Welcoming the CentOS Community to the Red Hat family.

Welcome, CentOS community folks, to the wider family of Red Hat sponsored community projects.

Just a short bit ago, Red Hat and the CentOS Project jointly announced the creation of a formal, collaborative relationship, which effectively (for lack of a better metaphor) “adopts” the CentOS project into the family of other Red Hat-sponsored communities such as the Gluster Community, OpenShift Origin, the JBoss Community, and of course, the Fedora Project.

From the perspective of Daddy Shadowman, this is Big News, of course; from a community perspective, frankly, it’s something that I think should have been done long ago.  I know that many people, myself included, have friends contributing in one way or another to CentOS, or contribute themselves, and have long considered CentOS to be part of our ecosystem; having the “blessing,” and support, of Red Hat, is something I see as a Good Thing. More about those Good Things shortly. In the meantime:

If you haven’t read the FAQ, I encourage you to do so. I know that lots of folks generally assume that an FAQ is not going to have a lot of information, but in this case it is actually quite replete (in fact, I have joked that when printed, it weighs approximately 6 pounds), and will likely answer any questions that people might have. For those interested, there is also a webcast with Brian Stevens, our lovely CTO, at 5pm Eastern; and of course you can head on over to the CentOS Project website to get more information. (Or to get acquainted, if you aren’t. But seriously; I know you are. Come on.)

Despite the plethora of available information, I expect that there may be folks within the Fedora Project community who will have questions above and beyond the answers provided in the FAQ. The Fedora Project just recently celebrated its anniversary of 10 years as a community; both Fedora and Red Hat have grown tremendously during those 10 years, and the Fedora Project’s evolution as a community, and what Red Hat has learned during that process, has paved the way for many of Red Hat’s other communities’ successes. But more pertinently: the Fedora Project is a community that deeply cares not just about ourselves, but also about other communities, and about the state of free and open source software in general. And thus, I know some questions that may arise may come not only from our own experiences as a “Red Hat sponsored community project”, but also out of our deep knowledge of “how the sausage is made,” so to speak, and curiosities may be sparked about various technical implementation details. I’m happy to answer those questions where I can, either personally, or on the Fedora Board list; other questions might be more appropriate for other groups, such as the Infrastructure team, or even on the CentOS mailing lists themselves. I trust that most folks within the Fedora Project can figure out where to direct such questions.

That said – I’m happy to provide a bit more Fedora-related context, in the hopes that it might appease curiosities, and also because I would hate to see a perfectly good roll of tin foil go to waste on an unnecessary hat. :) And so, a few points follow:

  1. The new relationship between Red Hat and the CentOS Project changes absolutely nothing about how the Fedora Project will work, or affect the role that Fedora fulfills in Red Hat’s production of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Fedora will continue to set the standard for developing and incorporating the newest technological innovations in the operating system; those innovations will continue to make their way downstream, both into Red Hat Enterprise Linux, CentOS, and many other -EL derivatives.
  2. Those of you who are Fedora Package Maintainers are not now suddenly obligated to maintaining anything in the CentOS Community.  Additionally, this does not affect Fedora’s EPEL work; this will continue to be something that the Fedora Project provides, as long as it wishes to do so.
  3. The Fedora and CentOS communities are not going to be “forced” somehow to work together.  Obviously, there exists a number of places where we have overlap in processes, build infrastructure software, and the like, and we certainly have the opportunity ahead of us to cooperate and share when it makes sense. The CentOS folks will be having a more transparent build system, and building out a release and infrastructure community – areas where we have expertise in what is incredibly similar tooling; similarly, they also have deep pockets of expertise in various types of automated build testing that haven’t become a critical part of Fedora’s culture yet. As I said previously – there are already numerous friendships forged between members of these two communities, and I would expect that over time, the things that make sense to collaborate on will become more obvious, and that teams from the two respective communities will gravitate towards one another when it makes sense.

In short: Nothing is really changing for those of us in the Fedora Project, at least in any way that we don’t choose to change ourselves. But 10 years of our own evolution as a project certainly doesn’t mean that we’re done growing, learning, changing over the next 10 years, and beyond. As the CentOS Project continues to nurture and grow its own community, I expect that many of those community members will naturally more interested in understanding how to influence the future of RHEL – the thing that eventually becomes CentOS – which is, of course, the space where we in the Fedora Project shine. While this was possible before, the “blessing” by Red Hat allows the CentOS project latitude that didn’t really exist before as far as “reaching out.” The great opportunity for Fedora now is not only to help those community members make that trip over the bridge from the downstream community to our upstream community, but also to tap into the wealth of end-user expertise and hands-on experience that is had by the collective community of CentOS users – and seriously, THERE ARE A LOT OF THEM – and to really listen, to create a feedback loop from those ultimate end-users back to the developers who are creating what will become the next generation of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. And make it even better.

(Those are those Good Things to which I previously referred, BTW.)

I hope that everyone in the Fedora Project can join me in welcoming CentOS to the Big Happy Family.  I talked to Karanbir Singh, my counterpart in the CentOS project, on the phone yesterday, and expressed this, but it’s something I mean from the bottom of my heart, and isn’t just for him, or my other new coworkers (Jim Perrin, Johnny Hughes, Fabian Arrotin – welcome, guys!) — but really, for all of the extended CentOS Community: I really hope that this goes smoothly for you guys. And if you have questions, about anything – I’m here, and I’m sure many others in the Fedora Project will be here too. We’ve been down many of the paths that you guys will see in the future – and hope that you guys can benefit from our past experiences. So don’t hesitate to ask. Really.

Congratulations to all of you.

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