Five Things in Fedora This Week: Fedora 21 Beta Edition


Fedora is a big project, and it’s hard to keep up with everything that goes on. This series highlights interesting happenings in five different areas every week. It isn’t comprehensive news coverage — just quick summaries with links to each. Here are the five things for November 5th, 2014:

How to get the Fedora 21 beta

The Fedora 21 Beta went live yesterday, and you can get it from the prerelease download page at This includes all the new variants, ARM images, and Spins, like the KDE and Xfce desktops.

You can also grab Live images and the Fedora Server installer via BitTorrent. Either way, while you’re waiting for it to download, read the release announcement and peruse known issues.

Upgrading to F21 with FedUp

FedUp — the Fedora Upgrader — is our recommended tool to go (relatively seamlessly) from one release to the next. Due to a late-discovered issue, this isn’t currently available for the beta. See this bit on the Common Bugs page for details. We will be producing test


files as part of the lead-up to F21 final, and would appreciate testing of those when they’re ready.

Fedora Cloud


The Fedora Cloud release for F21 comes in two sub-variants of its own. The first is the Fedora Cloud Base Image, which you can download for use in OpenStack or launch directly in Amazon EC2. This is our more traditional choice — a minimal selection of RPMs plus cloud-init for boot-time configuration.

We also have Fedora Atomic, an image built around the Project Atomic design patterns. (Flashback to Colin Walters’ talk at Fedora Day at last February, which kind of kicked this all off.) Atomic upstream is moving really fast, and for this reason, Fedora Atomic is kind of a preview in Fedora 21, and actually some of the things we want in for the final release, like the Kubernetes orchestration engine, weren’t quite ready for the beta cutoff. So, the Cloud Working Group is planning to have some post-beta, pre-final test images in the next week or so to give a better look at what Fedora Atomic will look like — stay tuned!

Fedora Server


Fedora Server is all about providing easy-to-deploy application stacks which run on a common base. This is done through a service called RoleKit, and a command-line tool


plus an API which you can integrate with your configuration management tools. For more on this, see our coverage of Stephen Gallagher’s Flock presentation, or install the beta and go right to setting up a Domain Controller in just a few lines.

Fedora Workstation


And finally, Fedora Workstation is our desktop / laptop system targeted at software developers — not just those of us working on Fedora, but everyone out there building applications and services. One key feature is DevAssistant, a tool for easy setup and management of project environments. Like much of Fedora 21, this is under heavy development, and we’d love your input on making this more useful for your daily work.

F21 Workstation also features a preview of next-generation graphics stack Wayland. This does not sound particularly developer-focused at first glance, but is actually really important for features software developers have told us matter to them, like better multi-monitor support. As we continue with, expect to see a lot of other fundamental improvements like this, based on needs gathered from feedback we receive.



Fedora Project community


  1. fedup should be safe now, although it still doesn’t work without an explicit –instrepo . Details are messy, check your inbox. 🙂

  2. Krystian

    – “And finally, Fedora Workstation is our desktop / laptop system targeted at software developers”

    And that worried me – everytime i’ve heard how Fedora Workstation will be amazing for developers. Almost like famous S. Ballmer quote: “Developers, developers, developers!”.

    Did Fedora developers forgot about casual Linux users? Or never targeted at home using?

    I’m using Fedora around 5 years on my home desktop and don’t like where Fedora (Workstation) going – to be great for developers, sure, but what with others? Did Fedora going to be more like RHEL Desktop (ok for corporate desktop but not casual desktop)?

    Around everything about Fedora Workstation I’ve never found information about: what with casual users? Not migrating from Windows like on Ubuntu, but for normal, casual, Linux users? Fedora Workstation is still for them…or not?

    • Ben

      Maybe Fedora doesn’t need to be all things to all users? It has been rare to see a “desktop” Linux ever measure up to promises of user-friendliness for Grandma, but a developer has always been able to get around fine. Like Ron Swanson says, “Don’t half-ass two things, whole-ass one thing.”

