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Re: [fab] slashdot rough draft
- From: Rahul <sundaram fedoraproject org>
- To: fedora-advisory-board redhat com
- Subject: Re: [fab] slashdot rough draft
- Date: Mon, 14 Aug 2006 19:28:27 +0530
Max Spevack wrote:
Here's a rough draft of a big chunk of the slashdot stuff. For any of
you to read, mainly from a content perspective and BS-detector
perspective, as well as anything that I'm just completely off in left
There's almost certainly typos, so please excuse them -- this is not a
final draft, but I want to get some eyeballs on what I have so far,
since /. is eager to get the answers.
Hi everyone. I'm looking forward to answering all of the questions, but
before I start diving into that, I guess it would be useful to give a
little bit of perspective about me and my role within Fedora and Red Hat,
because it will offer some context around the things I have to say.
The Fedora Project, as many of you know, is a partnership between Red Hat
and the OSS community. The highest level of decision-making within Fedora
is the Fedora Project Board, a group that is empowered to make the
decisions about Fedora policy, to set priorities, and to hold the rest of
the Fedora sub-projects accountable for what they are doing. The Fedora
Board has nine members, five of whom are Red Hat employees, and four of
whom are community members. In addition, the Board has a Chairman, and
that person is whoever happens to hold the position of "Fedora Project
Leader" within Red Hat -- since February of this past year, that's been
Would be good to point out that the current board is transitioning. We
are also moving towards having all the board members being elected
members with the exception of the the lead. Also the number of Red Hat
vs community members are not set in stone.
As much as possible, we try to conduct our business within the confines of
the Fedora Advisory Board, which is a larger group (about 50) of the most
prominent contributors to Fedora. This is an open mailing list with
public archives and open-posting, and its participation is strong both
from @redhat.com and community contributors.
For more information about the Fedora Project Board, please <a
href="http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Board">see our website</a>.
In the spirit of complete transparency, a word about the answers:
All of them were composed directly by me -- it's my voice and writing
style that you're reading. But, I didn't answer them all by myself
without speaking to anyone else. I discussed some of them with folks on
the Fedora Advisory Board mailing list, with various colleagues at Red
Hat, and a draft of the responses was shown to Red Hat's corporate
communications team (not because they have any editorial control over what
I say, but as a sign of respect) and a draft was also shown to Fedora
Why such a divide?
It seems to me that 'Linux should be Linux'. Rather, we're seeing articles
about one linux distro killing another. We never see "Windows Professional
is killing Windows Home". IMHO, Ubuntu's success should be a boon for all
Unfortunately, package management seems to be the great divide. What are
you doing to bring One Package Manager to all Linux?
I agree with your initial comment -- one of the great powers of OSS is
that when you have a strong upstream in place that is always having
changes fed back to it, success for one distribution translates to success
for all distributions.
When you look at the landscape of all the many Linux distros out there, it
isn't surprising that there's some level of competition among them. Most
people want to feel like they are the best at what they do, and a certain
amount of competition among distros is healthy. It keeps people
innovating, it keeps them working hard, etc. Personally, I think it's
important not to lose the perspective that in the end, everyone who works
on OSS -- regardless of whether they run Fedora, Ubuntu, Slackware, or any
other distro -- is ultimately working to promote the same core set of
To speak directly about Fedora:
First, we believe very strongly in working with various upstreams. In my
opinion, the diff between any package that we ship in Fedora and the
upstream version should be as small as possible at any given time, and we
should be constantly submitting our patches and changes upstream for
consideration. To your point about "one package manager to rule them all"
-- well, I think it's an admirable goal. Do I think it would be a good
thing for Linux to begin to standardize on a single package manager?
Yes, I do. Does Red Hat have strong ties to RPM? Of course -- that goes
without saying. But what does that mean for Fedora? Well, Fedora is also
tied to RPM -- but that doesn't mean that the Board is unopen to
considering the idea of change. RPM is the reality of the moment. If
there's a better solution that gains a critical mass of Fedora engineers
who are interested in experimenting with it, then we will try it out.
You ask specifically what Fedora is doing to bring about a "one package
manager to all Linux" -- well, I guess there's a couple of directions that
Fedora could go:
1) Try to convince anyone not using RPM to do so. I don't like that idea
very much -- if RPM is the tool you want to use, feel free. If you've got
something that works better for you, that's fine too.
