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Fedora Council Elections begin soon

This is a part of the Council Elections Interviews series. Voting is open to all Fedora contributors. The voting period starts on Tuesday, January 10th and closes promptly at 23:59:59 UTC on Monday, January 16th. Please read the responses from candidates and make your choices carefully. Feel free to ask questions to the candidates here (preferred) or elsewhere!

Interview with Robert Mayr (robyduck)

What is your background in Fedora? What have you worked on and what are you doing now?

I have been using Fedora since release 1b as my only operating system, and in 2005, I founded the Italian web community Fedora Online. Soon, it turned into the place where local users discuss Fedora, get help, and find guides. After a few years, I decided to join the Ambassadors group (I’m also one of the mentors for EMEA). With Gabriele Trombini (mailga), I wrote a book for newbies about Fedora 9 with moderate success, and with Fedora 20, I wrote a similar guide again, but as an e-book.

I’m currently contributing as the main lead in the Websites Team where I work very close with the Design folks. I’m also handling the tasks related directly to websites: builds, scripts and modules on Infrastructure. On Zanata, I’m administrating the source files for all the L10n teams in order to have our web content translated. Speaking about web stuff, I’m one of the admins of Fedora Magazine, and when I have time, I also do some packaging.

Finally, I served the Ambassadors Steering Committee (FAmSCo) for the release of F20 through F23, and I’m actually finishing my term as Council member (F24 – F25).

What are the most pressing issues facing Fedora today? What should we do about them?

Fedora has faced a lot of new projects over the last years, which I see as a very positive point, because it is a sign the Fedora Community is an active community. All these changes need to work better together, actually it’s like having a powerful engine in a car which still needs some adjustments to work properly. Budgeting, reporting, new objectives for Fedora events and new Fedora bodies are just a few examples of what I said before.

We can do a lot to improve these issues. We have some subgroups who don’t have much voice within the project, and other groups who do not use their power enough to drive their contributors correctly. A good communication will help to bring out the best in all the subgroups in the most effective way. CommOps for sure can help to achieve this goal, but all bodies need to play together if we want to have success with the reorganization. Speaking about Fedora outside of the Community, the most important issue we are going to deal with is to have a distribution continuing its characteristic of being bleeding edge. In the same moment, Fedora should try to be more innovative when speaking about effective user penetration. Working together more often with local communities could help here if we want to win this challenge.

What should the Council do to help improve communication and openness across Fedora sub-projects, teams, and SIGs?

This is one of the areas where the Project can improve more, because after the creation of new Working Groups, SIGs and government bodies, they actually work on their own without any kind of coordination. Sometimes I see people of specific teams or WGs pretending other contributors to be aware of all their stuff. The Fedora Project and specifically the Council should work to make this kind of communication easier and more transparent. I feel CommOps could help a lot to get things better here, but we will probably need a body with representatives of the most important teams to coordinate them (FOSCo).

Improving openness is a bit harder to achieve, although we all want to be as open as possible. I think having an up to date and detailled documentation about what is happening in the single teams would help a lot. On the other side the time of volunteers is not much, and they mostly like to do stuff rather than guide new people into the team. That’s why even here CommOps could play a nice role, because most of the questions of newbies are about how to join and where to start. The joining process of almost all teams is more or less the same, so having some help can for sure help new contributors to get quicker replies to their doubts.

What is your strongest point as a candidate? What is your weakest point?

My strongest points are having served FAmSCo for 2 years already, the Council for one year, and having attended main Fedora events in all our 4 regions. I know the main problems Fedora contributors are facing around the world and that might be a pro when it comes to plan new bodies and responsibilities.

My weakest point is also a strong one: my family and dayjob: sometimes I could not be able to find the sufficient time to contribute, but for now i have always been able to manage it, more or less…

What are your interests and experience outside of Fedora? Which of those things will help you in this role?

I did a lot of sports, mostly individual sports, but I had success also as a team player. Same in my dayjob, where I need to work for objectives, but in a team, and I’m used to coordinate several people to reach the goal faster. All this helped and still helps me in Fedora, and even Fedora gave me many things I learned from. I am very good at working for long term objectives, the best things you work for take a very long time, but they also give you more satisfaction than others. The Council doesn’t work for short term goals, and during my actual Council term I felt at ease with the other members, the objectives and goals.

What can the Council do to attract more packagers and other contributors? How should Fedora change in this regard?

We have many packagers, and our packagers are really good in packaging. We should care about attracting more contributors in general, and if we want to improve that we need to do more for them. I remember doing a lot of events and other things 6-7 years ago, nowadays we don’t have end users at our biggest conference (FLOCK). Time has changed, it’s fine to care more about contributors, but we need to be more attractive again. We need to be more present at specific events, like PyCons or security fests or whatever. I have been very lucky by attending at least one event in all our regions; my feeling is, if we want to gather more people to contribute, we should do less generic talks to users, and try to show them more what we do inside the Project. Not sure if a Workshop is the right word, but people should be able to touch what we are doing and how we do things. Years ago we had a word for that, and I think a DoCon would be still successful.

What can the Council do to attract more people to non-technical roles? Does Fedora need to adapt or improve in this regard?

Yes, Fedora needs to improve for that. I think non-technical roles are candidates for our government bodies, although even Ambassadors are non-technical…Frankly speaking I don’t have an answer of how to get more candidates, but we can promote the elections more than now, being a member of one of the government bodies is a privilege and a great responsibility. So we should try to get more experienced candidates, who know the Fedora Project very well, probably also asking each of the actual members to contact at least one other contributor to run for the next elections.

What area would you most like to see improved collaboration among the Linux distributions? What would you do to help increase collaboration?

Collaboration between distributions is not that easy because they have different business models, targets and philosophies. If we want to improve the Linux world as a whole, then we should focus on marketing and Ambassador’s activities. Joining this manpower could probably help to enforce the position of Linux distributions in relation to other operating systems; as a side effect, it would also improve communication itself across the distributions.

Closing words

I have done and am doing many things for Fedora, and I’m happy with the latest objectives the Council decided for. On the other hand we should try to get more back to the roots, trying to avoid business models to measure things within the Project. This will never work in a community made of volunteers, and we risk to loose contributors that way rather than gather them.
Improving communication between the teams and reach out more to local communities around the world could be a way to get in contact with many more end users than now. Fedora produces and excellent distribution, but without contributors Fedora will not be able to hold this high standard. The Council (and hopefully I can give my contribute again) needs to drive the community into the right direction, in order to keep Fedora successfull.