This is a part of the FESCo Elections Interviews series. Voting is open to all Fedora contributors. The voting period starts on Friday, 26 November and closes promptly at 23:59:59 UTC on Thursday, 9 December 2021.

Interview with David Cantrell

  • Fedora Account: dcantrell
  • IRC: dcantrell (found in #fedora-devel, #fedora-qa, #fedora-ambassadors, #fedora-meeting and others. I go where I am needed. You can also privmsg me.)
  • 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?

I want to continue to be part of FESCo because I genuinely enjoy the work and want to continue helping Fedora lead from an engineering perspective. Making sure Fedora remains a top preferred Linux development platform and a system usable by a wide range of users is important to me. For me, I feel FESCo is one of the best places I can provide that help.

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

I wear many hats. I maintain several packages in Fedora and EPEL. I am also the upstream author and maintainer of several projects where I am also the package maintainer. I am the Engineering Representative on the Fedora Council, where I represent FESCo and general engineering interests and questions for the Fedora Council. Finally, I am a provenpackager and try as best as I can to mentor new contributors.

I also read a lot of the mailing lists. I spend a lot of time reading the devel and test lists. I try to read every thread and stay up to date on what’s happening in the project. I comment and answer questions when appropriate, but one of the best things contributors can do is read and listen.

Lastly, I’m not just a Fedora contributor, I’m also a Fedora user. I run stable and rawhide releases and report bugs and try to help patch problems where I find them.

Fedora ELN brings RHEL engineering more closely into Fedora. How do you feel we should balance RHEL engineering with the community with ELN building from Fedora?

Speaking as a Red Hat engineer, I like ELN because it lets me see if packages in Fedora are building correctly for RHEL. The rate of change in Fedora is much faster than RHEL, so as we update packages in Fedora, knowing that those updates can build “the RHEL way” without having to wait for a new major version of RHEL to start is a huge benefit. I also like that it gives community visibility to how package builds differ in RHEL vs. Fedora.

As a Fedora engineer, I like that Red Hat incorporates this work upstream into Fedora rather than keeping it internal. It allows community participation and will enable Fedora to see how a significant downstream user of Fedora includes packages. That information can help the Fedora package maintainer retain the necessary flexibility for RHEL.

The way ELN has been working so far has been excellent because it has not added any additional work for me as a Fedora or RHEL package maintainer. Instead, it has provided additional information.

What are your thoughts on Fedora ELN and what are your suggestions in improving it?

My view of ELN so far has shown that it has not added any significant work for package maintainers. Instead, it provides information and offers a mechanism for participation. I want this to continue.

I do not want ELN to become a release, and sometimes there may be confusion around that. We should continue to communicate what the expectations are for ELN.

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

Stability and migration plans are essential to me. Fedora usually does an excellent job with this, but for new features, I often ask myself (a) is the feature well-tested and (b) what is the migration path for users. Well-tested means there is a test plan (or even a test suite) and an objective for testing. Fedora is great about integrating new features, but we also want to make sure we plan to test those well to ensure they work. By migration paths, I mean for things that introduce
a significant system change, how will existing users migrate to the new functionality? In some instances, it is not possible, but most of the time, it is. It could be a matter of documentation or providing compatibility symlinks or something similar. We want new features, but we also want to make sure we do not alienate existing users.

I also want to continue working towards making the development environment and contribution environment for Fedora better. For example, could we use additional documentation? Could a tool be improved? What can we learn from other distributions, and is that applicable to Fedora?

Lastly, I spend far more time listening and reading than I do speaking. When new ideas surface, I assume good intent and begin reading and listening with an open mind. After that, I ask questions.