FOSS Feats and Follies: Q&A With Red Hat Fedora Project Leader Paul Frields

Red Hat Linux and the Fedora Project developers will soon introduce coretechnological improvements to provide better desktop environments andvideo driver support in the upcoming release of both the commercialand the free open source operating systems later this year.

The first weekend in December saw more than 200 Fedora developers,open source enthusiasts and contributors gather at the York campus ofSenaca College in Toronto, Canada, for the Fedora Users and DevelopersConference (FUDCon). Their goal was to share knowledge about theFedora free operating system and their vision for the next generationof open source technologies. FUDCon is held several times per year atlocations around the globe.

This most recent gathering was one of the largest and most successfulevents the Fedora community ever hosted, according to Paul Frields,Red Hat’s Fedora Project Leader. Red Hat is the commercial developerof the Red Hat Linux distribution. Fedora Linux is the free opensource community-based version.

LinuxInsider discussed with Frields what lies ahead for the nextgeneration of FOSS and how to address some of the lingering problems of Linuxcommunities.

Listen to the podcast (26:44 minutes).

Here are some excerpts:

LinuxInsider: How does FUDCon fit into Fedora’s development plan?

Paul Frileds:

FUDCon is where we gather a group of users, developersand community members, mix them up in a big melting pot and let themdiscuss the issues and solutions. It’s a great place for buildingsynergies through these different groups. One of the key tenants inFedora is that everything we build and use is 100 percent freeand open source software. It is one of the differentiators. We feelthat is equally important to walking the walk and talking the talk ofopen source software. So we drink our own champaign when it comes tousing open source software.

LI: How is that different from other communities?


There are a number of other communities out there thatdon’t make 100 percent free software their rule. They’re OK withusing software that is not freely licensed, or build pieces that arenot released under copyleft-type licenses like the GPL. From the verybeginning, Fedora Project has always published everything that we make,from the Web site to the tools that we use to the automated systemsthat serve our many contributors. All of these are fully free, andyou can download the source code for all of them.

So in fact, it is totally possible for somebody to take the entireinfrastructure of Fedora, and they can plop it down on other hardware.Essentially, if you think about it, we actually make it possible forsomebody to fork the Fedora Project if they want. The only exceptionto that is our logo and trademarks. Those are owned by Red Hat, whoadministers them on behalf of the community. As long as you add yourown logo, you can essentially copy everything that we have done fromday one when the project was started in 2003 and even before that.Every piece of source code and everything we’ve done is availablepublicly and is available under a free license.

LI: Why is this such a critical issue?


We feel that it is really important that we do thatbecause we are trying to convince other people of the effectiveness ofopen source software so you have to be willing to use it yourself. AndI feel that using it exclusively is the only way to accomplish that.

LI: Has this philosophy helped the community to be moreresponsive to users’ needs?


That has in fact helped us to identify gaps and closethem. So when we find there is a need for a particular piece ofinfrastructure, we can build it. It’s easy to identify because we gotthe source code available. Just as with any open source customer orconsumer out there, you can open up the code, get under the hood andtinker a little bit and make it do whatever you want. We make a pointalso of bringing all of those changes to the upstream community wherethey belong.

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