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Fedora Project Leader Max Spevack Responds 135

Max Spevack writes: "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. That breakdown is not set in stone -- that's just what we started with. It is my hope that down the road, the majority of the Board will be Fedora's community leaders.

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 me.

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 and community contributors.

For more information --

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 Advisory Board.


1) Why such a divide?
(Score:5, Insightful)
by dsginter

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 Linux distros.

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 more or less the same core set of principles (more on this later).

To speak directly about Fedora:

First, we believe very strongly in working with various upstreams. The diff between any package that we ship in Fedora and the upstream version is as small as possible at any given time, and we are 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. But what does that mean for Fedora? Well, Fedora is also tied to RPM (yum is our application-layer package management tool, with RPM providing the lower-level work) -- but that doesn't mean that the Board is not open 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 "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.

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. One reason is that a switch of that kind would break the upgrade chain.

Technical challenges like that lead to a high level of inertia, and therefore require a tremendous added benefit that is gained by making a switch.


2) Drivers Vs Linux
(Score:5, Interesting)
by eldavojohn

A lot of people I talk to say they don't like Linux due to lack of driver support. Is there anyway you see this problem being eliminated? How do you court vendors to support their hardware on your flavor of Linux?


Linux enjoys a large amount of driver support in general, but proprietary software drivers remain a problem. From the perspective of Fedora, our stance is clear. It has and will always be our goal to create a distribution that is 100% free and open source. We want to show the world what Free software can do, and we want developers and users to know where the limits of the software are, so that we can address them.

Fedora Core 5 and Fedora Core 6 Test 2 have tremendous amounts of driver support, as a result of the work of many people within the community, and also as a result of the millions of dollars that Red Hat has invested into certification, testing, and development over the years, which has played a role in getting things to the point at which they are right now.

The rub, of course, is that having a giant pile of open source drivers is wonderful, but as soon as a single user runs into a single piece of hardware that doesn't work for them under Linux, then all of a sudden Linux "driver support" is terrible. I'm not saying that's what the poster of the question thinks -- I'm just saying that's a general problem of perception that Linux deals with.

One way to deal with this, or course, is to vote with your wallet. When there are drivers and hardware that don't work under Linux because of proprietary limitations, state those limitations honestly and transparently, and let the users decide whether or not to buy them.

From Red Hat's perspective as a company, we do a lot of work with hardware providers -- Dell, HP, Intel, Fujitsu, etc., and that work is often done directly in Fedora. We've worked with Broadcom on network drivers, and with Promise on SATA. We're hoping to bring more and more into the fold, and we're hoping that the open testing and certification system that is being developed (and was announced at the Red Hat Summit) will allow partners and individuals to help us bring even greater driver support to Fedora.

But ultimately for Fedora the goal is Free software. Including support for proprietary drivers in our distribution would violate that tenet, but we believe it is important enough that we don't compromise. All distributions face this challenge, and it is at times a difficult question to answer. But I am proud of the fact that Fedora's choice has been consistently in favor of freedom in software.

By choosing not to ship any proprietary or binary drivers, Fedora does differ from other distributions. Ubuntu is one example, as there is very strong language about their commitment to Free and open source software, right up until the line stating that they include binary-only drivers on their CDs and in their repositories.


3) What's changed?
(Score:5, Interesting)
by KDan

You mention that opinions are rooted in the world of 5 years ago. What do you think has changed in the Linux world since then, and how does it affect Fedora development?


Well when I said that I thought opinions were rooted in the past, I was referring more specifically to the fact that I find it personally frustrating that a lot of opinions about Red Hat have not evolved past the anger and frustration surrounding the Red Hat Linux/Fedora split a couple of years ago. But I spend some time on that later on, so here I'll answer your more generic question about what's changed in Linux in the past five years.

I remember walking into the lobby of Red Hat's headquarters two years ago when I showed up for my job interview, and in big letters, the first thing you see is "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." Gandhi wasn't talking about Linux, but I am inspired by that quote every day.

In the last five years, Linux has moved along down that path, most certainly. Market share increases. Mind share increases -- I see open source mentioned in magazine and newspapers when it never was before. Name recognition for Linux and why it is different (and better) is becoming more and more mainstream. Far from being ignored, Linux is getting more and more support, and in turn the fight against it intensifies as well.

In the technical realm, the changes in Linux in the last five years have been extraordinary. I don't think I need to enumerate the differences between a Linux distro in 2000 or 2001 and today, certainly not for this readership.

Another gigantic change over the last five years is the fact that the PC is no longer the king of the electronic device. There was an article in 'The Economist' last week about this, discussing the fact that PDAs have such a huge market penetration now, that many tasks that used to require your desktop or your laptop are moving toward portable computing. Breaking into that part of the computing world is something that is a possibility today that wasn't really a consideration five years ago.

Fedora needs to change. It needs to be less bulky, and more customizable. The actual "core" packages that are required to get a system up and running should be broken out, and applications layered on top as users need them.

In Fedora Core 6, the installer will be able to reach out to any network-accessible repositories and pull in packages from them, which is a step in the right direction, and also is a big step in breaking down the distinction between Core and Extras.


4) Worst Aspect of Fedora?
(Score:5, Interesting)
by eldavojohn

On the Fedora Project website, there are plenty of reasons listed for Fedora to be your operating system of choice. In your eyes, what is the most lacking aspect of Fedora as it exists today?


In my opinion, the most lacking aspect of Fedora as it exists today is the separation between Fedora Core and Fedora Extras.

For those of you who aren't familiar with what that means, I shall explain:

Fedora Core is a set of packages (right now about 2200) that is completely self-satisfying from a dependency perspective, and is the pile of code that we ship, for example on the Fedora Core 5 DVD, or in our bittorrent tracker.

Fedora Extras is another set of packages (more than 3000) that is installable adjacent to Fedora Core, but isn't shipped on the media. Greg DeKoenigsberg worked to kickstart Fedora Extras in early 2005, and since then it has become arguably the most successful part of the Fedora Project. It has thrived under the leadership of Thorsten Leemhuis and the rest of the Fedora Extras Steering Committee. The packages in Fedora Extras are maintained by whoever is capable of stepping up and doing the work, regardless of whether or not they are employed by Red Hat.

The reasons for the separation between Core and Extras have to do with build systems, CVS locations, and artifacts of antiquated Red Hat attitudes toward Fedora, as well as antiquated processes.

