Red Hat cuts Fedora Program Manager

Mea culpa, I didn't see Red Hat laying off Fedora Program Manager Ben Cotton,

I was surprised when Red Hat laid off 4% of its staff. It was a bad move. But, I never saw Red Hat laying off community Linux distro Fedora Program Manager Ben Cotton, until I saw his blog post about leaving Red Hat.

Cotton has played a major role in making Fedora an outstanding Linux community both for users and Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) developers. He was also the CentOS Stream program manager. And, he authored Program Management for Open Source Projects. In short, he was a major mover and shaker in open-source circles and in RHEL development.

Or, in other words, he was not the kind of person I saw Red Hat, or any other tech company, getting rid of.

Cotton's making the best of it. He wrote, "While I won’t be contributing as the Fedora Program Manager anymore, I was a Fedora contributor long before I joined Red Hat, and I’m not letting them take that away from me. I’ll still be around Fedora in ways that spark joy, although perhaps not much at first as I let my wounds heal."

Still, Cotton reported, "I'm working with Matthew, Justin, and others to ensure coverage of the core job duties one way or another. I’ve worked hard over the years to automate tasks that can be automated. The documentation is far more comprehensive than what I inherited."

I certainly appreciate their efforts, but Fedora hasn't been a pure community distribution for quite some time. Nevertheless, Red Hat won't be replacing Cotton. The Fedora Project page on the position states the project manager position has been eliminated, as of May 2023.

Even so, Fedora remains vital to RHEL development. As Matthew Miller, a Red Hat Distinguished Engineer, and the current Fedora Project Leader., told me not long after Red Hat replaced CentOS with CentOS Stream in late 2020, "Fedora, just as it always has, will be the upstream for RHEL. Fedora integrates thousands of 'upstream' open-source projects into a unified distribution on a six-month release cadence, and every so often, Red Hat takes that collection, forks it off, and produces RHEL."

That hasn't changed. As Cotton observed, "Red Hat who continue to view Fedora as strategically important." He "fully intends to still be participating in the Fedora community when my account hits the 20-year mark in May 2029."

I hope he is, but I confess that this makes me worry about Fedora's future. I can't imagine it will go away like such well-known distros as Caldera OpenLinux and Mandrake/Mandriva Linux have in their time. But, then, I never saw Red Hat laying off top staffers, either.

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