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

Christian Schaller cschalle at
Tue Jan 21 20:02:20 UTC 2014

----- Original Message -----
> From: "Bill Nottingham" <notting at>
> To: "Fedora community advisory board" <advisory-board at>
> Sent: Tuesday, January 21, 2014 8:51:26 PM
> Subject: Re: Proposal: Revision of policy surrounding 3rd party and non-free	software
> Christian Schaller (cschalle at said:
> > While we might want to update some of the pages you mention, for most of
> > them there is no need.  They are just general statements about wishing to
> > support free software, which we do.  And as I mentioned in the original
> > email, we need to have users to achieve that.  There are some issues
> > driving users away from Fedora that we can't fix (ie.  software patent
> > mess), but we should try to fix the things we can.
> You mention patents... but that's not the only kind of contributory
> infringement that can exist. Can't help but notice the inclusion of
> the nVidia driver in the examples and in the discussion. Is this stating
> that Fedora and its primary sponsor considers the act of facilitating the
> use of non-GPL modules in kernel space is completely OK from a copyright
> perspective?
> Because that would actually be a fairly large change for both Fedora and
> others.
> > Our influence with the rest of the world and promoting freedom rests on us
> > having users and obviously the way we have been building Fedora and the
> > policies around Fedora used so far is not giving us that.
> In terms of userbase, Fedora can definitely say that, and it's up to the
> project
> to consider whether that's due to:
> - high rate of change and instability in updates
> - short lifecycle of releases
> - project's inability to work with those that embed it for actual product
>   uses
> - large changes in major functional areas (desktop, init, etc.)
> - lack of preinstalls on common hardware
> - inability to install non-Free software in the GUI without manual work
> - inability to install patent-concerned software without manual work/
>   inability to play popular media
> - thanks, I'll just use my tablet and I don't need another OS
> - Windows or Mac now 'good enough' for their client use
> - lack of focus on a particular use case (such as developers!)
> Admittedly, Fedora doesn't have necessarily the time or the mechanism to do
> isolated testing on any of these axes, so the plan appears to be a shotgun
> approach to whichever areas managers feel like targeting? That's not
> inherently wrong, I'm just curious why this one was chosen as one, and if
> it's as simple as "it's pretty easy to do technically." (As opposed to
> "work with those that embed Fedora", which can't be done in three lines of
> code somewhere.)
I think most of the items you list here make sense as things we need to work on and which I hope
to contribute on working on. But as you say some of them are more effort/more long term than
others and solving one of them doesn't preclude solving others.

> > So we have decided to change, both in technical terms with the Fedora Next
> > plan, but we also need to revisit how we practice our policies, which is
> > what this proposal is about.
> 'we'?

We as in the Fedora project

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