As usual, the Fedora Council held an annual strategy meeting last month. And as usual for 2020, we had to conduct it virtually. Instead of meeting somewhere in person for a few packed days, we decided to split it into several half days over a few weeks. Ben Cotton, the apparently untiring Fedora Program Manager (FPgM), already published the minutes through Zodbot. In this post, I’ll cover some of the discussion in more detail.
Council communication channels
Two years ago, the Council agreed that Fedora teams should use the communication channels that best suit their work. While mailing lists and internet relay chat (IRC) have a long history in open source projects, they’re not necessarily where new contributors want to communicate. Many people are hesitant to sign up for a mailing list, and let’s face it, IRC is downright arcane. IRC and email lack rich features that other tools have — features for keeping conversation efficient, and beyond that, which add a more human element. Avatar images, sending pictures and animations, and emoji reactions aren’t just flavor, but also help keep us all connected.
Fedora has paid for a Discourse forum at discussion.fedoraproject.org for a few years now. A few teams (like Fedora Magazine and Silverblue) have successfully moved their asynchronous communication there. The Council agreed to move from the council-discuss mailing list to a Council category on Discussion. We encourage other teams to make the move if it makes sense for them, but the Council has no desire to mandate any changes.
Modernizing our synchronous communication platform is a bigger challenge. IRC can be daunting to newcomers, but we have a lot invested in it. Hundreds of contributors a day use Zodbot to facilitate meetings, query for information, or give “karma cookies” to other Fedorans. However, Element.io, which uses the Matrix protocol and also provides an IRC bridge. This gives us the opportunity to move more carefully to a modern protocol.
Like Discourse, Element is an open-source company which offers hosting as a paid service. We’re in talks with Element right now to provide a hosted server for Fedora (and possibly other Red Hat-sponsored projects in the future). This allows Fedora — and Red Hat — to provide financial support to other open source projects while at the same time not increasing burden on our infrastructure team. Be on the lookout for more information in the near future.
Fedora’s long-term goals
The Fedora Council’s primary job is to identify the short, medium, and long term goals of the Fedora community and to organize and enable the Project to best achieve them. We have the Fedora Objectives process to address medium-term goals, and we often act tactically to address short-term needs (like our recent push to provide ARM devices to community members for testing and development). At our meeting this time, we also spent a fair amount of time discussing the long-term bigger picture — some of the “why” of Fedora. While we have vision and mission statements that I happen to really like, we also see a need for some more specific guidance.
A while back, Aleksandra Fedorova suggested adding an explicit goal of producing “a complete integrated system”. This sparked a lot of discussion, although I think we generally agree about that at a high level. We also discussed some of our other underlying guiding principles (like “upstream first”) that we don’t really document well. We used to have some content on the wiki, but as wiki content often does, that got buried in a shuffle at some point. Aleksandra and I have homework to revive that content in a reasonable place. Once we have a draft ready, we’ll share it with the community for feedback.
Closing out the IoT Objective
With the Fedora 33 release, Fedora IoT was officially promoted to Edition status. Peter Robinson, the IoT Objective Lead, gave us some valuable feedback on the process. The Objectives process should add value for the people involved in the Objective, rather than just producing extra overhead. The Project should be able to provide enough resources that it ends up not being net additional work for the Objective contributors. Being on the Council is great, but it required a lot of effort from Peter and was not balanced with the resources available.
Ben Cotton spent some of his time helping the IoT team with some of the administrative work and coordinating with other teams like Websites, Badges, and Design. Future Objectives would benefit from having someone assigned to do that. We’ve asked Ben to work on a proposal for building up a pool of contributors who can be tasked with that in the future.
Overall, the IoT Objective was a success. There’s a full review of the outputs and outcomes in the minutes. I’m excited to see what the IoT Edition does in the coming year. Thanks to Peter everyone in the Fedora IoT Working Group, and everyone else who made this happen!
Coffee versus tea
Part of the benefit of the Council’s regular face-to-face meetings is the time spent together outside of the meeting room. This gives members a chance to bond and get to know each other better. For this meeting, we worked with the team that conducted the social events for the Fedora 33 Release Party to do a coffee and tea tasting. Personally, I’m a coffee lover, but since the coffee we were tasting this time around was mushroom flavored, I ended up solidly if temporarily in the Team Tea camp.
Expect to see more virtual social events like this in 2021 as we hopefully come out the other side of this pandemic. In the meantime, I leave you with these composed-in-five-minutes literary gems:
A limerick about coffee
In mornings I wait for my brain
To think thoughts and it’s a great strain
Until I brew up
A steaming black cup
It’s coffee that helps keep me sane
A poem about Tea
Commonly coffee is colossal,
But this tasting was totally terrible.
Today we are Temporarily Team Tea;
Come let’s consume correct coffee.
Ode to the Tea
A Sonnet-ish by Temporarily Team Tea
My quiet temporary tea, you inspire me to write.
How I love the way you calm and center,
Habitating my mind day and through the night,
Always dreaming about the warm vapor.
Let me compare you to coffee?
Coffee normally takes my heart,
But this tasting was worlds apart.
You are temporarily more caring and enlightening.
Sweet fog hide the oceans of November,
And autumn time has the bright stars lightning.
How do I temporarily love you? Let me count the ways.
I love your comfort, taste and warmth.
Thinking of your light fills my days.
My love for you is kind of like a lovely latte.
Now I must away as coffee truly holds my heart,
Remember my right words whilst we’re apart.