EPEL Steering Committee Election: Interview with Neil Hanlon (neil)

Originally published at: EPEL Steering Committee Election: Interview with Neil Hanlon (neil) – 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 Neil Hanlon

  • FAS ID: neil

What is your background in EPEL? What have you worked on and what are you doing now?

I’ve been a consumer of EPEL for more than a decade as I learned Linux and began my career—first in web hosting, then “DevOps”, and eventually being responsible for the network architecture and infrastructure for a large travel company. In the past four years, I helped to found the Rocky Linux project, where I became friends with Pablo Greco who encouraged me to participate in EPEL more actively, and I continue to maintain its various components, which involves significant Fedora and EPEL work as well as contributions to other upstream projects.

For over a year now, I have been a Fedora and EPEL packager and actively participate in EPEL Steering Committee meetings weekly. Most of the packages I maintain or contribute to are related to needs in the Rocky Linux project or are personally useful to me—such as remind, a calendar and alarm program that helps me stay organized, or passwdqc, a powerful password quality and policy enforcement toolkit that is especially useful in managing EL-based FreeIPA environments.

While I enjoy packaging, I find the most rewarding aspect of my work in EPEL to be mentoring and encouraging others to become Fedora and/or EPEL packagers. Growing the community and ecosystem of EL developers is crucial to the longevity of Enterprise Linux as a whole. Expanding the base of EPEL contributors not only strengthens EPEL but also benefits the broader Fedora developer community and can lead to more employer-sponsored contributions to Open Source.

In the coming months, I plan to introduce several cloud and HPC-related packages to Fedora and EPEL. I also aim to finalize a number of packages that are being introduced to Fedora following discussions in the #epel IRC channel, which I hope will bring in new Fedora and EPEL package maintainers.

Why are you running for EPEL Steering Committee member?

I am running for the EPEL Steering Committee to help foster growth and increase activity within Extra Packages for Enterprise Linux (EPEL). EPEL is unique in its commitment to stability and freedom from unnecessary disruptions, mirroring the principles of RHEL. While enabling Fedora packages for Enterprise Linux is a significant goal, EPEL goes further by ensuring that updates and newly introduced packages uphold this stability.

Maintaining packages for EPEL can be daunting for many maintainers, particularly those new to Fedora packaging guidelines, policies, and workflows. This initial hurdle is crucial to understand the different layers of policy between Fedora and EPEL, which make EPEL a unique and valuable project. EPEL has a large user base because of the immense utility it provides, and growing the footprint of EPEL maintainers is crucial for the project’s long-term health.

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