18 February 2011

Romanian Fedora community at crossroads

By the official numbers there are 9 Fedora Ambassadors for Romania, this sounds like a healthy number but: some of them I know nothing about, from some didn't hear in more than a year, some are busy with life, some working exclusively on derivative distros, some left the country and some left the country with a paid job on a competing distro... Also, I am not an Ambassador, so not included in the list above. Yet.

We had our little Romanian Fedora community in Bucharest: two ambassadors (one contributing code and packaging, another focusing mostly on our own infrastructure) and me, having a hand in many things. We are joined at times by an Ambassador from a far-away city (he works mostly in localization) and another Ambassador from Bucharest disappointed enough by Fedora to become a CentOS refugee and contributor. Not big, but I can say we are friends and were able to to some things: organize release parties, represent Fedora at event and conferences, work with other organizations, maintain a website with news and user support (forum)... in a word be visible. All this while having a lot of fun.


What's our status now? Well... one of us left the country to work on a competing commercial distro, one will leave the country in a few days and will get probably swamped with work at a new job, one as I said before, moved completely to CentOS and the other was promoted and is also swamped with work. Soon the community in Bucharest will be left only on my shoulders, me who I also am quite disgruntled and wondering what to do for the future, with Fedora being less and less the distro and the community we all knew, loved and contributed to.

I am looking forward and those are the options I see:
  • do nothing, continue by inertia and leave the things to evolve naturally. If there will be a genuine need, people will come and help "make it", if not, let it die by natural death, it was not needed;
  • reborn, find somehow the needed energy (I am really empty by now) to raise awareness and recruit new contributors, inject new enthusiasm, make friends, get exciting things happen;
  • give-up, acknowledge "they" destroyed Fedora, acknowledge my friends already left or are far away, I can't "make it happen" and go away, where the life will lead on.

So, not trying to be overly dramatic, what should I do? Why? I am sure other people from the community passed trough similar times and may be helpful to learn about their experience.

PS: this is not and invitation for other community distros to try to "recruit" me



  1. I suggest you keep on keeping on... but I live halfway around the world from you... and what does my opinion matter? You'll have to decide for yourself.

    I'm hoping your snarky comments and graphics will eventually brighten up at some point and you'll get over being slighted with the graphics direction of Fedora 15 when development on Fedora 16 starts to happen. We'll see if you hold out long enough. I certainly hope you do because I enjoy your creativity, energy, sense of humor, and writing and picture taking. I haven't checked out any of the videos yet.

    Regarding the whole Fedora Edited thing. There have been some complaints on GNOME Planet and on Fedora Planet about some obviously unrelated material being posted. I have found a few of them annoying myself. Those include reviews of Ubuntu or other distro experiences on Fedora Planet. Talk of commercial software products or Windows stuff on GNOME Planet. Both planets are independent and not really related and I only bring GNOME Planet up (which I don't regularly read but I think some stuff gets cross-posted from there to Fedora) as another example. Generally most of us just ignore the definitely off-topic posts and move on... but I don't really blame them for finally creating an "Edited" or if you prefer "Censored" flavor of it... while not impeding the regular flavor of it.

    I don't recall any painfully off-topic material by you so I would guess your stuff would make it to Edited anyway... but it is obvious that you are trying to push things in a mini-rebellion kind of way... which is generally done by people who are seeking to be pushed back... but only you can say for sure.

    Whatever you decide brother, it'll work out, I'm sure. Peace!

  2. I remember myself years ago asking for contributions just in the same way you did.
    Good luck my friend, though my experience says we're lonely wolves.

  3. @stas: i am not sure i can go on all by myself... surely when i started with fedora i was alone doing my own thing, then we grew as a (local) community. however, looking at fedora now i have to think twice (thrice?) about restarting

  4. @Scott: i was also annoyed about the Ubuntu thing on Planet Fedora or about the pro-Microsoft thing on Planet GNOME, but i enjoy a lot learning from Planet Fedora what new photos my friend X made, what my friend Y cooked or what's new about my friend Z dog... we are humans and we are supposed to be friends... if i wanted press releases i would read press releases, if i want technical info i can read it in the multitude of mailing lists i am subscribed to.

  5. Hey, I'm sure Sirko would miss your inspirational work if you decide to go away. Then again, he surely would also appreciate working with you on our distro :D

  6. @Andrei: i have to repeat my PS? 'this is not and invitation for other community distros to try to "recruit" me'

  7. Nicu... you... "go on all by yourself"? You are never alone. Look at all of the events you attend. Look at all of the photos of others you take. And those hot model photos you have shared from time to time... like wow. I envy you in so many ways. Sorry for sounding like a sexist pig... but I am one sometimes.

