Fedora

Fedora blogs retirement and how to migrate to WordPress.com

Fedora has offered a hosted blogs system using WordPress MU for the past couple of years of so. Nirik recently announced that the Fedora blogs system is going to be retired on July 1, 2011.

Note: just the blogs.fedoraproject.org hosted blog system is being retired. Planet Fedora is of course alive and well and will be sticking around! :)

Nooooo!! Why???

(Queue Darth Vader noooooo? :) )

There’s been a number of factors that lead the Fedora infrastructure team to decide to retire the service.


Fedora infrastructure team hackfest in the FUDcon Tempe hotel lobby

At FUDcon Tempe this past January, the Fedora infrastructure team had a face-to-face meeting/hackfest to discuss future direction for the team. While the Fedora community continues to come up with great new ideas for Fedora that involve an infrastructure component, including many of the ideas in ‘The Next Big Fedora Engineering Project’ session lead by Spot, there’s a lot of pre-existing infrastructure – some not actively used – that is currently being maintained by Fedora infrastructure team members. The more infrastructure on the team’s maintenance plate, the less cool new projects involving infrastructure that we can easily do as a community.


Fedora infrastructure team hackfest in the FUDcon Tempe hotel lobby

At the infrastructure team hackfest, which I listened in on while occasionally wandering off to get awesome photography tips from Tatica, this is a point that kept coming up – how is the infrastructure team going to support these new proposed services with everything we already have on our plate? Could the team re-evaluate the currently-maintained services, get an idea of how actively they are being used, and retire the least-used services to free up the team’s time to better maintain the most actively-used services and clear a path for taking on more new and innovative ideas?

Smooge documented this outcome of the Infrastructure hackfest in a blog post back in February, after FUDcon Tempe. Since that session, Nirik, Smooge, and others on the Fedora infrastructure team have been taking a look at all of the services running in Fedora, researching how people are making use of them, and trying to evaluate which ones might be reasonable candidates for retirement based on their usage and maintenance burden (among other attributes I’m sure.) A couple of months ago, for example, I received an email from Nirik asking about my usage of the hosted Zarafa instance Fedora infrastructure is maintaining. You may have received such emails about particular Fedora services you make use of.

So, just like other services Fedora infrastructure runs, the hosted blogs service came up for evaluation. The rationale for the decision to retire the service includes the following usage statistics:

  • There are 92 blogs total on Fedora Blogs. This is a really small percentage of the total Fedora account population.
  • Only 39 of those blogs have more than 5 blog posts.
  • Only 23 of those blogs have made a single post in 2011. (The users of these blogs will be emailed a notice shortly.)
  • Only 6 of those blogs have made any posts in the past month.

Besides the lack of wide usage, there are other factors that come into play here:

  • The infrastructure team does not currently have a ‘champion’ or committed maintainer for the blogs system. If they did, even with the other reasons for retiring the service, the blogs system might still be kept running.
  • Fedora blogs are running a fork of WordPress called WordPress MU, and the version it’s using is no longer supported. It would be a big effort to upgrade and migrate over to a new version.
  • WordPress tends to have a lot of regular security updates, making it a bit more high-maintenance than other webapps. (Having tried and giving up on maintaining my own WordPress instance, this fits with my experience.)
  • There are many good free & open source blog systems around, and many providers of them. For example, GNOME provides blog accounts via a hosted WordPress MU instance, and many Fedora contributors have their blog instead hosted over there. WordPress.com also provides free WordPress blogs; LiveJournal with its free & open source codebase also tends to be popular. Many Fedora contributors are also tech-savvy and maintain their own domain, on which they may prefer to maintain their own WordPress instance (this gives you a better ability to use a custom theme, for example) or their hosting provider may provide them access to free blog hosting (My hosting provider provides WordPress, with automated security updates!). A quick scroll through the planet feed listing on planet.fedoraproject.org shows all of these options in use by Fedora community members.

Given that the service isn’t really widely used, is high-maintenance compared to other services being provided, it’s easy to get free access to free & open source software that provides the same service, and that there’s no champion for the service (which could negate the other factors if he or she existed) – it appears the Fedora infrastructure team made a careful and reasonable decision.

Okay, since my blog is going away, what do I do?

