|aggregation and origination
||[May. 24th, 2011|08:16 pm]
Mark Webbink was Red Hat's general counsel, and our intellectual property guru for many years, and back when I was the Fedora Project Leader, Mark was the guy with whom I worked with on a number of legal-related issues. Two in particular stand out.
The first was the winding-down of the Fedora Foundation and the second was the removal of a license agreement during the firstboot process along with cleanup of what was then called Fedora's EULA.
Mark recently took over as the editor of Groklaw, and today he wrote about the state of contributor license agreements (CLAs) in different open source projects, calling the new Fedora Project Contributor Agreement "a vast improvement over any of the other approaches discussed".
Mark also writes: "But one of the things the maintainers of the Fedora Project came to realize is that Fedora is primarily an aggregator of projects, not an originator of projects."
In the context of Mark's article, which focuses on the role that a Linux distribution serves as an integrator and curator of many open source projects, this statement is 100% correct. From the perspective of licenses and of growing the commons of open source code, the origination point of a project doesn't matter. The rules for getting that project into the Fedora distribution are the same no matter what.
Today is also the release of Fedora 15, and it's important to remember that the Fedora Project values the innovation of new features and values being the first to bring those features to an audience, and that many features do originate within the Fedora Project itself, or from its corporate sponsor Red Hat.
Let's take a look at just a few of the big Fedora 15 features:
* Large chunks of GNOME 3 originated from within the Fedora Desktop team and from Red Hat employees who hack directly on upstream GNOME, and then was aggregated back into Fedora.
* Systemd originated in the greater Fedora community, which is where Lennart has done a lot of his work on the init system, audio, etc. over the course of many releases.
* LibreOffice is aggregated into Fedora, based on the work of that upstream project.
* The consistent network device naming is aggregated from work that Dell has been leading.
* Boxgrinder is a combination of originated work from both Fedora and JBoss folks, as well as aggregated work from the people who maintain our Ruby stack.
The Fedora distribution serves as an aggreation point for thousands of open source projects. The Fedora Project is also an originator of many of those same code bases.