Nameless Fedora 21 Linux Is an Opportunity for Growth

NEWS ANALYSIS: Typically, Red Hat's Fedora Linux distribution has two colorfully named releases a year, but that likely won't be the case in 2014. However, that's no reason for concern.

The Red Hat-sponsored Fedora Linux community recently celebrated its 10th anniversary, capping off a decade of releases and evolution. In 2014, Fedora could be in store for its biggest evolution since the project's creation, with fewer releases and even a new naming strategy.

Typically, the Fedora project has had two releases in any given year: one in the early spring, the other early winter. For 2014, that likely won't be the case.

Fedora 20 was released on Dec. 17, 2013, and its successor won't debut until August 2014.

Another key change in the Fedora Linux world is the naming strategy for new releases. The Fedora project has chosen some interesting names for its Linux distribution releases in recent years. The Fedora 20 release was named Heisenbug, Fedora 19 was called Schrodinger's Cat, Fedora 18 was the Spherical Cow, and Fedora 17 was the Beefy Miracle.

In the past, Fedora community members nominated and then voted on the name for each new release. The basic idea was that the new name somehow had a connection with the prior release's name, though that connection was sometimes somewhat tenuous.

That naming process was not one that everyone was comfortable with. In April 2012, the Fedora community began to publicly debate the merits of their naming approach, and in October 2013, the Fedora Board decided to end the existing naming process following the Fedora 20 release.

"What will be the code name for Fedora 21?" Red Hat's Jaroslav Reznik wrote in a blog post. "Short answer: null. Not null as null string, but null."

The nameless, delayed Fedora 21 release is not a cause for concern in my opinion, but rather an opportunity for growth. Back in August 2013, at the Fedora Flock conference, the community first heard of a new proposal to build an agile core for Fedora. Rather than a single Fedora image, the Fedora Core approach is to segment different elements of Fedora for different target groups and use-cases.

Fedora is reinventing itself and the way that its Linux distribution is made. This is not a knee-jerk reaction to a security incident or a competitive threat, but rather a thoughtful, time-consuming process that Fedora is engaged in.

The ability to reliably and consistently deliver a new Linux release on a regular cadence was once thought to be the gold standard for Linux distribution stability. The modern reality is that's not necessarily true. Fedora 20 will stay relevant and modern thanks to updated packages from upstream open-source projects as they become available. The fact that there is likely only one Fedora release in 2014 isn't a sign of decline; it's a sign of progress.

2014 will be an exciting year in the Red Hat community, beyond just the evolution of Fedora. Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 7 will likely be announced at some point in the first half of this year. Red Hat now also supports and partners with the community CentOS Linux distribution, which provides a free version of RHEL. On top of that, there are Red Hat's cloud-focused distributions, including the Red Hat Enterprise Linux Open Stack Platform as well as the community RDO open-stack distribution, both of which will see new releases this year.

While new releases are the milestones that enable the industry and users to mark progress in a tangible way, progress is also about process improvement. Fedora will remake itself in 2014, and whatever form or name it takes will be a key milestone to look forward to this year.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner is an Internet consultant, strategist, and contributor to several leading IT business web sites.