This is a part of the FESCo Elections Interviews series. Voting is open to all Fedora contributors. The voting period starts on Thursday, 19 November and closes promptly at 23:59:59 UTC on Thursday, 3 December 2020.

Interview with David Cantrell

  • Fedora Account: dcantrell
  • IRC: dcantrell (found in #fedora-devel, #fedora-qa, #fedora-ambassadors and other channels as needed. Quite often people will privmsg me and ask me to join a specific channel. I go where I am needed.)
  • 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 have been a member of FESCo now for two Fedora releases. This was my first time as a member of FESCo, though I have been part of Fedora for much longer. We had a lot of changes in these past two Fedora releases. Some controversial and some not. I feel we have plenty of room for improvement as we continue to ensure Fedora is a preferred Linux development platform and a system usable by a wide range of users. For me, 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 have been a package maintainer for a long time and continue with that work. I also maintain a number of upstream open source projects (pyparted, rpminspect) as well as their corresponding packages in Fedora and EPEL (if appropriate). I am a sponsor for new packagers and try to help bring new people into the project and answer questions where I can.

As much work as I do there, I also try to help debug problems that I run into. That can take a long time depending on the issue but helping report a problem with a reproducer or even a fix can really go a long way. I also help users who want to learn how to do that because debugging is not always the easiest thing to do.

How should we handle cases where Fedora’s and Red Hat Enterprise Linux’s needs conflict in an incompatible way?

Fedora should be free to set its direction, but at the same time, we do want Red Hat Enterprise Linux to continue basing off Fedora. I believe the biggest strength in RHEL is the fact that it’s built off of Fedora. When we reach a point where Fedora needs to diverge from RHEL, we should do so in a way that still allows for RHEL to easily make that happen.

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

Stability and migration plans are really important to me. Fedora usually does a good job with this, but for new features, I often ask myself (a) is the feature is well tested and (b) what is the migration path for users. To me 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 have a 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? This should be easy. 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.

Lastly, I want to continue working towards making the development environment and contribution environment for Fedora better. This is not to say it’s bad, but there is always room for improvement. Could we use additional documentation? Could a tool be improved? What can we learn from other distributions and is that applicable to Fedora?