how decisions are made in fedora art

Max Spevack mspevack at
Thu Dec 21 19:50:54 UTC 2006

*NOTE* -- this is a long email, but I hope ultimately that anyone who 
reads it will find it wasn't a waste of time.

=== Where I am coming from ===

In case some of the folks on this list don't know me, I'm Max Spevack. 
My job is "Fedora Project Leader" and insofar as that makes me ultimately 
accountable for everything that either does or does not happen in Fedora, 
I've been asked by a few different people to jump in on this list and try 
to help with the decision making process.

I am not particularly active on this list.  I am not an artist, nor am I 
here to tell anyone "this art is good and this art is not as good".  I 
liked the FC5 art.  I like the FC6 art.  I trust that the Fedora 7 art 
will also be great.

But what I am interested in is making sure that all of the various Fedora 
sub-projects are able to make progress, work toward their goals, etc. 
And to do so in a way that is consistent with the community, meritocracy, 
etc. ideas of Fedora.

So I shall try to help in that regard.

=== What is Fedora Art trying to do? ===

What is certain to be an incomplete picture:

(1) Develop the different pieces of a desktop theme (icons, backgrounds), 
ultimately resulting in an "official theme" for each release.

(2) Explore new ideas in icons or fonts, keeping up with the latest 
developments in the OSS world in this regard.  Here I'm thinking about the 
work that was done in switching our default font for FC6.

(3) Misc artwork as needed, based on whatever the "current theme" is. 
Here I'm thinking about the artwork for the DVDs, wallpapers, etc.

(4) Legal issues around all of this stuff.

(5) Expanding itself and attracting more talented folks to contribute.

(6) Whatever other stuff I'm not thinking about.

=== Who cares deeply about the results? ===

One source of conflit within many Fedora sub-projects comes from the fact 
that the work being produced by our dedicated contributors is being used 
by multiple other groups.  Fedora artwork is no different.

(1) Red Hat's desktop team, led by Jonathan Blandford, is responsible for 
the look and feel of the desktop on Red Hat products.  To that extent, 
they want to be able to have some input into what the overall Fedora 
desktop experience will be like in a given release.  This group of people 
want to make sure that the desktop "looks good".

(2) David Zeuthen, who is the package maintainer of the desktop artwork. 
He cares about the end result insofar as he needs to know what to package 
up, and he needs to know that when he spends the time to build that 
package, the artwork that he's pulling in is "blessed" and won't have to 
change a bunch of times.  Furthermore, he wants to make sure that the 
desktop "looks good".

(3) Me (and the Fedora Board).  I'm held accountable by Red Hat for 
*everything* that carries the Fedora name.  So like I said above, I want 
to make sure that the community that we build around Fedora Art is a good 
one, and I believe that the results we get out of the community will end 
with the desktop "looking good."

(4) The volunteers and contributors who work directly on the Fedora art. 
The actual artists who actually *create art*.  You all want to make sure 
that the Fedora desktop "looks good."

And while it may sound silly to repeat it, I will draw your attention to 
the fact that *everyone* involved wants the same end result.  The conflict 
is in what the best way to achieve that end result is.

=== The Fedora 7 theme ===

I was very pleased to see Maureen Duffy's work in the Fedora 7 theme 
creation process (Artwork/FC7Themes).  The open submission window, the 
voting among the community of the favorite ones, and then the refinement 
of those themes and ultimate selection of a winner, from which the 
remaining details then get worked out.

I think that is the only way to handle the theme selection that is in the 
spirit of how we try to do things in the Fedora Project.  I think that 
Jonathan Blandford's team (whether that be Jonathan himself or one of the 
people who works for him) should be able to offer input and opinions, as 
should all of the other contributors and volunteers in the Fedora Art 

Obviously I can look at all of the themes, and I have one or two that I 
think are the "best", but I think the process that has been ongoing is 
*sure* to produce a result that everyone will be happy with (ie: the 
desktop will "look good"), if we have the guts to see the process through 
to the end.

I would like to see Maureen continue leading the Fedora 7 theme selection 
process as she has been, and as the "leading candidates" emerge, if there 
are specific questions (from an artistic or implementation perspective) 
about the themes, I'd like to see them discussed and hashed out on this 

=== Overall Fedora Art leadership ===

The conversations around the Fedora 7 theme are just one part of what the 
Art team's larger goals are (as discussed way above).

Overall leadership of the Fedora Art project is needed.  I would like very 
much to see the community of contributors who are most active in Fedora 
Art nominate their own leader, and have the Fedora Board approve of that 
choice, rather than have me (speaking for the Fedora Board) simply appoint 
someone the leader (but I will if I have to).  I prefer to let a group 
like Fedora Art choose its own leader because that is most likely to end 
with a person who has the respect of the group being in charge -- someone 
who has earned the right via the meritocracy that we always talk about.

The leadership job, as with any, will not be an easy one.

You'll have to look at all of the different goals of Fedora Art project 
and see to it that progress is being made on all of them.  If that 
involves immediately delegating that responsibility to someone else, 
that's fine.  But the Fedora Board expects that the project will run 
itself in a way that is in line with the Fedora ideals -- open decision 
making, transparency, etc.

The leadership positions in the Fedora sub-projects are all the same. 
Look at the job description for the Fedora Infrastructure Leader on the 
wiki's Careers page -- the *details* are different between that project 
and this one, but the *spirit* of the job is the same thing.  Every Fedora 
project needs someone like this.

You'll have to be the person who makes a touch decision, the person who 
reaches out to all the different groups that I talked about who are vested 
in the results of Fedora Art, and make sure that they feel like they have 
all had an opportunity to offer input and contribute.

And in the case of Fedora Art specifically, I think the job will also 
require some peacemaking, and trying to get everyone to give things a 
fresh start, a blank canvas, pick your cliche.

Who wants to do that job?  As a community, who do you nominate for this 


I am on vacation myself right now, so I won't be on my email constantly. 
But I'll check this thread again in a day or two and see what sort of 
responses this email has generated.

Hopefully it's the first step on the path to making things better, and I'm 
not just fanning the flames.

Max Spevack
+ gpg key --
+ fingerprint -- CD52 5E72 369B B00D 9E9A 773E 2FDB CB46 5A17 CF21

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