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Building On-Ramps on the Fedora 12 Highway

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"It's all about building on-ramps," says Paul W. Frields, the Fedora Project Leader. “As a community, we tend to be oriented towards getting people involved in the open source process, rather than towards getting everyone to switch from whatever they're using now."

It's an orientation that Frields sees as central to the GNU/Linux distribution's rapid growth over the last five years, as well as the focus in the new Fedora 12 release.

"A lot of people jump to the conclusion that, because there's some polish [in Fedora 12] that we're trying to appeal to the Joe Average kind of user," Frields says. "But the more correct way of saying it is that we want a distribution that works really well for our community members. We're building a community of contributors, as opposed to a community of consumers."

Frields explains, "If you look at any group, there's going to be 80-90% who will just take what they're given. They'll use it, but it's very rare that you get any feedback or participation from those folks. That's just how the consumer mind set works. What we're always trying to do is encourage people, to give them a smooth on-ramp to move from that kind of mind set to the mind set that free and open source software permits of getting involved.

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