[lsb-discuss] Ways for us to work more efficiently

Robert Schweikert robert.schweikert at mathworks.com
Fri Jan 25 05:47:19 PST 2008

Theodore Ts'o wrote:
> Hi all,
> Earlier, at the last LSB phone call, I mentioned that I had some ideas
> for how we could work more efficiently, without needing as many
> conference calls and face-to-face meetings.
> The following is taken from:
> http://www.linux-foundation.org/en/User:Tytso:How_to_work_more_efficiently
Certainly a lot of good thoughts here. I think when we talk about a 
"Getting Started" page we should consider having 3 pages instead of one. 
It is my believe that we can provide better focus on the target audience 
if we have the information separated. We have at least 3 groups of 

1.) Distribution vendors
2.) People interested in contributing to the LSB
3.) ISVs

A "Getting Started" page for each target group would be very helpful.

With respect to status reporting it would be nice if at least part of 
the progress tracking would be viewable by everyone. It was not obvious 
to me from the wiki whether or not some or all of the data would be 
restricted to LF accessibility or not. I can easily imagine that an ISV 
is waiting for a certain feature and would like to track the progress as 
it makes its way from proposal into the spec.

> It's a description of some of the techniques which we used when I was
> the technical architect for the LTC Real-Time development team, where we
> took pre-alpha patches development patches (that were not mainline) and
> made them into a something was supportable as a GA (albeit 1.0 :-)
> product using IBM's standard Help Line processes, in only 9 months.
> Yes, it means more formalism, and yes it means people will need to write
> more.  But (a) as we add more people to the project, we need a bit more
> formalism so that we can all work together efficiently, and (b) it will
> allow us to be able to more accurately predict when we will be able to
> make a release --- and more importantly know whether we are in danger of
> slipping release deadlines unlesss we cut features, or add more people,
> or both.
> Obviously, we can't force volunteers on the project to follow these work
> processes; but it is something which I plan to ask all LF employees and
> contractors to start following, once I take in feedback and make any
> necessary tweaks and adjustments to the proposal.  I would ask folks to
> try it out, since I think it will allow us to work that much more
> effectively and efficiently together.
> I've deliberately put this into a wiki so that people who feel more
> comfortable discussing this wiki-style can click on the "Discussion"
> link at the bottom of the page and add comments.   Just sign them with
> "~~~~", wiki style, as you might do on any "talk" page on Wikipedia.
> Alternatively, of course, feel free to respond to this e-mail message.
> Regards,
> 						- Ted
> = Introduction =
> In the past, the Linux Foundation and its predecessor organizations (the
> FSG and the OSDL) have operated with relatively informal engineering and
> project management processes.  Given the number of engineers, and the
> size of the engineering organizations, and the number of people who
> needed to work together on a single project, this as probably
> appropriate.
> However, as we start adding more people to the organization, it is going
> to be more and more important that we know what each other is doing, and
> who needs to do what next, and if someone needs help, how we can divert
> or obtain resources in time so that we get a particular project or
> sub-project back on track before it is deeply in the weeds.  Moreover, I
> want to do this without increasing the number of coordinating conference
> calls.  As a result, the following project management scheme I am
> proposing is as lightweight as I can make it, and it is wiki-based.  It
> is still relatively informal --- you'll notice no mention of things like
> Gantt charts --- but it still should be what we need to achieve these
> goals.
> Finally, I want to make a statement about our overall objectives of
> instituting this additional amount of formalism.  We need to build an
> organization where we can make commitments and be confident that we can
> keep those commitments that we have made.  Part of this, of course,
> means that our projects have the right amount of resources (ultimately
> my responsibility) and that the LF has enough funding so we can obtain
> those resources (ultimately our Executive Director's job).  Together,
> our job is to execute on the commitments which Jim has made on our
> behalf to the Linux Foundation Board and ultimately to the Linux
> Foundations' Sponsors.  The better we can do this, the easier Jim's job
> will be to get the funding we need to execute on future commitments.
> = Use of Bugzilla =
> == Meaning of priority fields ==
