31 August 2010


Last week being out for a photography camp (don't ask for the photos, I don't have any ready to show yet and then will have to wait more for signed release forms) I missed a good part of the talks (mega-flames?) about the Fedora vision and mission, happening on the advisory board, respectively development lists. Only now I start having a little time to get a glimpse of it and maybe making my point in the process.

People that know me pare probably aware I like to quote a lot an old but famous piece by jwz about software development and its purpose, here's an excerpt:

"How will this software get my users laid" should be on the minds of anyone writing social software (and these days, almost all software is social software).

"Social software" is about making it easy for people to do other things that make them happy: meeting, communicating, and hooking up.
I agree it is true about any type of software, not only "social" and to be clear, is not literary about helping people having intercourse but in a larger sense making their lives better.

So I should obviously ask myself if and how using Fedora is impacting my life, here are a few examples:
  • one piece of software that changed my life in the past years is Inkscape (I practically re-started doing graphics thanks to it) with the new released 0.48 version, for which we have packages in Koji for F14 and up. Even if it is a mostly bug-fix release, I am obviously anxious to run it but the only possibility for doing so it to jump my desktop to a pre-Alpha F14 and endure a world of pain. I miss the older, better times when the maintainer could be persuaded in pushing such things to Stable.
  • as any desktop user I use the web browser a lot and my choice is Firefox here. The new and exciting new release is Firefox 4, currently in Beta 4 and targeted to a final release around the same time with Fedora 14. Unfortunately, we won't have it in F14, so I am using builds from an external repo (thanks Remi!) and endure the pain (for example session restore always brings the wrong version). I miss the older, better times when we used to track in Rawhide the development of applications with major user impact.
  • the Instant Messenging client is practically broken for months for me, being unable to exchange files over the Y!M network with models and photographers really worsened the quality of my life. Even while typing this very paragraph I had to (awful coincidence!) decline receiving a photo from one of my nude models.
  • as a photographer I use GIMP a lot and when I found a package for the development version in Koji (thanks Luya!) I jumped at it. Still, it is an early development version, probably F15 material (in older, better times the maintainer could have been persuaded into releasing it as as update for F14) with many annoyances. I continue to endure it on the desktop but I had to downgrade to the stable 2.6.x on the laptop when I had to give a GIMP workshop. 2.7.1 is early, but a future development release could be better, I am still pondering on this one.
So drawing a line, is my life better? It does not look so... I miss some older, better times.

PS: can you believe being at a nude photography camp I managed to give a couple of my Fedora business card and struck a few conversations about what Fedora is and why someone should/should not use it with a few fellow photographers? Talking about GIMP there was natural and I found other people using it.


  1. Yes, yes, software, mission, all that is very cool. Now tell us more about the nude photography camp :)

  2. @Ovidiu: plenty of photos, still unsorted and unedited.

  3. @the two pervs : you pervs !

  4. @Adrian: welcome to the club

  5. On one hand you are complaining that software in fedora is not new enough, on the other hand you're complaining that the pre-release software you want is not working very well… IMHO, you cannot have both. I prefer stability to bleeding edge in released fedoras (and yes, I'm one of those against FF4 in F14).

    Btw. I'm currently dual booting F12 and F14 post-alpha. And if rpmfusion was already building for F14 I would probably use it as my main OS, but sadly it's not yet :( So far it looks like F14 will be much better release than F13, which I had to skip.

  6. I think I will jump soon to F14 too

  7. @Martin: What you can do, however, is have a stable base but constantly update user-facing GUI applications, especially popular ones like Firefox. That is probably the best of both worlds.

  8. Why can't you just build bleeding-edge Inkscape from source for yourself?

  9. Yes, I can, but then what's the point of using a distro? I can go with LFS and have whatever version I want for all the applications.

  10. I think Fedora should have latest stable upstream releases in a timely manner, because:

    1) I eagerly install new stable releases on my Windows partition. I'd hate for Fedora feel stale in comparison.

    2) It is good to keep the Fedora community aligned with upstream. It's little value to upstream projects to receive constructive feedback months after their release.

    Of course, exceptions may be made. Firefox comes to mind, because there are many dependencies on the xulrunner component. That's a call the package maintainer and board will ahve to make.

    I prefer a forward leaning posture toward updates to keep Fedora from feeling stale and helping the community to engage with upstream.