Make "Fedora Ready" brand to replace hardware partner initiative

Up to now we’ve used “hardware partner initiative” to refer to our efforts at supporting vendors who support Fedora in some way, namely Slimbook, Lenovo, and Framework. However, RH Legal would like for us to avoid the term “partner” because it has legal implications or could be interpreted as such. So we need a new way to refer to this. I’m suggesting we go with Fedora Ready.

The benefit of the brand is to lump together similar efforts. We get a name for this objective we’re trying to hit, we have a name for our compatible devices list that we’re developing, we get an easy hashtag to use for all of this work (#FedoraReady), and it’s something that outside observers can more easily discuss, find information on, and make videos about.

The way I envision this, Fedora Ready is the catch-all for our efforts in this area. It’s primarily focused on being a high level name for this initiative and shouldn’t really imply further branding below this name.

I also see this primarily as a name for Fedora and others to use but I don’t think it should come with the expectation of vendors using this. Our goal is to market that Fedora runs or is supported on these computers - that’s all we need to focus on in my opinion. In fact, I don’t want to make this seem like a formal program because it could increase the expectation that Fedora manages these programs like we’re a vendor, when we’re not.

My question for the Fedora Council: is this ok? Is this something that you are ok with us doing? Do you have feedback on the name or how we talk about this initiative? Can we have someone from Red Hat Legal take a look at this to make sure we’re good before investing in this brand with our upcoming efforts?

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“Fedora ready” sounds good but still raises the questions:

  • Who “certifies” (decides) readiness?
  • Who guarantees what in case of non-readiness?

To me it sounds even more of a promise (for the product) than “partner”. It does solve the “construed business relation” problem, obviously.

I’m curious about how the process for verification went for the most recent Slimbook collaboration. Fedora has a test suite and list of blockers that prevent releases – there can be an equivalent list for this I assume. There’s also the Framework which had recommended Fedora recently but also released the AMD version with some kernel issues that caused it to not function with Fedora. These were resolved but at first glance looked bad.

“Fedora Proven” or “Fedora Ready” or “Fedora Qualified” all seem like decent alternatives but they all have differing connotations for me.

I think you both hit each side of it - whatever the specific term (I think Fedora Ready sounds good and is easy/quick enough to say), it should imply both positive attributes - what the product will do, how it will perform - and negative attributes - what the product won’t do by design, what undesirable experiences will be avoided.

One point I’d like to bring up here - I have a hard time accepting the idea that hardware can be sold with Fedora branding/endorsement, which cannot be used as intended without software support that isn’t allowed within the Fedora Project. This is prompted of course by the Nvidia card in the latest Slimbook, but theoretically could apply to proprietary Wi-Fi, etc. Would it make sense to add to the criteria the positive side of “All hardware in the device can be fully utilized using Linux kernel drivers plus F/OSS supplemental drivers”, and/or the negative side of “Proprietary software is not required to access the full functionality of the device’s hardware”?

I think this is generally a good idea. I’m talking to lawyers about laptop-trademark license things right now, and I think this is probably a good place to put these several things they told me we should think about:

  1. How long should any agreements last? How do we terminate agreement if Something Bad happens? (What happens to existing inventory in such a case?)
  2. What kind of data can we get back from the vendor about how successful these are?
  3. How do we make sure the laptops are up to our standards, both quality and in terms of free and open source software?
  4. How do we make sure brand guidelines are enforced?
  5. How do we want to structure community support around these kinds of things?

In general: what do we want to prevent, and what do we want to enable, and how do we make sure it benefits Fedora?

You bring up a good point that I really want to move away from, whether that’s with a different name or with emphasized messaging.

Fedora Ready is NOT a certification program and I don’t think it should become one. As of now, vendors who are shipping or supporting Fedora are doing so on their own based on their standards of what makes a good enough experience to pitch to their customers. There is a general agreement that the experience has to be reasonable in order to use the Fedora trademark, but everything else is up to them.

Conversely, computers that are not confirmed by the vendor to ship or support Fedora will not be supported under the Fedora Ready Initiative. The community can support those computers in other ways like we currently do, but they won’t get the prioritized marketing, technical support, or community liaising that qualifying products do.

The core of the Fedora Ready Initiative is to support vendors who choose to ship or support Fedora on their hardware. If a vendor does that or wants to do that, we want to lend a helping hand where we can as needed, primarily through marketing, technical support, and liaising within the community.

So to answer the question, the vendors who choose to make Fedora officially supported on their systems are the ones we would work with, and we would focus on the offerings to which the Fedora support applies. We can assist with feedback in various ways, but ultimately it’s the vendors who need to support Fedora and whatever issues come up over the lifecycle of a system.

In the case of Slimbook, they did request the use of the trademark for Fedora Workstation, which required them to ship Fedora Workstation unmodified. For Framework I’m not sure if they have confirmed use of the trademark, but since they only support Fedora and don’t offer it preinstalled I don’t think it’s come up as an issue. In both cases, as stated above, the vendor is making the commitments and therefore it’s on the vendor to keep to those. The Fedora Project is not binding them to anything besides not being sloppy with the use of the trademark, whether that be in marketing or in poorly executed support.[1]

My preference to this point is to lean on what the vendor would consider to be a good decision for a hardware platform that matches what Fedora can do out of the box. It’s also not our say at the end of the day because the vendors will manufacture the products they think will work well. As our relationship with each develops there is the opportunity of offering suggestions and feedback, but this is still their business to run.

However, there is a limit to which we would likely not want to spend time supporting a certain product. If for some reason a vendor says that a computer officially supports Fedora but does not have working wifi drivers, that’s not something the Marketing Team would want to promote because basic functionality is missing.

An Nvidia card is further down that spectrum. Some may say that it’s in the same boat as wifi support, but an Nvidia card does have support through the Nouveau drivers (which will hopefully improve as time goes on; I’ve heard good things) as well as the third party repo that you can enable from Gnome Software (meaning it’s not required to go into the terminal to enable all of RPMFusion for that purpose).

In both cases it’s the vendor who is signing off on the machine supporting Fedora. If they are saying it supports Fedora, it probably does and was probably tested. I know that in all three cases of current companies that offer Fedora that they do testing for Fedora on the machines that have it as an option.

This is an area I have to think about more. Up to now, all Fedora supported hardware as been led by the vendors. The Marketing Team has only shown up recently in the last 6 months to provide help. In other words, all of our efforts have been supplemental to the initiatives that the vendors are independently running. There is currently no expectation for the vendors to do anything for us - we’re just happy they’re shipping Fedora.

If we want to start thinking in terms of agreements and standards, we can do that. I think that the community’s inclination to think of Fedora Ready as a certification program would be satisfied by developing something more concrete. However, I thought we were trying to move away from formal partnerships. These seem like a move toward partnerships, not away from them.

I’ll beg the bigger question: do we want to develop formal partnerships with structures, agreements, and goals? Instead do we want to stay in the lane we’re currently in where all of our support is supplemental to the independent Fedora offerings of these vendors?

  1. The poorly executed support is an assumption on my part. I assume that if a vendor using our trademark sells computers with Fedora preinstalled that are so badly supported as to significantly damage the brand of Fedora, that is when the Council would step in and pull the plug on the legal use of the Fedora trademark. ↩︎

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