Memorial Day in the US is traditionally the unofficial start of summer, but ironically it’s also the start of a busy community season around the world.
With more students out of school, code contributions on various projects tend to rise. Conferences also tend to increase in frequency (particularly towards the end of the season). But even as life gets busier, it’s important to remember to pace yourself.
Let’s not kid ourselves: the free and open source community is not all laurel (yanni?) leaves and Kumbaya. There are arguments all the time.
Vi vs. emacs. Restrictive vs. permissive. Open vs. proprietary. Heck, on most days, I have had discussions about one or more of these topics before I’ve finished my morning coffee.
When you add business interests in the mix, the arguments add a whole new layer of motivation because now we’re talking about money and sales.
It’s a pretty violent metaphor, this notion of what happens to your open source software project if one or more of its members might get hit by a bus. Or a truck. Or whatever motor vehicle of doom happens to be barreling down the road of fate. At first thought, one might simply want to urge people to look both ways when crossing the street.
But the bus factor is a real concern for many open source projects, because too often a lot of the work finds itself in the hands of just a few people, who in turn become very critical to the project’s success.
Whether it’s a favorite sports team, a school, or just a group of friends, there is something about human nature that seems to drive many of us to display our affiliation.
We do this, typically, by displaying plumage that is synchronized. If I am a fan or a particular team, and I see someone wearing a matching jersey, then I can identify with that person in some way, even if it’s the first time I have met them.
This week is our annual Red Hat Summit, a time when many of our nearly 12,000 employees put their work down and come together to work with customers and determine how best to work together moving forward.
This may seem pretty antithetical to the goals of a team like ours, where free and open source projects are the focus, not commericial support and training. But actually customers get just as much benefit talking with the community projects as they do the sales and engineering teams.
As mentioned, last week was not a super-happy fun time for many residents in my area of the country. Things are certainly better now, which is great, and we are all enjoying the sunny and dry weather.
There’s nothing like a calamity to take pre-conceived notions and shove them into your face. Seeing a community in action through the unpleasant times gives you insight into how communities should act in the more quiescent times.
Watching our city mayor through all of this was one such example.
This week, a combination of 6 inches of rain in 36 hours, 12 inches of existing snow, sudden 60-degree weather, and still-frozen ground created record-breaking floods in my city. (For those on the metric system, that’s 15.2 cm rain, 30.5 cm of snow, and 15.6 degrees C.)
Complicating this for me personally is that fact that I live one block away from a river which crested 7.2 feet (2.2 m) above flood stage late Wednesday night. The water is receding now, and our street is open for traffic again.
So, it’s been a fun week for the ducks, as you can see in the picture of the normally dry park across the street from my house. (The good news is for my family, the water coming in the basement is coming in at a rate a pump can keep up and it’s clean ground water. A worse flood in 2016 prompted us to pack everything up in plastic bins.)
One of the blessings—and curses— of working at Red Hat is that you get to be around and hear about a lot of cool tech. This may not sound like much of a curse, until you realize that you are usually so busy doing what you are doing, there’s rarely time to explore something new.
This can be exacerbated a little bit when you work remote, like I and many of my colleagues do. I have the good fortune of living in a small U.S. city, but one of the weird things about this location is no one rarely expects to meet someone from a large fairly well-known company who loves in their hometown.
The upshot of these encounters is that I usually get inundated with tech questions about which I may know little to nothing. Case in point: a couple of months ago I attended a hack-the-city meetup and when I introduced myself, I was immediately hit with questions about Ansible—one of those cool bits of tech I have been meaning to try.
Did you ever have one of those weeks where you look back at your life choices and wonder why you did what you did?
Oh, did I have one of those weeks.
It started when I discovered that the organizers of FOSDEM were posting their video content on YouTube this year—something they have not always done in the past.
During FOSDEM, I had the privilege of co-chairing the Community DevRoom with Laura Czajkowski of Couchbase for the second time. We got a much larger room this year (80 seats, up from 40 last year) and still had a packed house the entire day with a queue for seats reaching down the stairs for all talks.
We were also honored to hear from the organizers that they received unsolicited feedback from several attendees that the DevRoom was one of the best at the event and had a great mix of talks for both seasoned open source contributors and folks who were old hands in the tech world but new to open source or to FOSDEM.
You can check out all the talks, and videos have been posted for each one.