I would like all of that to change. I would like for the Core/Extras distinction to go away, and instead be replaced by the idea of a Fedora Universe, which is a giant pile of packages that are blessed by Fedora, and any subset of those packages that produces a functioning OS can be called Fedora.

It's going to happen, but it's not an overnight sort of change. Right now is the time during which we should be planning how we can achieve a goal like that, and it's my hope that as RHEL5 stabilizes and Red Hat engineers have some cycles free up, we'll be able to get some of the work done on the Red Hat side of the fence that is required.

Separate from that, we would love to have more contributors. People who want to work on code (especially code that isn't package maintenance), documentation, infrastructure, and artwork. People who are organizers and who want to be leaders. That's not to suggest that we don't have contributors today who have those qualities and skillsets, but there's more than enough work to go around.


5) Vista a Problem?
(Score:5, Interesting)
by eldavojohn

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 your decisions?

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 Vista, 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.

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 Internet Explorer exploit, huh? Hey, have you heard of Firefox and Thunderbird? Let me help you set them up, you might like it."


6) NTFS support in Fedora/RedHat
(Score:5, Interesting)
by Anonymous Coward

If Fedora is actually not controlled by Red Hat anymore, and Fedora is user-oriented, why are both the only general-purpose GNU/Linux distributions that disable the NTFS driver from the Linux kernel?

Users do need this option (unlike Red Hat's customers, which are organizations as far as I know), and for evidence, Linux-NTFS is one of the projects with the most downloads on sourceforge.

I would like to add that NTFS is part of the mainline kernel. Compiling it as a module will cause it to not take any memory resources other than the few kilobytes on disk that any un-used hardware module is taking, unless of course the user has a mounted NTFS partition.

Red Hat's reason for disabling NTFS support was that RedHat is a US-based organization and that they fear patenting problems from MS. No law action was ever taken, and no actual patent was referenced. As far as I know, NTFS is not even patented or patentable. Fedora is not RedHat as you say, so this old reasoning is not exactly valid for Fedora. The IBM/SCO saga also cleared the issue about patents in the mainline kernel.
Unless Fedora will change this simple flag in the kernel config file, I assume it is still controlled (and not only sponsored as some would say) by RedHat.


Heh, the actual question asked is a reasonable one. I think it's sad that it has to be surrounded with such vitriol. First of all, I am not a lawyer. In fact, the *actual* lawyers require that I tell you all that I am *not* a lawyer, for legal reasons. The AC who posted didn't mention his background, but I'm guessing that he/she is also not a lawyer.

Red Hat retains legal liability for the Fedora Project. The Fedora Project is not a separate legal entity or organization. The Fedora Project receives a tremendous amount of resources (people, money, infrastructure, etc.) from Red Hat.

If you are a proprietary software company looking to exercise some patent litigation against an open source software company, Red Hat might not look like an awful choice.

In the past, Red Hat's counsel has been uncomfortable with enabling NTFS support in the kernel. Recently, the kernel has become protected by the Open Invention Network (, which has been mentioned previously regarding Fedora and our inclusion of Mono (

The question of NTFS in our kernels has been raised on the Fedora Advisory Board recently (within the last month or two). When we have an answer regarding that, the analysis and result will also be published transparently for people to comment on and discuss.

In closing, I would remind all of you that my only legal training involves at one time being able to recite the climactic scene from 'A Few Good Men' in Spanish.


7) Dependency hell
(Score:5, Interesting)
by Tet

The introduction of yum has vastly improved the user experience when installing software, or updating existing packages. However, it's brought with it a new kind of dependency hell. For example, if I want to install a PostScript previewer:

    % yum install evince



    evince x86_64 0.5.1-3 core 773 k

    Installing for dependencies:

    nautilus x86_64 2.14.1-1.fc5.1 updates-released 3.9 M

    nautilus-cd-burner x86_64 2.14.2-1 updates-released 414 k

That's clearly wrong. I only want to install a PostScript previewer. Doing so should not require a filemanager (which I don't need or want), and certainly not a CD burner. But these are added as dependencies due to the clumsy packaging that seems to be increasingly prevalent in Fedora. Perhaps (and I remain unconvinced) there's some aspect of evince that can make use of nautilus being present. But if so, I haven't seen it. I could well believe that nautilus could make use of evince, but not really the other way around. But assume for the sake of argument that it can use nautilus. That still isn't a reason to have it depend on it. Dependencies should be packages that are required in order for another to run, not packages that will merely enable additional functionality. In this case -- the prime function of evince is to view documents, which isn't significantly enhanced by having a file browser present.

Fedora is still my distribution of choice, but it's becoming increasingly hard to use for those of us that prefer to run with a minimal system due to the way that the dependencies have been getting out of hand. Are there any plans to fix this, or is any work already underway to do so? I understand that some consideration has been given to providing "soft dependencies" within RPM (like dpkg's suggested dependencies), which would help. Is there a timeframe for this? Is anything else being done?

I quite understand the focus on getting the system to be usable for the average unskilled user. But the impression I'm getting is that it's being done at the expense of letting those of us that know what we're doing do what we want. Does Fedora have a position on the type of users it's aiming for, or is it still trying to be a general purpose OS?


To your specific example, ask and ye shall see some improvement.

To your more general question, there's a couple of things that play a part:

Part of the dependency requirements come from the manner in which the packages are written, in which (for example) it's far more common for someone to install a large set of inter-related packages than just a single package. Regardless of that, it's entirely possible (such as in this specific evince example) that some extra work can simplify the dependency requirements. Bugzilla is always the best way to bring issues like that to the attention of the packagers. From there, it's just a matter of code and time.


8) Goals
(Score:5, Insightful)
by redkazuo

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 [] almost sounds like Fedora is just a rejected part of Red Hat, left Free so that they could attempt to profit from community contributions.

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?


Just to clarify one thing in the question first -- "while Fedora was still within Red Hat" -- I'm not quite sure what that means, but I hope my explanation about the Fedora Project Board at the top of my answers clears up any questions there.

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 are true.

Let's back up for a moment -- the Red Hat Linux/Fedora Core split took place in 2003. 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, or was a rejected part of Red Hat. Many mistakes were made by Red Hat with regard to the "birth" of the Fedora Project -- there is absolutely no debating that.

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 Fedora.

