PPC and Fedora: What’s Next?

Thanks to everyone for the feedback on PPC usage.

At this week’s (public IRC) Fedora Board meeting, Seth had kindly put the issue up for discussion and since it was a public meeting, I took part as well. Now the first question that might come to mind is “Why does the Board care / make the decision?”. And the reason is that it was the Board that originally voted to keep PPC as a primary arch until there was another functional secondary arch. Now that we’re two years later and there’s still not another functional secondary arch, I think that the topic was worth revisiting.

The discussion ended up being somewhat lively, but to me there were just a few key points. On the side of requiring PPC kept as primary, the argument seemed to mostly be that by going to secondary, PPC as an arch in Fedora would not be successful. One stated reason was the timeframe. So there was a proposal for keeping the requirement in place until either a secondary arch is up and running or some time limit (six months? a year?) was hit. The other side is that it’s been two years, what difference is a known six month time horizon going to make?

In the end, the Board voted and decided that from the Board level, PPC is no longer required to be a primary arch. That does not mean that PPC is now automatically a secondary arch.

So, what’s next? The next step is that I am proposing to FESCo that they consider a proposal to have PPC become a secondary arch for Fedora 12. And in doing so, put out a call for someone to lead a PPC secondary arch group. That would entail the work in keeping builders running, creating test releases, getting testing, etc. And then also being the person responsible for getting the release out and calling it done.

By making PPC a secondary arch, there are a few tangible benefits.

  • Likely less build time for packages, rawhide, etc so that hopefully development can move a little faster
  • Less last-minute scrambles to fix the PPC-specific distribution issue (whether it be installing on some platform or fitting on the DVD)
  • More people caring about the secondary architecture process and thus hopefully helping it accelerate.

There are, though, also some risks and downsides. I’ll list them as well, but with my refutations :-)

  • It’s possible we could not have everything in place for a Fedora 12 PPC release. While I freely admit that this is a concern, I think that this is a concern no matter when we move PPC to be a secondary arch and I actually see the argument here getting stronger over time as the number of PPC users decrease as old Macs die.
  • We may lose some portability testing in builds. Also, true. Hopefully the build infrastructure for secondary arches is far enough along that those can be reported still.

Thoughts, comments, etc appreciated as always