The leading candidate, at the moment, would appear to be Java support, especially Eclipse. The Java packages are huge; getting rid of them would solve the space problems easily. They are also relatively easy to remove because they were not shipped in prior versions of Fedora. The distribution's users, one assumes, will complain less about losing something they didn't have in the first place.
People are complaining, however. Many developers feel that, if Linux is to have a hope of long-term success in large enterprises, it has to offer top-quality Java support. But, if the distributors do not support free Java implementations now, work on free Java stands a good chance of dying from neglect. Few people want to see a future where Linux is, at best, a platform for proprietary Java implementations. To avoid that future, the distributors should support free Java now.
Other possibilities raised include:
Various other ideas have gone around as well, but none of them are pleasing to everybody. It appears that the Fedora Project, which has to come up with an answer to this question in the near future, is almost certain to upset somebody, at least in the short term.
For future Fedora Core releases, there are plans to make the installer smarter so that it can transparently grab packages from multiple repositories. With a bit more infrastructure work, perhaps Fedora could take a cue from Ubuntu, and drop back to a single installation CD. In the end, it really should not be necessary to download every possible package (in ISO form) just to get a base system installed. For now, however, the project seems stuck with the need to remove packages that some of its users truly want.
Update: a list of removed packages has been posted. Victims include abiword, balsa, exim, gnumeric, koffice, octave, sylpheed, xemacs, and xfce. The Java packages appear to have survived. Second update: it seems that Fedora Core 4 will also be a five-CD distribution; that's how they kept the Java packages.
Attendance at the Boston LinuxWorld was on the order of 7,000 people. The east-coast version of the event is clearly quite a bit smaller than the San Francisco edition, but that is still a significant crowd. Attendees were heard to say that the show felt smaller than last year's event in New York. The organizers seem happy with the turnout, however, and plan to move to a larger conference center (still in Boston) next year.
There were some 140 exhibitors on the busy trade show floor. Of these, 24 were in the .Org area. By a conservative count, close to one third of the exhibitors were pushing some sort of proprietary software for Linux; backup software, configuration management, and databases all seem to be highly active areas. Security too, as could be seen by all of the attendees who were willing to accept - and wear - "virus free" stickers from one of the more in-your-face booths.
The design of the conference center caused the exhibit floor to be divided into two rooms. The conference organizers made use of that division to great effect: they separated the two communities in attendance at LinuxWorld. The larger room was dedicated to commerce; that's where all the large booths from the usual suspects (Red Hat, Novell, IBM, Sun, etc.) were to be found. The displays were flashy, the speakers charismatic, and "solutions" were flying by at high speed. But the community which creates the software that makes all this possible was nowhere in evidence. In early LinuxWorld conferences, it was common to find developers hanging out in their employers' booths. In 2005, those developers have found somewhere else to be.
The interesting thing is that a fair number of developers could, indeed, be found at LinuxWorld. They tended to prefer the other room, however, where the ".Org pavilion" was located. That side of the hall was far less flashy, but much more fun. The people who create Linux do still wander by LinuxWorld; you just have to know where to find them.
The early LinuxWorld conferences included a reasonable program of talks along with the exhibit floor. At the first LinuxWorld, your editor complained that talks by Jon 'maddog' Hall, Larry Wall, Jeremy Allison, and Miguel de Icaza had all been scheduled simultaneously. There are few such problems in 2005. Though the conference did offer some interesting speakers (among others: Jeremy Allison, Matt Domsch, Chris Wright, Jay Beale, and, inevitably, maddog), the conference program was fit into a mere three slots per day. The talks are clearly not the main attraction at LinuxWorld.
Your editor got a chance to try out booth duty, giving a talk from the O'Reilly booth. For the morbidly curious, O'Reilly's Greg Corrin has posted a picture of the event.
Bruce also touched on Sun's situation (from which the company has "no good exit"), the SCO suit (interesting things may come from the turmoil at Canopy), and the need to emphasize the "free" part of free software. A focus on freedom will help the community to occupy a moral high ground which will help when trying to obtain friendly legislation. Bruce has posted his speaking notes for those who are interested.
One notable absence this time around was any mention of BSD. The BSD branch of Unix was well represented at early LinuxWorld shows; the booth staff tended to stand out in the crowd of Linux folks. BSD remains an important part of the free software world, but its distance from Linux appears, sometimes, to be growing.
LinuxWorld reflects the commercial side of Linux; that side is an important part of the greater Linux ecosystem. This conference is also where new users tend to start. So it is an important event. It's important that the community be there; we can help guide users toward the heart of the free software movement.
At LinuxWorld last week the Open Source Initiative (OSI) board made it known that they are looking at ways to reduce the number of open source licenses in use. We invited Russ Nelson, president of OSI to respond to questions about reducing the number of open source licenses in use.
LWN: What's so bad about license proliferation?
LWN: Realistically, what can be done about the problem? How can OSI "trim" the number of licenses, or influence companies and developers that use one-off licenses or less popular licenses that are incompatible with the "main" open source licenses such as the GPL or BSD license?
LWN: OSI has approved quite a few licenses - how many of those licenses are one-offs or used by a handful of projects?
LWN: Is there any consideration being given to changing the Open Source Definition - for example, to disallow licenses that are specifically tailored not to be compatible with the GPL?
LWN: It's been well-publicized that version 3 of the GPL is in the works. (Well, has been for some time, but much noise has been made about it being ready this year.) What needs to be in version 3?
LWN: In one story, Sam Greenblatt was quoted as saying "there should be three licenses: the GPL, a commercial version of the GPL and...the BSD." What would a "commercial version of the GPL" look like?
LWN: Thanks, Russ.
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