How does a spin become the default offering?
Before the advent of Live distributions, the default Fedora product was a DVD with many software choices available. By default, a user who did not choose to customize the packages installed would end up with a GNOME Desktop environment along with some other best-of-breed applications. Because the Fedora DVD originally branched off from the Red Hat Linux product, it inherited these choices.
Live images were created not just to provide a simple way for users to "try before they buy," but also as an offshoot of "stateless" project work. The default Live image became a subset of the DVD product, because of size constraints (fitting the image onto CD sized media), and the desire to have a general purpose desktop productivity platform as the simplest expression of a Live image. Over time the number of Live images has expanded because the tools for creating them are easy to master, and because we have contributors interested in creating environments that are still constrained in size but show off other platforms available within the Fedora repositories.
The reason we have a default offering is because as a Project we need a single item we can hand out, offer, or promote for the general populace, which serves as the Project's "best foot forward" in terms of our mission of leading the advancement of FOSS. By definition we lead by showing off the most advanced software suitable for a general populace.
The Board decided on the concept of a default offering and assigned the Desktop Live image as a default, which essentially codified existing practice that this was the Project's "best foot forward," for several reasons:
- For best usability and stickiness, a general audience needs a call to action item. For the Fedora Project the initial call to action is a download, the gateway to getting involved for the vast majority of people.
- More than one default is confusing to people for whom the general purpose web pages (front page, get-fedora download page) are an entry point.
- A Live image is more sensible than DVD because a run-before-install environment better meets users' needs and expectations.
- Other operating systems do not offer this feature because they're assumed to be pre-installed. When the user resorts to a piece of media, it's either to restore proper function to a broken system, or as part of an upgrade to bigger storage.
- A Live image agrees with the goal of attracting people to switch to a new OS -- offering a test drive is natural and helpful to the user.
- The default offering should include a reasonable portion of new software innovations seen in feature listings.
- The default offering should be maintained and driven by a large group of people originating new code directly in the upstream communities.
Our default offering is currently based on the GNOME desktop environment as a by-product of these considerations. It is the Board's opinion that the Desktop Live image is more effectively meeting these criteria than any other form of Fedora media, including the Installation DVD. A DVD form of media has historically been offered because it solves several different problems:
- Easy access to an expanded set of software for low-bandwidth recipients
- More component options for advanced users
- In most cases, this is a simple matter of post-install software management (remove X, add Y) starting with any installed Fedora such as from the default Live image.
- Not everything can be included, so this is also a compromise, constrained by space on the DVD
- Rescue and other alternate boot scenarios
- Refer to, for example, Seth Godin's "The Big Red Fez."