The Forgotten "F": A Tale of Fedora's Foundations

Haïkel Guémar hguemar at
Mon Apr 21 13:08:30 UTC 2014

Le 21/04/2014 14:36, Stephen Gallagher a écrit :
> Hash: SHA1
> Lately, I've been thinking a lot about Fedora's Foundations: “Freedom,
> Friends, Features, First", particularly in relation to some very
> sticky questions about where certain things fit (such as third-party
> repositories, free and non-free web services, etc.)
> Many of these discussions get hung up on wildly different
> interpretations of what the "Freedom" Foundation means. First, I'll
> reproduce the exact text of the "Freedom" Foundation[1]:
> "Freedom represents dedication to free software and content. We
> believe that advancing software and content freedom is a central goal
> for the Fedora Project, and that we should accomplish that goal
> through the use of the software and content we promote. By including
> free alternatives to proprietary code and content, we can improve the
> overall state of free and open source software and content, and limit
> the effects of proprietary or patent encumbered code on the Project.
> Sometimes this goal prevents us from taking the easy way out by
> including proprietary or patent encumbered software in Fedora, or
> using those kinds of products in our other project work. But by
> concentrating on the free software and content we provide and promote,
> the end result is that we are able to provide: releases that are
> predictable and 100% legally redistributable for everyone; innovation
> in free and open source software that can equal or exceed closed
> source or proprietary solutions; and, a completely free project that
> anyone can emulate or copy in whole or in part for their own purposes."
> The language in this Foundation is sometimes dangerously unclear. For
> example, it pretty much explicitly forbids the use of non-free
> components in the creation of Fedora (sorry, folks: you can't use
> Photoshop to create your package icon!). At the same time, we
> regularly allow the packaging of software that can interoperate with
> non-free software; we allow Pidgin and other IM clients to talk to
> Google and AOL, we allow email clients to connect to Microsoft
> Exchange, etc. The real problem is that every time a question comes up
> against the Freedom Foundation, Fedora contributors diverge into two
> armed camps: the hard-liners who believe that Fedora should never
> under any circumstances work (interoperate) with proprietary services
> and the the folks who believe that such a hard-line approach is a path
> to irrelevance.
> To make things clear: I'm personally closer to the second camp than
> the first. In fact, in keeping with the subject of this email, I'd
> like to suggest a fifth Foundation, one to ultimately supersede all
> the rest: "Functional". Here's a straw-man phrasing of this proposal:
> Functional means that the Fedora community recognizes this to be the
> ultimate truth: the purpose of an operating system is to enable its
> users to accomplish the set of tasks they need to perform.
> With this in place, it would admittedly water down the Freedom
> Foundation slightly. "Freedom" would essentially be reduced to: the
> tools to reproduce the Fedora Build Environment and all packages
> (source and binary) shipped from this build system must use a
> compatible open-source license and not be patent-encumbered. Fedora
> would strive to always provide and promote open-source alternatives to
> existing (or emerging) proprietary technologies, but accepts that
> attracting users means not telling them that they must change all of
> their tools to do so).
> The "Functional" Foundation should be placed above the other four and
> be the goal-post that we measure decisions against: "If we make this
> change, are we reducing our users' ability to work with the software
> they want/need to?". Any time the answer to that question would be
> "yes", we have to recognize that this translates into lost users (or
> at the very least, users that are working around our intentions).
> Now, let me be further clear on this: I am not in any way advocating
> the use of closed-source software or services. I am not suggesting
> that we start carrying patent-encumbered software. I think it is
> absolutely the mission of Fedora to show people that FOSS is the
> better long-term solution. However, in my experience a person who is
> exposed to open source and allowed to migrate in their own time is one
> who is more likely to become a lifelong supporter. A person who is
> told "if you switch to Fedora, you must stop using Application X" is a
> person who is not running Fedora.
> [1]
> Version: GnuPG v1
> Comment: Using GnuPG with Thunderbird -
> GCEAn3R7U8U3PG3slTt4wRX0/GBsr8lJ
> =tFhY

Interoperability is and has always been a key value in the FOSS community.
Freedom also means freedom not to use FOSS software, off course, we 
ought to favor FOSS alternatives, but we must respect end-users choice.

But above the 4 Foundation, there is our mission statement which is "to 
lead the advancement of open source software and content (...)".
I agree that we must take care of our end-users but not at the expense 
of our superior mission. Should we delay a feature because it will break 
a proprietary driver or any crapware like Skype ? I don't think so.
I know we're walking on a tightrope, between delivering something useful 
to the community and staying true to our values. I believe that more 
collaboration with the larger ecosystem (upstreams, downstreams, 
third-party repositories, and even proprietary folks) is the key to success.

I share your concerns and agree with rephrasing the Freedom Foundation 
to be clearer, but I disagree with the Fifth Foundation proposal.
Especially, since it is placed above the Four others and denature our 
mission statement, the one everyone here pledged allegiance to.

Best regards,

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