"What is the Fedora Project?"

William Jon McCann william.jon.mccann at gmail.com
Thu Oct 8 23:05:41 UTC 2009

Hi Bill,

Unfortunately I don't have time to reply substantively to this thread
for at least a few more days.  But wanted to quickly to respond to

On Thu, Oct 8, 2009 at 5:02 PM, Bill Nottingham <notting at redhat.com> wrote:
> Paul W. Frields (stickster at gmail.com) said:
>> * ...expects things to "just work" as much as possible, and can
>>   sometimes be impatient as a result.
>> * ...doesn't want to go back to $OTHER_OS, and is therefore willing to
>>   fiddle occasionally -- on the order of 10-15 minutes or less per
>>   month -- to avoid it.
>> * ...accepts that software freedom has certain limitations, but wants
>>   to minimize (and if possible eliminate) any difference in
>>   capabilities vs. $OTHER_OS.
> ... here's where I wonder. Do we gain a large base by promoting the
> free software aspect up front, or by giving them something that just
> works and hits their needs, and showing them that it was free software
> that did it later?

This is a very important question to ask.  The thing that we sometimes
lose track of is that Free Software and Open Source are implementation
details - methodologies - or even sometimes mythologies.  Granted,
these are details that are fundamentally important to us.  But they
don't mean a darn thing to most people who just want something that
makes life a bit better, easier, or more fun.  We are pretty sure that
given enough time people will realize the importance, and that over
time we will produce something better, easier, and more fun.  However,
we have to prove it.  We can't expect that people will want to use
Fedora "because they ought to."  That is just nonsense and, frankly,
pretty insulting.  Right now we still have faith that we *can* be
better - only trouble is how to actually be better.

Positioning Fedora as the most Free distribution is clearly not
enough.  I am sad to see every attempt to answer fundamental questions
about what Fedora is all about derailed by this idea.  Great, we're
the idealest idealists - now what?

I'm also pretty sad that every conversation about what we're designing
gets derailed by the newbie vs. expert debate.  This false dilemma is
a waste of time.  I see plenty of first-computer-grandpas and
uber-nerds using both OS X and Windows.

Also, the way the question "What is the Fedora Project?" is framed is
pretty leading don't you think?

Another wacky thing I've seen in this thread is the idea of conceding
to Ubuntu.  Though, ironically, it is in fact already happening while
we discuss this issue once again.  Might be worth considering how
Ubuntu was largely borne out of the failures of Fedora.  What are they
doing right?  What are we doing wrong?  How can we improve?  There is
very little time to continue to be defensive.  It is time to confront
the brutal facts - we're losing (badly).


PS. Hopefully I'll have time after the GNOME Summit to contribute more
to this discussion...

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