Proposal: Revision of policy surrounding 3rd party and non-free software

Christian Schaller cschalle at redhat.com
Tue Jan 21 14:52:04 UTC 2014


This proposal comes out of the work on the Fedora Workstation PRD.

The Fedora project values freedom and has for a long time tried to minimize our users exposure to non-free software.
While this is a good idea the time has come for fine tuning the policy a bit. Fedora has been declining in popularity
for a long time now and we are trying to revamp it with the ongoing Fedora.next work. That work has a lot of components,
but one of them is to make getting the software you need installed and running easily on Fedora in a userfriendly manner. 

As part of this a new software installer has been developed, as first seen in Fedora 20 (https://wiki.gnome.org/Apps/Software).
This new installer has given the Fedora desktop the beginning of a more user friendly way and thus competitive way of installing
new applications and similar, but to finish the task we need to be able to offer users easy access to the most popular and sometimes
critical pieces of Linux software available, including non-free software.

The way we want to achieve this is to make such software discoverable and installable through the new software installer. We want
to do that in a way we feel is compatible with the overall goals of Fedora and legally sound.

In order to keep with the Fedora policy of only shipping free software we will only make available 3rd party software that offers
their own repository for their software. Examples here include Google Chrome and Adobe Acrobat.

In order to keep things clear in a legal sense we will only include such software in collaboration with said upstream and after a review by
lawyers.

The software will come with a warning in the installer that this is not software provided by the Fedora project and that users need to contact 
the relevant upstream for support. We will also make it clear that this is not free software and users will be presented with a need to 'opt-in' 
to use said non-free software for that reason. 

We have created a mockup of how this could look, but be aware that this was put together quickly and is in no way the final design. Neither all
the textual information we want in there as outlined above is included nor is the final version likely to look exactly like this. We still feel it might help 
people understand a bit more where we are going with this:
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/5031519/software/wire-3rd-party-sources-2.png

The working groups will be free to decide what software to try to get included based on the guidelines above. In terms of technical impact and support overhead the working group will need to decide if something is 'supportable' and work with relevant development teams as needed. 

In Fedora we want to support and encourage Freedom. We can only achieve that goal if we are considered relevant and with a sizeable community using Fedora.
We support and encourage the use of free options in Fedora by having them as our default and recommended solutions, but we are only hurting ourselves and 
limiting our chance to educate and inform our users by making them turn away from Fedora due to feeling that getting what might be critical software for
their usage is a hassle with Fedora.

So to summarize the proposal.

* Fedora will continue to not ship non-free software and as part of that will continue to only default to free software.
* We will add the needed metadata to the Software installer to give our users the freedom to choose to install legally cleared 3rd party software
* The Working groups will have the ability to work with legal council and technical teams to achieve this goal


Sincerely,
Christian F.K. Schaller
Fedora Workstation Working Group


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