The distro tour, the values that matter
For already, surprisingly highly covered, reasons I have decided to look for a Fedora replacement. As such I wanted to outline a list of things I like to see in distros and also why I like Fedora so much.
- Performing your duty to mankind
I love making the world better, I am a strong believer in leaving the world in a better state than I got it. One of the most awesome moments of my life was definitely the day I looked at the usage statistics for Fedora and realised that millions of people potentially depend on my work. It inspired me to do better, to make things better, to invest more of myself in what I did for my own pleasure. For distributions to me this translates into fixing the underlying problems in computing, e.g. instead of plastering in proprietary driver over the problem which in return causes more problems of an undebugable nature we should invest time and effort in figuring out a real solution. It is my opinion that no distribution currently does this better than Fedora, it does mean that Fedora isn’t always suitable for all users currently but in the long run this is the only way to ensure a stable, vibrant platform.
- Openness over all
Everything should be as transparent as possible, solutions should be designed in the open with upstream. This ensures adoption and correctness. It is potentially slower and one cannot use it as a special sales argument for ones distro since everyone will have this work. This doesn’t matter a bit, if you build it they will come, and don’t be afraid to remind people that you make things happen – you deserve the positive press. Fedora deserves much more credit for the current state Free Software is in than they get, the investment in values of openness has payed off in all areas except public relations.
- Must have vibrant community
In a community there must be space for everyone, e.g, while I personally find python code vomit inducing to look at I don’t oppose people working on it. There are billions of people out there, we should be happy that people will work to make this the best possible platform for all manners of use cases. If the people you disagree with do good work, everyone wins, you included. A vibrant community also helps make things fun, it makes things easier, there is always someone to turn to for input. There is always someone to care for bugs. Fedora has a generally very good community, sadly not free of blemishes, it is fun to be part of at least 300 days out of the year – sadly on the rest it is a sad reality of ad hominems, character assassination and generally without focus on technology and friendship.
- Plan for tomorrow, live every day
We should be innovating, thinking new exciting thoughts. We should aspire to greatness and work hard at making it happen. There are people out there who think big thoughts but are unable to get them beyond mock ups and design documents, there are engineers who know how to implement things but think the same way about computers we have since the 60’s. There are fundamental problems not being able to see beyond classic computing, be the Einstein to the Newton of the present, be the next big thing, figure out what the next big thing is. Software engineers and real people rarely think alike, getting them together and learning to leverage these multiple sets of expertise to devise the best possible solution is important.
- Climbing Mount Probable
Progress should be as smooth as possible. There are literally millions of people willing to help testing specific areas if you make it easy, just go look at the feedback from the Nouveau test day, with specific test cases and an easy non destructive way to perform these tests we can rally pretty much anybody to spend an hour making sure everything is in good shape. The same is true for the innovations we put in the platform, as much as possible we should avoid flag day breakage. Let things be parallel installable, leverage testers to assess the current status. Know where you are, know where you are going, know how to get there. It is my opinion that currently, nobody does this better than Fedora, starting in the F11 cycle and hopefully extending to infinity.
- Superheroes need apply
Every community needs superheroes, we are not all equal beings. Some are just great and we should let them know. Fedora would not be the distro it is without Brian Pepple and Dave Jones e.g.. In the same way that Jo Shields is a superhero in the Ubuntu realm of things, Miguel and Fredrico are for Novell and Owen Taylor is for the desktop. Superheroes help us think about things the right way, instead of blindly solving problems they help us think about why and how to make things better. Superheroes invest their time to make our lives fundamentally better, often without pay or much love.
- There is a life after death.. of the server and desktop
Today computing is changing, it is in your phone, on your desktop, it powers the tasks you do every day online, it’s with you always. It wakes you up in the morning and helps you through your day. We need to think beyond the desktop and server, continuing to focus only on those two use cases and variation thereof is limiting. We need to run on interesting devices, we need to rethink interfaces to let people do their work on their netbooks, smart phones and other devices. We probably also should take appliances seriously as a deployment tactic, it helps people get their work done and helps us provide a smooth experience that is supportable. One size does not fit all. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t provide the very best desktop and server experience we can now, it means that is not the future.