Fedora Linux, the open source operating system associated with Red Hat (RHT), has major changes on the horizon. That's the plan, at least, as open source developers discuss revamping the platform through the initiative they're calling Fedora.next.
Fedora, a community-developed Linux distribution introduced in 2003 that Red Hat uses to test technologies for potential inclusion in the company's commercial platforms, is now on release No. 20. It's about as tried and true as software gets in the Linux world, and it has a very solid record of producing good releases.
But starting at the Flock 2013 conference last August, Fedora developers began clamoring to shake things up a bit. Contributor Matthew Miller outlined the reasons for change earlier this year in Fedora Magazine. Among other motives, he emphasized that "Fedora is considered boring." That's not, he said, because it's less exciting than other desktop Linux distributions such as Ubuntu and Debian. Instead, users are no longer as passionate about Linux distributions in general as they once were, especially in an age when most of the exciting things that are happening in open source software development involve mobile devices, the cloud and container virtualization—not old-fashioned laptops and PCs.
The solution to resurrecting Fedora's bygone glory, Miller and his supporters within the Fedora community hope, is to plan a new future for the operating system in the form of Fedora.next. For now, the name refers simply to "planning and direction-setting" aimed at identifying changes Fedora developers should make over the next several years to reinvigorate the operating system.
Most notable on the list so far is a proposal for splitting Fedora releases into three different "products" —workstation, cloud and server—"so that we can build and market each in different ways," as Miller explained in a follow-up to his first article. That's a very similar strategy to the one adopted by distributions including Ubuntu—although it is notable that, unlike the Ubuntu suite, none of the proposed Fedora products focuses on mobile. The product segementation seems likely to make it easier for different groups of Fedora users to obtain a distribution that more readily meets their particular needs out of the box.
Other ideas for Fedora.next include revamping the distribution's branding, with an emphasis on differentiating between the three different products through colors schemes and logos.
Personally speaking, I'd be sad to see Fedora change, if only for nostalgic reasons. Fedora 6 was the first Linux distribution I ran as my full-time operating system, leaving Windows totally behind. I have fond—or at least distinct—memories of huddling next to my Fedora 6 PC on cold nights in Ithaca, N.Y., in December 2006, trying to simultaneously figure out why X kept crashing and keep warm in my grossly underheated apartment. For all that has changed since then, Fedora's essentials have not.
And they may not change for a while still, since Fedora.next appears to remain very much in the brainstorming stage, with implementation of the new ideas far in the future. But Fedora.next eventually could bring very significant changes to one of the world's more popular open source operating systems, which could also impact Red Hat Enterprise Linux and other products down the road.