Yesterday was a hackfest/workshop day at FUDCon Blacksburg. I spent a little time listening in on secondary arch work going on around Fedora. It sounds like there is a lot of effort going into keeping secondary arches rolling really smoothly through Fedora 17 and beyond. There were some folks from IBM and Red Hat in attendance as well as other interested community members. This workshop went most of the day, but I wasn’t able to attend the whole thing.
I had to prep a short deck for my workshop on Drupal internals, which I managed after lunch. The idea behind this session was to start walking through internals of Drupal modules and the Drupal API. The goal was to convince the attendees that not only is Drupal fairly easy to customize, but you don’t have to be too skilled to start writing a Drupal module.
To reach that goal, we walked through a fairly simple module I wrote that allows Fedora Insight to authenticate users and map roles via the Fedora Account System (FAS). he great thing about the workshop was there were a couple of Drupal professionals in attendance! So as a bonus I got some excellent suggestions about my module as we went through it.
Isn’t that what open source is supposed to be about? Yes, Dear Readers, it is — more eyes on my code, live in a session, meant a bunch of shallower bugs for me to fix. So, needless to say, the workshop went quite well.
I visited the “Try My Keyboard” workshop that Toshio set up, along with the Das Keyboard Silent Professional that I use at home. I tried several there, and one of them was a model based on Cherry MX Blues (like the non-silent Das Keyboard I considered) I really liked. It was fun to try out each unit in a really discriminating way and compare feel in terms of stroke, feedback, and effort.
I then attended the Board session which was a review of 2011 and how to move from the level of very high-level strategic goals to actually fixing some problems in Fedora and improving life for contributors. The consensus seemed to be that the Board members will champion specific fixes themselves — by contributing directly to the solutions. In other words, they’ll roll up their sleeves and get involved, which is always an approach that works well in a community like Fedora.
The only suggestion I offered, which I hope the Board will take to heart, is that as they think about what they want to accomplish for 2012, they should consider how they will know their fix works (measure it in some way). The Board is made up of fantastic individuals and I’m sure they will come up with worthwhile initiatives and bring their formidable skills to bear on helping the community work through them as a team. We’ll be hearing more about this at the beginning of February from what I understand.
Finally, I got together with Red Hat trademark attorney (and my buddy) Pam Chestek, Spot, Jared, and Ian Weller to go through the Fedora trademark guidelines with a fine toothed comb in advance of the session to cover those revisions on Saturday. We were able to tease out a lot of additional bug fixes and extra clarity and it was time well spent.
Unfortunately, by the time we finished, around 7:45pm, I was starting to feel pretty low. I’d been teetering on the edge of a cold (or some sort of bug) for a few days, but I actually became a bit feverish in the evening — feeling cold in rooms that were clearly not, even when I dressed too warmly, and so forth. But there was more to do; no rest for the wicked as they say.
I caught a quick but tasty dinner with Pam, and we enjoyed discussing the adventure of buying a car. I’m sure I was not as chipper as usual and hopefully wasn’t bad company — sorry if I flagged a little, Pam! After that I met briefly with Spot and Robyn to go over logistics for the next morning’s BarCamp and keynote activities. Robyn, being the saint she is, brought me a couple doses of NyQuil. So immediately after that, I headed to my room to burrow under covers and try and sleep off the fever.
Unfortunately, that meant I missed the Fedora Insight hacking I’d suggested for Friday night with Peter Borsa and Pascal Calarco. It was awful to feel so sick I couldn’t take advantage of having a wonderful team of collaborators in one place — especially since Peter was here from overseas. (Fortunately they generously forgave me!) Thankfully, though, I got a full night’s sleep and in the morning I felt better than I had in a couple days, so I could be up early and help get ready for BarCamp.
I’ll post more about the BarCamp and Day 2 tonight or tomorrow!
During the next week, Fedora contributors will vote for open seats on both the Fedora Project Board and the Fedora Engineering Steering Committee (FESCo). The polls are now open for both elections through the Fedora Election System. (Remember to login or you won't see the voting link for an election.) The elections will close on Wednesday, 2010-05-26 at UTC 23:59.
If you aren't familiar with how the system works, check out the Fedora Elections Guide. I also encourage Fedora community members to review the logs from our Town Hall meetings, where the candidates talked openly about their goals and viewpoints. Get informed, and then vote appropriately.