If you’re one of the 20 or so folks actively using Fedora blogs, you may be wondering what your options are. Well, WordPress.com has a great free hosted service, and since Fedora’s blog system is WordPress, your blog entries should import over nice and cleanly. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Log into Fedora blogs. Log into blogs.fedoraproject.org using your Fedora Account System username and password. You maydo this by clicking on the ‘Log in’ link in the lower left of the page, in the ‘Meta’ section. (Note: if you’re already logged in, the ‘Log in’ link will say ‘Log out’ – don’t click it, you can simply skip this step.)
  2. Go to your blog’s dashboard. After log in, you should be brought to your blog’s Dashboard screen. If you’re already logged in and on the front page of blogs.fedoraproject.org, click on the ‘Control panel’ link in the lower left side of the page in the ‘Meta’ section.
  3. Load the ‘export’ tool. In your dashboard, click on ‘Tools’ button near the bottom of the left-hand navigation bar. Once the tools page loads, click on the ‘Export’ link underneath the ‘Tools’ button near the bottom of the left-hand nav.
  4. Generate and save your blog export file. On the ‘Export’ page of your blog’s dashboard, make sure ‘All authors’ are selected in the ‘Restrict authors’ field, and click the ‘Download Export File’ button. On my Fedora 15 system, the file was automatically saved to the ‘Downloads’ folder in my home directory, with the filename ‘wordpress.2011-05-31.xml‘. The date in your export file’s filename will be the date you exported it.
  5. Create a WordPress.com account or new WordPress blog in your existing account. If you don’t already have a WordPress.com account, you can create one at their signup page. Once you’ve created your new account, or if you already have one and you’re logged in, create a new blog by clicking on the ‘My Blogs’ navigation item in the upper left of the top navigation bar, and selecting the ‘Register a new blog’ option in the dropdown menu that appears. This will load up a form that will ask what subdomain you’d like to use for the blog and some other questions. Once you submit the form, your new blog will be created.
  6. Load your new blog’s dashboard. Visit the dashboard for your new blog at WordPress.com by selecting ‘Dashboard’ from your new blog’s dropdown menu under the ‘My Blogs’ item in the upper left navigation bar. For example, my blog’s dashboard is at My Blogs > Duffy Fedora > Dashboard in the menu tree.
  7. Import your Fedora Blog data into your new blog. On your new blog’s dashboard, click on the ‘Tools’ button near the bottom of the left-hand navigation bar. Once the tools page loads, click on the ‘Import’ link underneath the ‘Tools’ button in the left-hand nav. On the import page, click on the ‘WordPress’ link since you’re importing WordPress data, and finally on the page that follows, click ‘Browse’ and select your wordpress.2011-05-31.xml (the date in your filename may be different) file from your Downloads directory. Click the ‘Upload file and import’ button. You’ll be asked which person to map the authors in your file to. For example, on Fedora blogs my username is duffy, but on WordPress.com my username is mairin. WordPress will probably guess correctly for you, especially if your blog is brand new, but double-check just to make sure, and change the username in your account that your Fedora username maps to if you’d like. If you uploaded any files or photos to your Fedora blog, you may be able to import them into your new blog – turn on the ‘Download and import file attachments’ option if you’d like to try. Finally, click ‘Submit’ to start the import process.
  8. Change your Planet Fedora feed. If you’d like to change your blog’s Planet Fedora feed, simply ssh (ssh your-fedora-username@fedorapeople.org) into the Fedora People server and edit the .planet file in your home directory, providing the new RSS url for your WordPress blog. It’ll be http://your-new-blogs-name.wordpress.com/feed.

At this point, WordPress should be actively importing your Fedora blogs content into your new account. WordPress will send you an email when the import operation is complete, and you’ll be all migrated from Fedora blogs and running on a newer version of WordPress as well!

About Máirín Duffy

Máirín is a principal interaction designer at Red Hat. She is passionate about software freedom and free & open source tools, particularly in the creative domain: her favorite application is Inkscape. You can read more from Máirín on her blog at blog.linuxgrrl.com.

Discussion

15 thoughts on “Fedora blogs retirement and how to migrate to WordPress.com

  1. Nice write up, Mo! Clear explanation of the decision factors, and an easy process for anyone to move their blog. And of course the Planet will still be available to aggregate — it’s just the hosted blogs that are being deprecated.

    Posted by Paul Frields | May 31, 2011, 5:31 pm
    • Great point :) I revised the beginning of the post as to not cause undue fear!! I also added a last step of updating .planet in your Fedora People homedir with the new RSS feed.

      Posted by mairin | May 31, 2011, 5:38 pm
  2. Just one nitpick …

    > WordPress tends to have a lot of regular security updates, making it a bit more
    > high-maintenance than other webapps. (Having tried and giving up on maintaining my own
    > WordPress instance, this fits with my experience.)