Might consider pointing out the RPM is a lower level layer and that we
are using Yum and graphical interfaces on top for the end user. We are
likely to get silly RPM vs Apt-get comparisons otherwise.
2) Fedora could abandon RPM in favor of another package manager. Like I
said -- if Fedora engineers want to start the "Fedora
$OTHER_PACKAGE_MANAGER Project" and see how far they can get and how the
technology works, that would be a great learning experience. We're set up
in a way that a project like that could be possible, without getting in
the way of the mainline Fedora releases.
3) Try to create something entirely new, that everyone will love. Call me
cynical, but trying to build a consensus before you actually have any code
just seems like a waste of time.
I guess the "problem" with package managers is that they are so integral
to the rest of a distro that it's a major endeavor to switch them. This
leads to a high level of inertia, and therefore requires a tremendous
added benefit that is gained by making a switch.
Vista a Problem?
Do you view Vista as a threat to your user base? Do you or people on your
team ever change your mind about things or let looming Vista influence
I'm hoping that Linux distros are not pressured into adding unneeded bells
and whistles in a desperate attempt to compete with Vista. Are you
invulnerable from this mentality?
Truthfully, everything I know about Vista I learned in two places -- right
here on /. and on the mini-MSFT blog. I don't particularly pay any
attention to it, and I can't really tell you what is or is not supposed to
be in it at this point in time, or when it's going to ship (insert your
jokes here). I used to have a XP partition that I'd boot to for gaming --
probably not unlike a good number of /. folks -- but it's been over a year
since I blew that away and I haven't looked back.
Worth pointing that Fedora doesnt have any pressure to compete as a
commercial product with Vista directly.
In terms of getting people to use Linux instead of proprietary operating
systems -- I think that battle is best fought in the world of people who
are new to computers. People will tend to be loyal to the first thing
that *just works* and doesn't cause them pain. Making that first
experience for people a Linux one as opposed to a proprietary one --
that's the challenge.
By the way, I'm not suggesting that you can't show long-time proprietary
software users the light of open source, but it's a much more gradual
process: "Another virus, huh? Hey, have you heard of Firefox and
Thunderbird? Let me help you set them up, you might like it."
Web exploits in IE might more relevant to Firefox compared to viruses.
While Ubuntu has a clear, selfless mission, it seems to me the Fedora
project misses this. I'm sure while Fedora was still within Red Hat, its
mission was simply commercial. "It must be good so we can make money."
That mission no longer applies, and http://fedora.redhat.com/About/
[redhat.com] almost sounds like Fedora is just a rejected part of Red Hat,
left Free so that they could attempt to profit from community
Is there an objective in the Fedora Project? One that is clear and may
motivate developers to join? Or is it here really just to reduce costs for
the Red Hat team?
We do have a objectives page now at
http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Objectives linked from the wiki overview
I'm really glad this question was asked, because it gives me a chance to
try to bust the NUMBER ONE MYTH about Fedora -- that Fedora is "just a
beta for RHEL" or that "Fedora only exists to make Red Hat money" or "Red
Hat doesn't care about Fedora, it's just a dumping ground for half-tested
code". I hear all of those things from time to time, and *none* of them
Let's back up for a moment -- the Red Hat Linux/Fedora Core split took
place in 2003, I believe. And while I wasn't at Red Hat during that time,
I think it's fair to state that there were some unfortunate choices made
internally about how Fedora was positioned, and because those statements
were made with a Red Hat voice, it helped to create a very strong
perception that Red Hat abandoned the community, and that Fedora wasn't
"good" for anything. I think there were some people within Red Hat who
were afraid that the "admission" that Fedora was production-quality, or
that Fedora was anything more than beta-quality, would cause difficulty
for the people trying to sell RHEL. Three years later, and that
perception is still very strong in certain places -- without fail there
are a few comments about that in every Slashdot story that mentions
And that's fine. Red Hat had a part in creating that perception, and so
Red Hat will have to work particularly hard to undo it.
The real story of Fedora, of course, is entirely opposite from the "beta
code only, not production worthy" stance.
Our mission statement is clear, and is one that I think any open-source
developer would appreciate.
Fedora is about the rapid progress of free and open source software.
That's it. We strive to produce a quality distribution of free software
that is cutting-edge, pushes the envelope of new open source technology,
and is also robust enough that it can be relied on for server or desktop
use. One of the terms that I really like, and that I think we're doing
better and better of making a reality is that of Fedora as an "open
The second half of the story, as it relates to Red Hat's desire to make a
profit, is equally simple in my mind. Fedora is upstream of RHEL.
