January 12th, 2009

... more rhetoric

Cross-posted from http://news.launchpad.net/podcast/launchpod-15-launchpads-going-open-source#comment-26128

For the record… I am not an employee of Red Hat. I have never been an employee of Red Hat. I have successfully suckered Red Hat into giving me a few free t-shirts and the like and expensing the cost of sending me on a few trips to conferences (primarily to get a free trip to visit family), but I have never received a paycheck from Red Hat in any capacity. The minuscule amount of actual work I have so far done for the Fedora community has been done to serve my own personal agenda, and not at a corporate entity’s direction. Making sure companies which proclaim to be open source advocates are actually ‘walking the walk’ is on my personal agenda. My involvement in Fedora from the beginning was meant to take advantage of the opportunity to help see Red Hat ‘walk the walk’ And I’m very confident in the progress being made there. Red Hat seems to have the opposite problem to Canonical in this regard at the moment. Red Hat’s ‘walk’ is far outpacing it’s ‘talk.’

But I will say this…for the record..Fedora has not built any closed infrastructure..at all. Red Hat has gone to great lengths to make a clear and separate space to grow the Fedora project openly in partnership with the community. No NDAs, no secret special access to strategic partners. All the software that Fedora infrastructure runs is openly developed. All of it. The mirror management (which absolutely kicks ass by the way, the local network administration configuration is really nice), the build system, the source control, the wiki..on and on. Every single piece of Fedora’s infrastructure is open source for contributors to access and to help extend or fix. And when it matters, we reach inside of Red Hat in to RHEL from the Fedora side of things and we push…hard…to get the Red Hat in-house tool licensed openly so we can use them in Fedora as well. Fedora, the community project, and its community of contributors have full access to the source code that makes up every single contributor facing process that Fedora requests or mandates its contributors use to interact with to get bits out to users. There’s no back alley arrangement where we hand off our community supplied packages to be built and tested in secret with RHEL’s toolchain. Fedora does all of nitty gritty things that matter to Fedora release management out in the open, warts and all.

I have no idea how RHEL is put together, but I’m sure its dynamics are quite different than Fedora’s. RHEL doesn’t have a community of contributors, it has customers and strategic partners. Fedora is community, and what is equitable consideration for community contributors is not the same as what is equitable for strategic corporate partners. By building a single process which stresses the needs and interests of strategic partners and customers, you devalue your contributors.

If your employees time is compensated for with a paycheck, and your partners’ strategic value is compensated by giving them a seat at the planning table, and your customers resources are compensated by support services…. in what way do you compensate contributors for the value of their time and effort to help you build your distribution? You do it by giving them access to the codebases and the freedom to re-purpose them for their own future needs. That’s exactly what’s Debian has done for you in the past.

-jef”Not an employee of Red Hat”spaleta