    Anyway... count your blessings... even if the sky is falling a little. If you didn't care you wouldn't be so public about it.

    Let it be known that I'm a lowly Fedora Ambassadors who isn't really that active with regards to actually contributing to Fedora. I live in the state of Montana in the US. I decided to skim the wikipedia pages for Romania and Montana to compare them some.

    Romania - 92,043 sq mi
    Montana - 147,042 sq mi

    Romanai - 21,959,278
    Montana - 989,415

    Linux and/or Fedora events within 400 miles of Montana? 0 The Utah Open Source Conference is the closest (about 450 miles) followed by LinuxFest Northwest (about 1,000 miles)... and I try to go to both although I missed the last UTOSC.

    Linux and/or Fedora events within 400 miles of Romaia? Not sure but you seem to go to a lot of them. :)

    I've yet to make it to a Fudcon nor a Red Hat Summit... they've always been more than 1,000 miles away... and I don't have a lot of money for such events... but I'd definitely like to go.

    Number of FAs in Montana that I'm aware of:
    1 - me

    Number of FAs in Romania:
    How many you said minus the ones who have moved on... leaving just you. Given the size and population of Romania (vs Montana anyway), I'm guessing you have potentially a half dozen within a stones throw.

    As I see it, I'm more alone than you but you don't seem me complaining... or am I? :)

    Regarding the Edited thing again... it is just an alternative to the main feed and not the default. It doesn't hurt anything to have it. I wouldn't call it press releases only either. I have my own blog but I have not bothered to try and get my posts onto Fedora Planet because I didn't want to have to think about what I said being posted to Planet... and most of what I write about is local stuff. Sure Edited happened in the middle of this saucy time but don't take that personally. They should have started it a long time ago... mainly to give those who do get overly upset about off-topic posts a happy land of their own. So to reiterate, Edited isn't really for you, but for a few others. Now if they ever make Edited the default, then it would be time to get pissed.

  8. i know i feel bad because it does feel like everyone around is going away... maybe my cry will make people silent in the community make a step forward.

    yes, things happens because we make them: when i go to conferences i usually pay from my own pocket - FOSDEM, FUDCon, the Fedora launch parties happened because we organized them (if there is a next one I will be overwhelmed by Debian people, heck, maybe even by SUSE people now... the wheel is turning), the monthly LUG meetings happen with a lot of effort from us... and then people snub at you saying "make it".

    About the Edit thing... I lived a good part of my life (16 years) in a dictatorial regime, with censure and lack of freedom, sorry but I grew quickly intolerant with anything that resembles it... if someone want filtering he can use his own system... put in a RSS reader (Google reader, Liferea, whatever) only the feeds he is interested in and delete when he does not like something. Having the selection made by an arbitrary authority (the "authority" being a person who joined Fedora less than a month ago make it only worse) is censure and divides the community in two classes: the elite and the plebes... but I feel this division more and more every day inside the project.

    You know what was recomforting a bit? Going at FOSDEM and seeing most of the European Ambassadors/contributors are unhappy with the status and direction of the project... so I am not totally insane.

  9. Please do me a favor... could you email me and specify what things people are unhappy about? I've really only heard bits and pieces and I'm thinking I'm missing significant chunks. I'd like to hear. I'm email me and writing that up will consume your time and probably reopen the frustration, but I'd appreciate it.


  10. Nicu, I didn't snub you by saying "Make it". I actually said, "You make it." Sadly, you have chose to make Fedora a place where it's cool to pick on Girl Scouts. Using the program I put time, love, and energy into as your platform for making war.

    Not classy.

    This blog post is the closest you've been to being reasonable about what's happening. Don't think I'm too stupid to understand your new hackergotchi, though.

    You spit in the face of a friend, why? I don't know. But you are the one who chose to behave this way. I never attacked you.

  11. @Máirín: friends are the people who don't let me down.

    as for the wigs... the girls in the local FOSS community love them and I am talking about computer science students, design students and so.

  12. Nicu my suggestion is that you try to present Fedora to high-schoolers and students to "recruit" fresh blood, it you believe that is what is needed. If not just continue doing stuff that you can as an individual and leave stuff aside that required more people.

    Also I'm interested which distro your friends started?