On Fedora's goal - is it to build an OS people can use, or to build a free as in gratis OS that people can use, or is it to build a free as in libre OS that people can use?

Josh Boyer jwboyer at fedoraproject.org
Fri May 29 18:13:48 UTC 2015

On Fri, May 29, 2015 at 12:26 PM, Ankur Sinha <sanjay.ankur at gmail.com> wrote:
> The simplest solution is to restart actively speaking about FOSS, about
> actually working on increasing awareness - our primary goal. I've
> written this to the council discuss list and not another because the
> council is tasked with leading the community - and not only towards a
> good OS implementation wise, but also towards the primary goal of
> spreading FOSS, which to me, is what gives Fedora its identity in the
> first place. I hope this will stimulate a discussion about what we need
> to do to get the primary goal of the community back into focus.
> At a non council level, some of us have been thinking about an essay
> contest, which decause very nicely coined "Why we FOSS". The idea is to
> have a competition to get people to write why they use Fedora and open
> source software - and to use these essays as a medium to spread
> awareness. It's just an idea and we're working on details, but it's a
> start. decause also suggested that the contest also be held as part of
> the university outreach program, to expose young minds to the
> philosophy.

I like those ideas.

> In conclusion, the community seems to be forgetting that our goal is to
> spread FOSS and the OS is a tool to achieve this, and I would very much
> like the council to think about this and how this needs to be
> rectified.

So, speaking only for myself here.

I don't believe the community is forgetting that our goal is to spread
FOSS.  However, FOSS has become so prevalent in technology today that
shouting "FOSS is better!" is often met with blank stares and replies
of "Yes... we've known that for a long time."  Ten years ago, that
certainly wasn't the case.  The success of Linux, Red Hat, Fedora, and
Canonical (to name a few) has proven FOSS is a superior way to build
technology.  They have paved the way for Docker, and CoreOS, and all
the shiny new things that are coming out today.

So yes, the OS is a tool to promote FOSS, but doing that promotion is
no longer a simple act of turning on a light switch and illuminating
the benefits the people might not be aware of.  Today we have to fight
against much harder problems than mere education.  We have to fight
apathy (which has always been present), we have to battle content
consumption, we have to battle "it just works."  If we don't tackle
these tasks, we're limited to the niche of people that are willing to
do without.  That market is already saturated.

Much of the effort around making the OS better, easier, faster
(maybe..), is targeted at these problems.  How do we create a FOSS OS
that is capable enough  for every day use for _today's_ computing?
The industry and public haven't stood still waiting for us to catch
up.  Taking our FOSS OS and making it usable with today's users is not
easy.  If the Workstation PRD fails to mention FOSS in it's mission, I
don't think that's a slight or a change of direction.  FOSS is such a
huge assumption in our daily lives.  I think it's an oversight while
focusing on the actual difficult problems to solve.

Does that mean we need to include proprietary software?  Personally, I
don't think so.  But I'm also pragmatic enough to realize that people
are going to use it anyway.  I don't think Fedora should include said
software, but I also don't think we should go out of our way to
prevent people from getting their tasks done and using their computers
as they see fit.  Education on FOSS is a wonderful thing, but
screaming it at them when they're frustrated and can't accomplish
something is going to quickly lead to a negative connotation of FOSS.

I do love your ideas though.  I think we should write more about FOSS,
and come up with innovative ways to continue educating people on it's
benefits.  More importantly, I think we need to educate people on
contributing to it to accomplish some of these harder tasks.  It's the
only way we're going to actually sustain a FOSS OS in the long run.  I
look forward to seeing the output of these ideas and participating in
my own way.


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