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

Josh Boyer jwboyer at
Mon Apr 21 21:50:20 UTC 2014

On Mon, Apr 21, 2014 at 4:48 PM, Stephen Gallagher <sgallagh at> wrote:
> Hash: SHA1
> 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

You mean the proposed hard-line?  Because that line doesn't exist today.

> 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.

That's fine.  But there's nothing in our Foundations and _existing_
practices and interpretations that disagrees with that point of view.

Look, I think the Foundations are great.  They remind us all of why we
got into this to begin with (or most of us anyway).  However, they are
never going to completely cover all cases.  They are broad.  They
project strength and conviction.  They can't be worded to be future
proof because nobody can see the future.  They are extremely important
guideposts on what Fedora is about, but they are not codifications of
allowed practices and situations.

If you start tweaking them or adding new ones to list out exceptions
and allowances and to address the latest computing fad, you weaken
their ability to act as those guideposts.  They instead become case
law or listings, which leads to less common sense, more process, more
exceptions to be added, etc.  They would become so lengthy and
complicated that nobody would read them.

I'm not saying adding additional Foundations or rewording the existing
ones should never be done, but I do think these specific items you
mention don't necessarily warrant it at this time.

> Josh, please don't see this as a means to bypass the Board decisions.

I certainly don't think that.

> 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

Given the lack of interest in the Board election this past round, I
suspect it's neither.  Instead we have people on the Board because
they volunteered to be on the Board.  That doesn't mean they are poor
choices, mind you.  It does, however, indicate somewhat of a problem
that is beyond the scope of this thread.

As for a representative voice.. representative of what?  People in the
Board seats should absolutely keep in mind various aspects of the
entire project, but we need less partisanship and more open-mindedness
at this level.  We need people willing to work together to find out
what is best for the Project as a whole, not argue on behalf of
certain pieces of it.  Compromise and cooperation are what will wind
up getting us moving again.

> 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.

Sure.  I think this thread is a good start to that reality check, and
I think there's probably still discussion to be had.


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