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Red Hat cancels Fedora Foundation

Company has other ideas for open-source patent protections and governance of its hobbyist Linux product.

BOSTON--Red Hat has dismantled the Fedora Foundation, an initiative conceived as an entity to provide intellectual-property protections to the open-source realm but whose mission grew impractically broad.

Fedora Core is Red Hat's free hobbyist version of Linux, designed to mature technologies quickly for use in the premium Red Hat Enterprise Linux product and to sate developers' appetite for new features.

LinuxWorld Boston 2006 roundup

When Red Hat announced the foundation in June 2005, the company said it had "the intent of moving Fedora project development work and copyright ownership of contributed code to the foundation. Red Hat will still provide substantial financial and engineering support, but this move will assure broader community involvement in Fedora-sponsored projects."

A Red Hat explanation of the foundation's cancellation, posted to a Fedora mailing list on Tuesday, describes a narrower initial mission: "To act as a repository for patents that would protect the interests of the open-source community."

But the foundation suffered from mission creep, which refers to the process by which a mission's approaches and goals change over time. "Every Fedora issue became a nail for the foundation hammer, and the scope of the foundation quickly became too large for efficient progress," Red Hat's Max Spevack said in the posting.

From an intellectual-property point of view, Red Hat's efforts now are focused on its work with the Open Invention Network, a multi-company effort to amass patents that may be freely used with open-source software, Chief Technology Officer Brian Stevens said in an interview here at the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo.

"We believe what we had envisioned it to be didn't make a lot of sense," Stevens said. "We began working on the Open Invention Network some time after (the foundation launch). We put a ton of energy into that."

And for governing Fedora Core, the company will rely on the Fedora Project Board instead of the foundation. The board includes five Red Hat employees and four outsiders.

The move was announced on the eve of FUDCon, a Fedora conference that begins Thursday, the last day of the LinuxWorld show.