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Linux and Main: The Release Managers

Sep 04, 2002, 13:00 (0 Talkback[s])

"Big projects don't just happen. Linux users from the commercial operating system world probably have assumed that in big corporations, there is a distinct organization whereby employees are instructed to do the work that results in the shipped product. But they may never have stopped to wonder--or maybe they have--how big free software projects get organized and come to fruition. After all, there is no 'power of the paycheck' to encourage the largely volunteer force of programmers who, while dedicated, could without penalty decide to do something else instead. So the 'release manager' for a big project has to combine the management skills of a corporate executive with the diplomacy of a successful salesman -- on its face, not an easy job.

"But beyond dealing with the people involved, the task of riding herd on a big project is itself daunting. The sheer number of details that must be watched over, the sheer amount of organization required, would send many business school graduates fleeing in tears.

"The release managers of two projects, at least one of which is used by most Linux desktop users, were kind enough to endure an email interview by Linux and Main. They are KDE's Dirk Mueller and GNOME's Jeff Waugh. They are different personalities from different parts of the planet. Their answers are remarkable more for their similarities than for their differences..."

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