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What's Next For Fedora?

Matthew Miller Fedora Project LeaderBetween the upcoming Fedora 21 release, involvement in Red Hat's Project Atomic, its planned re-structuring under Fedora.next, and its new leader, Matthew Miller, the Fedora Project has a lot going on lately. All of the upheaval is a sign that the distribution is doing what it must to stay relevant in the new world of distributed, scale-out computing, says Miller who took over as project leader earlier this month after his predecessor Robyn Bergeron announced her departure in May.

Technologists tend to overlook the role of traditional Linux distributions in innovation as they flock to the next big thing, Miller argues. But many distributions – Fedora included – are doing cutting-edge work that forms the foundation on which the newest computing layers are built (attend his talk at LinuxCon North America in Chicago, Aug. 20-22, for more on this topic.)

“The problems that distros were trying to solve a decade ago largely are seen as not only solved, but kind of boring,” said Miller, a longtime Fedora community member and system administrator who joined Red Hat in 2012. “All of the open source excitement seems to be about applications and orchestration layers above the base OS.”

Miller aims to bring more attention, and importance, to the operating system and, more specifically, the Fedora project by focusing more on its role as a platform for innovation in the cloud, and any other new technologies that may arise in the future. To do this, the Fedora project structure needs to be more agile and adaptable, allowing for more experimentation, as well as more welcoming to new contributors, Miller says.

“What I want is for Fedora to be flexible enough that we're still relevant, useful, and interesting as we go forward,” Miller said.

Thus, big changes are underway for the distribution. It's an incremental evolution initiated by Fedora.next, the project's long-term planning process which has been underway for more than a year.

Miller has been active in the process from the start and is now responsible for implementing it. But it has been, and must continue to be, a largely community-driven transformation, he says.

First Visible Changes in Fedora 21

While Fedora is traditionally a desktop distribution, it also has a contingent of “crazy but awesome” sysadmins running it on production servers who are eager to see the project evolve for the cloud, Miller said. The initial installation has a lot of default settings and features that are now at odds with the minimal images needed to make use of containers and clouds, for example. Other open source communities would also like to see the distribution become more enterprise friendly as the faster moving, more experimental upstream version to Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

Fedora 21 will be the first tangible step in this direction with the release split into three variations: cloud, server and desktop. They'll all be built out of a shared repository and have the same release schedule. But the repackaging will allow for more targeted development for the various uses of the distribution, as well as create safe areas for experimentation.

Fedora Cloud, for example, is focused on making fundamental improvements to the OS guest image. It will become a better base for running clusters of Docker images on top of cloud platforms such as OpenStack. Developers can also more easily test new technologies such as Project Atomic tools for deploying container-based applications on Linux.

“As we go forward, we're following the emerging technologies around deployment, orchestration, and management of containerized applications, and I expect to see that evolve quickly in Fedora's cloud offerings,” Miller said.

Meanwhile Fedora Server is putting together an almost push-button deployment of a database server. And Fedora Workstation will be packaged to accommodate software developers building server side and client applications.

“Fedora in general works as the innovation area (for Red Hat distributions). We look at all the things happening in the open source world and combine them and put them out,” Miller said. “We want to continue to do that in cloud areas as well.”

More fundamental long-term changes

Longer term, the community has planned changes to the base design group, which oversees the main repository for all of the other versions, as well as the creation of a Fedora playground repository, and a more welcoming mailing list for newcomers.

The creation of the Server, Workstation and Cloud products means the Base Design group will mostly focus on basic improvements, Miller says. But pressure from other areas will increase over the next few releases and the group's mission will become more urgent and defined.

“For example, right now on the devel mailing list there's a discussion over whether the ARM architecture can really be considered an equal when a couple of dozen packages don't build,” Miller said. “When we have a more defined distinction between the Base and the rest of the collection of packages, we can better focus development effort, and also better communicate to users what we're promising will work and which areas are more "best-effort.”

Better communication, in general, is also a long-term goal for the project. One of the Fedora community's four core values is the “friends” foundation, defined as welcoming all skill levels, finding consensus and honoring all contributions. But developers tend to adhere to this more at project conferences than in online interactions, Miller says.

“Some of our mailing lists are downright hostile, and that has to change, especially because it doesn't actually reflect the reality of our community as a whole,” he said.

