Red Hat Dictates Fedora 15 Wallpaper

by Susan Linton - Dec. 15, 2010Comments (16)

FedoraFedora ran a wallpaper and theme concept contest for version 14 to entice community members to get involved with distribution development. With its recent release out the door the design team gathered to discuss the direction of artwork for the upcoming Fedora 15. That's when the news surfaced that Red Hat had already made the decision.

During an IRC team meeting the discussion for planning the Fedora 15 default wallpaper came up. That's when Máirín "Mo" Duffy broke the news. The Red Hat Desktop Team, who has discretionary control, wants Fedora 15 to use the upstream GNOME 3 wallpaper by default. And it didn't sound negotiable.

Of course several design team members weren't happy about this. The biggest issue is that Fedora likes to have one consistent look across their entire release. The artwork package includes things such as GRUB screen, boot splash, login screens, desktop and application splashes, all the desktops wallpapers, installer graphics, jewel case covers, t-shirts, boat sails... So, the choice is either have GNOME 3 stick out like a sore thumb or design the whole release around that wallpaper. In addition, Duffy expressed concern for the community participation process. This decision could possibly cut the community out. Also, it would be hard to transition to the next release.

That's when Jakub "jimmac" Steiner, graphic artist who designed the default GNOME 3 wallpaper, said "I think you guys are making it hard on yourself to theme the default fedora wallpaper per release name." Duffy then asked how the team would feel about doing new graphics every other release instead of every release. The consensus was that they continue to put out a new look each release.

The whole purpose of using the upstream GNOME 3 wallpaper for Fedora 15 was because Fedora 15 will be the first distribution to feature GNOME 3 in its entirety as default. But as the conversation continued it came out that there is still a slight chance it would not ready for Fedora 15. In any case, GNOME 2 would be provided as a choice and fallback for those without sufficient hardware. So do they use the GNOME 3 wallpaper for GNOME 2 too?

From there the conversation was joined by other team members very much against having to use the GNOME 3 wallpaper either as a basis for all the artwork or just as the GNOME 3 background because it breaks consistency. Alternative choices and default for other spins were also discussed.

As the meeting ended, no real bottom line was explicitly stated, but everyone knew the upstream GNOME 3 wallpaper will be default. Just how that will effect the rest of the distribution is the question left unanswered. Needless to say some team members stomped off, slammed the door, and walked into the sunset with steam puffing out their ears.

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Well makes sense. Fedora is Red Hat's testing ground, plus the current artwork sucks a broken window as they say.

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I would agree if the decision have been taken by the community, instead of the company.



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That'll teach the community to get invovled with Fedora development. Guess they'll know better next time.

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This is an extremely inaccurate report.

One, 'it didn't sound negotiable' is the interpretation of one team member, yet you report it as fact. If anyone bothers to read the log, it's far less clear-cut:

19:15:00 okay so first i want to tell you something

19:15:14 so we're going to be doing a wallpaper for Fedora 15

19:15:28 but, we have GNOME 3 as pretty much our most prominent Fedora 15 feature

19:15:46 and remember i had an action item to talk to those folks about what would make a good wallpaper to work with the shell

19:15:51 cuz it's going to be the default for F15

19:16:00 well, i got a special request from them

19:16:28 they would like the wallpaper for the gnome desktop in Fedora 15 to be the upstream GNOME wallpaper.... for F15 only, as sort of a special-edition / celebrating the first distro release of GNOME 3

19:16:34 what do you think about the request?

note, also, there is no mention of the 'Red Hat Desktop team' - that again is Nicu's gloss. mizmo (Mairin Duffy, for the record) only says 'those folks'. It's clear who made the proposal (Owen and Jakub) but not entirely clear on whose behalf; Owen and Jakub are members of the Fedora desktop team and also members of GNOME, as well as being members of the Red Hat desktop team. They are likely making this proposal mostly on behalf of GNOME, not on behalf of the Fedora or Red Hat desktop teams.

"As the meeting ended, no real bottom line was explicitly stated, but everyone knew the upstream GNOME 3 wallpaper will be default"

This, again, is a completely unsubstantiated gloss (yours, apparently, this time).