      I haven’t tried it yet but if F21 Workstation is a workstation OS successfully geared toward developers, I can’t wait to make it my primary working OS again.

      • Krystian

        I just have a feeling that Fedora focusing on developers will stop being just universal. At this point – Fedora coming universal, not focused on specific user group. Few tweaks after install and everyone was happy.

        I’m just afraid that focusing only on developers will affect other groups of users using Fedora. Sure – developers are important, they wrote apps for Fedora, patches, report bugs etc. I wrote simple GUI for FedUp too, because i like Fedora. But not only developers using Fedora.

        Personally I’m using Fedora from years on my home desktop – i don’t need OS focused only on developers, I need OS to do my day-by-dy things and at this point Fedora is/was grat, but will still be as focused on developers skipping normal Linux users?

        Maybe it’s more or less cosmetic change in name (Workstation) and under hood, but highlighting how much Workstation will be great for developers forgetting about other users worried me.

        • Ben

          On the bright side, improvements are cumulative. Even the everyday-user ones. Throwing developers a bone this time around doesn’t negate all the progress in other departments so far. I read up on DevAssistant after posting my comment and I’m not even sure I’d use it.

          Fedora is still my favorite everyday-use Linux OS, as well as my favorite home-server OS, so I think it’s in good shape. The move to Wayland has me really excited. If it takes the guesswork out of multi-monitor use, that’ll be good for everybody, not just developers.

          • Krystian

            Maybe You have right.

            I just have a feeling about Workstation like: “We at Fedora Project like developers and don’t care about others”.

            Why i have that kind of feeling? Because everytime when somethig about Workstation is posted – everyone from Fedora Team talks about targeted at developers.

            That’s why i feel…emm…unimportant(?) – because I am normal user, not professional developer so Fedora is not adressed to me anymore and Fedora Team nor targeted Fedora for other’s than developers. Developers are fantastic, normal users – get lost?

            Maybe I’m exaggerating but it’s my concluson about new vision for Fedora, because as far I’m reading about Workstation – even not one word was posted about other groups than developers.

            Sure – i can still using Fedora, but vision of this OS is not adressed to normal users anymore 🙁 From ideological standpoint – I “can’t” use Fedora anymore – I’m not a developer, it’s not distro for me :-/ Someone from Fedora Team Public Relations forgot that not only developers using Linux (or Red Hat vision where normal user not exist resonating too much).

        • Krystian, you’re right that Fedora Workstation is intended to be focused on a target audience that doesn’t include everyone. And a lot of our effort both in marketing and in development is going to follow that focus. That’s because “we’re all things to everyone” eventually ends up being “not really well-suited for anyone”. We think we’ll be a lot more successful at our mission (which is open source for everyone) by focusing first at a target we think we can hit really solidly, and then spreading from there.

          That said, Fedora Workstation isn’t all of Fedora, and it isn’t even all of Fedora as a desktop distribution. There’s plenty of room for all kinds of users under our umbrella. I think enthusiast Linux users will have no problem with Fedora Workstation even if they’re not developers (remember, developers are people too!), or with one of our other desktop spins (KDE, Xfce, Mate, you name it).

          Now, if you mean that we should go after the general consumer market… that’s a really hard problem. I think Fedora can be great for less-experienced users, but that’s really never been our target, even as we do strive to make the distro easy and intuitive for everyone.

          • Riftyful

            I understand that Fedora has always been focused on development. From informations on the website I understood that it was aimed for any users that wish to help shape the future of free software; whether they are developers who work on programs, or casual users who use Fedora for daily tasks, but want to use bleeding edge and want to help test new software, but not from the developers’ point of view, but rather from the users’ point of view.
            Simply put, I always saw Fedora as operating system aimed for anyone who wants to test new software and help with it’s development. But I have to agree with Krystian that the way you describe it now, Workstation appears to be focused on developers only, while not fit for the non-developer users who wish to help the developers in some way.
            Would you say that Fedora is now indeed intended for developers and not for casual (but still dedicated) users anymore (or I misunderstood and it never has been)?

