Codenamed Constantine, Fedora 12 is barely out the door. Yet already, Frields and the rest of Fedora's planners are thinking ahead to future releases.
"We've been giving some thought to ways that we can not only encourage new and different types of innovation, but also to make sure that we can provide the most stable environment for our contributors that's possible," Frields says. "At times, that can conflict with our desire to have the latest and greatest software, but I think that there are some ways that we might be able to move towards a more disciplined approach to our stable releases as well as Rawhide [the nightly development build].
Another area that the Fedora community hopes to improve is quality assurance. The hope is to automate it -- "to make sure that we are offloading as much work as possible to machines and are simply collecting reports on it," as Frields expresses the goal. "We're not yet taking advantage of all our tools as much as we could." In addition, new automated quality assurance tools are being developed, "so that, in the future, we should be able to concentrate on some ore subtle interactions and user-testing, and spend a little less time on things like running the installation tests."
On the desktop, Frields says, "We are trying to get a good idea of a user profile that makes sense for Fedora -- a user profile that is not necessarily an Everyman, but a user profile that is going to help us guide the decisions we make on processes and desktop design across the board."
This profile may be of most benefit to newer users, but Frields adds, "I really believe that there isn't a clear divide between very technical users and very non-technical users. I tend to think that the decisions we make to have a better, more polished Fedora benefit everybody. All of us are living in that environment day to day, so we really all benefit from decisions to polish."
Talking about the GNU/Linux desktop in general, Frields says, "We've known for a long time that Linux is sometimes rough for people to use. We also know that one of the old saws about the community is that we're really good at the first 80% and its the last 10-20% that we really need to improve. But I think that's well understood in the community. What matters is whether you're going to do something about it or not -- and, when you do it, the question is, 'Do you do it in a way that is beneficial to the whole open source community and is in keeping with the ideals of free software?' In the Fedora project, we take that very seriously. We take seriously our commitment not only to talk the talk, but walk the walk.
"We have an incredibly vibrant community that is growing all the time, we've got one of our best releases ever, and I think people ought to check it out. I can't tell you how often I've heard from people who tried Fedora in the past and maybe gone off it for one reason or the other. But I think people tend to think of a product that they used two or three years ago and not understand that open source moves very, very quickly. The distribution that you tried two years ago is not the same as it was. There's so many improvements both under and over the hood that I think it would behoove anyone to give it a try."
If anyone doesn't give the new release a try, Frields seems to imply, it won't be for the lack of an on-ramp to the Fedora Highway.