December 20th, 2007


baseball, not software

I have always liked Curt Schilling, but reading his latest blog post about the performance enhancing drugs scandal in baseball has given me an entirely new level of respect for the guy. How refreshing to see an athlete whose words come across as genuine, and whose opinions (whether you agree with them or not) are at least really well laid out and articulated.

He makes a good point, which is this: if someone accused you (and had a decent amount of circumstantial evidence) of being a liar and having your entire career be a fraud, wouldn't you be screaming your innocence from the rooftops and looking to take legal action for defamation of character, libel, slander, etc. if you knew it was a lie? I certainly would, and I am about as far from a "public figure" as you can possibly be. This is why I still give Lance Armstrong the benefit of the doubt (though I don't blindly support him), despite the allegations that he has encountered. Every time someone accuses him of cheating, he basically drags them into court, where everything can be subponeaed and the chances of a lie and/or cover-up being exposed increase dramatically.

If you are guilty, logic says that you won't do this -- the risk of being exposed in court is simply far too great. So I compare the actions of someone like Armstrong with guys like Bonds and Clemens, and I think that says a lot about "guilt" or "innocence". If you were Bonds or Clemens, with effectively infinite money and your entire reputation and any future endorsement dollars on the line in a very public way, wouldn't you be willing to spend whatever it took to clear your name?

I'd rather be bankrupt with my reputation in tact than an uber-millionaire who has been publicly disgraced. Best option is uber-millionaire *and* reputation in tact.

fedora in 2007

Thorsten wrote a really good post about Fedora in 2007.

He starts with a list of a lot of good stuff that Fedora achieved, which I agree with. So I'll just give that a big "me too" but I wanted to talk about some of the areas where he was unhappy with Fedora.

Mailing lists and Wiki

Really a question of information management. We have the same problems inside of Red Hat too -- too many mailing lists, too much unorganized information on the wiki, etc.

Simplifying and/or cleaning up this kind of stuff doesn't get accomplished because it is a thankless task. No matter what decisions are made, a group of people will be unhappy and grumble. The opportunity cost is also high -- one or two smart people are going to spend a bunch of time cleaning up the mailing lists and/or being a wikimaster, which means they won't do other things. As such, no one does it. This will happen if and when the Board decides that it is important enough to give someone more or less total control, and to insulate them from the flames that will ensue.

The Board not being active enough

This is 100% my fault, and it is one part of Fedora that I will look back on as the place where I feel like I have personally failed. The Board has tried hard to allow FESCO decision making power, but it hasn't really picked up the ball for being a sponsor for other activities that Fedora so desperately needs. The Board needs to do a better job of looking at the problems in Fedora that aren't the day to day running of the distro, and get them fixed.

I think that a fresh face will be able to bring the enthusiasm and new ideas to this challenge that have been lacking for the past while.

New leaders

I think we are developing new leaders -- Dimitris has become a rockstar in the past year, Ricky has done great stuff in the infrastructure team, and there were various other people who I talked about in my "lesser known Fedora contributors" series last month. Compared to the rate at which leaders emerge from other organizations, I think Fedora does fairly well.


Matthew Szulik announced today that he will be resigning from the CEO and President roles, but retaining his Chairman position on January 1st.

Matthew has been a tremendous supporter of the Fedora Project, and he deserves a lot of thanks from our entire community for the commitment that he has made. He truly understands that commitment to Fedora is what makes Red Hat a special company, and it is very sad for me to see him stepping down -- he has been a friend, mentor, coach, and leader.

Jim Whitehurst steps into the role as our new CEO. I have not met him, but he runs Fedora Core 6 and Fedora 7 on two of his machines, and Slackware on a third, so that's a good first impression.