This continues my series talking with OpenStack project PTLs (Project Technical Leads) about their projects, what's new in Liberty, and what's coming in future releases.

If the audio player below doesn't work for you, you can listen to the interview HERE or see the transcript below.

R: I'm Rich Bowen, I'm the community liaison for the OpenStack project at Red Hat. I'm speaking with Haikel Guemar, who is the Project Technical Lead (PTL) on the RPM packaging project at OpenStack. Thanks for taking this time to speak with me.

H: Thank you, Rich. I appreciate it.

R: This is a fairly new project, in terms of actually being part of OpenStack - is that right?

H: Yeah, exactly. We've been an official project for a few months, and we're still in bootstrapping. There has been some discussion at the last Summit to converge packaging project to work together, upstream. After some discussion we discussion, we decided to split between two separate projects, one around Debian packaging, and one around RPM packaging. So we've been working with people from RDO, SUSE, and also some people from Mirantis, to work together on RPM packaging upstream.

By the way, I'm co-PTL of the project. I'm co-leading the project with Dirk Mueller from SUSE. Hats off to Dirk, if you're listening to us. We're trying to bring packaging into the heart of the project, because OpenStack is fairly good at trying to develop its own software pipeline, and the only bit that was missing was packaging - the last missing bit between the project and the end-user.

So, we've been trying to do that, and also help the upstream project to understand what are our needs upstream, because we have very specific requirements that we want them to hear.

R: How do you picture this project changing the downstream projects like RDO and Fuel? Do you think there will be a big impact on those, or will they go on as though nothing's changed?

H: I think there will be some impact, because if all the downstream packages are working on this, at some point we will be able to produce multiple packagings. There will still be some differences, but what we are working on - trying to mitigate them and trying to share most of our workers.

Speaking now with my RDO hat - I do hope that at some point, RDO will derive from our upstream RPM packaging. That's what we want to do - be closer to upstream. That's the point of RDO, not of the upstream project.

R: Looking forward to that time, what would then be the role of projects like RDO, and Fuel. Would they still be relevant, or do you see them going away long term.

H: Tough question. I think they will still be there, because at some point we will be targeting very different segments. For instance, RDO itself is the upstream for other downstream distributions of OpenStack. Like, obviously, the Red Hat one, or Cisco's, or many others. I think that maybe RDO might disappear, maybe, but we still want to have some degree of integration. I hope that most of it will go upstream, because that's where people are working, and we want to deal with before it reaches the users, not after we release.

R: In Liberty, and even more in future releases, with the integrated release kind of going away, and more reliance on tags, is the RPM packaging project going to package everything, or just a particular tag, or will that be up to the community.

H: That will be up to the community. The core upstream RPM packaging team will be working on core projects. We will be looking at Big Tent projects according to our own drive. But if people want to contribute any other Big Tent projects, they are welcome to do it. We are really looking forward to extending the comunity. We're still a small team so we will be focusing on core OpenStack. Currently we're working on clients because that's what everyone needs to work with OpenStack, and when we're done, then we'll start working on services.

R: One of the things that RDO does is the CI effort within the CentOS infrastructure. And there's obviously also a lot of that happening in the upstream OpenStack. Will the RPM packaging rely on the upstream for this?

H: We had some talks about it, and that was a funny discussion, because we discovered that our respective CI are more or less the same steps, and encounter the same issues. So we are willing to push more of the CI upstream.

I personally hope - but it's not something that we agreed on - I hope that we will become part of the continuous delivery pipeline of OpenStack. That means that every commit from upstream would be packaged and then introduced into the CI, and then these patches would be usable for other CI, since we don't have any concrete example, I will take one from RDO. We've been working with Puppet upstream CI recently, as they wanted to have come CI on CentOS, so we've been working on fixing staging issues that were affecting their CI so they could test properly Puppet upstream modules on CentOS. That was amazing because they helped us find many many issues that we were able to solve very early. And that's what I hope for the upstream RPM project.

R: I noticed that they are no candidates for the PTL for the project in the coming election. Is that just because the project is so new, you're not going to have turnover in that?

H: Yeah, that was the discussion just this afternoon about it. We're still new, and we don't want to confuse people with elections just now. We're still building the community, and we've been working on that with Dirk. The project won't be leaderless. It's still difficult too, because we still have so much to do.

The main difference between the RPM packaging team and other teams is that we're not solely dedicated to work on upstream tasks, like Cinder, Glance, or Nova. We have much more downstream-focused teams, so we wanted to stay focused. So we thought we would just keep the same PTLs for the next cycle. And then when we are more mature we will have candidacy.

R: As PTL … it's been interesting talking with various projects, because the role of PTL can vary a great deal depending on the size and maturity of the project. I was wondering if you could tell us what your responsibilities are as PTL.

H: Our responsibility is ensuring that all the community team is aligned around the same goals. It means also trying to gather new members. For instance, being the PTL brings the attention on you, so people contact you so they can join the project. As we are still small, that was a critical path, and I have been trying to have them join the team, and make them active participants. I've been pretty happy that, for instance, Mirantis people reached out to me, and they've been able to join, and I appreciate that. One of the other things is to ensure that we are working together. I'm pretty happy that I am co-PTL with Dirk, because we can share the load. It is very tiring. We have to schedule meetings and gather people. Recently we had a hack day, to solve some of our impediments. We have to ensure that we have enough people, and we have the right people, to help. For instance, we have tooling issues, so I tried to get some people who would be likely to work on that aspect available for that day. I do not view the PTL as someone who decides everything. It's more about being the coordinator.

R: Finally: if somebody does want to get involved in the project, where should they come? Is it to the mailing list, or IRC, or what?

H: We're still using the openstack-devel mailing list with 'RPM Packaging' topics. We have an IRC channel on Freenode, which is #openstack-rpm-packaging. We have regular meetings every two weeks on Thursday. We sometimes have an additional meeting, at the same time. We keep logs of our agenda. And if you need anything else, just ping number80 or dirk on the channel, and we'd be happy to help you.

R: Thank you again for taking time to speak with me.

H: Thank you.