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

Christian Schaller cschalle at
Wed Jan 22 15:13:55 UTC 2014

----- Original Message -----
> From: "Pete Travis" <lists at>
> To: "Fedora community advisory board" <advisory-board at>
> Sent: Wednesday, January 22, 2014 3:09:30 PM
> Subject: Re: Proposal: Revision of policy surrounding 3rd party and non-free	software
> On Jan 22, 2014 2:20 AM, "Christian Schaller" < cschalle at > wrote:
> > 
> > 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.
> > 
> ...
> Hi Christian, peripheral question:
> The above statement implies that you or your team communicates with NVIDIA in
> the context of business needs and customer impact, where it pays to listen.
> Has anyone discussed our goals and values with them? Opening the driver
> sources would be excellent but admittedly a hard sell, but shipping them in
> a sane repo instead of a blob that breaks with kernel updates is more
> appealing, and a marketable feature. The changes to xorg bits done by their
> installer isn't great either. I would be interested to hear of any
> discussions with OEMs along these lines.

Yes, we have. And they are also acutely aware that we are developing Nouveau because
we don't agree with their current policy of shipping a closed source driver. 
Convincing them that it would be worthwhile for them to provide a repository is
part of this proposal, and that we would make it available through our SoftwareApp
if they do is a part how I hope to make this more tempting for them to bother with.

We are also of course continuously discussing with them the need to support Wayland going

> Users, especially the type you're targeting in this proposal, are accustomed
> to visiting the Nvidia site for Nvidia drivers, the adobe site for flash,
> and so on. Nvidia is doing it wrong; I think we shouldn't take on the job of
> fixing it, for all the reasons discussed here, but does it go against our
> values to help them do it better? Third party providers have their own
> marketing departments, let them worry about capturing users, we don't need
> to lead users to them. At the same time, if the third party software breaks
> usability for our users and cripples our product, I think we have some
> responsibility to communicate those problems, and I don't think it conflicts
> with our values to lead them to a better way. Once they start down that
> path, they might even follow it further.

The basic problem here is that if for instance Nouvou does all you need you have
no reason to ever bother with the binary driver and thus it will never cripple our 
product for those users. However if you need the binary driver for various reasons,
it not being there, that is crippling our product for that user. Yes, you can get the binary 
driver installed on Fedora today with the help of some googling, but if it is critical to you why 
would you not prefer to use the distro that tries to make it easy for you instead? I don't really see
someone thinking they are taking a meaningful stand for free software by installing the binary driver
in a more convoluted way.


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