Weave Scope and Weave Flux @Hacktoberfest

Long time no blog

It’s been a busy half a year since my last blog post. Immersing myself in the cloud native world and my non-work related training kept me quite busy. I learned quite a lot and it’s been a very rewarding experience, but whenever I thought “hey, I should blog about this”, something else came up which grabbed my attention.

This time I wanted to get the word out about a fun project I was involved in and reflect a bit on some aspects of these last six months.

Hacktoberfest

I wrote about it in the Weaveworks blog already: the Weave Scope and Weave Flux teams are participating in Hacktoberfest! ❤ If you haven’t heard about it yet: Hacktoberfest is a month-long celebration of getting involved in open source. It’s happening for the fifth time now and the general idea is: You sign up, and if you manage to contribute five pull requests on Github in October you win a Hacktoberfest t-shirt. To me it’s a very low-barrier initiative and fun way to get to know Open Source and new communities. I love how everybody benefits from this.

As a contributor, apart from getting a nice t-shirt, it’s your chance to learn more about open source, get in touch with a community of developers, learn about how they do things, learn about new tools, being welcomed with your view on a problem and maybe joining the team after all.

From my own experience I know how empowering it feels to be welcomed into a group of fellow contributors who all care about the project as much as you do. To learn from seasoned developers and have your work integrated into later releases and others benefit from your fix as well.

I still remember how quickly after joining the Ubuntu community about 13-14 years ago (yes, it’s really been that long) and after having been encouraged to get some of my work uploaded into Ubuntu, I realised that we could do a lot better at helping new contributors get started. I wanted others to benefit from my experience and what I had learned from the (quite busy) maintainers in the day. I started collecting links to helpful docs, code snippets and tasks to work on on the Wiki. It was a simple thing to do, and over time our whole developer team took the experience of new contributors on as a cornerstone of the project.

As a project member and maintainer, events like Hacktoberfest are your opportunity to reflect on questions like

  • How do we invite new contributors in the project? How high or low is the bar for entry?
  • Are our docs sufficient? Can new folks find their way around easily?
  • Is our use of tools and process well-defined and clear?
  • Are we good at identifying new issues and detailing where and how to fix them?

So apart from just finding new contributors or getting issues fixed in your code, you also get to learn about an outsider’s perspective and how your project is run. If you take the feedback seriously, it’s a good way to pave the way for others to come in.

Weave Scope and Weave Flux

Scope and Flux are two very important projects at Weaveworks and they both tell the GitOps story from different angles.

Weave Scope has a special place in my heart. When I demoed Weave Cloud at events in the past couple of months the Explore part of it (which uses Weave Scope internally) especially drew attention, because everyone immediately got how important observability is in a micro-services world. Scope can be used in very different scenarios and is written using modern languages. I’ve been part of the Weave Scope meetings in the past few weeks and it was great to see how people from different parts of the globe got together, front-enders, back-enders, designers and just generally interested folks who want to improve Scope for their particular use. I was glad that Satyam Zode brought up the idea of participating in Hacktoberfest and started by going through the list of issues to see which would be good for new contributors (thanks Bryan and Filip who helped out as well!).

If this sounds interesting check out the Weave Scope Hacktoberfest page.

Weave Flux is the Kubernetes GitOps operator, it’s what deploys new images and config to your cluster and makes sure that the state of the cluster matches the config in git. It’s easy to get up and running and very versatile. It’s what Weaveworks has been using for years now and many of our customers and general users rely on to go faster. In the past months I’ve seen an influx of new developers on Slack, drive-by contributions and new thoughts about where to take the project. I’m really pleased how friendly this community is and how keen to help each other out.

If you’re interested in helping out here, take a look at the Weave Flux Hacktoberfest page.

Leave a comment if you’re participating in Hacktoberfest too!

A month with Dell XPS 13 (9370)

After years of using Thinkpads, I went for a Dell XPS 13 with Ubuntu. Although I had bought devices with Linux pre-installed and laptops for friends as well, this  was going to be my first own laptop coming with Ubuntu straight from the factory.