The new Fedora Magazine site, launched last year, is one effort to help improve project communication (and also a great place for new people to help out.) Establishing a Fedora playground, or a repository with fewer guidelines and lower barriers for contributions, will also help get more people involved. This will be an experimental feature in Fedora 21 that will become more established over time.

“Right now people can't get it into Fedora until (their code is) perfect,” Miller said. “Maybe over the course of 2-3 years (Fedora playground) will draw in more participants. People can make more mistakes and learn and ramp up into being contributors.”

 

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  • Johny Said:

    Fedora used to be my favorite distro. I my opinion what kills it for Fedora is the lack of long term support. There should a release that is supported for 3-5 years coming out every so often. Then I believe they can become number 1! I understand the aim that is bleeding edge technology but it isn't helpfull when stability is taken for granted.

  • Mario Said:

    I disagree. The problem with Fedora is that it cannot compete with Ubuntu. I'm running both and F20 is a lackluster distribution compared to U14.04, a distribution with newer yet more polished software. I used to be a Fedora fan until they released a version with GRUB that could not boot it's own ext4 filesystem. You had to reinstall with ext3 to boot Fedora. Obviously, Ubuntu booted flawlessly into ext4. It continues to impress with it's polish.

  • JFM Said:

    Gone there and was totally unimpressed by Ubuntu: just a fancy name and a netwrk of Debian fanatics who would endorse whatever crap as long it is based on Debain. Want real polished, everything works out of the box (ie you answer a few easy questions at ijn,stall time) go Suse. Now don't get me wron,g: Ubuntiu is not bad it is just miles below Suse and light years below the hye arounfd it.

  • Roger Said:

    I wonder whether the folks at Suse are keen to have someone who makes so many typographical errors as a fanatical supporter of their fine efforts?

  • Shankar Sivan Said:

    actually i think the installer is difficult to use compared to Ubuntu that's why most of people prefer fedora over ubuntu.

  • Ed Borasky Said:

    Want long-term support? Go with RHEL or CentOS. RHEL 7 is based on Fedora 19, so it's not all that 'obsolete' compared with today's Fedora 20.

  • JFM Said:

    But it wil be by Fedora 21 or 22. That can be a problem. For instance in a server I am running Rhel 5.X. But even the latest and greatest has only Python 2.4.. Problem: I needed to run something thta requires at least Python 2.6 so I had to build a Python 2.6 and install it on /usr/local In addition the software selection and jkernel features of RHEL/Centos are more oriented to Enterprise/servers than to hobbyist/.workstation use.use.

  • Rahul Sundaram Said:

    You can't have the very latest and still be stable in an enterprise environment however there are very good repositories for RHEL including EPEL and IUS that selectively brings in some of the components including newer versions of Python. So I would suggest that what you are looking for is in fact, RHEL + third party repos instead of a long term supported Fedora.

  • dr.nega Said:

    fedora can be a best distro even better than OpenSUSE and Ubuntu if include many packages like openSUSE and better package manager can work with offline repos like a fedora everything thumbdrives with a merger of RPMfusion repos included they can do this by making money by selling this to the plubic. what is perfect than any distro is that RedHat has never make a distro like Ubuntu is not ready to use is forcing users to connect the cloud, and i don't like the cloud os concept even is great for using my computer through the net but i don't like barebones os required the net for repos installation

  • AdamWill Said:

    Er...are you talking about: https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Ext4_in_Fedora_11#Does_GRUB_support_Ext4.3F from Fedora 11? Released in June 2010? That's kind of a long time to hold a grudge about an issue that was documented in the release notes...

  • Mario Said:

    It would be a long time for a grudge if it was the only thing keeping me from preferring Fedora but it is not. That known issue was the reason I switched from Fedora to Ubuntu/Mint. This issue was not noted in Ubuntu's release notes because it was NOT an issue for them. 4 years is how long I have not seen a reason to go back from a polished distro to an unpolished one. Note that I'm currently running U14, Mint17, F20, OpenSuSE 13.1, CentOS6 and Win7 but Mint beats them all.

  • Rahul Sundaram Said:

    The reason why it wasn't an issue for some distros is because they waited for Fedora to switch first and when it was all done and ready, they switched later. Fedora is a leader in this space for a reason.

