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Monday, October 4, 2010

New Fedora Linux Project Leader Building More Than a Distro —

New Fedora Linux Project Leader Building More Than a Distro

October 4, 2010

Sean Michael Kerner

The Red Hat sponsored Fedora Linux community is an open source development effort that includes a diverse set of participants. At the top of the organizational chart for Fedora is the position of Fedora Project Leader, the person tasked with overseeing the general direction and operations of the Fedora project.

In July, Jared Smith took up the position of Fedora Project Leader, replacing the outgoing Paul Frields. Among Smith's first jobs is to guide the development and release of the upcoming Fedora 14 Linux distribution, set for general availability in November. Building the Fedora Linux distribution is one of Smith's key responsibilities as Fedora Project Leader, but it involves more than just pure code.

"A lot of the time we think of Fedora as just the bits and the bytes that we burn on a CD every six months and ship out, but Fedora is more than that, it has to be a community," Smith said. "As such we have to concentrate on building that community and taking care of the community as much as we take care of the bits and bytes."

Smith's vision for Fedora is about ensuring that the Fedora community is an inclusive place where multiple views and contributions are welcome. Smith doesn't necessarily have any new or unique tools for building community, but he does bring a different background to the position than past Fedora Project Leaders.

"I came from another open source company that had the same business model as Red Hat," Smith said. "So I've had some experience in how to keep people motivated, how to move things forward and I think we've already implemented some of the things that I like to see."

Smith formerly worked as a community relations manager at Digium, the lead commercial sponsor behind the open source Asterisk VoIP telephony technology. Smith explained that the Asterisk community is more narrowly focused on IP telephony.

"From a community standpoint it's a little smaller community, but it has a different reach in that there are a lot of people that use Asterisk based phone systems that have no clue that what they're using is open source," Smith said. "The Asterisk community is a smaller group of contributors affecting a bigger chunk of users."

Contrast that with Fedora, a larger development community and a user community that is more aware of the software's open source roots.

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