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

Stephen Gallagher sgallagh at
Mon Apr 21 20:48:17 UTC 2014

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On 04/21/2014 04:35 PM, Josh Boyer wrote:
> On Mon, Apr 21, 2014 at 11:02 AM, inode0 <inode0 at> wrote:
>> On Mon, Apr 21, 2014 at 7:36 AM, Stephen Gallagher
>> <sgallagh at> wrote:
>>> 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.)
>> Sure but also understand that no matter what precise words are
>> written down on a piece of paper at a given point in time they
>> will suffer from sticky questions over time as the world we fit
>> into changes.
> This is a good insight.
> I think the problem I have with this well-intentioned thread is
> that it's a broad reaction to a specific issue we're trying to sort
> out right now.  Webapps aren't new, the fact that a large portion
> of them aren't FOSS isn't new, and their usage in and
> interoperability with Fedora is not new.  The "new" item here is
> displaying them as options in the software center.
> I think it's a fair question to address whether or not displaying 
> non-Free web applications in the software center (or other similar 
> applications) is within our Foundations.  I don't think we need to
> add an entirely new Foundation or significantly reword the existing
> ones in order to answer that question.  A statement from the Board
> on this seems perfectly reasonable.

Well, the current Board discussion (and the one prior to it regarding
third-party repos) certainly catalyzed this discussion, but I still
think it's one that's worth having every few years.

Ultimately, I don't think we as a group have consensus about what
exactly the best interpretation of our Foundations are in terms of how
they further our Mission.

To boil it down:

Is the Freedom Foundation too strict? (Alternately, are we reading it
too strictly?) In other words, is our hard-line on only displaying
FOSS solutions ultimately accomplishing our Mission to advance FOSS? I
argue that it is not, because it artificially limits our audience to
the set of people who are *already* working on FOSS. I think that
relaxing our stance a /little/ could lead to a wider contributor base,
providing a greater benefit to the FOSS community than absolute purity.

Josh, please don't see this as a means to bypass the Board decisions.
I am not intending this as an end-run, but more as a way to put up the
weathervane on wider community opinion. Historically, we've not really
had elections tied to a particular stance on these issues, so it's
hard to know for certain if we've really got a representative voice on
any of the committees (Board, FESCo, FPC) or if we've ended up with an
oligarchy where the people who send the most emails to the lists get
elected. (I suspect we're leaning towards the latter, and of course
there's something to be said for putting the most involved people in
charge). But any good leader knows to occasionally make a reality
check[1] and make sure that we're actually aligned with what people want.

[1] I often critically fail my saving throw there...
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