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. We have been, and we continue to do so.

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 development lab". As a user, if your priorities are cutting-edge technology (without the nicks and cuts of a blade) and freedom, Fedora is a great disto to use.

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.

So when someone says "Fedora is beta for RHEL" they are stating only a very small part of what Fedora is. Fedora is the best of what works today. RHEL is the best of what will work for the next seven years. And the users can decide what is best for their needs.

Saying that Fedora is the beta for RHEL, and that Fedora is *only* a beta for RHEL, is to take a purposefully narrow view on the truth. Fedora's upstream relationship to RHEL is simply one aspect of the Fedora Project, which stands on its own as a distribution.

I feel very strongly about this particular question, and I will state my opinion bluntly:

Anyone (Red Hat or non-Red Hat) who tells you that Fedora isn't suitable for a production server is wrong. If someone tells you that Fedora is "just a beta for RHEL", they too are wrong.

Either the person is insufficiently informed about what Fedora is (and it's our job within Fedora to do that), or the person is purposefully misrepresenting Fedora and neglecting to tell the whole story, in which case it's our job within Fedora to call them out.


9) Directory Server
(Score:5, Interesting)
by IMightB

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.

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 something up.


10) Have you tried Ubuntu?
(Score:5, Interesting)
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. 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 wiki.

Here's the difference -- 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 -- is deprecated, but the killing off of that site is taking longer than I would have hoped, as there are a variety of infrastructure issues at play. 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.

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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Fedora Project Leader Max Spevack Responds

Comments Filter:
  • How free is free? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by andrewman327 ( 635952 ) on Friday August 18, 2006 @08:42AM (#15933791) Homepage Journal
    By choosing not to ship any proprietary or binary drivers, Fedora does differ from other distributions. Ubuntu is one example, as there is very strong language about their commitment to Free and open source software, right up until the line stating that they include binary-only drivers on their CDs and in their repositories.
    Now I know that there has been controversy over OpenOffice's use of Java [] because it is not truly FOSS. Where do users draw the line? I must confess that I care more about quality and useability of the end product than about the OpenSourceness of the components therein. I use OoO2.0's Java enabled features and I use Ubuntu when I run Linux. I do see the other side of the argument, however, and I am glad that Fedora is there to support it. I also agreee with Spevack's suggestion that users demand FOSS drivers.
    • Re:How free is free? (Score:5, Informative)

      by LDoggg_ ( 659725 ) on Friday August 18, 2006 @09:05AM (#15933903) Homepage
      I'm not sure what the problem is, even the article you linked to mentions that Fedora's OO.o2 uses a 100% free(beer & speech) java stack.
    • Debian maintainers have worked very hard to make OO work with free java implementations such as Kaffe. So the Debian version of OO uses 100% free software.
    • I've asked for open source hardware drivers from the major vendors (mostly for wireless acrds), with almost no success, so I've found an alternative. The Free Software Foundation keeps a list of hardware with free/open source drivers here []. After reading the list, I got a Zonet ZEW-1500 Wireless G card from Amazon (no longer there, try eBay). Ubuntu found it instantly, as did Knoppix (wireless support from a bootable CD! Woo Hoo!). Had no problem getting WPA working with it in Linux, as it was supported

    • by balor ( 205103 )
      I do care about Free Software and how free my software is. Thankfully the RedHat guys have fixed up the Free Software Java stack to do all that is required to suopport the Java features in OO.o2. AFAIK only the media player is not supported, however it looks like the medial player will be replaced by something based on GStreamer soon.
  • Well, good interview.
    I'm glad he talked about Ubuntu and answered **The question** []
    • Re:Nice (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Ian Wolf ( 171633 ) on Friday August 18, 2006 @09:04AM (#15933896) Homepage
      As fan of both FC5 and Ubuntu 6.06, I too am quite happy with the interview. He makes a great point about the nonsense of distro holy wars. There are certainly a lot of things I like and dislike about all distributions, but generally speaking the differences are quite insignificant.
  • Here... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 18, 2006 @09:03AM (#15933891)
    Those of you hoping for some flamebait, I'm sorry to disappoint.

    Karma whore :-(
  • by kjart ( 941720 ) on Friday August 18, 2006 @09:11AM (#15933924)

    I thought I very good interview overall. Very little fanboi-ism (liked the links to Ubunto though - nice touch :) and some interesting perspective. Found the answer to the following particularly good:

    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".

    Though he didn't mention it, another point would be that you dont hear Windows Pro vs Windows Home often because they both come from the same company: if Home gets sold instead of Pro Microsoft still wins.

    Now, the same _could_ be said of the different flavors of Linux, but, aside from the issues of pride that he mentioned, some Linux vendors are trying to make money (surprise). Therefore, a company adopting RHEL for example is not really a win for Ubuntu - they are still seperate organizations, no matter how intertwined the upstream is.

    • They're still separate organizations, so a company adopting RHEL isn't as much a win for Ubuntu as that company adopting Ubuntu. However, it's a bigger win for Ubuntu than if that company uses Windows.

      It's not just about the upstream (though certainly that matters), but a company adopting RHEL will develop greater Linux expertise, and therefore feel more comfortable using Linux in the future. That company will gain from open standards/formats, which will make it easier to bring more Linux machines onto t

  • Fedora (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pivo ( 11957 ) on Friday August 18, 2006 @09:17AM (#15933945)
    I've tried Ubuntu (acutally Kubuntu) and I'm going to give it a test drive again today just for fun. But I keep comming back to Fedora. I've been using RedHat, then Fedora, for years at work and at home. Maybe it's just that I'm used to it, but I really do prefer this distribution. The RPM dependency problems of the past seem to have disappeared with the new package tool, "yum" (which automatically resolves and installs dependencies) and I have yet to see a distribution with such excellent anti-aliased font support. Fonts in Fedora look much better to me than fonts on my coworker's Windows machine, but not quite as good as OSX. Finally, I've really come to appreciate the open source-only policy of Fedora (& RedHat), both philosophically and practically.

    My only problem with Fedora is also one of the reasons I like it so much for workstation use: distributions are released often, and old distributions are deprecated just as quickly. That makes it inappropriate for production server installations. This isn't the worst thing in the world, though, but it would be nice to use the same distribution on both development and production machines. I can live with this situation though, and IT demands commercial support anyway, so that seems to preclude Fedora too.
  • by DuncanE ( 35734 ) * on Friday August 18, 2006 @09:21AM (#15933969) Homepage
    Ever since it started I have doubted the reasons for Redhat's creation of fedora.

