#7. The Endless Goodwill Tour: Fedora Ambassadors
If there’s one thing that the Fedora Project does well, it’s community. With thousands of project members and contributors, and millions of users, we consider it not just a duty but a calling. One of the discoveries we made early on was that locality is a big part of community. Our Ambassadors program involves grassroots community leaders from locations around the globe to coordinate Fedora community efforts in their backyards. They spend time traveling to trade and community shows, speaking to users, developers, other free software entities, businesses, government agencies, non-profit organizations and community groups about free software and Fedora’s place in the ecosystem.
After the release of Fedora 9, the Ambassadors team organized twelve release events worldwide, covering seven countries and four continents. Over the past several years, the Fedora Ambassadors team has approximately doubled every year, to about 600 Ambassadors. The continued growth and excitement for Fedora worldwide translates directly to the upcoming Fedora 10 release events.
There are twenty-five events scheduled for November and December, this time covering sixteen countries and five continents. The success of the Fedora Ambassadors project is due in large part to its strong leadership. Francesco Ugolini, a Fedora contributor in Italy, is finishing up his year-long tenure as the chairman of the Fedora Ambassadors Steering Committee. Furthermore, Fedora has focused on a regional accountability and leadership model, with local contributors in different parts of the world empowered to plan events and spend their budget in whatever way they deem most effective.
The result is a rapidly growing and thriving set of local teams that excel not just at spreading free software to anyone who wants to use it, but also at bringing contributors into the free software ecosystem. And here at the Fedora Project, nothing gets us as fired up as the people who make our community energetic and innovative.
#8. Free Desktops Prevail with PackageKit
When we introduced PackageKit in Fedora 9, it was a bold change from the tools we’d been using, namely the cleverly-named pup and pirut (yarrr!). PackageKit doesn’t replace the rock-solid underlying software management provided by rpm and yum, but rather wraps them in convenient and user-friendly fashion. It was designed by Richard Hughes, a member of the Desktop engineering team at Red Hat and a Fedora contributor. Richard has continued to work on PackageKit as a vibrant upstream free software project "simply because it was going to be more successful that way," he says. "By working together with other distributions on the front-end tools we get bugs fixed for free, faster."
That philosophy has attracted other developers to contribute pieces to PackageKit that allow it work with virtually any existing Linux software management system. "From the very start," says Richard, "PackageKit has worked with different vendors, with very different ideas about packaging systems, and this has made the core design capable and flexible." PackageKit can therefore smooth the experience of Linux software management across different vendors. Whether you’re using Fedora, OpenSuSE, Ubuntu, or one of many others, you can use the same convenient and comfortable tools to manage software. PackageKit is also built on the same free software technologies that allow the Fedora desktop applications to understand the user’s activities. These technologies allow your email application, for example, to detect when your wireless connection comes online, and start synchronizing your email for convenience. PackageKit takes full advantage of desktop interoperability in a way the previous tools did not.
In Fedora 10, PackageKit now detects when the user opens an audio or video media file, and offers to search for codecs used to play that file. With the user’s authorization, it searches all the software repositories configured on the Fedora 10 system, installs what is needed, and the media begins to play. That’s not the end of the story, though. In the future, PackageKit and the underlying libraries will be extended to allow on-demand installation of fonts, hardware enablers, software applications, and more. "In Fedora 10, there is much more functionality, more polish, more speed and more integration with other frameworks and applications," says Richard. "During the Fedora 10 cycle we’ve fixed lots of the corner case bugs and added lots of useful functionality for admins and users alike." Developed by Fedora contributors, these advances allow the free software desktop not just to rival but to exceed the user experience from proprietary systems. And that’s something everyone can get fired up about.