Red Hat Hangs on to Fedora

Red Hat announces that the Fedora Project is staying under its control instead of going to the Fedora Foundation as the company previously announced.

Red Hat announced recently that the Fedora Project is staying under its control instead of going to the Fedora Foundation as the company previously announced. Red Hat Community Development Manager Greg DeKoenigsberg in Raleigh, N.C., said Red Hat is retaining some control over Fedora decisions because "Red Hats business model depends upon Fedora."

This reverses Red Hats June 2005 proclamation that it was forming the foundation to take charge of Fedora development. By August, Red Hats plans were for the foundation to fund the filing of patents covering inventions of open-source developers, support copyright assignments to ensure compliance with open-source licenses and provide organizational structure for Fedora volunteers.

Max Spevack, the Fedora project leader, wrote in a public message that the foundation did not allow Red Hat to accomplish its goals with Fedora. "When we announced the foundation, it was with a very specific purpose, and in a very specific context: to act as a repository for patents that would protect the interests of the open-source community," Spevack said.

Later, people began to view the Fedora Foundation as a tool to solve all Fedora-related issues. "Every Fedora issue became a nail for the foundation hammer, and the scope of the foundation quickly became too large for efficient progress," wrote Spevack.

Even after the Fedora Foundation was incorporated in September, its responsibilities werent yet articulated. "Ultimately it came back around, again and again, to a single question: What could a Fedora Foundation accomplish that the Fedora Project, with strong community leadership, could not accomplish?" Spevack wrote. Red Hat concluded that the answer was nothing.

Spevack wrote that Red Hat must maintain control over Fedora, given that its business model depends on it—plus, Red Hat contributes millions of dollars in staff and resources to the success of Fedora and accepts all the legal risk.

Red Hat retains decision veto power, but the company would instead prefer to rely on community decision making, Spevack wrote.

Fedora will now be governed by the Fedora Project Board, which will be made up of five Red Hat board members, four Fedora community board members and a Red Hat-appointed chairman, who has veto power over any decision.

The Fedora community seems indifferent to whos running the show. As one active Fedora user put it on the Fedora Forum site: "As long as Fedora is still being developed and supported, as well as them keeping the standards up, Im not too fussed about how the managing body is structured."

The Fedora Project is sticking to its six-month release schedule, with Fedora Core 6 due in late September.

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols is editor of