October 9, 2014

Fedora 21 Alpha Release Has Three Flavors

Fedora-logoOver at the Fedora Project, we recently released the alpha version of Fedora 21. (And if the rest of this is all tl;dr, no problem – skip right to the pre-release download page, and there you are.)

Looking for a silly code name like in previous years? Sorry to disappoint – this is the first release to be just called by its number. That's not all we're doing differently, though. Last year, Fedora reached its 10-year anniversary, and as went into our second decade, we decided to take a step back and reflect on what changes it will take to continue to be a leading Free and Open Source Linux distribution over the next ten years.

We call that ongoing process "Fedora.next" – it's an umbrella term for a bunch of different initiatives aimed at making Fedora the distribution of choice both for current users and for a whole bunch of new ones.

Right now, the most visible thing you'll see is a split into three separate deliverables – Fedora Workstation, Fedora Cloud, and Fedora Server. Each of these is aimed at solving problems in a specific area:

  • Fedora Workstation is targeted at software developers – not just those of us building Fedora, but actual laptop/desktop users making other cool stuff. Right now, that means bringing the latest GNOME release along with a new tool to make developers' lives easier – DevAssistant. Based on real-world feedback for Fedora 21, expect future Fedora Workstation to be even more tuned for this class of users' needs.

  • Fedora Server is built around the concept of roles – easy-to-deploy canned configurations for database servers, identity management, and so on. It also features Cockpit, a new web-based server administration interface, and RoleKit, which provides an API to deploy server roles using whatever configuration management system you prefer.

  • Fedora Cloud provides a lightweight Fedora image for use as a cloud guest in OpenStack, EC2, or elsewhere. It focuses on the "cattle" side of the pets-vs-cattle model – identical systems which scale out to many, many nodes rather than individual, cared-for servers. We're also previewing Fedora Atomic as part of the cloud group – this is an exciting new way of putting together a host operating system for running Docker containers.

In coming releases (and we'll be back to a roughly 6-month schedule after this one-time longer cycle) look to see even stronger differentiation in these three areas, and possibly new targets as well. But there's more than just the target split. We're also going to make a stronger differentiation between a lightweight base operating system and different layers on top of that. This will make it easier to bootstrap whole new Fedora-based projects and let us focus on improving critical-path code and packaging quality, while at the same time allowing many more software projects to be included in Fedora in a meaningful way without a lot of packaging bureaucracy.

For now, though, if you're interested in seeing how it's shaping up for this December's F21 release, grab the alpha in whichever flavor you prefer.

Matthew Miller is Fedora Project Leader at Red Hat.

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