    As an Ubuntu fanatic I thought we had found the "one true distro".

    But your plain talking honesty means I will give Fedora another try. In particular your answer to question 2 makes me question why I support Ubuntu over Debian or fedora.

    Thanks Max.
    • by websitebroke ( 996163 ) on Friday August 18, 2006 @10:07AM (#15934291)

      Honesty is what drew me to Linux in the first place.

      How many of the Linux distributions have "social contracts"- Social contracts that include things like: "We will not hide problems". In fact, this is used as part of their marketing strategy.

      Most commercial software is marketed as the best/only solution to your problem. Never a mention of potential problems (which we all know exist)

      It's good to see a leader in the community talk openly. I find it to be encouraging.

      • Never a mention of potential problems (which we all know exist)

        That's not true. I regularly receive questions from potential customers who ask whether my program is 100% bug free (which is impossible). Average users don't know what it's not possible to create 100% bug free software. In fact, they even think that 100% bug free software exist (in the form of commercial software)!

        Not only average users, but even Slashdotters are vulnerable to this. Whenever a Firefox exploit is found, everybody screams "MWAHAH

    • by anpe ( 217106 ) on Friday August 18, 2006 @10:55AM (#15934652)
      But your plain talking honesty means I will give Fedora another try. In particular your answer to question 2 makes me question why I support Ubuntu over Debian or fedora.
      This issue is particularly acute when it comes to the Long Term Support.
      Let's say that my box absolutely needs that binary blob "without which many computers will not complete the Ubuntu installation" (from ubuntu/philosophy).
      How on earth will Ubuntu be able to provide the security patch needed to immunize my kernel against a new vulnerability? It will depend on the blob provider. Binary drivers tie you to a particular kernel ABI, and if it changes, you're stuck. Saying that you'll provide five years support and shipping binary drivers seems a bit contradictory to me.
      • How on earth will Ubuntu be able to provide the security patch needed to immunize my kernel against a new vulnerability? It will depend on the blob provider.

        I think this is an important point about open source in general, and it reaches much further than just drivers. It applies to the entire collection of applications in a distribution.

        This is one of the key things that I think Open Source Software and licensing has going for it. On the surface, it allows someone to take the code and use it elsewhere,

        • by Phroggy ( 441 ) *
          Google Pack comes to mind as a good example of how installing Windows software ought to work.
    • ...but FC6 RC2 won't run on my Dell. It gets the network settings wrong and fails on detecting the (i810) graphics chip. This is something that changed towards the end of RC1 (which worked OK) and shortly before RC2 came out. At the moment, I've switched to gentoo. It's a nice distro but I've managed to break the dependency system twice since I've installed it. (Fedora Core is no better on dependency tracking, and can be a whole lot worse, but it's depressing that gentoo is still as fragile as it is.)

      I've o

      • Then you're probably waaayyy out on the bleeding edge and don't know it. Either that, or you're doing something like;

        emerge --Deep --update --verbose (-Duv) packagename

        every time you do an app install. Bad plan. Really, /really/ bad plan. How do I know? Because that's exactly what I used to do. :) You end up creating situations where your libraries match just the new app. Everything else gets broken that way.

        Another possibility is that you've chosen packages that require a lot of installs of the unst
        • by jd ( 1658 )
          Oh, monthly? I do an emerge --sync;emerge --update world daily. The sheer number of packages installed make it unwise to go for much longer than that, or it would take too long for the update to complete.
          • by sgtrock ( 191182 )
            Wow. And I thought I had it bad with three desktops, all with all the KDE bells and whistles, plus other addons. lol
            • I don't like to come across as discriminating, so I install the whole of Gnome, KDE, xfce4, Motif, all the OpenGL and other SGI toolkits, at least three additional window managers, Open Office, KOffice, -every- font in the portage system, all foreign language support (just in case I ever choose to learn one), all possible security systems (just in case), at least five different terminals for X, at least six graphical web browsers (and three text ones), at least three graphical e-mail clients (and two text o
              • by sgtrock ( 191182 )
                No wonder you have a dependency nightmare! All the programs on your hard drive are probably whimpering stuff like, "I hope he doesn't pick me. He changed the last week, and I just /know/ I won't like the new one. (sob)" :lol:
                • by jd ( 1658 )
                  Whimpering? Oh! I thought that was a sound effect from the hard drive. After digitizing and amplifying it, though....
              • by Rysc ( 136391 ) *
                You too? I do this with Debian. Works very nicely unless I'm tracking unstable, in which case I run into occasional brokenness when depends in sid are in flux. But in testing, no problems.

                It greatly helps when doing support on a mailing list or IRC. Someone says "I'm having trouble with foo." And, though I've never heard of it before, I have it installed and can investigate their problem right away. Fun.
                • by jd ( 1658 )
                  That's one reason I do it - another, related, reason is that invariably someone at work will want to do something outrageously strange but not know what options exist. A quick search through the installed documentation files will usually tell me exactly what's needed, what the commandline options are, etc, ad nausium. Alternatively, and this has happened a few times, someone who knows I'm a computer geek will tell me about their latest pet project which invariably involves something they have no idea how to
      • by anpe ( 217106 )
        ...and fails on detecting the (i810) graphics chip.
        Care to post your lspci -v (the relevant line at least)? Followed by a lspci -nv. It may just be a missing PCI ID...

