thoughts on LWN "how many Fedora users are there"

Max Spevack mspevack at
Thu Oct 12 15:19:57 UTC 2006

My fellow Fedorans,

I have some thoughts on the LWN article/discussion that was taken from a 
few of the recent postings to fedora-advisory-board.

Rather than send the same message to a bunch of different Fedora lists, 
I'm just going to spit it out here on fedora-announce-list.

All of the "interesting" threads about Fedora that we've seen on LWN tend 
to begin with one of the LWN editors browsing the Fedora Advisory Board 
archives and commenting on some of the discussions that take place there.

It's not like that's an accident.

When we set up that mailing list, we said two very specific things:

1) This is *the list* where the controversial conversations about Fedora 
will take place.

2) This list is completely open.  Anyone can read it.  Anyone can post to 
it. And we hope that people will!

I'm glad people are reading it.  I'm glad people *care* enough about the 
issues that are discussed on it to write a large number of comments to a 
story about Fedora.

So the *particulars* of this thread about Fedora metrics to me are *less 
important* than the fact that these conversations -- in their raw, 
unedited form -- are being had 100% in the open.  And that they are being 
had in very large part by people who do not work for Red Hat.  And that 
people who don't work for Red Hat are making decisions about Fedora policy 
that are then implemented.

That was the goal of the Fedora Board, and the Fedora Advisory Board. And 
it's working.

Seth Vidal and Dave Jones summed it up well in the comments on LWN. There 
was an idea.  That idea was discussed in public.  It received criticism, 
others were proposed, options were weighed, and a decision was made. 
That's how it's supposed to work.

So what's the purpose of taking parts of that conversation and sticking 
them on a news site like LWN?

Is it to:

A) be critical of the *initial idea* and made Fedora look foolish for 
having thought of it to begin with?

B) be a case study of "the lifecycle of a controversial decision in 

C) *incorrectly* imply that Red Hat might want to cut funding for Fedora?

D) demonstrate a problem with Fedora (lack of strong metrics) and show 
some of the conversations around that problem?

The Fedora Advisory Board list is made up of all sorts of different types 
-- engineers both inside and outside of Red Hat, lawyers, marketing 
experts, folks who are considering business issues, folks who are 
considering technical issues, etc.

When the ideas of one group come up against the scrutiny of other groups, 
it isn't always pretty.

But the *end result* is what matters.  And since we inaugurated the Fedora 
Board in April, I think the Fedora Project has a solid track record of 
doing the "right thing" in the end.

The fact that the rest of the process is transparent should, in my 
opinion, be held up as a good thing.

It is a side effect that looking into that process can occasionally lead 
to a fun comment/flame thread.  Laugh at us if you want to.  Flame us if 
you want to.  We're still going to talk about it in the open, because as 
an organization the Fedora Project is committed to that transparency, even 
when it isn't necessarily the *easiest* choice.

So please, judge us based on what we actually DO, not just what we talk 
about and then throw away.


in fact.  But I can't just walk into the magic room full of gold and take 
a pile of it.  There has to be justification.  There has to be a Plan. It 
has to be treated like Serious Business(TM).  :-)  And I think that any 
product (free or otherwise) that can't at least give a ballpark 
guesstimate of how many people use it is going to have some problems being 
taken seriously.

Max Spevack
+ gpg key --
+ fingerprint -- CD52 5E72 369B B00D 9E9A 773E 2FDB CB46 5A17 CF21

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