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

Matthew Garrett mjg59 at
Tue Jan 21 19:49:38 UTC 2014

On Tue, Jan 21, 2014 at 02:40:09PM -0500, Christian Schaller wrote:
> Hi Matthew,
> I actually took the jump and moved my mothers computer over to Linux this Christmas. As it turned out the built in PDF viewer in Fedora couldn't properly handle
> these PDFs she got sent every Month from a company she works with. Having this work was a crucial feature for her, so in the end I installed the Adobe Reader which
> handled the files perfectly. If that had not been an option I would have had to revert her system back to Windows as I couldn't have left her with a system that for her was unusable.

Ok, so improving evince sounds like something we should prioritise.

> So my mother is not very technical at all and not really part of the 
> core audience for Fedora, but her example rings true for a lot of 
> people who do fit into the audience we are targeting. For a lot of 
> users not having the Nvidia driver can for instance be the difference 
> between the system being usable or not for them, just like Acrobat 
> reader was for my mom. Or you could be working for a company which got 
> a web service that only works properly in Chrome, so without Chrome 
> Linux would not be an option for you (in my previous job that was the 
> case with the business banking solution we used, it only worked in 
> Chrome and Explorer).

Uh. We're *not* going to support the nvidia driver. Fedora's kernel 
strategy simply doesn't permit that.

I can see an argument for supporting non-free applications when there's 
no comparable free one, but that's simply not the case in the examples 
you're giving. Commitment to freedom is a central tenet of Fedora, and 
given the choice between providing a non-free application or improving 
the state of a free one, our time and effort should be devoted to the 
latter. It's the right thing to do for our users, and it's the right 
thing to do for the community as a whole.

> I hope that answers your question, but to also clarify a second point, 
> why this software needs to be available through our Software app. It 
> is about making the users feel that we care about making things 
> convenient for them. I have a lot of friends who have gone elsewhere 
> because while they like Fedora and are supportive of the principles 
> behind it they care even more about getting their jobs done. And 
> Fedora just felt like it wanted to be your job instead of the tool to 
> get things done.

No, it doesn't answer my question. I don't want anecdotes to be the 
driving force behind a desire to make fundamental changes to Fedora's 
foundations. I want clear and unambiguous data that gives us insight 
into how many new users we will gain as a result of this change, and I 
want to be able to compare that against the number of new users we'd 
gain as a result of, for instance, ensuring that we didn't break 
installed systems with stable updates. If you're proposing this change 
based on feelings rather than data, then I'm beyond disappointed.

Matthew Garrett | mjg59 at

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