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

Fedora Engineering Steering Council badge

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 Randy Barlow (bowlofeggs)

  • Fedora Account: bowlofeggs
  • IRC: bowlofeggs (found in #fedora-apps, #fedora-admin, and #fedora-devel)
  • Fedora User Wiki Page


What is your background in engineering?

I began my engineering journey as a student of Electrical Engineering at North Carolina State University. As an undergraduate, I discovered open source software and became quite passionate about it. I began with Red Hat Linux 6, and explored several other distributions along the way. I accepted an internship at Nortel Networks writing custom software for internal use, and used my programming skills to pay my way through my undergraduate degree.

After graduation, I pursued a Master’s degree in the same field at the same school, focusing on computational electromagnetics. I wrote several software simulators that were used to calculate radiation patterns and specific absorption rates for biomedical implantable electronics. My background in programming combined with my electrical knowledge helped me to excel at writing these simulators.

After graduation, I found that I enjoyed writing software as much as I enjoyed working as an electrical engineer, but I also discovered that being a software engineer gave me access to more opportunities so I decided to pursue that as a career. I now have 13 years of experience in the software industry, and currently work at Red Hat on the Fedora Engineering team, focusing much of my time on Bodhi, Fedora’s update system.

Why do you want to be a member of FESCo?

I’ve been looking for more ways to get involved and serve the Fedora community. Out of the established committees, FESCo seems like a good fit for my engineering background and passions.

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

Fedora is currently seeing an extreme rate of change with an explosion of packaging formats, many of which we do not yet have guidelines or experience with. In addition to my experience with containers, I have been a packager on many different distributions and have some “metapackaging” insights to bring to the table.

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

I have a good intersection of interpersonal skills and technical skills that enables me to negotiate well when there are disagreements about technical decisions. I value truth over my personal beliefs, meaning I am eager to change my beliefs when confronted with facts that challenge my current positions. Lastly like many in the Fedora community, software has always been a hobby of mine – I’m a tinkerer. The passion for learning new things and expanding my ability set makes me a good fit for helping to guide Fedora into the future.

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

I believe my ability to communicate effectively when there are disagreements is my strongest ability as a candidate. My weakest point is that I am relatively new to the Fedora community (I’ve been a packager for about two years.)

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

I started contributing to Fedora as a packager. I wanted to get a package I use into Fedora (ari-backup), and from there I went crazy and added many more. I am now involved in the Erlang SIG and maintain the ejabberd stack, and I also maintain a healthy set of Python packages since Python is my “daily driver”. I work hard to ensure that my packages are kept up to date to fulfill Fedora’s “first” value, as I found it disappointing when I was a user to find packages that were unmaintained in Fedora.

I also work heavily on Bodhi, Fedora’s update manager. Most of my contribution there enables packager’s to do their work effectively. Since becoming involved in Bodhi late last fall, it has become more stable and releases regularly. It also has significantly higher test coverage during my short tenure (moving from about 70% to almost 90%).

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

FESCo should keep its focus on guiding Fedora to be the best operating system for developers to use by emphasising Fedora’s values. We need to continue to ensure that Fedora is the first to have new technologies (and features!) available to its users, while of course continuing to ensure that we guard our users’ freedom. We should also ensure that Fedora continues to be a community of friends.

I believe that modularity will help Fedora deliver the newest technologies and features to its users, so a specific objective should be to ensure that modularity is successful.

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’ve not served on FESCo before.

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

As I stated above, I believe modularity is an important objective for Fedora to be able to better deliver the newest technologies to its users, while also allowing some users to stabilize when desired. My primary concern for modularity is the speed with which is is happening – it’s a big change and it’s happening rapidly. As a FESCo member, I would like to help to ensure its success by ensuring it is done to a quality standard that will aid Fedora’s users.

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

African, or European? I was once asked this question on a photonics final exam, and got 5 points for my answer.

Closing words

There are many great choices of candidates for FESCo this year, and so I’m confident that no matter who is chosen that Fedora’s values will be well represented in the steering committee. I thank you for the opportunity to be considered, and I promise that I will strive to represent Fedora’s users and developers well if I am elected.