A lot of issues with package handling are just about the numbers involved. Lots of problems get worse with the further growth of Fedora. Several implementation details have shown to be problematic with larger numbers. While several of the technical issues in RPM and Yum have already been addressed the UI isues are still to be solved.
To better understand the size of Fedora and the way it growths I compiled a little spreadsheet (File:Fedora-Statistics.ods) to generate the following charts:
The numbers up to mid 2007 include Extras. You can see how some of the packages are excluded up when merging Extras. End 2009 the size of the binary packages drop due to the change from gzip to xz compression. This has just bought us about one year.
This shows the growth per year. Note that the growth data point appears on release date although it should actually be shown through out the development period before. The actual graph is not providing that much information. More interesting is the general order of magnitude of the past and current growth.
My personal conclusion is this:
Fedora's growth is impressive. It is not exponential, though. As the size has already doubled several times further doubling with be a much more rare event in the future. Growing to 50,000 packages or 50GB size will still take several years. Building tools and infrastructure to be able to deal with 100,000 packages and 100GB size gives us safety over a period of time that is beyond our sight (more than 10 years).
Although I cannot back this up with scientifically rigid numbers my impression is that the size of a typical installed machine has not grown in the same way the distribution has. In RHL times a installation might have 800 packages. today a "typical" installation may have 1500 to 2500 packages. So the fraction of the distribution actually installed on a system is getting smaller and smaller.