So, here's the facts: this is a proposal from two people (Owen Taylor and Jakub). They happen to work for Red Hat. That does not mean Red Hat is dictating anything. To put it baldly, Red Hat as a corporate entity isn't going to worry about dictating what the default wallpaper in Fedora is. Just because Owen and Jakub are Red Hat employees doesn't make this some kind of grand company-wide conspiracy. It's not really important enough to *warrant* that, never mind anything else.

"Everyone" does not "know" that the GNOME 3 wallpaper will be default. The proposal wasn't accepted or rejected at the meeting; there's no certainty whether it will or won't. I suggest you wait and see what happens before jumping to conclusions about what's going on or why it's happening.

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Boring fud :(

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Dear Adam,

thanks for clearing that a bit.



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Adam Williamson lies a lot!

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Nelson: please! I only lie five, maybe six times a day. Okay, ten.

Developments: the question of whether to accept GNOME's request (it was GNOME's request, it turns out) regarding the wallpaper has been brought up by the Board:

Also worth noting in the log of the initial IRC meeting is jsmith's comments, which are clearly ambivalent about the proposal. jsmith is Jared Smith, the Fedora Project Leader, a Red Hat employee. So, was he just not briefed about the conspiracy?!

it'll become fairly clear, I suspect, that some people within Fedora will think it's a good idea to go with the proposal, some will oppose it, and many will take positions somewhere in the middle. There will be Red Hat employees in all three groups. Imagine that! Debate and discussion!

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It's about time Linux got a recognizable "face". Mac and Windows have it, but nobody knows what Linux looks like. This is no problem for the geek community. But to progress in the world of business or onto the desktop of the ordinary end user Linux needs an identity. It's disturbing to sit down at an unfamiliar computer and wonder where everything is located. The flexibility for geeks to play around with their systems is important but so is a universally recognizable identity for Linux. I know that "Linux" refers to the kernel, not the user interface. But the masses of users recognize a computer by it's user interface. When you show somebody a "Linux" computer, it's the image of the a screen they keep in mind, not the kernel.

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Adam likes to put a 'positive spin' on everything. Good or bad, that is how he rolls.

Something of note about that IRC meeting.

Normally there is a vote called on such things. Notice no vote, or a call to have one in future. 'it didn't sound negotiable' is exactly what I took away from the IRC log as well. Mo(@rh) knew better than to call for a vote.

The proposed wallpaper is butt ass ugly, however, so was the last one imo.

Gnome is desperate after their biggest marketer (Ubuntu) kicked them to the curb. The Gnome Project has some leverage with RH which is why you see them trying this crap.

If you are naive enough to believe that one lone RH'er can't make decisions for all of Fedora, I need only point out one name, Lennart Pottering. Fedora is a community driven distribution, except when that interferes with what RH wants or its bottom line.

Is this a conspiracy? No, just RH'ers towing the company line and keeping their jobs.

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tk009: I'd be positively delighted to see how you manage to figure that dictating Fedora's desktop background is going to contribute to Red Hat's bottom line.

I'm not even arguing that Red Hat is saintly and wouldn't use its Evil Influence to fiddle with Fedora in the service of making us richer. I don't *need* to argue that in this case, because the point is that from the point of view of Red Hat people who are principally concerned with the bottom line, this is an utter no-op. I mean, come on - do you really think Red Hat's accounting management team is sitting around its cauldron right now worrying about Fedora's desktop background? Why the hell would they? How's that going to improve the value of my stock options?

"The Gnome Project has some leverage with RH which is why you see them trying this crap."

Well, I mean, that's basically accurate, but it sure is a freaking negative way to spin things. There is indeed a pre-existing positive relationship between one of the two major open source desktops, and one of the biggest Linux distributors, which has been shipping it for years. I'm sure this comes as a huge shock to everyone, and you should probably all head for the bunkers now. So, yeah, GNOME thought 'hey, maybe it'd be cool if we could work with this distribution we've been working with for years to make a bit of a splash about the GNOME 3 release'. Could they have proposed this in a better way (i.e. to a mailing list, to give people time to make a considered response, and probably at a higher level than going direct to the design team)? Sure. Is it some kind of evil corporate conspiracy? Please. It's not important enough to have an evil corporate conspiracy about.

"No, just RH'ers towing the company line and keeping their jobs."

