Fedora is an 11-year-old operating system used by millions across the world, based on Linux.
But it’s mostly made by white men.
That lack of diversity is no longer good enough for the overseeing Fedora Council, and they’re hiring a diversity advisor to prove it.
Fedora, like the Linux kernel it’s built on, is “open source,” which means anybody anywhere can contribute to Fedora’s development and upkeep.
Historically, though, “anybody” has meant white men with enough free time that they can volunteer to provide unpaid labour in the name of developing better software. It means that there aren’t a whole lot of new voices heard when working on the software.
“Increased diversity is crucial to the future of open source. A range of contributors from varying backgrounds brings broader experience to the table, which makes for healthier projects — and ultimately better software,” writes Fedora Project Leader Matthew Miller in an article on Fedora Magazine.
The diversity advisor will be a volunteer position, and htis person will be responsible for making sure people from a variety of backgrounds are included in the project going forward, handling outreach and events while also generally acting as an advocate to make sure Fedora is less of a boy’s club and more welcoming.
“This is not a token role; it carries full participation in Council consensus for any and all project issues relevant to diversity,” says Miller.
The lack of diversity has become a hot-button topic in the open source world: Linux founder Linus Torvalds has a history of not watching his words, and earlier this year made some controversial remarks on how little he cares about diversity (“I don’t care about you”) that led to a massive backlash and the overseeing Linux Foundation attempting to rein him in a little.
Fedora also happens to be Linus Torvalds’ favourite version of Linux.
In the meanwhile, women and minorities have spoken up for years about how unwelcome some open source projects make them feel. This represents a positive first step towards opening the doors to more people building more software.