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.
(Queue Darth Vader noooooo? )
There’s been a number of factors that lead the Fedora infrastructure team to decide to retire the service.
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.
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:
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Change your Planet Fedora feed. If you’d like to change your blog’s Planet Fedora feed, simply ssh (ssh email@example.com) 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!