On Wed, 2005-08-17 at 00:02 -0600, Stanton Finley wrote:
I must admit being a bit overwhelmed trying to find some direction
the maze of links from the wiki about the docs to bugzilla about the
docs to docs about the docs and the docs themselves. I'm sure that this
initial confusion will clarify itself in my mind as I assimilate the
structure and logical process from which this project has evolved and is
This is the truth. We don't mean to be confusing, but it happens that
way around here now. We'd love to simplify the presentation of our
Have you seen this page?
You might also consider asking for help from a mentor:
As is the case I'm sure for millions of potential Fedora users I
approached Linux from the Microsoft milieu. My initial question was
"where's the manual"? This naivety was soon replaced with paradigm
shifting realization that there is no (single) manual and that one must
rely upon the community.
The double-edged sword of FLOSS. It's free for you to do anything you
need! Unfortunately, no one has done everything you need. :)
The frustration that led to my own writings (most recently at
continues to motivate my desire to see the emergence of a body of Fedora
documentation that is parallel in quality to the OS itself. Fedora Core
is the class act of today's Linux OS distributions and its documentation
should be nothing less.
I fully agree. This is why our documentation has to be treated with the
same level of responsibility as the rest of the distribution source
I've seen that page before, it has certainly grown.
If you want to use it as source material for some formal Fedora
documentation, that could work fine. As I explain below, the content
you publish through Fedora directly can't tell how to infringe on any
patents or violate any laws such as the DMCA.
I appreciate that the formal body of Fedora documentation must
to the founding philosophy to "build a complete, general purpose
operating system exclusively from open source software". My current
quandary is that like most real-world Fedora users I actually do not use
exclusively free and open-source software on my Fedora box. I play
patent-encumbered MP3s and watch videos which use proprietary codecs. I
have RealPlayer and Sun Java installed and use the nVidia driver for
This is a paradox. Cognitive dissonance. We're humans, we're used to
living this way. "Denial is not a river in Egypt."
Unfortunately, you'll have to live with it. The first condition is not
changing anytime soon (ever, I hope), and the second condition is
something we can only affect by deciding when enough proprietary codecs
So how do we create the documentation which the
"real-world" user is
actually clamoring for? How do we accommodate and reconcile the free
software model with the need for a single-source all encompassing Fedora
Core "manual" in which the user can find the answer to his
style questions. How do I play MP3s on Fedora? How to I
watch the movie trailers at http://www.apple.com/trailers/
How do I install Azureus for bittorrent on Fedora and configure it to
use the Sun Java JRE?
GIYF. Seriously. This is stuff we just cannot touch.
I dual boot Microsoft Windows XP and Fedora Core 4 on my home
Having purchased Windows and Windows software I already bought the
licenses to listen to MP3s and watch divX encoded movies. So why can I
not turn to a subset of Fedora Docs that tells me how to use these on my
Fedora installation with the disclaimer that this documentation is
written "for parties who own or believe they own licenses for such
software". It is actually this kind of documentation which I would like
to contribute. I believe that until Fedora can provide this class of
documentation for it's potential users its user base will be constricted
and compromised as other Linux based OSs find ways of circumventing the
patent-encumbered and non-open-source issues in their user
My glib response is, thank goodness we have lawyers to protect us from
ourselves. The decision about how to discuss patent and DMCA encumbered
issues was made for us by our counselors, who surely will continue to
give the same advice after the Fedora Foundation is created.
This all has to do with what Fedora can distribute and information it
can disseminate. As you point out, an end-user can be a perfectly
legitimate user of these technologies. We just cannot help them get
I don't want to turn away well-meaning contributors, but we cannot use
the kind of documentation you describe. There are many forums that are
more than happy to provide solutions and packages of all interesting
sorts. We have to stay true to our mission.
What we *can* do is be consistent in our message, and we can link to
sites such as fedorafaq.org
, that may contain such
information or link to such information.
Here's the bottom line: we should not be settling for technologies that
go against our project ideals. One reason we "need" these codecs is
because we haven't all abandoned MP3 in favor of OGG.
"Fedora - starving patent attorneys since 2003"
"Fedora - free for ever"
"Fedora - codec patents? we don't need no stinking codec patents?"
It is a stated purpose of the Fedora Project to create and include such
technologies, where they are needed, out of entirely open source
components. We need to put our energy and music collections in that
direction, and not settle for MP3 because it is easy. Because it was
included in Windows.
I hope this message doesn't turn you away. I've been accused of
arrogance around these issues, and I suppose I take a high-and-mighty
tone. But we are discussing nothing short of our fundamental freedoms,
whether to have and use open formats, or just not be jailed for DMCA
Karsten Wade, RHCE * Sr. Tech Writer * http://people.redhat.com/kwade/
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