When the time came for me to step aside as the chairman of the Fedora Extras Steering Committee, I was definitely ready to be done with it. It’s a job that, done properly, burns you out and frustrates you. That’s the nature of the beast. It’s a tough job. Leadership jobs always are.
So I have a pretty good idea of how outgoing FESCo chairman Thorsten Leemhuis feels today, I suspect. Relief, mostly. Also, I hope, pride in what he’s accomplished.
I was the first chair of FESCo. Before FESCo, we’d never really managed to put non-Redhatters into any positions of power within the allegedly “community driven” Fedora Project. Sure, there were influential folks in the community who had made friends inside the Red Hat fenceline. There was the #testabc cabal, there were the remnants of the fedora.us community, there were translaters and a few testers. There were pockets of involvement here and there. Really, though, the now legendary fake Fedora IRC chat was pretty much 100% accurate. Hilarious, painful, completely true. And FESCo was our first attempt to give the Fedora community real power.
The initial goal of FESCo was modest, and relatively simple: give community maintainers the mandate, and the tools, to build and distribute high-quality packages for Fedora. But the real goal was always larger than that. The real goal was to revolutionize the way that Fedora was built — to make Fedora into a true, 100% community distribution.
But to do that, we first had to prove — to the world at large, and just as importantly, to the suits at Red Hat — that the Fedora community was a trustworthy partner. So for me, personally, the first milestone for real, lasting community success was to hand control of FESCo to a strong community leader.
Everyone I spoke to agreed: that leader was Thorsten Leemhuis. From the first day he took the job, he demonstrated that he was the exact right choice for the position.
In his tenure as the leader of FESCo, Thorsten was always the consummate diplomat. He wanted to know what other people thought. He listened. He governed by consensus. He was not pushy, but he was no pushover, either. He knew how to lead discussions respectfully, and he knew how to get things done. Under his leadership, the Fedora Extras community grew from a few dozen community packagers to several hundred. He brought us right up to the doorstep of this new era, where there will be no Extras and no Core — just one top-notch community-built distribution called Fedora.
It is my sincere hope that he will be a key voice in defining the governance model of the new Fedora. Max and I both urged him to come to FUDCon Boston 2007, and thankfully he agreed. If you should want to thank Thorsten personally for his service to Fedora, this would be the perfect time to do it.
So thanks, Thorsten, for everything. I can’t wait to talk with you over beers at FUDPub about your next big trick. 😉