DevConf 2018 happened. A grand time was had by me (and hopefully others)

Robbie Harwood gave an overview of Kerberos for Developers. Kerberos has a reputation for being difficult to use and manage. As far as I can tell, maintaining a server can still be tricky but using it as a developer has improved significantly. There are several libraries available, including bindings in python which were demoed. Although I don’t do much with Kerberos applications usually, it’s good to know there are easy to use APIs available.

There was a joint presentation on Hardware Root of Trust. This was an overview of current TPM support. TPMs have historically been somewhat controversial as they have been associated with reducing user freedom. TPMs are also very good at providing a secure way to store keys for protecting data, which was much of the focus of the talk. There’s been ongoing work to make TPMs do useful things such as disk encryption. The TPM software support has come a long way and I look forward to seeing new uses.

Ulrich Drepper gave a talk on processor architectures. This seemed very timely given the recent speculative execution shenanigans. There was a lot of focus on the existing Intel architecture and its limitations. We’re beginning to hit physical limits to increase speed (see the slides about memory power use). As processor architectures get more complex, compilers and programmers have to improve as well. Sometimes I do miss working with hardware (until it breaks of course).

Don Zickus talked about some ongoing Kernel CI work. The upstream kernel project has had some level of continuous integration (CI) for a while now. One of the best known efforts is Intel 0-day testing. Don talked about why Red Hat is interested in supporting something similar for upstream patches (it’s easier to prevent buggy patches from being merged than to fix them later!). I’ve been following this project for a while now and look forward to see it come to fruition in the near future.

Randy Barlow and Patrick Uiterwijk talked about rebuilding containers. This seems like a task that’s very easy (You just rebuild them right?) but it turns out to be difficult to coordinate across the entire project. They talked about an abandoned approach and the current method using buildroot overrides.

Several members of the Fedora council ran a Fedora panel. This was an open QA session and all the panelists gave thoughtful answers to questions (as you’d expect). The video is worth watching to see the topics covered.

Thorsten Leemhuis talked about regressions in the Linux kernel. This is a task he’s picked up somewhat recently and is important to me as both a kernel developer and a distro maintainer. His talk emphasized why users are so important to regression tracking and the basics of such work. This was a very good reference and I hope to link to it in the future.

There was a talk about out-of-tree modules. Fedora has a policy of not shipping out of tree modules mostly for practical reasons. Sometimes users have reasons for wanting to use out of tree modules though and they are free to do so. The biggest issue tends to be keeping the external module in sync with the tree. The talk covered ways maintainers can keep modules in sync as well as methods for users to rebuild (akmods etc.). Having good information on out of tree modules is important for those users who want/need them.

Transitioning packages from python2 to python3 is ongoing. There was a talk about some of this work. It’s easy to get supposedly simple changes like a name change wrong. I don’t have nearly as much experience with packaging as some people so this was a nice review of packaging in addition to a good set of lessons learned.

Patrick Uiterwijk talked about autosigning. Users rely on digital signatures to provide some level of trust on the packages they get from Fedora. Much of the signing work use to be done manually by humans who are prone to human failures. Patrick and others have worked hard over the last year to have more signing happen automatically. This talk was a nice overview of Fedora root of trust and a discussion of what exactly it takes to keep that trust.

I had a good time meeting everyone and look forward to another DevConf.