtux in Lyon, in his workshop Libre PC

– magnux77 in the East of Paris or on the French-speaking forum MageiaLinux-Online (MLO).

For International users, we have many other support forums available.

Announcing upcoming Mageia 5.1 ISOs and an update on Mageia 6 progress

It is likely not news to you that we are behind the original schedule regarding Mageia 6.
As a community-led distro with a limited amount of resources and contributors, we stand by “Release when it’s ready” and don’t want to rush a release out until we are fully happy with it. Obviously, we are not yet fully happy with Mageia 6, though it is shaping up pretty well! On the other hand, we are still very pleased with Mageia 5 and want to continue supporting it until Mageia 6 is ready to take over.

Upcoming Mageia 5.1 ISOs

Because of this delay, we will release updated ISO images of Mageia 5 to bridge the gap until Mageia 6 is ready.

The new Mageia 5.1 ISOs will include all the security and bug-fix updates released for Mageia 5 so far, including an updated LTS kernel (4.4.x) for improved hardware support.

Like it was done for Mageia 4.1, this does not constitute a new release per se, but an easier way to install an up-to-date Mageia 5. Existing Mageia 5 users won’t have to reinstall anything, as their up-to-date system is already the same as what the 5.1 images would install. New users, however, would
benefit from having the well-tested kernel 4.4 from the start, instead of starting with the original kernel 3.19 of Mageia 5.

We will likely extend the support period for Mageia 5 to cover at least 3 months of transition after the Mageia 6 release. The exact updated end-of-life date will be given when the 5.1 ISOs are released.

Infra back on track for Mageia 6

There have been some infrastructure issues causing delays to getting ISOs to build, which particularly impacted the internal testing for Mageia 6’s stabilisation snapshot 2 over the last few months. These have now been mostly resolved, and our ISO building team (and its new recruits!) will have the opportunity to fine tune the process with the updated Mageia 5 ISOs, before going back to Mageia 6.

The delays have allowed for newer versions of some key software stacks to be included. Plasma has matured a lot and gained stability and feature completeness over the last few months, and we will be able to ship Mageia 6 with Plasma 5.8 LTS. We will also include GNOME 3.22 which is currently being prepared for Cauldron.

Packagers and developers toiling on release blockers

The main reason for Mageia 6’s delay is, of course, the remaining blocking bugs (so called release blockers) that we don’t want to compromise on fixing before the release.

Packagers and developers are currently working to fix the remaining release blockers. A new tool has been promptly developed in Mageia App DB to help visualise the progress on the current release blockers. We hope to have the second stabilisation snapshot available soon after the Mageia 5.1 ISOs are released, likely sometime in October 2016. As for the final release, we do not want to give a precise ETA yet, but we should manage to make a 2016 release 🙂

As always, many hands make light work, so if you’re interested in ISO testing, QA, packaging or just want to get involved with Mageia, please have a look here for further details on getting involved.