First Month on the Job – A Retrospective

It’s been just over a month since I started as the new Fedora Project Leader. I’m new to Red Hat as well — so in some way, it feels like I’m starting at two new jobs at the same time. Since so many people have asked me how things are going, I thought I’d share a bit about my thoughts so far.

My first experience as the new FPL was to spend two days in Raleigh, North Carolina at the Red Hat offices for new employee orientation.  Besides the normal busy work of filling out forms and learning about company policies, I got to spend some time meeting key individuals and teams within Red Hat.  I walked away from the meetings thoroughly convinced that Red Hat has a good grasp on the “open source way”, and really tries hard to help new employees grasp that.  That’s not to say there aren’t disagreements about the details, but it’s awfully nice to work for a company that values outside collaboration.  (I’ve been blessed to work for two such companies in the past few years — lucky me!)

After my two days in Raleigh, I immediately flew to Chile for the FUDCon Santiago conference.  You can read back through my blog posts for the details.  In short, it was wonderful to meet so many dedicated Fedora collaborators in Latin America.  There’s obviously lots of room for improvement on how the Fedora leaders communicate and interact with community groups around the world, but I hope we’re on the right track.  If nothing else, I hope my trip to Chile helped to strengthen the trust between the LATAM collaborators and the Fedora leaders.

After my trip to Chile, I went to the FISL conference in Porto Alegre, Brazil.  We had a fantastic booth and lots of excitement around Fedora.  I gave a presentation on the relationship between Fedora and Red Hat, and showed examples of how Fedora works with upstream communities.  Again, you can read my previous blog posts for more details.

Since I’ve returned from Brazil, I’ve been working hard to learn my way around the FPL position, and start building working relationships inside of Red Hat.  Paul Frields (the former FPL) has done a great job of mentoring me as I get up to speed in all my responsibilities, and a lot of other great people in the community have helped me as well.  I have been very pleased to find that Red Hat really honors Fedora as a stand-alone community and project. I can assure you there have been no secret directives or special things I’ve been told I must make Fedora do. (Before working for Red Hat, I too heard the urban legends about Red Hat is some kind of puppet master pulling all the strings that make Fedora work.) In short, Red Hat has placed a lot of trust in Fedora (and specifically in the FPL), but understands that it’s important for Fedora to be organic in the way it that it evolves, and also understands that you can’t fake that.

Some of the most common questions I get asked are “What’s the first thing you’re going to change in Fedora?” and “What’s your grand vision for Fedora?”, and my response it usually “Can I get back to you on that?”  It’s not that I’m trying to dodge the question — it’s simply that I need a bit more time to listen to the Fedora community, articulate my vision, get some buy-in so that I’m not championing for things that nobody else believes in, and so forth.  If you have items you think I should address, I’m happy to hear your input.  In the meantime, let me leave you with this little snippet I wrote up a while ago.  It’s still a bit rough around the edges, but I think it shows a bit of my vision of Fedora:

I believe in a Fedora Project where technology enthusiasts work together in a collaborative manner to:

  • develop, integrate, and share free and open source software, and be a good example to others to highlight the advantages of the free/open-source development model
  • allow people to communicate easily with the project, and create a friendly atmosphere where collaboration is encouraged and ideas are valued
  • provide the technical tools for people to work in an easy and efficient manner
  • be a creative space for the development of future technologies
  • build meaningful and productive relationships with upstream projects and downstream distributions and end users

I plan to have a more articulate version of my vision ready to present at FUDCon Zurich in September.

Upcoming FUDCons

One of the most enjoyable parts of my job as Fedora Project Leader is to get out and interact with the people that make Fedora great.  I’m very much looking forward to rubbing shoulders with Fedora users and developers at one of the upcoming FUDCon events.  The first is FUDCon Zurich which is scheduled for September 17th, 18th, and 19th at the campus of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich. (If you’re short on funds, you can even get free sleeping accommodations in a fallout shelter underneath the campus.)

The next FUDCon event in North America is scheduled for January 29-31 in Tempe, Arizona.

As always, both events are free of charge and open to all interested parties.  Please pre-register now if you plan to attend, so that we can accurately plan for the number of participants at each event.  Also keep in mind that all of our FUDCon locations are being chosen based on a bidding process.  If you’d like a FUDCon event in your area, please check out the Fedora wiki page on the FUDCon bidding process, and submit a proposal.  We’ve already received one proposal for FUDCon LATAM 2011, and hope to get more over the new few weeks.

If you’re coming to either FUDCon Zurich or FUDCon Tempe, I hope to have the chance to meet you and listen to your ideas.

Become an Advisor to the Fedora Board!

One of the things I love about Fedora is it’s dedication to transparency. In today’s Fedora Board Meeting, it came to our attention that we haven’t done a good job of letting people know how they can communicate with the Fedora Board. I took the action item to try to rectify that, and one way I can do that is via this blog post. 🙂

The best way to ask a question of the Fedora Board is to join the advisory board mailing list. The list is open to all interested parties, and serves as a place where the Fedora Board and the community at large can make suggestions, ask questions, and foster discussion on a wide variety of topics that involve the Fedora Board. Most of the items that the Board gets involved in are discussed on the list[1]. As the chairman of the Board, I also use the topics from the advisory-board list to set the agenda for the our weekly Board meetings.

Another way to interact with the Fedora Board is through our public IRC meetings. The schedule shows the exact dates and times of our IRC meetings, and our meetings typically happen every two weeks or so.  The meetings take place in the #fedora-board-meeting channel on the Freenode IRC network.

If you have a question, comment, or concern for the Fedora Board, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.  We value your input!

[1]  There are a few private matters that aren’t discussed on the advisory-board mailing list.  These typically involve situations where important relationships would be damaged if details were made public, such as personnel issues or fiduciary matters.  As a Board, we’re very sensitive to these issues, and try to be as open and transparent about them as is reasonable.