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

Stephen Gallagher sgallagh at
Mon Apr 21 17:27:07 UTC 2014

Hash: SHA1

On 04/21/2014 01:07 PM, Haïkel Guémar wrote:
> Le 21/04/2014 18:37, Stephen Gallagher a écrit :
>> I spoke too strongly there, I think. We do however give a *very* 
>> strong impression that using non-FOSS solutions for anything at
>> all is unwelcome at best. Consider the recent discussions around
>> GNOME Software where we have 1) Forbidden it from automatically
>> looking up software from non-Fedora repositories, even FOSS ones 
>> 2) Asserted that it must consider web apps (either FOSS or not)
>> to be second-class citizens (and call it out as such)
> They actually are second-class citizens, we can't fix proprietary
> apps as we actually do with FOSS applications.

Sure, that was maybe poorly phrased. I was mostly just stating that
the impression given is that we discourage their use.

> The one thing we could do is augmenting our QA to check the 
> compatibility with non-free apps and file a ticket upstream so we
> could help them to fix it. And I personally wouldn't mind if we
> delay non-security fixes to give them enough time to update their
> applications. We could even think of allowing editors to plug to
> our infrastructure message bus on some conditions.

This would certainly be nice. I know QA resources are strapped, so
maybe a better choice would be your suggestion below about a
partnership program. Hopefully the applications would help contribute
some testing.

> But if we were to consider them first-class citizens, without the 
> editors cooperation, we would be bind to their willing which is
> against our mission statement. Unlike CentOS, we can't provide a
> stable base suitable to proprietary SW editors, all we can do is
> best effort.

Not /entirely/ true. One option would be for Fedora to be willing to
carry the three-year-supported Developer Toolset from RHEL. Since it's
pretty much isolated versions of the build tools, we could probably
tell apps that if they use it to build, we can support it for three
years (which is longer than our release cycle anyway).

>> Please understand, I'm as much a proponent of FOSS as anyone
>> here. I believe it to be the best way to develop software.
>> However, I also feel that actively discouraging users from using
>> the tools with which they are most comfortable on our platform is
>> harmful to our long-term strategy of converting them. Microsoft
>> had great success with "Embrace, Extend, Extinguish" and I think
>> that FOSS can enjoy very similar results (probably without
>> Extinguish, except in cases where user interest in the original
>> wanes) as long as we make it approachable. I don't see that as
>> the case today.
> +1 and you were right to start this discussion.

Thanks, I was starting to get nervous :)

>> This is a key point that I disagree with entirely. I think we
>> could attract many more users if we were the easiest way for them
>> to get a free, open-source friendly operating system that also
>> allowed them to continue using the tools they want to use.
>> I don't think it's unreasonable for us to allow them to use
>> Chrome from the Google repository. I don't think it's
>> unreasonable to allow them to use Steam from the Valve
>> repository. Device drivers get into hazy territory, but I think
>> it's a conversation worth having.
>> What about solutions that have no useful FOSS analog? Are you 
>> expecting that someone who uses Adobe Lightroom all the time
>> should switch to Fedora and write a brand-new post-processing
>> engine themselves?
> We should think on how we could improve collaboration with
> third-party repos, fedmsg/copr might be part of the technical
> solution. How about a Fedora Partnership Program ? We could open up
> at a certain extent our infrastructure and collaborate with
> software editors to make sure that their products have some support
> in Fedora.

I love this idea and I think we should probably start another thread
on it when this one starts to die down, assuming that the general
sense is that the community wants to improve our third-party/non-FOSS

Of course, if most people stick to the "Nothing but FOSS shall we ever
indulge!" approach, then so be it. I think it's still valuable to have
this discussion every once in a while, though. Of course, a small part
of me is worried that we've gone down this path so long that nearly
all of the dissenting voices will have already left.

>> I'm advocating that they should have a place at the table. I
>> don't advocate placing them "above" FOSS solutions (and I'm
>> perfectly happy with requiring that any tool that provides access
>> to them clearly identify them as such and ideally recommend a
>> FOSS alternative instead).
>> But I think that trying to actively discourage (read: prevent)
>> users from installing such software is harmful to our Mission of
>> advancing Free Software. In my view, it's okay to occasionally
>> embrace closed-source as a means to expose more people to
>> open-source. Failing to do so has a tendency to leave us labeled
>> as zealots, which are often ignored.
> That's the point, I think most of us agree with you :)
> regards, H.

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