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

Bill Nottingham notting at
Tue Jan 21 20:25:43 UTC 2014

Christian Schaller (cschalle at said: 
> 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.
> 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.

Hooray gendered (or aged) anecdotes. :/  Let's try not to perpetuate
stereotypes where we can, even accidentally?

Anyway, it's true that we can all come up with pragmatist cases where we
needed to install non-free software on a system at one time or another,
whether it's "my kid needed the ancient deprecated ICA client" or "I got
my taxes audited because of Evince!"

What seems to be clear, though, is that there's a definite disconnect as to
what level of acknowledgement of the non-free 3rd-party software ecosystem
around Fedora is acceptable to people. I'd agree with Toshio - it's not as
simple as just changing a policy and allowing it - depending on the level of
integration requested, it does seem like it clearly doesn't fit the vision,
objectives, foundations as they're currently written.

> 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).

... and what does it help the user if we offer these things and then
randomly break them in our update path, as we fix the software we do
support? (Less likely for Chrome. More likely for nVidia driver or Acrobat.)


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