Building On-Ramps on the Fedora 12 Highway: Page 2

Posted November 17, 2009

Bruce Byfield

Bruce Byfield

(Page 2 of 3)

"It's a very careful road we want to travel," Frields says. "You don't want to censor new and different ideas. But I liken it more to a coffee shop where the free exchange of ideas is really great, but, if someone gets a little too loud, you ask them to calm down a bit, so that everyone can enjoy the ambiance. And occasionally, a fight might break out, and you have to send those people away and say, 'You can come back when you've got your stuff together and learned how to be a constructive member of the community.' So far, we've only had to stop threads two or three times that I'm aware of in the past year. It's almost as if having the policy itself is enough to convince people that we were serious about having a more constructive and thoughtful community."

Frields particularly hopes that this attitude will encourage greater participation by women -- an issue that has become more mainstream in the past few months in the free software community. At the same time, he makes an effort to emphasize the contributions that women make to Fedora, citing people like Mairin Duffy, the design team leader, and filesystem expert and kernel contributor Valerie Aurora.

"I think the way we can make sure that we are making free software a good place for women is simply to make it a good place for all people,” Frields says. “That goes hand in hand with that theme I've talked about earlier: That if you make things better for your contributor audience, you're likely going to make things better for a lot of other people, too."

The philosophy and the release

So how is the Fedora philosophy reflected in the latest release?

To start with, Frields, who has written documentation himself, points to the fact that the growth in Fedora Docs has enabled it to produce "the largest body of content that we've ever done for a Fedora release."

Licensed Under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike license, this new documentation has the potential to make Fedora the prime provider of documentation for distributions like Red Hat Enterprise Linux and CentOS that already depend on Fedora as a primary source of code.

Another reflection of the community philosophy is a strong emphasis on finishing details -- everything from the letter spacing on icons to the positioning and behavior of tool hints. "I don't think we set out that way at the start of the cycle," Frields says, referring to the development process, "But I think that you'll see in this release and in future Fedora a little more attention to polishing items to make sure that above the hood the paint job looks as good as the engine driving it.”

One new on-ramp that Frields has great hopes for is ABRT, the new automatic bug-reporting tool. Unlike other reporting tools like GNOME's Bug Buddy, that assume an advanced user capable of reproducing a crash, ABRT reduces filing a bug report to "filling out a one-line message saying what you were doing when the program crashed." Otherwise, ABRT does most of the work, recording the code associated with a bug, tracking statistics about the bug, and adding it to any existing bug report to eliminate duplicates.

Otherwise, "We've got something for just about everyone," Frields says. "If you're a desktop productivity user, we have better mobile broadband and we have dead simple Bluetooth tethering to your 3G phone. Web sites are able to publish Fedora packages using a simple HTML object tag, and we now support a number of Broadcom chipsets out of the box [for wireless cards].

"For people who are developers, we have the latest Eclipse, the very popular integrated development environment that's a little more powerful than it was before. It integrates with the new release of System Tab, which hardcore developers can use to diagnose problems, or to diagnose places where their code may be making numerous system calls where they could get by with only one.

"For system administrators, we have a huge assortment of virtualization features -- things like the Kernel Shared Memory (KSM) feature. If you have multiple copies of very similar environments running on guest machines, KSM will actually go and find memory pages that are identical from one guest to the other, and it will eliminate the duplicates and point all the guests to a shared copy of the page." In some cases, Frields report, KSM can result in a saving of up to 80% of the RAM used.

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Tags: Linux, Fedora, bug, monitors

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