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[fab] State of Fedora (a long email)

I've read through all the emails that hit f-a-b last week, and I spent the better part of the weekend thinking about everything that was in it.

I think it was a great discussion. I didn't chime in until now because I wanted to just watch the conversation evolve and see what people were saying.

As Thorsten pointed out in the email that started the thread, FC6 is a very good release. We got some good features into it, the quality is good, and the Fedora Docs, Extras, and Unity projects in particular have done a tremendous amount of good work.

Tomorrow is two weeks out of the release date -- on bittorrent we've already achieved 30% of what our total activity for all of fc5 has been.


One of the things that is true about Fedora is that this fedora-advisory-board email list is *THE PLACE* where the interesting Fedora conversations are had. Far more so than any phone calls that the Board has. The most important business is conducted on this list.

That said, let's address some of the cricitism about the way the Board conducts its meetings.

The choice to have those meetings on the phone, as opposed to on IRC, was one that was made by the Board when we started up, the main reason being the ones that Paul stated -- phone calls are higher bandwidth, and the idea is to get everyone in that call on the same page as quickly as possible. If the Board wants to change its meeting "mechanism" I don't have a problem with that. It can be put up to discussion/vote in our next meeting (tomorrow).

There are some very specific complaints that I saw about the Board, and I am 100% at fault for those complaints existing, and I need to be the one to fix it.

1) The wiki is not as up to date as it should be.
2) Insufficient communication about the rescheduling or cancellation of Board meetings.

We initially set out to have the Board meet twice a month. For a while, we were quite religious about that. Fedora Core 6's release, as it got closer, played havoc with that schedule.

Part of that was the fact that the "getting the release finished" work just took priority over everything else, and part of it was the fact that everyone was in much more frequent communication with each other anyway.

A big part of what the phone calls are meant for is a chance for everyone on the Board to get on the same page. So the better our communication is *in between calls*, the *less need* there is for those calls themselves.

Like the rest of you, I prefer to see the big decisions made on-list, where there are public archives and anyone in the Fedora community can participate.

The Fedora Board is not meant to be a bottleneck -- it's meant to be a guide. Some of the places in the thread from last week mentioned that the Board should involve itself more into decisions. I don't know about that -- there's been several cases where the Board has stepped in in the last few months and "made a decision" about some topic, but those were only situations in which it seemed like the folks who were closest to those decisions had reached an impasse.

I don't necessarily like the idea of the Board just swooping in and declaring things about certain projects that already have their own leadership in place. That's not what we're meant to do, and that's not how we're operating.

If the Fedora Community would like to see more assertive leadership, of that kind, from the Board, I'm sure we could do it. But at least in my handling of the Board, I prefer to leave the decision making to the folks who are actually doing the engineering work, because by and large they are smarter and more-capable of making the correct decisions than someone who isn't as close (and therefore doesn't know) all of the details and nuances.


Tuesday 11/7 -- that's tomorrow.

1) Talk about how the Board is functioning. Do we change the way we meet? Do we change the frequency of our meetings? How can we do a better job, as per the discussion of the last few days?

2) RPM problem. My understanding was that we'd taken several steps to solve the RPM issues a month or so ago. Make sure everyone on the Board understands what the *current problems* are, and let's see if we can't figure out a plan to solve that.

3) Get some input from the Board about any of the topics that are down below -- just hear what people have to say, or care deeply about. Basically a FC6 postmortem.


Sunday 11/12 - Wednesday 11/15

Max Spevack, Greg DeKoenigsberg, and Bill Nottingham are heading up to Westford. Folks we will be spending our time with: Chris Blizzard, Warren Togami, Dave Jones, Jeremy Katz, Jesse Keating. Those are the primaries. Probably many others.

The goal is to come out of those days with:

A first pass at a public FC7 roadmap/goals, which will be up for review by everyone on f-a-b, including the Fedora Board. Because *some* of the folks on the Board will be in those meetings, but not all, as it's basically just a bunch of us Red Hat folks getting together -- though in fairness it is the Red Hat folks who are closest to the Fedora Project.

We will also make it a priority to have an IRC channel open on Mon, Tue, and Wed that people can be a part of, in which we will do our best to "broadcast" what we are discussing at any time.

We'll also do an "end of day" summary like Karsten asked for, and publish as complete a transcript of what's going on as we can manage.


- Fedora Legacy
	Topic for Fedora Summit

- Fedora Directory Server
This actually has some traction, I'd like its full integration to be one of the things on our roadmap for FC7

- RPM problem
	Topic for 11/7 FPB meeting

- improvements in our own stack (anaconda, config tools, init scripts)
	Topics for Fedora Summit

	Jesse doing work on this, topic for Fedora Summit

- abolish Core
The *main topic* for the Fedora Summit, including Jesse's work on "pungi" or however you spell it :-)

- Live CD
"Official" builds like Thorsten asked for should be on our FC7 roadmap. I'd like to see better bugzilla integration as well.

- Desktop usability (acroread, java, flash, etc.)
This is the post controversial topic of all. Greg and I have been spending a lot of time on this. It's a further topic for the Fedora Board and Fedora Summit.

- When do we release?
	Topic for the Fedora Summit

- random topics Max thinks should be discussed for FC7
	- support upgrades via yum *way better* than we do
	- changes to init being planned, or should they be?
	- the future life of fedora.redhat.com
- how do we never have another release like fc6 in terms of website stuff?


Reading through all of those emails, the one thing that really struck me and made me think was the comment that "everything in Fedora takes a long time."

I agree. And I hate it. But I don't know how to fix it, other than just by continuing to push through barriers when they come up. If I sit back and try to evaluate the work that I have done since I took the job of "Fedora Project Leader" back in mid February, I certainly don't think I'd give myself top marks. I think I've done a good, but by no means fantastic job.

I think it can be objectively said that Fedora is better now than it was, say, a year ago, but I also don't think Fedora is living up to its full potential.

At any point in time the number of "sev 1" issues that compete for my attention is far more than I can even pay attention to, let along handle individually. So I spend a lot of time trying to delegate, or put another way, allowing the people closest to the decisions to make the ones that they think are best.

So maybe this is the place where I try to ask the rest of the Fedora leadership to continue to help me -- and the best way to help is by continuing to be the leaders that you are.

When I do my job every day, I feel like it is very split. There's the community-facing part of my job -- the part that all of you reading this see, and the part based upon which you form your opinions of whether or not I am a competent leader for Fedora. And then there's the internal to Red Hat part of my job -- the things that Matthew holds me accountable for, the positioning of Fedora next to our competition (be it Oracle or Ubuntu), the financial issues at play, the legal questions, and all the internal politics that come along with being part of a company.

So there's some weeks in which I spend a lot of my time doing work that is "visible" to the rest of the Fedora Community and other weeks in which I'm not as visible.

But that doesn't mean I'm not here, or not paying attention to Fedora. It just means that there's a lot of things competing for my time, and I can't do everything. I know that "burnout" is a taboo word in engineering circles, but that doesn't mean it isn't real. And that's why, when I think about the people who are most essential to the success of Fedora, the common trait that everyone on that list has is that they are strong leaders on their own -- capable of deciding what they think is best and then taking action.

Anyway, I hope this email has answered some of the major topics from this list the last few days. I hope people feel like there's some organization to the planning that will happen in the next couple of weeks, and that the folks who won't be physically in those meetings will feel like they have insight into what's going on.

Max Spevack
+ http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/MaxSpevack
+ gpg key -- http://spevack.org/max.asc
+ fingerprint -- CD52 5E72 369B B00D 9E9A 773E 2FDB CB46 5A17 CF21

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