Fedora Struggles to Come into Its Own: Page 2

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Opening the Build Process

The second major revision to how Fedora operates is to make both the tools and the decision-making involved in preparing releases open to all those who are interested. Now, "everything in a Fedora build, from source code to [CD images] is completely free software," Spevack says, with decisions made in a "completely transparent process," typically on public IRC channels.

When pressed, Spevack admits that this process is not quite complete. Testing is done on an automated test bed that gives non-Red Hat employees some access, but he says that, "I don't think we have the entire testing structure out in the open yet." In the future, he would also like to see the Fedora board, which now includes five Red Hat employees, including Spevack himself, and four community members, dominated by a majority of the community.

Still, these points aside, the opening up of the process is complete enough that it is already producing benefits. One of these benefits is Revisor, an initiative of the new Fedora Unity sub-project developed independently of the official processes. Taking advantage of the new openness, Revisor is a wizard that guides users step-by-step through the building of "re-spins" or customized variations of Fedora.

With Revisor, users can choose the package repositories from which to build, groups or individual packages, then build a custom CD or DVD image, a Live CD or a USB stick installation. "We have guys in the Fedora community who have built a graphical tool that lets you build your own mix of Fedora without having any experience," Spevack says, sounding a little awed.

For the larger free software community, another benefit of Fedora's new openness is Smolt, an opt-in hardware profiler that allows the project to collect data about the equipment on which Fedora installs. Even before the release of Fedora 7, Smolt has been ported to the openSUSE distribution. Spevack anticipates the creation of a neutral website where information gathered by Smolt is available for all distributions that carry it.

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