Fedora Devs Say Goodbye To Eric Raymond

Posted by dcparris on Feb 23, 2007 8:36 AM EDT
LXer - Editorial; By D.C. Parris (Charlotte, USA)
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LXer Feature: 23-Feb-2007

When Eric Raymond announced his departure on the Fedora Core developer mailing list, the developers returned with some interesting responses. Is Raymond really disappointed with the Fedora distribution, or is he simply making the change to Ubuntu for his new boss over at Linspire?

When Eric Raymond announced on the Fedora Core developer mailing list that he was switching to Ubuntu, he lodged several complaints about Fedora Core that, in view of the developer responses, seem fairly empty, and possibly even self-serving. In response, several developers not only answered Raymond's complaints, but also pointed out several contradictions and failures on his part. Several developers pointed out the relation between Raymond being hired by Linspire, and his switch to Ubuntu. For those still unaware, Linspire and Ubuntu are now working together - Linspire will be based on Ubuntu, and Ubuntu will use CNR.

While Eric complained about Fedora Core lacking non-libre multimedia capabilities out of the box, the developers replied that Fedora Core is (a) meant to include only libre software by default, and (b) is geared more toward server environments than desktops. Some pointed out that Fedora has also continued to work on the desktop as well, minus non-libre multimedia codecs, which can be easily downloaded from various repositories around the Internet. In fact, one developer pointed Raymond to a link demonstrating the Fedora project was, in fact, working on providing a solution to the codec problem without compromising the project's libre-oriented values.

One developer pointed out earlier comments from Raymond praising the project's efforts to resolve a number of issues, including resolving dependency issues and even praising YUM. Raymond had apparently sent a similar message about a year ago in which he threatened to leave Fedora for another distribution. He also, at some point, proclaimed that the package submission process had most of the kinks worked out, and that he was going to submit four or five packages himself. Another developer roundly criticized Raymond's failure to respond as agreed to comments on the submission process. In fact, Raymond's one submission was "struck" because the reviewer found issues that needed to be resolved.

Eric's complaints about the inability to perform a network installation with Fedora Core was also quickly shot down. He complained about governance problems, but wasn't specific enough for most developers to respond appropriately. Some developers requested more information about Raymond's first complaint, involving a dependency issue that apparently left his system unusable, and supposedly unrecoverable. At least one developer pointed out how he could have recovered.

One developer found Raymond's e-mail especially funny in light of a recent judgment order Microsoft to pay a little more than $1.5 million (USD) to Alcatel-Lucent for patents related to MP3. Another pointed out his reference to WMF, suggesting that there was already support for WMF in Fedora Core. Perhaps Raymond was thinking of the Windows video format? In short, the responses to Raymond's complaints are similar to what one finds whenever a new user announces that GNU/Linux or some distro just isn't ready for them yet. Perhaps Raymond was just too proud to ask for help on a mailing list. He is, after all, a rather experienced Red Hat/Fedora Core user, and a programmer at that.

The fact is, Raymond has never supported the idea of a purely libre software stack anyway. So the real issue seems to be that his views about software freedom conflict with those of the Fedora project. It truly would have been better for Raymond to simply bid adieu, since he needs to eat the new dogfood, and wish the Fedora Core community all the best. That's a nice idea, but it just doesn't generate publicity. The Fedora developers are not the only ones onto Raymond's game - a good many other people around the FOSS community have noted Raymond's recent adventures with Linspire, and the sure connection to his leaving the Fedora project.

In reality, this is not the kind of publicity that any distribution should want. It's akin to badmouthing your current boss while interviewing for a new job. No one will hire you since you're likely to talk about them, too. And what if Raymond ever finds himself needing a new home down the road? Who will actually want him among their ranks? Who will want to risk his obvious waffling and bad taste? No wonder the general consensus seems to be "don't let the door hit you..."

Note: Linspire CEO, Kevin Carmony, has posted a comment below clarifying that ESR does not work for Linspire, but rather serves as a volunteer, and that Linspire was unaware of Raymond's actions until they read about it in the news, like the rest of us.


Goodbye, Fedora Thread

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