        • by jd ( 1658 )
          Your wish is Linux' command... :)

          lspci -v:

          00:02.0 VGA compatible controller: Intel Corporation 82845G/GL[Brookdale-G]/GE Chipset Integrated Graphics Device (rev 01) (prog-if 00 [VGA])

          • Subsystem: Dell Unknown device 0160

            Flags: bus master, fast devsel, latency 0, IRQ 169

            Memory at e8000000 (32-bit, prefetchable) [size=128M]

            Memory at feb80000 (32-bit, non-prefetchable) [size=512K]

            Capabilities: [d0] Power Management version 1

          00:02.0 0300: 8086:2562 (rev 01)

          • Subsystem: 1028:0160
            (The rest is as above)
  • by massysett ( 910130 ) on Friday August 18, 2006 @09:22AM (#15933984) Homepage
    Why should Linux standardize on one package manager? Should Linux standardize on Emacs rather than Vi? Should Linux standardize on OpenOffice Calc rather than Gnumeric? Should Linux standardize on Opera rather than Firefox? Should Linux standardize on KDE rather than Gnome? Of course not. Linux's great strength is its diversity. I like Portage, you like RPM. I take Gentoo, you take SUSE. We're both happy. Maybe something akin to freedesktop would be nice for package managers--have a standard way of doing certain operations. But he seems to be suggesting it would be a good idea to have distros dump their package managers and adopt a single common one. Not only would this happen on the same day that all Vim users switch to Emacs, but it would also be just as pointless.
    • Why should operating systems standarize on one networking protocol ? Should we standarize on TCP/IP rather than NetBIOS? Should we standarize on PDF rather than HTML? Of course not.
    • by Ian Wolf ( 171633 ) on Friday August 18, 2006 @09:32AM (#15934051) Homepage
      I actually think he handled that question quite well. Essentially, he stated that while "one package manager to rule them all" would be great if it were all things to all people it most likely isn't going to happen. Furthermore, he states that even if a utopian package manager did materialize before our eyes it would take a great deal of pressure to adopt it for technical, political, and business reasons.
    • So you don't need to compile 12395710298357021395723957102936523985612397129347 29134712903.192875092374109273 versions. Happy? But as you say it is pointless. Every distro dumps files(symlinks) in different places and yes it would be about as pointless as doing unnatural^H^H^H^C^C^D^D^Z^Z^Q^X^C^X^Z^X^FASD^fzxfz fkwshofohpassfoisdhfslkaslk;j *throws computer out the window*
    • by IamTheRealMike ( 537420 ) on Friday August 18, 2006 @09:48AM (#15934165)
      Package management is ripe for standardisation:
      • Most package formats are differently merely through being apart. The technical differences between RPM, DEBs, ebuilds etc are not tha large in terms of the fundamental primitives they work with. None has a clear advantage over the other.

      • The "diversity" you see is not really diversity for the reason given above, so, we pay the price in terms of poor user experience but we don't get any of the benefits

      • The splintering of it discourages innovation in distro design. No distro can get a large userbase without a large repository, because installing anything outside of the repositories is such a gigantic pain in the ass (unless you use autopackage [] ;) - so "new" distros tend to merely be derivatives of existing distros with very minor changes.

      In short, we get all the pain of diversity and none of the gain.

      There's growing recognition of this fact in the upper echelons of the community. At LUGRadio Live Mark Shuttleworth talked about the need for standardised package management and the need to move away from the repository model of software distribution towards one where anybody could publish a package that works on any distribution. Of course Ubuntu is the poster child for centralised packaging, so who knows if it'll happen. Probably not.

      • by Rysc ( 136391 ) *
        It might, *might*, be possible to get one package format, but only if someone creates and maintains the package namespace.

        If I want my package to depend on libpng 1.2 header files, is that libpng-dev, libpng-devel, libpng-headers, png-library-developement...?

        And it's not just the format of the names, but the names themselves. What is the package "gift"? Is it the GNU Image Finder Tool or the GNU Internet File Transfer metapackage? In Debian it's the latter and the former is gnuift, but only because it's one
    • Why should Linux standardize on one package manager?

      to make penetration into the Joe SixPack market less difficult

      (Caveat: I'm a linux fanatic - I use it every day at work, our sever cluster runs a slightly customized Fedora Core 4)

      right now the single biggest thing in which windows kicks linux's ass is ease of software installation/uninstallation

      Linux's great strength is its diversity.

      it's also it's great Achilles Heel

      • by HuguesT ( 84078 )
        Sorry, are you sure you know what you are talking about ?

        > right now the single biggest thing in which windows kicks linux's ass is ease of software installation/uninstallation

        No way. Please uninstall Internet Explorer for me on your XP install please, I'd like to see how you can achieve that.

        There is nothing under Windows that matches aptitude or yumex. Simply browse for available software, select it with a click of the mouse and it gets installed.

        Compare that with the nightmare of typical GUI-based ins
    • We do not need to standardize on one package manager, but rather standardize package managers. Package managers need to be compatible with each other, so that I can install an ebuild, an rpm, and a dpkg for three different things on the same computer, and so that the ebuild can satisfy a dependency for the rpm and dpkg (just an example, could easily be the other way around). Linux advocates choice, and we can choose vi or emacs, we can choose html or pdf. Right now, as I am running Fedora, I can't choose
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Bob Uhl ( 30977 )
      Should Linux standardize on Emacs rather than Vi?


    • by Alioth ( 221270 ) <no@spam> on Friday August 18, 2006 @10:54AM (#15934649) Journal
      In any case, "One Package Manager To Rule Them All" still wouldn't be the panacea people think. Each distro would not only have to use the same package manager, but they would all have to do dependencies in exactly the same way for it to work. This is why many RPMs intended for distro X won't work on distro Y.

      RPM and .deb etc. are designed for use with software packaged by the distro maker - not third party stuff. Therefore, there isn't really a need for a standard (and no point, so long as there are different distros with different packages and different dependencies).

      For third party stuff, there is Autopackage. When most people go on about the One True Package Manager, generally they are thinking about the ease of installing third party packages. Autopackage does this admirably well - [].
      • by bogado ( 25959 )
        I don't like autopackage, it requires you to "run" a package before ou install it. So the author says, but you have to trust the vendor, you are going to run his application anyway. But that is a half truth, sure I have to trust the vendor, and yes I will run ths application I just installed, but before I run any code I downloaded from the net I want to check it before I run it.

        With deb and RPM, you get a package that is not runnable, you first execute a local application that checks the integrity of the pa
        • No, this isn't quite right.

          With deb and RPM, you get a package that is not runnable, you first execute a local application that checks the integrity of the package if it is signed with a unknown signature, for instance, it will warn you.

          Nothing stops you from checking an autopackage in the same way.

          If a cracker break into a repository he could only upload a unsigned package or a package signed with other unknown key, but if the same cracker broke into a mirror of a autopackage file it could have a

          • by bogado ( 25959 )
            First, I am not sure if is is true that "mirros" don't add spice to packages to freeware programs in the windows arena (I don't use windows, but I do advise my friends to get their software directly from the vendors and not from twocows similar sites. anothe point is the fact that if this hasn't been a problem before, it dosen't mean that it will not be a problem in the future. People are very lax with security, and the most locks we can put arround before hand and in a user-frinedly manner the better.

