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

Christian Schaller cschalle at
Wed Jan 22 09:20:07 UTC 2014

Ok, I seen this issue raised a few times now about the NVidia driver and the Fedora kernel update policy.

We are well aware that there are challenges here, Josh Boyer who is the lead Fedora kernel developer
is part of the Fedora Workstation Working Group and inside Red Hat I manage among other things the graphics team
who maintains and develops things like Nouveau, but at the same time the same team works with Nvidia dealing
with issues encountered by common customers of Red Hat and NVidia. So between Josh and Red Hat graphics team 
I hope you can trust that we have the right people on board to find a solution if a solution is possible.

The goal of the Workstation Working group, and I am sure that is something we share with the other working groups, is 
to make a high quality product. That includes identifying potential issues and figuring out how to solve them. Figuring
out the binary driver issue is one of the harder ones and I can easily see it taking a long time to resolve, or maybe we
will never find a solution. But please lets not make 'Its to hard, lets not even try' the new Fedora slogan.


----- Original Message -----
> From: "Rahul Sundaram" <metherid at>
> To: "Fedora community advisory board" <advisory-board at>
> Sent: Wednesday, January 22, 2014 4:37:35 AM
> Subject: Re: Proposal: Revision of policy surrounding 3rd party and non-free	software
> Hi
> On Tue, Jan 21, 2014 at 9:52 AM, Christian Schaller < cschalle at >
> wrote:
> 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.
> [I am not sure I agree with the overall goal but setting that aside for the
> moment]
> Others have covered the idealogically side of the argument very well so let
> me focus on a more practical problem:
> It is good that you are willing to clearly differentiate free/non-free
> software on user searches and make a statement about support but if we are
> enabling easy access, I think, the user experience isn't going to be much
> better if the user updates the kernel (as Fedora updates to the upstream
> kernel often) and breaks the Nvidia driver (which seems plausible atleast,
> if not pretty likely) and we say hey, we told you that stuff is unsupported.
> The user will be mightily pissed by this attitude. If we enable access to
> non-free software, we will be on the hook to atleast try and make that
> combination work but we can't do that without fairly deep changes on how we
> have structured our project. Enabling easy access is only a small part of
> it. The real problem will be QA especially given our fairly aggressive set
> of updates (do we change our kernel update policy? have the resources to
> backport fixes instead?) but even otherwise, this is a problem
> To take a real life example,
> There is no good way for a Fedora user to know that installing something
> seemingly unrelated can cause this problem and I ran into just a day before.
> If we know about this problem before a release and we are enabling access to
> Google Talk which I think your proposal will do, do we say, not our problem?
> We will not test it and we will not care about it even if somebody reports
> it? Do we enable the workaround that makes Eclipse not crash but degrades
> the experience by default just in case Google Talk is installed by the user?
> I would like your proposal to address such issues.
> Rahul
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