Fedora in 2025: what do we want, and how will we get there?

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.

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5 posts were split to a new topic: How does Silverblue fit into the future of Fedora?

Just my 2¢ here, but I really like the RPM CoW ideas that Matthew Almond talks about in the following YouTube video. He gives a good summary of the concept at about 29 minutes into the video if you want to skip over the low-level details. I think this work is already underway in the Fedora Project.

At one point in the video, he mentions that the system he is proposing would transparently eliminate the need to re-download a lot of content when working with containers. But I think he said that the containers would need to be packaged as RPM files for that to work. It has been a little while since I watched the whole video. But I think his ideas sound great and I’d really like to see them adopted for Fedora Linux.

Again, just my 2¢.

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FWIW this is currently planned for Fedora Linux 36: Changes/RPMCoW - Fedora Project Wiki

I think things like that are neat, and I expect us to continue to work on that kind of technical improvement. But I don’t think improved technology alone will get us there — what else do we need around these ongoing improvements?

Or, another angle: is there an overall big technical goal we should strive for that this is an example of?

If I understand what you are asking, then I guess the overarching technical goal is just to improve the user experience (in terms of performance with respect to installation time) and to reduce the costs (in terms of required bandwidth on the mirrors). Sometimes something that in a way is a small thing can have a big impact on the user’s perception of how well the system works. For example, when systemd parallelized the startup processes to reduce the boot time, it made Linux seem much faster and better than it was before (though in reality the startup time probably doesn’t really matter that much).

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I am really glad you are having this conversation. I am talking from the perspective of an outsider, enthusiast user. I do not consider myself a Fedora contributor, but I do think that the future of desktop Linux is tied to Fedora, and Fedora is the best positioned project to achieve great things in this world of desktop Linux.

I think the biggest, easiest to solve blocker would be to offer a better first-time experience for Nvidia users. Many technical users I’ve talked to have a great deal of issues because they have an Nvidia graphics card and sometimes Fedora doesn’t even give you a graphical user interface or accelerated graphics without fiddling with difficult to configure packages and kernel patches. Most of them just install ubuntu or pop os because they support this use case with a couple of clicks or, in the case of pop os, with an alternative ISO that comes with Nvidia drivers. Would any of these approaches be viable for Fedora? Could a third party like RPM Fusion host Fedora images that come prepackaged with these drivers?

Long term, the Silverblue approach seems to be the most safe, secure, stable and user-friendly, but some user experience issues have to be solved before. What I think that should be priorized ASAP is to stop making people waste time packaging non-system software as RPM. Developer’s time is not abundant, so maybe that effort could be better spent improving flatpak, helping other developers packaging their software as flatpak, etc.

I know that Fedora is a community-led project, but is there a direct relationship between more contributors and more users? I think right now, as Apple or Windows have shown, corporate collaboration is the key to a polished and stable user experience. elementaryOS is not there in marketshare but from the first second you run elementaryOS you can see that the team behind that distro is focused on the final user experience and that is their only objective. I am trying to learn about how contributions reach Fedora but my first hunch is that improvements like wayland, pipewire, podman, systemd… exist just because the server linux or automotive linux projects need them, and then those projects are reused in the server. What I am trying to say is that maybe Fedora could be that overarching team that coordinates global needs, from the perspective of the user.

Having the right metrics, as said before, is key to get this right. But even before having those metrics, how do we know what problems are Fedora users having? There is not a Fedora bug tracker, but a different tracker for every single package out there. So, what is the prioritization criteria? How could it be possible to know even if Fedora is working well for the many different users that exist out there?

As others said before me, I don’t think this is a technical problem. Users are not coming to Fedora because it has the latest version of BTRFS, but because you install it and it gets out of the way. That is why people is going to pop os, mainly because they know it will work well enough, but they don’t care about the version of the packages. They care about the overall experience and their first impressions.

Anyway, don’t get me wrong. I do think that Fedora is creating something incredible and I am just an outsider so I might be biased or might not have all the needed context. I sincerely hope this opinion is helpful, and will try to get involved to help in a more direct way if I find a way to do so.

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Thanks @mattdm for opening this thread!

If we want to double our active contributors, I believe it would be useful for us to examine the following questions. I would really love to hear peoples feedback about these questions and the thoughts I have listed below.

Why/where/when/how do potential contributors lose interest?

What can we do at those pain points to improve the contributor experience?

I think working on the user experience is important. It should probably happen simultaneously to these efforts, but I think that is beginning to stray from the topic at hand. I think it plays a part because that is a potential contributor path, though improving user experience will not automatically translate to a better contributor experience. Sounds like we need another thread :smiley:

Iirc, we have 40k+ Fedora accounts created. If we have somewhere around 1000 active to semi-active contributors, where did all those other people go? Putting aside all of the very reasonable things like life got in the way, someone has given all they can, or a particularly bad interaction put someone off- I think I can say with some confidence that there are gaps that a lot of people have fallen through.

@bcotton is hitting on the types of things I am thinking about, like improving contributor tooling and focusing on mentorship. Here are a few of the issues I see and some ideas for improvement.

