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Fedora Council Elections

This is a part of the Council Elections Interviews series. Voting is open to all Fedora contributors. The voting period starts on Wednesday, January 17th and closes promptly at 23:59:59 UTC on Wednesday, January 24th, 2018.

Interview with Russ Herrold (herrold)

  • Fedora Account: herrold
  • IRC: as orc_fedo on irc.freenode.net, I may normally be found idling in #epel and in #fedora-meeting
    as orc_orc #centos-devel
    as orc_emac in #lsbLots of NICs as I have (at time this was written) 39 channels open, and helps me navigate with irssi and screen and the alt-number accelerators
  • Fedora User Wiki Page


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

I have been active in what we now call Open Source Software development since high school days, back in the Lyndon Johnson Administration. One gains a lot of skills and enjoyment from learning, simply by ‘hanging around’ and contributing to some community of friends’ effort, addressed what were later called the ‘Four F’s’ of the Fedora Project:
Features, and

I was invited to the ‘testers-list’ group by an engineer inside Red Hat, assumedly because of filing well-formed bug reports, and working in the ‘rpm’ packaging, building, testing, and updating efforts, pre-‘yum’. See, eg., Kirk Bauer’s ”’autorpm”’ from that pre-yum era

As a nice benefit for hosting a RHL 8.0 release announcement road trip, I picked up a red Fedora.
At the time, the QA department there was hiring, and had all of four members in that photo

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

Sometimes there is such a push for the ‘latest’ and assumedly greatest new hot-ness that a tool will get to X percent completed, and then be dropped to move on to the next new hot-ness. Or civility will be put to one side and a (usually false) sense of urgency will cause a committer to conclude that their desire to commit is more important than talking matters through with others first. Documentation, ‘man’ pages, and open bugs never get completed, and the cycle starts all over. Newer developers don’t realize how much time is spent inventing and getting initial stabilization of a well designed ‘Unixy’ ™ tool, and rather than develop the habit of completion, just start over, inventing ‘yet another wheel’. Eventually, enough grit and friction material accumulates, that the machine grinds to a halt and forward progress stops. when one is rather running laterally across the face of task, instead of driving forward toward a goal, because the field is too wide

Identifying solutions that are mature, and getting acceptance that one need not propose killing off a package simply because it is stable solution.

This is part of the ‘Freedom’ to have access to a well-designed tool, and in adding any needed ‘man’ page, a la Debian’s rubric for package inclusion, and writing ‘How-To’ and ‘Tutorial’ documentation, a la Arch. By fostering not simply closing a bug because it is old ( what I consider a very damaging policy that needs to be re-visited ), and rather comparing what a tool might become as to ‘Features’, and what steps that one can take to attain that goal, Fedora can improve the Open Source ecosystem in the fashion of a ‘Friend’ helping an upstream

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

As with most ‘geeks’, I like to think that I strive to attain Larry Wall’s Three Perlish Virtues

We will encourage you to develop the three great virtues of a programmer:
laziness, impatience, and hubris.

This rubric however is a double edged sword — one can inadvertently give offense with ‘geek directness’; it is easy to dismiss the concerns of others by failing to ‘seek first to understand’ what is being asked for; sometimes I might wish for a person to ‘just be reasonable’ and do something my preferred way

I’ve been active on boards of religious organizations, human services organizations, held and mentored youth development efforts to help train the coming generation, and been the BOFH to a succession of successfully launched PFY’s 😉

One learns that other viewpoints matter and need to be heard

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

First and foremost striving to live a thoughtfully designed life, in service to my L*rd, to care for my family, and to keep the promises which I have chosen to make. I strive to integrate and harmonize the various demands, and to meet the commitments
which I undertake. If elected to this position, it would be integrated into that life flow

What are your future plans? Is there anything you can consider a “Mission Statement” as a candidate?

I had an uncomfortable encounter in the #fedora IRC channel with a chan-op, as to an EPEL issue. That rift and distancing between Fedora main-line and EPEL needs to be healed. The degree of push-back on the Proven Packager bug I filed, and the rhetorical devices used to avoid facing a clear and recurring problem, also shows that there are ‘us vs them’ factionalism which needs to be healed

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

There is a * lot * of legacy, historical, and ex cathedra assertions and possibly un-necessary friction built into the work-flow structures — each of those assumptions need to be questioned in turn as to Benefit vs. Cost, and as to current applicability. The ‘auto-close’ of bugs needs to be re-visited and repaired; the scope of ‘primary’ vs ‘secondary’ packages and goals needs to be systematically visited and a consensus reached about ‘what happens first, what happens always, and what happens when it can’ …

I have in mind as my example here, the dropping of Release Notes in the present release on short notice, and by announcement, rather than being raised as an issue and talked through. This is a symptom of trying to ‘do too much, first’

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

The documentation and flow of becoming a contributor, only part of which is packaging, needs to to be cleaned up in the wiki and elsewhere. It need to be tested without anyone with admin rights ‘helping’ touch some magic and invisible right. Bungs need to be opened and addressed on documentation and work-flow ‘sticking points’ I saw a reference on one of the mailing lists to ‘spot’s’ package review checklist the other day, and at best that list reflects the time it was written. ‘rpmlint’ and ‘rpmgrill’ permit automation and delegation to computers of the ‘paperwork’ part of packaging and should be more systematically run, similar to a FTBFS check

By reducing the ‘paper chase’ we have more time for the social ‘Friends’ art of fostering and coaching new friends to maturity into the Open Source ecosystem and culture of ‘Freedom’

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

Having places where uncertain little voices can speak without being out-shouted by old timers is important. Fedora needs to be more fostering here, but how to get there is unclear, as some old hands insist on having the ‘last word’ on mailing list threads, etc, and so teaching newcomers and minority points of view, that they really don’t matter much

The Council has members involved in different areas of the project. What would you say your “area of expertise” is?

I have great depth of experience in the knowledge domain; a professional career full of the skill at listening to the concerns and figuring out the ‘root cause’ issue to be addressed; clearly summarizing and coming up with actionable approaches to solve issues

What is your view of Free software/Open source software as a social movement? What else can the Fedora community do to aid society?

I’ve spent my life as a fish swimming in this sea. I’d be crippled without the interactions as well as the technical fruit from Open Source trees (thus at the end of RHL, the move to ‘caos’ and then as one of the three founders of ‘CentOS’

Narrowing focus to plant durable ‘deep dive’ spikes is important, as the present landscape is a mile wide, and half an inch deep

Closing words

I pledge to use my best efforts if selected as a Council representative, and promise to listen

The essence of the ‘new’ questions below were each answered by my prior candidate’s statement from the December balloting, and so I will continue to run on that