It's the half-year mark, a final package set is being spun, blocking problems have been resolved, the sky is blue… People can now focus on Fedora 9 release parties right?
It's time to think of the NEXT version release parties. And how to make the next Fedora version rock so much the parties will be HUGE. In particular, care of issues that will need a full release cycle to mature before the next release.
We're not there (yet)
Such as… fonts. Fedora inherited from Red Hat Linux an impeccable American server OS pedigree. Unfortunately it also inherited its American server OS limits. Massive non-English Linux desktop deployments often use Debian or Debian derivatives. Meanwhile we discuss English locales support.
More than flash or mp3 support we need more fonts, so the text that makes most of our UI renders fine. It does not matter how many cool features the Desktop team adds in the next cycle — if the UI text screams to the user “I hate you” he won't install better fonts manually. He'll switch to a competitor that deploys Fedora-developed features with nice fonts.
Why fonts? (really)
- We need more artsy fonts so the art team can produce all kinds of cool promotional Fedora material (including release party flyers).
- We need more international fonts so regions where the Fedora presence is currently nil can join the partying.
- We need more fonts so the work of all the non-server SIGs is properly appreciated.
- Over all, we need more fonts so users can customize their desktop to the point they can't envision using something else than Fedora.
The situation got a little better during the Fedora 9 cycle. But we're still badly lagging distributions that have been investing in good font experience for a long time (Debian, Mandriva). And the Fedora 9 effort was produced by few people, that can not scale indefinitely.
The Fedora font wishlist has 31 entries today. Not counting the public font lists it references: only fonts someone explicitly requested. That's more than 2/3 of the total of our currently packaged fonts.
The list is growing, not shrinking. Many entries have half a year (before we didn't tack them).
Clearly a targeted effort by new packagers is required to fix the situation by Fedora 10 time.
Font packaging is not hard:
- we've got good official streamlined packaging guidelines.
- most font upstreams make few releases; you don't have to track them closely.
A font package is perfect for would-be packagers that need to to learn the ropes on a simple package. A font package is perfect for experienced packagers that do not have the time to take care of another time-waster.
So here's the deal:
- We need 31 packagers to adopt a font in the SIG wishlist. (Including fonts best packaged locally. It's a chicken-and-egg problem: we won't get local packagers before Fedora is attractive enough for them to join).
- We need them to package their font by Fedora 10 alpha.
- Then we can have huge Fedora 10 parties.
- For Fedora 11, repeat with “getting better than the competition” as objective.
- So the result can be tested and the eventual buglets resolved upstream and in fontconfig before the final release