> There are a number of P1 bugs which have persisted over 2, 3, or more
> LSB releases.  Furthermore, bugs such as
> [http://bugs.linuxbase.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1310 BZ #1310: LSB 3.2
> complete release] are Priority 2, which seems rather strange.  It
> appears that the priority field is not used at all.  We should use the
> Priority fields to indicate how important a particular bug is, and in
> particular, P1 bugs should indicate bugs which are block-ship, and P4
> and P5 bugs should be bugs which we are willing to defer to the next
> release.  While using the bug dependency tree is very helpful,
> unfortunately it appears that Bugzilla doesn't have very good reporting
> mechanisms involving it, while filtering bug reports based on "Target
> Release" and "Priority" Bugzilla *can* do very well, so we should take
> advantage of BZ's abilities in these areas.
> == Use of Target and Version fields ==
> Bugzilla allows the introduction of a "target" or "target milestone"
> field which appears to have been suppressed in the LSB bugzilla.  This
> field specifies the target version when a bug is intended to be fixed.
> The Version field is used in some bugzilla systems to indicate the
> target milestone, although formally the definition of the Version field
> is the version of the system where the reporter found the bug.  In the
> LSB bugzilla, the Version field is used inconsistently; in some cases it
> is updated to mean the version when the bug is intended to be fixed, but
> in other cases it is left as the version where the reporter found the
> problem.
> In the LSB bugzilla, bug dependencies are used to track when a release
> is ready to be released.  This can be more powerful than the Target
> field, but it also makes it much harder to track changes via Bugzilla's
> graphing and reporting tools.
> == Use Bugzilla Graphing Tools ==
> [[Image:Sample-bug-trend-chart.jpg|thumb|right|Sample bug trend chart]]
> I would suggest using periodic charts (probably generated monthly) so we
> can see how we are doing vis-a-vis open bug reports, and so we can get a
> high-level view about whether or not we seem to be closing the necessary
> bugs to make a release.
> In the chart to the right, the green area indicates fixed bugs, while
> the red area indicates bugs that are open.  It would be useful to look
> at graphs both for all bugs and for bugs that considered relevant for
> the current targeted release.
> == More aggressive use of bugzilla log entries ==
> One of the things which I have noticed on the LSB bug calls is that a
> huge amount of time is spent recalling the status of the various LSB
> bugs.  We could probably make the bug calls more efficient if people
> were more aggressive about keeping the BZ bug accurate.  At a previous
> project that I was on, there was a team rule that if anytime anything
> interesting was discovered about the bug, it was *always* logged, and if
> a particular bug was designated as an engineer's FOCUS bug, it would be
> updated at least once a day, or more often as necessary.  This allowed
> people to be able to track the progress of a bug without having to rely
> on a conference call, which is not necessarily the most efficient way to
> do things. (The other purpose of a concall is as a forcing function to
> remind people to get things done; but the discpline of updating FOCUS
> bugs every day, and assigning various P1 bugs each week to engineers as
> their FOCUS bug seems to be even more efficient way of reminding people
> about what needs to be worked on.)
> = Status Reports =
> The [[LF:Status Reports]] pages are not getting updated very frequently.
> In order to change this, I propose that we make the following changes in
> how we collect status.  Instead of using a separate status page for each
> indidivdual, we create a status page for each department (i.e., one for
> the Russian Academy of Sciences, one for the US staff, etc.).  On the
> status page, each engineer will be given a specific section, which is
> broken into three subsections:
> * Current --- what they are currently working on (including links to
>   specific bugzilla entries and project pages)
> * Done --- what they have completed
> * Queued --- work queued up for the next week or so
> Ideally, each person should update their status page every day, but
> updates every other day is acceptable.  The status page *must* be up to
> date at the end of each week.
> == Periodic status rollups ==
> Every two weeks, everyone's "done" list will be rolled up into a group
> status update which will be posted on the wiki and/or sent via e-mail to
> a mailing list that LF senior management may subscribe to.  After the
> rollup report has been completed, everyone's "done" list will be
> truncated to empty so the size of the status page remains manageable.
> == Should status pages be private? ==
