Inter-WG coordination: Stable application runtimes

Matthew Miller mattdm at
Fri Jan 10 19:12:05 UTC 2014

On Thu, Jan 09, 2014 at 07:58:44PM -0800, Adam Williamson wrote:
> So the question becomes, what is it appropriate for a distribution to do
> in this situation? My personal opinion is that what's appropriate for a
> distribution to do is also, happily, what's easiest for a distribution
> to do: punt on it. Entirely punt on the whole thing.

I agree with everything you write, except for your conclusion. Or, maybe
it's a matter of semantics. Either way, I think the *Fedora Project* can't
afford to punt. Here's my reasoning...

First, here's our mission:

  The Fedora Project's mission is to lead the advancement of free and open
  source software and content as a collaborative community. 

That might be a bit lofty -- not to mention ultimately vague and
unmeasurable -- but it clearly sets our objective as beyond just the lower
levels of a base distribution. Clearly, producing a distribution is
our primary output, but we shouldn't lose sight and start thinking that what
we do is the goal in and of itself. So much of the interest and enthusiasm
and shear time spent in the free / open source software world is in these
software stack layers and applications built on them that in order approach
the mission at all we need to at least have something meant to address them.

Second, if we did decide to constrict the mission to something more
pragmatic and distribution-focused (like the original Fedora Project
mission, inherited directly from the short-lived Red Hat Linux Project),
we'd be writing ourselves into obscurity. The base Linux distribution is
becoming a commodity. When I was at the Amazon web services conference last
year, I asked dozens of people why they were using the Linux distribution
they were, and the overwhelming answer was "Oh, I actually don't care". 

Now, we can certainly do things to improve our production of the
commodity... but, really, where's the fun in limiting ourselves to that? The
interesting problems are higher up. (Not to say that everything is solved at
the base layer, of course. There's still a lot going on -- this year and
last, for example, it's all about containers... which of course very quickly
ties back into needing something to go in those containers, and this whole
higher-level question.)

I said I agree with you, and one particular place I agree is that we can't
come up with and dictate a Single Bundled Stack Deployment Mechanism To Rule
Them All (SBSDMTRTA?). That *is* something that's part of the higher-up
ecosystems. However, we need to find better ways to support and interface
with those ecosystems -- that's where we can make Fedora (both the distro
and the project) really compelling in the future.

And, this ultimately makes a better experience for users, because if
Fedora's included tools are aware of the native packaging system, we can do
things like system auditing, security alerts (if not updates), maybe even
integration with selinux policy. Basically, we don't hammer all of the
possible universe into the distribution model, and we don't include all of
the packages of everything in the base Fedora distribution as RPMs, but we
do include those ecosystems in the Fedora _Project_, including the tools and
documentation to make them feel natural.

And, if people in the project do want to keep hammering things into RPMs --
fine, no reason to stop what some people clearly believe is still useful.
Likewise, if people want to come up with other novel ways of approaching the
problem, like SCLs or whatever else, I think we should find a space for it.
Again, it doesn't need to be in the Fedora Distribution Per Se, but there
should be room in *Fedora*.

Matthew Miller    --   Fedora Project    --    <mattdm at>

More information about the devel mailing list