Selling systems with Fedora preloaded.

Greg DeKoenigsberg gdk at
Mon Nov 28 15:51:30 UTC 2005

As the usage guidelines stand *right now*, you *cannot* use the Fedora 
name if you alter the bits *in any way*.

This has been the policy since Fedora was first created -- largely because 
no one had the time to deal with questions like the ones you're raising 
right now.

I'm trying to push for a "based on Fedora" policy, which would allow 
resellers/LUGs/whomever to get some value from the Fedora name without 
exposing Fedora to liability.  But there's no policy of this kind in place 
yet, and it involves hand-to-hand combat with lawyers, so I make no 
promises about this policy appearing any time soon.


_____________________  ____________________________________________
  Greg DeKoenigsberg ] [ the future masters of technology will have
 Community Relations ] [ to be lighthearted and intelligent.  the
             Red Hat ] [ machine easily masters the grim and the 
                     ] [ dumb.  --mcluhan

On Mon, 28 Nov 2005, Gain Paolo Mureddu wrote:

> I really appreciate your comments guys, even though I may sound like a 
> stubborn nonsensical guy at times, I'm trying my best to get this right.
> Thus far I've gone through the nVidia and Flash licenses, they allow 
> redistribution as long as the binary part of the packages is not changed 
> (in the case of Flash, that's the package in itself and in the case of 
> nVidia's driver, that's the X aspect of the package, as the kernel-side 
> portion may require patches to get it built). In any case, both allow 
> redistribution. I took a look at how other vendors are putting systems 
> together, in particular HP workstations with some or another flavor of 
> RHEL installed. We're not planning going with RHEL for a number or 
> reasons (and thats not necesarily related to support subscriptions, more 
> on that bellow). What I learned of how HP distributes their Workstations 
> is by asking their users to log into their website to finish 
> configuration of the Workstation (most likely to allow for third party 
> software to be installed and properly acknowledge the users). So that 
> there could be sort of a solution to our problem (details on this 
> project and projected scope, etc, in a bit). Many of the extra packages 
> we want to include are actually part of Fedora Extras, but that got out 
> of Core (for some obvious and some not so obvious reasons), but which we 
> consider could be considered as pluses, especially for our targetted 
> audiences.
> The most spikey issue is of course that of Multimedia (as I have 
> mentioned before), as people currenly expect to be able to have some 
> sort of multimedia capabilities... Still while not directly providing 
> the packages, would proper documentation on how to install them, plus 
> disclaimers that if the user so chooses to install, say a DVD player, 
> even though the validity of libdvdcss in Linux is doubtious (at the very 
> least), the Fedora Foundation, the Fedora Project and ourselves (system 
> builders) cannot be held responsible for the use given to such 
> applications and tools, are not liable to responsibility from legal 
> issues of any kind derived from the use there of? Sorry if my question 
> is a bit confusing, but what I mean is that if we warn the users, even 
> though providing the info on how to install such applications, but not 
> directly providing the applications per se, and stating that any 
> problems derived from the use of such apps, is the sole responsibility 
> of the user and the user alone, would that still be a violation to the 
> guidelines of Fedora Foundation and trademark use?
> Rahul Sundaram wrote:
> > Hi
> >
> >
> >> Guess, Fedora is best suited for individual use only... As going
> >> through all the restrictions, and balancing what most users expect to
> >> find in their comptuers, it'd deffinitely be hard to market such
> >> computers. Despite the computer's raw power. As I said earlier, what
> >> worries me the most is the hardware part, as I can leave the system to
> >> a default (kickstart) installation, letting users configure their
> >> users, change root's password, etc., but (and I would too) users
> >> expect the hardware they buy a new system with to flawlessly work with
> >> the OS the system shipped.  This is what leaves me worried. As these
> >> are the rough specs we thought of the systems:
> >>
> > Like you have mentioned Kickstart has all sort of hooks for OEM to use 
> > so the infrastructure to do more than individual deployments is 
> > certainly there along with GFS, Xen and so on. Jesse Keating did a 
> > presentation on Fedora for OEM distributions in FUDCon1 which you 
> > might want to read
> >
> Thanks a lot, Rahul. I'll certainly take a look at it! Certainly 
> Kickstart would be the way to go, plus taking advantage of the 
> capability of Anaconda to install extra disks from the first boot 
> interface. Whether the user decides or not to use the "extras" disk, 
> would be up to him/her, and as such the Fedora intallation would be 
> safeguarded that way, because up until that point, the installation will 
> be a pristine Fedora default.
> >
> >> We've thought of a few ways to walk around this issue, like if
> >> we just leave Fedora be and go for another distro (we wouldn't want to
> >> do that, though) or offer the drivers as a separate disk with
> >> installation instructions, and probably those packages we would have
> >> had added to the system... BUT this could also in itself be an issue
> >> if in anyway there's a restriction to do this as well. I'm going
> >> through the licenses of Flash, RealPlayer and the nVidia (and ATi)
> >> drivers as well... I didn't expect this to be easy...
> >>  
> >>
> > I cannot offer legal advise but here are some of my personal opinions. 