> One interesting question is whether the status reports should be
> private.  They are currently located in the LF namespace, which means
> they are not visible to anyone except for core members of the workgroup.
> Is that really necessary?  There are complications in keeping the status
> pages protected, especially as we expand the number of LF contractors
> that we would have to give wiki 'sysop' privileges to (although we can
> work around this by using another group to control access to the LF
> namespace).  But that begs the question about whether or not the status
> pages themselves should contain anything confidential.
> Certainly if the status pages including working with an individual
> distribution or ISV, such private consultations or requests for waivers
> should not be public for the world to see.  However, such requests
> should be tracked via a ticket system in any case, in which case the
> status report could just say, "worked with an ISV/distribution", and
> give a reference via a URL or ticket number to where all of the details
> could be stored --- and the trouble ticket can be protected as
> necessary.
> = Project Pages =
> In addition to status pages, we will also have a series of project pages.   
> == General Philosophy ==
> In order to work effectively, developers need to be able to focus on an
> issue for an uninterrupted period of time, and for several days. Some
> project management theories even suggest 30 days! Our work is too
> dynamic for that kind of duration, but we can still benefit from the
> concept.  To do so, we will size and prioritize what will be worked on a
> weekly basis. Those tasks are to remain as immutable as possible for
> duration of the following week and will be listed above "The Line" at
> the project summary page.  Projects or bugs which are below the line
> will be deferred for work in future weeks.
> == Focus Bugs ==
> Bug which are the focus for the current week will have "[FOCUS]" added
> to the beginning of their description.  It will be the responsibility of
> the Bug Wrangler to assign high priority bugs to engineers each week,
> and as bugs get completed, to designate which bugs should next receive
> [FOCUS] attention.
> == Projects ==
> For issues which are bigger and require more tracking, project pages will be created and linked to the top-level project summary page.
> Each project page will generally have the following sections:
> * Weekly Executive Summary (only updated for active projects "above the line")
> * Vision and Milestones
> ** Vision -- Why is this project important to the Linux Foundation?
>    What business objectives does it help achieve or is it in support of?
>    For the LSB, if this is needed to allow some important ISV
>    application to certify, mention it here.  What would be the
>    consequences if this project is NOT done?
> ** Milestones -- a rough proposed schedule for this project.  When we
>    anticipate that we will reach certain milestones.  Also, if the
>    project has an absolutely-must-be-completed-by date, mention it here.
> * Resources
> ** Hardware
> ** Contacts (list of people and their roles)
> * Tasks
> ** Tasks can be in a number of different states: Active, Pending, and
>    Completed.  We will have a separate subsection for tasks in each
>    state.
> * Comments / Freeform notes
> * Archived Weekly Executive Summary
> Each project will have an owner, who will be responsible for keeping the
> project page up to date.  In most projects, the project owner will also
> be the person doing all or most of the engineering work.  In larger
> projects with 3 or more people, this will obviously not not be true, but
> in those cases, it is highly likely that project will be broken up into
> one or more subprojects.
> == Project Summary Page ==
> The project summary page will be the top-level link to all projects.  It
> will be composed of several sections.
> === Active Projects ===
> These are the projects which the engineering team is actively working on
> this week.  The section will have a table containing the following
> fields:
> * Name of the project (and link to the project page)
> * Project Owner
> * Release Target / Outlook --- when the project is expected to be completed and/or a short 1-2 line summary of the project status
> The first active project will typically be "FOCUS bugs", which will be a
> link to a bugzilla search of all open bugs which have [FOCUS] in their
> descriptions.
> === Waiting Projects ===
> These projects are pending on some task or event that is not under the
> LF's engineering team's direct control.  The outlook field should
> contain a note of who/what the project is blocked on.
> === Non-Focus Projects ===
> Non-Focus projects are projects which we do need to complete, but they
> are not actively being working on by anyone on the engineering team at
