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

Stephen Gallagher sgallagh at
Mon Apr 21 17:53:23 UTC 2014

Hash: SHA1

On 04/21/2014 01:37 PM, Eric H. Christensen wrote:
> On Mon, Apr 21, 2014 at 12:37:57PM -0400, Stephen Gallagher wrote:
>> On 04/21/2014 11:56 AM, Eric H. Christensen wrote:
> i> > 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.
>> 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.
> Well, that largely won't happen anyway if they are coming from a 
> Microsoft Windows environment.

I think that's a bit of an oversimplification. While the plural of
anecdote is not data, I can point to a half-dozen people that I've
personally converted over to Fedora by way of:

1) IE -> Firefox or Chrome
2) Windows Mail -> Thunderbird
3) MS Office->LibreOffice
4) Windows XP -> Fedora

It took multiple steps, but once I got them comfortable with the
cross-platform versions of the stuff they used all the time, the
switch between OSes was tolerable. I think that's an approach that we
should be attempting more of.

>> 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.
> Again, no one is preventing the user from installing all these 
> things.  We shouldn't be expected to provide every last bit on a 
> silver plater, either.  That's a game in futility with many legal
> and privacy issues added to the technical nightmare.

Well, I think we are using slightly different versions of "preventing"
here. Your version is that it's not preventing them as long as some
workaround exists (regardless of difficulty). Mine is that I consider
it preventing if they have to do significantly more than they
currently do on other operating systems (which is usually: 1) go to
website, 2) download installer, 3) run installer).

Of all the third-party apps I've seen out there, Google Chrome is the
least painful, and that's still not very approachable.

>> But I think that trying to actively discourage (read: prevent) 
>> users from installing such software is harmful to our Mission of 
>> advancing Free Software.
> What, specifically, are we preventing users from installing?

See definition above.

> Exactly what's your mission here?  More users or more
> contributors?

Both. I've never met a contributor that wasn't a user first. Also,
remember that contributors aren't just coders but bug reporters,
documentation editors, translators, etc.

With advances in ABRT, even our casual users are providing us with
valuable feedback, so I wouldn't draw the line nearly as solidly as we
used to.

> Users are good but contributors are better.  And how are these 
> contributors going to contribute to their proprietary solutions
> that we now provide for them?  How do we support something that is
> simply provided to us as a binary and has no upstream bug tracking
> or support (outside of a support contract)?  How are these users
> going to react when all the software they know and love (that we
> provide) breaks due to no fault of our own?  Are we going to hold
> back bug or

This is where I think you're mixing two very different users into one.
The traditional Fedora user would think as you do: that if I'm running
it on Fedora, it's part of Fedora. So of course that user would be
concerned with reporting it to Fedora.

However, the user coming to Fedora for the first time tends to still
have a mindset from other platforms. When running Adobe Premier on
Windows, most users aren't going to call Microsoft for support when
something breaks: they'll call Adobe.

I think something like what Haïkel Guémar suggested in the other
thread is a good idea: start a Fedora Partnership Program where we
make it easier to collaborate with third-parties. That idea needs
fleshing out, of course.

> security fix because it breaks a proprietary program but fixes it
> for everything else?  There are many reasons to say that 
> supporting/shipping/supporting proprietary solutions is a bad
> idea.

I think there are ways to work around some of this. Part of the
solution might be to recommend that third-party solutions build atop
of the Red Hat Developer Toolset releases, which we could pretty much
drop into Fedora without much hassle and maintain them for the same
three-year period. They'd have a stable base and our users would have
access to those apps. All without a huge additional effort (since DTS
is being supported by RHEL anyway).
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