I realized that I missed an interesting development in the Fedora community: the rise of RPM Fusion, a merge of Livna, Freshrpms and Dribble.
Since Fedora’s first days it was always a free distribution: no packages tainted by patents or restricted by licences were allowed in Fedora’s repositories. Due to that reason 3rd party repositories provided always additional packages for Fedora. However, these repositories were all of different quality, provided in parts the same packages and were not compatible to each other in every regard.
In the long term many Fedora users used either Freshrpms.net or Livna.org as their 3rd party repository of choice. Also, the project rpmforge emerged out of some repositories to bundle the forces provided packages for Fedora. However, that project never supported Fedora: they only built packages for it but supported officially only RHEL-like distributions.
While there were several reasons for this situation it was also very annoying for users.
Now the RPM Fusion project was created out of the three repositories Livna, Freshrpms and Dribble to provide a single RPM repository for Fedora users and to also provide a place to other packages to submit and manage their problematic packages. The official announcement of the project was on 11 September (*cough*) and the aims are similar to Fedora’s aims – except for the part about questionable packages legality wise:
Repositories and infrastructure will follow Fedora where possible. This means using Fedora’s packaging guidelines (except for legal), Fedora’s review process for new submissions, Fedora’s VCS structure etc.
It will contain add-on packages and not replacements in relation to the base package set. Whereby the base package set is defined as: RHEL/CentOS + EPEL or Fedora (Fedora 7+).
It will contain kernel module packages in the main repo, even if Fedora will drop them (which looks likely as of August 2007).
We aim to provide support for all ‘current’ versions of Fedora including devel, for i386, ppc, ppc64 and x86_64.
Time will tell if RPM Fusion will live up to its own expectations and will be able to provide a consistent and fully working 3rd party repository for Fedora 9 or even Fedora 8. While such repositories are always questionable from a freedom point of view they are indeed necessary for many users to work with their systems. Also, Fedora uses US law to check if packages are problematic, and RPM Fusion will therefore also be a harbour for Fedora community members outside of the US.