Fedora Board

Fedora Board Meeting, 16 July 2010

Last Meeting

The Fedora Board did not meet last week – the meeting was cancelled due to the transition of leadership between Paul and Jared.

Let me give you a quick update on the action items from last meeting:

  • jds2001 to help skvidal with tech side of FAS account name displayed per planet user as needed. item complete
  • mizmo will bring up some alternatives and additional solutions for the fedoracommunity.org portal on the advisory-board list. That thread is here, and work is on-going to develop a nice portal for fedoracommunity.org. I’ll be blogging about it here very soon. 🙂
  • mizmo talk to seth re FAS ids on planet and file infraticket if needed. Ticket filed, complete. Now mizmo needs to update the planet template to use the new FAS attribute.

Log Links

A New Meeting Format

The board meeting today experimented with a different format than previous meetings. Rather than having a separate #fedora-board-questions channel, we allowed everyone voice in #fedora-board-meeting and had an open discussion. We started with Q&A upfront and then decided about halfway to make the entire meeting Q&A.

The new format wasn’t perfect (a lot of different topics were interleaved with each other at the same time, making the raw logs a little hard to follow!) but there’s definitely benefits to it. The format will be discussed at the next Board meeting and we’ll discuss where to go from here with the meeting format!

Mizmo’s Meeting Summary

Anthropology Report

The meeting started off with a question from brunowolff:

“Does the board have initial impressions of the anthropology report?”

Mizmo responded, “I think it points out that while we’re awesome at collaborating, we need to improve our on-boarding processes! ~80% of our contributors have been here 2 years or longer – we need new blood and we need that knowledge in oldtimer folks’ heads to be shared with new folks.” Jon added, “+1. I think that’s a problem in any organization though. There’s plenty of tribal knowledge, be that in Fedora or anywhere else.” To which Mizmo replied, “I think though, it’s hard to feel comfortable enough to ask until you get your feet wet, it’s that initial experience of getting your feet wet we need to make easier. once someone has accomplished their first project and have gotten positive feedback on it, i think they feel more comfortable getting involved in other projects – easier to dig the tribal knowledge out :)”

Jared also chimed in: “I think it was worthwhile… I have a bit of a background in market research, and will be interested to dive into it deeper when I have a chance. But my initial impressions are that there’s a lot of data there we can use to improve the Fedora experience (both from the distro and community side).”

Paul answered, “In answer to your question, my impression was that it shows that people get involved in Fedora for many different reasons.”

Challenges for FPL

Dennis asked, “What do you see as the biggest challenge in your starting weeks/months?”

Jared replied, “We need to continue to push Fedora development, and to make the Fedora community more inclusive. I’m reminded this week at FUDCon at the barriers to entry that are there, not because we’re trying to be exclusive, but because of language and cultural differences for example… My biggest challenge in the beginning is to find ways to get buy-in from all the parties involved so that we can push with a concerted effort. I’d rather make it a collaborative effort.”

Legacy Support

Next a question about legacy support from Devilment followed:

“There was a discussion last weekend in #fedora-uk about why isn’t there a Fedora LTS. RHEL/CentOS was mentioned as filling this role and how there used to be Fedora Legacy, which ended up folding due to lack of volunteers, IIRC. There is nothing to prevent a third party from providing LTS to a Fedora release, but would we ever see anything official again?”

Smooge responded, “I can speak to some of that. It is quite open for other people to do long term support on things which is what we were looking for in Legacy. However many of the people looking to do it found that they didn’t have the resources to expend. Thus an LTS is something that would probably fall onto the sponsoring company (eg Red Hat) to put the resources into it.. to make it successful.”

Jared added, “I don’t have any immediate plans for a Fedora LTS… the rapid development cycle and community-driven nature of Fedora doesn’t really lend itself to long-term updates. If I had a full-time staff and ten times the infrastructure, I’d be happy to explore it from the community standpoint.”

“We have infrastructure challenges to face with that,” Jon pointed out. “lt is a noble goal, and seems to have a not-insignificant amount of popularity among users, but apparently not much support among anyone able/willing to do the work to make it happen (a *lot* of work),” Rex said.

Sijis asked Devilment, “What do you consider LTS? don’t we already go back 2 releases?” Devilment responded, “I’m happy with the status quo of ~13 months. I thought I’d raise the question so I can feed back to the person who was arguing for Fedora LTS.”

Mizmo also asked, “Do you think there’s more community interest in maintaining something like that now compared to the old long term support program we had that died due to lack of interest?” Paul replied, “There was a group of community members who voiced some interest again last year, but I haven’t seen the results of that process.”

