F24 Beta: help test graphical upgrades!

By now, you’ve probably seen that the Fedora 24 Beta is here. One feature I’m excited about this time around isn’t really a Fedora 24 feature at all — it’s something coming to Fedora 23 as an update. For the first time, users of Fedora Workstation will get a notification that a new release is available, and will be able to use the graphical Software application to apply the update. It’ll be similar to how you apply security updates and bugfixes now, but you’ll end up seamlessly on the new release.

At least, that’s the plan. Please join us on Monday, May 16 as part of our Workstation Graphical Update Test Day. Using a virtual machine — or even a real one where you’ve backed up all your data, just in case — you can help us shake out any bugs, so that when we get to June, everyone will be able to use this feature without a hitch for the final release.

Docs Activity Day: success!

Fedora has always had great book-style documentation, but has come up a little short when it comes to short, knowledge-base or “howto” style docs. Last week, the Fedora Documentation Team held an Activity Day aimed at changing that, with lightweight documentation supported by tools for easy contribution. Fedora Community Action & Impact Lead Remy DeCausemaker has a nice writeup over on the Fedora Community blog. Read the Event Report: Fedora Docs FAD to find out how everything went. (But spoiler! — it went well!)

Budget discussion

It’s no secret that a lot of Fedora’s effort is supported by our main sponsor, Red Hat. In addition to funding many people to work on the project as part or (for the lucky few!) all of their jobs, Red Hat also provides us with a community budget. This funds events like Flock and FUDCons, and Fedora Activity Days like the Docs event. And, it funds regional activities, too — primarily, the Fedora Ambassadors.

In the past, the breakdown of this funding has been given by the person managing the budget inside Red Hat. This year, we’re trying something new: doing that in public in the Fedora Council. There’s not a lot of money to go around for all we’d love to do, so there are a lot of hard choices — but I think the discussion has gone really well and been very productive. Read coverage in LWN for background, and join discussion on the Council-Discuss list.

Also see our new site http://budget.fedoraproject.org/ for some documentation on the process we’re developing, and for ongoing reporting of actual numbers. (Thanks again to Remy for this awesome effort towards better transparency.)

openh264 for Fedora 24

Fedora doesn’t distribute closed-source media codecs — the bits of software which encode and decode audio and video — and many otherwise open-source codecs are encumbered by patents which prevent us from inclusion even if we want to. However, the h.264 codec is a unique situation. It’s often used for videoconferencing, and Cisco has a special license allowing them to distribute binaries. We’ve made a deal with them, where the sources are built into those binaries on Fedora infrastructure, but then distributed by Cisco. Fedora Release Engineer Dennis Gilmore explains more on his blog, and shows the steps to enable this on Fedora 24. (F23 coming soon!)

For a long-term solution, we need patent reform. If you care about this situation, consider a donation to the Electronic Frontier Foundation — and contact your representatives.

Proprietary drivers and kernel anger

So, speaking of proprietary software… we often get bug reports for crashes related to Nvidea’s closed-source graphics driver. Because we don’t have the source — or the expertise — we can’t fix these. On his blog, Fedora kernel developer Josh Boyer explains that he completely understands when this makes people angry, and offers deeper insight into the situation overall. Josh also makes a plea for a little more patience and understanding — which I echo, and I hope everyone in the Fedora community does too, as part of our Friends foundation.