Back when Red Hat Linux was a product delivered by Red Hat Inc. in its final
form, the user community had little visibility into the decisions that affected
the distribution. One of the early promises that came with the Fedora
Project was that the important discussions would happen in a public forum.
Things have not always happened that way, and a number of things still seem
to happen by anonymous decree. It is true, however, that the public
discussion has grown more vibrant as the wider Fedora community insists on
having its say.
One recurring discussion has to do with one of those decisions by decree:
Fedora Core 5 lacks the "install everything" option which has
characterized Red Hat releases for many years. The reasons behind this
change make some sense: it is increasingly hard to support as the
distribution grows, and as the distribution is split between "core" and
"extras." Some packages conflict with others, making a true "everything"
install impossible in any case. Installing everything is an invitation to
unnecessary security problems. And the Anaconda installer has been
reworked around a yum-based backend which is not so well equipped to do
"everything" installs in any case. Administrators who do a lot of
"everything" installs can use kickstart to obtain something close to the
So removing this option was not an unreasonable thing to do. But the
community was not involved in the decision, and quite a few Fedora users
unhappy with the change. Since there was no discussion - not even an
announcement of the change - these unhappy users continue to fill the
Fedora lists with complaints; it is beginning to look like one of those
threads which never really goes away. But, "install everything" has
gone away, and appears highly unlikely to return.
A more relevant discussion, perhaps, is this one: what is to happen with
evolution in Fedora Core? The state of the FC5 evolution package is
evidently so poor that some Red Hat developers are suggesting that it should be shoved out to Fedora
Extras, or dropped altogether:
Evolution in extras is a bad idea. Evolution in core is a worse
idea. What other as good as unmaintained large buggy package
exposed to external attack and with known unfixed DoS bugs (and
probably worse yet to be found) do we ship.
Evolution belongs in the bitbucket.
The state of evolution is a bit of a problem. It has been pushed for some
time as the mail user agent for Red Hat and Fedora systems; it is
also the only mail client with its particular combination of email and
calendar features. Quite a few Fedora (and RHEL) users depend on it
heavily. So the chances are that evolution is not truly destined
for the bit bucket.
There appear to be two issues here. One is that the core evolution project
has been on hold for some time. There is a new set of developers working
on evolution, and there are signs that the process is beginning to move
again - though some observers are not yet convinced. The other issue is
that the evolution package within Fedora is unmaintained, and has been for
some time. This is a different sort of problem: Red Hat is actively trying
to hire somebody to maintain the evolution package, but has not yet found
anybody. Until that position can be filled, the evolution package in
Fedora is likely to continue to languish.
An interesting side note on this discussion is that some participants have
complained about Red Hat engineers
suggesting the removal of Evolution. It seems that Red Hat folks have a
duty to not scare the users that way. But the truth of the matter is that
we cannot have it both ways: if we want to have a vibrant and open Fedora
development community, the engineers involved must be able to speak their
Meanwhile, the Ubuntu community has run into a different sort of issue.
The original Ubuntu distribution was very much GNOME-based, with a
KDE-based version ("Kubuntu") being somewhat of a second-class citizen.
Last November, however, Mark Shuttleworth announced
that Kubuntu would become "a first class distribution within the Ubuntu
community." From the outside, it would appear that things have happened
that way; Kubuntu releases happen at about the same time as "plain" Ubuntu
releases, and Kubuntu has a large and (seemingly) happy user community.
As of this writing, however, visitors to the Kubuntu.de site are greeted with a protest message rather than the normal
resources found there. It seems that some of the developers working on
Kubuntu are not particularly happy with their relationship with Canonical.
They do not feel that Kubuntu is, yet, a "first-class distribution."
The protest appears to be lead by Andreas Mueller, a co-founder of the
Kubuntu project and the maintainer of Kubuntu.de. Mr. Mueller is a
volunteer Kubuntu developer, not currently on the Canonical payroll. There
are a number of complaints being voiced, and it is not entirely clear what
the real problem is. Discussion on the lists suggests that a
misunderstanding over administrative accounts is part of it. The core,
however, may well be this:
Kubuntu needs more paid developers. Even though Canonical says that
there is one paid developer for GNOME and one KDE
(seb128/jriddell), the rest of the paid developers rather tend to
support GNOME. It would be reasonable to pay at least 2-3 more
developers to balance, because only providing KDE-packages is not
A cynical observer might be tempted to conclude that Mr. Mueller is trying
to shame Canonical into hiring him.
It is hard to say whether Canonical is putting sufficient resources into
Kubuntu or not. It is true that there has been no great outpouring of
support for this protest on the Kubuntu mailing lists. Kubuntu users seem
generally content with their lot. Hopefully this disagreement can be
resolved without changing that situation.
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