the Fedora filters

Karsten 'quaid' Wade kwade at
Sat Mar 22 04:00:29 UTC 2008

On Wed, 2008-03-19 at 08:44 -0700, John Poelstra wrote:
> Karsten 'quaid' Wade said the following on 03/18/2008 04:42 PM Pacific

> <<CUT>>
> > ===               Educating and changing the world                  ===
> > 			
> >      It's not good enough to live the life.  We'll never see
> >      software truly be free for all unless underlying laws and
> >      values in society are addressed.
> This is BIG (laws and values) and vague at the same time :) Can you be 
> more specific?

That's hard, because they are cultural and legal at the same time.  Each
set of circumstances has to be addressed locally, probably by someone
immersed in the culture.  Take the recent vote against OOXML in India.
It was local open source/open standards advocates who made that happen.

Do we have to be specific?  Maybe change the wording a bit to address
that we are advocates and supporters of changing ... stuff ... through
local activists.

> >      Fedora is not here to force it's opinion on anyone else, but
> >      there is value in explaining about Fedora's philosophy of
> >      open source practicality.
> What is "open source practicality" ?

Trying to find a compact way of saying:

"Free and/or open source software with freely distributable firmware, no
patent encumbrances, trying to use as much free systems but we move
packets and store on the network with closed solutions."

Another thing this means is, open source is the practical and pragmatic
solution, here's why ...

Too often choosing a non-open source solution is called "being
pragmatic", but it's just not true -- in the medium and long term,
closed solutions hurt more and more.

> >      By finding ways to grow the contributor and user base, we
> >      make ourselves more relevant and are better able to change
> >      the world.
> > 
> > ====                   Usability, Pragmatism                       ====
> > 
> >      We choose software solutions that are most usable and do the
> >      best job of solving our problems, user's problems, and
> >      society's problems.
> > 
> >      We recognize that everything is not free and open source,
> >      and won't be until the world is different.  In the interests
> >      of running a modern distribution, we have to rely upon
> >      proprietary firmware, network hardware and storage, and
> >      other resources.
> I don't follow. The section starts by talking about Open Source 
> *Software* and then includes *Hardware* in passing. Fedora has always 
> been about FREE SOFTWARE.  Are you suggesting this be changed to include 

I'm saying that we are splitting hairs with our stance on
redistributable firmware and running on hardware with non-free OSes
(Cisco IOS, NetApp wafl-or-whatever).  Paul used an analogy the other
day, "We need to stop drawing the line in the sand, then the tide washes
it away, and we have to draw it again somewhere else."  Sometimes we
need to set our line where we can defend it, not at the point of maximum
stretch.  This goes back up to the point of 'open source practicality'
-- we may say we're for free before open source, but if we are doing
open source at all we have chosen a line we can defend in more practical
terms.  When we have this line shored up right, we can move more easily
to network OSes, storage OSes, BIOS and firmware and mobile phones oh

> >      Using open source is the best pragmatic solution, but may
> >      not always be an option.
> > 
> This doesn't make sense.  "Pragmatic" defined along the lines of 
> "practical" does not make sense if the open source software solution you 
> have is horrible and doesn't allow you to achieve your objective in a 
> reasonable way.  It sounds like you're wanting to say,
> "Using open source software is *always* practical.  You are practical 
> because you are using an open source solution."  which doesn't strike me 
> as an overly strong or compelling argument to someone unfamiliar with 
> open source or who who has found their existing open source solutions to 
> be far from mature and thus impractical.
> I am not being "practical" if it takes me 20 minutes to schedule a 30 
> minute meeting because I've "chosen" to use an open source calendaring 
> "solution".
> Is there a better way to understand what you are advocating?

Pragmatically, if we choose a "non-open but works good enough today"
calendaring solution (to follow your example), we are screwing ourselves
out of an unknown amount of time in the future for a projected savings
right now.

Every ounce of contribution back into the open source community is not
worth the effort of making that ounce.  But a larger percentage of that
effort comes back as dividend than wrestling with a closed source
solution.  All your effort with a closed solution can get you is a good
enough configuration for today's environment.  Over the medium and long
term, the closed solution is impractical and higher risk, making it the
less pragmatic solution.

That said, yes, one's definition of pragmatic and practical are
contextual and highly influence the thinking around this filter.  To a
large degree, I am trying to take back the terminology from people who
label open source solutions impractical and not pragmatic.  Be aware,
these are the same people who argue that "always open source" is a
religious stance "not a pragmatic one."  I think they are dead wrong,
and that is why. :)

Final point -- Fedora can set a very different context to practical and
pragmatic because we don't have shareholders with an SEC-sized brickbat.
Because our shareholders are in fact the contributors (in Fedora,
upstream), we pay their dividend by choosing solutions that require us
to contribute back to the project.

- Karsten
Karsten Wade, Sr. Developer Community Mgr.
Dev Fu :
Fedora :
gpg key : AD0E0C41
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