Fedora.next in 2013 -- Big Picture and Themes

Matthew Miller mattdm at fedoraproject.org
Fri Jan 3 18:14:58 UTC 2014

Happy New Year everyone! And also, congratulations on and thank you for a
really excellent Fedora 20 release. I've seen and heard a lot of positive
feedback and I'm quite confident in telling people that this incarnation is
the best Fedora yet.

But, of course, nothing stays still, and there's no better time than now to
talk about where we're going next. I've been thinking about this a lot
(because it's always been interesting to me, and, full disclosure here, it
doesn't hurt that Red Hat is paying me to think about it). So, following are
three big themes which I think are important to Fedora in the coming year,
and I hope I can get you excited about them too (if you're not already). I'd
very much also like to hear your thoughts. The idea is to integrate
everyone's expertise into something which approaches a coherent plan.

1. Virtual Flock

Fedora has a great community, but we have no visible center (except maybe
this mailing list). We have a number of other lists and other loosely-linked
online presences -- IRC, the wiki, all our various web applications like Ask
Fedora and Badges, and external groups like Facebook and Google+, Some of
these function well and have strong, positive culture, others have various
degrees of dysfunction, and others just aren't working at all.

When I go to a Fedora conference -- FUDCon, Flock, whatever we call it -- I
always come away feeling energized and optimistic and just generally
enthused with how awesome the Fedora community is. I want that all the time.
But, it seems like it kind of all drains out until the next big recharge of
seeing everyone in person.

Since we can't afford a monthly conference (ha!), I want something that
feels like it online. A hub for the community, where we have that
interconnectedness all the time. I think this centers around HyperKitty --
which should be ready for production any time now. Let's make that
front-and-center when answering the question "what is Fedora?", and tie it
to Badges, Fedora Magazine, Ask Fedora (possibly have it _replace_ Ask
Fedora), and a new solution for short, helpful howto-style content (an
element we're sorely missing now).

2. Focus and Flexibility

Stephen Gallagher's "Three Fedora Products" proposal is well underway right
now, with exciting progress -- I think that's been visible enough that
there's no point an extensive review here. The working groups for these
products are producing planning documents right now, and we'll develop an
overall plan for the F21 release based on those.

The idea of the there products is to focus on making specific things that
people can look at and say "okay, I know what that's for". This is great,
and I strongly believe that it will help us grow Fedora in our second
decade. But, it also can't be a reduction of what Fedora is.

We also still need the general Fedora collection, because a large but
carefully curated collection of open source software is one of our greatest
strengths. Last summer I suggested calling this Fedora Commons and
immediately discovered that that's taken by the unrelated other Fedora
[document] Repository software.... we need a different but descriptive name.
Maybe it's "Fedora Collection".

At the same time, we need to be more flexible around the edges -- from my
Flock proposal, "Ring 2", with software collections and Ruby gems and Python
eggs and containers and whatever else, even if it hasn't yet been perfected.
This is the area of the Environments and Stacks Working Group. I think it's
likely that in order to explore this, we'll want to create a new Fedora
repository separate from the "Fedora Collection" but still under our main
umbrella. We have one such thing already -- EPEL. This would be similar in
concept, but of course with a different set of guidelines. (It might target
both Fedora and EL+EPEL, and have a different sort of lifecycle from
either. In any case, details to be worked out.)

When I talk to people at tech meetups and at startup companies, a basic core
plus a selection of software stacks is _really_ the area that they're
interested in, and I get the feedback that no Linux distro really does this
well. Let's be the one that does!

3. Continuous Delivery

Here's the vision: For every code or configuration change which affects one
of the Fedora products, a shippable version of that product is generated.

That doesn't mean that we have a rolling release -- or even that we force
every change to be compliant -- but that when a change occurs, there should
be an automatic feedback loop which lets us know if that change integrates
as expected. This will move overall testing from being a last-minute
scramble to something that we can watch all along the course of a release,
and free up priceless human tester time for the places where intelligence is
really useful. And, it will make it easier to build a larger community of
users -- and developers -- who are tracking the bleeding edge by running
Rawhide or development releases.

We're a long way off: right now, we produce potentially-shippable artifacts
as part of the alpha, beta, and release candidates of Fedora, in an
excruciatingly painful manual process, and then we test those things after
the fact, again by hand. We also tend to land changes in a big, irrevocable
way rather than using software design patterns like feature switches.
Getting to the ideal statement seems scary and big, but the product focus
helps because we don't have to worry about getting every little package
perfect. We just have to change how we're doing.... almost everything. We
have a ton of smart people -- let's get agreement that this is a valuable
goal and get to solving it.


So those are my things. What do you think about them? What else should be
included? What different directions should we consider? How will we make
Fedora more awesome than ever in the coming year?

Matthew Miller  --  Fedora Project  --   <mattdm at fedoraproject.org>

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