"What is the Fedora Project?"

Dimitris Glezos dimitris at glezos.com
Thu Oct 8 17:13:40 UTC 2009

I, too, have been spending quite some time thinking about this topic
and discussing it with various people -- both in the Fedora
contirbutor community and outside. I'm quoting Tom's reply below
because I find myself agreeing in almost all points, TBH.

The fact that we keep asking, or being asked, this question, and every
time we can't find an answer, might happen for a number of reasons.
The question could not be the right one (in the sense that we don't
have enough facts to answer it, or that the resulting answer will be
too vague to be useful), Or, that, like Tom says, we're asking for
different things than the question asks.

Being a community effort, Fedora is probably not the best place to
have a top-down answer on any such question. Yes, members of community
want the Board to set a direction, but that's not really how open
source works. Even if we do say "Let's focus simple users", someone
needs to do that work.

Instead, we've decided to put some serious effort, manpower and
promotion of the Spins and the Fedora sub-projects ideas, exactly to
let the community define its focus by itself. Having a default spin
should never mean that this is indeed the direction we'd like Fedora
to go to. It's just the best one right now. Agreeing with Tom, if we
DO produce a Simple spin and blog and promote it, and people and media
DO pick up, then I'd seriously consider dubbing that the default one.

I'm consciously avoiding to satisfy my need for control in open
source. Sure, I'd also LOVE to have a clear direction and everything.
But this will strip the community's strongest tool, which is pluralism
and freedom of choice from a diversity of different directions.

I'd encourage people who would like to see Fedora go to a different
direction to actually COME UP WITH A PLAN for it, and start
implementing it. They'll have my full support, in all levels. In this
sense, I disagree with folks who draw lines saying "we shouldn't do
this" -- and I've expressed this opinion in all levels too. We should
encourage people to try different things and CHANGE the Fedora goals.
If the community follows, the Board will follow, because it's an organ
by and for the Community.

And to make a final point about the ability to develop for a number of
audiences: I believe we can do it, if we look things from high-level.
I don't really care about packages. I care that we can create a spin
where after firstboot there is secondboot which is a tutorial for new
users. Where the artwork includes fluffy clouds and pink ponies, if
that's what a new user wants. We don't need to change the kernel.
Addressing new users is not only technical. It's a lot more.

And if there are people willing to do that, we should empower them.


On Thu, Oct 8, 2009 at 7:54 PM, Tom "spot" Callaway <tcallawa at redhat.com> wrote:
> 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 (th<e 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.
> ~spot
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Dimitris Glezos

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