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

Miloslav Trma─Ź mitr at
Wed Jan 22 22:32:24 UTC 2014

On Wed, Jan 22, 2014 at 4:37 AM, Rahul Sundaram <metherid at> wrote:
> On Tue, Jan 21, 2014 at 9:52 AM, Christian Schaller <cschalle at>
> wrote:
> 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.

1) No, that's not actually true.  The idea of an all-encompassing
Linux distribution is fairly unique in the world of software;
everywhere else you have users installing software from various
sources and being used to expect support (or not expect support) from
the individual vendors of the individual products.

2) That said, yes, a platform where the user anecdotally doesn't
expect installing software to be problematic is going to be more
popular than a platform where problems arise.  This problem also has a
well-established solution by now:
2a: The operating system implementation ships APIs and documentation
that make it easier to write software that doesn't break
2b: For software that does the wrong thing and breaks, the operating
system adds a special case to make the software work anyway; blaming a
different vendor and keeping a clean implementation may be
intellectually satisfying but doesn't help the user get their work
done, which is what really matters.

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