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Re: website mockups, what is fedora?

Because something is being difficult about me sending via KNode/GMane (either unknown errors or spinning), I'm sending via KMail. Sorry for breaking the thread.

Followup-To: gmane.linux.redhat.fedora.advisory-board
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From: Ben Boeckel <MathStuf gmail com>
Subject: Re: website mockups, what is fedora?
To: fedora-advisory-board redhat com
Reply-To: MathStuf gmail com
Date: Fri, 21 Aug 2009 19:07:27 -0400
References: <4A8EA95D 4000206 math unl edu>
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Rex Dieter wrote:

> OK, I get the idea behind all of this, really I do.  Much of 
it is 
> great, but let me share what's been nagging at the back of my 
mind for 
> some time.  It's just been hard to put into words, so I'll try 
my best here.
> Let's get back to the question: What is Fedora?
> I thought a general consensus was something akin to: a solid 
> base distro technology that can be used for many different 
> Then, look at the new website mockups.
> (perceived) Answer: Fedora is the fedora-desktop spin
> The KDE SIG, developers and users alike, for better or worse, 
draw this 
> natural conclusion.  It's a perceived step back from the 
status quo, 
> where KDE is mentioned on the main download page anyway.  We 
feel that 
> the main download page mockups don't adequately reflect the 
scope of the 
> Fedora project (i.e. its developer and user community) and 
that it would 
> be beneficial for Fedora to properly advertise that scope.
> Especially for the classes of users identified as:
> People who are somewhat computer savvy, but may be new to 
Fedora and/or 
> Linux and FOSS in general
> or
> People who don't know where to find anything other than the 
> offering (i.e., is there something else available?)
> These folks likely want to know more about the project scope, 
> (over)simplification is missing the opportunity to inform and 
educate them.
> -- Rex

I've read this thread and instead of micromanaging threaded 
replies, I'll just post my thoughts here.

I think that what Fedora needs to have is a separation of the 
current spins into Editions and Spins. Editions would be the the 
general-use spins, such as GNOME, KDE, LXDE, and XFCE. Spins 
would be a collection of applications meant for a single 
purpose, such as Astronomy, Education, and FEL.

In order to explain this, I have to give what I think Fedora is. 
I offer that it is an experience. For developers, the experience 
of working with other dedicated individuals working together to 
provide a satisfying computing environment, the Fedora 
experience for users. I have learned much since I first started 
using Fedora with FC6, but my work with the KDE SIG for Fedora 
has been the largest chunk of that since I started a year ago. 
Working together to help users who need help, patch testing, 
getting upstream aware of bugs, and more. *That* is what Fedora 
should strive for. For users, Fedora should be a way of enjoying 
your time with a computer. Whether it be as you check your 
email, keep up with fads and memes on the Internet, package 
software, or develop software, Fedora should be there to make it 
enjoyable, or at least painfree.

In order to be considered an Edition, the team would work to 
provide a complete Fedora experience. This includes 
documentation, a testing team, support, timely bugfixes, and 
possibly a critical path-like QA process. Spins would be derived 
from Editions and be geared towards a specific use-case (as they 
are today).

This separation should help to fix the problems with the mockups 
of the download pages. The mockups look nice, but they are a 
step in the wrong direction. Some have argued that more users 
means more contributors, but I see this as naïve. I think that 
instead there are a certain number of developers (whether 
through potential or already realized) and that attracting these 
people should be our goal. So I think the actual relationship 
commonly given is that more users are just more chances for 
getting a contributor at random. There are other ways to raise 
the chances such as piqing interest in a project enough to get 
the user involved. By hiding what Fedora has to offer, we lower 
the chances that what we showcase will inspire the user enough 
to become a developer. It may take a trip to OpenSuSE or *buntu 
to realize that, but by then they are not contributing to 

We *should* make the transition from the dominant operating 
systems today as painless as possible. This does mean that we 
should offer defaults. But not at the expense of putting other 
alternatives behind a door. We should take cues from OpenSuSE 
which offers a variety of desktop environments without hiding 
the non-default ones.

Pre-empting the argument that this choice overwhelms users, I 
argue that these users are the ones who would ask for help in 
installing Fedora anyways. Linux is spread to people through 
having friends and family who install Linux for others. These 
are the ones who make the decision about the desktop environment 
used and what's on the front page is probably going to do little 
to change their decision.

Assuming that those who go to install Fedora who do not have 
such help, I think there are bigger barriers than the desktop 
environment choice. Do they know how to burn and ISO to a disc 
(on Windows, this is still something that I seem to always be 
scrounging for apps to do and am never satisfied; never tried 
with a Mac)? Do they know if they even have a CD/DVD burner? 
What if their boot order is wrong? How to partition a drive so 
that Windows is preserved just-in-case? How to get Windows back 
if Fedora is not for them (removing GRUB and getting back the 
Windows bootloader requires its rescue disc last I checked)? If 
this user can get through this, then they've probably researched 
what the desktops environments are while waiting for Windows to 
resize its partitions. Assuming they know that they exist.

So, I think that instead of arguing over the current design, we 
focus on what is causing these problems and separate out the 
things that are not "just" spins and call them Editions. The 
complete Edition split will probably have to wait until F13, but 
the website design differences can be made for F12. Thoughts?

- --Ben
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