This is a part of the Elections Interviews series. Voting is open to all Fedora contributors. The voting period starts on Friday, 3 June and closes promptly at 23:59:59 UTC on Thursday, 16 June.

Interview with Benjamin (Ben) Beasley

  • Fedora Account: music
  • IRC:  music_ (found in #fedora-devel, #fedora-neuro, #fedora-python, #epel)
  • Fedora User Wiki Page


Why do you want to be a member of FESCo and how do you expect to help steer the direction of Fedora?

As a Fedora Linux, CentOS, and Red Hat Enterprise Linux user for well over a decade, and as a contributor to the community for the last couple of years, I find that wise and steady technical leadership has been one of the Fedora project’s great strengths. I would like to help continue that tradition.

I was asked to run for FESCo by a community member I respect, and I’m happy to be of service. I would listen more than I speak; respect different people’s perspectives and styles of communication; and remember that idealism and pragmatism can exist in complementary rather than adversarial opposition.

How do you currently contribute to Fedora? How does that contribution benefit the community?

I directly maintain around 150 rather diverse packages. A few of my particular interests are scientific/technical and mathematical packages, font-related software, and the Python ecosystem. I also co-maintain or contribute to a variety of packages via the neuro-sig and python-sig packaging groups, and I regularly contribute fixes to other packages and to upstream projects.

I also mentor other packagers, not only as a packager sponsor, but also by doing package reviews and by offering detailed PRs in dist-git and suggestions in Bugzilla and IRC. Teaching and mentoring is powerful. It is good to improve a hundred packages, but even better to improve a thousand packages by learning something useful and sharing it with ten or twenty packagers.

With the advent of CentOS Stream, where do you think Fedora stands now and what should be the plans for the future?

A symbiotic relationship exists between Fedora Linux and the various “enterprise Linux” distributions, especially those that are downstream of Fedora. We are strong when we are all strong together. Fedora gains users and technical contributions from a strong collection of downstream communities. This includes CentOS Stream and soon Amazon Linux as direct downstreams, and RHEL and its derivatives such as AlmaLinux and Rocky Linux farther downstream. Meanwhile, in Fedora, we start integrating new compilers, language runtimes, and so on, earlier and across more packages than almost anyone else. Our downstreams and our peers benefit enormously from the community work that happens here.

The creation of CentOS Stream as a direct upstream for RHEL makes sense in a lot of ways. It gives RHEL a close upstream and brings development a little more into the open. At the same time, the early and sudden demise of CentOS 8 as a RHEL derivative caused a lot of disruption, inconvenience, and confusion in the CentOS user community. I hope that the impact of this is beginning to settle out, and that we will begin to see the benefits of a more public and incremental development process and better visibility and collaboration across projects. I think it’s too soon to tell whether this potential is being realized in practice.

I acknowledge that the Fedora project exists in cooperation with but not in service of its downstreams, and that many Fedora developers don’t want to deal with other distributions. This is perfectly reasonable! At the same time, I would love to see Fedora find new ways to help strengthen our downstream communities; to benefit from their efforts; to better understand their needs, plans, and motivations; and to break down barriers to useful collaboration.

What else should community members know about you or your positions?

I’m an electrical engineer by training and experience, and a stay-at-home parent of two small children. I care deeply about music, food, ecology, and quite a few other things.

I believe that the best way to improve a process is to make it easier for people to do the right thing than the wrong one.