Just got back from our first in person flock since 2019 and it was amazing. I thought I’d share my journey and thoughts from it here in longer form.
I did do some prep work the previous week in that I tried to make sure as best as I could that infrastructure and releng stuff was stable and wouldn’t need any interventions from me, which mostly worked out in the end, with only some releng work (starting mass signing of f40 in prep for branching this coming week) and some troubles with the matrix/irc bridge (which I can’t do much about aside from letting people know).
Travel to flock was fine. I took advantage of my favorite flight from PDX to AMS and then to Cork directly. In AMS I ran into Justin Flory and David Cantrell, who were both not planning on being there at the same time as me, but due to flight changes were. The flight to Cork was quick and we took a cab to the hotel.
The hotel was fine. It was a bit out of the center of town, which meant you had to take a cab or bus most of the time, but it wasn’t too bad. The rooms oddly didn’t have heating or cooling, but did have windows that opened, so I just kept mine open and was just fine. The conference center was in a seperate building behind the hotel and it was a bit weird to walk all the back there on the 3rd floor to get to it, but it worked out fine. The elevator had a amusing ‘off by one’ error in it. Ground floor was “1”, the first floor was “2”, etc. The food was all fine to me. The hotel did a buffet breakfast and did lunch/coffee breaks, etc.
I left Monday, but arrived Tuesday afternoon, got settled and looked around, then off to dinner with various folks. It was really nice. We went to a place called Market Lane and they did a pretty good job accomodating a large group of roundy nerds.
Wednesday the conference kicked off with some introductions from Justin and then Matthew Millers ‘State of Fedora’ talk. This was great as always, but sadly the streaming / recording had problems at the beginning, so Matthew redid the talk on the last day in the afternoon for a smaller audience. I think both were great. I think I liked the first one better, but might be because I was less tired. Next I went to Justin Forbes talk on the state of the kernel, informative as always. Then on to a roundtable about packaging problems in modern languages from Jens Peterson. Some good comments from a number of folks, but I am not sure we came up with much plan to help aside from moving to more bundling. I was hoping we could look at sharing tooling to handle large package sets, but we can discuss this more on other platforms moving forward. Then, on to a talk about the current state of Infra and Releng applications from Akash and Aoife. They made this talk really nice and fun and gave out prizes! Great work by them putting this together. Next I wanted to go to the RiscV talk, but somehow decided to go to the AI/ML in QA talk instead. Really interesting seeing how to try and use AI for our QA efforts. I’m not a big fan of AI/LLM’s in general, but I think they do have uses, and this is a clever one. Next up was a state of Fedora CI. It’s amazing how long it’s taken us, but we are finally getting there with CI. Next to a talk about EPEL. Great to get more visibility for a subproject of Fedora thats so popular and useful. The great Flock international candy swap took place. So much cool and interesting candy. Someone (Carl!) even brought some jerky. Tons of good stuff. The day ended out with a lot of talking to various people at the game night, the hotel bar and then finally the hotel lobby when they kicked us out of the bar.
Thursday started in too early at 8:30 with a great keynote by Jen Madriaga on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Some very good points and things to think about. We can all be better here and help each other. Next up was a “Meet your FESCo” session. We only had 4 of the 9 FESCo members present this time, but we talked and answered questions and hopefully made some amount of sense. I then headed out to a talk on whats new in systemd. Wow, so many things I had no idea about. I hope the slides for this are up somewhere because even though I followed along on my laptop, there were things I didn’t get to trying out. So many good things. Next was a talk on ansible packaging in Fedora / EPEL. An excellent overview from gotmax23, who I was finally able to meet in person. So nice to have someone take over the ansible maintainer mantle. I almost always enjoyed it, but I just don’t have the time to devote to it that I used to. It’s in good hands. Next was Matthew Millers discourse discourse, but it didn’t really get into how to move it away from him doing so much and more got into a general discussion about it and how and if we should convince people to move there. Still lots of good info and things that were good to bring up. Next was the upstream colaboration in Enterprise Linux panel. It was all surprisingly cordial and for much of it the panelists seem to all agree on things. Then the evening events: dinner at a mexican food place and a scavenger hunt. I was wiped out, so I headed back to sleep after the dinner.Even though I passed out at like 8:30pm, I didn’t really seem to catch up on sleep much. Seems to be what happens at flock.
The last day of flock, Friday, again started off at 8:30am. This day was devoted to a Mentor Summit. After a introduction I was on a Mentoring panel. This session was one of the best of the conference I thought. Some really great questions from the audience and from our moderator, Amita Sharma. She kept us going with great questions and the time flew by. My fellow panelists did an awesome job too. Next I went to a workshop I was running with James Richardson on revaming our onboarding and mentoring and docs about those in Fedora Infrastructure and Release Engineering. Surprisingly we had a really nice crowd of folks and we dived right in. Tons of good ideas and suggestions. As soon as we are recovered from travel, James and I will be writing things up for a round of review with the community and then we can dive in and revamp the docs and start trying ideas. Infra and Releng are great, fun areas to contibute and I look forward to onboading and mentoring a bunch of new folks. The workshop was scheduled to go on after lunch, but we lost a lot of people (either leaving early or going to other sessions), so we did just a bit and wrapped things up. Then off to the final night. There was a ghost tour, but I was tired and a bit footsore so I tagged along with some folks getting dinner in Cork and then passed out early for my super early travel back.
My saturday started at 4:30am or so. Got up, showered, packed and checked out and met the cab to the airport at 5:30am. Then flight to heathrow (which I had never been to before). Amusingly, my Brother had been vacationing in the area and was in fact flying back to the US that same morning. So, we met up in the airport, he got me into the lovely Virgin Atlantic Lounge where we had breakfast and caught up a bit. Sometimes these weird things work out. Next was my 9.5 hour flight to Seattle. That went mostly fine, I usually just read or listen to podcasts and ignore the world. I have to say that noise canceling headphones are sure nice for these trips. I picked up a new sony WH-1000MX5 set before this trip and they did an outstanding job. Tons of battery life, super good noise canceling. Landed in Seattle and then walked. And Walked. And walked. I think it was probibly a mile or two of corridors and up and down and around before getting to the passport control line. It was really a lot of walking after being in planes all day. Finally got past that and… my next flight was in another terminal, so more walking to a train and more walking. 🙂 (I did over 10k steps saturday). Finally got to my gate and… they changed the gate. Got to the new gate and… they didn’t have a driver for the bus from the gate to the plane. When they finally did they made me check my bag because of limited space. Finally off and landed in Portland, then in to wait on my bag. Then shuttle to the parking lot where I parked and finally the 2 hour drive home. Whew. Pretty epic day.
I have to say the hallway track was excellent as always. I had a number of really nice coversations with all kinds of people on all kinds of topics, from Irish taxes to Community Building to Mobile devices and hardware support to Boating to Weather to Books, etc.
So, whirlwind travel, but really really nice to see people in person again who I talk with most days over the network. I really hope next year we get more of the folks who were not able to make it this time around. As always flock leaves me body tired, but mind bursting with all the posibilities!