Fedora is also upstream of various other derivative distributions --
CentOS, for example.
Link to http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/DerivedDistributions. Also
mentioning derivatives like say Planet CCRMA and K12LTSP and that we are
working on integrating and coordinating with them, open to others is
probably more relevant than CentOS
So when someone says "Fedora is beta for RHEL" they are stating only a
very small part of what Fedora is. It's true that what begins to show up
in Fedora today will possibly make its way into RHEL down the road, but it
is *also true* that Fedora stands on its own as a distribution.
RHEL is a subset of Fedora which has packages that Red Hat integrates
into a commercial product while the Fedora universe is and can be more
Hi, I've been using Fedora Directory Server for quite a while, and it is a
fantastic product. I read some rumours that it would be Integrated with
FC5, but sadly it was not. When can we expect this to be a standard
feature/integrated with authentication and other areas in Fedora?
Regrettably, answering this question honestly also requires admission that
the integration of Fedora Directory Server and the rest of the Fedora
Project (particularly Fedora Core/Extras) hasn't happened as quickly as
many would have liked. Directory Server is a great piece of software, but
the true merging of that into Fedora Core is something that doesn't have a
lot of traction at the moment. The Directory Server community isn't
necessarily very well integrated with the rest of the Fedora community,
and therefore the two communities are in a similar state to that of the
two projects -- in theory capable of being very good together, but in
practice sort of just existing side by side, but not as closely knit as
they could be.
Partially the reason is that Fedora directory server was a proprietary
product and needs to be complete Free software and work on Free stack
such as GCJ with full functionality before being integrated into Fedora
When will that change? As soon as we can get enough people on both sides
of that fence able to spend the cycles necessary. I can't give an exact
date, because one doesn't exist right now, so I'd rather not just make
Have you tried Ubuntu?
by Anonymous Coward
Have you tried Ubuntu yourself? Is there, in your opinion, something
Ubuntu does better than Fedora?
Those of you hoping for some flamebait, I'm sorry to disappoint.
Yes, I have tried Ubuntu. I have played around with SuSE, though not in
any significant way for a year or so. Prior to coming to Red Hat in
August of 2004, I had always been a Slackware devotee, and my subscription
with them is still active.
So what does Ubuntu do better than Fedora?
Let me start without even mentioning the actual distributions. I think it
is clear to anyone who is looking that Ubuntu's website is in much better
shape than Fedora's. Ubuntu.com is clean, clear, and easy to navigate for
people who are browsing it, and if you dig down a little bit, you can also
get to the Ubuntu wiki, which from what I can tell, serves a similar
purpose to the fedoraproject.org wiki.
Here's the difference -- fedoraproject.org is *just* a wiki. It's got a
tremendous amount of information, and as someone who uses the site
frequently, I know how to find what I'm looking for. But it has a bit of
a learning curve before it becomes useful.
Fedora's websites are in a state of flux -- fedora.redhat.com is
deprecated, but the killing off of that site is taking longer than I would
have hoped. Our wiki gets the job done, but I'd like to see a more
professional looking front-end put on it, with the wiki continuing to
function as it does, but just ever-so-slightly in the background. The
biggest hurdle to making that happen -- just having enough cycles and
enough people to do the job properly.
Its not just the website but the infrastructure such as the I18N one
which is taking its time.
That aside, I am impressed by Ubuntu's LiveCD, directly installable
feature. We have similar work going on within Fedora, but so far it
hasn't achieved the same level of "officialness" as the Ubuntu code. So
that's an area in which Ubuntu is ahead of Fedora.
I played around recently with Dapper Drake. Like I said, the LiveCD was
cool. The desktop -- Gnome is pretty much Gnome, Firefox is Firefox, etc.
Personally I'm a huge fan of NetworkManager, which didn't appear to be the
default in Dapper, but something like that is just a detail. I'm sure if
I were to use Dapper full time and I wanted it, I could probably get it.
This goes back to what I wrote near the beginning about the importance of
upstream. If everyone is pushing their latest work back upstream, and the
maintainers at the top level have the time and resources that they need to
keep everything in order, then most GNU/Linux distros are going to feel
pretty similar once they are installed. Which is why I think a lot of the
OSS "religious wars" don't make a lot of sense.
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