I think that we all agree that if we prominently feature links to websites
(in this case, to web-based applications) in Fedora, it should be done with
the purpose of advancing Fedora's mission. Everyone has that goal, and just
a different vision of what gets us there. (In case you haven't been
following along, the discussion is about the new feature showing web links
in Gnome Shell searches and in Software. This gets special attention because
Fedora and Gnome do have close brand associations, and Gnome has been
selected as the primary environment for Fedora Workstation.)
I see two different positions on how to decide on what to include in order
to have desired effect. Some are advocating including only links to services
that run on free and open source software (or, in a softer form, sites which
promote and advocate such software and content); the link with the mission
is obvious: we're directly promoting the things we stand for. Others
advocate including links based on quality, popularity, and usefulness; by
making a better experience for users of these services, Fedora becomes more
popular and free and open software spread more widely overall.
Fedora has always had a strong free and open software stance. It's one of
our core values, but we aren't absolutists; we include, for example,
non-free binary firmware. Here, the discussion isn't about including
anything non-free directly, and the Fedora Project Board today decided that
that the distinction between software included in Fedora and software from
external sources must be kept clear in the user interface. That means, users
will easily be able to tell that they're using something on the web _from_
Fedora, not something we've added _to_ Fedora. And the basic fact is that we
already have plenty of examples of software which makes use of non-free
third-party web services in the distribution, from Firefox's use of Google
search to various Twitter clients to bindings to various web service APIs.
So, from one point of view, there's nothing new here. However, I think it is
also fair to say that the new Gnome features bring a special prominence to
the selected links — that's the point, after all.
I think it would be helpful if the Board would provide specific
clarification on this issue and how it relates to our Freedom foundation,
but I also want to recognize that everyone involved is passionate about
getting there, and that we're having a conversation about the best means,
not differing end goals.
Although the Board meeting yesterday didn't reach a conclusion, it doesn't
seem likely that there will be a strong statement banning links to services
like those in the current appstream metadata. Therefore, I'd like to appeal
to our Friends foundation. I hope we can find a middle ground instead of
staking out extreme positions. Recognizing that we all want Freedom to win,
I'd like to find a group of people willing to work on a set of criteria
involving both the quality and popularity metrics _and_ metrics involving
commitment to and use of free and open software and content. These people
would work as contributors to the "appstream-extras" data used in Fedora,
upstream if possible. The decisions will ultimately be somewhat subjective,
but informed by the basic criteria set forth in line with our mission and
values, promoting both Freedom and Features in Fedora.
I think we can do this together. Who is interested in making it happen?
Matthew Miller -- Fedora Project -- <mattdm(a)fedoraproject.org>
"Tepid change for the somewhat better!"
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