            My s
          • If the packages are signed and checked you will at least KNOW when cracked mirrors become a problem!

    • by Wylfing ( 144940 )

      Exactly -- standardizing package managers is completely pointless. What will probably happen in time is that, say, 'alien' matures enough and is used automatically by the desktop environment. So if you install a deb under Fedora, you don't see any difference from an rpm, it just works, because the packaging formats automatically convert.

    • Vi/Emacs has an important difference: files written in one can be read in the other. (Although it pisses me off when I'm reading through someone else's C code and their damn Emacs settings are there at the bottom, GRRR.) Similarly, Opera and Firefox both (in theory) read the same HTML and CSS as eachother, and every time they (and the other webbrowsers) come closer to presenting external data in identical ways is a day for celebration. People can use whichever program they want, because the data works in
    • Because supporting multiple package managers is normally a complete waste of everybody's time, especially the author. You need only look at the craziness SuSE has managing both RPM's and non-RPM packages, which have dependencies on each other's components which have to be massaged and managed by hand, to see the resulting insanity of trying to merge multiple systems. And software authors should not have to work with multiple build or package management tools: it encourages way too much re-invention of the w
      • by samjam ( 256347 )
        I can knock up an rpm .spec file in about 10 minutes.
        I still can't make .deb's without resorting to checkinstall.

        I'm low-priority working on a tool to build deb's out of rpm .spec files; most of all I want to avoid having to have one large meta-patch, and I want to avoid some private deb packagers from tweaking the source manually during build and then not have THE source they built from available.

  • Nice comments (Score:5, Informative)

    by Random BedHead Ed ( 602081 ) on Friday August 18, 2006 @09:55AM (#15934207) Homepage Journal

    This was nice to read. I was in the Red Hat camp for a long time, and am even an RHCE, but I've been fairly devoted to Ubuntu for the past year and a half. The main thing I like is that it comes from a single CD, and the rest is kept in repositories. And that it works so well out of the box. It's good to hear that Fedora is thinking of killing Extras as a separate project and moving to a repository-based system.

    Though I'm a bit dismayed by the talk of Fedora Directory Server. A good directory service for managing user accounts (including Samba accounts) is probably one of the biggest wish-list items for sysadmins. I hope they raise its profile in Fedora. It would be a major advantage over Ubuntu on the server side of things.

    He's rather adamant about Fedora not being a beta for RH. Personally I was never under the impression that it was a beta of anything (aside from the fact that I found the second release to be rather unstable). RH did a fairly good job of splitting it off by explaining the differences betwen their two main audiences: (a) people who pay and (b) people who want the latest packages.

    • Re:Nice comments (Score:4, Informative)

      by kwalker ( 1383 ) on Friday August 18, 2006 @02:23PM (#15936278) Journal
      And that it works so well out of the box. It's good to hear that Fedora is thinking of killing Extras as a separate project and moving to a repository-based system.

      Extras is a repository, just like Ubuntu Universe. What he was talking about is making the build requirements for Extras and Core essentially the same, so they can do things like ship Core with only GNOME (Like Ubuntu shipped Dapper with only GNOME) and have KDE available in the Extras repo. Extras won't be dying, it will be expanding. Extras has been enabled-by-default since FC4. Personally, I'm glad they're adding yum functionality to Anaconda, since one of my main gripes about Fedora is having to wait while I yum update after installing.

      The issues with Fedora Directory Server are a little annoying, but they do have RPMs available [] on the FDS site [] for everything from FC2 up. A friend and I recently got our FDS servers setup and replicating back and forth across an OpenVPN (Which is available in Extras), and it works quite well. The existing LDAP integration work that Red Hat/Fedora did for OpenLDAP has made FDS essentially a drop-in replacement (Configuration is different, but once you turn on LDAP, anything that speaks it can use FDS in place of OLDAP). Still, it will be nice when FDS gets into Extras. Since FDS was released officially Dec. 1 of last year (Out less than a year, still version 1.0.?), and since I've got a working installation where I need them, I'm willing to wait a bit more for the inclusion in Extras.

      He's rather adamant about Fedora not being a beta for RH. Personally I was never under the impression that it was a beta of anything (aside from the fact that I found the second release to be rather unstable). RH did a fairly good job of splitting it off by explaining the differences betwen their two main audiences: (a) people who pay and (b) people who want the latest packages.

      Then you must not read the Red Hat / Fedora stories on Slashdot much, or at least not when the anti-RH trolls come out. For a long time I couldn't, just because all the hate was so thick here. But again, this is Slashdot.
  • by RedHat Rocky ( 94208 ) on Friday August 18, 2006 @10:32AM (#15934480)
    "Anyone (Red Hat or non-Red Hat) who tells you that Fedora isn't suitable for a production server is wrong."

    I have been saying for years that Fedora is not suitable for production use. I've followed this interview and the previous questions thread carefully and checked into the Fedora site.

    I stand by the initial statement: Fedora is not for production use.

    Why? The same reasons Gentoo is not suitable or any other distro that breaks things on a regular basis. Production doesn't mean "on all the time" or "Up and running more often than not". Perhaps the definition of production is where Max and I disagree. My definition of production includes things like 24/7, mission critical, must not break. Given the cutting edge nature of Fedora, indeed its very mission statement, it simply does not fit. Workstation use? Sure. Departmental Server? Yeah, along as not too many dollars are lost when it breaks. $10,000/hour-of-downtime system? NO.

    Now, I do want to give props for two things.

    1) Acknowledging the Redhat/Fedora birthing was handled really really badly. Enough said on that, perhaps I can move on now.

    2) Fedora as a project is coming along, I get the sense that some of the kinks are being worked out and it's something I might consider installing and using Real Soon Now. Congratulations on the progress.
    • I think some of this split depends not only on whether you need absolute uptime, but also whether you are liable for absolute uptime.

      I am responsible for two mid-level infrastructure servers (quad-Xeon, dual-raid-cage variety) that are internal (behind a several levels of routing/firewalling), that have run Fedora Core 1 almost since its release, very happily, and that have not ever (ever) gone down for hardware/software bug reasons, even under load. They are responsible for a heavy dose of file and databas
    • I think both opinions on "production quality" are right. I think it's just a question of degree.

