Back when I was actively reviewing Linux distros and still learning all about Linux, it was in vogue to say that any distro was as good as the next. They all had the same GUIs and programs. The only difference was which package manager you preferred. Distributions started off, in fact, as a way to simplify Linux installations. Otherwise you’d have to go get the Linux kernel and then every package you wanted to install. Unlike Windows, Linux is just a kernel. If you just got Linux, you wouldn’t have tools or GUIs or anything. So the distributions give you all the programs you need to use your computer (which turns out to be WAY more than Windows for free (libre AND gratis).
But this view really sells the modern Linux distro short. They are innovation engines. Some of those are process innovations like Ubuntu making it the norm to release every 6 months. When I first started using Fedora in 2003 (called Fedora Core back then) and asked when FC2 was coming out I was told, “when it’s ready.” A couple years later after Ubuntu had proven that a six month schedule was workable, Fedora had deadlines. It still only ships when ready, which is why it never meets its deadline, but it also tends to have way fewer bugs unlike Ubuntu. (With some exceptions, I think Fedora 8 or 9 – somewhere around there – was a little extra buggy)
Five Things in Fedora This Week highlighted some of the things to be excited about in Fedora 21 since the beta was just released. Contained within those highlights was the culmination of this Fedora.next idea – Server Roles. This is an awesome example of a distro innovating. Basically, Fedora is simplifying the idea of getting a server running. Say I want a DNS server running. Rather than a Fedora server image that either has every type of server package installed (causing security holes) or one that is just a minimal install – you have a minimal install with a command to transform it into an SQL server, Domain Controller, file server, etc. So you only have the services enabled that you need and all the packages necessary to make that happen. This should make it WAY easier to roll out the servers by getting the basics out of the way and allowing the admin to spend more time on the customizations instead of the grunt work. Can’t wait to see this make its way to RHEL/CentOS as any long-term server is going to need to be on a more stable platform.
On the Fedora Workstation front, I’m also extremely excited about DevAssistant. As a hobbyist programmer, I would love anything that would make it easier for me to get started – I like that it can automatically push to Github rather than requiring me to keep remembering to commit after changes. I’d love to have this at work, too. Have to talk to IT about that.
Great work, Fedora engineering team! Keep up the innovation!