MeGenius asked, “Are there any plans to change the cycle of fedora releasing??” to which Jared replied, “I don’t think we need any major changes to the develoment cycle. We may adjust from time to time to make it seven months (or possibly eight) should the need arise, but I don’t see us moving to a much slower release cycle. It’s very hard to continue to push innovation with a slower release cycle.”

Paul said, “The stress always gets more visible as a previous RHEL or CentOS release ages. I would imagine that when RHEL 6 is released, with many of the desktop features that people have seen mature in new Fedora releases, the pressure for LTS will drop precipitously.”

Meeting with SIG groups

Sijis then asked,

“A couple of months ago, there was an effort to meet with different SIG groups. honestly, i haven’t kept up with it has there been other ones besides web and design? if not, is this expected to continue going forward?”

Paul answered, “That’s a good question for jsmith — but just to give a bit of background, the Board has held numerous meetings with different SIGs over the past few months. It’s up to the current Board whether they want to continue that practice. I would encourage it, because it helps when the Board is aware of challenges of different Fedora teams, and participates directly in resolving them.”

Chris Aillon agreed, “I enjoyed them, fwiw. I’d be in favor of continuing to do so, actually.”

Jared followed up with, “I want to continue to work with the SIGs, but as a board we need to decide the best way to interact with them. My general rule of thumb is “give them the tools they need, give them some mentorship, and then get out of the way.”

Sijis concluded, “Sure. I thought it was beneficial to hear what other groups are doing and what challenges/assistance they may need.”

Rolling Releases

MeGenius asked a question about Fedora versioning and update policy:

“Have you even thought about canceling the version system, i mean, pushing updates directly?”

Jared answered, “It’s been discussed, but I’m personally not a fan of “rolling releases. There needs to be some point where we produce installable media.”

Rex pointed out, “That’s largely what rawhide *is*.”

“we can’t be *everything* for *everybody*, or what we end up with is just average (or worse the lowest common denominator). That being said, I think we can be *most* everything for *most* everybody. We *can* and *should* be a leading Linux distribution, which gives users and devs the tools they want and need (if not *the* distro, obviously.)” Jared added.

Paul concluded, “And I would go further to say, leading in that space means we have the opportunity to solve problems that are common to ‘most everybody.'”

ZFS Support

VisBits asked about ZFS filesystem support:

“Can we get native ZFS support in fedora :)?”

Dennis replied, “When licensing is sorted, I’m sure it will come.” Jared added, “We work from upstream kernels… get it pushed upstream, and we’ll have it.”

“I wouldnt hold my breath with current events,” Jon warned. Chris provided a link with more information: http://www.sun.com/lawsuit/zfs/

Spins SIG

Brunowolff pointed out:

“Note that the Spins SIG was (and to some extent still is) very close to totally failing. We need to get spin owners more involved. How to do that is an open question.”

Jared pointed out that “The board is happy to accept suggestions on concrete ways the board can help improve that.”

BH-Alex pointed out: ” What about spins? I’ve tried to use revisor to make my own, but it’s been broken since Fedora 10, despite submitting bug reports. What does the Spins SIG need, I might have some time.”

Brunowolff brought up his Spin owner documentation plans: ” I have a plan to better document roles to set expectations for spin owners and to hopefully make it easier to volunteer for the special roles of lead and wrangler.” Jared thought this was a good plan.

Paul recommended the Board examine this issue in more depth. “the Board should devote some time to thinking about the health and well-being of the Spins SIG. When I hear brunowolff say he wants spin owners to be “more involved” it gives me some concern.”

BH-Alex asked, “What is wrong with the Spins SIG currently?” somewhat confused as to the backstory of the discussion. EvilBob pointed out: “From what I hear “Not enough Indians”. lots of grand ideas and little in the way of getting it done.”

“Would the Spins SIG benefit from a trimmed down mission, short-term?” BH-Alex asked.

Paul then said, “Spin owners provide an “official” Fedora release that’s been approved by the Board. I think it’s important that the results are successfully passing through a process that ensures the results work well.”

“I would like to say that A) We need to talk with them before we can say that and B) I would need to know who the members are,” Smooge said, wanting a bit more information about the issue.

EvilBob asked, “How are we promoting the spins that are new and innovative along with the other spins that have been approved?” Paul’s response was, “In part through set-aside areas in our talking points and other marketing materials.”

