Fedora Project lead targets design, packaging in ten year vision

Fedora Project leader Matthew Miller has sketched out a five to ten year vision for the Red Hat sponsored project, and claimed it risks becoming “a barely-differentiated implementation of a base OS that no one really cares about” if it doesn’t overhaul its packaging approach.

Miller kicked off debate over how the OS can continue to “thrive and be useful, valuable, and fun” in a blog post Monday.

Top of his list is examining Fedora’s overall positioning. He said that “the direction we took with the Fedora Editions has been a success — Fedora’s general growth and popularity bears that out.”

But, he continued, things had become more complicated “with Atomic and then CoreOS, and IoT, and Silverblue — and we never really found a satisfying way to present the work of our other desktop SIGs.”

“So, I think we should revisit the top-level design for Get Fedora (the project’s website),” he said, to highlight “all of our different outputs in some way which also makes it easy for new users to find the right solution quickly.” He said he’d also like to rebuild the Spin creation process: “Particularly, I’d like spin releases to be decoupled from the main OS release, and for those to be self-service by their SIGs with minimal rel-eng involvement needed.”

The project also needs to “figure out how to work with language-native packaging formats and more directly with code that’s distributed in git repos rather than as tarball releases.”

“Pulling from the Fedora container and flatpak registries should give the same feeling of trust and safety that installing and RPM from our repos does today,” he argued. “We’re not going to get either of those things with the system we have now.”

“Our value is unclear to both developers and end users, so we just get left out,” he said, and this left the project at risk of becoming a “barely-differentiated implementation of a base OS that no one really cares about, not the rich software ecosystem we’ve always aspired to build.”

Miller’s last piece of vision is that age-old challenge for open source projects – and indeed any software project – getting beyond the engineering, to give the documentation and support people some love. “Marie (our new FCAIC, in case you missed that!) and I have been talking about this, and we hope to really expand the $150-mini-event Mindshare program in the next year, and hopefully build on that further in the coming ones.”

The first reply to Miller’s missive, was not exactly an endorsement of his vision. “Re-packaging in our own format is not an horrible toil because our own format is horrible,” wrote Nicholas Mailhot. “It’s an horrible toil because our own format is old and mature, and language native formats are not. They lack all kinds of checks. Checks that do not matter in a dev context, but definitely matter in a deployment context.”