Council Election: Interview with Adam Samalik (asamalik)

Originally published at: Council Election: Interview with Adam Samalik (asamalik) – Fedora Community Blog

This is a part of the FESCo Elections Interviews series. Voting is open to all Fedora contributors. The voting period starts on Monday, 20th May and closes promptly at 23:59:59 UTC on Thursday, 30th May 2024.

Interview with Adam Samalik

  • Fedora Account: asamalik
  • Matrix Rooms: I use email, issue trackers, and other forms of async communication. Of course I show up on chats and calls when the need for a high-bandwidth communication arises. But I value uninterrupted focus time, and schedule intentional time blocks for communication. Even though I find myself on various chats more and more, I don’t have stable Matrix channels I’d use very regularly.

Questions

Why are you running for Fedora Council?

Because I’ve been nominated and have the time and energy! I wasn’t planning to run myself, but the nomination really made me excited. I thought about it for a bit, and realised there are things I believe I could help with, and that I have the time to seriously do this.

My only condition was I won’t win by default. But I’m a third candidate, and there’s two positions! So that’s a good start at least.

The Fedora Strategy guiding star is that the project is going to double its contributor base by 2028. As a council member, how would you help the project deliver on that goal?

First I thought I don’t like this as a goal. But then I realised it’s not a goal, it’s a metric. And a surprisingly good one — more on that below!

(In fact, I recommend reading the answer to the next question now, and then coming back here. It’s easier for me to say what I’d do with understanding of the metrics.)

1) Communication

I’d like us to focus on solid communication tools.

Emails, forums, chats, issue trackers, pull requests, blogs, announcements, … I count all that as communication.

We don’t have to have everyone using every single tool. Different people have different preferences (or abilities!) regarding the ways they communicate.

Some people prefer to work in real-time, some asynchronously. Some people like to be notified, some people like to go pick communications up when they have time. Some people want everything in a single inbox, some people prefer things organised in separate buckets. For that matter, some people prefer emails and filters, some people prefer forums that are already categorised and visible without subscribing. And linkable. And clearly bet.. anyhow!!

(In fact I like email for some things, forums for another. They’re both good in their own respect.)

I don’t believe we should replace one kind of communicaiton with another. Because then we lose some current contributors. Adding more options can allow new contributors to join.

But I don’t want us to have too many (similar) options either. Because then people need to be on way too many channels, and it’s no longer about what kind of communication prefer, but about who’s using which chat app.

I want us to find the right balance. I don’t want anyone to feel left out. And I don’t want anyone to use a tool that’s frustrating for them. I want us to have solid communication tools and practices.

2) Clarity

For people who already want to contribute, I’d like to ensure we have a clear way for them to do so.

I haven’t said easy! I said clear. Some things are not easy. But clarity is important.

Innovation isn’t always easy. If it was everyone would do it. Fortunately, people like good challenges! But if they’re already stuck on just figuring out how to even join or what their options are, we have failed.

So I’d try to make us focus on clarity. Clear and visible processes, clear purpose of the tools we use, well-documented practices (ideally describing how things actually work, not how we just want them to work), etc.

And of course, if something can be easy, let’s make it that way. Like fixing a typo in docs from my phone. Boom. One more weekly active contributor right there! (And make it clear it’s easy!)

3) Collaborating with Centos

I’d like us to work with the CentOS community on sharing tools and practices. Having similar tools and ways decreases cognitive load and makes it easier to contribute in both places.

4) Artificial Intelligence

Have you heard about AI?

dodges a tomato

OK! I know there’s been a bit of a hype recently around AI. The technologies aren’t necessarily new, but more people (and companies) reached the tipping point of having enough compute power to make it do stuff fast.

I’d like to see where and how we can use (and not use) AI in a way that’s genuinely helpful, without compromising people’s privacy or comfort levels.

So that’s the general direction I’d try to go. I don’t have specific actions outlined, though. If I had those without listening first, we would have already failed in my opinion! But I hope this helped you understand at least my intentions.

(If you’re following my non-linear writing, let’s talk about Editions!)

How can we best measure Fedora’s success?

Seeing Fedora in examples and tutorials around the internet (ideally as the first choice) would make me very happy, and in my eyes Fedora successful. This isn’t directly growing contributors, but you don’t fix or improve things you don’t use, do you? And then there’s growing the number of active weekly contributors. I think here it’s important to be clear that it’s not a goal! It’s a metric that can indicate we’re doing things right. Examples: Occasional contributors can help without having to remember all the steps, because we’ve made the process clear and intuitive. The number goes up! Someone found a tutorial that mentioned Fedora, so they went with it, and now they want to make something better in their distro of choice. Already see the number going up again!

A CentOS contributor fixed a thing in Fedora because we’re using very similar tools. Yep! They’re welcome and counted! Accessibility improvements opened Fedora to even more people. Guess what happens to the number! So while the number isn’t a goal in an of itself, seeing it growing means we’re doing things right.

So how do I want to do that? (Now it’s time to go to the previous question, if you’ve followed my
recommendation! If you haven’t, you already have the answer.)

What is your opinion on Fedora Editions – what purpose do they serve? Are they achieving this purpose? What would you change?

Editions! Another complex topic I’ll try to cover in a few sentences!

Open source is great at allowing you to do basically anything in any way. So many opportunities to do things wrong! (Heh. And right of course!) But no one is an expert at everything. However, Fedora as a community has experts in quite a broad range of things.

I don’t want to write my own crypto, but rather have experts do that properly for everyone. I also don’t want to design every single bit of all my Fedora deployments.

There’s Fedora on my gaming PC. There’s Fedora on my Raspberry Pi running Home Assistant. There’s Fedora in most of my development containers. There’s Fedora running in a small VM on my M1 MacBook so I can have aarch64 stuff. There’s Fedora on my development workstation. Fedora everywhere! And each of these deployments have vastly different requirements in terms of security, performance, resource demands, managing updates, etc.

Fedora is a very powerful Linux platform, allowing us to do many things. So it makes sense to cover some of the most usual ones with opinionated Editions that make it easy to deploy and maintain them right.

And guess what! Fedora IoT means I never have to connect a monitor and a keyboard to my Raspberry Pi, because someone smart made it that way for me. Fedora Workstation runs Windows games on Steam with just a few clicks. In the aarch64 VM, I have… actually the KDE Edition (sorry, Spin!) because I’m like that. Never mind!

The point is, it’s been very little work to get each system running well for its intended purpose. And I have the trust that if I apply updates regularly by whatever method each Edition suggests, my systems will be running in a reasonably seure manner. And that’s what Editions are for in my opinion.

What would I change?

With growing ways to run Fedora, we might end up with a huge list of Editions.

Even now, looking at Editions, Spins, Labs, and Atomic Desktops… that’s a lot to take in as a user.

If instead we had a (guided) way for the user to express their needs, and out would pop an installer/image for the system that works for them… that would be awesome!

Like “I want an aarch64 VM (QEMU) image with KDE, but with as few things running as possible because I have very little RAM. My use case might be weird, but I’m gonna do this anyway, so this is your chance to make me do it in a reasonable way, so I have a better experience, and save time so I can join as a contributor!”

(Wow it’s getting late. I have just deleted like 17 more paragraphs of rambling. You’re welcome. Choose wisely!)

The Fedora Council is intended to be an active working body. How will you make room for Council work?

(Right, one more question!)

By already having a few hours a week available for a new thing! Combined with the council meeting being in European business hours which works great for me.

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