The future of real-time (chat) discussion for the Fedora council

As noted in this thread, we’re planning on moving Council Discuss mailing list discussion to this forum.

We’d also like to modernize our chat interface. We’re not retiring IRC for all of Fedora (lots of other projects live on Freenode, and we’ll need to interact there anyway!) but IRC is a significant barrier for new contributors, and frustrating to many of us old-timers as well. So, the Council wants to lead by example.

We discussed Matrix (like element.io, but probably setting up our own server). Kevin Fenzi also suggested looking at Zulip. Either way, we want:

  • something open source
  • something that can be easily bridged to IRC
  • something where we can send cat pics, etc.
  • something that we are reasonably confident will be arond for a while

It would be nice if we can find an open-source SaaS offering, too. And it’s also nice if, like Matrix, it’s a federated system.

So, let’s use this thread to discuss and coordinate, and see how it goes!

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Based on all the requirements here, and the note on federation, it seems like Matrix is the best fit for these requirements to me. Of all the other chat platforms out there, it has the best reverse-compatibility with IRC (even if it has its quirks at times).

But one feedback that I am not sure if it has come before is that it is hard today to find the right Matrix user. In 2016 or 2017, a well-intentioned person manually created a room for every single Fedora IRC channel she could find. Her expectation was that it would be straightforward and easy to bridge the rooms, but because we have countless different IRC channel OPs, it makes it hard to coordinate for some 100-150 Matrix rooms and IRC channels. You might join #fedora-docs:matrix.org and find that nobody is there, but if you join #freenode_#fedora-docs:matrix.org, suddenly you are in the right place.

My personal feeling is that salvaging the #fedora-*:matrix.org namespace on the matrix.org servers is just… not feasible. That well-intentioned person I mentioned added me as admins to all of the rooms she created, and even then, it is just… daunting. I think it is more trouble than it is worth.

SO…

I like the idea of Fedora running its own Matrix server. It could be just like how Mozilla has a plan with https://element.io for their own domain, e.g. #fedora-docs:fedoraproject.org or #fedora-docs:getfedora.org. We could paint the domain bikeshed for a while. :grinning:

Personally I believe our own Matrix homeserver is the best way to go all in on Matrix, in order to avoid the painful fragmentation we have on the existing *:matrix.org namespace.

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Thanks Justin. That all makes a lot of sense. The one thing that’s super appealing about Zulip is the possibility of free hosting. I’ve contacted Element to see what they can do for pricing for us for a SaaS solution.

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Keep us in the loop! :grinning:

I went to +fedora:matrix.org which is the community she set up (and is not discoverable, btw, you have to be linked to it.) I went through the first 12+ or so channels and they all had live connections to freenode, I had to scroll quite a bit down the list to find a room that wasn’t hooked up to freenode.

It is quite doable for one of our fedora freenode admins to grant someone admin to be able to configure the hookup. I have experience doing this and am happy to do it if it would help with Matrix adoption. I believe I have admin on the Matrix side already. I was unaware of this issue and would have been happy to fix it had I known.

Let me know if you want me to pursue this. I would need to reach out to a Fedora freenode admin to get temp admin perms and configure the freenode bridges for the set of channels whose bridge isn’t set up.

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The roadblock I hit is that most IRC channels have different operators, and so it involves going through multiple people. There is the Fedora rep for Freenode, which is now @kevin and @nb1, but I think they will still need to DM a Freenode operator for adjusting the permission flags of several IRC channels (very time-consuming process and it is better etiquette to work with existing OPs/channels instead of forcibly adding others too).

