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One OS, three flavors: How Fedora 21 is splitting up to double down on focus

Chris Hoffman | Nov. 5, 2014
The first fruits of the sweeping Fedora.next project appears in Fedora 21, which goes live in beta form today.

But what about the future of the Linux desktop, something that's intertwined with the future of "the desktop" in general?

"Most people who have a computer don't want a computer. Most people want the things you can get by having a computer... Having a computer is a horrible nightmare they put up with," Miller told me. It's true. Not everyone is a geek who enjoys messing around with an alternative operating system. But this doesn't mean Fedora is abandoning the desktop and trying to become a tablet operating system, as Windows 8 attempted to be. "The desktop is going to take a long time to die," he said.

To Miller, this is good news for Linux.

"Of the people who are running the desktop, a lot more of them are going to be interested in running Linux, percentage-wise." There are always going to be people who want more than a tablet or a stripped-down computing experience like Chrome OS provides. These people are everyone from software developers to advanced users who want to customize things and have more control of the system. Linux will have an important role to fill in appealing to developers, productivity-focused users looking for a full desktop operating system, and just advanced users and tweakers--"especially as those mass-market operating systems get more and more locked down to be more like a tablet's operating system," Miller said.

It's a legitimate concern, so it's good to have a solid Linux desktop environment waiting in the wings if that day ever comes. (Fear of a Microsoft's tightly controlled Windows Store is also a big reason why Valve is building SteamOS.) Linux gives users an escape hatch if Microsoft ever decides to lock down the Windows desktop completely, as they already do on Windows RT.

Fedora 21 is currently in development, but the alpha release we tested seemed surprisingly stable and solid. The goal of Fedora is to be "leading edge, not bleeding edge," according to Miller--and they're living up to that here. The final release of Fedora 21 should be out in early December.

"It's shaping up to be one of our best releases ever," Mathew told me.

 

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