> > Regardless of any distribution you use, you would have similar 
> > trademark guidelines in place to prevent confusion.  As long as you 
> > dont modify Fedora in anyway and simple redistribute it with the 
> > additional packages clearly indicated as such the trademark guidelines 
> > should not affect you. Do a license audit of the add on packages and 
> > if the licenses allow redistribution without a EULA (Interactive 
> > installations is against the design goals of RPM)  you can integrate 
> > them within a repository and have a post installation hook to pull in 
> > packages from a OEM  repository or design a custom application say in 
> > GTK+  that has a druid  or even a simple shell script and zenity (part 
> > of GNOME-utils) with fallbacks. The application would have the EULAs 
> > which the user can agree to before getting the necessary packages 
> > which can be launched on first login for the system 
> > administrator/user. As long as you make it clear that this application 
> > and whatever packages it uses is not part of Fedora this seems to be a 
> > clean solution to me.
> Well, just to round up a bit more what I said earlier. When looking at 
> how HP configures their Workstations, a similar idea could be done here. 
> Either require the user to visit certain webiste to gather additional 
> information on how to set up their systems, or tell them up front in the 
> documentation with a very visible, nice looking, EASY TO FOLLOW(1) 
> installation guide and first steps with the new system, so that they 
> understand that up to that point during first boot system setup, the 
> system is a clean Fedora default installation, and what follows is our 
> post-configuration to get all the additional programs and device drivers 
> in place for intended system use (as advertised by us). The tricky part 
> will be to have good Fedora advertising and still provide some extra 
> functionality that will (hopefully) make users buy more systems from us. 
> This blance between our intention to be true to Fedora, and yet have 
> some value added to systems built by us, will be the REAL challenge. 
> Especially to avoid striding too much away from a Fedora's default 
> installation.
> >
> >> Just to clarify: Even changing default theme (to another GPL'ed one)
> >> would cause an issue with the trademark? Even if the theme COMES with
> >> Fedora in a default installation?
> >>  
> >>
> > All of the Free and open source software licenses allow you to copy, 
> > modify and redistribute software licensed under them. Thats however 
> > orthogonal to the trademark guidelines.
> >
> >
> >
> I'll take a look at that issue of Red Hat Mag. Anyway, I believe that 
> the easiest way will be to have default settings an leave the users 
> decide what they want... We like the clearlooks olive theme better... 
> (though I have to admit I like it a lot too when combined clearlooks 
> window border with Bluecurve Strawberry or Orange GTK colors)
> > Legal like security is a field where it pays to be paranoidal. So we 
> > have to assume worst case scenarios.  If suppose the trademark 
> > protection guidelines allow the OEM to change the theme and if they 
> > switch the distribution to use one of the al1y GPL'ed theme included 
> > in Fedora as the default, that would be aesthetically non appealing 
> > even while serving the functionality it is designed for, leaving users 
> > of this modified distribution leaving a bad impression on what Fedora 
> > is. So thats potentially a scenario that the guidelines are meant to 
> > avoid. The alternative would be to get special exceptions which is a 
> > hassle.
> Yes, and because I know that is taht I'm trying to figure out what would 
> be the best way to balance user requests with what can be provided with 
> our systems, and having this wonderful distribution as the core of it all
> >
> >
> > I would like to hear your plans with more details. How many systems 
> > are you planning to redistribute Fedora?, market segment, timeframe etc.
> >
> > regards
> > Rahul
> The whole plan for the Fedora based computers is like this:
> It all started when one of my best friends asked me to insall Linux on 
> his PC and he became immediately hooked, switched in a matter of days...
> According to what we have gathered thus far, there is a potential market 
> in Mexico, quite big. Since we are a poor nation, and given the fact 
> that usually computer hardware down here runs for at least twice as much 
> as in the US, a cheapper alternative is needed. Not only that, but the 
> systems sold by some of the big names in the industry can run for 
> several thousand dollars for a top of the line system, while a mid-range 
> system can still be quite pricey, we're talking that a Windows Media 
> Center computer by HP can easily run for as much as $3500 USD. Mid-range 
> and entry-level PCs while cheapper, usually lack a lot in the hardware 
> department and even when they may have powerful components like 
> processors and the like, usually the system is lacking in memory (like a 
> P4 2.8 GHz with 256 Mb RAM with Windows XP on it) and are usually quite 
> bloated in the software department (especially start up programs).
> So we started  to think of ways to get better hardware at lower prices, 
> and since we both use Linux we thought that it could only be natural to 
> use Linux. But we've also identified some necessities from the users 
> with whom we have most contact, like the need for really simple and to 
> the point applications (we know Linux distros usually have plenty of 
> those), easy enough to use interface and updates system (who can beat 
> yum, anyway?!), etc. However, there is an increasing necessity for 
> multimedia compliance, and here are the spikes. Because during the 
> second half of the nineties, when multimedia systems bloomed, also 
> bloomed the mp3 audio format, and very quickly the people started to 
