Thursday, November 9, 2006

Trying to be Constructive

Daniel, actually I wasn’t referring to binary drivers per se in that particulary obnoxious post of mine; what I had in mind was primarily out-of-tree drivers / features including ones that explicitly disable rootkit prevention features for example. Using the word damaging to the free software community however was perhaps over the top, sorry it upset you and probably others, but I just don’t think including a bunch of not-so-heavily-audited code (e.g. a driver that is not in mainline) or code that disables security features is doing your users service. Most users of course don’t care, but developers like you and I should. In particular, OS vendors needs to care.

It seems you and I don’t disagree on Linux based distributions including proprietary drivers but I think that one thing you might not realize is how damaging it is when a popular distro starts doing this… years of work in dealing with certain vendors to open up code is undone in a jiffy. I don’t want to be all moody here, trying to be constructive (could use much stronger words but that would serve no purpose), but it’s flat out depressing when stuff like this happens.

With regards to you commenting on the Fedora community, most of your points, I think, are well understood by the community and some are being dealt with. For the record (and this should be clear to anyone involved in the areas I also participate in), I think of myself much more as an upstream guy rather than a Fedora guy as I think it’s silly we have all thesse differences between distributions - just do the work upstream (swim upstream dammit :-) ) instead of adding distro-specific non-sense unless it’s absolutely necessary (things like branding, defauls etc. all fall under this). I think you know this already, so please don’t tag me as a Fedora guy just because I’m ranting about other distributions on my personal blog space. I happen to use Fedora because it’s aligned with my personal views about free software, because it’s a first class distro with cutting edge features… and also, of course, because I’m paid to work on the software by my employer.

introspection, bridges and people driving by

The larger problem, in my view, is really that we have some work left in building bridges between the various communities that participate in writing code for the GNU/Linux system. Heck, even inside a company like the one I work for it’s sometimes difficult to coordinate features between kernel, base os and desktop teams, sometimes even more difficult that dealing with other downstreams. However with collaboration zones like we’re slowly getting there and things do look a bit better than they did just two years ago - next up, for example, is pm-utils so distros can start sharing quirks and infrastructure to improve the power mangement mess.

I hope this clarifies.

(Disclaimer: I am employed by Red Hat and am paid to work on (among other things) Fedora but my views are strictly my own.)

(Oh, and I also think it’s called “The New Pink” instead of “The New Black” but, uh, maybe saying that just reveals I’m eligible for membership in the GNOME old farts club.)

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