Members of the open-source Fedora Linux Project gathered at the new Flock conference in Charleston, S.C., from Aug. 9 to 12 to discuss the future of their Linux distribution. It's a future that could see Fedora take a new path forward that will see the distribution evolve from a general-purpose open-source operating system to a new model with core functionality and then separate specific builds for different use cases.
Fedora Linux is a community Linux distribution that is sponsored by enterprise Linux leader Red Hat. The Flock conference is the first attempt by Fedora to try to have a different type of development event than the FUDcon (Fedora Users and Developer) conference that Fedora has had for the past eight years.
"The idea behind Flock is to bring together development teams to make forward-looking plans for the next six months to a year and have the face-to-face bandwidth that everyone benefits from," Robyn Bergeron, Fedora project leader, told eWEEK.
Bergeron added that, in contrast, FUDcon events were typically loaded with talks about things that Fedora was already doing, rather than looking forward at the strategic future of the project. From an enterprise vendor perspective, Fedora is in many respects a staging ground for technologies that might land in a future Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) release. As such, Bergeron said it's a good place for hardware vendors to get involved to see what Fedora is doing and participate in the process.
"Eventually they [hardware vendors] want their hardware and drivers to work with RHEL, and obviously we're an important project for them to pay attention to," Bergeron said.
One of the big highlights at the Flock event was a proposal from Fedora developer Matthew Miller to rearchitect the Fedora Linux distribution to be more agile, Bergeron noted. Linux as an operating system has a broad range of applicability from small devices and desktops all the way up to servers and the cloud.
"How can we make Fedora be something that is modular enough to fit into all those different environments, while still acknowledging that a one-size-fits-all approach isn't something that draws people into the project?" Bergeron said. "People want something that is specifically for them."
Miller's proposal calls for a series of what he refers to as "Rings." Ring One provides the base level of core functionality and provides the foundation on which other levels can be built. Ring Two functionality would be driven by Fedora's Special Interest Groups (SIGs) that will be enabled to add and build the functionality that is required for their specific use cases.
Fedora already has a "Spins" model that includes specific versions of Fedora, including ones for different Linux desktops and even one just for games. Bergeron explained that the new model that Miller is proposing is different from the existing Spins approach.
The idea is that the core of Fedora will be more vetted, according to Bergeron. Some of the current Spins that are run by SIGs can potentially be folded into the new model to create more robust and tailored solutions.
The most recent Fedora 19 release, code-named Schrödinger's Cat, debuted in July with a long list of new features. Fedora 20 is currently in development, and a number of changes are in the works.
Among the big ticket items is the move to make ARM a primary architecture alongside x86. Changes are also currently proposed for the Network Manager component that will add new networking bridging support.
Fedora 20 is set for release on Nov. 26.
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.