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

Eric H. Christensen sparks at
Mon Apr 21 15:56:28 UTC 2014

Hash: SHA512

On Mon, Apr 21, 2014 at 08:36:55AM -0400, Stephen Gallagher wrote:
> ...I'd
> like to suggest a fifth Foundation, one to ultimately supersede all
> the rest: "Functional". 

I think anytime anyone suggests a new foundation that supersedes all of what the project and community has stood for for many years then they are doing it wrong.  I mean, Fedora has traditionally been very strong in upholding the values of FOSS.  We live it, feed it, and use it.  Does this mean that Fedora isn't always great when dealing with proprietary solutions later on (like Flash)?  Sure, but that also means that there is more of a push to get FOSS solutions in place that remedy those issues.  Fedora has never forebade a user to install third-party software (proprietary or otherwise) after the fact.  The fact that many (most?) users don't have to do such things is a testiment to how well FOSS has been developed and meets the needs of our users.

I'm also concerned over the word "functional".  I've seen some disturbing trends in Fedora that points to an all-out attack on FOSS in the name of "functionality".  To me, this lowers the value of Fedora and makes me question not only the operating system I use on a daily basis but also the number of hours I spend supporting the project that used to have strong values towards FOSS.  One person's "functional" is another person's "disfunctional".

> 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.

I'm confused here.  No one is telling anyone that they can't use Application X.  Users are, and have always been, free to install and use whatever software they choose.  That said, Fedora shouldn't be packaging or otherwise making it easier for one to choose proprietary software.  When we start pushing proprietary solutions in our "software store" right along side FOSS solutions we are devaluing our FOSS and making it easier for people to ignore the software we hope they'll migrate to.  

If you aren't advocating close-source solutions then why are you advocating a new foundation that supersedes the foundation of freedom?

- -- Eric

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Eric "Sparks" Christensen
Fedora Project

sparks at - sparks at
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