      There are two ways of looking at something as "production quality". There's the initial release, and there are the updates. I think Fedora Core is doing a great job of making sure their product is good and stable upon release so that it's "production quality".

      Updates are a different thing. Some people would argue on what is a production quality-rated update. Most would say that security and essentials are the onl
    • by dbIII ( 701233 )
      Great - saying that something is not ready for production by redefining the word production to mean something else.

      It may seem to some to be a doubleplusgood or perfectly cromulent usage of english, but since confusion is occuring I suggest using words that are generally accepted to have the meaning you want to express.

    • by chochos ( 700687 )
      Why would a Fedora server break? You say it like it's a sure thing, like it's a fact that a Fedora production server will break. Can you tell me why? I am very interested in this because I have a couple of Fedora servers in production.

      • Why would a Fedora server break?

        One way is simply from updates that haven't been fully tested. I remember a couple years ago when I ran Fedora there were many new kernel version updates on the same version of Fedora. Also patches to one part of Fedora can break other parts. Lack of security updates after a couple years when support ends can also spell problems. I'd sugest moving to RHEL if you've got a few dollars to spend, or CentOS if you're cash strapped.

        It all depends on what you're running the serv
        • by chochos ( 700687 )
          I'm using it as an application server, so we don't have any standard services such as mail, file server, etc. Only ssh for administrative access and httpd which can be easily upgraded from source...
    • I missed the part in your reasoning that actually states "Fedora isn't a server OS". I saw a couple comments about what you think about server operating systems, but nothing concrete about Fedora.

      Here's some concreteness for you: I use Fedora for servers and have been doing so since we rebased on FC3 from RH9/RHEL3. We've recently begun using FC4 as a server platform and in both cases it has been very stable and caused me very few problems.

      Those problems were things I would've caught if I'd read the updat
  • * The Fedora Project, as many of you know, is a partnership between Red Hat and the OSS community.
    * Red Hat retains legal liability for the Fedora Project. The Fedora Project is not a separate legal entity or organization.

    Can it really be a partnership when one partner retains full legal control?

    IMO, this is the number one reason Ubuntu leads Fedora. Ubuntu is funded and guided by people who only want to make money from services. Thus making Ubuntu as good as possible is in-line with their financia

    • RedHat makes money selling an OS that competes with Fedora. Making Fedora good is in opposition to their financial goals. In my experience Red Hat makes most of its money off of supporting RHEL, no selling it. If the existance of Fedora hurt them so bad financially, it's a simple fact that it would be gone by now.
    • Can it really be a partnership when one partner retains full legal control?
      Sure. Legal administration is many cases handled by a single party. Sun with , Canonical with Ubuntu and so on. Moreover Fedora doesnt ship any packages with questionable licenses or patent issues as a matter of idealogy and not just legal problems. Otherwise shipping many gratis proprietary packages wouldnt be a issue at all. [] and []
    • by RichiP ( 18379 )
      As an IT consultant specializing in Linux solutions, I would actually think that Fedora Core would be a more prudent choice to make. In practice, both RedHat and Ubuntu (the funding company) have taken a hands-off approach to how the projects have been managed thus far. However, as an IT consultant, I would feel much better knowing that RedHat does retain veto powers in case some decision goes off kilter. I'd hate for the distro I've been pushing to clients to suddenly change towards a non-business-friendly
  • So I used to run Fedora Core testing, and I remember my frustration was not with actually Core and Extras being integrated (Core and Extras always worked like gang busters to me), but something else. I wanted to run software made to run on Fedora, packaged by others (i.e., but there was a huge separation between Fedora's development process and livna's that made it impossible to run livna packages on the FC testing distribution.

    So my follow-up question: Is this still an issue? If so, are there
    • by RichiP ( 18379 )
      I hear you! I'm having problems enabling freshrpms, livna and atrpms. Some of them have the same packages but with different versions. I'm always fearing that the mplayer package pulled from livna will somehow conflict with a newer package of one of its dependencies pulled from freshrpms.

      Then there's livna's and atrpms's differences in packaging kernel modules. First, their names are different. Second, the source RPMS seem to require custom rpm macros to compile. Could someone at Fedora Core please, please
  • I feel the ease-of-installation is one of the main things we can do to switch people from Windows to Linux. In past versions of Fedora Core/ Red Hat, new installations have seamless. However, the Fedora Core V release seems to have been very poorly tested in this regard. My users ran into one problem after another. I would be interested in hearing comments for future Fedora Core versions on this issue.
  • Great interview. Good questions. Good thoughtful answers. Interviews is one of the things Slashdot does really well and this is an example of it at it's best. Well done team!

    Disclaimer- I'm a happy little Fedora user :-)
  • by 0xABADC0DA ( 867955 ) on Friday August 18, 2006 @11:41AM (#15935047)
    As per title his answers were very thoughtful and balanced, but the questions...

    1) Why don't we all just get along?
    2) What are you (specific distribution) doing about drivers for the rest of us?
    3) How have you improved?
    4) What is your biggest flaw?
    5) Does Vista scare you?
    6) I am not a lawyer and neither are you, so please discuss the legal basis for not including NTFS?
    7) I found a bug in a specific package's dependencies, can you fix it please?
    8) What are the goals of Fedora?
    9) When will Fedora Directory Server be integrated?
    10) Have you tried Ubuntu?

    These questions are such soft-ball. Half of these are "lame interview" questions. Most of the rest are things the poster could have just looked up in the FAQs (what's the mission statement? come on). Hell we would have gotten as much by asking that +5 funny "my date canceled, what are you doing Friday?" as most of these.

    Next time please mod' up some difficult questions.
  • There is nothing wrong with RPM and RPM-based Linux distros. In fact, many people including myself prefer them. If there be "one package manager to rule them all", it better be able to handle rpm's, dpkg AND any other compression/binary format that may exist (I think Alien succeeds to a certain degree).

    Linux users need more options and more freedom, not less. Freedom of choice is what helped GNU/Linux (I'm using the name as an all-encompassing unbrella term here) grow and fill many niches. Centos and other RPM-based distros of that ilk for businesses, Gentoo Portage for the tweakers and hobbiests (yes, I'm generalizing, but bear with me), Debian and DPKG for the purists, Slackware and tar+gzip for the old farts, Fedora Core and Ubuntu for the masses... and I could go on. Diversity is our strength, it shouldn't be percieved as a weakness.
    • by RichiP ( 18379 )
      I've been using RPM since the RHL 4.x days till the present, and it seems to cater to all I need and my familiarity with it brings a lot of comfort, I wouldn't mind a change if it means keeping all the functionality I want/need with the added benefit that all the distros standardize on something.

