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Re: Fedora Core 4 review: Educated new village boy!

On 9/12/05, Rahul Sundaram <sundaram redhat com> wrote:
> Hi
> http://www.nascencetech.com/newvillageboy/2005/09/05/full-review-fedora-core-4/
> If anyone is willing to pick this up and respond to the comments, go
> ahead. Not much to tackle here

here's my email to the author

<begin transmission>
I just read your review and I'd like to take a moment to give you some
background and updates on some of the negative points you bring up
about your fc4 experience. Its a pretty well reasoned review overall,
and I appreciate the effort you made to identify your personal
experience with KDE and potential personal bias right upfront.

"This being my first experience with Fedora Core, I was surprised and
annoyed to find that the only native Linux filesystems available for
selection were ext2 and ext3. My main Linux machines are running
Gentoo and Kubuntu and all of them are either using ReiserFS or XFS.
The main reason for giving up ext3 is performance, or rather the lack
of it. A more detailed analysis of this can be found here."

Making a choice as to which filesystems to support is a complicated
decision. Performance in different circumstances is one thing to
consider, but its also important to look at maintainability as well as
integration of the filesystem with other aspects of the system. How
well is the filesystem supported in the mainline kernel? How well does
the filesystem support other key aspects of the operating system?  I'm
not going to try to debate benchmarks with you, instead I'll point out
that the default filesystem in Fedora needs to be able to work
reliably with other features such as selinux.  The alternative
filesystems you mention each have their own strengths, but fail to
meet the integration and reliability needs of Fedora Core as a whole.

As you can see from the unofficial fedora faq, people can get access
to these filesystems but they aren't presented to users by default. I
hope you appreciate the logic in that. For the unsuspecting user who
doesn't know anything about filesystem differences, it makes the most
sense to streamline the install process with the filesystem that has
the confidence of the distribution developers who will be responding
to problems. For more experienced users who can support themselves or
who can work with upstream if a problem arises, we can definitely do a
better job of documenting how you get access to those additional
choices.  The process for how the release notes are written has
undergone a transition and will be under more direct control from
active community writers. Some of the fedorafaq.org material about how
to enable this alternative filesystems could very well make it into
the release notes for fc5 in the new process:
You'll notice there is a "filesystems" beat listed and a slot open.
You wouldn't happen to know someone interesting in patrolling that
beat would you?

"As mentioned above, FC4 lacks certain applications and libraries that
do not come under any bona fide Open Source Initiative-approved
licenses. A number of these are pervasive enough that they have become
essential parts of any desktop system:

  1. Java support
  2. Macromedia Flash support in Firefox
  3. MP3 support
  4. Producer 3D support for NVidia and ATI cards"

This is a much tougher issue because of Red Hat's managerial role, the
project has to respect the opinion of Red Hat's legal counsel and
avoid opening up legal liability for Red Hat. I assure you, no one is
particularly thrilled with not being able to direct users to 3rd
party's who provide the applications.  Okay well, I'm sure there are
certain developers who would love it if addon hardware drivers would
stop being used completely because the amount of system instability
and bugreports that result...but we all know thats not going to stop
happening.  Yes, Fedora Core and Fedora Extras are dedicated to
providing 100% open source functionality but the project also realizes
that there are gaps in the technology we are able to provide.  The
project is trying to walk the line as best it can, and there have been
on-going conversations to better define exactly what that line is. One
of the results of discussion is the FC4 release note errata which
provides a link to fedorafaq.org for users to find answers to commonly
asked questions.

I expect a similar pointer to an unofficial faq to be provided in the
fc5 notes unless of course the legal landscape changes in the

"One MAJOR grouse I have is the inclusion of the up2date icon that
appears automatically after installation. It maintains that I have no
updates necessary, which I found suspicious as FC4 had been released
for almost 3 months. Further checking on the Unofficial Fedora FAQ
website revealed that up2date still works but "it no longer uses the
Red Hat Network (RHN). However, with Fedora, it's better to use yum to
get updates, instead of up2date." Now, that sounds like a good reason
as any to dump up2date and just create a GUI front-end for the command
line tool yum instead. Issuing "yum update" for the first time
revealed a whopping 131 packages to be updated, including some rather
critical ones for Firefox, for example. In this respect, the up2date
status notification that "no updates (are) available" sounds almost

Sadly, there is a bug in up2date/rhn-applet that is misparsing the
configuration files. The ability to use the same metadata and
configuration files as yum was added before fc4 but there was an
unexpected problem found after fc4 branched from development.

I have not personally seen a written communication saying that
up2date/rhn-applet are going to be removed in fc5, but I do believe
people are working on a replacement gui. If I had a better sense as to
where development on the new codebase stood I'd give you a reference
to it.

There has also been an effort to better document how to use yum in the
near term.

I hope these answers have helped.  With your permission I'd like to
repost this conversation to the fedora-marketing list to make sure
that the marketing team has a chance to correct any factual  mistakes
and to make sure I have not mis-interpreted the project's position on
any of these issues.


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