rahulsundaram (rahulsundaram) wrote,

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The pragmatic extremists

Fedora as a project is well known today for having a strong Free software philosophy and a push for upstream that results in remarkable amount of innovation. We have upstream projects who love us for what we are and recognize the great strides we have made in the community.

My passion for Free and open source has only been strengthened and solidified since I started participating in this community during the early days, a couple of months after it was formed and I have learned a lot, got a job working with and on things I enjoy. It is a remarkable and wonderful journey. In all these years, it is surprising to look back at that email I wrote and not wonder if my ideas really has changed at all.I think, maybe not.

One of those every lasting ideas that has always stayed with me is a strong commitment to our underlying principles. After making great strides with focusing our free and open source licensing guidelines and policies and continuously doing extensive internals reviews to make sure we are compliant with our own guidelines, I started regularly discussing with FSF, especially RMS and Brett Smith about what we are doing with Fedora. What was most striking in these discussions was that FSF and RMS in particular who was well known in the community for having such adamant and extreme focus on the Free software philosophy turned out to have other not so well known traits too. They were all that and more such as RMS insistence on using just the right words but I also found something quite unexpected hidden beneath the ideology: Pragmatism. If you notice carefully, it is reflected everywhere in their actions as Alan Cox eloquently observed.

I have been spending the last couple of weeks talking to them about clarifying where exactly they are drawing the lines on what constitutes a free system beyond just software and today, FSF just again proved to be quite reasonable by publishing the free system distribution guidelines based on the Fedora licensing guidelines. While I just send my detailed list of feedback on these guidelines and we are not done just yet, I hope this proves to be a useful document to everyone involved and all hail the pragmatic extremists for that. The world is just better off with them in it despite all their own quirks.
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