Thu 16 February 2012

On my relationship with fedora medical

Posted by ankur in Tech (764 words, approximately a 4 minute read)

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Of late, I've had to deal with the fact that people believe that the driving force behind me applying for the fedora medical GSoC last year was only money. I address the matter in this post.

Susmit had initiated the fedora medical SIG in an attempt to make a fedora based spin that would be packed with software related to health care.

Last year, at the time of the GSoC, Mario and Susmit put up fedora medical as one of the prospective projects for the Fedora GSoC. Here's the entry from the wiki page:

Fedora Medical

Status: In progress.

Summary of idea: Here, we are looking for a couple students who have some experience in RPM packaging, python, and bash. This would be a good opportunity to learn in depth packaging and fedora contributor ecosystem.

This is a work in progress and details can be found here:

We are looking forward to do mainly packaging and getting them published to fedora repo. However, we will also be doing some tooling and associated works. So, python and bash will be required.

Understanding fedora package maintainer guideline is required. Having existing packages in fedora will be a plus. Also, the student should be interested in maintaining some of those packages after SOC.

Contacts: Susmit Shannigrahi

Mentor(s): Susmit and Mario Ceresa


As you'll see, the requirements were to be adept at RPM packaging. This happens to be one of my areas of contribution in Fedora, and I'm pretty good at it. You'll notice it also mentions that:

"the student should be interested in maintaining some of those packages after SOC."

The intention, as I understand it, was for the student to hang on to the packages until the SIG expanded and volunteers who actually used the software could take over. A student may or may not have healthcare as his subjects, and cannot be expected to maintain all the packages single handed. The main purpose of the above GSoC idea was:

"We are looking forward to do mainly packaging and getting them published to fedora repo."

Packaging was right up my alley, I applied. Since I was already a package maintainer with almost 4 years of packaging experience, and an undergraduate student, I fit the bill pretty well and was accepted. I worked on the packages throughout the GSoC period with weekly blog updates. You can find all my GSoC related blog entries for the entire 4 months in the archives: May 2011, June, July and August. The final report is here.

Once the SoC was over, I tried to complete my pending reviews, and looked for people who could take over the packages in the long term. Here's my request to the devel list. As John suggested, I didn't orphan them, to save the new maintainers the trouble of getting them re-reviewed. I'm still carrying them.

So my incentive was only money then? Why? Because I didn't take it upon myself to keep the SIG alive? How/Why is that on my shoulders? Why does a failed/in hiatus fedora medical SIG imply that my GSoC term was a failure? I beg to disagree. I accept that the fedora medical SIG is inactive due to whatever reasons. But, I did my part: I completed my packages, my review swaps, my progress updates. My part was never to take over the SIG and lead it. My part was never to lobby for new recruits. Even then, I did try. The inactivity of the SIG means that the work I did on all those packages is going waste, in case it isn't apparent. I got paid for my work, as per the terms of GSoC. If the SIG has now gone on hiatus, should I return the money I got for my work?

The driving force was fedora-medical needing someone to package their software up quickly so they could proceed with their spin release. I was paid for successfully carrying out the required task. For those who aren't aware, the GSoC has two appraisal periods where mentors (in my case Mario and Susmit) grade the students' work. I passed both of these, only after which I was paid.

I resent the idea that's been floating: my contribution was only driven by money. This is not in line with "being excellent to each other".

I've read and re-read, revised and re-revised this post to get rid of anything that might offend anyone. I've taken no names, pointed no fingers. Please do not deduce anything of the sort from the post. I only want the air around me cleared up.

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