Search Engine on

Paul Frields stickster at
Sat Jul 24 17:14:38 UTC 2010

On Sat, Jul 24, 2010 at 12:26 AM, Matt Domsch <matt at> wrote:
> On Fri, Jul 23, 2010 at 02:20:42PM -0500, Mike McGrath wrote:
>> On Wed, 21 Jul 2010, Mike McGrath wrote:
>> > It's been pointed out to me that is in violation
>> > of Infrastructure's free software policy:
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> > In particular the "Proprietary Dependence" clause.  Now, start.fp.o has
>> > existed long before the policy was put in place and a grandfather
>> > exception does exist.... but I thought I'd mention it.  This could be an
>> > opportunity to completely re-think the home page.
>> > I know that upon its design there was some major things in the works but
>> > AFAIK most if not all of them fell through and that search engine link was
>> > all that was left.
>> >
>> > Thoughts, comments?
>> >
>> Got this from jds2001 (Jon Stanley - Board Member, cardnals fan) who
>> requested that I forward it on:
> [snip]
>> In short, I don’t think that we can remove Google search without also
>> removing all other external dependencies from the infrastructure, which is
>> neither desirable nor practical.
> We can remove Google search from start.fp.o today if we want to, there
> is nothing stopping us from doing so.  It doesn't have to be
> all-or-nothing, and we run plenty of equipment (say, network switches,
> load balancers, servers, storage arrays) that are not Free in any
> sense of the word.  Our stance needs to be more than "if practical,
> use open source", but it need not be "we only use open source
> hardware, software, and services we can verify as being open source,
> non-malware, ...".  I have no problem grandfathering in the services
> we have, and, as time, needs, and available effort permit, substitute
> them for open source services we run ourselves. But I'm not willing to
> shut down all of Fedora Infrastructure because we can't get the board
> layouts and firmware source for our servers and switches, and can't
> power the data centers on solar.  There's ideals and goals, and there
> is cutting off our nose to spite our face.

You've hit on something that concerns me, Matt. I worry that we're
looking for ways to eliminate some third party services without any
plan, manpower, or commitment to replacing them. I'm not saying we
don't want to do so; we want to build and run only free software on
our infrastructure. IOW, if we're building or running something on
Fedora infrastructure (think FAS, or pkgdb), the web application code
shouldn't be linked, in the compile/module sense, to some proprietary
code to work.

Whacking things without any sign that we're going to provide, build,
or run in-house a replacement, though, seems premature even if we'd
like to get to that point eventually. I'm not thinking so much of the
start page itself here, but the specific example of the docs.fp.o site
with its search box that calls Google with sitesearch=docs.fp.o set. I
would say that function on the site isn't even essential, it's just
helpful for people who are going to use the site. Perhaps one of the
points of discussion needed is what constitutes "essential" function
and what's informational or an add-on utility.

In any case, the language in the policy is fairly unclear about the
context for "linking" (web applications dynamically linking? or
providing a URL?). It needs to be revisited and better explained, so
I'd recommend that review become a Board action item -- not that it
has to be done in private meetings, but that the discussions be
tracked and resolved, and any changes documented in the policy, by a
specific date.

> The immediate question is, what do we want start.fp.o to be?  It's
> amazing real estate that we are only just barely using, and in its
> current form doesn't seem all that helpful to the millions of users
> who see it daily as they start their browser.  Having a way to search
> Fedora or other Free content is one possible use, clearly there are
> others.

It should be easy enough to start collecting some common desires for
users when they open up a browser the first time on a new platform.
The Design and Web teams could help us with this, but honestly I think
they have a *lot* on their plates right now:

* fine-tuning any remaining bits of get-fedora pages (for F14 launch)
* tuning mockups and implementing new www.fp.o (for F14 launch)
* the sprucing-up

It could be pretty daunting, not to mention confusing to the team
members, to just pile this on top of the work these teams are already
doing. One way to proceed, though, is to start collecting ideas for
what this page should accomplish, and make a project plan for post-F14
work/F15 launch.

This does tie into the discussion about clarifying the "linking"
language and the policy. Say, for example, we provided a new, spruced
up start page, and wanted to provide ways there (or maybe through some
secondary page) for people to friend or follow us. We ought to (1)
provide a URL to a free service people can use, but also (2) recognize
what people are probably using already, and make it possible for them
to help raise awareness of Fedora.


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