Unclear documentation

  • All active teams are on docs.fpo
  • Re-structure/work on Wiki so that most things redirect to docs or marked as retired
  • Document which teams are inactive

No response on mailing lists/channels

  • Retire inactive lists & channels
  • Active teams commitment to 100% response rate to newcomers

No easy tasks to take on/high barrier to entry

  • Work on a replacement strategy for easyfix
  • Clarify processes that are unclear (e.g. how to contribute to infrastructure, how to join DEI team)

Contributes once, then not sure what to do next

  • Invest in mentorship resources: training, meetups with other mentors
  • Active teams commit to mentoring newcomers
  • Track individuals beyond the Join process.
  • Focus on the Join common entry point to get an understanding of newcomers experience- who is still active after 3, 6, 12 months? Should we reach out to them again and how? For those that are still active, what are they working on?

Doesn’t feel welcome/included

  • DEI resources for Fedorans, tested and trusted by Fedorans
  • Social agreements for team meetings: how do we show up? Who is doing all the talking? Are people getting talked over? Are people present & engaged?
  • Education and empowerment for allies to actively make space and advocate for underrepresented groups & individuals
  • A collective understanding that everyone does not work the same way. Some assumptions about how we work should be rethought. For example, some people do not feel welcome asking questions in channel or tickets, and thats ok. Yes, the answer to that question could benefit everyone, but we are trying to build connections for individuals, and the process to do so should be bespoke. If the question is never asked at all, no one is being helped.
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I might be mistaken but the original post mentioned doubling the number of people active each week in Fedora, linking to stats about Fedora OS usage. That’s why I tried to put forward issues that I think are important to improve adoption, but maybe those should be moved elsewhere.

In any case, community is an important part and you raised some interesting points. Just I am not that sure that there is a direct relation or a causality between more contributors and more users.

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I appreciated reading your input! It’s definitely not out of place :slight_smile: My thoughts are:

  1. This uncovers my bias that “people active in Fedora” equates to contributing
  2. @mattdm should help define the goal a bit further wrt “active” and what that means in this context
  3. The entire breadth of this discussion may take infinite more threads and I think breaking some off to fully explore them could be useful
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I think these are a reciprocal relationship and can be viewed as the chicken and the egg, in that which came first. The current situation I think is shortage of support in packaging, with a noticeable increase in user activity. This is a solid reflection of the quality of Fedora Linux, and the group of individual contributors as it stands. People are taking notice I think, and that’s good.

The goal as @mattdm states seems a reasonable one, and your statement supports it as well as what @dcantrell points to I have expressed before as you know. I have opinions about some areas I see as opportunity to enhance the onboarding experiences for both new comers and the mentors/sponsors. There are a lot of moving parts that make up the Fedora Community, packaging is only one but crucial.

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I did mean active “contributors”. I didn’t mean to be vague, but I did also want to be general — I mean packagers and developers and qa team, but also people writing for the Magazine, working a (virtual, sigh) booth at FOSDEM, design team, social media, and so on and so on.

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Note: I’m going to split out the discussion about os-tree hosts as the default to a separate one, because while that’s definitely an important thread, I think it’s too low-level/specific for this topic. (I know Ben started it here, but let’s keep this part of the discussion in the context of the high-level goals and strategy.)

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Fedora is a very nice project. However, one thing that is not nice is that every now and then, things stop working. Fedora desktop edition is labelled “Workstation”, but this kills its purpose. Examples:

Apps like Peek, Zoom and Flameshot are essential for my workflow. My Workstation should work with them, or at least provide steps on how to do it.

So I’d love it if every now and then there were some polls to know which apps are most used by Fedora users, even if from external repos, and then give them better support.

Screensharing is sadly … a Zoom issue. They used a private screenshot API that stopped working in F35, and haven’t adopted Pipewire yet.

I agree issues and workarounds should be better documented (eg for Zoom switching to o X11, or using the web version from Chrome, works).

Several of us have been reporting this to Zoom bug hasn’t been able to get anywhere yet.

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I wonder if this should be eventually part of Workstation/LiveStreamingCompatInitiative - Fedora Project Wiki

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Hi everyone! My name is Cali Dolfi and I am a Data Scientist on Red Hat’s OSPO team. I became involved with Fedora in 2020 with the virtual Fedora Women’s Day event. I am leading Project Sandiego, a new open source project focused around analyzing open source projects from a data perspective and mapping connections between projects in the open source ecosystem. I am hoping to contribute to Fedora’s 3 year strategy of doubling the number of active members with support from the data perspective. With that, the big questions come:

  • Where are we looking at? Which repos? Chatrooms? Etc
  • What counts as active? Is that different in each space?
  • Could the answers to these questions change in the 5 year span?

If we can answer these questions, expanding the analysis past the initial “active people” goal would not be much additional effort. I am looking forward to hearing people’s thoughts!

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This is somewhat related, but I think something like the Annual Contributor Survey would be a great project to check in with the community from a data perspective. We could ask questions about contributor presence and engagement in the project and dial in specifics. Depending on how deep it goes, we may want to separate that out to be its own survey, almost like a census.

I could imagine this being a good indicator of active contributors because it requires you to go out of your way to answer it. Inactive folks don’t take surveys. With that in mind, it could be emphasized accordingly so that everyone knows that this is one of the important ways we understand our growth as a community.

This is pretty in the weeds for a big picture discussion, but all this to say that I think we should think about how we will measure the big goal so that we’re gathering data from the start.

Also, I would like to volunteer for helping with the survey if that initiative’s still going!

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