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

Bill Nottingham notting at
Wed Jan 22 22:04:06 UTC 2014

Josh Boyer (jwboyer at said: 
> > Pedantic but (maybe) important distinction: the idea would be to prepopulate
> > (in some way or another) the software installer application with _specific_
> > 3rd party repositories (in the mockup, Adobe, Dropbox, Google, Nvidia, and
> > Steam) -- akin more to having the default Fedora bookmarks include the
> > download pages at those companies than to a Google search. Or am I
> > misunderstanding?
> The bookmark analogy seems fair to me, yes.  However, it might be
> feasible to include these "bookmarks" without having them displayed by
> default and instead requiring a user to toggle a checkbox or such to
> enable them.

I'd rather not include any metadata or links to particular repositories in
Fedora itself:

- packaging is a really crappy way to have to update a software
  source list if we were to get some new third party source
- it's also a really crappy way to *disable* a source from being
  shown to users if we for some reason need to do so, and do so quickly
  (waves at spot)

This is regardless of whether the third-party repo contains free or non-free
software - the same issues apply to both cases.

Once we take that step, Adam's suggestion honestly makes the most sense to
me - a web service exists that third parties can register their repositories
with. They'd register what format they're providing software in/for (yum
repos, apt repos, etc.), what OSes/releases they're targeting (Fedora, RHEL,
Ubuntu, Debian, Arch, whatever), and some metadata (keywords, icons, etc.).

You then have a workflow in Fedora that looks something like:

Software -> About (or Preferences)

   [ ] Enable third party software
    <user checks box>
 /!\ WARNING: Fedora does not and cannot support software from third parties;
     such software can cause your system to misbehave or crash.
     Use at your own risk. For more information, see:
                                                [ Cancel ]  [ OK ]
    <hit OK>
    ... this then queries the service for appropriate repos to pull appdata

You then have them showing up in a mechanism similar to the wireframe,
although I'd suggest two changes:
- In search results and browsing, have a separate category for 'Software for
  $NAME' or 'Vendor Software'
- Not a huge fan of the listing of all available third party sources dialog.
  (Esp. if it's not "all available", and therefore requires us to prune.)

Then, we just need to 

1) get other distros involved
2) work with them to define & set up the service
3) work with the vendors on how to package stuff for it properly

Which we should be doing anyway, if we're intent on having a real Linux
desktop software ecosystem.


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