AlmaLinux builds a global digital community with Mattermost
“Mattermost proved to be as welcoming as we wanted our own community to be.”benny Vasquez chair, AlmaLinuxOS Foundation
The AlmaLinux OS Foundation is an open source foundation and community that builds and maintains AlmaLinux OS, a free enterprise Linux distribution that mirrors Red Hat Enterprise Linux. The organization, which was founded in 2020, doesn’t have any employees. Instead, the team is made up of a community of over 2,000 people spread out across the world, with about 30 regular contributors from places like Azerbaijan, Moldova, Poland, Belgium, Japan, and the United States.
A gathering spot for a global open source community
When the AlmaLinux project was starting off, the foundation needed to create a digital gathering spot for its global community. There are tons of collaboration tools to choose from, and AlmaLinux was particularly interested in finding one that spoke to the values of its open source community and had a vibrant community of its own.
“To me, it has never made sense for people who produce open source not to use open source, whenever they can,” says benny Vasquez, chair of the board of directors at the AlmaLinux OS Foundation.
Since the team knew that the community they were building would grow to include thousands of contributors, the right platform would also be highly performant at scale. It would also be modern, user-friendly, and offer a more mature feature set.
“We could have used IRC, but it’s not very user-friendly; you can’t send pictures, exchange files, and things like that,” explains Jack Aboutboul, community manager at AlmaLinux. “We wanted to be inclusive, especially for newer people who would be turned off by older technology.”
After comparing several open source options, the AlmaLinux team agreed that Mattermost was the ideal solution for their use case.
“We looked at all the different options out there, and Mattermost stuck out as the most mature,” Aboutboul continues. “Some of the others we were looking at were either just getting started or early; each option had something missing from it.”
Bringing a globally distributed team together asynchronously and in real-time
After a smooth and straightforward Mattermost implementation, the AlmaLinux team hasn’t looked back. Today, their community has more than 2,000 active users who’ve shared over 100,000 posts across 30 channels since 2021. Those channels cater to different topics, different projects, and different teams.
“It helps you find information faster and it helps you focus your discussions,” Aboutboul explains, adding that AlmaLinux enjoys being able to configure permissions across channels and use private channels to create safe spaces to discuss certain topics or issues in smaller groups. “Not everyone needs to know every detail on every little task. That can be overwhelming.”
At the highest level, AlmaLinux is particularly excited by how the community is able to communicate with members around the world in real-time and also asynchronously.
“It gets us out of our email,” Vasquez says. “When something’s more urgent, we use chat to add priority. Mattermost also makes it easier for us to interact with our community while showing folks who are not typically attached to open source projects what the open source process looks like.”
Instead of requiring everyone in their community to use Mattermost, AlmaLinux uses Matterbridge to link Mattermost with other platforms.
“We chose the open source solution we like the most to be our home, but we also meet our community where they are,” Vasquez says.
Extending Mattermost with webhooks
The AlmaLinux team has also extended Mattermost using webhooks. For example, when systems go down, the team receives automatic notifications from tools like Grafana and other services.
“That way, people know we’re updating something or there’s an issue with something that someone needs to look at,” Aboutboul says.
Both Vasquez and Aboutboul would recommend Mattermost to anyone looking to create a central communication and collaboration hub.
“From a business perspective, the alternatives have gotten really, really expensive for not many more features,” Vasquez says. “I don’t know what else you’re paying for there, but it’s not more features.”
For Aboutboul, Mattermost is the linchpin that supports the entire community.
“It’s the glue that holds us together,” he says. “It should be the first thing you look at if you’re serious about putting together a collaborative space for your community or your employees.”