 

The hardware

The specs looked great (big SSD disk, enough memory to play around with VMs/containers, etc.), but I had to brush away some fond memories of old laptops, where I was able to easily replace parts (memory, screen, disk, power jack, keyboard and more for my x220). With the XPS this was not easily going to be possible anymore.

Anyway, the new machine arrived in the office. It looked great, it was light,  it was really well-built and whatever task I threw at the machine, it dealt with it nicely. In general I really liked the hardware and how the machine felt a lot. I knew I was going to be happy with this.

A few things bothered me somewhat though. The placement of the webcam simply does not make sense. It’s at the bottom of the screen, so you get an upwards-angle no matter what you do and people in calls with you will always see a close up of your fingers typing. Small face, huge fingers. It’s really awkward. I won’t go unmanicured into meetings anymore!

The software

It came with an old image of Ubuntu 16.04 LTS pre-installed and after pulling a lot of updates, I thought I was going to get a nice fresh start with everything just working out of the box. Not quite.

The super key was disabled. As 16.04 came with Unity, the super key is one of the key ingredients to starting apps or bringing up the dash. There was a package called supey-key-dell (or some such) installed which I had to find and remove and some gnome config I had to change to make it work again. Why oh why?

Hardware support. I thought this was going to be straight-forward. Unfortunately it wasn’t. In the process of the purchase Dell recommended I get a DA300, a USB-C mobility adapter. That looked like a great suggestion, ensuring I can still use all my Old World devices. Unfortunately the Ethernet port of it just didn’t work with 16.04.

The laptops’s own screen flickered in many circumstances and connecting to screens (even some Dell devices) flickered even more, sometimes screens went on and off.

I got a case with USB-C adapter for the SSD disk of my laptop and copied some data over only to find that some disk I/O load nearly brought the system to a grinding halt.

Palm detection of the touchpad was throwing me off again and again. I can’t count how many times I messed up documents or typed text in the wrong places. This was simply infuriating.

Enter Ubuntu 18.04 LTS

I took the plunge, wiped the disk and made a fresh install of Bionic and I’m not looking back. Palm detection is LOADS better, Disk I/O is better, screen flickering gone, Ethernet port over USB-C works. And I’m using a recent Ubuntu, which is just great! Nice work everyone involved at Ubuntu!

I hope Dell will reconsider shipping this new release to users with recent machines (and as an update) – the experience is dramatically different.

I’m really happy with this machine now, got to go now, got a manicure appointment…

I’m joining Weaveworks

Weaveworks

My sabbatical is over and today is my first day working at Weaveworks where I’m joining the Developer Experience team. I’m incredibly excited about this.

I got to know quite a few of my colleagues in the past weeks and they were without exception all incredibly likeable and smart people. The company believes in open source, is quite diverse and has an office in Berlin – also I’ll get to work with Cezzaine, Jonathan and Steve again.

Right from the start the technology really impressed me. Weave Cloud solves key problems many organisations and companies face today: being able to deploy services seamlessly, securely and easily and making monitoring and snapshots obvious and simple-to-use have an immediate impact on what you can do and what you spend your time on.

Here’s what it looks like in action:

If you’re on Google Cloud Platform, you can even use it for free or you can check out the tutorials to play around with it without having to install anything.

It’s going to be great to immerse myself and learn more about the underlying technologies and connect with the Cloud Native communities. It’s a big landscape with lots of activity and overlap, strong roots in the open source world and the passion to make modern workloads a more manageable problem.

At Weaveworks, I’ll be able to work on what I like best: talk to and work with devs, figure out what people need, look at docs and tools, connect people and make people’s lives easier.

One thing makes this experience even sweeter: I’ll get to reconnect with a lot of you folks! If you’re working in the space and I haven’t talked to you in a while, hit me up and let’s catch up soon again!

Alright, I need to start packing and off to the office for today… 🚲