> the moment.  Keeping projects on the "Non-Focus" list can help keep the
> list of work we have to do from being overwhelming, in addition to
> focusing the attention on the team on the Focus projects so we can make
> progress quickly and efficiently.
> === Archived Projects ===
> These are projects which are likely obsoleted or postponed.  As such,
> they should not be considered for Focus (i.e., Active) status.  Archived
> Projects will be periodically garbage collected and moved off to a
> separate page.
> === Completed Projects ===
> This is where we archive projects which are completed.  The Completed
> Projects list will probably be on a separate page.
> = Need a getting started web page =
> As we try to attract more people to the LSB, we need to have a single
> "Getting Starting" page which can be used by a newbie to learn about
> everything they need in order to fully participate in the LSB working
> group.  The top-level LSB Wiki kinda serves that function, but it's
> mixed in with a lot of other things.  Also, certain things are missing;
> for example, one can find the list of bzr repositories at
> http://bzr.linux-foundation.org/lsb/devel, but aside from the one-line
> description, there's much documentation.  If someone wanted to download
> the complete sources for distribution testing, how would they do that?
> Our tests are are broken up into multiple repositories, from
> dtk-manager, to tet-harness, to t2c-harness, to qmtest-harness, to
> misc-test, and so on.  The same is true on the spec side as well.  We
> need a description of how the repositories hang together, and if someone
> wants to build the tests from scratch, to know how to do that easily,
> and if they want to find a certain set of tests because they want to
> include them in their upstream sources, how to do that too.
> = Conference Calls = 
> In general, conference calls should not be used for anything where
> e-mail or wiki updates can be substituted.  For example,
> status-reporting conference calls tend to be of use to mostly one
> person, the one collecting status. The rest of the people on the call
> tend to try and work on other things until they're called upon for
> status. This approach is disruptive, and greatly reduces productivity
> (not to mention morale).  The task management system outlined above
> should hopefully eliminate the need for "status" calls, which are the
> least effective type of conference call.
> Before each conference call, we should have an Agenda established; each
> agenda item should ideally have pointers any background information
> pertinent to the agenda item and what the goal is of bringing up the
> item on the conference call.  In general, problems should not be worked
> on the conference call, unless it is expected that nearly everyone on
> the call is needed to weigh in real-time, and that it can't be worked
> more efficiently via e-mail and via irc.  (Hint: most of the time the
> latter will be true.)  Also, for each conference call in addition to a
> dial-in number, there should also be an associated IRC channel which
> everyone should be on and for which the minutes taker can log the
> minutes directly into the IRC channel.  (Hopefully we are keeping logs
> of our IRC channels, and if not, we can hopefully get that started
> soon.)  This will allow the attendees to see that the logs reflect what
> they were trying to say, and in some cases, they can assist the minutes
> taker by typing their comments into the IRC channel.  The IRC channel
> can also provide a useful back channel for quick comments where you
> don't necessarily want to interrupt the speaker.
> = Continuously Buildable =
> Concept that the LSB specification, build tools, etc., should be always
> buildable, and ready for release.  This means daily builds and
> regression test suites, so we can find discover problems earlier.
> Michael Schultheiss' work is the framework of what we need, but we need
> to deploy it on enough machines so we can be automatically running it
> every day on all of our architectures and on as many distributions as
> possible.  This is going to be a huge test matrix, and it is almost
> certain that we do not have enough development machines to support this.
> So one of the things we need to do is to figure out how much resources
> this will need, so we can start trying to request the necessary hardware
> and rack space so we can do this kind of exhaustive testing --- and not
> just with the current enterprise versions, but also for the development
> "community distribution" versions of the enterprise distro's (i.e.,
> Fedora, Open SuSE, Debian unstable, etc.)
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Robert Schweikert                       MAY THE SOURCE BE WITH YOU
(robert.schweikert at mathworks.com)                 LINUX
The MathWorks Inc.
Phone : 508-647-2042

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