Request: please consider clarifying the project's position on Spins

Adam Williamson awilliam at
Wed Dec 1 19:31:09 UTC 2010

Hi, Board!

During the F14 cycle, I worked on a proposal to do desktop validation
testing on non-GNOME desktops; KDE, Xfce, and LXDE. I also proposed that
we make failures in this validation testing block the release.

In discussing this with various people, notably Jesse Keating, it became
clear that there are various problems and inconsistencies in the Fedora
project's stance with regards to non-GNOME desktops and spins in
general. We agreed to ask the Board to consider these.

In suggesting that failures in the main non-GNOME desktops should block
the release, I started by looking at the Fedora download area. Both on
the last incarnation of the website (which was current at the time) and
the present one, the only download option we present by default is the
32-bit GNOME live image. The 'second stage' of download options is this

which offers the KDE, LXDE and XFCE spins, in 32-bit and 64-bit, as well
as the Desktop spin.

It was probably this presentation which led me to assume that KDE, LXDE
and XFCE are significant offerings for the project, and that it would be
reasonable to require them to meet the desktop release criteria before
we make a release.

However, Jesse pointed out several opposing points while we were
discussing this. He noted that the intention when the spins process
began was for the spins to be quite independent and expressly not tied
into the main engineering and QA processes. As he put it:

"Spins were supposed to be handled by the spins sig.  They were supposed
to do the engineering of them, the advertising of them, and the testing
of them.  "We" were supposed to just create and post them, and if they
didn't work, take them down."

He also pointed out that, in contrast to the presentation of Desktop,
KDE, LXDE and XFCE together in the download area of the website, the
images are divided up rather differently elsewhere. On the torrent
tracker and in the actual directory structure on public Fedora mirrors,
the GNOME and KDE images are available together. The other spins,
including LXDE and XFCE and all the other spins that aren't promoted on
the download website, are in a separate torrent tracker and in a
separate download directory on the mirrors.

I noted that, in addition to the issue with the download page, the
language used on official pages discussing spins - , , - tends to be quite 'inclusive'
and present spins just as minorly-differing interpretations of Fedora;
it doesn't distance the spins from the main project in the way Jesse
suggests was originally intended.

In the end we agreed that it was clear the Project's messaging on spins
is internally inconsistent and it would be best to ask the Board what
the Project's position on spins is/ought to be. Are they expected, as
Jesse says was the original intention, to be engineered, tested and
marketed by the SIGs, rather than the project directly? In which case it
would seem to make sense to put a bit more in the way of barriers /
disclaimers in place in the download area, to prevent giving the
impression that the non-GNOME desktop spins are pretty much 'as
official' as the GNOME desktop spin, and to adjust the language on the
Spins project site a bit to make this clear. Or do we want to put more
of the Project's weight behind at least some of the spins - the major
desktops - as is implied by the current language on the project pages
and the download area layout? In which case we should adjust the mirror
and torrent structure, and adjust releng and QA processes to reflect the
greater importance of these spins; we should also look at an exit
strategy if it turns out we don't have the resources to commit to the
quality of some of these spins.

It'd be great if the Board could take a look at these issues. Thanks!
Adam Williamson
Fedora QA Community Monkey
IRC: adamw | Fedora Talk: adamwill AT fedoraproject DOT org

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