Article co-authored by Chris Idoko and Jona Azizaj

Today marks Day 2 of Fedora Week of Diversity (FWD) 2024! This exciting week-long celebration is dedicated to honoring the diverse voices, backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives that enrich our vibrant Fedora community. Throughout Fedora Week of Diversity 2024, the DEI Team will be showcasing the incredible stories and journeys of our members through engaging interviews and captivating social media spotlights. Join us in celebrating the unique contributions and talents that make Fedora Week of Diversity 2024 a truly special event!

Contributor Stories

Today’s Contributor Story comes from: Roland Taylor

What’s your Fedora story? Take us back to your beginnings with Fedora!

Hi there! I’m Roland Taylor, a designer and a big open source advocate. I’ve actually been using open source software since I was a teenager. Curiosity was my driving force—that’s what got me toying around with technology and experimenting with different things. Since everything was free, it made it super easy to jump right in, play around, and see how it all worked. I started using Linux way back in the days of Windows 2000 and Windows XP, when there was a version called DSL. It was this tiny version that you could install on your system, perfect for exploration. Over the years, I kept diving deeper and deeper into the world of Linux and open source.

Now, about how I found Fedora… I actually stumbled upon it online first, but back then, I didn’t know much about it and wasn’t brave enough to try it out. To be honest, I was afraid of being overwhelmed. I assumed Fedora was either strictly for businesses or too specialized and way above my skill level, so I thought it would’ve just been above my head. So, for years, I just skipped over it, thinking I’d never understand it. Furthermore, I’d heard that it didn’t come with the necessary drivers to run smoothly on most systems. I would say my assumptions and biases kept me in the dark.

Then, one day while studying, I saw someone using Fedora on real hardware. He noticed I was on a Linux system and asked if I’d heard of Fedora. I said yes, but I didn’t use it because I thought it was too complex. That conversation sparked my interest, and I started learning more. I discovered it was actually user-friendly—just another distribution I could explore. It took a few years after that before I really jumped in, though. I think I may have tried it once or twice on a virtual machine back then, but never for very long.

I got into Fedora fully when I joined the Outreachy program. I decided it was finally time to dive in and learn Fedora for good. That’s when I started exploring all the different projects.  There’s so much going on! It’s been a continuous learning process. I really love what Fedora is doing, what it stands for, and the fact that it brings diverse voices from all around the world, meaning everyone can contribute and find a place in the Fedora community.

Fedora’s appeal and your contribution style: Tell us both!

A few things really keep me hooked on Fedora. First and foremost, it’s built on diversity, and I love that. When I joined the project, I was struck by the fact that people from so many different countries were involved. It’s a place where everyone feels welcome, regardless of their technical background. Unlike some other open-source communities I’ve been in, you don’t have to be a programmer to feel like you belong. In those communities, if you’re not coding or building the software, it’s easy to feel excluded. You don’t feel welcomed, so it kind of pushes you out of the community after a while.

But in the Fedora community, everyone is incredibly friendly and encouraging. They actively welcome contributions and ask for help in areas where you can give. It’s not just about “Can you write this program?” or “Can you do this specific thing?”. Even though I actually took on some pair programming myself, design is my main area. So being asked to contribute and then being encouraged to keep coming back was something that really made me feel at home

I also love that the project is always looking for fresh ideas. You can actually bring your ideas to someone or the entire community, and they’ll actively encourage you to pursue them. It’s not a place where your ideas get pushed aside; you’re actually encouraged to bring your talents to the table.

I’m excited by all of the technology efforts—new desktop environments, experimental systems, including immutable desktops, and so much more. It’s like the good old days for me again.

Fedora day-to-day: A walk-through of your Fedora involvement

My main area of contribution to Fedora has been with the badges program, ever since I participated in the Outreachy program. But I’m always looking for new ways to get involved, like the Creative Freedom Submit.

A typical day for me involves balancing my personal projects with finding opportunities to contribute to Fedora. I keep an eye on the Matrix chat to see if anyone needs design help, like someone needing a design created or edited. I just jump on that, and usually, I take the initiative and reach out to them as quickly as possible, offering my assistance as long as I have free time. Communication is asynchronous for the most part. I keep whoever I’m working with informed about my progress and ask for any feedback they might have.

The cool thing is that it’s actually not intrusive in my day; it doesn’t take me away from what I need to do. It actually keeps me engaged and productive while still offering me the flexibility I need. Life can get hectic, and right now, I don’t have a set amount of free time to dedicate to specific tasks. So, a typical day involves staying on the lookout for opportunities to contribute whenever I have some free time.

Image by Emma Kidney. CC BY-SA 4.0.