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Re: I must be doing something seriously wrong...

On Thu, 2009-05-21 at 14:53 -0400, Bill Nottingham wrote:
> > China is the elephant in the
> > room, here. I agree with Christoph - this policy is essentially about
> > China, and that needs to be openly and clearly discussed.
> Sure. Honestly, I think the approved policy sort of sucks - it should
> either be a full 'no flags except for specifc exceptions'[1], or
> 'hey, ship all the flags you like'. In between adds a lot of technical
> apparatus that doesn't bring in much gain.
> As I said, it's a trade-off between:
> Benefits:
> - allows roughly 1/6 of the world's population to use Fedora freely
> Demerits:
> - requires ongoing maintenance work on some packages
> - may require removing packages that can't comply without being broken
> I feel the benefits in this case outweigh the demerits, and the
> amount of work required to be greatly exaggerated. Furthermore,
> making Fedora available for all to use freely is a fundamental
> goal of the project; ensuring the presence of, say, gcompris in
> a form that exactly matches upstream is much lower down the totem
> pole.[2]

> Now, if we can discuss the benefits and demerits without resorting
> to reducuing it to 'aah! slippery slope' or 'I'm offended by
> yellow, take that out too!', it would help, as those are sort
> of missing the point.

I don't think they're missing the point, as they raise valid problems
with your categorization. I don't agree with your 'Benefit', for the
following reasons:

1: a lot of that 1/6th of the world's population does not own a
computer. Or an internet connection. (Or, in many cases, a reliable
electricity supply). Let's not have any illusions about China: it
contains a huge amount of people, but a rather smaller amount of
possible potential Fedora users.

1a: Fedora is not, in point of practical reality, unavailable to China
at present. Even if, by official Chinese government policy, Fedora
contains material that should not be distributed in China, it has been
reported that - in practice - it is perfectly possible to download
Fedora in China from many different mirrors, flags and all.

2: it has not by any means been established that solely removing flags
from the distribution would be sufficient for the Chinese government to
be happy with Fedora being actively promoted / distributed within China.
The Chinese government is known to behave in fairly quixotic ways.
AFAIK, no-one has done the shovel work to actually establish parameters
in this case - i.e. determine whether a flagless Fedora would be
welcomed in China. It's entirely possible that this would actually
require more substantial changes which we would not wish to make, and
that would make all the changes necessary to satisfy the flag policy
essentially wasted effort.

3: it has not been established that the proposed policy even achieves
the goal if we accept as a parameter that flags in Fedora a) *is* a
problem for distribution in China, and b) is the *only* problem for
distribution in China. Because, as has been pointed out, the proposed
policy doesn't actually remove all flags (or, in fact, any flags...)
from the distribution. It relocates most flags to subpackages, and
allows flags to be left in packages in certain circumstances. This feels
like a compromise that isn't going to achieve anyone's goals. (You
address this in the mail I'm replying to, advocating a full 'no flags'
policy, which would satisfy this problem - but that proposal hasn't been
accepted yet.)

4: even if we take it as a given that flags in Fedora are a problem for
China, *and* are the only problem for China, *and* whatever policy we
wind up with that involves changing the main set of official Fedora
packages solves the problem, it has not been established that this is
the best way to solve the problem. Other proposals have been made - such
as delegating the modification work to some kind of SIG, working on a
special spin of Fedora for China - and I haven't seen anyone explain why
that's a worse idea than making all the changes directly in the main
Fedora package repositories.

hope that's a good summary of the issues :)
Adam Williamson
Fedora QA Community Monkey
IRC: adamw | Fedora Talk: adamwill AT fedoraproject DOT org

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