I thanked our election volunteers previously, but I also wanted to say a quick thanks to Mike McGrath and Mark Chappell on the Fedora Infrastructure team, who both ensured that the elections were set up properly and ready for business. Mark is actually working on application upgrades and better usability,which I hope we'll be able to use in the next regular election cycle. It's great to see a contributor jumping in to make a difference and improve the systems we use regularly.
Enough of my yakkin', whaddya say? Let's boogie. Go vote!
The Fedora 14 name has been announced, and it's Laughlin.
Later this week our other election processes will be moving ahead as well. Paul Mellors and Larry Cafiero will post answers to the candidate questionnaire, and following that, John Rose will help kick off our series of live, IRC town hall meetings where our candidates will answer community questions. The coming elections of people to the Board and FESCo are probably more important than a release code name, so I want to thank our community in advance for their involvement, and especially our volunteers like Paul, John, and Larry for their assistance.
On Saturday, April 24, we open nominations for the next round of elections for Fedora. Seats on both the Board and the Fedora Engineering Steering Committee (FESCo) will be open.
FESCo is delegated responsibility for dealing with, among other things, the technical issues of production of the Fedora operating system. FESCo is an excellent place to contribute if you have a knack for technical issues that arise from building Fedora and providing its content to millions of users every day. FESCo’s mission and other useful information are found here on the wiki.
The Board is a group that is much like a board of directors for a company, dealing with big-picture issues such as vision and growth of the project as a whole. The Board’s mission and other useful information are found on its wiki page.
Elections help the Fedora community maintain a strong voice throughout the leadership of the Fedora Project. Like all elections, they work best when they are not seen as a popularity or name recognition contest but rather as a way of finding nominees who the community feels are well equipped to lead in the areas that each group covers. I hope interested community members will not only consider nominating, but also use their votes in a considered manner.
I want to extend sincere and deep gratitude to John Rose and Larry Cafiero for volunteering to work on the elections this cycle, dealing with the IRC town halls and nominee questionnaires. Thanks guys!
Also, expect news very shortly about the opening of name suggestions for the next release, Fedora 14!
I’ve been the Fedora Project Leader for a little over two years now, and now that we’re rocketing (sorry!) toward my fifth release in that role, I’m interested in branching out into other ways of championing free and open source software at Red Hat. Before I do that, I want to smoothly pass on the role of Fedora Project Leader, and make sure the next FPL can not only be fully successful, but continue to build on a process of growth and change for the future.
My peers and managers in Red Hat and the community at large have been incredibly supportive, and there’s no one driving this decision other than me. The Fedora Board, and key managers and engineers in Red Hat, are all part of the process of selecting the next FPL.
This process will naturally take some time, but I’m glad that the partnership between Red Hat and the rest of the Fedora community allows me to give people an early heads-up about these plans.
It’s important that Fedora always be able to make opportunities for fresh and energetic leadership that will help take our Project, and the distribution we make, to the next level of achievement. Regardless of what I’m doing next at Red Hat, part of my job early on will be to give as much assistance as possible to the next FPL, just as Max Spevack did for me, allowing that person to successfully take over this position, and continue leading Fedora into the future.
By the way, it might have been difficult to figure out how to write this message, except for the fact that we are all working together in a very special area of endeavor — free software. And thankfully the Fedora Project not only embraces the concept, but the practice of free software, so there is always source to look back on, recorded history to examine, and open and transparent process to draw from. In short, we have giants’ shoulders on which to stand. So of course I looked to see how our previous FPL handled the delicate matter of succession.
I’m sure no one, including Max, will mind if I took a look at that text for a starting point. Unprecedented transparency has continued to be a hallmark of the Fedora Project, and it’s a legacy we can all be proud of.
I caught up on the last couple days of the Planet, and found two particularly interesting posts, one by Kevin Fenzi and the other by John Poelstra. The former contains a years-old (but still 100% accurate) presentation on protecting an open source project from threats from within. The latter contains a rallying call against stagnation, and reminds us of the silent 5th ‘F’ in our project values — fail faster.