  • Eddie G. Said:

    I have been a Fedora fan since version 15. I have used other distros, but find Fedora to be easy to navigate and to use. I administer most of my family's machines and have come into contact with a LOT of distros!...but Fedora is my number one, go-to distro. And while some might see me as a fan boy, I will only say, that when I started using Linux I had gravitated towards the Ubuntu crowd, but after discovering Fedora I'm hooked, and I find that there are things that "just work" for me. And like I said...this is coming from a LONG list of distros, and while some might mimic Red Hat, Fedora chooses to be it's own entity, while staying familiar enough to be used both for server & desktop.

  • Phoenix Said:

    Please note that english is not my native language. I second Eddie G., Well Mario i find it confusing when you talk about polish and then you mention a distro such as Mint as your favorite. In my humble opinion, Fedora is Linux and you are not going to find a better GNOME and/or KDE experience else where. Not even on openSUSE I hope all the best for Fedora, RHEL and CentOS but i am not yet comfortable about fedora.next. I've listened and watched interviews with Miller and others about fedora.next and it seems to me that they are alienating desktop users and there is an almost a "look down" trend at home/desktop users. Miller even said in an interview that they might release a "GNOME spin" in the future since Fedora Workstation is geared towards software developers! This is insane... Oh and @ Johny: listen to Borasky and wait for CentOS 7, I'm thinking switching to it my self for a while, I'm currently a Fedora 19 happy user.

  • linux user Said:

    Fedora is a testbed for Red Hat. It's not supposed to be a reliable, day to day distro.

  • JFM Said:

    That is what Debain people say. The fact is RedHat neds an "exciting" version of the "boring" RHEL whose very unfrequent releases make it still more boring. People will try their companay running at enterprise (that is RH target market) what they have become familiar witrh at home. , So you nedd to have them running your distribution or something close to it at home if you want to sell RHELs to their company. For that you need games and "sexy" software like Gimp but presnce of that kind of software will be frowned upon by the peole who take the decisions in a company. PS: I run Fedora at home while my wife runs Debian and I have less problems than her.

  • Dan Said:

    Mint is a nice distro. However I prefer the more up to date software on Fedora. I have had no roblems with the stability of Fedora either. None whatsoever so I cannot understand why people claim it is not stable...

  • linux user Said:

    I didn't mean to imply it was unstable, rather that the next release of Fedora isn't reliably going to contain all that was good from this release, because it exists to provide a safe test bed for Developers so they can screw up (iron out the wrinkles) on Fedora and not Red Hat itself.

  • Raphael Sanches Said:

    How can a Distro be aimed at desktop if they make it a nightmare to install applications (Chromium, Nvidia Drivers...Etc) ?!? ...in the workstation/server space nobody cares (or should not) about what kinda of distribution is being released since the best is to custom build your own! One of the biggest Fedora problems (except for the RPM Hell) is that it calls itself a user friendly and in fact is completely the opposite! Who is their target audience????.... right now they aim at everybody and nobody at the same time and so Fedora has become irrelevant! P.S. Stop living in the FOSS Neverland-Utopia and face the reality that right now 3rd Party Drivers and Applications are a necessary evil and include them in!

  • Dan Said:

    Hi, Fedora is solely based on cutting edge open-source software, it's not a rolling release though.

  • Wogster Said:

    It's easy to add a couple of extra repositories for third party stuff. If your running Fedora, just add rpmfusion-nonfree and you get most of the non-free stuff. It has one huge benefit over Ubuntu, you don't need that idiot Unity and it's phone style interface, that interestingly enough got stolen by Mickeysoft for Winlose 8

  • Mogeni Said:

    I like Fedora a lot. I had Ubuntu 14.04 on my laptop but it used to hang it. Worse still, it's dash exposes us to Amazon privacy. We can build Fedora into greater and far much stable a distro, than shunning the .next. we are the consumers, and it is ours.

  • Robert Said:

    If fedora can be shifted to a rolling release model I think that would place it on top of ubuntu. I am using Arch Linux and it is great not having to worry about having to re-install the os every six months or so. If they can make it like lmde or just have it like Arch that would be awesome. I have read articles about the idea to switch to the model but nothing happened. This is just a usggestion though


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