What I learned at FUDCon 1

FUDCon is dead. Long live FUDCon. What did I learn?

I learned that when people want to get something done, the most important thing you can do is to figure out what it is that *keeps* them from getting that something done, fix it, and then get the hell out of the way. Actually, I kinda already knew that — but the folks who work on the Fedora community side keep teaching this lesson to me over and over.

I learned that Jack Aboutboul knows more people than I ever thought possible — and more to the point, they all know him, too. I guess that’s what happens when you decide “hey, I’m the Fedora trade show guy,” and then you go and do those trade shows. ALL of them. Uncanny. That dude just gets shit done.

I learned that the good people at Boston University are Titans — because only Titans could move heaven and earth for us like they did. We were originally going to hold FUDCon1 at MIT. We couldn’t manage to get the MIT people sufficiently interested to call us back, though, so Jack got in touch with Matt Miller from BU, and then… well, I’m not sure what happened exactly. All I know is that at 9:45am on Friday morning last, I looked around — at the gorgeous building, at the gigantic posters, at the catered breakfast, at the throng of people — and I literally could not believe that we’d pulled this thing together over IRC in six weeks. Without the folks at BU (Matt Miller, Pam Andrews, Paul Stauffer, Jeff Albro, Aaron Caine, and too many others), there’s no way we would have. I know this much: next year, the good Lord willing and the creeks don’t rise, we’ll hold FUDCon(n) in Boston again, and MIT won’t even get an email. (No offense, MIT. Hope you understand.)

I learned that Spot Callaway is a brave man. Yes, very brave indeed. Brave enough to volunteer for one of the most hazardous duties in Fedoraland: the establishment of RPM specfile guidelines that will satisfy everyone out there who builds RPMs for this and other distros. A thankless job. Unless he gets it right, of course.

I learned that when Eric Raymond yells at you, you should listen. Usually. And certainly in this case. (“I’ve been trying to contribute packages to you guys for MONTHS! And I CAN’T! GAAAAAH!”)

I learned that folks inside of Red Hat make a lot of assumptions about the outside world, and that some of these assumptions are wrong, wrong, wrong. For instance: we assume that everyone understands that Fedora is central to Red Hat’s future, and will never go away under any circumstances, ever. But, as it turns out, people don’t understand that at all — which means that we still have a ton of work to do, explaining what Fedora is all about and why it’s so important to us.

I learned that Colin Charles has no fear. “Hey, Colin, did I mention that you’re giving a talk about Fedora at Linux World itself, at the Red Hat booth?” “Nope.” “Huh. Well, could you?” “Sure.” And it rocked.

I learned that for all of Michael Tiemann’s visionary-ness, he was once a more prolific down-and-dirty hacker than I’d ever dreamed — and that he only tells his best stories after a few glasses of the vino primo. (Stories which he prefaces with, “I hope this doesn’t sound like bragging, but what the hell, I’ve had a couple….”)

I learned that Seth Vidal is perfectly happy to be the guy who screams at people when they don’t have their shit together. That’s good, because it means that he can say all of the things that I want to say, and then I can say, “tut tut, Seth, be reasonable.” Which is great. (Except, of course, when I’m the one he’s yelling at.)

I learned that just because Google has a ton of money, it doesn’t mean that their parties are any good. I mean, it was okay — but we all had visions of a truly corrupting bacchanale fueled by rivers of liquor and gobs of stock market cash. We were sorely disappointed — stupid ethical company! Oh well. I got a T-shirt.

I learned that there’s no way to thank everyone for all the help they give you in life — but that’s no excuse not to try.

I learned that people, for the most part, want very badly for Fedora to succeed — and we owe it to them, as well as to ourselves, not to screw it up.

What I learned at FUDCon 1

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