Is Fedora becoming to important for Red Hat to wield alone?
Yesterday as I was typing up yet another article explaining why people should use and contribute to Fedora, I noticed that my template list of important improvements to Linux done in Fedora was getting several pages long. Fedora does a lot of important work, much of it fueled by Red Hat but I often feel like there is ample room for other companies to take Fedora other places, interesting places we didn’t think of. To do with Fedora what we might not dream, things like building a nationally certified OS for schools and the interesting demands that would put on the distribution. Porting and developing interfaces for netbooks, and many other things which might ultimately blow our minds and take us new places.
But are we being hampered by Red Hat as our sole sponsor I wonder, while they unquestionably are doing a lot of good, there is much they cannot do or have no interest in doing. Fedora also does not seem to have been able to attract much additional corporate interest, which I hear from talking to such people is due to them not wanting another company to have the ultimate deciding vote over their work. So today when I read that Intel were handing over Moblin to The Linux Foundation while remaining key contributors I started thinking what if Fedora did something similar. Opening up Fedora to multiple contributors with a foundation at the helm rather than a single company. It would be bold move, I doubt Red Hat would be entirely opposed to doing so but also considering their historically very generous inventments in Fedora it would be unfair not to give them credit and a say in Fedora and it’s future direction. Something they might rightfully fear they would not get in that new situation.
I do believe that in a foundation of equal partners we could attract more big investors to take Fedora and scale it beyond its current limitations. Be those architecture ports or deployment scenerios. I also believe that it would fundamental be good for Red Hat as well as Fedora to help make such a move happen, they would tab directly into important markets and while their adjustments for their RHEL products might be bigger this way the gains in support and a wider community would amply make up for it I think.
As a Fedora contributor I always cringed when I heard Fedora mentioned as Red Hat’ community offering or simply as Red Hat Fedora Linux. I always felt like deep down Fedora was it’s own and attributing it all to Red Hat with the implication that it was their unsupported public beta tree was rather untrue and unfair towards non-RH contributors (which now make up more than 50% the last time I heard numbers – corrections welcome), I contributed because it was a best possible place to do so, I believe if we make it so it can be the best possible place to contribute for everyone. Be they private individuals, governments or companies I think Fedora has a lot of offer and I think that moving it beyond a one company sphere of dominance it could become _the_ reference Linux platform. I think that would make good business sense to strive to be that for Red Hat, I think it would be easy to get there if the freedom and will exists to seek that position. It would help create a real world standard, one that would work unlike LSB and other some what failed attempts at standardizing Linux as a whole.