One, it's 'toeing the line'. As in, keeping your toe inside the line. 'Towing the line' doesn't make any sense. A line would be what you'd use to tow something *with*, in a shipping context.

Now, the less important point! Again, really? I mean, really? You think RH would have a corporate line on the design of the Fedora desktop background? No. Really, it just doesn't. We don't all get hauled into meeting rooms to see a Powerpoint on the vital importance of desktop wallpaper to our pension plans. I dunno how else to put this, you're just imagining something that is *not there*. It's not a company line. It's two people coming up with a wizard wheeze to promote GNOME 3 and suggesting it. That's *all* it is. Believe it or not, Red Hat people are allowed to have independent thoughts. They don't implant a mind control chip when you arrive.

"Normally there is a vote called on such things."

That's not actually the case. Go to and read through the logs. I've gone all the way back to September. The word 'vote' doesn't occur in a single one. They use +1s, usually as a kinda shorthand for 'I agree' and occasionally as a sort of very informal vote of acclamation (I didn't see a single -1 for anything); there was nothing that resembled a formal vote on any issue. It seems like the design team usually mostly agrees on their general approach for things and simply works by assigning tasks out to individuals or small groups and then getting together to review progress, discuss ideas and refine gradually. They don't seem to use a formal voting system. So...yeah. Not a surprise that they didn't in this case either.

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That is the only backdraw to many who join/use any linux os, it's appearance. And this was the best they could come up with... *gag *sputter 10 billion + wallpapers on the net and they choose some blue verticle lines... wow.

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Adam et all,

I am not the one above. As it was communicated to me through other channels there exists a request from GNOME upstream so that all distro's support GNOME3 by using the default upstream branding for a strong gnome-shell message.

I got no beef with you, neither with no one on Fedora which I always found a kick ass distro (and that I still use).

My respect for Fedora for supporting upstream GNOME in providing a higher visibility to the long waited gnome-shell. I'm sure F15 will be a success.


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Dear Susan,

There appear to be some serious misunderstandings in your piece. In case the meeting log was the cause of the confusion, I produced a summary of the meeting here that you may find useful:

In short, no decision forced upon the Fedora design team, and the GNOME 3 wallpaper was clearly referenced as a "request" multiple times throughout the log. The decision is the design team's decision alone as the Fedora Board gave the Fedora design team that authority some years ago.

I would like to ask that you consider another piece to clear up the misunderstandings here that have unfortunately become wider-spread as a result of this piece being published. I would be happy to assist you in getting in contact with Jared Smith who is the Fedora project leader who can tell you more about the topic as he is the chair of the Fedora project board. You are also completely free to sit in on a Fedora design team meeting to witness the situation first-hand.

Thanks for your consideration,


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As the leader of the Fedora Project, let me state unequivocally that

Red Hat developers (who also happen to be upstream Gnome desktop

developers) have *asked* us to consider using the upstream Gnome 3

desktop wallpaper in Fedora 15. It was a simple request, and is by no

means a mandate. Fedora retains its right to decide what artwork

appears in Fedora, period.

I'm disheartened by the way this article (and a few other blog posts

on which this article may have been based) paint both Red Hat and the

Fedora governance bodies in the worst possible light -- Red Hat by

acting like they don't care what the Fedora community thinks, and

Fedora governance bodies as being impotent. Nothing could be further

from the truth. Fedora and Red Hat have a strong and symbiotic

relationship, and it has been my experience since I've been the Fedora

Project Leader that differences of opinion have been handled

professionally and tactfully.

To set the record straight, the decision on the Fedora 15 wallpaper

has not been finalized. There are obviously pros and cons to

accepting the request, and at this point the topic is still being

discussed by Fedora's Design Team. To those who complained about a

lack of a vote, may I point out that in last week's Design Team

meeting, that very topic was discussed, and it was decided that a vote

at this point would be a bit premature, and instead it would be more

productive to continue the discussion between the Fedora community and

the upstream Gnome community to discuss alternatives and possible

win-win solutions. Over the next few weeks, the Design Team will

gather more input from the community and make a final decision.

If you have further questions or concerns on the matter, please don't

hesitate to contact me.


Jared Smith

Fedora Project Leader

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Fedora is Red Hat's testing ground, plus the current artwork sucks a broken window as they say. - agree completly

grants to pay bills

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