An Interview with Greg DeKoenigsberg
Published on 18 March 2006
On the heels of the much-anticipated Fedora Core 5 launch, we have managed to conduct an interview with Greg DeKoenigsberg. Greg DeKoenigsberg presently serves as Red Hat's Community Relations Manager and is on the Fedora Extras Steering Committee. Today in this interview, we posed him a series of questions in regards to this upcoming release that will take place on Monday, March 20, 2006. There are also other pertinent questions to the future of the Fedora Project as well as other general Linux outlooks. This interview was conducted a few days ago prior to the knowledge of the five-day delay from its revised March 15 schedule.
Phoronix: Thank you for the time to answer some of our questions. First off, are you able to tell us about your position at Red Hat and as the community relations manager for Red Hat and on the Fedora Extras Steering Committee? I am sure some readers would also be interested in hearing a bit about yourself, such as when you are not vigorously involved with Fedora and perhaps where you received your formal training. In addition, why and when did you begin your adventures with Linux?
Greg DeKoenigsberg: Sure. As far as formalized training goes... I have been a computer geek since the age of 10, studied English in college and then dropped out, did a lot of web development during the dotcom heyday, and ended up working my way through a lot of Unix and BSD systems before I found Red Hat Linux 5.2. As it happens, I knew people who knew people who worked for Red Hat, and in 2001, I was as an engineering manager for Red Hat Network. Does that count as formalized training? I don't know, but I certainly learned a lot.
Now my day job at Red Hat is "community development manager", which means I'm in charge of developing Red Hat's relationship with various community entities. Practically speaking, it seemed like Fedora needed the most direct help, so that's where I've been spending most of my time for the past year or so: putting together FUDCons, organizing Fedora committees (including the Fedora Extras committee, which is now chaired by community member Thorsten Leemhuis), and just figuring out how to keep the community momentum around Fedora going strong. It's a full-time job, and more.
As far as what I do outside my day job... I have a wife. And a dog. Sometimes we go places. Mostly we stay home.
Phoronix: With the Fedora Core 5 release approaching, what are some of the notable features and improvements with Core 5 that were not found in previous releases from the Fedora Project?
Greg DeKoenigsberg: Better security, better package management, better Java, better virtualization. Lots of better stuff. But the release notes will tell a better story than I will. :)
Phoronix: With the Fedora Community Free Media Project being in "development stage" with Fedora Core 4, are you able to comment on the success of this program and are there any other plans to expand its reach to other potential markets?
Greg DeKoenigsberg: It's just starting out. Really, we're trying to figure out the best ways of getting Fedora into the hands of people who need it, in ways that scale. The Free Media project is one way. We'll continue to look for others.
Phoronix: As was shared with Phoronix readers over the various Fedora Core 5 testing stages, this next release features a largely improved Anaconda installer. Its user interface appears to be completely re-designed and there has been some talk of major underlying improvements when it comes to resolving package dependencies, etc... Would you mind sharing a few of these new details regarding FC5 Anaconda?
Greg DeKoenigsberg: The biggest change is the introduction of yum as the dependency resolver under the covers. Not a very visible change, but the implications are huge. We've been working for a long time to unify all of the tools that touch software packages in Fedora, and with this release, we've done it. The biggest win about yum is that it knows how to reconcile content from different repositories. The next obvious step: selecting packages at install time from lots of different places, and not just from your install media. From there, simple custom distros are not too far away.
Phoronix: For desktop users, the artwork in Fedora Core 5 is vastly improved beyond past Core releases, and there SELinux advancements made to improve the security. There are also stated to be several improvements to disk encryption. Do you have any comments on these various improvements?
Greg DeKoenigsberg: Well, as far as the artwork goes, it helps to have an interesting and identifiable logo. Beyond that, the work of Diana Fong and the Fedora Artwork folks is just pure fun.
As far as SELinux / disk encryption, they just represent further advances in an area that's incredibly important to us: security. The important thing about security is that you have to find ways not just to protect users, but to overprotect them. We are *really* serious about Fedora being the most secure free operating system out there. *Incredibly* serious. With advances like position-independent executables and ExecShield, we make it harder for programmers to build exploitable holes. If a cracker does get root, new SELinux policies make it harder and harder to use root for anything. Now with disk encryption, we make it easy for the paranoid user to lock down data physically -- no password, no access. Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you, right?
So, to recap: more security goooood.
Phoronix: Fedora Extras has seemed to increase in popularity since the repository was made available in Fedora Core 3. Are there any notable packages that will be making their way into the Fedora Core 5 Extras repository in the near future that hadn't previously made the voyage? Similarly, as of this interview, the Fedora 5 Extras repository has yet to appear to the public, will this open on March 15, or will a delay be involved?
Greg DeKoenigsberg: Fedora Extras will become more and more integrated over time. In FC4, the Extras repositories were enabled by default for the first time, and over time we'll certainly look for chances to bring Pup and Pirut even closer.
As far as the Fedora Extras repo for FC5... you can bet we'll be working hard to ensure that Fedora Extras is ready when FC5 hits the streets.
Phoronix: This is the first Fedora release to drop Red Hat's up2date program for acquiring the various package updates and instead has been replaced by Pup, while system-config-packages has been replaced with Pirut. What are some of the reasons to enact these changes and could you state some of the advantages over their predecessors?
Greg DeKoenigsberg: up2date is really much more suited for the RHEL product line; it's got a lot of great functionality for people who are managing large deployments. In Fedora, though, we feel like moving to Pup and Pirut allows us to concentrate on making software management easy for the individual.
Phoronix: Fedora Core 5 also now benefits from the Novell-sponsored Mono and its open-source .NET implementation. Some of the packages that ship with Fedora Core 5 and rely upon Mono are Tomboy, Beagle, and F-Spot. In future Fedora releases will we see yet a larger implementation of Mono programs and what was the intention of including Mono with Fedora as opposed to simply including it with Fedora Extras?
Greg DeKoenigsberg: The thing about Tomboy, Beagle and F-Spot is that they're just plain good applications. We had to get comfortable with the legal scenario, though, and the inclusion of Mono as a protected technology by the Open Invention Network gave us the comfort level we needed. For more information, read Mark Webbink's article about OIN in the April edition of Linux Magazine.
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