Council Elections Interview with Langdon White (langdon)

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This is a part of Fedora Council Elections interviews series. This is an important election, as two candidates will be selected as the Elected Representives, seats which carry full membership in our new top-level leadership and governance body.

Voting is open to all Fedora contributors. The elections starts on November 18th and closes promptly at 00:00 UTC on November 26th.

Please read the responses from all five candidates and make your choices carefully:

Feel free to ask questions of the candidates here or elsewhere!

Interview with Langdon White (langdon)

Langdon White

What is your background in Fedora? What have you worked on and what are you doing now?

I never really got involved with a distro until the past couple years. Even though I was a Linux user, I never thought I had much to contribute to a distro because I didn’t (and don’t ) know almost anything about the practical aspects of a distro. I know a lot about programming and software architecture but not the kinds that are used when building an OS. As of now, I have been using RHEL, Fedora, and CentOS pretty much exclusively for about 2.5 years. I help out on random content, representing developers, advocating to developers, and, generally, trying to agitate for how I think Fedora can be awesome.

What is your vision for Fedora? Where should we be in five years?

I want Fedora be the de facto developer desktop. Instead of wandering around a conference (including OSS-focused ones) and seeing mac after mac, I want to see those people using Linux. In the meantime, I want developers from any platform to prefer to deploy their applications to a Fedora flavor because the tools are the best and the community is the most welcoming.

What does it mean for Fedora to be successful? What is “winning” for our project?

As the computing environment changes to embrace “alternate computing devices”, I see an opportunity for Fedora to embrace the “content creators” using the same strategies as successful startups: start with one user persona, gather metrics, and react based on the data; rinse & repeat.

Winning means, putting our pre-conceived notions aside, understanding our users (and our future users) and delivering to them a rewarding experience. I also think it means, becoming the “distro of outreach” –
the distro that wants open source projects to be successful and encourages, enables, and supports them in doing so.

What are the most pressing issues facing Fedora today? What should we do about them?

The explosion and acceptance of open source software has been awesome for the world at large, but it has been tough for Linux distros in general and Fedora in particular because of the sheer volume of technologies and the rate of change. As a result, I think significant automation is the only way to successfully scale the distro.

I also believe that all the distros have become so good that without innovation within the distro itself (vs ensuring the quality and integration of upstream projects alone), we can’t differentiate how we are better.

What are your interests and experience outside of Fedora? What of those things will help you in this role?

I have spent significant personal and professional time engaged in Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence which provides me some unique ideas on increased automation.

I have spent a long time as a professional developer, architect, and development manager in very high caliber and high pressure environments. However, most of that work has been in 3-tier/n-tier architectures (vs operating systems) which I think gives me a different perspective on how we can approach the design of the distro as it to becomes a part of a vast network of services.

I have spent most of my career, and a lot of my life, as a “fixer.” What does that mean? Well, in a lot of movies, its the guy who comes in and gets rid of the body(ies) when things go sideways . However, what it has meant for me has been, “hey, xyz project is failing, please fix.” As a result, I am very good at understanding problems (preferably quickly ), recognizing and collaborating on solutions, and then working with people to resolve them. I believe that this skill is really important for Fedora right now as we deal with a myriad of blockers to the “success criteria” I outlined above.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I believe. I believe in open source changing the world. I believe in Fedora (the software and the community) being in the enviable and unique position to deliver something new.

Care to share a screenshot of your Fedora desktop?

Sure, but it is really boring . Probably more interesting are the two desktops of approximately 12 firefox windows with ~20 tabs per window; two instances of thunderbird managing 4+ mailboxes; irc and IM clients, 3-5 terminal windows with 2-3 tabs per, and an instance of gedit mostly for clearing formatting on c/p and copies of content in case something crashes. But, that is harder to grab a screenshot of.

Langdon White's desktop screenshot Langdon White's desktop screenshot

Have you used Fedora in a cloud or server context?

Yes. However, I am mostly a developer, so I have pretty limited experience with running servers in production. That said, I have built and deployed a large number of applications on a large number of different OSs in the cloud and on premise. I just don’t normally manage them.

What did you do on your last vacation or weekend off?

Having kids means this doesn’t really occur anymore . That said, this coming weekend is a decent example of a non-working weekend. My oldest son is playing in a soccer (nee football) tournament so I will be driving 40 minutes away from home (each way) and attending at least 4 games on Saturday and Sunday. My daughter and younger son will be performing a couple of songs from their upcoming musical (The Music Man) at “South Boston Community Day” which I hope to be back from the tournament in time to see. My partner and I will try to attend a friend’s gallery opening on Saturday night. And all 5 of us will try to watch this week’s Pokemon and Teen Titans Go episodes together!

What do you want to achieve as member of council?

The two things that come to mind as concrete goals are:

  • Establishing a set of initiatives/objectives with concrete plans with a longer horizon than the next release.
  • Drive new participation by application developers in the Fedora community

Anything else voters should know?

Langdon White
Probably lots… But this is long enough already.

How do you envision improving collaboration with downstream communities (ie: CentOS)?

Personally, I try to talk to some of the leads of the CentOS project pretty regularly. I believe a lot of other community members do as well. I suspect there is less disconnect than one might expect between the various projects. However, I think it might be a great idea to try to enable some more formal collaboration especially given the upheaval in the industry and distros in general. Ideas off the top of my head: maybe a working session/series at the next Flock? Perhaps an online “summit” where any/all distros can get together for a series of proposed discussions?

Fedora Project community

1 Comment

  1. A bit off-topic, but why 2 instances of Thunderbird?

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