"What is the Fedora Project?"

Tom "spot" Callaway tcallawa at redhat.com
Thu Oct 8 16:54:00 UTC 2009

On 10/07/2009 12:11 AM, John Poelstra wrote:
> http://meetbot.fedoraproject.org/fedora-board-meeting/2009-10-01/fedora-board-meeting.2009-10-01-16.03.log.html
> At last week's meeting we said we would continue our discussion here.
> Here I go :)
> 1) I'm still advocating that it is our responsibility to move things
> forward and own these issues.  Are there any board members that
> disagree?  Speak now or we will assume you are in agreement. :-)

I've been thinking a lot about how I want to respond to this thread.
Here are my thoughts:

* I am troubled by the subtext of the repeated questioning of "What is
Fedora", because I really don't think that is the question that is being
asked. Instead, I think the question being asked (or at least, the
question being answered) is: "Who is Fedora (the Linux Distribution) for?"

If indeed, we are attempting to answer that question, it implies that
there are users for whom Fedora is not, and will never be, a good fit.
Even if this is practically true, it bothers me that we are saying that
out loud. We're telling folks, go somewhere else if you don't fit into
this nice box, don't bother trying to improve Fedora in those areas.

If the Board were to say, that there are specific areas where Fedora
would like to see more contributions, or even, primary areas of interest
to the Board, I could probably be on board with that, as long as it was
phrased in a way that made it obvious that it was not exclusionary.

I do think that it is perfectly acceptable for each Fedora spin to have
a different user target. In fact, I think each Spin's SIG should be
answering the question of "Who is the target audience for this Fedora
spin?". However, I think that we should leave that up to each Spin SIG
to determine, and not mandate it from a Board level. I don't feel that
such actions are exclusionary, even when applied to the default spin,
because there is always opportunities for new Fedora spins to rise to
fill a need.

Hypothetically, if the Desktop SIG answered "Who is the target audience
for the Fedora Desktop Spin?" with "Experienced Linux users and
developers", I could easily see the value in organizing a "Fedora
Simple" Spin, where the answer is "New Linux users", with a separate spin.

And honestly, in that hypothetical situation, I'd strongly consider
pushing for the "Fedora Simple" spin to be our default offering. I do
not feel that good usability and new-user-friendlyness are at all in
conflict with the needs of experienced Linux users and developers.

*** Putting my Fedora Engineering Manager hat on ***

If we look at the areas where Red Hat (easily Fedora's biggest
contributor) contributes to Fedora (the Linux Distribution), it is in
the following areas:

* Kernel
* SELinux
* Server components
* X

However, most of these are driven through the upstream, and rightfully
so, in my opinion.

It is important to remember that unlike some other entities (Canonical),
Red Hat does not make Fedora in house, then present it to the world as a
polished product. If there are areas where people would like to see Red
Hat spend time and money on Fedora where we are not currently doing so,
I am certainly open to suggestions. Just like all contributors to
Fedora, Red Hat contributes in areas where it has interests.

I would hate to see the Board decide that Fedora, as a project, is no
longer interested in contributions from anyone, Red Hat or otherwise.

*** Fedora Engineering Manager Hat off ***

I think the thing that leaves me unsettled is that all of this seems to
stem from the fact that some new users are not having a great experience
with Fedora, and rather than analyze that problem and work on usability
improvements, we are choosing to let those users go somewhere else,
whether that is Mac OSX or Ubuntu or Windows. I think that such a
decision is terribly short-sighted, and will result in a long-term loss
of contributors, community, and possibly the eventual irrelevance of Fedora.


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