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[fab] State of Fedora (a long email)
- From: Max Spevack <mspevack redhat com>
- To: fedora-advisory-board redhat com
- Subject: [fab] State of Fedora (a long email)
- Date: Mon, 6 Nov 2006 11:41:52 -0500 (EST)
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
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
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
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
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
NEXT FEDORA BOARD MEETING
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
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
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
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
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.
+ gpg key -- http://spevack.org/max.asc
+ fingerprint -- CD52 5E72 369B B00D 9E9A 773E 2FDB CB46 5A17 CF21
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