      Carrying Max's answers forward, why don't the different distributions with a major stake in the package management sit together one time and discuss their needs and requirements and come up with a spec for the one p
      • by Rysc ( 136391 ) *
        As I have said elsewhere: You can get one package *format* to rule them all, but never one package *manager*. And, even if you got both, you would not be able to interchange packages between distributions due to depends issues.
  • 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.

    NetworkManager is installed in a stock Fedora Core installation but isn't enabled by default as well (as far as I can tell). There seem to be a conflict/redundancy between Fedora's original network scripts and NetworkManager. Hopefully this will get resolved soon.
  • Previously I asked a question about Fedora Core and it's desktop objectives:

    I've been using Fedora Core on my desktop for the last 3 years (and RHL before that). It seemed sufficient for me until I tried SLED 10 a few days ago. I must say I'm surprised that though both FC5 and SLED 10 are based on Gnome 2.14, the experience was a whole world of difference (in favor of SLED if it still isn't obvious). I've been hearing great things said about the Ubuntu desktop experience, as well.

    My questions are: How much

  • >As a user, if your priorities are cutting-edge technology (without the nicks and cuts of a blade) and freedom, Fedora is a great disto to use.

    I agree with this statement by Max Spevack. I'm a long time Debian GNU/Linux user. Recently i switched to Ubuntu because the desktop software of stable was to old and testing/unstable is a moving target and i want a system which i can trust that if it runs today it will run tomorrow too. So Ubuntu was the logical step, almost Debian stable with up-to-date Desktop
    • by Benanov ( 583592 )

      But i'm not really happy how Ubuntu handles non-Free Software, like Max said: "Ubuntu is one example, as there is very strong language about their commitment to Free and open source software, right up until the line stating that they include binary-only drivers on their CDs and in their repositories."

      Actually, I'm right there along with you. I'd really like to know which restricted modules are *running* on my system. I can't remove the package because it breaks the kernel package, and I really don't feel l

  • Rather than first, trying to replace rpm/deb with some common package type, I think first, a unified repository format that works for everyone should be created. Then you can use deb's or rpm's, but the way packages are tracked would be the same. This would allow you to use either package file on the same system (assuming directory structures are standardized).

    Then, come up with some conventions to use to make deb's and rpms portable.
    A tool that checks for portability (and possibly converts as well) would b
  • Uncovered ground (Score:3, Insightful)

    by schwaang ( 667808 ) on Friday August 18, 2006 @07:12PM (#15937870)
    I've been a Fedora user since RH8, and still am. This Q&A and the discussion hasn't touched on some areas of Fedora's place in the world that seem important to me.

    Firstly, in comparison with Ubuntu, Max Spevak mentions that Ubuntu's web presence is better organized. IMHO, this is a reflection of the fact that Ubuntu has a much better-organized community. Community is the primary difference between Fedora and Ubuntu, and it's not a superficial difference.

    Second, I don't see much discussion of Max Spevak's role or discussion of Fedora leadership in general. From a mere user's point of view, Fedora has lacked for a guiding hand. Developers who (deservedly) "own" their fiefdoms get to make decisions, but you need someone at a higher level to help keep an even keel and referee the bigger picture. A decent example of this is here [], where the Fedora Advisory Board ultimately made the decision to prevent some needless chaos for nvidia driver users that would have been caused by an update. Holding the update for the upcoming FC6 release was a stroke of wisdom IMO, but even if you disagree, it's still an example of project-level leadership.

    Additional leadership might help resolve situations like this []. There has been much dysfunctional hostility between the "official" Fedora repo folks and the unofficial ones. This is the opposite of community building.

    Another place where a guiding hand is useful is maintaining consistency on the desktop. Early versions of Fedora had a consistent look. Now my panel icons are drifting away from any unifying theme. For example, wireshark, firefox, and the Fedora menu all have icons that don't fit visually with any installed theme.

    One place Fedora suffers for its lack of community is that usability (that is, the perspective of end-users) is not a key focus for developers. (Network manager would be a *shining* exception, you folks rock.) End-users are ghettoized in forums and lists that developers rarely go near. There is no usability champion. It doesn't "feel" like a priorty in Fedora. (But again, props to the FAB for the update decision.)

    An example of where Ubuntu "gets it" when it comes to real-world usability would be the way that package updates are handled. Notification is automatic, and users are already in sudoers or something, so they only need their own password to authorize the updates. (Imperfect yes, but it "Just works" for the most common use-case of a desktop system, and is pre-configured out of the box. Even Aunt Tilly can handle it.)

    I haven't switched to Ubuntu myself yet, but I have started installing it for the friends/family for whom I am the go-to-geek, because for them usability trumps all.

    I'll be interested to see if Ubuntu can follow through over time, and if Fedora can put down community roots.
    • Hopefully you've heard about the Usability SIG that one Fedora contributor recently started. He needs help from the community in getting it off the ground, but if it gets traction it could help solve some of the problems to which you refer. If you'd like to pitch in, you can find the SIG's page here []. (The SIG's principal is not a native English speaker, so please excuse any usage oddities there.)
  • i've actually been a big fan of readhat since v4, and i still have a copy of redhat's release of motif, but i've been waffling between linux and bsd for the last couple of years...

    i've tried most of the major and a few minor linux distros(RH, suse, deb, slack, ubuntu, knoppix, YDL, dsl, elive) over the years, but have always come back to RH/FC as the benchmark for a standard professional install. suse comes the closest to RH in terms of a professional install, and i'm over due to check it out again. frankly

  • "I would like all of that to change. I would like for the Core/Extras distinction to go away, and instead be replaced by the idea of a Fedora Universe, which is a giant pile of packages that are blessed by Fedora, and any subset of those packages that produces a functioning OS can be called Fedora. "

    This sounds an awful lot like how Debian has worked for years.

    "Dependencies should be packages that are required in order for another to run, not packages that will merely enable additional functionality. In thi

A committee takes root and grows, it flowers, wilts and dies, scattering the seed from which other committees will bloom. -- Parkinson