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

By Jack M. Germain
Jan 22, 2010 5:00 AM PT

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

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

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

This most recent gathering was one of the largest and most successful events the Fedora community ever hosted, according to Paul Frields, Red Hat's Fedora Project Leader. Red Hat is the commercial developer of the Red Hat Linux distribution. Fedora Linux is the free open source community-based version.

LinuxInsider discussed with Frields what lies ahead for the next generation of FOSS and how to address some of the lingering problems of Linux communities.

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, developers and community members, mix them up in a big melting pot and let them discuss the issues and solutions. It's a great place for building synergies through these different groups. One of the key tenants in Fedora is that everything we build and use is 100 percent free and open source software. It is one of the differentiators. We feel that is equally important to walking the walk and talking the talk of open source software. So we drink our own champaign when it comes to using open source software.

LI: How is that different from other communities?

Frields: There are a number of other communities out there that don't make 100 percent free software their rule. They're OK with using software that is not freely licensed, or build pieces that are not released under copyleft-type licenses like the GPL. From the very beginning, Fedora Project has always published everything that we make, from the Web site to the tools that we use to the automated systems that serve our many contributors. All of these are fully free, and you can download the source code for all of them.

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

LI: Why is this such a critical issue?

Frields: We feel that it is really important that we do that because we are trying to convince other people of the effectiveness of open source software so you have to be willing to use it yourself. And I feel that using it exclusively is the only way to accomplish that.

LI: Has this philosophy helped the community to be more responsive to users' needs?

Frields: That has in fact helped us to identify gaps and close them. So when we find there is a need for a particular piece of infrastructure, we can build it. It's easy to identify because we got the source code available. Just as with any open source customer or consumer out there, you can open up the code, get under the hood and tinker a little bit and make it do whatever you want. We make a point also of bringing all of those changes to the upstream community where they belong.

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