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

Pete Travis lists at
Wed Jan 22 16:27:56 UTC 2014

On Jan 22, 2014 8:14 AM, "Christian Schaller" <cschalle at> wrote:
> ----- 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 >
> > >
> > > Ok, I seen this issue raised a few times now about the NVidia driver
> > > the Fedora kernel update policy.
> > >
> > > We are well aware that there are challenges here, Josh Boyer who is
> > > lead Fedora kernel developer
> > > is part of the Fedora Workstation Working Group and inside Red Hat I
> > > among other things the graphics team
> > > who maintains and develops things like Nouveau, but at the same time
> > > 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
> > the context of business needs and customer impact, where it pays to
> > 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
> > 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
> 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
> 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
> forward.
> > Users, especially the type you're targeting in this proposal, are
> > to visiting the Nvidia site for Nvidia drivers, the adobe site for
> > 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
> > values to help them do it better? Third party providers have their own
> > marketing departments, let them worry about capturing users, we don't
> > to lead users to them. At the same time, if the third party software
> > usability for our users and cripples our product, I think we have some
> > responsibility to communicate those problems, and I don't think it
> > 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.
> Christian

>From the Fedora perspective, there are users who have Fedora who also want
to use the Nvidia blob, and your proposal is to enable them. It makes
sense, in the sense that you are working to solve Fedora problems, where
you have some influence. "Fedora supports Nvidia" doesn't fly though, and
regardless of the language you use or implementation details like shipping
metadata instead of binaries, that *is* the perceived message of your

>From the Nvidia perspective, there are users who have Nvidia who also want
to use Fedora.  It makes sense that they work within the area they
control.  "Nvidia supports Fedora" seems like a reasonable goal. Proper
packaging on their part doesn't compromise Fedora's principles.

Anecdotally, every Windows user who has upgraded their video card or
obtained one via non-OEM channels - that's essentially *all* of the user
base for their high end consumer product line - knows to visit the Nvidia
site and download drivers.  Everyone who has had to reinstall Windows knows
to visit the Nvidia site and download drivers.  If that's different for
Fedora, it is because of the vendor's delivery method. As a user, I would
prefer to use a video card whose manufacturer who makes it easy for me to
use the distro I'm committed to.

I'm picking on Nvidia here because of your work with them, but the point
can be made more generic. Instead of working to ship non-compliant
software, I think it would be better to educate third parties on properly
shipping their own software.  Let them expend their own resources to gain
users, and Fedora contributors spend time improving Fedora.

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