> compress all their CD libraries into their computers usin mp3... And 
> when the world learnt that the format was not free and a license was 
> required, that ruled out many Linux systems. At any rate, a lot of 
> people has asked us if they'd be able to transfer their existin library 
> into Linux, hence the need for a media player capable of playing mp3 
> (and for some, wma, too).
> The DVD issue is not as a big deal as the mp3 thing is, becuase a lot of 
> people simply have a home DVD to watch their movies on, so they don't 
> actually care about a DVD player, but they DO care about web and 
> streaming video content... Another problem as the most widely used 
> formats aren't free either, Microsoft's Windows Media Video and AVIs are 
> quite common place on websites, not to mention other proprietary formats 
> like Real Video and QuickTime. Was because of these "needs" that we 
> decided that maybe including a media player like mplyaer, VLC or Xine 
> could be a good idea, but when looked from above, it actually doesn't... 
> Even though simply not providing a means to play this content could be a 
> nay-say for many users.
> Another issue we found that users were constatntly telling us, has got 
> to do with security, virii and all those exploits of which Windows has 
> been subject of as of late. Fortunately Linux is inherently safer than 
> Windows, anyway, the real reason for that is that with all the spyware 
> that some Windows computers mange to get, the performance of a computer 
> starts to deteriorate to ridiculous point, so people have actualy asked 
> us about "durability" of a Linux system, said another way "How much time 
> until it start crawling instead of running". We believe Linux can help 
> us there too.
> So having this in mind and the fact that especially computer 
> enthusiastic users have approached us becuase we are asidous Linux 
> users, made us believe that we could sell what is still considered to be 
> a higher-end system for quite a reasonable price, with support and a 
> Free operating system installed.
> So initially we'll try to sell the systems to computer savvy users, but 
> the ultimate goal is to try and address as much as we can the needs of 
> those "less literate" users. Having the hardware and the software in 
> place is not all there is to it. Just like Apple did in late nineties, 
> we believe that Linux should be sold "in style". That's why we set the 
> hardware standards for our intended systems a bit too high and yet 
> affordable. The sum of the parts of the hardware for a system like the 
> one of my last post (and dpending on the graphics card the system has) 
> can run for as much as $1200 USD (sacrificing in the graphics dept., 
> with say a GeForce 6600 plain). Still a very imprssive system, yet quite 
> affordable, as 1200 bucks is usually what an entry-level (with mid-range 
> specs) costs. Of course there are systems for as low as 500 dollars, but 
> they're too tight in hardware. The intention is to make the systems last 
> (in the hardware dept., at least) for some at least 5 years.
> For us profits would be in support and hardware sells... If we get a 
> critical mass big enough, should be enough for the business to maintain 
> itself.
> However (and I did read about this in the guidelines), we'd have to 
> figure out an advetisement campaing that not only puts Fedora on the 
> radar of buyers, but also would not be in contraposition with said 
> guidelines to not be misleading and stuff... and being this especially 
> true if promoted as a gaming rig (for instance) with the waves of 
> comercial games that have announced Linux support and all, as 
> fundamental hardware support (in this case graphics) is not part of the 
> distribution. Other market segment we'll try to get into is the small  
> to medium office desktop, as we've had some possitive feedback in this 
> regard. Corporate scale is not part of our scope, at least not yet. And 
> for these systems, while still keeping much of the fancyness of the 
> hardware, we've agreed not to soup up the graphics hardware, as such 
> embedded Chrome chips are ideal in this scenario, as they even have 
> kernel-level DRM drivers nowadays, so even graphics 3D accelartion is 
> possible (if not as fast and fancy as with the "higher"-end systems we 
> are planning.
> As I said before, multimedia is a quite a big deal, even in an office 
> environment, where the users may have setup a VoIP prgram, and they'd 
> still want to be able to listen to their radio stations or music 
> libraries, that's why we've also payed special attention to audio 
> hardware, and deal with that which we know will be able to offer 
> customers that without worrying about if they could dmix Skype or 
> TeamSpeak while they're listeningto music, playing their games, watching 
> videos or whatever. Right now we have very narrow options for this 
> hardware mixing requirement (as I said my previous e-mail), and though 
> there are more options, we've been unable to find (here) hardware based 
> on other chips which are known to have good  ALSA hardware mixing 
> support (like Trident's 4D Wave, besides the ones mentioned)
> So pretty much these are as many details as we have right now... We are 
> working our hearts out to research more about this legal mumbo-jumbo. We 
> plan on developing these plans in the upcoming 6 months. The goal is to 
> try and see how many systems are we able to get people interested on... 
> I just hope we could find a balance between "cool" factor and legal 
> compliance.
> So I guess that during the next 6 months our milestone will be set at 
> approximately 1000 systems (conservative figures, I know).
> (1) I've actually seen people render simple things into quite 
> complicated matters.
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