fedora mission (was Re: systemd and changes)

Matthew Miller mattdm at mattdm.org
Wed Sep 1 14:51:03 UTC 2010

On Tue, Aug 31, 2010 at 04:03:17PM -0400, Arthur Pemberton wrote:
> > Where, keep in mind, "slow" is defined as twice a year, right?
> Yes.

I think this is a remarkable definition of slow. Especially if we can
provide options for people who want a faster path to do so.

> > I don't think that's fair at all. Fedora is unique in a lot of ways, and a
> > waterfall of updates isn't essential to that uniqueness.
> List those ways please, aside from the relationship with Red Hat/CentOS.

Why brush that aside? Historically, there's been a lot of fear in Fedora of
being perceived as merely a beta or technology preview for RHEL. By now,
though, we've proven that that's not the case, that what we've said all
along is true — Fedora is a great distro in its own right! But it'd be silly
of us to overcompensate by distancing ourselves completely. Fedora is part
of an entire ecosystem, and part of that ecosystem includes an open source
company which has a great enterprise distribution based on the work we do
here, and which employees a great number of engineers, hackers, developers,
and designers all contributing significantly to free software. Why *start*
by cutting that out?

(All right... all right... but apart from better sanitation and medicine and
education and irrigation and public health and roads and a freshwater system
and baths and public order... what have the Romans done for us?)

I also think that it's not true that just because Ubuntu aims to be a
general purpose distribution, we can't as well. It's unlike the
coke-vs-pepsi analogy you suggest, because it's all free software and
parallel development actually benefits everyone. Two groups can approach the
same target differently.

But that's not all there is to it.

Fedora has a great release engineering team and process. There's a serious
emphasis on shipping solid, professional releases. Ubuntu has a process too,
but they end up with things like a zero-day last-minute respin of 10.04.
That would not have happened in the same way with Fedora.

There may be work to do on QA of packages that get put out as updates, but
the overall QA process in Fedora is great. The packaging guidelines and
initial review process are well-considered and polished by real-world use.
We've got great package-development infrastructure and tools, and great
people working on those.

Fedora is built on important technology. For example: kickstart. It's better
than Debian's scripted installs, and Ubuntu's implementation of kickstart
is.... lacking. This is cool stuff, and it enables other cool stuff like
Fedora spins. Another example: from one point of view, RPM vs. dpkg is
negligible, but there are technical features which make it nicer for some
purposes (like a derived distribution). My point isn't to argue about the
relative virtues of different technology, but that key points of the
distribution-glue are unique.

And Fedora *is* fast -- see above.

Matthew Miller <mattdm at mattdm.org>
Senior Systems Architect -- Instructional & Research Computing Services
Harvard School of Engineering & Applied Sciences

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