            • Riftyful — please see my comment just above yours. I think that mostly covers it. We’re actually going after a different set of developers with Fedora Workstation — previously, our general desktop target was potential contributors, which is both wider (because it really could be anybody) and narrower, because it doesn’t really include people who just want to use Fedora to develop something other than Fedora itself.

              Remember that these developers are people too, and want to use their laptops for all the normal things. It’s unlikely that this focus will actually make Workstation unsuitable for general use, even as it guides are choices of defaults. But if you don’t feel like you’re in the “developer” target and Workstation isn’t the desktop for you, that’s fine — we’ve got a great KDE spin, plus Xfce, MATE, and so on, and of course you can always start with workstation and customize GNOME to your liking by changing whatever defaults we’ve chosen.

        • Samuel Sieb

          There’s no reply button for your later comment, so I’ll reply to this one.
          I don’t see the focus on developers really making it more difficult for the typical user. Maybe some of the maintenance tasks could be easier to understand, but I don’t know if that’s possible. The other OSs have similar issues. The difficulty with marketing Fedora as a consumer OS is that the typical user needs support to use a computer and since windows has such a monopoly, that’s what people know. So if you can get the more technical users (like you even) to use Fedora, then it tends to spread outwards to the less technical users over time.
          I maintain Fedora installs on many computers and laptops at a school and it’s been quite positive. I even had one lady ask if I could install Fedora on her macbook because she felt gnome-shell was nicer to use than OS X!
          Don’t worry about the Workstation product being focused on developers. There are still the spins and you can still do custom installs (that’s what I do).

          • Samuel Sieb

            Somehow the threading messed up. My last comment was supposed to be a reply to Krystian.

            • Yeah, sorry, the wordpress comment threading is awful. We have an idea to move this to using Hyperkitty instead, when it’s ready. That will be better for more involved discussion.

    • Mike S

      You can still get the same desktop environments and packages as before. Even the same spins are becoming available as those responsible manage to release them.

      Having downloaded Beta-4 MATE-Compiz spin I can vouch for an overall positive experience so far after install. I read comments in the user community forum about F21 being faster and already stable to use.

      On both counts from what I’ve seen with it installed on bare metal this rings true. It starts marginally quicker and applications load faster than previously. This seems to be connected to more efficient processor, memory management and HDD usage because the notebook fan kicks in far less, while the HDD is less active.

  3. The idea behind Fedora server and being able to quickly set up things like DNS, http, etc is AWESOME. I hope this idea migrates to CentOS. It would eliminate needing to keep a list of RPMs (or a script that needs to evolve with packaging changes) every time I want to deploy a server of type X. AWESEOME JOB Fedora team! This is the kind of innovation that distros do! (People often make fun of distros for just repackaging other people’s work)

  4. Roger Olivier

    Quick question, I just started messing around with the Fedora 21 Server, it installed the terminal only (no GUI), does anyone know how to switch to GUI? I tried telinit and startx and goes back to the terminal.

    • Roger, the server is meant to be just that and does not provide a desktop environment. The normal expectation is that you will manage it remotely (perhaps from Fedora Workstation) using ssh or the Cockpit GUI.

      You should be able to install a desktop environment of your choice with yum from the command line, although depending on what you install, you may not end up with Fedora Server in the end (instead, you’d get “nonproduct” Fedora — there’s not necessarily a problem with that but you’ll be further in self-help territory as future Fedora Server documentation will assume a standard install).

      If you have a use-case for Fedora Server with a desktop environment, you might want to discuss that with the Fedora Server Working Group — see the blue sidebox at the Fedora Server Wiki page for contact information.

      • Roger Olivier

        Thanks so much for replying Matthew, I will follow your advice to stay without the GUI environment.

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