FESCo Elections: Interview with Dominik Mierzejewski (rathann)

Fedora Engineering Steering Council badge, awarded after Fedora Elections - read the Interviews to learn more about candidates

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This is a part of the FESCo Elections Interviews series. Voting is open to all Fedora contributors. The voting period starts on Tuesday, August 8th and closes promptly at 23:59:59 UTC on Monday, August 14th. Please read the responses from candidates and make your choices carefully. Feel free to ask questions to the candidates here (preferred) or elsewhere!

Interview with Dominik Mierzejewski (rathann)

  • Fedora Account: rathann
  • IRC: Rathann (found in #fedora-devel, #fedora-pl, #fedora-science, #ffmpeg-devel, #mplayerdev, #rpmfusion)
  • Fedora User Wiki Page


What is your background in engineering?

I have a Master’s degree in software engineering from the Faculty of Electronics and Information Technology, Warsaw University of Technology. Throughout my professional career, I worked as a system administrator of various Unix flavours for over 12 years. I also did a bit of programming (C, C++, Python, SQL). These days, I am a senior Linux engineer at Citi, where I’m responsible for standards development and internal OS platforms development, integration and certification. In my previous jobs, I worked as a sysadmin at the supercomputing centre of the University of Warsaw (ICM) as well as a programmer at the TOTEM experiment at CERN.

My open source contributions outside Fedora include patches, translations and detailed bug reports to major projects like the Linux kernel, FFmpeg or MPlayer, as well as a number of smaller ones like MDAnalysis. My experience is quite diverse and dates back to 2002.

Why do you want to be a member of FESCo?

I think a community as diverse as Fedora needs equally diverse representation. I was deeply honoured to be elected by my fellow Fedora contributors to serve on the Committee a year ago. This past year was my first year as a FESCo member. I learned a lot and gained even more appreciation for the work done by my colleagues and predecessors. I want to follow the path I took a year ago and continue to serve the Fedora community with my experience, knowledge and passion. Having served my first term, I see FESCo not as a governing body, but rather as enablers of others’ work and as a sounding board for ideas from the community. As a member of FESCo, I’ll be able to continue to listen to the many voices of the Fedora community and make sure they are heard.

Describe some of the important technical issues you foresee affecting the Fedora community. What insight do you bring to these issues?

The IT landscape is changing constantly and Fedora must adapt in order to stay relevant and increase its user and contributor base. Without a doubt, containers are the current game-changing technology. Everyone, including the largest companies is going to use it in one form or another. The main challenge is how best to embrace this technology while following Fedora’s core values.

Since the beginning of this year, I’ve been involved in making containers part of my employer’s technology stack and I’m very happy to see how various groups in Fedora are doing the same and in very innovative ways. The Atomic Host and Flatpak are both great examples, even if they’re not perfect yet.

The Modularity initiative is another great idea that would ensure a stable OS base while turning some package groups into exchangeable building blocks which may follow a different release schedule.

With these new technologies being tested and implemented in Fedora, I want to ensure that they do not repeat past mistakes or alienate the existing users and contributors, but instead become best-of-breed and examples for other distributions to follow.

I’m confident that my knowledge and experience combined with that of the other FESCo members will help me provide the best advice to Fedora contributors moving forward.

What are three personal qualities that you feel would benefit FESCo if you are elected?

My diverse engineering experience tells me to always consider various solutions before settling on the final one. I’m a strong opponent of continuing to do things in a certain way just because “we’ve always done this before”, while being keenly aware that there are always reasons behind traditions. However, such reasons need to be reevaluated periodically because they often become irrelevant in time.

I’m an avid believer in diplomacy, though I don’t shy away from telling the truth straight. For the last six years, I’ve worked in an international, multi-cultural environment, which made me sensitive to the differences in attitudes, cultures and values. I’m a good listener and I don’t take offence easily. In conflict situations, I can usually get the parties to reach common ground without causing hostilities and I already have a number of successes in this field among the open-source communities.

I can perform miracles immediately. Wonders take a bit longer. Just kidding, of course, but I do seem to have a knack for solving difficult and unique problems, which nobody can find an answer to very often.

What is your strongest point as a candidate? What is your weakest point?

I started contributing to open-source over 15 years ago and I don’t foresee stopping anytime soon. It’s my passion. I gained a lot of experience during this time and I’m happy to be able to use it for the benefit of Fedora community.

I still have a lot to learn, but then again, don’t we all? In this day and age it’s impossible to know everything. Luckily, we have a lot of smart and knowledgeable folks around Fedora and I feel privileged to be able to learn from them.

Currently, how do you contribute to Fedora? How does that contribution benefit the community?

Over the last 10+ years, I’ve been maintaining a growing number of packages (over 80 today), mostly related to either science or multi-media, but also picking up various orphans that I saw as useful and worth saving. Among these, I count my contributions to RPMFusion, which I treat as an integral part of the Fedora ecosystem. My roles at Fedora include being a provenpackager, a sponsor, an ambassador, and a member of the Fedora Packaging Committee. Additionally, I’ve been serving on FESCo for the past year.

Whenever I can, I lend a helping hand as provenpackager, encourage people to join Fedora as users and contributors and spread my knowledge both internally at my company and while attending open-source conferences. I give talks and lead workshops, as well as talk about Fedora and open-source in general.

What objectives or goals should FESCo focus on to help keep Fedora on the cutting edge of open source development?

The primary focus should remain on attracting and retaining developers, providing them with a “just working” development environment. Providing a secure and reasonably stable server platform should be another focus area. I think Fedora is doing well on both of these fields, but we can always do better. Modularity is a step in the right direction, as was migration to Pagure, even if some rough edges remain. We need better tools and more automation to limit the amount of manual tasks while developing on Fedora (or Fedora itself) as well as when setting up Fedora servers.

If a past member of FESCo, identify a negative factor you noticed while serving in FESCo. How would you propose to improve on that for the next cycle?

I noticed that we often lacked quorum during our weekly meetings, which was in part my own fault. I think it might be difficult to find one meeting time that is suitable to all, given that some members live in different time zones, so adopting what FPC did might be a good option, i.e. alternating between two meeting times every week. Another factor is communication with Change owners. Often, we weren’t able to obtain answers to key questions about the proposed Changes. I will endeavour (and encourage my colleagues) to reach out to Change owners directly and ask them to answer our questions on the devel mailing list so that they may be easily discussed by Fedora community as well.

Do you believe the Modularity objective is important to Fedora’s success? Is there anything you wish to bring to the modularity efforts?

I believe so, for the most part. The devil is, as always, in the details. Switching from traditional releases to a curated set of modules will be challenging and will take time. I do welcome the automated rebuilds wholeheartedly, though. Koschei was a step in the right direction, but didn’t go far enough.

What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?

So, knowledge of Monty Python references is one of the key attributes of FESCo members, now? Having a sense of humour does help a lot, that’s for sure. Anyway, African, or European?

Closing words

Thank you for reading so far. I encourage every Fedora contributor to vote and wish every Nominee success in the Elections.

Categories: Development & Packaging, Elections

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  1. Great interview. Good luck!

  2. where is polish version?

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