To improve Fedora, as a project we need to be willing to embrace some level of change. We can do this with the confidence that we don’t need to write change in stone just to make it happen. Looking back through the history of Fedora, we’ve been through some level of change continuously since the beginning of the Project. Sometimes the changes we’ve made have been to discontinue processes that don’t work. Excess governance comes to mind, for example, or having all our media and swag rely on someone in Red Hat. In other cases we’ve struck out to find new ways to collaborate, like expanding our roster of premier Fedora events, or setting up unique communications channels like Fedora Talk.
Whenever we’ve made these changes, we’ve tried to ensure we were identifying and solving specific issues by doing so — in other words, changing not for the sake of change, but to improve the Fedora Project and our software. The particular issue we’re faced with currently is how to resolve many different ideas about what Fedora users should expect from our stable releases. Recent discussions show that there are several competing ideas in play, and when disagreements exist, fortunately we have leadership bodies to help resolve them. This isn’t the first or last time that the Fedora community has found that we hold a variety of views yet need to find a unifying direction.
I brought up Kevin’s and John’s blog posts earlier because even though the content was created years apart — a Google video from 2006, and contemporary thoughts on embracing change — they both are completely applicable to Fedora as part of our shared philosophy. A prominent point made early on in the video Kevin posted is that attention and focus are valuable and scarce resources in any open source project. The presenters are largely pointing back to works like Karl Fogel’s excellent book Producing Open Source Software, which Red Hat’s Community Architecture and I continue to regularly recommend to people we advise.
To succeed, the presenters assert, a project must achieve a shared understanding of its mission and scope. Our mission includes producing a distribution that serves as both an effective R&D lab, and as a vehicle for attracting interest in and contribution to free software. Being unafraid of changing our approach improves our ability to reach these goals. Moreover, doing so is just as much a part of our founding precepts of community as openness and transparency. As John points out, this isn’t a problem with a binary solution for all time. (Many problems worth solving have that in common.) We have opportunities to improve continually, and as a project we need to be more aggressive about taking them. The prospect of failure is much less frightening than the prospect of stagnation.
The Fedora Project Board and I have been interested in leading this change for some time. In October set out a broad definition of a user base that would help guide decisions and choices about how to continue to improve the Fedora distribution — the sum total of software that we promote as part of the Fedora Project. The set of issues around how, when, and to what extent we provide updates is just one aspect of these improvements.
We went through many open discussions to get to that point so we could build a reference and a basis for helping to guide appropriate change in the Fedora Project. The Board and I want to make it easier for FESCo to make coherent decisions around distribution policies such as updates. Sharing an understanding of the wide user base we’re trying to serve helps us better identify situations that are problems for that broad group. Then we’ll find ways to solve them, iterating through successes and failures and learning from them if necessary — as we’ve done in Fedora from day one.
The Fedora Board election results and the Fedora Engineering Steering Committee election results have been posted. Thank you to all those who voted, and to all those who ran for election. I’d like to welcome Dennis Gilmore and Tom ‘spot’ Callaway back to the Board, and also a special welcome to “Marvelous” Mike McGrath as our new member.
The results of the Fedora 12 release name election will be announced on Saturday as part of my keynote at FUDCon Berlin 2009.
The Board will be meeting on IRC today at 1900 UTC / 2pm US Eastern time. You can find out how to join the conference on the Fedora wiki. This will be the last meeting of the current Fedora Board, and after the last appointed seat is set up this week, the new Board will meet for the first time next week.
All the current Board members have done an outstanding job, and I’m looking forward to working with the new members over the next year. Fortunately I’ll be seeing a lot of them at FUDCon Boston 2009 this coming weekend, where we’ll all be working hard to make Fedora an even better place for free software contribution. Whether we’ll see you there or not, please come by the meeting today and feel free to ask questions.
Bill Nottingham and Matt Domsch have been elected to the two open seats on the Board. Josh Boyer, Dan HorÃ¡k, Jarod Wilson, and Jon Stanley have been elected to the open seats on FESCo. Max Spevack, Joerg Simon, Francesco Ugolini, Thomas Canniot, Rodrigo Padula, David Nalley, and Susmit Shannigrahi have been elected to the open seats on FAMSCo. In particular, I think it’s wonderful that all the major regions of the world are represented in the election results for FAMSCo.
Congratulations to all those elected, and thank you to all those who ran and voted. Special thanks also to Matt Domsch for his assistance in organizing the town hall candidate meetings, and Nigel Jones for setting up and running the election process.