    No comment on shutting down blog.fp.o WP instance, but for your own instance, isn’t this exactly what Fedora is for? Burden of difficult maintenance could be shared. by multiple maintainers in one package. And yes, there is WP package in Fedora/EPEL, and yes, that’s what I run on my own blog, and yes I am sorry, that you instead of helping with community solution, you are running to the commercial provider.

    Posted by Matěj Cepl | May 31, 2011, 5:53 pm
    • Matěj, I do not run Fedora on my server because Fedora is not a server operating system. I use RHEL. I am not a sys admin nor do I really want to be, and the Fedora release cycle is far too often for me to reasonably keep up with.

      (P.S. is it so wrong to support a free & open source software based business like Automattic?)

      Posted by mairin | May 31, 2011, 6:01 pm
      • Of course, I run RHEL on my server (RHEL-6 because of the employee’s license), and of course WordPress is in EPEL-6 (https://admin.fedoraproject.org/updates/wordpress)

        No, it is not wrong to support Automatic (I don’t mind FLOSS businesses … heck, my salary comes from one of them), and to the best of my knowledge they are really good guys. However, I don’t think with clients like CNN & al. (who really need commercial grade support, I can imagine) my account would make much difference for them.

        On the other hand, more and more I am persuaded that the biggest fight of this time is persuading people not to give up on keeping their own data. The only way how I think we can achieve this is to make packages in the distro (EPEL in the first place, I guess) working so well, that maintaining your own server is not super frightening thing. If we give up and leave our data to “The Cloud” servers will wither (why should we keep this source free, when everybody uses hosted service anyway?).

        And despite your claims otherwise, if you have RHEL server running somewhere, you ARE a sys admin ;).

        Posted by Matěj Cepl | June 1, 2011, 5:21 am
        • I totally get not signing off your data to some third party – and I’m very concerned about that WRT personal and financial data. My blog? I’m not so worried about, it’s public content. I *would* like some method of automatically syncing an updated export of my blog contents just in case WordPress.com gets eaten by a panda, but then again my blog has been aggregated and syndicated so much I don’t think I would struggle to reconstruct it in case of loss.

          I think administrating a server in order to run a blog is a bit like running a chainsaw to slice butter – slightly overkill. Yes, I run a RHEL server, but I don’t do it to be a sys admin because I like being a sys admin. It’s a file server. It’s really easy – I keep it updated with RHN and I don’t really ever have to think about it much from an admin POV. If I put WordPress on that box or set up another one for it, the purposefully limited scope of my sys admining gets more complex than I’m willing to take on.

          Posted by mairin | June 1, 2011, 9:55 am
          • Sure, it is your choice. I am just saddened how now everybody writes blog posts (not as useful as yours) “blogs.fp.o is down I am moving to {wordpress.com, blogger, livejournal}” and I haven’t heard about anybody who would help us to keep wordpress in Fedora/EPEL maintained. Oh well.

            Posted by Matěj Cepl | June 1, 2011, 9:58 am
            • Hi Matěj, totally understood. If there was even just one person interested in helping maintain it on the infrastructure team it wouldn’t be going away. If the interest isn’t there though, you can’t force it. :( And the interest may be not as high as for other projects because there’s viable, hosted, open source alternatives. There’s maybe a higher sense of urgency in helping out with a system that provides a service that, not running on Fedora’s infrastructure, would not be available and/or would not be available in a FLOSS way.

              Posted by mairin | June 1, 2011, 10:32 am
  3. As only a reader of planet fedora, i’d say it is good riddance. Apart from reducing maintenance burden, it was also not much good for a blog system. I came across blogs.fpo just a few weeks ago (i think some post about using opencl with the llvm/clang in fedora, and the lack of a comment system was frustrating – maybe the author had disabled it, then i don’t mind). Also it was way too booring :)

    Posted by pankaj86 | June 1, 2011, 1:09 am
  4. A good thing for those who do not yet have an opportunity for expressions of creativity …

    Posted by Catalin | June 1, 2011, 7:34 am

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: Red Hat chiuderà i blog su Fedora, soltanto perché sono inutilizzati | CorryL's Blog - June 2, 2011

  2. Pingback: Red Hat chiuderà i blog su Fedora, soltanto perché sono inutilizzati | Indipedia – Indipendenti nella rete - June 3, 2011

  3. Pingback: » Fedora Community (the app) Update Máirín Duffy - July 20, 2011

  4. Pingback: Fedora Community (the app) Update « Fedora Tutorials « 123linux tutorials - July 27, 2011

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 63 other followers

%d bloggers like this: