"What is the Fedora Project?"

Mike McGrath mmcgrath at redhat.com
Thu Oct 8 23:13:21 UTC 2009

On Thu, 8 Oct 2009, William Jon McCann wrote:

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

This is exactly what I was most afraid of.  Our users think we're Ubuntu
and we let them.  Then they have a terrible time of it, go to Ubuntu and
not only do they now use Ubuntu but also hate Fedora.

If we're going to try to be Ubuntu (Linux for human beings) we can
certainly do that, but it's going to take leadership to do it.  Notting's
response has been the only other response I've seen so far that I could
look at and see how to implement.  Not to oversimply what he said but it
seems he wants a "Usable, general purpose desktop"

If this is what the rest of the board things, then we can certainly focus
our efforts that way.


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