Now that Fedora 25 is out of the door, I'd like to start a discussion about the future
of officially-supported (meaning rigorously tested) optical media for future Fedora
releases. Since I'm QA, I'm mainly interested in changes to our release criteria
Let's start by saying I'm not asking for completely dropping optical media
support. Even though hardware incapable of booting from USB is getting increasingly rare,
I understand that there are still valid use cases from optical media, like pressing a bulk
of DVDs for a very small price and handing it out at events or sending them into
developing countries (that's how I started with Linux, after all, ~15 years ago).
However, the world has moved on since then, I wonder whether some changes in decreasing
the importance of optical media could be appropriate. All of that is, of course, motivated
by trying to spend QA time more effectively. You can see the current coverage e.g. in this
table , overall we burn 6 DVDs and perform 12 optical installation (BIOS + UEFI) for
every release candidate published. We allow non-complete (yet still substantial) coverage
for Alpha and Beta, but 100% coverage for Final for each candidate compose. That is quite
time consuming, both burning and installation from optical media take a long time, it
requires bare metal testing, and we can't use the machines for anything else during
So, I wonder whether Fedora as a project thinks about de-emphasizing optical media a bit,
and if it does, I'd make appropriate changes even in our QA processes. Here are a
couple of ideas that I consider could be likely to happen in future Fedora releases.
Idea #1: Do not block on optical media issues for Alpha and Beta releases
In my guesstimation, the intersection between people able and willing to test pre-releases
and people not able to boot from USB or PXE is getting very small. My reasoning for this
a) PCs unable to boot from USB are becoming rare. They are probably only (or mostly) very
old i386 machines.
b) Users testing pre-releases usually have above-average technical skills and/or are
technical enthusiasts, who tend to own newer hardware.
c) We now have Fedora Media Writer for all major operating systems, which can burn the
image onto a flash drive with a nice simple user interface, so even people who can boot
from both optical drive and USB and used to prefer optical drive (because it was simpler
for them) should be covered now with our super-easy USB writing tool.
Implementing this idea doesn't mean optical media would immediately get broken for
Alphas and Betas. We would still care about such issues (it would be needed for Final, if
nothing else) and we would still test it from time to time during the whole cycle (even
though not that frequently - we would rely more on community involvement, e.g. similar to
alternative architectures). But we wouldn't block the Alpha/Beta release on these
issues, just the Final release.
Idea #2: Do not block on optical media issues for Final release for certain flavors/image
types (Server, netinst)
This is a bolder variant of the previous idea and can be done separately or combined with
it. It makes optical media functionality not guaranteed even for Final release, but just
for certain Fedora flavors or image types for which it makes sense (not all of them).
Which images to cover, that's the heart of the discussion. If you look into our test
matrix again, we currently block on 6 of them:
* Workstation Live + netinst
* KDE Live
* Server DVD + netinst
* Everything netinst
What comes first to my mind is Server (DVD + netinst). My guess is that people don't
install Server from optical media, but rather from PXE or USB. I can't imagine
installing Server boxes from DVDs. But I'd really like to hear from Server users how
this is likely or not. Also, Server is most probably not given away at events. I don't
know about sending Server DVDs to the developing world, we can make an inquiry about
Second idea would be netinst media. They require good network access, so there's no
point in shipping them to developing countries, and I can hardly imagine giving them away
at events. They are targeted at more professional audience, which is likely to use more
modern hardware. We could make an exception of Everything netinst, which is universal and
could be used for cases where Live images don't work (netinst can use text mode in
case of severe graphical issues even with safe graphics mode on, or perhaps on ultra-low
What do you think? Does it make sense, or is it too early for such a change?
(CCing test list, but let's keep the discussion in a single list only, i.e. devel)