BH-Alex: “Aren’t Spins just built from kickstart files? Why does it appear that a lot of resources are required to successfully produce a spin? From running cobbler and livecd-creator I’ve found kickstart to be wonderful and easy.” Brunowolff answered, “QA is busy enough with the main spins (Desktop and KDE) that they can’t test the other spins. The Spins SIG needs to do that.” “So if I understand correctly,” BH-Alex responded, “it’s a manpower issue combined with a what-the-public-wants issue?” Brunowolff continued, ” The ks files need review. For example Dan Walsh wants to make a kiosk spin but currently is doing it in what we suspect is a bad way. But we don’t have someone that can work with him to fix things up.” Chris Aillon pointed out, “brunowolff, arguably, they should be doing that anyway. different spins look to provide different experiences. something which works as expected on one spin might be considered a bug in another spin.”

BH-Alex then asked, “What would be the end-result of Spins SIG were disbanded? From looking at http://spins.fedoraproject.org/ downloads are low?” Mizmo pointed out, “Downloads are low because the counter is reset every release. Those numbers don’t reflect the F12 downloads which were quite large before we reset the counter.” Chris added, “I don’t think downloads show the full picture; some spins are duplicated heavily by those involved with them.” Sijis also said, “the spins stats are just torrent downloads too, not direct download ones.” Jon pointed out, “some stats are at https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Statistics.”

“It seems to me like Spins itself is problematic because of the difficulty to assemble the ‘experience’ — wouldn’t it be beneficial to have the Base Fedora install then have “profiles” (a list of packages provided by the spin-author) that can be made available?” BH-Alex pointed out. Chris responded, “part of the point of spins is that you can run them live, and can install them directly.” “Is that true of all spins?” asked BH-Alex. ” I believe so,” responded Chris. “I think we need to re-examine the spin technology in the light of the “sudden overlay failure” issue (when run from USB, affecting SoaS particularly) as well as fedora-embedded/arm/mips/mini needs.”

“this sounds like something more technical and less board related,” Dennis pointed out. “The idea is worth discussing,” said Paul. He concluded the topic with a suggestion: “Why don’t we take the idea to the spins@ list for more discussions.”

Enabling Contributors

Dennis asked:

“How can I as a regular fedora contributor feel like i can take ownership of some task or segment of fedora. How are we going to make sure that contributors feel enabled?”

Jared provided an extended answer to this question – ” First of all, they need to know what Fedora is and what it represents. Second, they need to have a support network — people they can ask questions to, preferably in their locality and language. Third, they need to feel their involvement is welcome and valued. Fourth, we need to make it clearer both how they can contribute/participate/lead, and what the steps are to do so.”

Dennis replied, “Great. now to make sure that we take the steps that way.”

Chris pointed out, “There’s getting started as a user (straightforward) and getting started as a contributor (less straightforward).” Jared suggested an improved website as being key to helping with this, “One thing I really want to push is some improvements to the website. More details to come… but in general, we need to do a better job of telling the Fedora story and how it meshes with the open source way.”

“We happen to be approaching the third phase of a website redesign,” Paul informed everyone. Phase one (F12) was the spins.fp.o site; phase two (F13) was the get-fedora* pages; phase three (F14) is the main http://www.fp.o page.”

Fedora Forums

MeGenius brought up his interest in the forums, “I want to see some imrpvments on the forums.” Jon pointed out “unfortunately, the forums are not run by Fedora, but they have a trademark license.” MeGenius asked if he could create his own forum, and Paul answered, “Yes, with some limitations. This is a question best asked on the advisory-board list: https://lists.fedoraproject.org/mailman/listinfo/advisory-board – Also check out http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Local_community_domains.” MeGenius pointed out, “the forums with the current situation are not that helpful – a lot of times, duplicated threads are opened, for example.” “Forums take quite a bit of herding for that to not have that problem,” Smooge pointed out. Rex also brought up that the problem “happens everywhere, irc, mailing lists, forums.”

“i want to see a helpful problems solving directory,” MeGenius said, “a user can refers to it, before asking any questions in the forums or the irc channels.”

Paul gave MeGenius a suggestion – “Have you considered talking to the forum admins and offering some help there directly?” But the topic died off at that point.

Getting Non-Coders Involved

Devilment asked a question about non-coders:

“Not everyone is a coder, so may feel they cannot contribute back to the Fedora Project. How can we get non-coders more involved?”

“I don’t know C to save my life :)” replied Jon. Rex pointed out, “There’s plenty on http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Join not involving coding.” Dennis agreed – “there is so much of fedora not at all involved with code we need to make sure that those sections are visable to all.” “i guess reporting bugs, suggesting feature .. etc..” suggested meGenius.

