Wanted to throw my comments in to the discussion here. My own thoughts and observations over the past year.
Onboarding a new packager is very diffcult
I’ve done this for two people over the past year and the process of both becoming a packager and creating your first Fedora package is a very bespoke process. RPM itself is complicated by itself, but a whole lot of stuff is happening at a distance when you look at another spec file littered with nothing but macros. This is all developer knowledge and it’s not clear how to get in the know for this. Personally, I’ve been really surprised to learn how much I just take for granted when helping new packagers become contributors.
I don’t have a good answer for this except that it would help to break down the process in to logical parts. First, learn RPM and the tooling there. That can be done without becoming a Fedora contributor and is what I recommend for new people. Learn where to get the information you need and where to ask when you can’t figure something out. And since it’s nearing 2022 now, this can also use an explanation of what a package is. The concept was well understood in the 90s, but all of use old timers are, well, old…and the meaning of a package has changed. Helping new contributors understand why Linux systems are built this way also really helps out. Documentation is fine, but examples, videos, self-guided tutorials are all things we should consider to help improve this.
There’s more to contributing than packaging
We need to make things easier for contributors of non-RPM stuff. Our documentation has improved over the years, but can always be better. Translations can be better. Testing can be better. Really, just everything that’s not packaging can improve.
I do like the Arch Linux wiki. Say what you will, but they have definitely won the technical content documentation award for Linux systems. I don’t think we need to aim to replace the Arch Linux wiki, but that project by itself has grown and allowed contributors to extend all of that information with actual details and steps. Fedora could really use something like that. Whatever we do in this area, the onboarding process needs to be simple. If it’s too complex, it’ll never work.
Encourage long time contributors to mentor
Personally I find mentoring rewarding, but some don’t. I know there are more contributors out there that would be good at this work. We should have something that encourages contributors to take up mentoring. Even if it’s just helping one new contributor for the year, that’s a win. People have told me Debian has something like this too for new contributors. I don’t know, I’ve never Debianed.
What I think we’re doing well
Fedora continues to lead with regards to the latest Linux developments and making those available to users. Releases over the past few years have been incredibly stable too compared to many years prior, so that’s something we should be proud of. Whatever we’re doing to ensure that is working, so I don’t want to disturb that.
That’s all I have for now.