Here is the list of rooms I have admin rights in Matrix. Some of these might have duplicate rooms or may be bridged already, I didn’t have time to check:

  • #fedora-3d-printing
  • #fedora-admin
  • #fedora-ambassadors
  • #fedora-apps
  • #fedora-arm
  • #fedora-art
  • #fedora-ask (I have two Matrix rooms for this, not sure why)
  • #fedora-big-data
  • #fedora-blocker-review (I have two Matrix rooms for this, not sure why)
  • #fedora-buildsys
  • #fedora-classroom (I have two Matrix rooms for this, not sure why)
  • #fedora-cloud
  • #fedora-council (unbridged extra one?)
  • #fedora-devel
  • #fedora-eol
  • #fedora-epel (I have two Matrix rooms for this, not sure why)
  • #fedora-fedmsg
  • #fedora-games (I have two Matrix rooms for this, not sure why)
  • #fedora-g11n
  • #fedora-hams
  • #fedora-haskell
  • #fedora-hubs(I have two Matrix rooms for this, not sure why, or if they are worth advertising)
  • #fedora-iot
  • #fedora-java
  • #fedora-magazine
  • #fedora-meeting
  • #fedora-mindshare
  • #fedora-mingw
  • #fedora-mips (I have two Matrix rooms for this, not sure why)
  • #fedora-modularity
  • #fedora-noc
  • #fedora-outreach
  • #fedora-outreachy (I have two Matrix rooms for this, not sure why)
  • #fedora-powerpc
  • #fedora-qa
  • #fedora-releng (I have two Matrix rooms for this, not sure why)
  • #fedora-respins
  • #fedora-rust
  • #fedora-s390x
  • #fedora-science
  • #fedora-security (I have two Matrix rooms for this, not sure why)
  • #fedora-selinux
  • #fedora-social
  • #fedora-summer-coding
  • #fedora-test-day
  • #fedora-websites (I have two Matrix rooms for this, not sure why)
  • #fedora-women

There might be more. Some of these might already bridged but I try to set apart groups I’ve bridged by setting a profile picture after I bridge them. I don’t have time to engage all the IRC OPs for these channels but I try to direct people when they join the Matrix room to find the right place.

Hulloh,

I second running Matrix in our own infrastructure (or contributor-provided infrastructure.) There was also a lot of chatter around combined effort with openSUSE who are also working on setting up Matrix - LCP can be a point of contact I guess?

Bridge - please consider a solution that can do more than just Matrix-IRC to be able to seamlessly integrate our other platforms, such as Telegram and Discord. (e.g. Matterbridge, there are more.)

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Thanks Mo!

I haven’t looked into it in any depth, but IRC bridging is one of the features offered by Element’s hosting plans. I’m not sure how that would interact with these bridges.

I think we do want our own server — what would happen with the existing channels? Can we bridge them in too, with the Fedora-server ones being “home”?

Justin, can you add @nb:mozilla.org to the Matrix rooms you have access to? I can work to get them bridged. It’ll take a while, but I’d rather try to get them done than leave them out there.

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2 posts were split to a new topic: Is reply by email supposed to work? Because it’s not working

The bridging offered by Element is the same bridging offered by Matrix.org. Just instead of #fedora-council:matrix.org, you could get a #fedora-council:fedoraproject.org, or even #council:fedoraproject.org.

There might be other nitpicks but this is the biggest thing that stands out to me.

@mattdm To clarify what you mean, do you mean our own Element-hosted Matrix server, or literal servers hosted by Fedora Infrastructure in Raleigh, North Carolina?

Done! Turns out it takes about the same time to make dinner and add someone to all of the other Fedora rooms on Matrix. :upside_down_face: I might have missed a few, Element’s Android app crashed on me a couple times while doing it and it shuffled my group order around. But you should admin in most, if not all, of them.

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Preferably the former, but failing that the latter.

I had a super-good meeting with some of the sales people from Element’s hosted service this morning, and am feeling really positive about this. I’m going to talk to Marie and Jason Brooks from OSPO this afternoon about possible next steps.

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@ngompa suggested a video call about this, so put together a when-is-good for doing that. If you’re interested, put your FAS id and availability here: http://whenisgood.net/k5brwbd

Nothing is set in stone, but I’m currently pretty excited about at least experimenting with the Element offering.

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Filled it! :white_check_mark:

It looks so far by the way that sometime the week of November 30th is the best for the most people. So let’s continue discussion here (and there’s a parallel thread on Fedora devel until then.

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