Paul talked a bit about the Fedora join page: “Although our ‘join’ page is in need of some work, we do clearly indicate there’s plenty of ways to be involved that are non-code related.”

Mizmo made her agenda not so secret! “Join the design team 🙂 We post bounties specifically for brand-new contributors, no coding required. https://mairin.wordpress.com/category/fedora-design-bounty/” Jared also pointed out, “Design, docs, marketing” as areas non-coders can help out in. “Contributor doesn’t always mean coder,” he said. Paul also suggested: “Bug reports, documentation, translation, design, …” Smooge agreed, “well there are a lot of places for non-coders (I am one of those). Design, QA, Ambassadors, proof-reading the Wiki.. there are lots of areas. However most of them are technical based versus social.”

Dennis suggested, “Could this stuff be mentioned on the anacoder installer screen? something like, “You don’t have to be a programmer to contribute back to Fedora. See for details.”

Question for Jared: Ponies

Jon asked, “What are you going to do to give us all ponies?”

Jared replied with a Fedora analogy: “Great question…. I see Fedora (and operating systems in general) like ponies… You don’t just buy a pony and forget about it. You have to feed it, clean up after it, and take care of it. I hope that when my tenure is done, we can look back at all the ponies we’ve helped raise :-p”

Question for Jared: T-Shirts and Swag

Mizmo asked: “i have a question that’s very… different than the current ones and perhaps stupid. is there real value in the number of t-shirts we produce? could we be doing something to provide more value for the $? i’m kind of an eco hippie and i feel really bad about the number of shirts, but maybe it’s because i have so many. maybe most people dont.”

Jared replied, “I’m open to suggestions. I think the t-shirts fill two important purposes — they give something tangible for participants to take home, and it serves as marketing.” Rex added, “or swag in general, but I figure t-shirts are the biggest $$ item at the moment?”

Dennis suggested, “perhaps we can do a plant a tree for me/give me a t-shirt option for events.” Jared also suggested, “When we do create t-shirts, it may make sense not to tie them to one particular meeting or date.” Mizmo suggested virtual swag, which Paul noted “Virtual swag interestingly ties into spot’s idea for contributor karma.” Smooge pointed out, “Red Hat for the first 5 years was paid for by swag sales. We were a company that sold you a T-shirt and gave you a Cdrom.”

The point was brought up that the shirts could be sold to fund contributors travel or FUDPub food. But Paul noted there are some issues with Fedora accepting money, and that there’s a lot of discussion about the issue in the advisory-board list archives.

Mizmo pointed out, “I think in some part tshirts are wasteful – i think whenever we produce something we should think about how it’s going to die if that makes sense.” Dennis said it would be nice to have all-organic swag in the next 5 years.

Paul started a thread on the topic on the advisory-board list for further discussion.

Jared’s Background

Rex asked, “For some background, what first brought you to use/contribute-to fedora, and prior to becoming fpl, where was most of your interest in fedora?”

Jared responded, ” Good questions… I started using Linux around the RH 4.2 / 5.0 time frame. And I was lucky enough to have an employer that encouraged me to learn it well, and gave me plenty of time to do so. When Fedora was born, I continued on as a user, but wasn’t much of a contributor. I’d post bugs from time to time and try out the betas and follow the -test list, but wasn’t really a contributor. Over time, however, I started to get involved in the docs project. I’d done some work with DocBook and publishing, and wanted to help contribute. stickster then tricked me into coming to my first FUDCon in Raleigh.”

(note at this point stickster swapped his nick to be tricky_stick. hehe.)

Jared continued, “That’s really what energized me to be a more active participant. rom there, dgilmore and jcollie encouraged me to help with Fedora Talk, and so I got into the infrastructure a bit. The rest, as they say, is history. Based on my own experience, I hope we all take the time to help others have that same sort of “ah ha!” moment.”

Board Salary

meGenius askd, “excuse me, but, do the board members have a salary for being board members??”

Paul responded, “No. The FPL is a paid position at Red Hat, whose duties include chairing the Board. Some Board members, elected or appointed, are paid employees of Red Hat, but are not paid to be on the Board in particular. They do it to better serve the Fedora community and to help make a difference through active leadership.”

Mizmo added, “meGenius, i work on the Board for the pleasure of serving you, not for buckazoids :)” Jon also added, “there are several members that are not employed by red hat, both elected and appointed.”


Well there you have it, the latest Fedora Board meeting!

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.


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