Once again, Mitch Kapor proves that he’s smarter than I am. In particular, the section “What Open Source Needs to Succeed” is truly eye-opening, and should serve as the playbook for the Fedora Project in general. In particular, it’s what the Fedora Extras Project should strive towards.
Mitch lists the seven bullet points for “what makes an open source project succeed.” Four are technical infrastructure, three are community infrastructure.
So. Let’s look at them, and just for fun, let’s see how Fedora Extras stacks up.
1. Is there a publicly available source code repository? (At long last, yes.)
2. Is there a public bug-tracking system? (Indeed; we’re using bugzilla.redhat.com, and one hopes that our usage will become very conscientious over time.)
3. What are the communication vehicles that the project uses—a mailing list, a wiki, IRC? Do these help people who want to participate? (Yep. We use all three.)
4. Are the tools used in the project suitable for getting the project done? (Ah, good question. These tools are still undergoing serious transmogrification; we’ve got a build system in progress (Sethyoudaman) and an account management system in progress (Sopwithyoudaman), so that’s a start. More importantly, I hope we’re developing the will to create these tools as we discover the need for them.)
5. How does the community work? (In the past, not at all, and this hurdle has been one of the biggest to overcome; figuring out this question is very nearly my full-time job these days. Right now, the community works with an ad-hoc set of processes, documented at fedoraproject.org, with a lot of overhead required of dedicated individuals. To the degree that we can reduce this overhead with tools from (4), we will ultimately succeed, or fail.)
6. How do decisions get made? (This was the entire purpose of creating the Fedora Extras Steering Committee, so that a responsible, accountable decision-making body could exist. There are still open questions about how the composition of this body will change over time, but the key characteristic of this body is that it consists of Red Hatters and community members in equal measure, and all are committed to working towards the right answers for the project as it evolves.)
7. What are the power relationships? (The sixty-four dollar question. One of the central purposes of the Fedora Extras project is to change the balance of power. It’s the first step (among many, I hope) to making the Fedora Project less cathedral and more bazaar.)
I think we’re on the right track. And Mitch, thanks again for your insights. Man, what a smart dude. I stumble for months to get these objectives clear in my mind, and he nails them down in, oh, a page and a half.